Burial to Follow– A word from Scott Nicholson

Scott Nicholson is one of my favorite authors. His southern gothic horrors never fail to sweep me back to the days when I would spend hours just reading, completely lost in whatever frightening world without a single thought to the real world. I am absolutely thrilled to be able to host this stop on his latest blog tour! Please read on, and leave a comment! Scott will be around to reply and interact with all you readers!

Ash Arceneaux

Burial to Follow: Dead and Hungry

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By Scott Nicholson

http://www.hauntedcomputer.com

People in the South are weird about burials.

And about family. But I guess that’s true everywhere. “Family” is the group of people who have to put up with you, no matter how you treat them or how dysfunctional everyone gets. But maybe the South has its own special brand of strange.

Or maybe it’s just my family.

We had one uncle who shot and killed his wife, my mom’s sister. Ordinarily, you’d think that would be a Bad Thing, right? Sure to get you ostracized. But Claude did his few years in prison and now he shows up at our family reunions.

Yep.

The first time, I was like, “Uh, isn’t that…?”

Everyone else just went about their business, eating risky potato salad and cold fried chicken. I guess “forgiveness” is not just a dictionary word.

When my grandfather died (killing himself with a shotgun), the Southern tradition of burying the grieving family in food went into full force. There were cakes stacked two feet high on the kitchen counters, mounds of sweet potatoes, vats of bean salads and casseroles and dips. But get this—

My grandmother actually hid cakes in the attic SO PEOPLE WOULD BRING MORE FOOD! She played the sympathy card for an opportunity to stock up.
I kid you not. That’s the Nicholson way. And they wonder why I turned out the way I did…

There was another uncle who was shot by his wife, but I wasn’t around for that one so I don’t know how the neighborly catering went down.

At any rate, there’s an old Celtic mythology of the sineater, a beggar who would eat food left on a corpse that would draw away the deceased’s sins and pave their path to an eternal reward. With both of these ideas colliding in my head, when Kealan Patrick Burke summoned me about a collection he was editing, I was ready.

The story features Roby Snow, an Appalachian offshoot of the Sineater, built around Burke’s central theme of a crossroads-type of afterlife guardian. When Jacob Ridgehorn dies, it’s up to Roby to help his soul move along to its proper reward. Roby can only accomplish this through the means of a very special pie. And Roby must complete his mission, or face down Johnny Divine, with his own soul at stake.

The title came from my job as a deejay at a small-town AM station, where you’d have to read the obituaries right before the top hit of the day. After the solemn listing of all the survivors, there was a paragraph that mentioned the time of the memorial service and then “Burial to follow (at whatever graveyard of record).” It was hard to maintain the right tone of solemnity. Once I had to read an obit for a man named Boonie Klutz. Try reading “The Klutz family” on the air five times without snorting in laughter.

Burial to Follow appeared as a novella in the Brimstone Turnpike anthology from Cemetery Dance a few years ago, and it’s still on sale as a signed limited edition.

Way back in the Digital Dark Ages of 2009, when I was first walking the gangplank into self-publishing, the novella was actually the first e-book I put out there, just before Jan. 1 and with The Red Church on its heels.

It was a safe one to put out there, because I was unlikely ever to publish it in a separate paper edition, and I could price it at 99 cents. Since I’d already been paid for it, all the income would be gravy, and each new reader might try my other works. Plus, the audience for novellas seems to be expanding in the digital era as people’s reading habits change.

I kind of like Roby and have sometimes wondered what happened to him after the novella was over. Perhaps he’s out there still traveling from family to family, showing up at dinner time to sit with grieving survivors. Maybe he’s got another book him.

In the meantime, I guess I better go see if any of my relatives have been shot today…

###

Scott Nicholson is author of Speed Dating with the Dead, Drummer Boy, and 10 other novels, five story collections, four comics series, and six screenplays. A journalist and freelance editor in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, he often uses local legends in his work. This tour is sponsored by Amazon, Kindle Nation Daily, and Dellaster Design.

