As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author Scott Lord talks about the inspiration behind his new book, Come November, and his creative writing process.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Scott Lord about his life and career, what inspired him to write his new book, Come November, and his creative writing process.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
My name is Scott Lord. I am a long-time Los Angeles trial lawyer, as well as a writer and librettist. I graduated with honors from the University of California at Santa Cruz and from the Santa Clara University School of Law where I was a member of the Law Review. My wife, Susan, and I are the parents of six children and live in Santa Monica, California.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I remember planning a novel when I was fourteen – never quite got off the ground, but from that time, I always thought I would write a book. Over the years, I tried writing books when I wasn’t trying cases – but never could quite get them finished.
When did you take a step to start writing?
When I shifted from full-time to part-time law in 2010, I took several writing courses and began experimenting with short stories and poetry and, eventually, a novel.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
My first book, The Logic Bomb, took almost four years, from conception to publication.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Nearly three years, including a full year of research.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Come November?
Two reasons: First, the idea of a love story of people late in life appealed to me as someone who finally succeeded (knock on wood!) in marriage later in life and I wanted to see that represented in writing. Second, the historic vote of the young United Nations in 1947 to partition Palestine and thus permit the creation of the state of Israel seemed to me to be an ideal setting for a thriller. While the assassination plot depicted in Come November is, of course, fictional, most of the scenes presented and real people depicted are genuine.
Come November is in part a tribute to my late mother who, like Jeanne in the story, took a trip to the UN in November 1947 as part of a group of high school students while the partition of Palestine was being debated. I have her extensive scrapbook with photos and souvenirs of her trip and as an historian by training, the events related to the founding of Israel were fascinating to research and discover.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Come November?
Far and away, the biggest challenge was writing in the voice of the Jeanne – the main character, both when she is seventeen years old (in the 1947 scenes), and when she seventy-three (in the 2003 scenes). A second challenge was to absorb the immense and intense factual background of 20th Century Palestine and the 1947 partition vote and to present it in a way that was both interesting to a casual reader and true to history.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
Mostly my mother, but also other strong intelligent women I’ve known in my life.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
John, Jeanne’s sometime romantic partner, is in a sense her antagonist, as he hurts her more than once – sometimes because he puts his work first; other times because he allows himself to be distracted by another woman. Let me just say I didn’t have to look too terribly far for inspiration.
What is the inciting incident of Come November?
John, a young reporter with the Chicago Sun, hears of a potential plot by the Mufti of Jerusalem, an extreme anti-Semite and fierce opponent of the partition of Palestine, to assassinate a U.N. diplomat.
What is the main conflict of Come November?
The assassination plot is of course easy to pinpoint as the main conflict, as it involves Jeanne and John – working with others – to figure the who, where, and when of the plot and try to stop it. But just as important is the conflict between Jeanne and John as they try to decide if they can forgive the past and forge a relationship in the present; to discover if, as Jeanne says, there can still be a love story for people their age.
Did you plot Come November in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
Great question. Although this is my 2nd published book, I’ve written four novels. And in each of them, I work out the last scene of the last chapter first. I like to know where I’m going and whether whatever journey I take the reader on, the ending will be satisfying. Then, I go back and prepare a rough outline and start writing – refining and changing as I go.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Come November need?
Yes. When I completed my manuscript, it was over 180,000 words. I was lucky enough to work with Bob Roe, former editor in chief of Newsweek. He gave some assistance with structure and enormous assistance in the art of brevity. Later, the editors who my publisher, Greenleaf, assigned were a tremendous help in polishing and reducing the manuscript to its present form about 1/3 shorter than the first version.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Make sure you are head over heels in love with your story and your main characters. You are going to live with them a long, long time.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Yes. I grew up in the West San Fernando Valley in the Los Angeles area in the late 1960s and 1970s where the aerospace industry was centered. Their work included the design and manufacture of rockets used in the space program as well as nuclear defense. I remember the loud roar and the red glow of the sky at night as they frequently tested rocket engines in the hills a few miles away. At the same, very intense protests against the Vietnam war and nuclear war itself were taking place. The book is the story about a young student who becomes enmeshed in the violent fringes of the anti-war movement. It is, to some extent, autobiographical.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Absolutely. Like many authors, I faced a fair amount of rejection from agents and publishers and that caused me to doubt myself. But about a year ago, I re-read the book and thought, “Boy, this is good!” And now it’s in print!
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
You can learn more about me and my books at scottlord.com. Thank you.
We strive to keep The Table Read free for both our readers and our contributors. If you have enjoyed our work, please consider donating to help keep The Table Read going!
Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.