Metl: The Angel Weapon by Scott Wilson
1- We hear you're a fan of OA. Thanks! What do you like about our site?
What first got me to follow OA was the Pass or Pages series. Like all authors, I went through the joy of writing query letters, sending dozens of them out with a twinkle in my eye... and smiling through the pain of getting nothing but form rejections and radio silence.
Pass or Pages, with its great feedback from real agents, was a huge help. I even made it in at one point! Getting swiftly passed by all the three agents was an awesome and humbling learning experience.
You can see my incredibly lackluster performance here: (for a different book that never got published) https://operationawesome6.blogspot.com/2016/05/may-pass-or-pages-entry-2.html
2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?
Getting constructive criticism sucks, and it always hurts, but it's the only way to get better. Never blame a reader for not understanding—just make it clearer.
3- What ignited your passion for writing?
Back in 2000, 13-year-old Scott had a big problem: the fifth Harry Potter book was taking too long to come out. So I was inspired to write my own fanfiction version of the Order of the Phoenix… and a fanfiction sixth book too… and half of a seventh, because when you don't have friends in middle school you have a lot of free time.
After that I didn't do much creative writing until college. I was on a summer internship in Tokyo where I made cold calls to Japanese businesses, asking them if they wanted to purchase my company's fringe benefits plan where their employees could essentially save 12 yen on cans of squid paste. For some reason I was suddenly hit with an idea for a book while walking home one night.
So I wrote that book. And no one wanted to publish it. So I wrote another. And another. And another. And another. (No one wanted those either.)
But the sixth time was the charm!
4- What's the best part of working for SoraNews24?
For my job that pays the bills, I'm an editor/writer/translator for the Japanese news entertainment website SoraNews24, bringing all of the best Japanese current events, social media explosions, and funny cat videos to a Western audience.
The best part of working for SoraNews24 is being able to set my own schedule. Since I work from home, I get to pick when my butt is in the chair working. As long as everything that needs to get done actually gets done on time, everyone's happy. Oh, and I get to work in my pajamas! It's the best.
5- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?
My handle: @scottdoesstuff
Erika David @ErikaDavidCAN Erika was my writing mentor in the query contest that got my book Metl noticed. Her advice was incredible, and she is still one of my most valuable beta readers. When one of her books gets published, she's going to be a name that everyone knows.
Erica Deel @EricaDeel Erica is a viewer on my creative writing livestream that I do on Twitch three times a week (ScottWritesStuff). She's written some incredible short stories, one of which is about her rare "supertaster" tastebuds that will soon be published in the online digital health community The Mighty.
Chris @Totes_Coax Chris is also a viewer on my livestream who writes/draws a weekly comic strip called MONDAYS. If you're a fan of puns and/or anthropomorphic toasters, then definitely check it out.
6- Would you share a picture with us of your book in a fun setting?
Here's Metl with some nutcrackers!
7- What entertainment technology is better in Japan than anywhere else?
Too many good choices! The video game arcades that make you feel like you've tripped into the future, the private soundproof karaoke rooms with thousands of songs in Japanese and English. The list goes on. But as far as "entertainment technology" goes, Japan has everyone else beaten at just good old fashioned TV.
Japanese TV has a knack for taking pretty much anything and spinning it in a way that makes it seem like the most amazing thing ever. In the U.S. every news show is crammed full of stories meant to send your blood pressure through the roof, and the dramas are the same. But in Japan, you get stories on TV like this:
A Japanese girl goes to find her Iranian grandfather.
A guy visits a museum where there's a "gold bar challenge."
We need wholesome stuff like this in the U.S. too!
8- What most motivates you to read a new book?
I am a horrible reader. If a book isn't one-hundred percent grabbing me by both my heart and my eyes, then I lose interest and think about all the other things I could be doing, or more often, the things I should be doing. I only finish about one-fifth of the books I start.
I know, shame on me.
So while it takes a lot for me to finish a book, I have a pretty low threshold for starting one. All it takes is a recommendation from a friend or someone I know and then bam! I add it to the TBR list.
Whether or not I actually make it past chapter three, however, is a different story.
9- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!
Author name: Brian Katcher @BrianKatcher1
Title: Almost Perfect
Love because:Brian Katcher was the author who got me into YA. Before I read Almost Perfect, I thought YA was just "kid's stuff." He showed me how wrong I was. It was the first book in years that I read the whole way through in a single day, because I had to know what happened next. I loved how the story made me feel like my insides had been scooped out and pumped full of concrete, never to feel anything again… in a good way!
The book is so good I even did a video about the opening first pages on my livestream:
10- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?
My wife, Abbey.
My book takes place in a future without technology, where society has reverted back to Pilgrim-era ways of living, so horses are how people get around. The main character Caden is responsible for taking care of the horses where he lives, and one of them in particular, a small white horse named Deber, has grown up with Caden and sees him as his mom, master, and best friend all rolled up into one.
