His passion for public service flourished while growing up in south Louisiana’s heart of Cajun Country.
A life seasoned by the Mardi Gras, hurricanes, humidity, and crawfish etouffe combines unique experiences for his writing.
Scott earned a Masters and Ph.D. while working as a full-time law enforcement officer, and then as Chief of Police. He shares that perseverance and sacrifice accomplishes anything if you just stick to it.
Experiences with both traditional and independent publishing, Scott recently released an episodic short story adventure – A Cajun Murder Mystery Series.
His non-fiction research of policing’s culture, A Darker Shade of Blue: From Public Servant to Professional Deviant and Cop Culture: Why Good Cops Go Bad remain a valuable resource for law enforcement, college courses and as an author’s resource.
Scott Silverii Interview
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Books by Scott Silverii
Scott Silverii Transcript
Tim Knox: Hi everyone, welcome in to another edition of Interviewing Authors. Scott Silverii is my guest today. Scott is an accomplished author who also happens to be the Chief of Police in the town of Thibodaux, Louisiana. Now Scott’s certainly not the first police officer to become an author, but his unique approach to the craft is definitely setting him apart. Scott writes crime and murder mysteries and is publishing them as episode, just as a television series has episodes.
Scott talks about his career in law enforcement and how it influences his writing, as well as learning the craft, learning to market, learning to sell, and all the other things that come along with being a successful, self-published author.
Here then is my interview with author and Police Chief Scott Silverii on today’s Interviewing Authors.
Tim Knox: Hi Scott, welcome to the program.
Scott Silverii: Hey I sure do appreciate it, Tim.
Tim Knox: Very excited to have you here. You are my first Chief of Police, at least in an interview capacity. Before we get started, if you will, tell the audience a little about you.
Scott Silverii: Well my name is Scott Silverii. I always tell people I’m from south of New Orleans and they usually kind of freak out when I say that because they don’t realize there’s something south of New Orleans and there actually is. It’s Lafourche Parish and that’s where I’m from. I’m actually the Chief of Police in the Queen City and it’s called Thibodaux, Louisiana. I’ve been a law enforcement officer for over 24 years now.
Tim Knox: Have there been books written about Thibodaux?
Scott Silverii: Thibodaux is very unique. There’s a song, Amos Moses, and Thibodaux always seems to wind up in the media and in the movies. I think CSI is producing CSI New Orleans and in the pilot the victim was from Thibodaux.
Tim Knox: It’s just so fun to say, Thibodaux.
Scott Silverii: It is and phonetically it doesn’t sound like it’s spelled but it’s a wonderful city.
Tim Knox: One of my favorite authors, James Lee Burke, wrote a lot I think about that area down there. I think he used Thibodaux in some of his books.
Scott Silverii: You’re right. It’s such a unique name and just rolls off the tongue and it’s unique in the way it looks when it’s read. In reality it really is a wonderful city.
Tim Knox: And you’re the Chief of Police there. How long have you been in police work?
Scott Silverii: Over 24 years and I was at a Sheriff’s office for 21 and I’ve been the Chief of Police in this city for almost four years.
Tim Knox: Have you been in southern Louisiana your whole life?
Scott Silverii: Yeah, I sure have. Actually my family’s from Philadelphia so down here it’s like Boudreaux’s and Thibodaux’s and when I tell them my last name’s Silverii, I get that cross-eyed look like you’re not a Cajun are you? Well not by birth.
Tim Knox: Is that Italian?
Scott Silverii: Yes, definitely.
Tim Knox: So you stick out like a sore thumb down there and you sure don’t talk like them.
Scott Silverii: No, not at all. I kind of got stuck with that cross Cajun/Philadelphia accent.
Tim Knox: You not only are the Chief of Police but you are quite an accomplished author. We’re going to talk about your books and that sort of thing but if you don’t mind let’s go back to the beginning. Were you always a writer, always wanted to be a writer?
