An Interview with Scott Lothian, Author of Deep Waters

It’s an absolute pleasure to welcome Scott Lothian to Linda’s Book Bag today. You see, Scott and I have been in touch with one another for almost three years but have never quite got our timing right! Today, however, we finally get the chance to stay in with one another to chat about Scott’s books.

Staying in with Scott Lothian

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag at last Scott. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

 Thank you for the opportunity, Linda. I am looking forward to our chat.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

Today I brought my second novel, Deep Waters, which was published on August 2nd—the 76th anniversary of the heroic rescue of the surviving crew members of the USS Indianapolis. This is a story of a man’s life—from farm town quarterback to a crew member of the Indianapolis and on— and how he deals with a life not totally under his control. Deep Waters is very much a historical slice-of-life mystery—a combination of historical fiction with a good karma versus evil karma storyline that threads throughout and leads to the mystery-thriller ending. I am a Clinical Pharmacist by trade and I try to write character-centric stories incorporating history while using both to drive plot twists and turns.

Deep Waters sounds exactly my kind of read. I love character driven narratives. So, what can we expect from an evening in with Deep Waters?  

The reader should expect to find well-developed characters that they will love to love and some they may love to hate. Both of my books are filled with historical references related to the places and the times in each chapter, though I would not call them true historical fiction. Deep Waters is, in many ways, a hybrid novel of historical fiction with an odyssey-like life arc and a mystery-thriller ending. I believe this review sums it up well.

“Good Read – Interesting storyline with lots of twists! Great historical contexts – learned a lot. Very thrilling ending.” -5-stars (ChicagoShopper) 

You must be thrilled with that response. Deep Waters is appealing to me more and more as I also love books that don’t easily fit a genre. But tell me more about the characters. 

In Deep Waters, you get to know Jack (or Butch), a high school sophomore who is the varsity football quarterback and dating the head cheerleader, Candy. Life is good if he can avoid pissing off his father or getting beat up by his older brother. Then something happens that changes his life and he is forced to make his first big decision. I am very much a writer who holds to the contract of promise resolution, so any of Jack’s life decisions that may be second-guessed by the reader could have a different reality in the end.

Oo. Intriguing! And what about the timescale for Deep Waters?

The book takes place from 1945 through 2007 for reasons the reader will understand as they follow the story. The prologue starts in 2007 with the torture of a shipmate and friend of Jack’s, Chester, in an effort to find the rumored second atomic bomb on the Indianapolis and ends as two Knights Templar ships sail in opposite directions in the early morning hours of October 13, 1307. These two threads are the karma stories that twist around Jack’s odyssey and come together to create the “atomic” ending.

That’s some hook! What inspired you to write Deep Waters?

I was inspired to write this book by the story of the Indianapolis, amazed that this heroic story went mostly untold for decades. I thought about a “what if” scenario: what would the life of one of these men be like having survived this terrible tragedy and what if there was more to the story.

I pictured the life of a man who went through the tragedy of the sinking of the Indianapolis—four days in the water attacked by sharks and worn down by hunger, thirst and the elements. What was his life like? What if his life was filled with tragedy, hardship and disappointment? How would he handle these setbacks and how would it shape him as a man? What if there were evolving good and evil strands twisting around his life story that he had no control over, but could prove to be his ultimate undoing? I then built people around him to support his life paths and decisions.

Fascinating. And are all your characters fictional or are there elements of people you know?

This book especially has characters from my life. Jack’s family is in homage to my Janesville cousins. Also, I like to have fun with the names I use in my writing and you will find this true throughout this book. The Gardener, Marino Danielson, is named after my favorite quarterback (Dan Marino – sorry Peyton and Drew, but you are tied for #2). Chester “Gerbil” Best is named after a fraternity brother’s nickname (Gerbil) and my oldest son’s hamster (Chester). And there are many other names where the reader might catch some hidden meaning. Most every name in the book has a story, though it certainly may not be the same as the character experiences in the book.

As a Brit I might need to do a bit of further research there! I did watch a bit of American football and baseball on TV when I worked in New York but I hadn’t a clue what was going on!

In addition, as I was writing, I found that there are at least four Billy Joel song titles in the story. This was totally organic, but I may eventually have a contest to see if someone can find them all.

Ah! Now Billy Joel I do know!

What else have you brought along and why have you brought it? 

Well, if we are chatting in the morning, it would certainly be over coffee and cinnamon rolls, since cinnamon rolls play a role in the book.

My Britishness comes out again here Scott. It has to be tea for me, not coffee!

If it were in the early evening, it would be with a cold beer or wine and chips with guacamole and salsa with a bit of a kick. I would hope this would create a comfortable down-to-earth mood for us both to converse, but I believe my books pair well with any drink from iced tea to a Manhattan. 🙂

I love a cocktail! I’ve really enjoyed hearing about Deep Waters, but how did you become a writer?

