Interview with Thomas Scott, Author of State of Qualms

15 Mar 2023

What can you tell us about your new release, State of Qualms?

State of Qualms is the 17th Virgil Jones Mystery-Thriller novel, and like all the other books in the series, it is but a chapter of a much larger over-arching storyline. The main protagonists, Detective Virgil Jones (along with his adopted brother, Murton Wheeler) are special investigators for the Major Crimes Unit, working for, and answering to, the governor of the state. Each book in the series is a stand-alone novel, of course, with a complete and satisfying ending. In other words, there are never any cliffhangers. While the books can be read in any order, most readers tell me they prefer to start at the beginning of the series to better witness the character growth. All of my novels, including State of Qualms, are very character driven. There’s plot, obviously, but it is used mainly to demonstrate the complexities and nuances of the individual characters…both the good guys and the bad guys.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

My late father was a writer, and to his credit, an avid reader of stories to me as a young child. In addition, my uncle (Dad’s brother) is a writer who attended the Iowa School of Writing and received his MFA alongside his classmate, John Irving. So I’ve been around writing and writers all my life. I can’t imagine doing anything else, and I feel very fortunate to be counted among those who are able to do it for a living.

What is the best book you’ve ever read?

That’s an easy one: James Lee Burke’s Every Cloak Rolled in Blood. It is without question the single most exceptional piece of literary fiction I have ever read. It is at once haunting, mysterious, and devastatingly beautiful.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love this question. It’s the magic of it all…the mysticism. When I sit down to write, I don’t try to come up with a grand idea for any given novel. I simply let the characters speak to me. They tell me what the story is about, and more importantly, who the story is about. I don’t outline in advance or try to steer the story along in any certain direction. I’ve long held the belief that the stories themselves don’t come from me, they come through me, and I’m just the lucky guy who gets to type them out. Admittedly, I don’t talk about that last part very often…at least not to people other than my wife, because whenever I do, they usually give me a funny sort of look, along with a polite little chuckle before changing the subject to something much more palatable…like the weather.

What is a typical day like for you?

Spoiler Alert: I’m a regular guy, just like anyone else. I have coffee in the morning with my wife, then I’ll usually read for an hour or so, do my share of the household chores, then go into my office and get to work. I try to make it to my desk by nine (although that rarely happens) and usually finish up around four in the afternoon, then I’ll read and relax until dinner. Like that…seven days a week. I work every day, almost without exception.

What part of State of Qualms was your favorite to write?

Without question, the last few chapters, which is also true with every book I’ve ever written. Regular readers of my novels know that the story isn’t over simply because the crime was solved. Character-driven fiction (if done well) doesn’t leave room for that sort of thing.

If you had to sum up State of Qualms using one word, what would that word be?

Let me answer this way: All of the Virgil Jones Mystery Thriller novels can be summed up using one single word. As it happens, it is the very last word in State of Qualms. Read the book, and you’ll see what I mean.

Thomas Scott is the author of the new book State of Qualms (Virgil Jones Mystery Thriller Series Book 17)

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