One of the first friends I made in the writing and authoring world was Scott E. Tarbet. He and I were both in the Toll of Another Bell fantasy anthology through Xchyler Publishing and both local Utah authors – and we were also in the same chapter of League of Utah Writers for several years. So it goes without saying that we go back a while.
I was thrilled when Scott agreed to an interview because I know he’s led quite the interesting life. From adventuring abroad, to creating gripping stories, Scott’s got a little of everything.
On to the interview!
The best place to start is a question to get to know you better. Tell us a little about yourself, including the craziest thing you’ve ever done on a dare.
I have bombed straight down icy double black diamonds, free-climbed vertical cliffs, free-dived to fifty feet to take a ten-pound lobster away from a moray eel. I have charged into burning buildings and torn apart burning vehicles, run marathons, survived being marooned on a deserted seacoast. I have peered down into the glowing containment pool of a nuclear generating station and been stranded without light deep in a limestone cave rapidly filling with water. I have been attacked and robbed at gunpoint, faced down assault weapon wielding Mexican Federales while armed with nothing but righteous zeal and the chutzpa of youth. I have launched three businesses and have failed at two. AND I have published my literary offspring out into the cold, cruel world. In short, I don’t wait for someone to challenge me to perpetrate a craziness. I just do it.
As a creative person, what are your three greatest strengths?
- Fearlessness. (See above.)
- Craft. I have always been a storyteller, since before I could read or write. I love to read and re-read the literary masters and masterpieces, in every storytelling genre, taking careful note of how they make their stories come alive. In short, I am a student of the craft. Someday I hope to achieve mastery. If I write out every novel in my current writer’s notebook, I should accomplish that sometime before I’m a hundred and twenty.
- Love. My characters are my children and my friends. I truly believe no artist can adequately represent something they do not understand at a profound, granular level. Those who try are instantly revealed as frauds to the discerning reader or viewer. And that understanding usually shines through as unmistakable love. Or its polar opposite.
Of all the different projects you’ve worked on, either with the opera, writing, or one of your other many interesting pursuits, what experience has changed you the most?
No other experience has shaken me as profoundly as standing onstage as Otto Frank, father of Ann, at the opening of “The Diary of Ann Frank.” A representative of the Simon Wiesenthal Center had just finished an hour-long multi-media presentation on the Holocaust. The images of the death camps were so burned into my soul that I had a difficult time even drawing breath.
At the opening curtain, Otto reenters the family’s attic grotto hiding place after surviving the Nazi death camps and the extermination of his family and friends. As he enters the empty stage a bell slowly tolls six times, once for each of the million Jews killed in the Holocaust. I felt each toll pound through my own brain as if I were being struck a felling blow. I, and a good share of the audience, wept like heartbroken children as the seconds stretched into minutes. I hope never to be so affected again by another piece of art.
In your most recent novel release, Dragon Moon, who was your favorite character and what part of writing it was your biggest challenge?
Dragon Moon was a high concept: the U.S. abandoning the capability to reach the moon and Communist China publicly announcing their intention to turn it into a military base can only turn out badly, right? I believed in the premise. I still believe in it. It’s happening before our eyes.
Bringing that story to life meant creating two main characters that I truly loved, into whom I poured every good impulse that I could imagine. One was a reluctant Chinese-American Air Force intelligence officer, Mu Guiying, manipulated into a world of violence and intrigue she never wanted. The other was a star-gazing teenage boy, Mason Young, obsessed with saving the world by finding and stopping the next extinction-level asteroid. Together they represent so much of the ideal for me that I dedicated the novel “To those who look up and out, and to those who guard their backs while they do it.”
The biggest challenge of writing the book was being humble enough to give up a character whom I really loved to despise, who was Mason’s girlfriend in the first draft. She was deliciously self-centered and snarky in a delightfully Mean Girls sort of way, but my editor pointed out that she was taking up a lot of word count that more rightly went into developing the other threads of the story. But she’ll always have a special place in my “characters I love to hate” pantheon.
I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?
My great-grandfather Enoch Cornia’s missionary hymnal, no bigger than the palm of my hand, dated from his mission in 1891. It really should be in a shadow box. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll do that next . . . month . . . maybe . . .
What’s next? What are you working on?
I always work on multiples at the same time. I literally have three documents open at any given time. If I start to slow down on one, meaning that I have to give it some more thought before proceeding, I switch to another. While I dump out the stuff that is already thought through in another piece, the first one marinades. Then I jump back to it. I’m actually more productive doing it that way rather than staring at the screen while my brain chews like a puppy with a new slipper.
So the next things are:
- A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk 2: Perils of Pauline. The genius young artificer heroine of the first book is after her new replacement legs, but a meddlesome time traveler has other ideas of where—and when—she should go next. Changing history once is not enough.
- Battles of the Stripling Warriors. The iconic young warriors, the Sons of Helaman from the Book of Mormon, return in the second in the series that began with Rise of the Stripling Warriors, which I hope against hope will get out of editing and onto the shelves before the end of 2019.
- The Thousand. (working title) A self-aware .2c starship is on a mission thousands of years in duration, to reach thirteen new worlds and choose the right candidates from among the 1,000 best and brightest minds, the cream of humanity that were digitally stored when the race was extinguished. Brigham, the ship’s cantankerous AI, will print them strong young bodies, implant their memories, seed the new colony, and move on. But as Brigham approaches the thirteenth and final planet, s/he has made a discovery that will change the mission, and the fate of the human race, forever.
About today’s guest –
Scott Tarbet’s speculative fiction stories have garnered multiple awards, critical acclaim, and entertain a burgeoning fanbase. He writes in several genres, including Steampunk, fantasy, paranormal, techno-thriller, and historical fiction.
When he is not submerged in one of his created worlds, which he finds nearly as fascinating as the real one, he sings opera professionally and slow-smokes thousands of pounds of authentic Texas-style barbeque. He was married in full Elizabethan regalia, loves Steampunk and cosplay conventions of all flavors. He makes his home in the mountains of Utah.
Follow his writing adventures:
About Scott’s book Dragon Moon –
A new space race explodes into violence when China quietly sets its sights on the Moon. Now, an unlikely team of US Navy SEALs, Russian Spetsnaz, and a Chinese-American agent have one chance to stop the activation of China’s powerful new weapon before all hope is lost. The cost of failure: worldwide Chinese empire.
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