Pontius Pilate, Dr. Seuss, and Me (Part 1)

Pilate in his big sceneRecently, I happily discovered that a picture of me wearing a fur coat and brown tights was finally off the internet.

The picture was from 1998 and for over 15 years it has dogged me on the worldwide web. With a few scrolls down through my name on any search engine (pass the covers of my books and headshots; you know, the important stuff an author cares about), there it was, always waiting for me.

Me in tights.

“Hello Scott, want to see your legs?”

When I signed up for the graduate-level course in Medieval Literature (at Michigan State University), I was expecting a challenge.

Actually, I was expecting a massive challenge!

I heard rumblings from past students of the class, everything from translating to long writing assignments. While I love diving into classic literature, I have to be in the right mood for the older, more historical entries. I’m not the kind of person to relax with Chaucer on a Sunday morning (even though I do have a pic of him on my wall and I did once mimic his style in a very long short story). At least Chaucer can be a little bawdy and playful, but you have to earn the Chaucer in such classes. And usually that due is paid by Caedom and Margery Kempe.

Medieval literature, the literary equivalent of a hairshirt.

But it was required for my MA, so what could I do? I decided to put my own writing aside for a semester and accept my fate.

However, as we got closer to the start of the semester, my fellow students and I started hearing from the professor. This year we were to do something different, something special. It was obvious the professor was thrilled and he wanted us to feel that way as well. Maybe with another group of students he would have gotten a bigger reaction, but typically bookworms (i.e., graduate students in English Literature) don’t usually like to be thrown on a stage.

Yes, I said “stage.” See, we were not going to be studying Medieval Literature, we were going to be performing it! Watch out Broadway! Continue reading

Advertisements

Talking About Miss Austen

From PersuasionThis week I had the pleasure of speaking to English classes at Aquinas College (Grand Rapids, MI) about my novel A Jane Austen Daydream. The classes were assigned to read my book… and after reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  So there is a tough act to follow and literary pressure for you!

It was a fun experience for me and I decided to capture one of my discussions as an audio recording. This is the first 20 minutes or so of the class.

In this recording you will hear me discussing the inspiration behind my novel and the experience of writing it (mostly fear).  Understandably, there are SPOILERS in the discussion if you have not read the book. Also, I am quite the fast talker.

Again, I would like to thank Aquinas College, the incredible Dr. Brent Chesley and his students. It was quite an honor! Thank you!

A Jane Austen DaydreamPublished by Madison Street Publishing, A Jane Austen Daydream can be purchased in print ($13.46) or as an eBook for the outrageously low price of $3.99 for Kindle. You can find it on Amazon here (http://amzn.com/B00CH3HQUU).

Say Hello to Mr. DeVere, I Mean Shakespeare…

The Lord of OxfordI don’t believe in conspiracies.

Some people may think this is kind of lame of me, like I am some kind of party pooper; the dude that doesn’t want to clap his hands to bring Tinkerbell back in Peter Pan. But frankly I don’t think it is in the nature of human beings to keep secrets. Heck, even Deep Throat from Watergate admitted who he was before he died, and that secret only involved three people. We love to tell secrets, and when we were children we each learned (quite easily and quickly) it is always more fun to share a secret than to… keep it.

So aliens, men in black, secret assassinations… yes, at all conspiracies I wag my skeptical finger and say “Nah, nah.” (In a very He-man masculine way, of course).

Yet, I admit I am addicted to one conspiracy, the biggest in literature. The same conspiracy that created doubters out of Mark Twain, Orson Welles, and many others. In many ways, it is a who’s who of readers and lovers of literature; making me feel anything but alone in my little basement filled with notebooks of random facts like a character from The X-Files.

Yes, I am talking about the dreaded Oxford Theory, the Shakespeare Authorship question. The one unjustly pooh-poohed by scholars every time it is brought up. (It doesn’t help that the first person who brought up this theory had the last name of Looney. Yes, you read that right. Looney.)

For those that don’t know Edward DeVere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, supporter of the arts, beloved poet of the queen, may have done more than just survive the back-stabbing courts of his day; he might have also created the greatest catalogue of literature we may ever know. He might have been the pen behind Hamlet, Juliet and Macbeth…

Except he did it in secret, all in secret. And if it is true, it is a conspiracy that would have involved the highest members of the British court, famous writers, publishers, and an entire theater company.

Back up little aliens, now that is a conspiracy! Continue reading

The Horrors of High School English

For some reason I cannot explain I have become haunted by the ghosts of English classrooms past. I keep returning in my dreams to bad high school classrooms, once again sitting through a badly organized discussion on a book by a lecturer that couldn’t care less.  The only difference is that in the dream I am now in my thirties, no longer that bright and complaining 17-year old, now my disillusioned older dude self… Oh, and the end of my pants are still rolled up, because that is what you did in 1991 when you wanted to be cool. And frankly, I needed all the help I could get.

Being cool, I mean.

I have always loved books, it is a running theme in my life, but it seemed like as a public school student whenever I was in an environment that should’ve created—I don’t know—a “cocoon of support” let’s say, I was an outsider, with even the teacher wondering what is wrong with this kid. There was no cocoon! If anything it gave others ammunition to ask what is wrong with me? You like this!? Really!? This stuff!?

The fact is that my experience in high school English created in me somewhat a feeling of isolation. Yes, other students got good grades in English classes, but I never felt like they got “it” like I did. They read the assigned Charles Dickens, did they spend the last summer reading six other books by him? No, probably not. I felt like screaming, “These are great stories! Isn’t this better than that crappy Stephen King in your locker?” Continue reading