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10 questions for Justin Scott

Each summer, Oxford University Press USA and Bryant Park in New York City partner for their summer reading series Word for Word Book Club. The Bryant Park Reading Room offers free copies of book club selections while supply lasts, compliments of Oxford University Press, and guest speakers lead the group in discussion. On Tuesday 2 July 2013, author Justin Scott leads a discussion on Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

What was your inspiration for this book?

A writing-improvement exercise that I chose fifteen years into my career led me to translate the first chapter of Treasure Island into modern 1950s prose. Stevenson taught me so, so much in the first chapter about pace, description, and character that I kept on translating all the way to the end.

Where do you do your best writing?

Upon rising, with my first cup of coffee.

Which author do you wish had been your 7th grade English teacher?

What a wonderful question. Patrick O’Brian.

What is your secret talent?

I’ll leave that to my wife.

What is your favorite book?

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.

Who reads your first draft?

My wife, Amber Edwards, who makes documentary films and is very good at spotting what is missing.

Do you prefer writing on a computer or longhand?

Computer, which serves my habit of re-writing.

What book are you currently reading? (Old school or e-Reader?)

Last Call, The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent in trade paperback.

What word or punctuation mark are you most guilty of overusing?

The em dash.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

I do prefer writing. If I were not a writer, I would like to be a sail boat captain, but I am not a natural seaman, so I would settle, happily, for being a gardener.

Did you have an “a-ha!” moment that made you want to be a writer?

The writer Lawrence Block said to me, “You ought to be a writer.” I asked why. He said, “You look like a writer.”

Do you read your books after they’ve been published?

Yes, sometimes immediately, sometimes years later. I’m often left with the feeling that I’m glad I wrote that then, because I couldn’t write it now.

Justin Scott is the author of thirty novels. The most recent of which is The Striker, co-written with Clive Cussler, and the fifth novel in the Isaac Bell series collaboration the two publish together. The Janson Command is the first in a series based on Robert Ludlum’s bestselling book The Janson Directive. He is the creator of the Ben Abbott detective series. A few of the works he’s written as Justin Scott include Normandie Triangle, A Pride of Royals, and The Shipkiller which was reissued in 2012 in a special 30th anniversary edition. In addition to the Ben Abbott series, Scott has penned Red Sky at Morning, Sea Hunter and The Ripple Effect as Paul Garrison.

Read previous interviews with Word for Word Book Club guest speakers.

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