With his debut novel “Watcher,” Niwot author Scott Doniger aimed to blend a dual narrative with an unconventional wolf protagonist and a teenager grappling with internal and external chaos to explore the depths of mental health.
Doniger didn’t always aspire to be an author, and the journey to penning “Watcher” was anything but brief, over several years, he meticulously crafted his story, driven by an inner urgency to spotlight the intricate nuances of stress and mental health. With “Watcher” Doniger wants to shed light on these issues, creating a story that echoes the tribulations of today’s youth.
“While not my exact personal journey, the book is a collection of experiences, some mine, some others assembled over my lifetime that I hope resonate with readers,” Doniger said, who hopes that through this tale, young readers will harness the ‘wolf spirit’ within them, finding the strength and resilience like he did to navigate through life’s myriad of challenges.
Before diving into the literary world and his subsequent role as a Chronic Stress Counselor, Doniger carved a niche for himself in marketing, research and venture capitalism. After a severe bout of what’s known under the broad spectrum of chronic fatigue syndrome, he was pushed to chronicle his experiences.
“Every human is on multiple journeys. For me, one of those paths has always been self-exploration. I’ve always toyed with the idea of turning my life into a story, albeit not a literal autobiography,” said Doniger.
Doniger's inspiration emerged when he considered representing the protagonist’s journey of self-discovery through another inner character. The presence of his two Siberian Huskies at the time and his personal internal conflicts melded perfectly to form this concept. As the narrative began to evolve, he had a clear image of the story’s climax, but structuring it proved challenging.
The novel unfurls the tale of a boy and a wolf — the former unaware of the latter’s existence within him. It’s a journey of epiphany and realization, analogous to those who only encounter their inner strength after facing life’s challenges.
“I wanted the reader’s experience to be introspective,” Doniger said, “To understand the intricate dance between the boy and the wolf, and to discern why their paths had crossed.”
A notable experience Doniger shared was his visit to a wolf preserve in Colorado. Despite the wolf no longer being wild, the intense connection he felt while looking into its eyes was profound. Similarly, his discussions with representatives from a nature preserve in Northern California provided further insights into the enigmatic creatures.
For Doniger, the inspiring expanse of Colorado played a significant role in the story’s conception. He believes the serenity and vastness of the Niwot/Longmont region provided the right atmosphere for his creativity to flourish. A stark contrast from his earlier residence in Northern California, the majestic Front Range stretching over 40 miles from his home view, Doniger feels the natural beauty here energized and healed him.
“Space is what I needed to have this story grow inside of me. It took me years to do it ... no one just sits down and writes a novel without the eventual help of an editor,” Doniger said. “I had to live in these three different voices and these three different personas as I was writing it.”
Scott Doniger will be at The Boulder Bookstore on September 21, 2023, at 6:00 p.m. where he will dive into the inception of “WATCHER,” engage in discussions and sign copies of the book.