Abbey grew up around horses, so she loves Deber. Every chapter that I had her read, she asked: "But what about Deber?!" It was thanks to her that the horse grew from a very minor role in the book to a major player!
Also, Abbey drew the first official fan art for the book, starring Deber:
11- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?
More than anything I hope to inspire a sense of wonder about our world. I want readers to question why things are the way they are, what their own purpose is, why we exist on this planet in the first place, and not settle for the usual vague and boring answers.
12- Could you offer some travel tips for people headed to Japan?
Go to Shakey's! It's my favorite restaurant in the world. Period. There are a few in the U.S., but they're all over Japan. Say what you want about going to an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet in Japan, but I believe that Shakey's shows off Japanese culture through pizza toppings:
Take a look at this slice of purple sweet potato (satsuma imo) with matcha, pear, and pistachio on the left, and the slice of fried-pork cutlet (tonkatsu) with sweet sauce on the bottom...
…these slices of okonomiyaki pizza, based on the savory Japanese pancake made with cabbage, pork, ginger, mayonnaise, seaweed, and basically anything else you can find…
…and of course dessert pizza, like these slices of chocolate mint, banana chocolate, and apple/walnut.
And that's just scratching the surface! There's corn/mayonnaise pizza, squid ink pizza, ginger and wasabi pizza, and so much more. No trip to Japan is complete without going to Shakey's.
13- Are there religious aspects to "Metl: The Angel Weapon," or does angel have another meaning in your book?
ANGEL has another meaning, but it is meant to bring religious imagery to mind. In the book, the Church asserts its authority over all parts of society, trying to gain the favor of their god that lives in Metl in the sky, to ensure that another technological apocalypse doesn't destroy the world.
The only problem is, a giant red X starts glowing on Metl, so there's probably gonna be some problems.
14- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?
The glowing red Xs across main character Caden's palms.
Or, actually, maybe his overalls. They are quite stinky and covered in horse manure stains.
15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks (Alternative question: What's your favorite book with a diverse main character?)
Caden himself, as a white male teenager, isn't a terribly diverse main character. However Annika, his friend and companion throughout the story, is an Indian girl. There are plenty of characters in the book that I hope people from all walks of life can identify with.
My favorite book with a diverse main character is Brian Katcher's Almost Perfect. (Can you tell I really like this book?) In the story, Sage is a transgender teen girl that the main character falls in love with. Never before had I had my heart so thoroughly dismantled by a YA relationship.
16- What's your favorite vending-machine food in Japan?
Even though nearly every street corner in Japan is blessed by a vending machine, the vast majority of them don't have food; they only contain drinks.
Instead, if you're looking for quick cheap snack, going to the closest convenience store is your best bet. There's basically just as many convenience stores as there are vending machines here, and they're so much nicer than in the U.S. You can get everything from fresh fruit to ready-made meals to even collared shirts and ties.
But my favorite guilty pleasure has to be the chocolate-monaka Jumbo. It's essentially a frozen waffle filled with ice cream and chocolate. Every bite is bliss.
Pair one of these bad boys with a black coffee and you will achieve Japanese convenience store nirvana.
17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?
The process of submitting, waiting, and getting dream-crushed in order to be published traditionally is miserable and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, but for me personally there was no other way. Yes there's a lot of luck involved with it, but I felt that if my story wasn't good enough to be noticed by agents/publishers, then it likely wasn't good enough to be published yet. So I just kept writing book after book until I finally did that, only losing about 32% of my soul in the process.
18- Why do you think readers should write book reviews?
How else are we going to find out which books will grab us by the hearts and eyeballs?
19- What is one question or discussion topic which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?
If you were a flavor of ice cream, which would you be and why?
(Note: this is not asking what your favorite ice-cream flavor is, it's which flavor embodies you best. For example, I'm pistachio. No one is ever excited about it, but everyone's grandma has a half-carton of it hanging out in the depths of their freezer, the expiration date blurred out by spilled soup and peeled-away stickers from boxes of old macaroni and cheese. Your turn!)
20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
If you like creative writing but don't have a workshop nearby you, then feel free to pop into my Twitch livestream. Together we do writing exercises, prompts, and have freeshare where anyone can get feedback on their work.
Twitch Livestream: https://www.twitch.tv/scottwritesstuff
And finally I want to give a shoutout to the amazing Monika Viktoria (@mossdolls on Instagram), who was the illustrator for my book. Not only did she knock it out of the park with the cover, but there's several black-and-white full page illustrations throughout the book that she did which really bring the world to life.
The opening spread blew me away when I first saw it, and I hope readers enjoy it too!
And now for the BIG CONTEST NEWS:
The author will pick one random winner of the ebook from the people in the comments!
Please be sure to leave Scott a way to contact you if you win.
Metl: The Angel Weapon by Scott Wilson