Scott Nicholson's The Home was produced through ACX, Audible's system for matching unrecorded books with narrators. We had a chance to chat with Scott about his writing, and learned the inspiration behind The Home, what he would be doing if not writing, and what it takes to write a horror novel. Check out our ACX Spooky Listens Page for more scary favorites, and visit our complete list of ACX books for more - including less terrifying - top notch listening.
What was the inspiration for your newest ACX release, The Home?
During my journalism career, our newspaper covered a story about a child’s controversial death at a group home. Since I also had the job of rounding up ghost stories for each year’s Halloween edition, I began tying local events and haunted legends into fictional ideas. The idea of a haunted group home was just too chilling to pass up.
ACX allows authors to select the narrator they feel will best represent their work. What made you choose Daniel Dorse? What do you think of his performance?
Daniel had recently narrated another supernatural thriller of mine, Speed Dating with the Dead, and his talent for subtly shifting points of views between different characters was amazing. Since The Home features a handful of important characters, it took someone of Daniel’s skill to maintain clarity and keep the voices distinct. Plus he has a wonderful, gravelly delivery that is perfect for a spooky tale.
What kind of research did you do for The Home?
I’ve always been interested in psychological disorders, and I also researched some of the wackier treatments used in misguided attempts to ‘cure' people who probably weren’t in bad shape to begin with. So I invented Synaptic Synergy Therapy, which uses intense electromagnetic fields that are also associated with paranormal activity. Later on I discovered that researchers were exploring a similar treatment to affect brainwaves, so I may have accidentally been a little ahead of my time. I don’t know which is scarier, the fact or the fiction.
What does the first line of The Home say about the book?
'This was going to be another one of those loser places.' This is young Freeman Mills’ first impression of Wendover Home, serving both to reflect the rundown nature of the facility and Freeman’s own pessimistic view of group homes in general. As a main character, I wanted to get readers and listeners firmly rooted in Freeman’s worldview.
Where do you listen to audiobooks? What are you listening to now?
I listen to audiobooks a lot when I am driving. For oral tales, I prefer writers who have a musicality and poetry to their language, like King, Dean Koontz, James Lee Burke, and Cormac McCarthy. I just finished a Burke story but I think I will try a horror tale next for Halloween.
What books have most influenced your writing?
One reviewer called me 'the love child of Stephen King and Sharyn McCrumb,' which I am happy to hear. King is, of course, one of the all-time great writers in any genre, and McCrumb has a deep understanding of Southern Appalachian history and culture. I also grew up with the front-porch storytelling tradition. Most of my work is set here in the mountains, so I feel like I’m just telling modern folk tales.
What are some of your favorite scary books and authors?
Stephen King, of course, as well as Dean Koontz, Shirley Jackson, Blake Crouch, and Bentley Little. I am reading Little’s The Haunted in paperback but it would be fun to listen as well!
What’s the key to writing a great horror novel?
I am not all that interested in just the frights or the shocks of the horror genre. I want to move people emotionally. While there are many approaches and styles, I like the supernatural best because it’s an opportunity to explore the larger mysteries of faith, love, why we are alive, and what happens after life.
Other than being an author (of course), what is your dream job?
I’m a serious organic gardener and my passion is developing and preserving strains of heirloom seeds, but I really want to be a painter in my old age. Art was my original college major but I wasn’t very good, so it looks like a worthwhile challenge.