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Scott Lax Blog


Today was a fine hint of springtime. Lydia took the boys to Frohring Meadows in Geauga County. (I'm nursing an injury and will be back hiking soon enough.)

My first novel, THE YEAR THAT TREMBLED, begins and ends in a meadow. The first chapter is called, "Meadow," and the last is called, "Meadows." I'll have news about the novel soon. That's all I can say for now, other than another generation of Lax men seems to love meadows. Read More 

Congratulations to Jay R. Ferguson and MAD MEN

For those of you who are fans of the TV show, MAD MEN, as Lydia and I are, you met a new character tonight, Stan Rizzo, the fictional firm's new art director. He as played by Jay R. Ferguson.

We cast Jay in the role of Isaac Hoskins in the movie version of my novel, THE YEAR THAT TREMBLED, nine years ago. The story of his casting is that the director/screenwriter, Jay Craven, my producing partner, Tyler Davidson and I saw his video tape audition. Within what couldn't have been more than ten seconds, we all said, "he's got it." And that was it - we cast him, and never did he disappoint. A real pro's pro and passionate about his work. What a pleasure to work with, too.

Jay's that good, and was that perfect for the role and he didn't disappoint. Jay, a true gentleman and good soul, knows how to tap his actorly center - similar to a writerly center - and bring out complex characters, including a rouge FBI agent in TREMBLED, and tonight, in a sterling (pardon the pun, Roger) debut, as an arrogant, brilliant, chauvinistic and ultimately insecure art director who is on the cusp of the free-love and liberation movement in America. What a great actor, and what perfect role for Jay. Congratulations to Jay - one of the good guys in show business - and congratulations to MAD MEN, one of the best shows ever on television, on their awards. It's nice to see excellent writing and acting rewarded.  Read More 

Actors, Show Business, and the Art of Story

I recently sent out an e-mail blast announcing two new workshops I'm teaching at The Chagrin Valley Writers' Workshop, which I founded in January of this year.

I've gotten some nice e-mails from old friends, including some show business pals from L.A. From 1998 until 2002, I did a five year stint as a movie producer, and, while producing isn't in my blood the way writing is now (and drumming was before), that experience - producing "The Year That Trembled," which was based on my novel of the same name - was an amazing experience.

One of the things I learned was how many talented and unique people are in the film business. Usually, on some level, movie people have a basic element in common with novelists and nonfiction writers: they want to tell stories. That's what drives them, whether they're behind the scenes, in editing, in producing, in post-production, in lighting, in sound, in operating a camera, in directing, and, of course in acting and writing.

Most of us watch TV and movies and enjoy them immensely. My fiance and I do. And every now and then I'll yell out that there's this person or that person who worked or acted in "The Year That Trembled," and I'll remember something about a particular moment in the creation of the film. I'll think of shooting a scene at 3 AM when it was so cold that everyone was in parkas except the actors, who were in shirt sleeves and never complained, because it was supposed to be a warm summer night. Or an indoor scene when it was over 100 degrees upstairs in a house where we were filming, and we were about passed out in "video village," and the actors and crew just hung in there and kept working.

Count me as a writer who respects actors, directors and other story tellers. To act believably, to pull off an effective scene, whether it's on film on video or the stage -- that's an art and a skill that is often lost in the reams of paper and billions of electrons devoted to things superfluous to the art: whose dating who; who's acting out in Cannes or Hollywood. That stuff comprises about .001 percent of the show business world. The other 99 plus percent is hard work indeed.

To all of you who tell stories -- by writing, by acting, or behind the scenes -- thank you for your continued inspiration to those of us typing away and trying to create more stories that you may someday bring to life. Read More 

Kent State: May 4, 1970 Remembered

Today is the 40th anniversary of the massacre of four students and the wounding of many others on the campus of Kent State University.

While members of the National Guard pulled the triggers, it was the toxic atmosphere in the country during the Vietnam War, and in particular, of particular government leaders in Ohio and Washington that provided the cause (the illegal invasion of Cambodia) and the match that lit the fuse (a hostile and confrontational approach to protest) that sent those bullets flying.

Concerning the National Guard, as with the War in Vietnam service people, I have always respected the fighting men and women of America who went there -- and stayed here -- and fought for what most of them thought to be a just cause. And I have mourned for their deaths and woundings; for those of the students at Kent that day; for the innocent civilians that were destroyed in Southeast Asia as a result of this horrible war.

So I wrote about it in a stay-at-home war novel, which begins three months after Kent State, called THE YEAR THAT TREMBLED. The Tyler Davidson and I produced the feature film of the same name (and which begins just before the events of May 4, 1970), which was written and directed by Jay Craven. Then I adapted my novel for a play that was staged at University School in October 2003.

Should you have interest in this event, and what it did to the psyche of America, certainly I hope you check out my novel and the movie. (Both are available on the Home Page, with links that take you to where you can buy or rent them.) But you can research this event yourselves, as well. You can draw your own conclusions.

My continued sympathies to the real victims of this tragedy and their families: Jeffrey Glenn Miller, 20 years old; Allison B. Krause; 19 years old; William Knox Schroeder, 19, years old; and Sandra Lee Scheuer, 20 years old. My sympathies, too, to the National Guardsmen who have had to live with this - it wasn't their choice - and to more than 58,000 American service people killed and hundreds of thousands wounded; the millions of Southeast Asians killed; and to all those who suffered, some who continue to suffer to this day.

I hope we can make something of this. As the character, Casey, at the end of the my book, movie and play says, "I'm trying. I'm writing."

I happen to agree with Casey. In our modern world, it's easy to forget. The job of writers is to let us not forget. Read More 
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On Inspiration for Writing Fiction

Students and readers -- but most especially non-writers -- ask where I get inspiration for fiction.

For me, inspiration can come from anywhere. It can be somewhat mystical: The idea for THE YEAR THAT TREMBLED came to me in a flash, sitting in Robert Frost's meadow near sunset in the Green Mountains in Vermont. (I had the idea to write a book that begins and ends in a meadow; which is does.) It can be deeply subconscious - for two new stories that I have coming out, I typed the title and everything flowed from there.

I had no idea what they would be about. I typed, "Sleeping In," and ended up writing a story about a former New York City Wall Street Trader that slept through 9/11 and ended up getting fired, then became a high-society thief. (It'll be published this week.)

I typed in "The Crack," and ended up writing a story about a chef and his new restaurant; the story begins when the young chef/restaurant owner sees a crack in his new slate patio. (That will be published in early June.)

For another story that was published recently, "Sales Call," I also typed the title - what came out of it was a story about a young salesman in 1980 who gets snowed in at a Holiday Inn in Nebraska. He meets an older, wiser salesman, and his life becomes forever changed.

I filled those stories in with all kinds of what I call shelf items - memory, observation, research, and most importantly, imagination.

(I can't really say much about my new novel -- more on that later.)

I'll write more about inspiration, but for now, here's my advice: if you write fiction, trust yourself - don't censure yourself. Don't be too self aware and let it flow. You have an entire genetic memory stored in those cells of yours. You have your mind and imagination. Use them. They'll breath life into your characters and your stories.  Read More