To be eligible for the Kindle DX, simply post a comment below with contact info. Feel free to debate and discuss the topic, but you will only be entered once per blog. Visit all the blogs on the tour and increase your odds. I’m also giving away a Kindle 3 through the tour newsletter and a Pandora’s Box of free e-books to a follower of “hauntedcomputer” on Twitter. And, hey, buy my books and put me in the Top 100 and I’ll throw in another random Kindle 3 giveaway. Thanks for playing. Complete details at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/blogtour.htm

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90 thoughts on “Burial to Follow– A word from Scott Nicholson

  1. Pingback: Writing/Publishing–Scott Nicholson Blog Tour Comments Part Four | Canister X - A.P. Fuchs: Zombie and Superhero Novelist, Blogger, Superhero and Horror Movie Reviews

  2. My uncle went to prison for dealing drugs years ago. Although he didn’t murder anyone (like your uncle), dealing drugs is still pretty darn serious. He still is at all the family functions. He did turn this life around, just so you know we’re not consorting with a drug dealer…LOL! Southern families are like that…willing to welcome family members back with open arms no matter what they might have done in the past. Great post, Scott!

    truebookaddictATgmailDOTcom

  3. @susi, yeah, I am brilliant Buy my books. They’re in the “reading” genre! Or bestsellers. Yeah, bestsellers!

    Granny was a child of the Depression so there’s a hoarder mentality. She’s 92 and hasn’t changed a bit. My grandpa used to shoot at us, too. We’d hide in the woods and laugh at him.

    You people who claim to have “normal” families are really scaring me. So much hidden from you…so much free entertainment.

    Scott

  4. A few skeleton’s in the old Nicholson closet, eh? No wonder you have such a weird (um, I mean awesome) imagination!
    Gail in Florida
    cowgirl3000 at gmail dot com

  5. Great, another story I have to read.

    I keep buying, reading and writing about your stories on my blog people are going to start talking about us.

    Truth is, I’m fascinated by the sineater concept. Now that Crossroad Press is republishing Sineater by Elizabeth Massie in ebook format, I should pick that up with Burial to Follow and have a sineating weekend.

    Take care,
    –Greg the Undead Rat

    theundeadrat (@) gmail (.) com

  6. Wow, Scott’s family makes mine seem quite boring! Just make sure you let everyone know when your family reunions are so all of us can make sure we’re all not in town visiting at the time!

    -Neal

  7. I read “The Last Sineater” by Francine Rivers. It’s inspirational fiction. They made it into a movie as well.

    kristedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com

  8. My brother got into family research and it was fascinating hearing about old burial practices on family farms. And I would love to embrace the future and start reading my books on a Kindle

  9. I’ve wanted a Kindle for a long time. What an awesome giveaway! Loved reading this post! Please enter my name in your draw. Thanks.
    wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

  10. I need to win this kindle so I can read all your wonderful ebooks or else I have no way of reading them 🙂 Thanks for another funny post.
    hmhenderson AT yahoo DOT com

  11. What a special family…so enjoyed reading about their quirks. I have an odd relative in my latest book. She talks about her dead relatives in the present tense, leaving outsiders confused as to who is still of this world and who has left. Great fun!

  12. According to my mother my great uncle Steve may have a victim of the Torso killer. He was walking home from a boxing match along Jefferson Ave when he was attacked somehow. Two men saw the attack and scared the killer away but not before Steve was thrown down a small ravine. He died later that night but did tell the police he could identify his killer. My mother doesn’t know what injuries he sustained that caused his death.

    His murder made the front page of the newspaper with a series of arrows tracing the path of the attack and fall on a giant photo.

    That the attack took place in the same area where the other murders occurred is the only reason my mother believes this, however. She thinks she was 10 at the time which would make it 1937. She is probably the only one. Crazy lady!

    briank68{at}gmail{dot}com

  13. That’s an amazing family history, Scott, despite how morbid it is. Doesn’t events like those send a kind of gloomy shockwave throughout the family that stays there?

    However, I do have to hand it to your relatives for forgiving your uncle. The crime was horrific, but they’re acceptance of him afterward proves love covers a multitude of sins.

