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W&M book corner: "The Far Empty"

By Mona Sharaf ’19 June 12, 2017

How does a person go from being a drug-busting Drug Enforcement Administration agent to an author in just a few years? Just ask J. Todd Scott ’90. His first novel, “The Far Empty,” is a physical representation of how he combined his passion for writing and his career into one.

During his time at William & Mary, Scott wrote for literary magazines, developing his passion for writing. Once he graduated, he realized that even though he loved to write, he wasn’t sure if it would support him financially. Scott recognized that he needed to find a job that would make him money.  

“I was able to go into law school and put my writing aside to do something more practical, but I never really gave up the interest in it,” Scott says. “I just put it aside for a really long time.”  

Scott graduated from George Mason University with a law degree, never forgetting his passion for writing. Scott got a job at the DEA as a special agent where he has worked for over 15 years. Recently, Scott found himself gravitating toward his creative side, itching to write. Thus, "The Far Empty” was born.

While he didn't know exactly where the plot was going to go when he first began writing, he was sure of one thing — the opening line. Italicized on the first page is the simple statement, "My father has killed three men."  Slowly, Scott started forming the plot around this sentence and his life experiences.

“I had an interesting idea that came about from where I was living and working, and now I am just running with it,” Scott says.

This modern-day western was inspired by Scott's experiences as a DEA agent. "The Far Empty" is the story of how 17-year-old Caleb Ross and sheriff's deputy Chris Cherry are brought together over the skeletal remains of a mystery person found in the surrounding badlands of Texas whose murder is suspected to be Stanford Ross, Caleb's father and Chris's boss.

Combining Scott's literary talent with his immense knowledge led to the creation of a captivating novel. This is not the end of Scott's career as a writer or a DEA agent. Scott plans on keeping his day job while finishing up his third book in the Big Bend series which is comprised of "The Far Empty" and two other novels which have yet to be released.