Scott Silverii: You know, Tim, I’ve always written and when people ask before, “How long have you been published?” I guess about 24 years. I’ve published police reports, affidavits and search warrants. In the traditional sense of publishing when I was in my doctoral studies finishing my PhD we were pushed to produce a publisher out of your dissertation topic. That was really the first time. I was in my mid-40s before I ever even considered that I might be able to write.
Tim Knox: So you were in your mid-40s before you decided to try your hand. Do you remember the first thing that you wrote?
Scott Silverii: Well the first thing was nonfiction. It was my doctoral dissertation. It was a multi-year study on cop culture, police culture. So I actually self-published that. It’s called A Darker Shade of Blue. After that I pitched it to a publisher, which they bought my manuscript and pushed it out this year.
Tim Knox: Wow so you actually got a publisher and it’s a nonfiction book. When did you start thinking about writing fiction?
Scott Silverii: Well you know, Lee Laughlin, he’s a retired police officer and we made that connection through social media and he’d invited me to come down and teach. He produces a writer’s police academy every year up in North Carolina. I didn’t understand the concept. I’ve taught police officers. I’m a subject matter expert and I travel the country teaching cops and I’m thinking you want me to teach writers about police work?
So he said, “Yeah, come on up.” I went up and it was Lee Laughlin that said, “Have you ever written fiction?” Never. I’ve always written academic, police journals. They’re very, very structured. He said, “Why don’t you give it a shot?” and I did and it’s been a wonderful experience. It’s almost therapeutic in a way to break out of that academic mindset, that academic structure.
Tim Knox: How does one go from writing academically to writing fiction? You write murder mysteries.
Scott Silverii: Yeah, definitely.
Tim Knox: Tell me about that transition. How do you do that?
Scott Silverii: I love a challenge and I throw myself into it until I’ve got it to a point where I’m satisfied. As a police officer for almost 25 years I’ve always written in the narrative, always. So when we come in I’ve heard the term, ‘show, don’t tell’ probably a million times. I thought well that’s fantastic but tell me, teach me.
So it’s through the networking with all these authors thanks to Lee Laughlin that I met that they’ve helped me hone my craft. So it was a little difficult. I kept wanting to talk about a hypothesis and instatement of the problem and observations and conclusions. I was so locked into that structured academic type research and writing. Like I said, it took probably six months before I could just let my hair down and let my imagination work.
Tim Knox: From a fundamental standpoint, did you do research on how to structure prose and how to structure a story and that sort of thing or did it just come naturally?
Scott Silverii: I worked undercover for 12 years. I worked for the DEA for several years in New Orleans in the ‘90s. I think being a storyteller just comes naturally. I never heard the term ‘pantser’ until I wrote my first novel, which I haven’t pushed yet. It’s still sitting in that editing phase. So my first attempt was just natural storytelling and then I started reading more about the structure and the three acts and really sort of digging into the craft of fiction writing.
Tim Knox: Did you find that as you read about the craft and that sort of thing… I know some authors who have their own style and they’ve never read a word on how to write a book or how to do it correctly and yet they somehow do it brilliantly. Did you ever go against the grain?
Scott Silverii: I’ve got to tell you, I’m a rookie. I’ve been a cop for a long time but as far as writer, I’m a rookie. If against the grain is writing as a pantser then I guess I’ve gone against the grain. I think I’m a natural storyteller and I like to take some of the reality of my SWAT career, my undercover career and I find that that fits a little easier in a non-structured writing environment.
Tim Knox: Tell the audience what you mean by pantser.
Scott Silverii: Well as I understand it you just write by the seat of your pants.
Tim Knox: There you go.
Scott Silverii: There’s no plot points, no structure. I think the arches, I think everything just occurs naturally.
Tim Knox: And really that’s how a lot of the best books are written. Not everybody has a bullet point outline start to finish type thing. Some of my favorite books and the way I write, strictly by the seat of my pants.
Scott Silverii: Right and that’s more my style. Again, going back to what I’ve done my whole adult life is there’s always plans, right? I always told my SWAT teams the operation’s like a backbone. It’s got to be structured enough to hold but flexible enough to adjust. I apply that when I do my writing or anything else. I’m just more comfortable letting it flow, letting it take its own direction, its own course. That just helps feed my passion for writing.
