Interview with Scott Nicholson
Scott Nicholson is the author of nine novels, including The Red Church, a Stoker Award Finalist, sixty short stories, poetry, non-fiction magazine articles, essays, and six screenplays. Heís also a member of the Killer Thriller Band.
CW: Thank you, Scott, for taking the time to subject yourself to this first-time interviewer. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
SN: Iím just your average lazy hack, who never learned any useful skills so I get to spend all my days as a dreamer. I learned very early that if you were useful and productive, people expected stuff out of you. As it is, I can make up any old thing and pretend Iím working, even if I am just staring at the computer screen.
CW: Who were some of your influences early on and who continues to influence you today?
SN: Dr. Seuss was the first writer who creeped me out. After that I went through the usual teen books like The Exorcist, The Sentinel, The Amityville Horror, before discovering Stephen King. I was also reading Steinbeck, Vonnegut, and Hemingway at the same time, so it was definitely a weird stew. Now I read all over the map, across many genres. Right now I am reading The Hunger Games, a YA by Suzanne Collins, and Dean Koontz is in the carís tape deck, and Iím working through Karen Hallís supernatural thriller Dark Debts.
CW: Can you explain a bit about how you write? Do you schedule time or do you wait until inspiration strikes?
SN: I usually prefer mornings but basically have to fit it in wherever I can. I donít know about inspiration. I have lots of ideas that I think would make good books, but not too many I want to spend six to 12 months writing.
CW: What made you decide to publish ASHES, FLOWERS, and THE FIRST as e-books?
SN: Flowers was my first book, back in 1990, a collection of my old ghost, fantasy, and mystery stories. Scattered Ashes came out in 2008 from Dark Regions, mostly containing ghost and psychological horror stories. I added bonus material to them for the e-books and shortened the titles. The First was some of my dystopian fantasy and dark science fiction, with a few horror tales thrown in, so that most of my stories would be collected in case anyone wanted them all. As e-books, you can get them all for less than the price of a Happy Meal. Though they donít taste as good.
CW: Do you plan on re-releasing any of your novels in e-book format?
SN: I already released The Red Church after sitting on it for about a year after I got the rights back. I want to release all my old novels because I love them, as weird as they are, and I want readers to find them if they want. It doesnít do any good for them to be out of print and unavailable, so as soon as the rights return to me, they will all go out. The publishing industry has no interest in older titles that donít sell tons of copies, because itís inconvenient to store them or ship them around. But itís worth it to the author. They have thousands of books but you only have one career.
CW: Youíve written in many styles, novels, short stories, poetry, etc., is there one style you prefer over another?
SN: I actually like songwriting, because it combines wordplay with emotional immediacy, and is a little more cathartic than typing, because playing music has a physical element. Rockíníroll was my first career, and I was just as raw and crazy at that as I am my writing. I probably have written 500 songs, though not as many these days.
CW: I personally enjoy the Areopagus stories. Where did the ideas for those stories come from?
SN: I love dystopian novels like 1984, Brave New World, and Ira Levinís This Perfect Day. I was tinkering around with a distant oppressive government in a world thatís a little too perfect, with the idea of eventually wrapping them all into a novel. I especially like the concept of time as money in a literal sense, in which you have to measure your purchases against the amount of your life you are giving up. Of course, thatís exactly what weíre doing in a capitalistic societyóthat new laptop will cost us three weeks of our lives, that vacation overseas will cost us four months, even though weíre only gone a week. The dollar sign is just the way we measure it rather than hours and minutes.
CW: Any future plans for the Areopagans, a novella or novel, perhaps?
SN: Well, science fiction isnít my main calling, though I read quite a bit of it in my younger days. Iím more known for my supernatural and psychological thrillers, but I have a couple more that should be revised, and maybe I can one day connect enough of them into a coherent ensemble.
CW: Can you tell us about your website, http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/?
SN: I tried to get my own name, as every writer should, but some imposter named Scott Nicholson had already grabbed it. When he wouldnít sell the domain name, I decided on Haunted Computer from the old Ray Bradbury poem, ďThe Haunted Computer and the Android Pope.Ē Plus, of course, computers seem possessed when they eat your files. So itís become a shingle for everything I do, from Haunted Computer Books to some paranormal conferences I hosted to a comics line Iím releasing.
CW: Any future writing projects you can talk about?
SN: Well, I just put out the supernatural thriller Drummer Boy for Kindle and print-on-demand, as well as the psychological thriller The Skull Ring. Iím preparing the psychological thriller Disintegration. I also have the comic series I edited called Grave Conditions, with contributions from Brian Keene, Jonathan Maberry, Stephen Susco, and more. I have another four or five series in development. We also just released the freebie writing download Write Good or Die, which you can find at Smashwords and Scribd.
CW: With 105 rejections before you made your first short story sale and 400 before selling your first novel, what made you continue writing and what advice can you give to aspiring writers?
SN: I donít have enough sense to quit. Besides, I donít know what Iíd do. I was telling my stepson the other day, ďThe plan now is to pay off the house and retire.Ē And he said, ďRetire from what?Ē Exactly. Iíll probably die at the keyboard.
For writers, itís very easy to get published these days but itís still hard to be a good writer. Make a lifetime commitment to the craft. Download Write Good or Die and follow exactly half of the advice. Writing is just about the hardest craft in the world. You have to be pretty egotistical to think anyoneís going to sit there and absorb what you think. So you better work hard to make the reader not have to work hard.
CW: Are you still playing with The Killer Thriller Band?
SN: Well, the band sort of broke up because Thrillerfest couldnít afford to keep it going at the awards ceremony, though some of the members still play together. When you share the stage with Heather Graham, David Morrell, F. Paul Wilson, Michael Palmer, Alexandra Sokoloff, and more, itís kind of like the Beatles getting back together. Except Paul McCartney is cuter than I am.
CW: Thanks, again, Scott for the interview!
SN: Thank you, Colleen. Live long and prosper.
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