by Alicia Street
Today is the first of my Reader2Author Interview series for RG2E (ReadersGuide to E-Publishing). The Interviews will all be featured on RG2E blog,but a longer version will post here on our blog. In each one I’ll do a Q&A with an author and one of his or her readers. And they’ll get to question each other as well.
Bestselling author Scott Nicholson has written twelve thrillers, sixty short stories, four comics series, and six screenplays. His home in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina often features in his fiction. (And I luv that he is an organic gardener.)
Our reader today is Pj Schott, an American businesswoman from Boston, Massachusetts. A futurist, a creativity/technology professional, and problem-solver, Pj is known to those with whom she works as an innovative thinker, a visionary, and the soul of a group.
She is also a reader with a capital R. (She reads even more obsessively than I do.) And Scott’s books are among her favorites.
Alicia: When did you first become an avid reader? As a child or an adult?
Scott: I remember Dr. Seuss and being read bedtime stories. I was always reading as a kid because I loved to escape, and I kept it up because I liked discovering new voices and ideas. I probably read less now than I ever did, mostly because of time constraints, but I am usually reading several books at once.
Pj: As early as I can remember I’ve been in love with books. My mother read to me when I was a baby. Part genetics too. My paternal uncle was a professor of philosophy, religion and literature, and we shared a passion for books and knowledge. I love to look at them, touch them, smell them, talk about them, as well as read them. An astrologer would blame it on my having four planets in Libra.
Alicia: Where do you read? And how often?
Pj: I read almost constantly all day long, every day. Many of my “real” books have gone to my local high school library. I have books on my Kindle, PC, iPad, iPhone. Written and audible. So in the car, on a bus, home, office, waiting in line for coffee … even if I only have a minute or two. Books, blogs, billboards … I don’t care. I am totally enamored with the written word.
Scott: I read a lot of books on Kindle, including while I am waiting in the car line at school. I also listen to audiobooks in my car, and I read on the Kindle for PC, and I still like a paperback in the tub or in bed.
Pj to Scott: If you could only take three books to a desert island what would they be?
Scott: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Robinson Crusoe, and This Perfect Day.
Scott to Pj: Do you have specific genres you prefer, and what do you find appealing about them?
Pj: Depends on my mood. When my brain is fully functioning I like political thrillers and non-fiction. Semi-engaged mind, I like mysteries. When I want to relax, or if I don’t feel well I go for the chick-lit/romance.
Alicia to Scott: Do you read across genres?
Scott: Yes, I read widely, partly to see what people like in certain genres and partly because it is a big world and we should always maintain a sense of wonder. There are many talented humans on this planet.
Scott to Pj: What book first got you hooked as a reader?
Pj: Now don’t roll your eyes, but the first thing I read that totally sucked me in was a pamphlet I picked up at age 6 in a Lutheran church. While reading “The Apostles Creed” the bits about the Holy Ghost compelled me to memorize it.
Alicia to Pj: How did you discover the first Scott Nicholson book you read? How did it affect you?
PJ: Strange story. I’m a bit of a psychic/medium. In 1987, I had a dream about a place in North Carolina. So when I got to it on my Bucket List, I put the word out in The Universe and found Scott on Facebook. Then I got to know him through the WG2E (Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing). The first book I read, and continue to re-read is Write Good or Die. I just loved him as a person, so I added books I wouldn’t ordinarily read to my collection, starting with The Skull Ring. I was immediately drawn to his main character and his sense of place. Much of what he writes is more classic suspense than horror.
Scott to Pj: What draws you to a book as a reader? Cover, word of mouth, familiarity with the author?
Pj: In the past (i.e., when we used to go to bookstores or the library), I searched by genre then, if the cover caught my eye, I read the book jacket. With the advent of social media, I’m now drawn to books written by people I like.
Alicia to Pj: Do you often contact an author? If so, what prompts you as a reader to do that?
Pj: I keep in touch with Scott and a few other authors on Facebook and in blogs. But only the ones I truly like. Someone once said that if you like a book, don’t meet the author. The love of some books has been lost due to such. Not the case here of course.
Alicia to Pj: Is there something you’d like to say to most authors? Something you wish they’d understand better about readers?
Pj: Yes (to many of them): don’t try to keep up a public persona. Just let the readers see who you really are and what’s in your heart as well as your mind. To know you is to love you.
Alicia to Scott: What was the most satisfying response you’ve gotten from a reader? The most unusual?
Scott: I like when someone tells me how a book affected them or even changed their outlook or mood. That’s really what it is all about. I’ve never really gotten hate mail, but one reviewer accused me of being “sick” because they disagreed with some fictional ideology I presented.
Alicia to Pj: What kind of heroine or hero do you usually like to read about? One that you will go back to again and again?
Pj: I like my heroines nice and my heroes tough. Attributes I aspire to. I keep going back to them seeking role models, I suppose.
