Scott Seckel ’84 graduated from Trinity-Pawling with a class that is so tight they have a nickname: Big Blue Crew. “We get together outside of reunions often. Whenever we get together, it’s like being 17 again, at least for me,” he says.
Seckel is currently a science writer for the in-house news bureau of Arizona State University. He goes into the field with scientists conducting research at the school. “I sometimes say I write about the world 20 years from now, because I write about things which have just made it into proof of concept, like controlling drones with your brain or a white laser which is going to give your TV 70 percent more color than it has now.”
Before landing where he is now, Seckel’s work as a journalist brought him all around the world, reporting in such places as Hong Kong, Mexico, and New Zealand. “I’ve been in forest fires, riots, murder scenes, and war ships, and I’ve met ALL kinds of people, from peasants and serial killers to soldiers and presidents,” he says. After graduating from college, Seckel spent some time covering crime for the South China Morning Post. “On day one I had to figure out how to get around, deal with a foreign police force, interview witnesses, and so on. When I walked down Nathan Road in Kowloon one morning and saw my byline on the front page at a newsstand, I knew I had it all down.”
Seckel says going to Trinity-Pawling gave him “the confidence and skills to thrive anywhere, doing anything.” But two literature teachers in particular had a powerful influence on him: Ted Kneeland and John Lloyd Owen. “Their classes were divine. As an American writer you need to know and understand the literature so you can build on it and run with it, and that’s what Mr. Kneeland gave to me. He drew a tornado shape on the blackboard one afternoon and said, ‘That’s Moby Dick,’ ” recalls Seckel. About Mr. Owen, who taught AP European Literature, he says: “The first day he told us, ‘I’m not going to teach you to take this . . . test. We are going to study pears on a windowsill under a lace curtain.’ Mr. Owen taught truth and beauty.”
The two teachers had such an impact on Seckel’s writing that his first novel, Arizona Time, published earlier this year, is dedicated to them. “Writing a novel is the loneliest thing in the world. No one’s holding your hand or pointing the way ahead, but those two teachers were there with me in the darkness.”
Arizona Time, A Novel and Five Shorts is described as being set in “the post-frontier American West, in a landscape shaped by Larry McMurtry, Breaking Bad, Sam Shepard, and Leslie Marmon Silko. It is a classic Western, but like no other Western before.” The novel is available on Amazon.
by Lisa M. Kelsey