It is impossible to tell you how I came to be a writer without mentioning my first novel—so here we go. I do not remember being interested in creative writing in school, but must have come by the gene in my adulthood. The idea for my first novel, Perfect Posture, came to me during a slow, mystic windshield-wiper-driven trance-like commute home from the city. Not to date it outright, but the first chapters were written on a 286 computer. However, the book would go untouched for over a decade due to my ever-pressing duties as a loving husband and a grateful, proud father to three boys. Later in life, looking for a hobby, I started writing a somewhat-annual Christmas letter. I know what you are thinking, but these were more a comic report on what had gone wrong with the year, told with imperfect pictures and mocking commentary—very Onion-like. You will find humor throughout both books—ever lurking, but never smirking. Encouraged by many friends and my middle son, I took up the book again and ended up with a 200,000-word first novel that no agent in their right mind would even consider reading—oh, well.

I imagine they’d thing 200,000 words might need a bit of editing to be commercial!

I decided I was not going to strip the story of character development and other details just to get it read. I set out to write a murder mystery that was not Pulp Fiction or an extreme techno-thriller that showed only one speed and read like a superconductor manual. Instead, I wanted a classic evenly paced story somewhere in between. I wanted the reader to feel as if they were getting to know the characters, to care for them or to hate them as their actions might dictate. I aimed to create a palpable good versus evil tension in the reader much like that effected by Erik Larson’s classic Devil in the White City. I wanted to show a less sterile, technical or hectic side of a police investigation—a M*A*S*H-like attitude that is more true-to-life for people under constant stress than many realize. I had what I wanted in Perfect Posture and the review below really helped me understand that I may have more than a hobby here—though I am still writing for the fun more than anything else.

“Suspenseful book with great twists!! – Excellent read — and this is the author’s first book! Great fiction with Chicago area references — perfect for Baby Boomer generation. If I had the time, I never would have put it down — I love mysteries, and this one was well written with much character development. Looking forward to the author’s second book!” 5-stars (AH) 

I wrote my first novel as a hobby—for fun—and never truly thought it would come together as it did. For Deep Waters, I felt as if I had to write this novel and am very happy with the end result. Deep Waters—dedicated to the crew of the Indianapolis—may fill in some history for Perfect Posture readers, but is a totally standalone read.

I love that passion for writing you describe Scott. Thank you so much for staying in with me to chat about both Deep Waters and Perfect Posture. They sound highly intriguing.

Thank you, Linda. This has been fun and I appreciate you taking the time to chat.

My pleasure. Now, you make us a cocktail and I’ll tell readers a bit more about Deep Waters and Perfect Posture:

Deep Waters

What is a man’s life?

What does a man have control over as his life unfolds before and behind him?

Life starts us out with endless possible paths, then narrows our choices from paths that are desired to those that are often forced upon us.

Follow Jack as his life evolves from a high school football quarterback in Janesville, a small town in Wisconsin, to a crew member of the USS Indianapolis—the ship that delivered the nuclear bomb that helped end World War II and then suffered the worst open ocean disaster in U.S. naval history.

Watch how his life is entangled in questions of a possible second bomb on the Indianapolis and whether it leads to the nuclear destruction of a beloved American city or helps to bring to light a 700-year secret known only to the descendants of a lone Knight Templar on a remote Japanese island.

Follow the decisions Jack makes to survive and the paths he then has available to him as they narrow and lead him toward becoming a man he does not know. Find out if he will choose the right paths to survive a life not under his control.

Deep Waters is available for purchase on Amazon.

Perfect Posture

Perfect Posture aims to create a palpable good versus evil tension in the reader much like that effected by Erik Larson’s classic Devil in the White City.

A dead girl, clutching a stuffed toy elephant covered in political buttons, is found posed on a luggage carousel at O’Hare Airport. Chicago, oblivious to the evil that has gripped the city for the past two months, believes they have discovered the first victim of the errantly named “Patriotic Killer.” Only Lieutenant Jonathan Dearfield knows the truth: He must solve this case before the unimaginable happens.

Perfect Posture takes readers inside the mind of a killer, while chronicling the lives of those committed to stopping the escalating carnage. This book is rich with Chicago area history, and filled with personalities and relationships—both dark and occasionally comical—that readers will grow to love or hate as they follow the non-stop action to a twisting catastrophic end.

Perfect Posture is available for purchase here.

About Scott Lothian

Scott Lothian is a clinical pharmacist and lives in the Chicagoland area with his family. He has practiced for over 40 years concentrating in solid organ transplant, oncology and pain management, but for the past decade has been on the clinical IT side of healthcare.

He has two published novels to date: Perfect Posture and Deep Waters. He writes character-centric stories incorporating history while using both to drive plot twists and turns. The reader will always find characters who they will love to love or love to hate as well as a mix of levity and interesting history as the book spins to its exciting conclusion.

For more information, follow Scott on Twitter @ScottLothianBks, and find him on Facebook and Goodreads.

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