Summer Book Club Part 4: Scott Nicholson

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

Yep, I’m back!

And yeah, I know. It doesn’t get much later than this! So apologies to Summer Book Club guest Scott Nicholson for the appalling tardiness.

Regulars will know I’ve been in transit escaping the tropical storms and  power / net disruption in gorgeous West Africa and have reluctantly returned to the freezing climes of the UK.

Had I opted for good old England the transition might have been easier, but I ended up in the picturesque mountains of North Wales, where net access seems to be only marginally better than whence I left, and winter appears to still be in force.

Later this week I shall be heading east and normal MWi service should resume, so be sure hang around!

August will be fun,  assure you. There’s a great line-up of prospective guests, some news and reviews, and all the usual inspirational stories, inside information about what authors have for breakfast, and hot celebrity gossip  you come here for.

Watch out also for a big announcement on some short story anthologies we hope you, MWi readers, will want to be involved in.

And of course it’s the official release of the first of our new Rose Red crime thriller series. And Scott, if you think we were late with your guest spot, our book release is now two week overdue and still being chased up. The best laid plans…

But for today, back to playing guest catch up. So say hello to Scott Nicholson.

Scott is one of those transition writers that started out with the legacy publishers and then embraced the opportunities of self-publishing to further expand his horizons, his career and our reading enjoyment.

His choice for the Summer Book Club anthology (available for peanuts on Amazon – royalties to the Joplin library fund – or free via Smashwords) is his dark novel Disintegration.

Given this is another quickie post while I catch up with everything else, I hand you over to Scott without further ado.

Disintegration was written four or five years ago during a dark time in my life. The title just sums up what was going on, and what I had to write to survive. I knew it was going to be dark and bleak, and that good people would do bad things and terrible people would do worse things. The evil twins are just a symbol of where I was at the time. And I knew the ending was not going to be happy, and I put off writing the last five pages for nearly a year because I knew what had to happen and I didn’t want to type it and make it real.

I don’t think I ever showed it to my agent. I thought it was too dark to ever share with people, and I was a little ashamed of what it revealed about me. I think stories help us solve what is going on inside our heads and hearts, but it also leaves us vulnerable because written communication is so personal and intimate. If it wasn’t for self-publishing, and the encouragement of mystery writer Vicki Tyley, I never would have released it. My wife said, “Somebody might need that message.”
With low expectations, I put it out during my 90-day Kindle Giveaway Blog Tour last fall, and it hit #30 on the Kindle list. That was weird, to have the biggest success of my writing career on a book I never wanted to publish, on my own, after six books with a traditional press. That taught me something about “writing to market” or “writing to please people.” First, you have to take chances and put it all there. If you get the back end, and the connection with readers, that’s the bonus and completes the purpose of the story.
Luckily, I’ve put the pieces back together over the years since I first wrote the novel, and it helped launch me onto other books and success. I owe a bit to Jim Thompson and James M. Cain and some of the other noir writers, and William Goldman, Shirley Jackson, Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Brautigan, Patricia Highsmith, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Ira Levin, James Lee Burke…that list could just keep going.
I am a full-time writer now, but I’m only as good as whatever chance I take today, whatever basic principles of the craft I discover anew, and whatever I get back from a reader. Really, I’m only as good as the last sentence. And the next. There’s no other way to write a novel except by building it out of nothing. It’s easy to stay humble when you are tackling something that is essentially impossible. Once in a while, you get lucky and the words fall in place and share something about what it’s like to be on the crazy ride we call Life.
Enjoy the ride.

Scott Nicholson is author of more than 20 books, including Liquid Fear, The Red Church, and Speed Dating with the Dead. His website is and he wastes too much time being clever on Facebook and glib on Twitter. (His words, not mine!)

There was a face-to-face opportunity to interact with Scott on Facebook, but as I was unable to access my site over the weekend I had no way of alerting you all. Apols for anyone who missed it. I hope to drag Scott back here some time real soon to tell us a more about his other works and more about his life as a writer with a foot in both camps.

Hopefully MWi will be back to normal by this weekend. But don”t quote me on that. Still got  a lot of catching up to do!

I leave you with a reminder of Scott’s words on who we write for.

That taught me something about “writing to market” or “writing to please people.”

How about you? Are you still stuck in the pre-digital rut, writing to suck up to what an agent / publisher thinks will make them money? Or have you taken the plunge and are now writing for your readers (and making yourself money into the bargain)?

    • gerrymccullough
    • August 3rd, 2011

    Great to see you back, Mark – I was starting to worry – had you signed up with this agent, abandoned eBooks and internet connecting, and disappeared for good? Or were you, perhaps, laid low on a bed of sickness? Really glad it’s not so.
    Very interesting insight into another author I hadn’t previously come across. And what a lesson, to follow your own writing instincts, not what everyone else tells you is ‘the market.’ Congratulations, Scott, on doing just that, as well as on your success.

  1. I was going to say “What freezing climes?” Then I realized you were in Wales. You should have come to London. I’m MELTING.

