Farmington High alum rides rollercoaster of writing success

Scott Holliday didn’t set out to become a published author.

Scott Holliday
Scott Holliday (contributed)

As a teen, he worked part-time shining shoes at Farmington Shoe Repair and, briefly, as a dishwasher at Dagwood’s Deli, both in downtown Farmington. The 1993 Farmington High School alum graduated in 1997 from Michigan State University and pursued a career in tech as a software and mobile app developer.

But writing stuck in the back of his mind. Holliday remembers a college friend calling him out as he kicked around the idea of a writing career.

“He said, ‘You don’t want to do it. If you wanted to be a writer, you’d write.’,” Holliday said. “He was right. I was not a good writer.”

When his employer, Compuware, moved from Farmington Hills to Detroit, Holliday took a flying leap and cashed out his retirement fund to live and write in Chicago. In two years, he finished three books, none of which sold.

“Basically, I just gave up,” he said. “I ran out of money. But I always had this notion that once I got married and was settled, I would do it again.”

And that’s exactly what happened. When the time came, Holliday took out one of his old manuscripts and “for the first time, when I read it, I saw the problems.” As he slashed the story from 155 pages down to 47, “the dream became real again. I knew this was going to be better than what I had before.”

So great was his confidence, that Holliday in one weekend queried 200 agents – but received no responses. After a disappointing foray into self-publishing, he started crafting a story based on his own experiences. And the work really started to flow.

Punishment“Whatever is coming out is the most true thing,” Holliday said. “The characters do what they want, I’m just putting it down.”

Holliday landed an agent who got him a two-book contract with Thomas & Mercer. The company published the first earlier this year.

Punishment takes place in a world in which detectives have a technology that allows them to extract the memories of the living and recently dead. It’s used not only as a crime-fighting tool, but also a punishment for criminals.

While Holliday considers it suspense, publishers have classified it as science fiction, and that disparity may have ultimately affected sales. But he has learned through his journey to not worry about the outcome and just sit down in front of his keyboard every single day.

“I’m taking my (college) friend’s advice,” he said. “I never stop writing.”

Learn more about Scott Holliday and his work at scottjholliday.com.