Posted in Author Meet Up, Meet the authors

Devin Scillian

Note: I interviewed Devin in person. He recorded it and Mom transcribed it below. He is a news anchor, musician and author!

New Anchor Website

What is it like to be an author and a news anchor at same time?

It is kind of fun because I get to dabble in two different worlds. When  I am worrying about the news world, I am worrying about real things.  When I have to focus on the truth and being accurate.  When I writing a story it can be whatever I want it to be. So it is kind of fun to write for news which is non-fiction,  though sometimes I write non-fiction for children’s books.  But most of the time they are stories I like to tell and I can let my imagination run wild.

How does being a news anchor help with writing or how does being an author help with being a news anchor?

  • Well the one thing I try to tell people, I don’t think they always think about it when becoming a reporter, they are really writers. Even though we talk a lot on television and that doesn’t feel like writing, [interruption for news check], but really a reporter is a news writer.  I first start writing stories long before I thought about being a reporter, so that got my writing skills together in lots of different ways.. I think to be a reporter you need to be a writer.

How many books have you written?

Umm.. 19 are out and 20th will be out early next year.  That will be Memoirs of a Tortoise. [Comments by that would be my brother’s favorite]

How do you come up with ideas for your books?

I wish I knew that. Because if I did, every time I sat down to write, I would hit the idea button and then all of sudden I would have a million thoughts for a book.  Sometimes what I have noticed, if I get a good title in my mind, then the ideas start flowing.  I got the idea of “Memoirs of a Goldfish” because my daughter came home one day and said “Dad, I think there should be a book called “Memoirs of a Goldfish”. I thought it was the greatest title I had ever heard.  I didn’t have a story. I just had a title.  And I started to write to that idea.  That has happened with a lot of my books.  Of my 19 books, I am going to say 17 or 16 started with the title first. I would say that is the reverse of a lot of authors. They think up the story first and then have to figure out the title.  Somehow it works backwards

Does the news sometimes help you with writing?

It can. More the idea of storytelling but sometimes an idea. If I see something on the news, it starts an idea. Lately we have done a bunch of stories on dogs that haven’t been treated very well. That’s made me think what would a story be if it was about a dog that hadn’t been treated well but found someone that was going to take care of it. That would be a pretty good story.  So sometimes the news does help me with stories.

As a kid did you read a lot?

I read a lot as a kid. Yes, I did. I loved Dr Seuss books. I love Shel Silverstein. My favorite book was My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George…  which I just loved. [Introduced me to Kimberley Gill]

I read a lot of encyclopedias, which no one has now because of Google.  We had a set of encyclopedias as a kid. When I was bored I would just take out one and read it.  I just loved learning little odd things about lots of things. Which is what  a journalist ends up being. A person who knows a little about a lot.

Who was your favorite author?

Ummm.. I guess Dr Seuss because I love the way he plays with words. There was the writer of My side of the mountain and that book meant so much to me, so Jean George would be up there for me. And there was also Shel Silverstein even though I was getting a bit older when he was out.  But Dr Seuss had a big influence on me.

What is your favorite place to read?

My favorite place to read… that is an excellent question… I like to read outside. I like to sit outside on a really nice day. We have a cottage up on the thumb about two hours  from here and I love to sit outside and read there.  I don’t know what it is about being outside and reading but I love that.

If you could open a portal into any of your books, which one would it be?

OOOO, wow what a fantastic question. Um.. I wrote a book called “Pappy’s Handkerchief” which is about the Oklahoma land run. So it is kind of a western, and I always been fascinated by the west. I also think it is my best book.  They fired cannon on this one day  and all these people were on horses and wagon and when the cannon fired, they all went out, crossed the line and claimed their land.  I think that is kind of epic American story to go find your farm and start your whole life brand new from nothing. And you would want to find the piece of land that had some water on it, some trees and a perfect spot if you could, but you had to do it quick because everyone else was doing it too.  So I would love to open a portal to Pappy’s Handkerchief.

That is a great question….

How did you become an author along with a news anchor?

Well, I was a writer as a kid. I became a reporter and was very happy to be doing that. But right about the time we had our first child, I wrote a story called “Fibblestaxs”  and I really liked it.  I would read it at schools and teachers would tell me how much they liked it.  And I thought I would try to get this published and little did  I know it would take me ten years to find someone to publish it. But I did. And then that kind of changed my life.  I wasn’t thinking about the next book, just wanted to get one done.  [ I shared how my teacher has that book] You gave me goosebumps that you know that book.

I got invited to the White House to read.  And Laura Bush, the first lady invited me to read at the Easter Egg role and I assumed it was for my A is for America book.  It is a really patriotic book and was sunder the White House Christmas tree. When  I showed up, they said I didn’t have to bring my book because they would have it waiting. When I showed up to read the book they had for me was Fibblestaxs.  They said please don’t take this copy home. It is Mrs. Bush’s personal copy. She used to be a teacher, so I was so moved and touched that was the book she wanted me to read.  That was my first book and I am touched you know it and your teacher has it. It will always be my favorite book because it was the first one.

Who the coolest person you’ve interviewed?

Oooo. The coolest person…. Man… thinking.. That is really tricky. Umm. I got a chance to talk to Neil de Grasse Tyson but I didn’t get to interview him. I did get to interview President Obama and he was pretty cool. Um, who else, Steve Yzerman, Red Wings.   Like him a lot.  Nick Cannon – do you know who that is? Host of America’s Got Talent. He’s pretty cool guy. There is a guy Willie Nelson. He’s a country music singer, like I am. I have gotten to interview him a few times.  I might have to put Willie at the top if I think about it.

We talked a bit about the photos in Devin’s office.

What do your kids think is cooler?

You know how kids are. It is hard to impress your kids. But I think if they ask them all, I think they might say author. I think they are glad I am on tv and all but all my kids love  books so I would think that is what impresses them most.

If you could interview anyone, dead or alive who would it be?

Living or dead. Well dead I would love to interview a whole bunch of people who aren’t alive… but Jesus.  It would be an amazing interview, don’t you think.

Living – uh, um, Vladmir Putin, no lets go with Pope Francis. He is fascinating to me.  Um, so how about that I don’t think of myself overly religious and there were two religious figures I mentioned.  Religion is o influential in our world and I would love to talk to both of them on how they feel about that.

Mom added “ How do you write your engineering jokes” ?

{Lots of laughter. Mom reveals she and Dad attend a gala where Devin tells bad engineering jokes and it is a key reason they like going.}

It is one of the hardest things I have to do each year to come up with new ones.  There are really about 13 or 14 jokes. { The grownups start talking about the event and how good the speaker was…..} All year long if I see an engineering joke, I copy it to myself in a folder. And this year I was in a mad dash with a  week to go.

So if you have good science and engineering jokes, send them Devin’s way.

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