Back in January, as part of the launch for our Year Of The Zombie novella series, we announced a Pitch & Page comp where budding writers could pitch an idea for a novella, along with a one page excerpt, to our very own Dragon’s-Den-esque panel of David Moody, US literary agent, Gina Panettieri and Michael Preissl of German & English language publisher, Voodoo Press. The winner of the comp was Scott McGlasson, whose novella NOCK is October’s YOZ release. We caught up with Scott to talk about his experience so far as P&P winner and debut author.
Hey Scott, congrats on the release of NOCK. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got interested in genre writing.
I’ve been reading science-fiction and horror since I was twelve. My father used to bring home paperbacks from business trips and I’d tear into them, usually juggling three or more at the same time. I always thought I’d try my own hand at writing, but never got around to it. A couple of years ago at a birthday party, one of my old friends talked about a multi-book series he was working on and that sort of jump-started me into working on my own. I had always been sort of a peripheral fan of zpoc novels and movies, but after Max Brooks’ World War Z came out, I was hooked. Post-apocalyptic stories have always fascinated me, but there’s something about the unique threat that hordes of undead add to the mix that makes it much more fun for me. I got a singular idea for something in the zpoc genre that I hadn’t seen done before and started researching and writing a story that took on a life of its own. That one is still down in the laboratory, lashed to a table, trying to escape. Nock was an off-shoot of that work. A completely different world, situation, and characters, but I never would have thought of Stace and Rob Tomlinson without doing all that zpoc research first.
Nock is as much a story about family as it is about zombies. What inspired you to approach the story in this way?
Simply put, being the father of two sons and two daughters. My oldest daughter, Evelyn, took an interest in archery a couple of years ago, so Stace is based on her. I’ve always felt that zombie apocalypse stories need to walk a thin line between vacuous cannibal porn on one side and season three of The Walking Dead on the other. The entire story can’t just be about gory zombie kills no more than it can just be about slow-paced trudges through character relationships and wondering where the hell Carl is this week. It’s got to be both (sans Carl). Setting up Nock to be viewed through the eyes of a father-daughter dynamic seemed to be the best way to stay on the tightrope and still tell a good tale.
Nock is your first novella-length release, I believe, but have you had any short stories published?
Nock is actually my first attempt at getting something published. I’ve got one big project in the works (hear that banging coming from the cellar again?) and a short story I committed to a charity, but getting into YOZ is really the beginning for me and I couldn’t be more excited about what’s to come.
Which do you prefer: writing short stores or writing longer form, such as novellas/ novels?
Short-stories are a double-edged sword to me. If you’ve got a great little idea, you can jump on and crank it out without extraneous research, world-building, and character arcs. On the other hand, if you’ve got a great kernel of an idea, it wants to heat up, expand, and pop, goading you into exploring every facet. Looking forward, I will explore both forms, but I think I’ll lean toward bigger, more epic story lines.
Your pitch and page very much impressed our judges. What, in your eyes, makes a good pitch. And what ways did you try to draw the reader (judges) in with your first page?
You’ve got to wring out the very core of your story and then you’ve got a phrase it in such a manner that it comes across as different or unique. When I got into the craft of writing, I surrounded myself with working writers. One of the things they bemoan is the pitch. Everyone’s got to have that “elevator pitch” ready to go at a moment’s notice, right? Coming up with one appears to be a thorn in quite a few writers’ sides. The P&P’s 25 word limit was far more constricting than the proverbial elevator ride, so it really took some doing. I started off trying to work everything in, but, of course, that was doomed to failure. In the end, I boiled it down to the very essence of the story: Stace’s desire to get outside the walls and run.
Do you think you’ll return to the world of Nock or is it a done-in-one? What’s next for you in terms of writing?
I think so. The initial feedback seems to be pointing towards wanting a bigger story set there. I’m told it reads like a part of a much larger world, which I think is a good thing. There’s a lot to explore. In the story, from Stace’s point of view, dociles are simply a part of life. There’s no examination of how the fundamental humanity of the living has been affected by essentially turning docile undead into draft animals. Can you call something a slave that has no self? There’s a lot of “there” there, so to speak.
As mentioned prior, I’ve promised to do a young-adult story for a kids cancer survivor anthology and it can be on anything, so I think I’m going to try a hand at a lunar colony cyberpunk story in the near term (what would it be like to frolic in a swimming pool in 1/6th gravity?). As soon as that’s finished, I’m going to head back down into the lab and continue poking at that epic zpoc thing that’s strapped to the table.
Find out more about Scott at his official Infected Books page.
Buy NOCK right here.