Steven Merle Scott
S.M. Scott was raised and educated in Oregon, Alaska, France and Africa. Born in the Willamette Valley, his father, grandfather and great grandfather were Oregon lumbermen. When he was eight, his parents packed up the family and their portable sawmill and moved to Anchorage, Alaska where they began cutting homesteader timber in the summers and teaching school each winter.
He later returned to Oregon to pursue undergraduate studies at Linfield College. Along the way, he has studied economics, biology, French and medicine. He attended medical school in Colorado, undertook surgical training at the University of Utah and completed his cancer training at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. He and his family now live in Salt Lake City in the warm company of Saints and sinners. He is a practicing orthopedist and cancer surgeon.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Blue Amber Press
Release Date: January 30, 2013
“Unsettled conditions anywhere give rise to fear,” Old Ted remarks. “Fear finds scapegoats and easy solutions.”
In 1924, Marie walks through the Waverly Baby Home and chooses Teddy because he looks like the child she deserves…but the boy has hidden defects. Five years later, against a backdrop of financial ruin, KKK resurgence, hangings and arson, Marie’s husband, Merle, struggles to succeed, Marie loses her way, and troubled seven year-old Teddy begins to see what he and his family are missing.
CELEBRATE THE SINNER unfolds with the onset of The Great Depression after Teddy’s father buys a bankrupt sawmill and moves his small family to an isolated Oregon mill town. Merle feeds his hunger with logs and production, while his young wife feels like rough-cut lumber, unworthy of paint and without a future. When a conspiracy threatens the mill, Merle adds the powerful KKK to his business network. Untended, Teddy strays as he searches for a connection outside himself. He loves the machines that take the trees, but he also worships his new, young teacher. He discovers the Bucket of Blood Roadhouse and begins spending his Saturday nights peering through its windows, gaining an unlikely mentor: Wattie Blue, an ancient, Black musician from Missouri, by way of Chicago, plays the lip harp and calls out square dances. When Wattie faces the Klan and his past, Teddy and his family are confronted with equally difficult choices.
Framed by solitary, narcissistic, ninety-year-old Ted, this story of desperate people contains humor, grit, mystery and an ending that surprises, even stuns. “Spines and bellies soften and round off with the years,” Old Ted muses. “Thoughts, too, lose their edge, but secrets scream for revelation. Perfect people, after all, don’t hold a monopoly on the right to tell their stories.
OLD TED LOOKING BACK ON HIS FATHER: 320 WORDS (When Old Ted is speaking of the present, italics is used) Images stay with me, more so than words and facts. I use images to make sense of the world, which might be due to my basic wiring or simply because I spent so much of my life watching. I store them and bring them out when I need them. On the empty big screen in front of me—my personal electronic storyboard—I move images and massage them. I flip and rotate them. The Big Screen has become my last, best window. I’ve been watching Dad, thinking about how he came to buy the Culp Creek mill, wondering how he so easily got caught up in Wulf Gehring’s clutches. The deal he made to buy the mill turned out to be one Dad’s favorite stories; in varying forms, he must have told it a million times. The basic facts are clear enough, but the shadowy spaces lying in between remain open to interpretation. Dad would say different, but I’m convinced that he gave away too much from the beginning. Dad despised filbert trees. This might seem unrelated to him buying the mill, but it had everything to do with it. Steadfast like the pioneers who had planted them, these filbert trees lined our valley roads like domestic servants. In truth, I don’t think he hated the filberts so much as what they stood for: order, patience, and what he called, “an unfounded optimism.” When Dad sped past, with row after uniform row of planted trees flickering by, all he saw were men and women, weary generations of them, picking and pruning in the shadows and then disappearing—silent actors moving across another silent screen. Dad never saw the value of planting trees and expending the effort it took to raise them, especially when compared to a stand of wild Douglas fir left by God for him to take. Dad wasn’t a silent actor; he saw himself as a hunter.