THE RED CHURCH, my first novel. And although I had some short story sales before then, I generally consider THE RED CHURCH the start of my professional writing career as well. Ten years. A lot of books. I'm torn between feeling like a worn-out geezer and a guy finally figuring out what he wants to do with his life, but the reality is I am probably in the "middle age" of my writing career.
Today, with the whirlwind of digital books, foreign translations, eBookSwag.com, and basically running a tiny enterprise as a mad-emperor/demi-god, I have a hard time remembering the freshness of that feeling of accomplishment. I can still remember receiving the phone call from the year before, when the editor told me he wanted to publish the book, and the subsequent search for an agent. I remember the careful planning I put into preparing for the book's release (which I outlined in a monthly series leading up to the book's publication--boy, how times have changed!) I can't remember much about my life at the time, although it was fraught with self-inflected personal troubles.
But the thing that stands out clearly is that feeling of writing the book, the way I entered that fantasy land and followed the story from beginning to end, walked in Ronnie Day's shoes (and ran, in some cases), meeting the peculiar folk of Whispering Pines. The book felt fresh when I typed it, felt fresh when it was published, and still feels fresh today. Perhaps that is why it is still my bestselling and most popular book, even after 10 years.
I'm not even sure how many copies have sold, but it's probably around 80,000 now--not a knockout bestseller but the Little Engine That Could (well, it was out of print and not on sale for half of its life...but that's another blog post for another day). It was a Stoker Award finalist (lost out to The Lovely Bones!), and an alternate selection of the Mystery Guild and in the Doubleday Book Clubs back when mail-order was a force more powerful than Amazon. It's been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Polish, and soon Portuguese and German. It's been around the block. It's been equally slammed for being a Christian novel disguised as a horror novel and a horror novel disguised as a Christian novel. It's inspired theological essays and critical analysis and a Bentley Little blurb, and the heady but rather commonplace Stephen King comparisons. Perhaps its greatest feat was impressing my daughter when she saw THE RED CHURCH on the Kindle charts ahead of Stephen King and C.S. Lewis...
I still feel the chill of the river fog laying low over the Appalalachian valley...
I still hear the rustle and slither of that shadow in the belfry...
Ten years after, I still live in THE RED CHURCH, and I always will.
DIALOGUE Blogtalk interview: Audio Archive, June 28
Free Scott Nicholson books on Kindle:
June 28-30: Creative Spirit (UK edition only)
June 29-30: Scott Nicholson Library, Vol. 5 (Amazon UK only)