Inroducing Shane Scollins, author of The Game

What were you thinking?
By Shane Scollins

When THE GAME was released, there was a certain amount of excitement. All the beta readers loved it, my publisher loved it, my editor loved it, and it seemed like a best seller in the making. But I have to admit my excitement was somewhat tempered because I knew there were going to be people that were not so crazy about it. To date it is by far the most oddly received book I’ve ever written. It’s odd because everyone, universally, loves the first half of the book. But when it takes a hard turn, some people can’t hold on and fall off of the bandwagon and into the dirt.

When I penned THE GAME, I knew there were going to be people that (as one blogger put it) wanted to throw the book across the room. I had an extensive email from a reader that went on in some detail, trying to tell me what I was thinking, about how I must have had two book ideas and didn’t know which one to write, I was desperate, or lazy, so I put two books together to get a word count… But the truth is that’s not even close to the reality. I never rush a book, and I certainly don’t feel compelled to just throw stories together to make one.

The truth is, that THE GAME came out the way it did, because I decided to do something different. The deeper I got into the story the more predictable it became. And in my world, predictable is boring. It would have been very easy to continue the story the way it was going, drag it out for another 30,000 words and follow the expected path. That was the easy move, the safe move. But I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something no reader would expect, even me.

I may be a writer, but I’m not a good reader. I’ll be the first one to admit I struggle to get through books because I become mired down with concern that I’ve already figured out every plot line. In most cases that worry proves true. I imagine a lot of writers have this problem too but they somehow get over it and press on.

THE GAME ended up the way it did, because I was getting bored writing it. I felt like if I was bored, so too would my readers. I came up with a way to continue the story as it was, but it was just so…meh… I wanted to do something outside the box. I had to take a chance and take the story into an unknown, bizarre and unpredictable place. I think I did.

Fortunately, the vast majority of readers loved it. They really liked the unpredictable twist and stayed with the story. In my mind, the experiment was a success. For the people that wanted more of a “Hunger Games” type of ending, well they seem to be mostly disappointed with the second half. But as I said, I knew I was taking that chance. As they say, nothing ventured—nothing gained.

I don’t do something experimental with every book, after all, that would become predictable too. But with THE GAME it just felt like the right thing at the right time. I’m thankful that most readers have really liked it because that tells me my writing resonates enough to pull people along even when things take an unpredictable turn.

Apryl Baker

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