Introduce yourself to the rest of the class.
I’m a lifelong writer, originally from California (Los Angeles and then San Francisco), retired now and living in Decatur, Georgia. For many years I wrote under my given name, Priscilla Scott Rhoades, for the gay/lesbian and alternative press in San Francisco, including the Sentinel, Plexus, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. I also published poetry and short fiction in a number of literary journals, and articles in various magazines and newspapers.
A few years ago I tried writing erotica under the pseudonym Pascal Scott. My erotic short stories have appeared in several anthologies including Thunder of War, Lightning of Desire: Lesbian Historical Military Erotica; Through the Hourglass: Lesbian Historical Romance; Order Up: A Menu of Lesbian Romance and Erotica; Unspeakably Erotic: Lesbian Kink; Best Lesbian Erotica, Vol. 2 (2017); and Best Lesbian Erotica, Vol. 3 (2018).
Now I’m trying thrillers. Hard Fall: A McStone and Martinelli Thriller is the first in a series of novels coming from Sapphire Books Publishing.
Who are you and what makes you tick?
What makes me tick? Writing. I truly believe that the writing life is the best life imaginable, and I’m lucky to be able to live it and to share it with my lover, who is also a writer.
What does it mean to you to be an author?
An author is a writer who has been published. A writer is someone who has pages of written words lying around that may never get the blessing of a publisher. Being published is a privilege. I’m extremely fortunate to be a published author. There are lots of good writers who never get published.
What makes a writer a writer?
Writing is an obsession. Thomas Mann said a writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. The compulsion to write, no matter how your day is going, is what makes a writer a writer. The novelist Don Winslow talks about how when he committed to writing five pages a day, he forced himself to keep that commitment no matter how his day unfolded, including the day he was chased and shot at by drug lords.
A writer is someone who understands that it takes more than desire to write well. As Christopher Hitchens said, “Everyone has a book in them, and in most cases that’s exactly where it should stay.” Everybody has a story to tell, but not everybody can tell a story. Writers need to learn their craft, to study grammar, to respect the beauty of the English language, to take classes, to get a job at a newspaper, to do all the things writers have always been advised to do. And read. If you’re not reading, you’re not a writer. Read everything that’s good. As Jewell Gomez said recently, if you’re reading only authors who look like you, you’re not reading widely enough.
Are you promoting a specific book? Tell us about it. Include the book blurb if you’d like.
Hard Fall: A McStone and Martinelli Thriller.
Five days after the Loma Prieta earthquake strikes San Francisco, Emily Bryson, a young, everything-to-live-for lesbian SFSU student/part-time exotic dancer, is dead, her body washed up on a beach south of the Golden Gate Bridge. The medical examiner rules it a suicide, and the police close the missing person case filed by Emily’s lover, K. M. “Stone” McStone. Through a series of fortunate circumstances, Stone is introduced to Zoe Martinelli, office manager of Coppola Investigations, amateur sleuth, and student psychic. Stone and Zoe team up to find out what really happened to Emily. Was it suicide, as everyone assumes? Or murder? Or something else?
Tell us about your biggest guilty pleasure. For example, to you sit naked in your pantry in the middle of the night and eat Nutella with your fingers?
Coffee. I joke about it, but I drink too much coffee. Seriously too much. But still, it’s coffee. I’m interested in watching where the American Psychiatric Association is going with their “Caffeine Use Disorder,” which came this close to be included in the DSM-5 (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, their bible). Now that they’ve depathologized sexual diversity and consensual kink, they’ve got to have somebody to pick on. Guess it’s going to be us coffee drinkers. I’m only half kidding here.
Tell us one thing that you’re passionate about. For example, would you strap yourself to an oil rigging a la Lucy Lawless with a Greenpeace sign in your hands?
Uh, no to the Greenpeace strapping. I’m passionate about my lover, the author Josette Murray. I’m passionate about writing, reading, words, books. That’s about it. Hemingway said he needed two things in his life to be happy: work to do and someone to love. That’s my formula, too.
What’s your writing process? That is, do you have a particular place you write and/or time of day? Do you have any particular things you do before you write? (e.g. do you listen to music, drink coffee, take dance breaks…)
I usually get up between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. and am at my desktop computer first thing, drinking coffee. I write until about noon, then break, and then take it up again in the late afternoon or early evening. This is my schedule now that I am retired, which is wonderful. When I was working fulltime, I wrote when I could—in the mornings before work or in the evenings when they were free, or on the weekends.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you (unless you’d have to kill us, in which case tell us something that some people don’t know).
Like several of the characters I write about, I was a ward of the state of California and grew up in foster care. I know there are good foster parents out there, but there are too many bad ones, and too many bad group homes. The comedian Monroe Martin, who grew up in care, once joked that foster care is where they take you out of a situation in which you were neglected, molested, or abused and put you into that exact same situation. Too often that’s what happens when a kid goes into care. It did with me, which is part of why I became a writer.
Is there a book by another author that you wish you had written?
The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith.
If time and money were no problem, where would you most like to go in the world?
Europe. I’ve never been. Back in my twenties when so many people I knew seemed to be backpacking through Europe and staying in hostels, I was busy working a survival job, finishing my BA (which took me nine years to complete), and juggling parttime assignments as a freelance writer. If I had all the money in the world—I’m retired so time isn’t the problem now—I’d travel more and see Europe. And I’d do more Olivia Cruises. I got back recently from a Sapphire Literary Adventures at Sea cruise with Olivia to the Caribbean. If I had money, I’d live on a Holland American ship and cruise the world with Olivia.
And finally, what sorts of writing projects are next for you?
I just submitted the second book in the Hard series to my publisher, Sapphire Books. It’s called Hard Luck: An Elizabeth Taylor Bundy Thriller. It picks up where Hard Fall ends and follows the Elizabeth character. I’m currently working on Hard Line: A McStone and Martinelli Thriller. Hard Fall took place in 1989; Hard Luck in 1996. It’s 2008 in Hard Line, and this third book in the series brings the reader up-to-date to that year in the lives of Stone McStone and Zoe Martinelli. And, of course, in every Hard book somebody dies, and there are disturbing circumstances and unanswered questions about the death. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a thriller, would it?
Pascal Scott is the pseudonym of the author of Hard Fall: A McStone and Martinelli Thriller from Sapphire Books. Writing under her given name, Priscilla Scott Rhoades, her poetry, short fiction, and newspaper and magazine articles have appeared in numerous publications. She has a BA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and an MA in Liberal Studies from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. After a long career in academia, she retired happily to Decatur, Georgia.
Facebook/Priscilla Scott Rhoades
Back Cover Blurb
Five days after the Loma Prieta earthquake strikes San Francisco, Emily Bryson, a young, everything-to-live-for lesbian SFSU student/part-time exotic dancer, is dead, her body washed up on a beach south of the Golden Gate Bridge. The medical examiner rules it a suicide, and the police close the missing person case filed by Emily’s lover, K. M. “Stone” McStone.
Stone, the university’s graduate admissions officer, doesn’t believe it’s a suicide. The Emily she knew had too much going for her to take her own life. Through a series of fortunate circumstances, Stone is introduced to Zoe Martinelli, office manager of Coppola Investigations, amateur sleuth, and student psychic. Stone and Zoe team up to find out what really happened to Emily. Their investigation takes them into the private lives of San Francisco’s exotic dancers and into Emily’s dark past where they discover that some secrets can be deadly.
Was it suicide, as everyone assumes? Or murder? Or something else?