Scott Hess loves to tantalize a reader. His gorgeous prose soars off the page like the symbolic building in his latest novel, Skyscraper—a story of art, lust, and unexpected transformation. His previous novel, The Butcher’s Sons, was named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2015, and in all of his books, Hess pushes boundaries while also pushing readers to the edge of their wildest fantasies. I caught up with Hess to learn more about Skyscraper and his unrelenting passion.
Amy Dupcak: Another new novel, congrats! Your last book, The Butcher’s Sons, was historical fiction set in 1930s Hell’s Kitchen, but Skyscraper takes place in present-day New York. How do you choose the time period and setting for your novels? And how else does Skyscraper differ from The Butcher’s Sons?
Scott Alexander Hess: The dynamics of the story guide me to the time period. With The Butcher’s Sons, I wanted to tell a tale of three brothers in a butcher shop in Hell’s Kitchen, and the grit and intensity of that neighborhood circa 1930 made sense to me. Also, the brothers’ conflicts, which include an interracial relationship and a gay affair, were really amped up due to the danger surrounding these types of relationships in the 1930s. Skyscraper is a sharp, modern book of obsession and boundary pushing sex. As I began writing that novel, it demanded a bristling modern city scene.