Local School Teacher Releases First Book
Story by Michael Seguin
Scott Clements’ writing journey began in the unlikeliest of all places: a high school English class.
“One of my teachers wanted me to write a short story,” Scott recalls. “So, before I got started, I decided to do a little bit of research. One of the authors I’ve always admired is Stephen King, so I did some reading about how he approached his stories and how he made them work.”
Scott’s first attempt at fiction would have made the King of Horror beam with ghoulish pride. The story involved a couple stranded on the side of the road. In order to reach the nearest phone, they had to navigate a dark cornfield, which just so happened to be the hunting grounds of a local monster.
“They didn’t make it,” Scott reports. “I’ve loved writing ever since.”
For years, Scott has hammered himself against the wordsmith’s anvil, sharpening his skills. After producing reams and reams of short stories, he gradually found a small audience in a number of online publications. In the interim, he became a teacher at St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary School.
All the while, his first novel began to take shape. Thermopylung tells the story of a
disastrous dispute between the Norse gods. In order to determine whose mount is the swiftest, Odin, the All Father, and his son Thor, the Prince of Asgard, decide to race each other to the end of the cosmos itself. But, there’s a small wrinkle in their plan: the Universe is endless!
Enter seven-year-old Preston T. Thermopoly and his immortal friend Glimwir Starsong. Together, the two must journey through the Nine Realms in order to stop the two quarrelsome gods from tearing apart the Universe itself.
“I’ve always been a fan of mythology,” Scott explains. “I wanted to be able to bring these old stories across in ways I hadn’t seen before. The thought of writing a kid’s story—a child’s version of mythology—had been bouncing around in the back of my head for a while. Finally, a collection of little ideas started to form and the larger structure came to me all at once.”
While writing is often a solitary endeavor, Scott found some unlikely writing buddies in his two daughters, Samantha, now 17, and Emma, now 16.
“I used to tell my kids bedtime stories when they were small,” Scott recalls. “As I was writing the book, I would be reading it to them.”
However, Scott’s journey to the printed page—like the journey of Preston and Glimwir—was a bumpy one.
“I initially planned on releasing this as a picture book,” Scott states. “I teamed up with local artist Glen Angus to do the illustrations. He unfortunately passed away a few years ago. He was a world-class artist. I would have loved to have been able to see the project through with him.”
Additionally, Scott, like most writers, encountered some difficulty with publishing.
“I had become frustrated with writing for a number of years,” Scott admits. “You have to have a really thick skin as a writer. But it becomes demoralizing when you put hours and hours and hours into the different things you do only to face rejection after rejection. The kids were also growing up.”
For a time, Scott put his pen aside and occupied his time with other things, such as coaching and teaching.
However, it was ultimately Scott’s daughters who helped him see Preston’s journey through to the end.
“When Samantha was in Grade 5, there was these silly games that she always wanted to play,” Scott recalls. “She conscripted myself and her younger sister into a club and then elected herself president. She would give us these little tasks to complete. For one of the tasks, she gave us a writing assignment! I actually wrote a single-page little piece for her. And that made me realize that I missed writing.”
That summer, Scott dusted off Thermopylung. With his passion for the craft rekindled, he began to retool his old manuscript. And once again, his daughters remained both his first audience and most merciless critics.
“I read the book to them before I read it to anyone else,” Scott laughs. “They kept asking me, ‘When are you going to get it published? When are you going to get it published?’”
After several more submissions, the book was picked up by Markosia, a British publisher.
Thermopylung was released on December 9th, 2019.
“My daughters were overjoyed when it was published,” Scott states. “I think they spread the word on social media farther than I even did. They were very excited!”
And the feeling was mutual. Having a book published caused Scott to experience a surge of momentum worthy of the All Father’s eight-legged horse.
“It was incredibly satisfying,” Scott states. “It gave me a sense of confidence that maybe I didn’t have before. It showed me that what I’m doing isn’t a waste of time. That it’s something I should be spending more time working at. Since the book came out, I’ve been doing a lot of writing. Which has been fantastic.”
Scott is currently hard at work on some new short stories. As well, his next novel is in the works, an adult science fiction story called The Answer Man.
“Frustration kept me out of writing for a number of years,” Scott admits. “And looking back, I regret that. I might have been able to get something else published in the meantime. I’m not going to let any more writing time go to waste.”
And while his publishing journey was a bit of a winding one, Scott encourages young writers to be viciously dogged about pursuing their dreams.
“Develop a thick skin,” Scott advises. “Keep plugging away at it. One thing I realized late is that you can’t really write for the purpose of getting published and earning money. That doesn’t really work because it doesn’t happen for very many people. You have to write for one reason: because you enjoy it.”
Thermopylung is currently available on Amazon and select bookstores.