Alicia: Which of Scott’s characters is most compelling to you? Any that you don’t like?
Pj: I like characters with whom I can identify. Julia Stone (The Skull Ring) and Anna Galloway (Creative Spirit) are my favorites so far. I can’t say I disliked any of Scott’s characters, although Richard Coldiron made me a bit nervous. He’s as wacky as I am.
Alicia to Scott: Is there a character you’ve created that is your personal favorite?
Pj to Scott: What book(s) provided the most exciting research excursions
Scott: Beyond Therapy, which I used in the Fear series, a report by the President’s Council on Bioethics about the use of pharmaceuticals to change our moods, memories, and minds.
Alicia to Pj: What is the reason you continue to read Scott’s books?
Pj: If you read the author quote on Scott’s Amazon author page, it kinda says it all. “I love hearing from you! My writing is a journey of faith and exploration, and I am always willing to tackle the big questions with an open mind and willing spirit. I believe we all have the opportunity to make this world a more beautiful, powerful, and peaceful place by embracing the mysteries and power of our hearts. And I believe the customer/reader (you) is always right. I hope you’ll join me on the journey.”
Pj to Scott: Were there any life changing experiences that influenced what you wrote?
Scott: Just the ones of facing important issues, such as faith, love, and purpose. I have had some down times but writing always was there for me.
Scott to Pj: Did you like high school literature? Were there books you secretly read instead of Moby Dick and Shakespeare?
Pj: Lord of the Flies and Catcher in the Rye were forbidden so, of course, I had to read them. I was passionate about the material two English teachers gave me though. American literature, especially some of the poets and the transcendentalists. Hamlet rocked my world. And of course I was still finding great stuff on the top shelf of my parents’ bookcase.
Pj to Scott: What books did you read as a kid that you knew you weren’t supposed to? You know … the forbidden ones (for me it was detective magazines and comic books) and the ones your parents kept on the top shelf and thought you didn’t know about (my faves were Harold Robbins).
Scott: Horror. I was greatly influenced by sneaking to read The Exorcist and The Sentinel. That may be where I got attracted to the faith questions of the supernatural.
Alicia to Scott: Was there a particular book that first made you want to write? Did you always like scary stories?
Scott: I believe it was Kurt Vonnegut that made me want to write, even though I had always created stories, comic books, and pictures. I wrote a bad Vonnegut novel in high school, and then in college I tried to be Hemingway but the only part I could get right was the drinking. I guess when I got serious finally, everyone was trying to be the next Stephen King and maybe I got caught up in that because he’s a great storyteller.
Pj to Scott: Do you read news or do you avoid it? And how do current events influence your writing?
Scott: After 15 years as a reporter, it is like they say about sausage: If you see it getting made, you don’t want to eat it.
Alicia to Scott: Do you have an author you currently read that inspires your writing?
Scott: I steal a little from everyone. Many of the people I read now are writer friends, and I try not to imitate them. I go back to older books in general, classic thrillers, horror, and mystery, as well as people like Steinbeck and Twain.
Pj to Scott: When you want the literary equivalent of “junk food” what do you read?
Scott: The Internet. I am a fan of web culture, meme humor, and NFL football, and sometimes those interests collide.
Alicia to Scott: Do you have an author you read for pure pleasure?
Scott: Richard Brautigan. I want to be him when I grow up, except the suicide part.
Pj to Scott: Is there another character in there that’s longing to come out but you’re not quite ready to deal with (or reveal) him or her?
Scott: Yeah, I am writing a vampire paranormal book that was meant to be a slight parody but I turned out to enjoy it.
Alicia to Scott: Is there a particular character you get the most compliments or complaints about?
Scott: Many of the characters in They Hunger (out in the U.K. as The Gorge) annoy people, but they were intentionally designed to be annoying because I was playing against thriller conventions and broke some rules.
Pj to Scott: What life circumstances enable you to live the often lonely life of a writer?
Scott: Having a supportive family and few needs. We are nearly self-sustaining with our garden and chickens, so it doesn’t take much to keep going.
Alicia to Scott: Have you ever had a reader’s feedback influence your work? Or your perspective?
Scott: No, I rarely read reviews. That’s none of my business. I do my thing and I let the readers do their thing. After all, I am not going to rewrite my book based on a stranger’s comments, and they are not going to change their opinion if I try to defend or explain myself. On the other hand, I love to have email discussions with readers who discuss themes and meanings of a book—that’s good, subjective stuff.
Pj to Scott: When you’re not writing what other forms of creativity do you practice?
Scott: I garden and play guitar. That’s really about it for serious hobbies.
Pj to Scott: If you could change one thing about the world with your writing what would that be?
Scott: To inspire peace, generosity, and a philosophy of compassionate self-reliance.
Thanks, Scott and Pj!
So tell me, visitors — what books or authors got you hooked on reading? And how do you choose which books to read now?