I simply cannot say enough good things about Gasparilla’s Treasure so I was lucky enough that its author, Scott Clements, has fed my appetite for more by allowing me to interview him here on NonMom!
Read on, join the fun and pick up a copy of the book, you won’t be able to put it down!
Gasparilla’s Treasure is such a great book, how did you come up with the story?
CLEMENTS: When I first started, I knew I wanted to write something fun and entertaining; something my ten year old son would enjoy reading. I’ve always loved stories where a normal kid, with a normal life is suddenly faced with a massive adventure or journey; something the reader can believe might happen to them.
So how did you take that broad concept and turn it into Gasparilla’s Treasure?
CLEMENTS: I started with the simple sentence, “Thirteen-year-old boy wants to find the treasure his family has been seeking for four generations.” Seemed like a fun idea, so I started outlining it, always keeping in mind that single sentence. Before I knew it, the story was outlined and it practically wrote itself.
You mentioned that you like to outline, I work with some students and am trying to get them to understand the importance of outlines, can you tell us more about your writing process?
CLEMENTS: Once I have my single sentence, I start the outline. I have worked in the Movie and TV business for about twenty years, and I tend to lean towards the structure of a “formula” movie script. I find this structure grabs the reader, and keeps the pace moving. The outline assures I have all the proper story elements in place and that the pacing of the story will keep the reader engaged. The outline also lets me see the entire picture before I start writing. I can see story holes, or things that I can improve before I ever start the first draft. I’ve tried to write without an outline, but quickly find myself in a dead end, not sure where to go. When the outline is complete, I just write. I don’t worry about anything except what my characters would say and do in the situation; I just try to get the story out of my brain. Writing technique and sentence structure can be worked on later. Story and characters are so important to me. I think they are the main thing that engages the reader.
You said you wanted to write a book that your ten year old son would love. I couldn’t put it down at age 34! How does it feel knowing that your book is appealing to a broader audience than you expected?
CLEMENTS: I think it’s important to know your target audience, and write for that audience. In the back of my mind, I always dreamed I could reach a broader audience like J.K. Rowling with Harry Potter, or Louis Sachar with Holes (the list goes on and on)… so when I hear my story and characters are connecting with adults, I actually feel proud of the characters. Like they are my kids and they have managed to win the hearts of the reader. But when a young reader tells me that their parents couldn’t get them to go to sleep because they wanted to keep reading my book… well, it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Can you tell me a bit about your characters? They seem so real. Are they based on people you know?
CLEMENTS: I wanted my hero, Trip, to be every kid. He is smart, but not too smart. He is athletic, but not too athletic. I think he’s the kid I wanted to be growing up. I wanted Trip to be someone the reader would instantly like, someone they could relate to, and someone we want to succeed. I hope I accomplished that.
I certainly think you accomplished it. I loved Trip right away. And what about Josh and Sarah?
CLEMENTS: Josh was one of those characters that when I finished writing him, I had totally figured out who he was. On my second revision, I was really able to hear his voice, and change what I had written to fit my new understanding of him. Now when I read, he still surprises me and makes me laugh. I really love him! And Sarah is the brains of the operation. She’s a smart, pretty, confident girl, and the boys would fall apart without her. Let’s be honest… us guys need girls in our lives or we would really screw everything up.
What made you decide on St Augustine as your setting?
CLEMENTS: Trip has to decipher clues that lead him to map pieces hidden throughout the city. I needed a city that could become a character in his search for the map pieces. My wife, son, and I were on vacation in St Augustine and it was so beautiful, and full of rich American history, that it quickly became the obvious choice for my story. It also becomes very important to the climax of the story, but you’ll have to read it to see why.
You mentioned the clues. They were so clever and intriguing. How did you come up with those?
CLEMENTS: Well, I would love people to think I’m clever enough to figure out the clues, but the truth is I started by deciding where the map pieces would be hidden, and then figured out the clues to get them there. It’s much easier that way.
I know Gasparilla was a real pirate who plundered hundreds of ships, but how did you decide to focus on his treasure?
CLEMENTS: Once I knew my quest would be set in St Augustine, I started researching hidden treasures of Florida. When I came across Gasparilla, I got pretty excited. The more I learned about him, the more I saw what a perfect fit he was for my story. Gasparilla plundered a massive amount of treasure, and it’s still out there somewhere, just waiting for someone to find it.
Gasparilla sailed off the west coast of Florida, and your story is set on the east coast. How does his treasure end up in St Augustine?
CLEMENTS: Gasparilla died after tying himself to his ship’s anchor chains and throwing himself into the Gulf of Mexico. But as an author of fiction, I get to ask myself, “What would he do if he didn’t die at the bottom of the Gulf?” I think he would gather up all his treasure and tuck it away somewhere no one would ever find it.
What were some of your influences in this story?
