Please welcome Steve Shrott, author of Audition for Death and other works.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
A perfect day is one in which I wake up and receive lots of applause. That doesn’t happen very often, and mostly I have to applaud myself. (My dog won’t do it no matter how much kibble I give him.) Seriously, I think a perfect day is where the writing is really flowing. I particularly enjoy it if I can work in several different areas such as short stories, a novel and maybe a screenplay. I like variety. Part of the perfect day would include reading a book that really hooks me.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
My favorite phrase is probably–have fun every day. No matter how many things I have to do, I try to make sure I have at least a bit of fun. I think it’s important for balance in our lives. Of course fun can be different for different people. For me, a lot of my fun comes from writing.
My favorite meal is brunch at an expensive restaurant for which someone else is paying.
Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Dave Barry (Writes funny novels)
Dai Vernon (Created magical illusions)
Johnathon Kellerman (Bestselling mystery writer)
All of the above gentlemen expanded my creativity in different ways.
Do you listen to music when you write?
No. But lately I have been thinking of trying it when I write noir fiction. I think playing “moody” music would help get me into the proper frame of mind to write that type of material.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
My book would be one of those milk chocolates that starts melting in your mouth as soon as you pop it in. The reason is, that my books are meant to be fun right from the start, they go fast, and at the end, you want another one.
Of course whether the chocolate-book were dark, light, or plaid, I would eat it.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
For most of my life, I’ve been involved in the entertainment field one way or another, and I have experienced a lot of interesting situations. So I thought a mystery based on actors and acting would be amusing. Just to give you an example, many years ago, I worked in a theatre group. We did children’s shows in the morning and, at lunch, murder mysteries. The same actors appeared in both. We had one scene in one of the mysteries where a mobster was going to shoot the man who had stolen his money.
Another actor was supposed to come in, just at that moment, wearing a policeman’s outfit. However, the actor had had a few too many drinks, and instead came out dressed as a character from the children’s show—a red butterfly. He had wings, and antennae. This did not fit into the murder mystery very well. The mobster shot at him, uttering the line, “Damn insects.” This woke butterfly-man up as to what he had done, and he pretended to fly offstage.
So you can see why I wanted to write a story about actors.
What themes do you regularly (re) visit in your writing?
I visit many themes because I tend to write in different genres. My humorous fiction is generally about how circumstances are sometimes against us, but if we persevere we can overcome them, and have happy endings. Although, not always the endings we expect. I also deal with themes of sanity vs insanity, and how people are often not who we think they are.
Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person she is today?
My main character is an actor obsessed with his career. He always hopes that one day he will be famous—even though right now most of his roles are dead bodies. He is vain, and desperately wants to keep his looks up for future roles, and also for the ladies. He’s become the person he is today because he spent a lot time ruining his career with his enormous ego and drinking. He managed to stop drinking and has become a nicer person, although his ego is still intact. But now he’s in the difficult situation of being a little older, and still attempting to get somewhere in the acting profession.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Fletch, from the movie (and book) Fletch, because he’s a wisecracker trying to solve a mystery
Sheldon, on The Big Bang Theory because he’s a self-obsessed character who doesn’t see himself as the rest of the world sees him.
Alfie from the movie What’s it All About Alfie?, because he likes the ladies.
If you could host an author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Phillip K Dick
And maybe Doctor Phil, (also a writer,) so he could analyze us and tell us why we got into this crazy profession.
I chose the above list of writers to give the dinner party a lot of variety.
What’s next for you?
Right now I’m editing my novel about a dentist who decides he needs some excitement in his life, and becomes a part-time P.I. I’m also writing lots of short stories in different genres, as well as screenplays. I am continuing to teach my writing courses at Savvy Writers, and Romance Writers of America, on adding humor to novels, and how to write a page turning book. I’m also doing talks for various associations. In my spare time I nap.
Thanks a lot for the interview. I enjoyed it!
Steve Shrott is an award-winning writer whose mystery short stories have been published in numerous print magazines and e-zines. His work has appeared in ten anthologies—two from Sisters-in-Crime (The Whole She-Bang, and Fishnets.) He was also a winner in The Joe Konrath Short Story Contest. As well, he teaches on-line courses for Savvy Writers and The Romance Writers of America. His comedy material has been used by well-known performers of stage and screen and he has written a book on how to create humor. Some of his jokes are in The Smithsonian Institute.