Scott Bartlett

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Scott Bartlett writes his books from inside a mech, which is inside the hangar bay of a light armored cruiser stationed just past Jupiter. Certain parts of the last sentence may not be completely true. Here are some more believable statements:

Scott was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland – the easternmost province of Canada. During his decade-long journey to become a full-time author, he supported himself by working an assortment of jobs…

...salmon hatchery technician, grocery clerk, youth care worker, ghostwriter, research assistant, pita maker, and freelance editor.

In 2014, he succeeded in becoming a full-time novelist, and he’s been writing science fiction at light-speed ever since.

Visit Scott's personal site 

Click here to check out Scott's new military sci-fi box set, Ship of Prophecy, which collects the three complete series of the Ixan Saga!


The Interview

Can you describe your typical writing routine? Do you have any specific rituals or habits that help you get into the creative zone?

My writing routine tends to change yearly, and sometimes monthly. I have a high appetite for novelty, and it seems I’m always experimenting with what routine will lead to the best results, in terms of creativity and output. The demands and realities of life have an impact too. After a break from writing, it always takes some time to get back into the flow of things.

Since 2024 began, I’ve been getting up at 6am, which has been something of an adjustment from my normal wake-up time of 9am – or later! Getting up at 6, though, I normally start writing around 8:30. At 9am I do a little bit of necessary admin work, and by 9:20am I’m usually driving to my office in the closest town to me. That’s about a 10-minute drive.

Once there, I write until 1pm, and then I stop, no matter how much I’ve written. For some accountability, I’ve also started logging my word counts, both per-day and per-session, as well as tracking my average rate of words-per-hour.

But what I’m finding really effective is trying not to worry too much about how many words I’m getting in per day, and instead focusing on writing consistently throughout the period I’ve allotted for it each day. I’ve already had one hiccup, but I was able to quickly kick things up again the next day, with a renewed focused on those two principles: not focusing too much on word totals and forcing myself to stop at 1pm, which acts as a signal to myself that I’d better spend my time before 1pm writing, or it simply won’t get done!

Scott Bartlett Spacers ebook

What books, authors, or life experiences have had a significant impact on your writing style and the themes you explore in your work?

Ender’s Game is the book I’ve reread the most: I’ve read it seven times, and I think it’s had a pretty unmistakable influence on my work. I also read Dune as a teenager, and found its world detailed and immersive enough that I’m sure it’s inspired my love of worldbuilding. In fact, that’s my favorite part of writing now!

I’ve also read my share of epic fantasy, which I believe has impacted my work too. These days, I find myself taking a deep dive into the lore of J. R. R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings, with a particular focus on how Tolkien wove his beliefs into the staggeringly detailed world he created. I’m currently reading the appendices to LOTR, and I recently picked up The Silmarillion from an airport bookstore.


What obstacles have you encountered in your writing journey, and how have you overcome them?

My biggest challenges in becoming a writer were what’s often called the ‘inner critic’ and also writing consistently. I decided I wanted to become a writer when I was 15, and while I managed to write my first novel in high school, I really had no idea what it meant to stay disciplined as a writer.

It was partly insecurity, or my ‘inner critic,’ that kept me from writing consistently. I would always have an ideal in my head that I could never seem to match on the page. I’d reread my work and think it was junk. My stories just didn’t seem as special or impactful as what I’d envisioned when I set out to write them. And I let that stunt me. It made writing painful for me, and I would procrastinate a lot, when what I probably should have been doing was practicing by writing more.

Gradually, I gained the confidence to write more and more consistently, and for better or worse, a big part of that involved external validation – first from submitting books to awards and winning a couple of them, and later from readers who enjoyed my work.

As for finding enough time to write: I found it hard to come home from a day job and then make myself write. At the end of each day, I just didn’t seem to have the motivation for it. My solution was to save up enough money to be able to quit the job for a few months and focus on writing full-time. When the money ran out, I’d find another job, and start saving again. I went through that cycle until I started making enough money from my writing to write full-time indefinitely, which I’ve been blessed to be able to do ever since. That was nearly 10 years ago, now.

Scott Bartlett Mothership

How do you engage with your readership? Do you actively seek feedback, and if so, how does it influence your future writing?

I keep in touch with readers via semi-regular email newsletters and also individual email correspondence. There’s also the Readers Group I started on Facebook, called Scott Bartlett’s Spacers: Space Opera Fans. I really enjoy keeping in touch with my readers. It’s one of my favorite parts of the job.

As for feedback, I have what I call my “Alpha Team,” which at any given time is five or so readers who read my early drafts and provide feedback as fans of the genre. My books also go out to the 500+ readers on my ARC Team around 2 weeks before launch, and in exchange, they’ll let me know about any typos they find, along with leaving an honest review on launch day. Other than that, I’m always open to reader feedback, and I do my best to continually improve my writing in light of it.


What advice would you give to aspiring writers who are just starting their journey or facing challenges in their creative pursuits?

