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Advice from IR Approved Author Scott Wagner: “Establish a writing habit and stick with it, even if you’re not “feeling it.””

Finn O’Brien and the Small Gods received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Scott Wagner.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Finn O’Brien and the Small Gods, published July, 2021

What’s the book’s first line?

“They’ll take your land.”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

It’s 1932 in the Arkansas Ozarks, and Prohibition is in full swing. Finn O’Brien, grieving the death of his father, finds himself on the run from a ruthless moonshiner with magical powers.

Even though twelve-year-old Finn was born in the middle of the Bible belt, he grew up believing in the gods and traditions of the ancient Celts. But that was before his long, painful illness. And before his father’s untimely death.

While trying to keep bootleggers off his family land, Finn meets three strangers. They claim to be modern versions of local Celtic deities—small gods. Soon, they run afoul of moonshiner, Arvin Shimmerman, a rogue druid who harbors a personal hatred for these so-called gods. To survive, Finn will have to decide exactly what he believes in and—with his new companions’ help—defeat Shimmerman and save his home.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

I’m really interested in how we, as young people, decide what we keep and what we discard from our childhood, especially the teachings of our family of origin. I’m also a fan of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and his idea of gods from the “old country” evolving into something different in 20th-century America. What if, I thought, I write a story about a boy grappling with his Celtic heritage in the company of “new” Celtic gods. Once I had the time period and Prohibition-era setting, I was off and running.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

First and foremost, I hope the novel entertains and transports the reader. But amid all the adventure, mystery, and magic, I think readers will relate to Finn’s struggle to balance loyalty and familial love with his need to find his own path in the world.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

Finn is an everyman hero, rather than a “superhero.” Throughout the novel, he’s plagued with doubts about the Celtic faith he was raised in. But he is fiercely loyal to his family and friends, and refuses to give up—no matter the situation. His grit and determination to persevere in spite of facing real threats to his health and life—threats he has no experience dealing with—remind me of Taran in Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles or Frodo in Lord of the Rings.

When did you first decide to become an author?

I’ve dreamed of being an author since I was a boy, but I never attempted a novel until a friend convinced me to participate in NaNoWriMo back in 2007. I’ve been writing short stories and novels ever since.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

No. Like most writers I have an unpublished first novel that still sits on my hard drive. Finn O’Brien and the Small Gods is the first book I’ve put out into the world.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

I teach guitar at a local school and at my home studio.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

I try to devote at least a couple of hours every day to my writing.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?

The best part is the autonomy. The hardest? Selling yourself. The writing process is hard for me, as it is for most writers, but I enjoy that process. What I really struggle with is marketing my work. That part just isn’t fun for me.

What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

Establish a writing habit and stick with it, even if you’re not “feeling it.” Some of my best writing has come when I felt anything but inspired. (Confession: I still have trouble following this advice.)

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?

I would strongly consider it—primarily for the marketing help a publishing house can provide.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

Fame? Ummm, not so much. Fortune? I certainly wouldn’t mind making a little money from my books. But I’m primarily motivated to write by the desire to connect with people. I live for those moments when I’m deeply moved by media of any sort. If I can do that for someone else—if I can stir readers to think, laugh, cry—I will consider myself a successful artist.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

I’m a huge fan of British novelist, Kate Atkinson.

Which book do you wish you could have written?

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke.

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