Author Interview Series: Scott Baker

Scott M. Baker was born and raised in Everett, Massachusetts, USA and spent twenty-three years in northern Virginia working for the Central Intelligence Agency. Scott is now retired and lives just outside of Concord, New Hampshire along with his wife and fellow author Alison Beightol and his stepdaughter.

He has written Yeitso, his homage to the giant monster movies of the 1950s that he loved watching as a kid; Rotter World, Rotter Nation, and Rotter Apocalypse, his post-apocalyptic zombie saga; The Vampire Hunters trilogy, about humans fighting the undead in Washington D.C.; the novellas Nazi Ghouls from Space (the title says it all) and Dead Water; and his zombie-themed anthology Cruise of the Living Dead and his anthology of generic horror stories Incident on Ironstone Lane.

He is currently working on a dark techno-thriller and a series about Allied intelligence officers fighting Nazi occultism in World War II.

GJ: Can you describe your journey to publishing you first novel?

SB: It all began as a challenge. A good friend and I had gone to see Van Helsing together. As we left the theater, she asked what I thought. I told her it was good, but I could write a more realistic vampire story. She smiled and said, “Why don’t you?” I spent six months reading up on vampirism and plotting out the story line. Six months later, I had a finished manuscript. It took almost four years to get it published but, once I did, my writing career took off.

GJ: How does your life as an author differ to that of your former career? Do you still have a day job?

SB: I do have a day job. I’m a special investigator who conducts routine background checks on people applying for security clearances. It’s a fascinating job and I love it, but it’s demanding. The language in which you draft reports must follow company regulations and the prose is very professional and staid. That’s why I love to get home, call up the manuscript, and let the creative juices flow.

GJ: Why zombies and the undead? I would have expected James Bond style thrillers after having read your bio!

SB: I started writing espionage and techno-thrillers back in the 1990s. I had one manuscript with an agent that dealt with a nuclear exchange between the United States and North Korea. It was on the desk of one of the big five publishing houses in New York when 9/11 occurred. The market for the genre dried up overnight. I spent the next eighteen months working Iran and Iraq issues for the Agency. When I returned from Basrah, Iraq in 2003, I wanted to get back into writing and opted to try my hand at horror since I’ve always been a fan of zombies and vampires.

GJ: Do you ever see yourself writing any other genre?

SB: Definitely. I have a young adult series I write under the name Josh Matthews, though in reality it’s PG-13 horror (i.e. no explicit sex or f-bombs but plenty of violence and gore). I just placed with an agent a dark techno-thriller about trans-human assassins, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction. My WIP is science fiction; I describe it as Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Back to the Future – with aliens. A few years ago, I dabbled with erotica. That was more difficult than I imagined. I could never find the right balance between making the stories sound like a Harlequin romance and a Penthouse letter.

GJ: What was the highlight of your career in the CIA? Assume you can tell all the readers without then having them killed…

SB: I can’t talk about the operations I was involved in, but I’m very proud of the successes my teams accomplished. We warned several presidential administrations of what to expect from our enemies and tossed a lot of monkey wrenches into what the Axis of evil were attempting to do. I’m proud of the accomplishments my colleagues and I pulled off and like to think that the world is a little safer because of it.

The highlight of my time at the Agency was the ten years I spent working to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, in my case ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons, and biological weapons. I had the opportunity to visit places only a handful of people have ever seen. One time I stood outside a laboratory and peered through the glass to see the deadliest pathogens known to man, and another time I strolled through an underground complex with thousands of nuclear warheads. It was bone chilling and exciting at the same time. Much of what I learned and experienced made its way into my dark techno-thriller

GJ: Which of your books are you most proud of and why?

SB: That’s like asking which of your children is your favourite; of course you have one, you just can’t admit it publicly. If I had to choose, it would be Dominion, the final book in The Vampire Hunters trilogy. I wrapped up the loose ends, gave every character their final bow, and kept the action going for chapters. Dominion is probably the most heart-breaking novel I’ve written. I found it hard to leave the characters behind.

GJ: If you had your time on earth again from scratch what would you have done differently?

SB: Nothing. I’ve worked for the CIA, protected our country, and have had the privilege of seeing/doing things most people will never experience. I’ve traveled the world. I’m a published writer, which has been my life-long dream. Despite the bad times, which we all go through, I’ve had a good life and wouldn’t do anything that could change it.

GJ: What do you consider has been your most effective marketing technique?

SB: I’ve seen too many writers who throw a book together, do the barest of editing, then self-publish and expect to be rich overnight. That’s never going to work. You need to offer a good book to your readers, something that grabs their attention and makes them life-long fans. They’ll write reviews for you, pimp their books to their friends, and help any way they can. That’s the most effective marketing technique.

GJ: What can we expect to see from your writing in 2019/2020? 

SB: I have a comedy novella coming out in August about teenage angst during a zombie apocalypse. In November, the fourth book in my young adult series, Nightmare in Tokyo, will be released; this is the most action-packed and demon-filled novel yet. If things go well, in 2020 the other three projects I’m working on will see the light of day: my dark techno-thriller, my science fiction novel, and a screenplay I am working on that I refer to as a cross between Armageddon and Jurassic Park.

GJ: Do you have any questions you would have liked me to ask but haven’t? (If you have then please feel free to answer it as well!)

SB: The one question I get asked most often is if I’ve ever seen the alien corpses cryogenically preserved in Langley’s basement. With the straightest face possible I tell them no because there was no crash at Roswell. The aliens landed and requested asylum and we granted it in return for their technology. That’s why America made it to the moon and the Russians, Chinese, Japanese, and Europeans haven’t. It’s fun to watch the reactions.

GJ: Thank you Scott for taking the time to talk with me and we look forward to your new releases. You can check out Scott’s books on Amazon now.

If you like nightmarish settings, reluctant heroes, and action-packed adventures, then you’ll love my spine-chilling novel. Click the image to go to your favourite store!

GJ Stevens

I am a Writer. I am many other things too, but I love to write. On 8th November 2019 I released my second novel, Before The End, a compelling apocalyptic thriller that will leave you breathless, immersing you in a fight for survival. Available to pre-order now from Amazon!

3 comments

  • Hi GJ,

    I have been on the fence about traditional and self-publishing for a while. I see both sides, but deciding what is best is tough. What is your opinion about going the self-publishing route? The only reason I would go traditional would be the avenues for marketing and distribution. It takes a lot of work to get your publications out there without any guarantee for success.

    Yes, I do love to write and tell stories. My drive it to reach people and work with creative people to impact our culture. My livelihood is not depended on writing, however I would love to pay creative people to use their talents. I do want to earn income, but that’s not the only reason. Finding an audience and encouraging them would make me happy.

    What are your thoughts?

    Gary

    Like

    • Hi Gary, if you want full control of your work and the direction it takes and what you get to write then independent publishing is for you. If you fit into the traditional genres and write what is currently in fashion and can stomach the rollercoaster ride of set backs and rejection hoping that one day you might find a publishing match, then you should give traditional publishing a good go. Either way it’s unlikely to make much money unless you are very lucky.

      I love indie publishing, so I may be a little biased. Which ever way you choose I wish you the best of luck!

      I hope I’ve been of help.

      All the best,

      Gareth

      Like

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