CLEMENTS: Well, for anyone who has ever seen “The Goonies”, “National Treasure”, and “Indiana Jones”, you will quickly see they were all movies I loved. I hate to say my books are influenced by movies, but my life is so ingrained in the movie business, that’s just the way it is.
Do you have any other personal experiences that play into Gasparilla’s Treasure?
CLEMENTS: I think my brain is stuck in a teenage mind set. I find it easy to recall events and emotions from that time, and I try to translate them into my writing. I hope this will resonate with young readers and that they will find it relevant.
You mentioned your inspiration for Gasparilla’s Treasure, but in general, where do you get your ideas and inspiration?
For my first two books, I sat down and racked my brain for ideas that might make great stories, but now I see stories all around me. I saw a young girl sing in church a few weeks back, and my brain keeps making up stories about her. I took a vacation at a creek house, and it made we want to write a story called “The Creek House Kids”. I played golf today, and I want to write a story about a kid that plays golf. My brain starts bouncing the ideas around, and now I just have to figure out which ones will actually be interesting.
Have you always known you would be a writer?
CLEMENTS: My high school teachers would have told you, “No Way!”, but I’ve always enjoyed dabbling in writing, but never really thought I would sit down to write a book. I think everyone has stories they want to tell, but just never get around to it. I finally got around to it.
What are some of your favorite books and authors?
CLEMENTS: I absolutely love Orson Scott Card. A friend of mine turned me on to “Ender’s Game” about three years ago and I have since read almost every book he has written. And of course I loved all the Harry Potter books. I have read them each at least three times. And I eat up anything that has to do with the space time continuum. I’m such a nerd!
What is the best advice you ever received for writing your book?
CLEMENTS: I actually got the best piece of advice on a script I wrote. I gave it to a script writer friend of mine to read and he said, “Throw this in the trash, read the books “Screenplay” and “Writing Screenplays That Sell”, and then start over.” It was great advice. From those books I learned about structure, characters, ways to organize, etc. And now I apply what I’ve learned to writing books.
What was the biggest obstacle that you faced while writing your book?
Like most people, I think time and motivation are the things that stand in the way the most. We all have such busy lives, and it’s so easy to say, “I’ll just write later when I have time.” You have to make the time!
What advice can you give to debut authors out there?
As a debut author myself, I’m still trying to figure out what works. So for now, all I can say is stick with it and believe in yourself. If your story connects with the readers, it will find its audience (I hope).
When you’re not writing or working in the movie business, what kind of things do you enjoy doing?
CLEMENTS: I love spending time with my wife, son, dog, and three cats. Doesn’t really matter what were doing, I just enjoy the time together. I also really enjoy a good game of golf.
What can we expect next from Scott Clements?
CLEMENTS: I’m finishing up the final chapters of my next book. It’s about Chet Parker, an outcast at school that gets thrown into the hunt for Mr. Fluffy Pants; the cat of the most popular girl in school, Heather. Mr. Fluffy Pants disappears while wearing the valuable diamond tennis bracelet of Heather’s mom as a collar. Chet discovers that he is quite good, although unconventional, at being a pet detective. It’s a fun detective story that is really going to connect with pet lovers.
My parents read to my sister and I as kids and I was (and still am) a bookworm. What books are your favourite to read with your son?
CLEMENTS: My wife and I have been adamant about reading to Corey since before he was born. I really love books that can make us laugh together. Nothing too heavy (there will be plenty of time for him to learn about life’s struggles and disappointments). It’s fun to try and engage him with a reading style his own brain may not have thought of.
As someone who works with a lot of kids at different ages I see the gravitating away from books and more and more towards movies/tv/video games. What are your feelings on this from your unique perspective of being in the entertainment industry and also an author and parent?
CLEMENTS I think movies, TV, games and books all have their place with our children. Everything in moderation. A well done movie or TV show presents the story to you with predetermined emotions and images and can really connect with the audience in a unique way. A video game engages your instincts, reflexes, and reasoning, literally engaging you with the story and its outcome. And a book can dig deep in your brain the way no movie, TV show or game ever could. When I read a book before bed, I dream in the writing style of the author, the book gets so engrained in your imagination it just can’t get out. That doesn’t happen with movies, TV and games. Any youth out there who choose to skip reading as part of their entertainment options are really missing out. Only a book asks you to open up your imagination and see where it takes you.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me and good luck with Gasparilla’s Treasure!
CLEMENTS No … thank you. And thank you to all the readers that take the time to support indie authors. Unlike publishers who have exhaustive marketing budgets, us indies rely on our readers to help us get the word out there through reviews and blogs like yours. I really appreciate what you’re doing here!
You can follow Scott on twitter here, and the book too here. Scott’s blog is Gasparilla’s Treasure and features a fantastic video too!
Scott is having a special promotion on Goodreads to win a copy of the book, two are up for grabs! Entries end at midnight on May 25th so enter now. Click here for details.
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