    Wow. If anything, you should be honored to have a family that does that.

    http://www.canisterx.com

    BLOOD OF THE DEAD and ZOMBIE FIGHT NIGHT just $2.99 for the Amazon Kindle.

    http://amzn.to/bLCBty

  14. Your book is intriguing. Just reading your blog posts has me trying to put into words what I believe about spiritual presences and the afterlife, and I find that although my emotional understanding of what I think is pretty solid, my language becomes wishy-washy, with phrases like, “I don’t necessarily…”–what’s up with the qualifying? Thanks for getting me thinking!

    wordygirl at earthlink d0t net

  15. I’m from MD and we do pretty much the same after someone dies; we cook and take it over the family. Several years ago, a family friend died. Since I was unable to attend the services, I made a cake and brownies. When the family found out what I made, they took the items and hid them in a car; they didn’t want to share them with anyone!

  16. Your grandmother sounds like she had her priorities a bit mixed up – or perhaps not. Perhaps she just didn’t like cooking and was trying to get out of it for as long as possible?

  17. My grandpa was shot by a relative but it was an accident and is considered the family tragedy.
    We’ve all got tempers but that results either in a lot of shouting or not talking to one another at all.

    eva.s.black[@]gmail[.]com

  18. As Hillerman wrote of the Navaho, you should not “act as if you have no relatives.” We should support each other. But murder? Yikes!

  19. Well, you know what they say, “You can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your family.”

    I guess my kin folk are pretty boring. They’re just a bunch of morons.

    I’m still waiting on “Monster A Go-Go” to tell more goat stories.

    Scott, too!

  20. Wow wild in my Family people are only sent to the nut farm every once in awhile has not happen to me yet but my Family is trying to drive me crazy you never know may still happen.
    sasluvbooks(at)yahoo.com

  21. I had to laugh at this post, although it may have been inappropriate, but I related to it soo much. Murdering runs in my family also, both sides. Thanks for being so candid. 🙂

    waitmantwillie at hotmail dot com

  22. Golly, Scott! While dysfunction runs rampant, NO ONE in my family has ever killed any one…or even attempted it. (No wonder the missus sleeps in a separate locked room and has you walk through a metal detector every night when you come home. Jeepers!)

    You did touch on something though that I was proud to see that you brought. It takes courage to admit you have a problem…and this was a big step for you. You wrote:

    “My grandmother actually hid cakes in the attic SO PEOPLE WOULD BRING MORE FOOD! She played the sympathy card for an opportunity to stock up.
    I kid you not. That’s the Nicholson way. And they wonder why I turned out the way I did…”

    There, there, Buckeroo… Now that you’ve outted yourself as a food horder, you might as well let the rest of the big fat secret fly! Or is it too painful still? That’s okay, I am happy to spill it for you. No need to keep secrets from your friends, neighbors, co-workers, family and fans–right?

    You see, in addition to hording food, Scott is a fatty. He weighs more than 500 pounds! I know it’s hard to believe-shocking, even–but it’s the truth. Scott very rarely leaves the house without a variety girdles keeping him trim and slim looking. In the early 90s, tired of being mistaken for Shelly Winters and unable to book passage on a cruise ship because of fear of capsizing it, he was forced to grow his beard and wear his first corset.

    Scott is really only 4′ 3″—but because of his tremendous girth being squeezed in his complicated series of girdles and corsets, he appears much taller.

    Only once was his secret almost revealed. He was in a meeting for the multi-million optioning of one of his books to possibly be made into a television mini-series when his undergear had a blowout, his flab exploded out and nearly crushed the producer! Oh my stars! Needless to say there was no contract signed that day.

    But he’s a great guy. Beneath those layers of fat and blubber beats the heart of a true hillbilly gentlemen. He’s friendly, approachable, loves to talk about writing and he’s hospitable (just don’t touch his stash of Moon Pies or Ding Dongs!).

