More About the Author
I was born in Atlanta, Georgia on April 20, 1970. For the first few years of my life, I lived in various towns and cities throughout the South. When I was seven, I moved to Long Valley, New Jersey, where I stayed until I graduated from high school. I grew up playing sports--football, lacrosse, baseball, ice hockey, skiing, and just about everything else. But I also had another passion: reading. My mother always read to me from as far back as I can remember. When I was ten, I couldn't wait for my father to get home from work so he could read me the next chapter of Firestarter by Stephen King. Nothing made me happier than sitting on the couch next to him as he read that story. It took me to another world.
In middle school, I had some great teachers that introduced me to books like The Outsiders, Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Pigman, and To Kill A Mockingbird. And to authors like Jack London, Edgar Allan Poe, and John Steinbeck. When I was in the seventh grade, I got Of Mice and Men from the library and began reading it that same evening. The next morning, I played hooky from school in order to finish it. I remember saying to myself after I had completed it that I wanted to write a book like that someday.
In high school, I dabbled with poetry and daydreamed of being a writer. I had a teacher who took notice of my writing and suggested that I pursue it, but I didn't really think much about it. After high school, I went to Whittier College for two years and then transferred to Virginia Tech where I received my B.A. in English. I again had professors who commented on my writing, but for some reason, I didn't pursue it. Becoming a writer didn't seem realistic to me. It didn't seem like something I was capable of doing.
I met my wife, Jocelyn, at Virginia Tech, and in 1993 we had a son, Mason. Being quite young, and with a new baby to take care of, the idea of being a writer drifted away from me entirely. After I graduated, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I had to do something to take care of my family, so I did just about anything and everything to make money. I was a bartender, a waiter, a house painter, and a lumberjack. I worked on a Christmas tree farm, worked in a factory, and was a counselor for juvenile delinquent boys at an outdoor wilderness program. In 1998, I got a "real" job working as a sales consultant for Verizon. For the next five years, I worked in Corporate America. I won awards and made a fair amount of money, but I wasn't happy. I knew there had to be something else out there for me, but I didn't know what it was. Writing, however, always crept into the back of my mind.
I knew if I wanted to get out of corporate life, I was going to have to work for it. So I decided to write a book. Every night after work, I came home and worked on it. And it was hard. I had no idea how difficult it was to actually sit down and write. The novel took about a year to complete, and it was awful. I realized that if I wanted to become a writer, I had to go back to school. In 2003, I applied to the Creative Writing program at Hollins University. I only applied because it happened to be close to where I lived, not because I thought I had a shot of getting in. But somehow I got accepted.
I quit my job, and after ten years of being away, I went back to school. I worked extremely hard, learned everything I possibly could about the craft of writing, and for my thesis I wrote a novel. That novel was The Hanging Woods. Shortly after graduating in 2005, an agent offered me representation. In 2006, Houghton Mifflin bought the novel. Two weeks after the novel was sold, I received word that I'd won a writing fellowship from the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, where they would actually pay me to write my next novel.
It all happened very fast (or very slowly, depending on how you look at it--I didn't write my first word of prose until I was thirty-two years old.) But the point is this: I went for it. From that time in the seventh grade when I faked an illness to read Of Mice and Men, I knew I wanted to be a writer. It just took me a little while to get around to it. Someone once said, Find a job you love and you'll never work another day in your life. I live by that motto. Writing is extremely difficult. The publishing world is a brutal one. But if you want it badly enough--to become an author or whatever it is that you want to do--you can make it happen. For me, writing isn't a job, it is simply what I love to do. You can check out my website for more information: www.scottloringsanders.com