My friend M. Scott Carter can now add “published author” to his impressive resume. Scott is a journalist who has lead several lives—at the Oklahoma State Senate, in the advertising industry, as director of marketing for the Metropolitan Library System, as reporter for the Norman Transcript, and now as a political reporter for the Journal Record.
Although I had some interaction with him while he was in the advertising world, I really came to know him while he worked for the library system. It’s obvious Scott has a passion for libraries and reading, and he’s particularly interested in promoting reading for pleasure to boys and young men. So I really wasn’t surprised to find that Scott’s first novel was aimed at young adults. (And, it’s a romance!)
Stealing Kevin’s Heart is the story of sixteen-year-old Alex Anderson, a young man who witnesses the death of his best friend Kevin, descends into depression, and ultimately finds the guidance—and the girl—to help him retrieve his life.
I was anxious to talk to Scott when the book came out. So… this edition of Talking About Books is really an author interview with my friend, M. Scott Carter.
Q: Scott, because you have an interest in marketing reading to boys, tell us a little bit about your relationship with books and reading while you were growing up.
A: I grew up in a very small town. However, the librarian at the public library was a genius. Every time I came in (and it was a lot) she would hand me a book and ask me “have you read this?” Usually I hadn’t and, almost always, I checked out what she handed me. I also racked up a million dollars in library fines (thankfully, my mom paid those). Seriously, though, it was at the library where I discovered the joy of reading and a deep long-lasting love for books.
Q: The saying goes, “Everyone wants to have written a book, but nobody wants to actually write one.” Have you always wanted to write a book? When did the desire translate into action?
A: Yes. I’ve wanted to write a book since I was in grade school. My mother bought me an old Underwood typewriter and I started my own newspaper (it covered our house and a couple of the neighbor’s) and even though that project was short-lived, I discovered just how much I enjoyed writing. I think that’s why I embraced journalism so strongly; it offered me the opportunity to write every day.
Q: This is ultimately a life-affirming book, but readers have to confront a lot of darkness first: death, potential suicide, a life-threatening medical condition, and an outrageously abusive character. Would you address this darkness and its role in the book?
A: Life is difficult and just because you’re writing about kids doesn’t mean it’s not difficult for them, too. There were several of these elements that I experienced when I was younger and they had a deep and lasting impact on me. I remember being chased home and beaten as a kid. I think it’s because of those events that I can identify with the underdog. Many times the underdog has to face the darkest obstacles. I wanted my characters to do that, but I wanted them to survive with their humanity intact. That’s a big part of Stealing Kevin’s Heart, showing how you can survive the darkest times and still remain human.
Q: I laughed at the “announcer” in Alex’s head who occasionally comments on his situation. (See Alex Anderson get arrested, tried, and convicted for trying to stop a crime. Only in America!) It’s like a promo for a TV show, or something you would hear before going into a commercial. Do you have an announcer in your head?
A: Yeah I do. That was straight out of my own life. There are so many times during the day that I hear a voice in my head broadcasting my latest screw-up that I’d swear I’ve been picked up by all three networks. Seriously, though, I added that to show that Alex was always thinking. He’s a modern kid, so he has that primary television experience and it’s manifested in his brain as his own personal television announcer. Still I would not recommend this for everyone.
Q: There are spiritual—even paranormal—dimensions in the final pages. Without giving anything away, would you talk about this aspect of Stealing Kevin’s Heart?
A: The spiritual component is just an example of one young man trying to discover his humanity. The paranormal aspect was written to show that sometimes, once in a while, there are things that happen in the world you just cannot explain. I like the idea that there is something bigger out there. And I like the idea that a real, honest-to-goodness friendship doesn’t end when one person dies. I was trying to show that, too.
Q: A little birdie (a Facebook post, actually) tells me you have another book in the works. Want to give us a preview?
A: Yes. My second novel for RoadRunner Press is The Immortal Van B. It’s the story of a young woman who “accidentally” clones a teenage Ludwig Van Beethoven, teaches him how to play the electric guitar and falls in love with him. It’s different but I think it’s really fun. I just finished writing it this week. I’m editing it right now and I really hope people like it.
Q: Being a sci-fi geek, that certainly sounds like it’s up my alley! Finally, because I’ve never known: what does the “M” stand for?
A: Marvelous. Most fun. Martian. Okay, okay, it actually stands for Matthew. When I was in college I worked at the campus radio station, and the news director there dubbed me “M. Scott” because there was another Scott on the air. The name stuck and I’ve used it as my pen name since then.
Well, Matthew Scott, thanks for taking the time to visit with us about your new book, and congratulations on its publication. I found my copy of Stealing Kevin’s Heart at Full Circle Books, but you can find it at other stores or online. Of course, you can also check with your local public library.
Read an excerpt from Stealing Kevin’s Heart.