Scott has written 12 thrillers, 60 short stories, four comics series, and six screenplays. He's also a freelance editor and journalist. He lives in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, where he tends an organic garden, successfully eludes stalkers, and generally lives the dream. He's online at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/.
Scott won the grand prize in the international Writers of the Future contest in 1999. That same year, he was first runner-up for the Darrell Award. He studied Creative Writing at Appalachian State University and UNC-Chapel Hill. He has been an officer of Mystery Writers of America and Horror Writers Association and is a member of International Thriller Writers and inaugural member of the Killer Thriller Band. Unfortunately, they never taught him to write: he had 105 rejections before his first story sale and over 400 before he sold a novel. He hasn't learned much from his mistakes but thinks he'll probably improve with practice. If nothing else, he's become a better liar.
Before we get into Scott's interview, please allow me to introduce you to the chills of Speed Dating with the Dead:
When Wayne "Digger" Wilson hosts a paranormal conference at the haunted White Horse Inn, he has motives beyond searching for the inn's legendary ghosts. Years ago, he made a honeymoon promise to his wife Beth that if one of them died, the survivor would return to the White Horse to summon the other's lost spirit. Now she's dead and Digger's back, with the daughter they conceived during that fateful honeymoon sixteen years before. And the ghost hunters are stirring up ancient evils that were better left in peace, because the inn's basement is home to a circle of demons that have been waiting for Wayne to return. They want his teenage daughter Kendra, and they'll play whatever tricks they need in order to satisfy their dark desires. And at the White Horse Inn, not even angels can be trusted . . .
And now, without further ado, please welcome Scott Nicholson!
♥ For those who may be new to your writing, Scott, and who haven't yet checked out your latest release, please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a hillbilly recluse and misfit who figured out that if I wrote words on paper instead of saying them out loud, I wouldn’t get beat with a stick. With over 200,000 readers around the world, I guess it was a wise decision. Plus it’s crazy fun.
♥ The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and how did you feel when you first saw your work in print?
I wrote all the time when I was young, and I still have boxes full of handmade comics, poetry, song lyrics, short stories, all the typical learning experiments. After a very semi-pro music career, I started writing seriously in 1996 and started piling up the rejection slips. Eventually I got better after I’d made every mistake in the book. There are two wonderful feelings of accomplishment: one is finishing the work and knowing you got it right to the best of your abilities, and the other is to hear from a reader who brought it to life and connected with it. So email me anytime at hauntedcomputer at yahoo.com!
♥ Did you deliberately choose the horror genre because there's something specific that draws you to it, something you feel it offers that other genres don't, or was it just 'right' for the story you wanted to tell?
I was raised on the old ghost stories, but originally I was writing in multiple genres. In fact, I still do, but most of what I write is paranormal or supernatural. I just love the lack of rules and mysteries of faith and life and death.
♥ Horror is such an emotionally powerful genre, which touches on so many of our personal fears and fetishes. With that in mind, how has your past influenced your writing? Are you conscious of relating the story to your own experiences, or is it strictly an exercise in imagination?
I definitely tap into my own doubts and fears when I develop a character, so in some ways they are all aspects of myself, but often exaggerated, because I could never get away with some of the stuff my people do in books..
♥ Do you have a schedule or a routine to your writing? Is there a time and place that you must write, or do you let the words flow as they demand?
I go back and forth, depending on my life circumstances. Right now I have a lot of freedom but also a lot more duties, since I am doing a lot of self-publishing, but I enjoy it all. I’d get bored if I just sat and wrote for 10 hours a day.
♥ For some authors, it's coming up with a title, and for others it's writing that first paragraph - what do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing?
I have lots of titles, characters, and ideas floating around, and usually it’s the story taking shape through the characters that gets me rolling—what they see and feel, how they interpret the bizarre nature of our existence.
♥ Is there a particular author who has influenced or inspired your writing? Either a fellow horror author who made you want to write in the first place, or somebody from another genre who cleanses your palate and refreshes your literary batteries?
Stephen King was a big inspiration, along with Dean Koontz, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Elmore Leonard, Ira Levin, and James Lee Burke, but I also like literary fiction like Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Brautigan, and Cormac McCarthy. I’m not very patient with “potato chip” books that are nothing but light escapism. I want to feel differently or think differently after I finish a book, not simply kill some time. Time is way too fleeting to kill it.
♥ With horror, there's a really fine line between reality and imagination, a fragile barrier between the normal and the paranormal. Do you prefer to play with that line, to tease readers across it, or would you rather thrust them through that barrier and force them to confront the monstrous?
To me, it’s all about the mystery and the big questions. Sometimes you have to dash in a little violence or gore or eroticism, because those are part of life’s rich palette, but creative people should be explorers, the bards and troubadours who go out and learn secrets they can share with people.
♥ When writing, do you ever consider how a reader or reviewer will react, or do you write solely for your own satisfaction?
I am amazed when I hear people say “I only write for myself.” Why not just do a journal or personal diary, then? The way I look at it, the writer only builds half the story, and the reader completes it and brings it to life. No matter what the author intends, each reader will have a unique experience with and relationship to the story.
♥ What is the strangest or most surprising reaction to your work that you've ever encountered?
I was startled to find out people thought I was “dark” or “violent” because I write dark fiction. I’m really just a humble gardener and dreamer, a peace advocate, and a spiritual person. Words are the way I make sense of the world, and how I share my beliefs. I constantly question the value of my actions, because I need a purpose beyond merely selling books and making money. I have a sticky note on my computer that says “Do Good and Be Kind,” which isn’t always so easy when you’re on social media!
♥ Finally, what can we look forward to from you next? Is there a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?
Amazon is re-releasing my thriller Liquid Fear and the sequel Chronic Fear simultaneously on Dec. 20. I am very impressed and ecstatic with Amazon’s publishing efforts, and everyone I’ve worked with there has been professional and dedicated. I hope to continue the series next year, and I am also working on a post-apocalyptic thriller that should be out around Christmas or early January. I’m also really excited about expanding my audience on Kobo and Apple, since I am releasing a number of translated editions. It’s a thrilling, tumultuous time to be a writer. I am so lucky and grateful to be here getting to do what I love, hopefully in a way that makes the world better.
Thanks so much to Scott Nicholson for stopping by, and for really getting into the spirit (pun intended!) of the season. You can check him out on:
Scott on Facebook
Scott on Goodreads
Scott on LibraryThing
Scott on Twitter