The Invisible Hand
Funny how the world works. Scott Beauchamp got in touch with us this winter about writing for Chronicle because he had an idea and a story he wanted to write. We met in a bustling Minneapolis coffee shop, where he outlined the way in which his personal and artistic plans would run parallel: he was about to leave on a multi-continental trip that would take him from Australia to Southeast Asia over the course of several months. But he didn’t want to merely vacation, he wanted to translate his experiences directly into a fiction story that he’d already sketched out: a spy-thriller reminiscent of the golden-age of James Bond.
Scott has been out of the country since January, but we’ve kept up correspondence as he’s been putting together “Coordinates Unknown,” and I asked him if he’d answer some questions about the story, his writing process, and how “Coordinates Unknown” came into being.
Tyler: Scott, thanks for taking the time out of your travelling schedule not only to put together a fantastic playlist for us, but also making time to share a bit of your behind-the-scenes process.
Scott: I’m happy to do it! This trip has been a once in a lifetime experience and I’m thankful to Chronicle Stories for giving me a creative platform to document it.
Tyler:I want to start by asking how you found the time to write “Coordinates Unknown” while jetting all over the world. How did you find the time to write?
Scott: It was a matter of carving out a few hours here and there, and making sure to take advantage of those times when I had them. With any major trip like this, there is a lot of time dedicated to the actual traveling so I tried to make good use of those down times. For example, when we were traveling in New Zealand, we had to take a ferry to get from the North Island to the South Island. The ferry ride is four hours long so I was able to find a nice seat by the window and write a few parts of the story on the boat.
Tyler: When we first talked about “Coordinates Unknown,” you had a pretty good outline of the plot, but you also knew you wanted to use your travel destinations to make it come alive. Do you feel like you succeeded?
Scott: I’d like to think I did, but in the end, it will be up to the readers to judge. One of the main reasons I wanted to write this story was to find a unique way to document our trip. It was fun to walk around these amazing places and imagine Hector and Sin Mancha racing through them. I tried really hard to capture these cool places both so I could remember them when I look back on this story, and also so the reader can feel like they were there with me.
Tyler: Did you walk around with a travel notebook, making notes to yourself? Or was the process more organic than that?
Scott: It was a bit of both.We left in early January and my Grandma gave me an incredible leather-bound notebook as a Christmas gift. I brought that around with me to write down ideas or descriptions I didn’t want to forget. From there, I used my notes to form a basic outline but the bulk of the story comes from sitting down at the computer and letting the story come out.
Tyler: And what about the plot – you had the load-bearing points in place before you left. Where did that come from?
Scott: I guess you could call it backwards engineering. I knew I wanted to write some kind of fiction story that would parallel our trip, but I wasn’t sure what kind of story would do that. Once I realized a spy story would be the perfect opportunity to follow characters around the world, the rest just grew organically from there.
Tyler:“Coordinates Unknown” has a lot of the fun campiness that defined the early years of James Bond films. Is that what inspired the style, here, or is there another influence at work?
Scott: James Bond was definitely a huge influence, and readers will see that I try to pay homage to that in the story. I grew up watching those old James Bond movies with my dad and I remember loving the over-the-top characters and villains. Today we are in an era of storytelling where everything is trying to be gritty and dark, which can be great – I love the Dark Knight Trilogy, which readers will probably see in the story – but at the same time I think it’s important to have fun reading. I feel that if you can craft a story that can incorporate suspense and drama, but also fun and humor, it’s the best of both worlds. I’m not sure if I accomplished that, but my hope is that readers will enjoy both the serious and the humorous sides of Coordinates Unknown.
Tyler: Your months of travelling are winding down. What’s next on your writing agenda?
Scott: Before I left, I finished the manuscript for my first full length novel. When I get back, I’m planning to sit down and revise it a bit and then hopefully get it published. I came a bit late to writing fiction, but now that I have, it is all I want to do. When I get home my goal is to just keep writing and see where it takes me!
Thanks again to Scott Beauchamp. Read Coordinates Unknownon Chronicle, out today!