Former Yorkton This Week journalist Sean Mott has released his debut novel.
Mott, who was born and raised in Nova Scotia and attended journalism school in Halifax from 2012-2016 said writing for newspaper certainly helped him when it came time to pen a novel.
“I didn't take any English classes during my time in university, but I think my experience with writing freelance feature stories for my school's paper helped me grow as a writer,” he said.
After working in Yorkton from 2017-2018, Mott started working with iNFOnews in Kelowna as a reporter.
And it was in BC the book finally came together, although it was not Mott’s first foray into fiction.
“I've been drawn to writing since Grade 8 when my English teacher encouraged me to focus on it as a skill,” he said. “I was an avid reader so it felt natural to try my hand at writing.
“I've written everything from short plays to radio scripts to (pretty bad) poetry.
“I've also had a few novel ideas but they never got off the ground for a variety of reasons -- loss of interest on my part, plots that went nowhere, etc.”
Then one idea stuck.
“The idea that eventually evolved into Fill the Chalice started near the end of my final year in college in 2016,” said Mott. “I'm not sure what exactly inspired it, but I remember being intrigued by the classic image of a cult leader wearing flowing white robes.
“The image captured my imagination, so I started writing the background for the type of person who could be a cult leader. That bio became Solomon, the main character in my novel.
“I spiraled out from there to sketch out a plot that would match his character.
“In every step of the writing process I came back to Solomon and how his character would instigate, provoke, or react to every situation.”
Fill the Chalice accomplished something for Mott his other ideas had not achieved, which made it a story he wanted to tell.
“I felt the story was worth writing because, unlike all my other novel ideas, I never got bored with it,” he said. “It stuck with me, encouraging me to take it to the end.”
And the end was not what he had imagined early on.
“I was surprised with where the novel ends up, and I hope readers are too,” offered Mott.
When it came to writing the novel Mott took a rather workman-like approach.
“My main goal with the novel was to write 1000 words a day,” he said. “I couldn't reach it all the time, but it was a good goalpost to keep me motivated.
“I had a plot blueprint I referred to in order to stay on track.
“There were some days where I'd struggle to get through a paragraph and others where I'd burn through three or four pages.”
The difficultly came to staying on task when the mood was not exactly there to write.
“The hardest part was sticking to the schedule even when I wanted to step away for a day or two,” said Mott. “There were several passages in the novel where I didn't know where I was taking the story and I had to power through in order to take it to the other side.”
The effort was worth it.
“In the end, I'm really pleased with how the novel turned out,” said Mott.
So what is the book about beyond a cult leader?
“The main plot, which follows a cult leader tracking down a serial killer who is murdering the flock, is probably the best-structured story I've ever told,” said Mott.
“I feel it flows naturally and there's no moments where you're waiting for the action to pick up.
“I think the best parts of the book are these extended passages where Solomon has debates with himself. They provide a really interesting glimpse into his psyche and they make the reader doubt if they can fully trust him.”
Mott said his main character remained someone he liked working with.
“Solomon was a great character to write,” he said. “I often felt as though he was leading the way and I was simply documenting the action.”
As for an audience, Mott said the book does have a mature theme.
“I think the target audience is definitely an older crowd, probably 15 and up,” he said. “There's some dark material in the book that could be upsetting, but it's also handled in a comedic way.
“I think fans of black comedy, psychological thrillers, and character studies will really like it.”
So what’s next for Mott?
“I don't have any sequels for the novel in mind at the moment, but Solomon could pop up in my head again and inspire me,” he said, adding “I've got several other book ideas on the backburner. Once I've had time to think them over I'll probably head back to the typewriter and start working again.”
The book will be available through e-books like Kobo and Google Books in June and physical copies in July at Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, and Amazon.