  23. There you go again, Scott… Making me buy your books! 😉 Your writing is totally not my genere… Or so I thought!
    EmpressSusi @ gmail . com

  24. playing in ancestry.com, i found a relative (minister) who had a ‘thing’ with one of the congregants. enter a lady of standing and position…a good marriage option…so what was he going to do…kill the congregant. OOPS, did not get away with it. another relative was had his head bashed in by his father-in-law for allegedly killing his wife. searching thru the tree for my nieces, i discovered a real pirate! wish he had been direct to me…o, well. families are fun.

  25. When my grandma died, the family discovered a birth certificate of her previously unknown son from a former marriage, that had been carefully placed on top of Grandma’s important papers. That was the first time I heard that my deceased grandpa may have been an evil man. I overheard my mom talking about how Grandpa had shot at her brothers during drunken rages. She suspected that he’d killed his stepson. varbonoff22 at cox dot net

  26. Lots of divorce and infidelity, A nephew who lost his way and can’t stay out of trouble or keep a job, another nephew with a DUI who can’t stay in school, but no murder or any other capital crime.

    Boring, really.

    But I can attest that a food bonanze is part of every funeral, I think it’s the whole “comfort food” mentality. It’s certainly never diet food!

    Thanks again for a great post!
    lorraine_lanning[at]yahoo[dot]com

  27. My family is so dysfunctional that our motto is ‘that which does not kill you only makes you stronger.’ 🙂
    Also, ‘this isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened to you’. Once I told my mom, ‘Ma, some time soon it’s got to be the worst thing that’s ever happened….’

    canadell@bellsouth.net

  28. My family is pretty normal, though calling my in-laws normal would be kind of a stretch,lol. My son spent 3 years in the South while in the Navy, and came home with some pretty hilarious stories. Very entertaining…

    caity_mack at yahoo dot com

  29. I’m cracking up at the thought of her hiding the food in order to get more! ROFL It sounds like something my grandma would do. Maybe it’s just grandmas. Or grandmas born in a certain era. 🙂

    inannajourney at gmail.com

  30. Great post Scott. It’s interesting that your mother hid the cake, but I guess I can understand how some people would need more attention during stressful times like that. My family has its own secrets but nothing as extreme as murder, that I know of.

    Wakincade@gmail.com

  31. love this story Hiding the food in the attic :snort:. I’m southern, but not *that southern . I’ve lived in NC my whole life (and wouldn’t change it).

  32. Gee, reading all this, I can’t believe what a boring, uneventful family I had. Decent, hard-working Swiss parents. Wait . . . my father was haunted by nightmares and ghosts as a child, one of my uncles killed himself on a motorcycle, our next-door neighbor was an alcoholic, my mother and sister were at each other’s throat all the time . . . okay may be not so normal.
    I loved Burial to Follow. It’s creepy, funny, with some fascinating folklore, and there is a ton of great food.
    Christa
    cpolkinhorn@msn.com

  33. Loved Burial To Follow. I said in my review, it is soooooo weird. In a good way. Love the guest post Scott! I haven’t had any relatives kill anyone, but my brother has been in a jail a few times. Once for attempted murder of a police officer. 😦 He drove away when the cop standing beside his car asked to see his ID when my brother was drinking underage. Still trying to figure out how he was trying to kill the cop when he drove straight. He would have had to have driven sideways. The judge thought so too and the charges were dismissed.

  34. When I found out that years ago one of my uncles murdered a guy with a bat, I had a smiliar reaction to “Uh, isn’t that…?”

    Afterwards, I made my mom tell me everything I didn’t know about everyone in the family. The tales got much more bizarre and unfortunately, I can’t unlearn this information: Macgyver style abortions, Grandfather’s attempted murder of own son, drug induced streaking down the inner city block. (Fortunately, my parents were only spectators in these events. Or either they’re keeping their dirty laundry secret from me. Which is totally acceptable.)

    It’s amazing that out of my entire family I only have one crazy drunk uncle. They all should be nuts! But they’re are the most normal and boring people you’d ever meet. Guess, they got the craziness out of their system before I was born. But this all makes me think of other people’s families and what craziness they have to offer.

    michaellmartinjr[at]gmail[dot]com

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