Are You Infected? A Comprehensive Interview with Author Scott Sigler

Scott Sigler, author of Infected, released today by Crown, is known by some as the world's most successful podcaster, with more than 30,000 fanatically devoted subscribers per book. He's also been profiled in The New York Times, among others. Sigler's background is as a reporter, marketer, and project manager, although he was "writing the whole time." Infected is pulse-pounding suspense fiction with horror and SF elements, involving radical personality shifts and parasites. The novel has already received NPR coverage and an enthusiastic endorsement in Entertainment Weekly. When I asked Sigler if the book had a soundtrack, since he seems to bring a very punk feel to his fiction, he told me: "It runs from metalcore to Frank Sinatra to the blues to AC/DC and The Donnas. Killswitch Engage can pop up next to the Bee Gees then Evanescence. Lately I'm really into American melodic metal influenced by the 'Sweeds' (Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Bullet for my Valentine, etc.). I interviewed Sigler via email recently to give Amazon readers more of a sense of both him and his writing--including his insights about podcasting, parasites, fans, and secret fears...

Amazon.com: Let's pretend for a second no one knows who you are. How did you get started doing podcasts, and was it always fiction you were podcasting?
Scott Sigler: I started podcasting fiction in March, 2005, with my first novel Earthcore. The book was originally going to be published by AOL/TimeWarner in May 2002, but they shut down the imprint the book was on, and I was back on the slush pile. It took my agent a few years to get the rights back, and by the time we did, we'd lost interest and momentum. I'd had enough. When I discovered podcasting, I went looking for fiction novels, as it seemed like a great way to revive the weekly serialized fiction of 50s radio--but I couldn't find anything of the kind. No one was podcasting fiction at the time. Once I realized I could be among the first, I figured out how to record, edit, make an RSS feed and scrambled to get an episode up.

Amazon.com: Do you find that writing fiction for podcasts is any different than writing fiction with the idea of a "book" in mind? And did this come into play during the editing process with your editor at Crown?
Scott Sigler: Fiction writing and podcasting fiction is the same for me, because I write a manuscript first, then podcast. I write, edit, re-write, re-write some more, then when the book is finished I podcast it. So the process is the same, but I get some great feedback from the Junkies and that lets me tweak the story in ways that will appeal to the fans. It's like market-testing your fiction. The changes are usually subtle, but significant. I find out what characters they like, or when they do NOT like my main character, plot holes, factual errors and more. I consider this a job, and my employer is my listening audience. I work hard to make stories that entertain them, so if they can point out problems I'm always listening to whatever they have to say. This makes the final print version much, much stronger. The Crown editor (Julian Pavia) brings another level of analysis to the story. He rocks the house. Between Julian and 30,000 avid listeners making suggestions, the story is forged into something cohesive and logical with a big payout at the end.

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