Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Monte Dutton - Guest Author

Monte Dutton (a fellow Kindle Scout winner) is a former sportswriter from South Carolina who still describes a few ballgames on the side. His fourth novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, was published in the spring.

You have an all-expense-paid long weekend to spend with three guests. The Starship Enterprise has agreed to beam you to the place of your choosing, so travel time is not a consideration. Who are your guests (and why) and where are you staying (and why)?

I want to go to the Calgary Stampede with Kris Kristofferson, Katharine Hepburn, and Muhammad Ali.

What is the background noise when you write and why is it there?

The TV’s on. It’s probably best if I can find something like a scenic documentary, say, Aerial America on Smithsonian. Catch a silent comedy on AMC with Harold Lloyd, just to look up occasionally and chuckle. Baseball games on TV are relaxing. Hockey playoffs? Not so much.

Are you a plotter, pantser or something in between and why?

I’m in between. I start with a general outline of vaguely where I want to go. Then I start going, and, at the end of each chapter, I add layers of detail to the outline, partly as a reference for later chapters. My goal is somehow to be both rational and adventurous. I want to go in the studio and still be free to jam.

When you start reading a book do you always finish it? If not, what causes you to permanently put a book down?

I almost always finish a book. Lots of times they grow on me. Lots of times they tail off at the end. Sometimes it’s a chore. I take it as a challenge. Most of the time, I’m glad I did. I seldom read the same book twice. The only one in the past decade was Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show, which I read when I was sixteen and when I was fifty-two.

Do you read reviews of your books? Why or why not?

Yes. I want to know what readers think. Disregarding much advice, I try to write a courteous response, even to readers who think my masterwork stinks. I aspire to greatness, but I can live with myself if I fall short.

When you compare your first draft to your final draft, do you net add words or subtract words? In general, what is it that you add or subtract between first and final draft?

Usually, it winds up a little longer or a little shorter. One priority is to pare down and economize. Another is to think, hmm, this needs a little elaboration, how can I find an expeditious way to do this? I’ve evolved into three drafts: (1) cook the meat, (2) spice it up, and (3) trim the fat.

What language error, when you hear or see it, grates on you like the screech of fingernails on a chalkboard?

This isn’t really a language error. It’s a matter of choice. I much prefer “awakened” to “woken up.”

Name three writers from whom you have drawn inspiration and tell us why.

John Steinbeck is the literary equivalent of what Jake Gaither said about Bear Bryant as a football coach. “He can take his’un and beat yours, or take yours and beat his’un.” Steinbeck could do it all. In the decade before this one, I cultivated a taste for Sinclair Lewis. I found common ground between his time and mine. An Elmore Leonard crime novel is like a raspberry snow-cone on the way home from football practice. {Ed. note: I guess those two are worth three normally inspiring authors. ]

I try not to worry about things I cannot control. If a reviewer doesn’t like my work, he or she has a right to his or her opinion. A writer has to have the confidence to think, I like it, it’s good, and there are bound to be people out there who like it, too.

Here's a quick blurb for Forgive Us Our Trespasses: Once politicians and law-enforcement officers start doing each other favors, patronage evolves and corrodes the workings of government. Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the outrageous story of the rise and fall of Denny Frawley, a solicitor so corrupt that it might just make him governor of South Carolina. One man, Hal Kinley, stands in his way.

“Be forewarned: this is hard-hitting, dark and often depressing. But that's the quality I like most about it, and a quality that the author was trying to achieve. Dutton never checks his PC meter at the door. He grips it and rips it in a careless but controlled manner, allowing his maniacal characters to act out their most violent fantasies in the most roguish manner. ... Highly recommended!”

-- Joseph Souza, author of Need to Find You

For more information about Monte Dutton, go to http://montedutton.com and read the blog at wastedpilgrim.wordpress.com. He is on Facebook (Monte.Dutton) and Twitter (@montedutton).


  1. Love your trio for the Calgary Stampede, Monte! Your book sounds hard-hitting and oh so timely. Wishing you every success.

  2. I appreciate it. If you think of it, take a good look at Forgive Us Our Trespasses.