Crime writer Jess C Scott’s latest publication, Playmates, is a psychological thriller featuring a brother sister serial killing team—and their slow descent into amoral mayhem.
Her short story collection, Owned, is centered around the theme of passion, murder and bloodlust.
Jess participated on two panels at the 2012 Singapore Writers Festival (SWF), organized by The Arts House, the key program partner of the SWF. Her publishing company, jessINK, focuses on creating meaningful entertainment.
She has been living in Maine for almost a decade.
In this interview, Jess talks about psychopaths, dark crime fiction, and how Maine has influenced her writing.
Why do you write crime fiction?
I’ve always loved crime dramas, murder mysteries, and films in the psychological horror/thriller genre. Crime fiction is a genre that allows for the exploration of several interests of mine: taboo topics, social commentary, unconventional twists and turns…
Do you find psychopaths intriguing or disturbing?
I am intrigued by their intelligence and ability to manipulate others for their own benefit. There is a part of me that’s generally quite optimistic and easy-going. However there’s another part of me that’s always into exploring themes like sex, murder, money, power, greed, suicide, things that are very often on a psychopath’s mind obsessively.
I am similarly intrigued and disturbed by how some psychopaths are able to charm others by putting on various emotional fronts.
Are some people born evil?
While I think some people are truly born evil, a person still has a choice as to how they act and behave towards others. People can have murderous impulses, but it doesn’t automatically mean they’re going to be actual murderers.
I think the nature versus nurture aspect does come into play too. If a person with a certain predisposition for something like murder is put in a situation that “offers” that opportunity, or is put through circumstances that foster violent or aggressive behavior, they are much more likely to be prone to committing a crime some time down the line.
How many of your books are set in Maine (and/or other places you have lived)?
Playmates is the first book in The Wilde Twins trilogy. While the names and places are fictitious, the setting in the first book is certainly based on a quiet, small town somewhere in Maine. It felt like a natural setting to reflect some of the isolation in the first book, where heinous things can happen unseen.
Some of my earlier books feature a fictitious city as a setting. I grew up in a cosmopolitan city (Singapore), so both of these contrasting settings can appear in my various writing projects.
What are your thoughts on being a writer in Maine?
I think it’s a wonderful place to be a writer. The environment is very conducive for focusing on a project, especially something like writing which involves a certain amount of quiet, solitude, and (ideally) lack of distractions.
I was made very aware of the four seasons here, since I did not grow up experiencing four different seasons.
As the Maine College of Art states on its website, “landscape and solitude have always attracted artists and writers to Maine.” Maine will also always be associated with Stephen King! That’s often the first thing people mention to me when I say I’ve lived in Maine.
Please share some writing or publishing tips with others.
Writing is a creative thing; publishing is a business thing. Have clearly-defined goals and constantly strive to improve your skills, so that you don’t end up disillusioned or developing a jaded/defeatist attitude.
A balance between writing and some non-writing activities would be good. After all, life is meant for living. It certainly reminds me of the expression, “Maine: The Way Life Should Be.”