Interview with Scott Douglas Prill, Author of Where the Corn Grows Tallest
14 Nov 2023
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Where the Corn Grows Tallest?
The book was inspired in part by an actual event. In about 1930, a distant relative disappeared in a rural Iowa town (where I was born) and was never seen or heard from again. I also wanted to write a story in a different genre – from ancient historical fiction to a more modern (1970) mystery/murder novel.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Where the Corn Grows Tallest, what would they be?
The novel takes place primarily in 1970, so several songs from that time period come to mind for characters in the book. A song that pertains to the young protagonist and the Vietnam War veteran is Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Another song is the first song the young protagonist hears at his initial high school dance, Jumping Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones. A third song relates to the situation of the troubled detective protagonist, Comes a Time by Neil Young.
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
I enjoy reading diverse range of genres including, historical fiction, murder/mysteries, and current biographies/autobiographies. I have written historical fiction books and a murder mystery book. I enjoy writing in both genres. I have thought of writing a horror novel, but in the end, I prefer the other genres noted above.
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
I have a diverse group of books “to be read.” These include: One by One by Ruth Ware (murder/mystery); Alaric the Goth by Douglas Boin (historical); My Two Elaines by Martin Schreiber (Alzheimer’s account); and Death on the Prairie by Paul Wellman (Indian Wars in the American West).
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
I enjoyed writing so many scenes in Where the Corn Grows Tallest and can’t select just one scene. Some of my favorites are: in the first chapter when a businessman disappears and is never seen again; when the Vietnam War veteran meets the young protagonist’s friends; the barn scene where the young protagonist roughly encounters the town curmudgeon; when a farm couple discovers something extremely unpleasant in their well, and the climatic chapter where the detective protagonist faces off against a murderer.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
One quirky writing habit I have is that I only write for one hour at a time. When editing I may go an hour and a half. I feel my creativity diminishes after an hour to hour and a half. But I do try and write every day. Also, for whatever reason, I tend to work more productively in the evening.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
A saying that I’m fond of was from my father-in-law: “Step by step one goes far.” This saying applies to many aspects of our lives, including writing books. What seems like a mountain when beginning a book becomes more manageable as you work on it – step by step. Other formidable challenges can be faced in the same manner.
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
One thing I would like readers to remember after finishing the book is really not about the story; instead it is this – one is never too old to start something new. I started writing books and short stories at age 60. I wrote Where the Corn Grows Tallest from age 68 – 71. You’re never too old!
Scott Douglas Prill is the author of the new book Where the Corn Grows Tallest: Tale of Mystery and Murder in America’s Heartland
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