    Congrats to Scott! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • I’m watching the news / weather reports for the rest of the UK enviously. Haven’t been this cold since I left the UK last November, and can’t wait till the rains stop and I can go back.

      Hope to bring Scott back real soon with a more in-depth look at what he gets up to.

  2. Thanks, Gerry. Hope you’ve been busy with some new reviews over at your blog too! Shall be chasing up all my old haunts over the next few days.

    Lovely to be back blogging, and with luck by the weekend will be running smoothy again. For a month or so, anyway,

    I think one of the greatest reader rewards of the digital revolution is coming across authors that previously, because of our geographical location or simply the publisher’s failure to promote, we simply did not know existed.

  3. I missed the chat too, unfortunately, but you can still go back and read the whole thing.

    Scott’s a very smart guy, and he has an uncanny knack for cutting through all the BS surrounding a hot button issue and calling a spade a spade.

    I saved a quote from him, but I can’t remember if it was from the chat or from his blog. He was talking about traditional publishing. He said “My hardest task was “unlearning” everything I thought I knew, because it was all worthless. Less than worthless, because it looked like wisdom and experience.”

    I loved that quote. I run into the arch-defenders of trade publishing all the time. They tout their years of experience on various forums and use it to browbeat self-publishers.

    But as Scott so succinctly points out, that experience is less than worthless if you don’t adapt to a changing world. Less than worthless.

  4. Good to have you back, Mark. Send some rain over to us. We are desperate for it and it’s so hot here. Been in triple digits (with heat index) for weeks. My grass is now crunchy. I’m a Brit I like cool weather 🙂 Oh Well, I guess we only have ourselves to blame for the crazy climates.

  5. First off, I just have to say, I was raised on Cape Cod. My mom’s family has lived there for generations, making me an official Cape Codder *grin*. To conectt that with the blog I should state that Mark’s first comment made me think of the movie Jaws, which was filmed on Cape Cod. And Jaws, reminds me of a story that my Grandmother used to tell, which I shall have to write up someday.

    But on to Mr. Nicholson’s post. Not only do I think that peoples best writing tends to come from when they really put themselves into it, I also think his wife is right. As hard as it may be to believe sometimes, we have to remember there is some else out there who is or has gone through what we are. The world certainly has enough people to make that likelihood more possible then we can think of it.

    I know I keep encouraging my mom to finish the novel she started writing back when she was divorcing my dad. Unfortunately, she hasn’t really had the urge to because she’s no longer in that place in her life. While I’m glad she’s worked through the issues that writing the book was perhaps helping her with, I do wish she could finish it so that others out there who ‘need the message’ can receive it.

    As to myself and the Marks closing questions; I’m new to this game, but heck if I’m going to write something that means nothing to me. If I can’t eat, sleep, live, and breathe my story, I’m not writing it. Rather, I’ll hope that there are people out there who will like it. *grin*

    :} Cathryn Leigh

    • Interesting, Cathryn. I think Jaws was the first time I’d read a book to coincide with going to the cinema. Or was it The Exorcist? See – this cold weather is numbing my brain.

      Maybe you should co-write your mom’s novel with her. You may both benefit from the experience, both personally and as writers.

      • Funniy you should say that. *grin* I am trying to write with her, maybe not that particular story, but there’s another project we’re trying to do togther.

        Unforuntately she’s living up to the family motto: “I can’t go home to mother. Mother’s never home!”

        :} Cathryn Leigh

  6. Scott said, “That taught me something about “writing to market” or “writing to please people.” After writing my debut mystery, I started the query process only to receive multiple rejections from agents saying (1) they didn’t like the sixties or (2) they didn’t want to be involved with anybody that had anything to do with JFK’s assassination. WTF? I lived through the 60s; they were unique. Are agents familiar with the concept of fiction?

    • Our own experience with agents seems to be that most of them are familiar with very little all round. It seems many of them live in a fantasy world of their own creation.

      Which was fine when they were in charge and making the rules. Us mere mortals had to play the
      agents’ game or they took the ball away. Thankfully things have changed.

      That’s not to say there are not good agents out there and they don’t still have an important role to play. Just that we can afford to pick and choose now.

  7. Sorry, Mark, but if you’re thinking that the weather here in the East is going to be any better, a glance out of my office window tells me different! Still, at least it is over 20 degrees and is warm in Costa!

    Great post by Scott!


    • Tell me about it. England is just SO depressing. And not just the weather. Can’t wait to get back to West Africa where people don’t live their life around TV and celebrity gossip, and children can play safely.

  8. Glad to see you back with us, Mark. Scott sounds fascinating. Just followed him on Twitter.

    I don’t want to tell you how lovely it is today in California, do I?

    Now you’re back, you must come and visit Ruth Harris and me on our now-collaborative blog. You’ve taught me the value of collaboration.

    • Have had a quick look over at ARA&RH and can see that’s going to be great fun in the future. Especially look forward to the dialogues!

      Back to normal on MWi from this weekend (fingers crossed), and hope to catch the next ARA post on time!

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