Tim Knox: When you are mapping out a book, because you’ve written four books now?
Scott Silverii: I’ve started a short stories series, a Cajun murder mystery series.
Tim Knox: And you’re four of those in now. How much fun are you having doing this, writing these books?
Scott Silverii: I’ve got to give some props out. I wrote a short story. Fiona Quinn, she’s a writer, and she introduced me to the concept of a short story contest. I’d never written a short story before. So I wrote it and I loved how quick, how intense, how concise and compacted everything was.
It just kind of lit a fire and so I was talking to Liliana Hart who’s kind of served as an author mentor for me and I mentioned it to her and she said, “Why don’t you write this episodic series?” Of course my question was, “What do you mean by that?” “Like a television series. One feeds off the others and the same cast of characters,” and man, Tim, it just came alive. I had my protagonist and of course it’s a sheriff in south Louisiana and I’m very familiar with that. It just gives me a chance to promote the community, the culture that I absolutely am in love with, and that’s the Cajun culture.
Tim Knox: And the name of your hero is what?
Scott Silverii: Sheriff James Walker.
Tim Knox: How much of Scott Silverii is there in James Walker?
Scott Silverii: Well I do believe there’s a little bit of you in everything that you write. If you pour your heart into there’s got to be. There’s life experiences, undercover, SWAT type experiences that are naturally going to feed themselves into the thread. So that’s on the reality side of it but on the other side obviously I’m bound by the Constitution and policies and procedures. There’s thing I couldn’t and wouldn’t ever do as a law enforcement officer that I allow Sheriff James Walker to do on my behalf.
Tim Knox: You’re doing a little vicarious living here.
Scott Silverii: Sometimes a lot of vicarious living.
Tim Knox: Do you ever find yourself in your real job going, “What would James Walker do?”
Scott Silverii: I guess that means he’s closer to me than I would like to admit. I always look for that opportunity. Every 12 hours I get a report from what happened with my officers and the complaints that they handled, and I find myself going through those calls for service thinking that’s the next episode or this is going to be in the book.
Tim Knox: I would assume that being a police officer helps you be a better author of these type books. Does being an author help you be a better police officer?
Scott Silverii: You know it has, just on relatability. We always talk about you have to know your audience. A lot of times when I’m talking to police officers I talk to officers that are on the same experiential level that I am, 20+ years but learning to communicate with the rookie or even the junior police, the teenage kids that come on in our junior police program. So being able to tell that tale and be concise and truly the value of words that are written or spoken has helped me become a better communicator as a Police Chief.
Tim Knox: Let’s talk a little about bringing these books to market. Once you decided that you could write fiction the first book you wrote was what?
Scott Silverii: Well I started writing a novel. The working title was Cajun Caligula and that’s a New Orleans detective. It’s based out of New Orleans, obviously working with the NOPD and I wrote that and I thought, oh my gosh, this is going to be amazing – New York Times bestseller list and I was already patting myself on the back. Then I sent it out to the beta readers and, wow. I was flooded with shows, don’t tells. So I worked on it and it’s kind of in that eternal editing phase but it will be pushed. I haven’t moved it forward. I’ve talked with an agent.
Tim Knox: How did you come up with your beta readers? Who were they?
Scott Silverii: From the people I met at the writer’s police academy. It was such a wonderfully reciprocating relationship. I was there to teach them about real life cop culture and we just started talking and communicating. Over the past year I’ve just established relationships through that and social media and they’ve just been fantastic resources for me.
Tim Knox: So when you sent the beta readers a copy of the novel the response you got back was it needed editing and it was a show, don’t tell or tell, don’t show or whatever. How did you take that? I always like to ask that question because I find that different authors take criticism or creative ideas and that sort of thing differently. How did you take it?
Scott Silverii: I’ve got thick skin. Just law enforcement, I’ve probably got alligator skin and everyone’s so nice and they apologized right off the bat. “I hope this doesn’t offend you.” If you’re teaching me, you’re never going to offend me. You’re not doing me any favors by going easy on the red ink. That’s the only way I’m going to learn. I’ve had a quick learning curve because people have been absolutely honest and open with me.
Tim Knox: What’s that story about?
Scott Silverii: It’s what I thought was neat. It’s post Katrina. We were right in the heart of it and I went into the city for about two months with a 20 man SWAT team immediately following Katrina. I looked for the law enforcement policy paperwork and even the homeland security type work and even the fiction work and, man, Hurricane Katrina is almost like a distant memory, what we call down here “the hangover”. You know it existed; there’s just not a lot on it.
Of course because I was intimately involved with it my detective, my protagonist is a Cleveland transplant. He comes down and I thought it was kind of a young, idealistic guy who comes down wanting to help in the recovery and kind of gets caught up in the whole vibe of the Creole culture. It’s kind of mixed with a serial killing. It’s been a wonderful experience developing that. Then I switched over to the short stories writing, that’s actually helped me find my voice and going to really help on the final editing for that book.
Tim Knox: I’ve had a lot of authors tell me that writing short stories is really the best… I don’t want to say the best learning exercise they’ve done but it really helps them hone their craft because when you have to tell a whole story in very few pages, it makes you get right to the point.
Scott Silverii: That’s exactly it and they talk about writing between the arches, between the conflicts and stretched out over 80,000 to 90,000 words, that’s a lot of arches and conflicts. In a short story it’s quick, it’s fast, it’s super intense and like I said, it’s really helped me find my voice.
Tim Knox: How many words does your average short story have?
Scott Silverii: I shoot for 10,000.
Tim Knox: So Scott one of the things I’ve always had a hard time doing is boiling things down to a short story. Give us some tips as to how do you do it?
Scott Silverii: Like I said earlier, when I’m writing this Cajun murder mystery series it’s an entire series. It’s going to span different episodes. So what I started to do, because I had the consistency and the protagonist and [cuts out 14:25]. As I’ve gone I’ve noticed that some characters have become of interest to me and the different readers so I’m able to write real time and push them up to the front of the story plot.
What I’ve found most helpful is I have recurring themes. I built themes in that’s going to span across all the series, kind of like a big umbrella and some of them are like there’s a serial killer theme that’s going to run each episode and there’s always going to be clues that are going to lead up to the big reveal. Obviously being in south Louisiana you cannot write without talking about the politics. They’re very unique so that’s another level in there, and then just some of the personal relationships.
I really want to reflect and I try to put a lot of just the reality of cop life. You see on TV there’s a shootout and everybody’s happy and they hang out. There’s a lot of real raw life that goes on in police work, so that’s a major theme. You figure, ah 10,000 words. I find myself at 9,500 and something words and thinking, “Wow, I’ve got to start cutting back.”
Tim Knox: How deep do you go into your characters? Let’s talk a little about character development because you’ve got your main character there, the Sheriff. You’ve got some other characters running. How deeply do you go when you’re creating a character? Do you do full background on them because you’re a policeman? Do you know what I mean? Do you have to know their birthday, their shoe size? How deeply do you go when it comes to character development?
Scott Silverii: When I did my doctoral dissertation it was on police culture. I spent 16 years in special operations and SWAT and undercover. I spent several years literally traveling the country from Alaska to Miami to New York, San Diego interviewing and observing police officers. I did that as an academic study and so when I write I would be remiss not to reflect what I know.
Just to give a surface – “So and so was a strong, tall guy.” That does a whole disservice to the story, to the reader, to myself. There’s characters who are actual people that I know, there’s a lot of who I am in some of the different characters so I really do. I know how old they are, how much they weigh, how fast they can run a quarter mile. All that stuff comes into play sooner or later. It’s just tools in the bag that pay benefits later.
Tim Knox: Right and do you keep up with those? Do you have what I call a character file on each character with those details?
Scott Silverii: Oh yeah. I thought my memory used to be fantastic, and it used to be, but I find myself just four episodes in, “Now what was that Deputy’s name?” I do. I keep a character file and I put the little quirks and the things that make them special.
Tim Knox: I had one author who had been around for a long time tell me that he had written one book about a character and then in the next book he described the character completely different and didn’t realize it until his editor at the publisher went, “Now wasn’t he a tall, thin man?” I’m not going to mention the author’s name but he was like, “Yeah I guess maybe he was.” The editor at the publishing house thought maybe he’d lost a lot of weight.
So basically what you’re doing, it almost sounds like you’re writing episodic television.
Scott Silverii: That’s the way when the idea was presented to me… like I said, Liliana Hart kind of helped mentor me through the process. That’s exactly the way she put it to me. She said, “Look, close your eyes and visualize a 30 minute television program.” I didn’t want to admit that I really had no imagination. I’d become so structured in police standard operating procedures and research that, and it sounds funny to say but you almost lose your groove when it comes down to just letting your mind roll when you allow it to be locked in by policies and procedure.
So just that exercise of closing my eyes and closing my mouth and allowing the visualization to run through my mind until it was perfect and then I could memorialize it on paper. It took some effort.
Tim Knox: I love the format though. I really do like the short episodic books because if you’re like me, I have a limited amount of time. I’m not going to sit down and read a 300 page book in one sitting but if there’s a really nice 10,000 word short that I can put on my Kindle and read when I take a break that’s just very appealing as a reader.
Scott Silverii: It is. I read something a couple months ago that 70% of all the books picked up to read go unread.
Tim Knox: I believe that.
Scott Silverii: I do too. I’m guilty of that. So you’re right. In this time crunch, I mean it’s a time famine period, your time is valuable. If I can tell that story within 30 to 45 minutes in 10,000 words then that’s what I’m going to do.
Also as a writer it gives me that opportunity to produce content and of course you know my goal would be at the conclusion of the first season would be to compile. What we’re creating is about 10,000 word episodes that would eventually compile itself into a great novel.
Tim Knox: As an old entrepreneur I’m listening to what you’re talking about and I’m going yeah. You release this episode by episode and then maybe you package three or four together but then maybe you – and you used the word – package the season together, which I think okay that’s like a TV show. You kind of bring all of those together and maybe tie them into a novel. What you’re doing is you’re giving your readers a choice of content.
Scott Silverii: You are exactly right and it’s so perfect that you said that because I wrote the first four and I wanted to do a quarterly box set. I compiled the first four episodes into a box set and I’ll release that in the next month, a month or so. Some folks are, “Ah I don’t want to read a short story. I’m a novel reader.” Fantastic, when I get to episode 12 of season 1 there will be a novel.
Tim Knox: And one of the really smart things you’re doing is you’re creating a backlog or a backlist If someone finds you at episode 6 and really like that, they’re going to go back and read every other episode.
Scott Silverii: Right and it’s so encouraging when folks come to my Facebook page or the reviews and can’t wait for the next one. That’s when you know… there’s relatability and you’re right. You build that backlist and you’re right.
Tim Knox: Let’s talk a little about that because I think one of the things that is so important now because the internet’s kind of leveled the playing field. Anybody can publish a book now but really what it’s done is it has made authors more accessible to their readers.
I’ve interviewed 75-80 authors now and every one of them has talked about the importance of building that personal relationship with their readers. Talk about that a little bit.
Scott Silverii: Well I agree 100%. I started with my profession as the Chief of Police. I have a personal Facebook page and I’m a little more specific on who comes on there but I have Twitter and I have a blog site and I believe in being open and transparent.
When I came over to the author side it’s just the model I’ve used in my profession and my personal life. I love getting that feedback. Right now I’ve got a contest going on… one of the hardest things is naming characters. I’ve got this thing where I always wind up naming like Johnny Jones, the double alphabet.
So I said let’s put it out to the public and the great thing with writing these short stories is you’re writing real time. I got a great suggestion from one of the readers in an Amazon review. They said, “Hey why don’t you do ABC?” I thought about it and I thought that’s perfect. It’s really nice when you interact with people and I give away signed copies of my Darker Shade of Blue, which is a great writer’s resource because it talks about the reality, the language, the observation of behavior of cops. If you want to develop a character that’s the truth; that’s multi years of studying.
So you’re right. Connecting with the readers… I mean I’m a reader. I get tickled when somebody answers my tweet or my question or something like that. I believe that you’ve got to do it because you’re making yourself vulnerable and to the public and they want to know that you’re human.
Tim Knox: Exactly right and they like being able to talk to you and that’s important. Let’s talk a little about the publishing and marketing aspect of this. Are you self-publishing these books?
Scott Silverii: Yes.
Tim Knox: So I assume that means you’re also self-marketing and self-doing all the business stuff that goes along with it. Talk a little about the decision to self-publish and how you went through the process.
Scott Silverii: Well when I published my doctoral dissertation, Darker Shade of Blue, I wanted to… actually where it came from was I was going to go through a University Press and traditionally you give copies to your dissertation committee and your family and friends and you kind of club them over the head until they read your dissertation.
So that’s where I discovered CreateSpace. I was amazed at how easy it was to format and publish. I got locked into the mindset of, “Well if I don’t have a publishing house then I’m not really a published author.” So then I thought, “Let me explore that route.” I changed up the manuscript and made it less textbooky and more of a conversation, more of a layman’s conversation because it’s an important message and I wanted to share it with the public.
That’s when I reached out and I guess I was fortunate. It was Taylor & Francis Group and its CRC Press that purchased the manuscript and they published it. I thought, I think like a lot of folks, was, “Wow, I’ve sold my manuscript and I’m going to be doing this book tour and I’m going to be on campuses, in classrooms and lecturing.” It just didn’t happen. A lot of that came back to sign up for this author’s page and promote the work.
I thought, wow, for whatever the percentage is that I signed off on I can do the same amount of work, kind of control the content and enjoy the process of writing and publishing. So with this novel, Cajun Caligula, the one that’s in the eternal editing phase – that’s going to be a decision at game time.
As far as these short stories that was a no brainer and it helps me. I’m learning my voice, I’m learning the craft and, you know, I’m skilled at marketing. My police department is very, very progressive when it comes to social media because I know the value of marketing and managing your message. So I just apply those same skill sets when it comes down to marketing and producing the writing.
Tim Knox: When do you actually do your writing?
Scott Silverii: It’s funny. I’m a single dad. When my son was very, very, very young I’d get him to bed by 8:30, 9:00. That’s when I’d sit at a wooden table with a wooden chair and start reading my textbooks and when I started writing.
After the seven years it took me to get my Masters and PhD, I guess my mind and my body really re-click at about 9:00 at night. So after I finished my education I still do that. I go to work, I’m the Chief of Police and I’ll do my exercise, I’m a cyclist. I get the little guy to bed, my goal’s about 9:00 and about 9:30 or 10:00 I write until about 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.
Oh let me get a couple hours of sleep. When you’re passionate about something… I always say sleep is for the weak; I’ll sleep later. That’s when I get the majority of my work done, from 9:00 in the evening until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning.
Tim Knox: How do the folks there in Thibodaux, do they know that you are an author?
Scott Silverii: Yeah. The public library carries the book and they’ve offered to do a book signing and of course some of the police officers. You know how cops are. They won’t ever pat you on the back. They’re quick to trip you but they don’t want to pat you on the back, in jest. They think it’s funny and they’re like, “Who is so and so?” They try to guess. Of course some of them will catch you to the side, “Hey, let me tell you about this funny thing that happened,” or something.
It’s neat. I teach college so I use the textbook in the criminal justice class. I use excerpts from the textbook so that kind of applies.
Tim Knox: If I’m driving through Thibodaux and I have a copy of your book in the seat and I get stopped I’m assuming it won’t carry much weight.
Scott Silverii: I’m proud of my city. We use data and we actually map all of our traffic stops. We use a high level of discretion. Chances are you’re probably going to get a courtesy warning.
Tim Knox: There you go. I do another podcast for a website called Placing Literature and it’s a website where an author can actually go and map out his book on this website. Talk a little about how you make use of your city or the southern Louisiana landscape and culture. How do you make use of that in your books?
Scott Silverii: Well I’ll tell ya, I believe in place being a character and again we’ve got such a unique area. I mean you see the TV series, Swamp People. One of the guys on there was a SWAT sniper for me. So all those guys on that episode, that’s my area.
I rely heavily on it. We’ve got the sugar cane plantations and big antebellum homes and the bayous and the swamps. I would absolutely be remiss if I didn’t include all that as a major character. Now I’m careful. I live in what’s called Lafourche Parish so my fictional Parish is Bayou Parish, a little bland but I am also going to be responsible and respectable and not mention someone’s business by name or something like that.
But yeah, you write what you know. I’ve written so much academic work where I had to research and depend on everybody else’s studies and conclusions and opinions, I’m like this is what’s nice. I get to write what I know, what I’m familiar with. I don’t have to give a reference cite or resource. It’s what I enjoy. So I rely very heavily on what I know, my experiences, the people, the culture because it’s a wonderful place.
Tim Knox: Do you find it’s a special kind of place that lends itself to this kind of book though? It’s so mysterious and there’s so much heritage and culture. Does it lend itself well to the mystery?
Scott Silverii: Yes and I’ll tell you, I’m going to have to brag. About a week ago there was researchers from up I think in Harvard and they did a nationwide study about the happiest places in America. Where I live, the Thibodaux area, was I think the second rated happiest place in the United States and five Louisiana cities were all rated in the top happiest places in America. It all just happens to be around the Gulf coast in what we call the Cajun area.
So in that way – the friendly, the culture, the family fabric still means everything. When you’re building these characters, down here when you meet somebody they ask, “Who’s your mama?” They want to trace that maternal tree back to who the family is. So when you’re developing characters and recurring characters and things like that, that’s a goldmine.
Then you’ve got the mysterious side. The Sheriff my Parish now is a wonderful guy. He’s been a mentor of mine for many years but the two Sheriffs before him both actually went to Federal prison behind different types of Federal violations. That’s what we talked about, that good old south Louisiana politics. That lends itself to it. If you’ve got a good memory and a decent imagination, it lends itself to great storytelling.
Tim Knox: I think some of the past Louisiana politicians were such great characters in their own right.
Scott Silverii: You’re right.
Tim Knox: I think there’s a character on every street corner.
Scott Silverii: There is. I mean we still love the King Fish.
Tim Knox: That’s so funny. How many books in the episodic series are you thinking? Are you just going to keep going and going? Do you have a particular point in mind?
Scott Silverii: That kind of umbrella arch, the overarching themes that I’ve written are planned out for 12 episodes, which that would be season 1. My immediate goal would be episode after episode to build up to 12. That would nicely tie into some of the big reveals towards episode 12. I would like to package that into the novel form and then set that out to market and then start immediately on season 2.
Tim Knox: Any thoughts to turning this into television?
Scott Silverii: If somebody called me tomorrow I wouldn’t say no.
Tim Knox: I love that.
Scott Silverii: I guess that’s being the rookie. I can’t say no and I think that’s Southern hospitality. You just don’t say no. So I’m always willing to help authors and writers and working with folks writing scripts and TV shows. So yeah, if someone said, “Hey chief, we like the idea and want to pick it up. Are you interested?” Yeah sure I’m interested.
Tim Knox: Well of course. I would expect you to not be otherwise.
Scott Silverii: Right, as long as you and I get to cameo right?
Tim Knox: I’ll be the guy standing behind your chair holding your coffee. I have decided long ago if I’m going to get famous it’s going to be on somebody’s coat tails.
In the couple of minutes that we have left, let’s talk about some advice to our audience. By and large the audience for this show are authors who are working on a book or may have written lots of books and they’re wanting to know what to do with them. This whole marketing and entrepreneurship and that sort of thing is new to a lot of authors. What’s your best advice to these folks?
