Interview with Shannon Taylor Scarlett

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I can't remember the first book because I feel like I was reading since the beginning of time. My mother loved reading and read aloud to me and my brothers every day. When I was a little, and still only aware of the children's section of the library, I one day asked my mom, very worried, "What happens when I run out of books?" She laughed and replied, "you move on to the adult section!" I was still unconvinced. "But what happens when I read all of those books?" She looked at me like I was crazy, but just said, "There are new books added all the time." I was consoled, at least somewhat, by this encouraging piece of news.

The first full-length book I read was Doctor Doolittle. I think I was going into third grade. I was given the book as a gift by my aunt, who I admired greatly, and so I set a goal to finish it by the end of the summer. It was painfully slow, but after sludging through that magical book I was hooked. I began powering down every book that looked even minimally interesting. There was one day when I left my room to get a snack in the kitchen and my brother asked, "What are you doing out here?" I realized maybe I did need to venture out a little more often.

Even as I reached my teen years, when summer revolved almost solely around sunbathing at the lake with friends, I still always had a book to read. When I was in Highschool and the rage was trading in Harlequin Romances, I was reading a book a day (I'm pretty sure I was not permanently scarred by those years!)

Then I went to Architecture school, which required a 24/7 commitment to design and drawing (my other great passion). My fiction reading transferred to trade journals and textbooks, which I loved almost as much. Of course, a few summer novels were needed to fill in for lost fiction time during the school year.

Today, I mostly read nonfiction. I love to learn new things. The internet quelched any last reservations that I might someday run out of reading material. Now the tables are turned, I will surely run out of time before I have read everything on my reading list, and that doesn't even include all the interesting books that haven't even been written yet.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Oregon. I thought the whole world was as lush and green as my hometown, Eugene, until one day my parents decided a road trip to Kansas to see relatives would be fun. We got as far as eastern Oregon, and I suddenly realized my worldview was warped. Watching sagebrush tumbling across the endlessly dry landscape made me appreciate what I had at home all the more.

Before kids, my father was a science teacher during the school year, and a forest fire lookout all summer. After kids, he was still a science teacher but gave up fighting forest fires. He remained an avid camper, and during the summer months he took all three of my brothers and me along on his adventures. I loved the woods, and everything about nature, and how it was so randomly beautiful. I wanted to capture that natural beauty in the built world, recreate it through architecture. But its not that easy. Nature holds its design cards close to the vest and trying to understand how she achieves the simple beauty we see all around us became my obsession. I started to research what the ancients had figured out, that made the beauty of their work so timeless. And though I never planned to become a writer, I really wanted to share the wisdom I began to uncover.
Describe your desk
Honestly, as I survey my workspace, I must say its covered with a jumble of unlikely bedfellows. I have rolls of tracing paper and felt tip pens next to my laptop. Freehand sketches of my current projects and existing measurements, are interwoven with articles on marketing and infographics, and a stack of proof copies of my book Simple Rules sits next to the printer. Printed images of ancient composition diagrams, site photos, and a zoning application are all pushed to the top of my desk to create a space for my drafting tools and vellum (yes, I still hand draft all my final plans).
Inevitably, I have ten projects going concurrently, some architectural, some writing, some marketing related. And I am always learning new things, sometimes its a cool new feature of technology, other times its research into ancient ways of designing beautiful buildings.
Published 2018-08-10.
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Books by This Author

Simple Rules Volume II Building Elements
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 9,690. Language: English. Published: August 20, 2018. Categories: Nonfiction » Art, Architecture, Photography » Architecture
Simple Rules is a new kind of builder handbook/design guide that references a few select concepts and techniques, salvaged mostly from 18th, 19th and early 20th-century builder pocket references and architectural guides, for practical use by the 21st-century architect and homebuilder. Rules, both general and specific, cover windows, roofs, chimneys, staircases, ornament, columns, and porches...
Simple Rules, What the Oldtime Builders Knew
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 7,000. Language: English. Published: September 19, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Art, Architecture, Photography » Architecture, Nonfiction » Home and Garden » Home design
Simple Rules is a new kind of builder handbook / design guide. Inspired by long forgotten sources, the design content included here--timeless composition principles, elegant proportional systems, building techniques and formulas for making buildings more beautiful--is intended as a guide for the modern builder who cares about aesthetics and meaning as much or more than the bottom line.