I’d encourage aspiring writers to be clear about what their goals are. Is their goal to write for their own fulfillment, or do they want to make a career from this? Would they want a traditional publisher, or to publish their books independently? Will they write fiction or non-fiction? What genre will they write – and what will they need to know in order to write effectively in that genre? All answers to these questions are valid, but I believe it’s important for a writer to know what his or her answers are as early as possible.

Once they’ve figured out what kind of writing they’d like to do, I’d advise them to do their best to combat their inner critics and to stake out time in their schedules so that they can write consistently. I know from experience just how hard both things can be, and sometimes just learning how to practice can itself require practice.

One insight that likely would have helped me when starting out would be to ignore the daily word counts you see other authors posting. The word count an author should shoot for is the one he or she can do consistently, every day - even if that’s just 250 words. If you write 250 words, six days a week, that’s 78,214 in a year, or a decent-sized novel. And you can grow from there.

Scott Bartlett CFAC ebook

Technological Speculation: In your work, how do you balance scientific accuracy with imaginative leaps when introducing advanced technologies or futuristic concepts? Is this something that you think about?

It definitely is a balance, and sci-fi always involves some element of the speculative. I think of The Martian as the gold standard of hard science fiction, but it’s a sliding scale, and a lot of books would be considered part of that subgenre which don’t approach The Martian’s level of scientific accuracy.

Generally speaking, writers should avoid yanking readers out of the story they’re reading, and including anything that’s clearly false will probably cause enough dissonance to do that. But in some areas, readers seem tolerant of deviating from known science. For example, if a story has characters traveling from one star system to another in a timeframe short enough to be meaningful for the plot, then that story is breaking the law of relativity. But plenty of popular sci-fi stories have characters doing just that.

At the end of the day, I think it’s about sticking to the rules of the story you’ve set up from the start. As long those rules remain consistent, readers seem generally willing to come along for the ride.


Ethical Dilemmas: Science fiction often explores ethical dilemmas arising from technological advancements. Can you share how you incorporate ethical considerations into your storytelling and the impact it has on your narratives?

Absolutely. At the beginning of my Ixan Saga, it’s a new technology that leads to just such an ethical dilemma. Technology is a double-edged sword, and during the early adoption phase of a new technology, we often can’t see the negative consequences it will have for our society.

Humans use a technology called dark tech to dominate the galaxy in the Ixan Saga - a technology that allows them to open temporary wormholes to fire on targets with impunity. During this period of dominance, the species it shares the galaxy with grow resentful of humanity, and when dark tech finally fails, humanity finds itself surrounded by enemies.


Predicting the Future: How do you approach “future prediction”, and what considerations do you take into account when projecting potential developments in science, technology, or society?

I think humans are fundamentally very bad at predicting the future – there’s always a factor, either unforeseen or seemingly insignificant, that ends up having a much greater impact on reality than we think it will. Usually there are lots of those factors.

And so, I don’t bother trying to predict the future in my books. One might stumble on a detail here or there that ends up being correct, and some readers have called my books prescient, but that’s only because I identified a trend at its beginning that ended up becoming widespread.

And that’s to my point: I firmly believe that science fiction inevitably has far more to do with the present than it does with the future. I also don’t believe sentient aliens truly exist, so there’s also that, haha!

Scott Bartlett Infinite Warship ltde ebook

Storytelling Formats: Science fiction can be presented in various formats, from novels to short stories to episodic series. How does the chosen format influence your storytelling, and what advantages or challenges do you find in each?

I mostly write in story arcs that stretch across multiple books, since that’s what readers seem most interested in reading. Readers seem to enjoy characters they can get to know over a series – characters who become something akin to close friends. Watching characters grow as they confront successive challenges is one of the joys of reading fiction, and in a sci-fi series spanning multiple books, the challenges can get pretty epic!

Short stories seem great for experimenting with unique concepts, and I’ve written short stories that have later grown into novels. But I’m a novelist at heart, it seems. It’s “big ideas” that initially attracted me to this genre, and the longer formats really allow an author to flesh those out!


Genre Blending: Science fiction often intersects with other genres. How do you approach blending elements of science fiction with other genres, and what unique storytelling opportunities do you find in these intersections?

Like I mentioned, I’ve also read a lot of fantasy, and I think my work would be different if I hadn’t. For example, fantasy novels often feature multiple points of view, and that’s a hallmark of most of my books as well. The influence of fantasy is also clear with my trilogy The Ixan Prophecies, which was my first military science fiction series and also the first of the series that make up my Ixan Saga, three of which are collected in my recent box set Ship of Prophecy. In the Ixan Prophecies, it’s an alien prophecy which predicts the downfall of humanity that drives much of the conflict.

One never wants to simply regurgitate the same old tropes that a genre’s readers have seen time and time again. If it can be done in a way that makes sense for the genre, I believe that bringing in elements from other genres is a great way to keep things fresh and interesting, while breathing life into tropes that, while cherished, may have begun to grow a little stale otherwise.

Scott Bartlett ixan box set

Click here to check out Scott's new military sci-fi box set, Ship of Prophecy, which collects the three complete series of the Ixan Saga!