Scott Silverii: I was so surprised… in police work we base everything on data. We evaluate data, crime statistics, everything. When I started learning about the marketing process, because you have to have some skill or you have to have the ability to reach out. You can’t just put it on Amazon and say, “Hey world.” I always talk about you threw a party and nobody came. That’s what’s going to happen.
You’ve got to look at the numbers and the data. Buy a book. Research. Google. Learn that you don’t post on Facebook 20 times in a day. Learn the algorithms and the insights and appreciate that. I mean there’s a plethora of information on when to tweet, when to Facebook. Those rules are there for a reason. Search out, find someone who’s done it.
What I’ve found so much is that the writing community is such a close connected community and everyone’s supporting each other and they’re so willing to share. If you ask people, authors, writers, successful ones – they’re gladly going to tell you.
The other side is you’ve got to be consistent. If you put a little thing on your personal Facebook page and you’ve got 100 friends and family there and you say, “Big release party tomorrow,” you might get your spouse to buy a copy but after that it’s dead. You’ve got to be consistent.
As we talked about, the backlist. Having that content to feed into the processes. Make those algorithms work for you. Some folks, “Oh that’s just too much.” Well if you want to sell, if you want to commercially successful, you’ve got to learn to do the marketing. Now if you want to learn for the joy and the passion of writing just write it. Leave it on your desktop in a Word document and read it. It’s how you measure success. If you want the commercial side as I appreciate it, not that I’ve achieved it at this point, but as far as the marketing, you’ve got to learn the way to do it. There’s rules, standards. For those folks who say, “Oh I’m just going to break the rules and I’m going to Facebook every 30 minutes,” man, that guy gets dropped by everybody. He gets unfriended daily.
Tim Knox: I can’t tell you how many people I have go on Twitter and go, “I have a book. Interview me.” I can’t, sorry.
Scott Silverii: I’ve been on the other side. “I’ve got a manuscript and there’s a cop in it. Can you proof it for me?”
Tim Knox: It has to drive you crazy.
Scott Silverii: Again, it’s that Southern hospitality. I cannot say no. The only thing I tell them is I can’t read the romance stuff. I can’t look you in the face after I read it. I’ll skim through it, read the police procedural things. I don’t mind doing it. It teaches me and I love to help people. I always make myself available to it.
Tim Knox: Well, Chief Scott Silverii, this has been great. You are probably one of the nicest police officers I’ve met. Of course when I meet them it’s not in this kind of setting. Tell folks how they can learn more about you and your books.
Scott Silverii: I do appreciate it for you to say I’m one of the nicest cops, I appreciate it. I pride it and so does my agency. I have a blog site and it’s ScottSilverii.com and on there I have access to my books. A couple times a week I put feeds – everything from me and my son to fitness and exercise to writing books.
In addition to that I have a Facebook page. It’s Chief Scott Silverii. It’s my author page. I invite folks to come on. It’s a lot of interviews with detectives and SWAT guys. I want it to be a resource for writers and readers and people just interested in law enforcement in general. We do a lot of giveaways. I’m on Twitter, @ThibodauxChief. A lot of mixture of what my police officers do and my writing. I try to balance that combination. Of course Amazon, iBooks, Kindle, the whole suite of eBooks.
Basically you can Google the name Scott Silverii or Chief Scott Silverii and I’ll be somewhere on there.
Tim Knox: Scott is that Italian amid all of those Cajuns down in Thibodaux.
Scott Silverii: It’s a tough life.
Tim Knox: My friend, it’s been a pleasure. Keep us posted. When you have new books come out we’d be more than happy to help you get the word out. We’ll also put links to your website, your blog. You also do a podcast, right?
Scott Silverii: On occasion.
Tim Knox: Whenever you have the time.
Scott Silverii: Oh my gosh, the time.
Tim Knox: Scott, this has been great. We wish you much success and we’ll talk to you soon.
Scott Silverii: Thanks, Tim. I appreciate you.