Thursday, April 24, 2008

Take 3...with Scott Hays
I first came across Scott Hays's work when I was researching to write a health-related book proposal, so when I recently was assigned to copyedit Tiki Barber's Pure Hard Workout (Gotham, October 2008), I noticed the title page said, "by Tiki Barber and Joe Carini with Scott Hays." A lightbulb went on.
Turns out, Hays has written a lot of other cool books, including a children's book about capital punishment (!) and a thriller/mystery involving Indian gaming. The Ghost of Tahquitz is going on my wish list.

Not surprisingly, then, Hays combines writing with other work: as a teacher and media consultant in California. He's not exactly lacking for things to do (is that a vineyard I see out his back door?), so I'm very pleased he made the time to answer some of my nosy questions.

1. I have a copy of your book Built for Sex in my library. It's the best thing I've ever seen on the subject of sexual fitness and wish there were a companion volume for women. (Something not authored by Carmen Electra.) What was the best part of working on that manuscript--it looks like it must've taken a long time to write.

SH: Actually, I was given only four months to complete the entire manuscript of roughly 100,000 words. It nearly broke me, spiritually. Not a fun project, although I still enjoy the knowledge I gained from the research. And no, I didn’t have to do any “field testing.”

2. You have a multifaceted business as a professor and media consultant in addition to being a writer. Do you find that writers tend to be--or maybe *need* to be for longevity--multitalented?

SH: Some writers I know believe in becoming specialists—experts, if you will, in one particular field. I’ve always had to take on whatever work came my way. It’s how I continue to make my living. I started teaching roughly six years ago after I noticed a few of my writing friends doing it to earn extra income. I actually enjoy teaching just as much as I do writing, so the combination of the two works extremely well for my lifestyle. My advice to all writers is to do whatever it takes to continue writing, period. And if that means taking on an extra job or two, now and again, then so what.

3. Thanks for sharing your rejection letter story at your e-journal. What perennial advice do you give your students about using rejection to their advantage? Publishing surely gives us lots of opportunity to either develop thick skin or abandon our efforts.

SH: Embrace rejection, it’s part of the process. The first book I sold 20 years ago was rejected by dozens of publishers before I eventually found it a home; and it just happened to be one of the largest publishers of educational material in the country. Learn from those who reject you, and don’t take their criticism personally. Every book I ever sold was rejected by dozens upon dozens of agents. I could never get any of them to work with me . . . and yet I eventually sold most of my book proposals and to large publishing houses.
Photo used by permission.

No comments: