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!
Burial to Follow: Dead and Hungry
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.
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.
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