Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The one where I interview Scott Nicholson, horror author and nice guy

Come on in everyone, find a seat, grab a cup of coffee, tea, vodka lemonade, whatever. I'm pretty excited to announce that today we have Scott Nicholson in for a chat. For those of you who don't know Scott, yeah I know there's a few of you non horror fans out there (don't worry...I'm not judging), take a look at his *Amazon.com author page, go on, I'll wait. *taps foot impatiently* Back? Good!

Scott probably doesn't remember this but we actually first met in 2003 on the HWA website. That was back when you didn't have to be a *paid* author to join and I happily paid my member fee and set out to hobnob with people who knew what they were doing. Scott happened to be one of the folks I met and we emailed a few times back and forth. It was just before his book Harvest, now renamed Forever Never Ends, was released. I gave up submitting and homeschooled my children and Scott went on to become a successful author. But what I remembered most about him was that he was a genuinely nice guy. I'm happy to say that he is still a genuinely nice guy whose always willing to help a newbie author out. He's generous with both his time and his advice. So when he contacted me about doing a review of his latest book, Liquid Fear, I was more than happy to help out. Okay, so he gave me a free copy of the book too, but I would have done it anyway! So the review of Liquid Fear is up on my brand new book review blog, See Spot Read. I would encourage all of you to pop over there when we're done here and look around a bit. There's cookies and juice and a review. Okay, there's no cookies and juice. But its the thought that counts, right?

Scott also consented to let me pick his brain so here goes...

1.) I know everyone asks authors where they get their ideas and most authors hate that question, but, at least for me, it’s a legitimate question. I love it when authors include that info in the back of the book. So I won't force you to reveal the inner workings of your mind, but if you'd care to elaborate...

Every book is different, but usually it’s either two ideas jamming together, a character demanding to be born, or a plot that bugs me so much I have to tackle it. In Liquid Fear, it was a combination of research into pharmaceuticals that literally “change your mind” combined with my ongoing interest in psychological research.

2.) You've been writing books for several years now, what do you feel has changed the most about either you're style of writing or the way you go about writing?

I write less to what my “brand” should be and more toward what interests me, because I don’t have to worry about somebody pitching something to somebody else based on one sentence of description instead of the entire story. So basically I am freer to take chances.

3.) I know you've recently quit your day job to become a full time novelist, how has that changed your routine, beyond the obvious, of course?

Well, I am also running a business, but I’ve been doing that from the start. The writing is the product development and manufacturing end, and then there’s the entire process, including getting paid. Not to make it as cold as a factory, but basically I have to do it all, which is fine, because I love it all.

4.) I also see that you have joined your voice to the chorus of authors who are backing away from traditional publishing and going it more on their own. It definitely appears to be working well for you. Do you feel less pressure to conform to industry standards and ideas that way? In that, you don't have to convince an editor to publish your work, you can publish and go right to the audience for approval?

The only pressure is to tell the story the best way I know how, and then get a few trusted opinions and always have a professional proofreader. The only “industry standard” is professionalism, and New York doesn’t have a monopoly on that.

5.) I know that some of your books are based on experiences you've had or places you've been (like the hotel/paranormal conference in Speed Dating with the Dead), does Liquid Fear have any personal connections?

I studied a little psychology and I like to read the casebooks, but Liquid Fear was kind of a hodgepodge of many things. I attended UNC near the Research Triangle Park where the book is mostly set, and I’ve visited every location in the book (Cincinnati, West Virginia, DC). Other than that, this book was just based on research and ideas.

6.) This is a question I want to ask all horror writers...if you see a movie preview or book trailer that is just an absolutely fantastic concept (I always think of 30 Days of Night, vampires, Alaska, 30 days of darkness, brilliant!), do you want to shake your head and go "why didn't I think of that??!" or does it inspire you?

Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no. Like, “Snakes on a Plane.” It’s like, “Cool!” but I would never waste my time watching it because the title does everything for me. Sort of like the previews for a big movie. You know you’ve seen the entire movie in 45 seconds, so why waste $10 and two hours? Other times, it can stay in the back of your mind and maybe influence a direction you want to go. If you’re calculating, you can cash in on a trend—like teen vampires in romantic angst, for example.

7.) Several of my blog readers are aspiring authors or beginning authors themselves. What is your best advice to them, especially horror writers?

Write what you love and turn off the censors. But when you’re done, remember that somebody somewhere has to read it. If you want to sicken your reader, it may not do much to build a fan base. But just be true to yourself and trust that the work will find the people who need it—whether the audience is a few million or a few dozen.

8.) Okay, I know it's cliché, but who are some of your favorite writers, horror or otherwise?

Stephen King is obviously a master, but I also like the older-school stuff like Ira Levin, William Goldman, Jim Thompson, James M. Cain, Shirley Jackson, James Lee Burke, Elmore Leonard, and Dean Koontz.

9.) Finally, what scares you? (Other than taxes and government?)

Anything happening to children. As a father, I invest a lot of the world’s worth in my wife and kids. Anything that threatens my family is something that’s going to die—probably quite slowly and painfully.

10) I know you told me the serious things that scare you, but what about the silly things? I'm irrationally afraid of scarecrows, you? And do you ever scare yourself when writing?

Well, I have some real phobias, like flying. Probably mice are my silliest fear--I just don't like all that scurrying. I have been a little freaked out when I write, but it's more like something is emotionally intense instead of genuinely spooky...but sometimes late at night, you go, "Hmm, what if all this stuff was real?"

2) What is your writing routine? Do you schedule certain hours to write? Do you use a favorite pen, etc?

I pretty much do everything all the time. I just do the next thing when it needs to be done. Now that I make my own schedule, I trust myself to write when I need to, as part of the day. I recently took an entire day off, my first in 15 months, I believe.

Thank you Scott, for the book, for the interview, for all of the help you've given me. I wish you loads more success and continued joy in your work.

Liquid Fear is available for Kindle readers from Amazon.com for 99 cents for a limited time. Get yours now! You can order a paperback copy of the book from Scott's website.

Scott lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where he tends an organic garden, picks a little bit of guitar, and does some freelance editing when he's not writing. He's living the life of his dreams and is thankful for new friends and new fans. You can visit him at www.hauntedcomputer.com. He also has Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for joining us for a bit everyone! For my regulars, it's back to our regularly scheduled nonsense tomorrow. For anyone new, please take some time to browse my blog and make yourself at home.

Happy reading,


  1. Spot, I commend you for reading horror and suspense novels. While I love them as movies, I'm too chicken shit to read through the novel. Heck, I had to put the book Lovely Bones down when the girl broke into the neighbor's house. I was so afraid she was going to get caught and it took me a month to pick up the book.

    I also commend anyone who can write these type of books without getting spooked (although it was nice to know Mr. Nicholson also has a fear of mice).

    Thanks for sharing your interview with us.

  2. Very interesting, thanks!

  3. Nicely done! I love finding out about the process other writers use. (I feel like question 7 was for me!)

    I'm off to take a look at the review of Liquid Fear now. Good one, Spot!

  4. Nice interview.

    He sounds like a cool guy.

  5. Well look at you! Mrs journalist! What a great interview you did. He seems great. I have read one book this year. I can't seem to find my crazy reading mojo - not since my laptop, then iPhone anyway. Even the Kindle app can't hold my attention.

    But I LOVE how down to earth he is. Good job Spot!

  6. Yeah ... I'm "one of those non horror peeps". Sorry, dudette.

    Cool premise, though.


  7. Great job with the interview. I will definitely check the book out. What do I have to lose via Kindle? I think I can spare a buck! Thanks so much for the heads up!

  8. Yay! This was very insightful (and fun)! :) Thank you for sharing the interview!