The Questionnaire: Geoff Nicholson

March 26, 2012

How do you get up in the morning?

Earlier and earlier as I get older.  Sometimes I start writing before I’m even awake. I’m not saying this is a good thing.


Do you succumb to nostalgia?  

When I first started getting published – about 25 years ago now – everybody told me the golden age of publishing had just past, if only I’d been writing a few years earlier.  Sound familiar?  I try not to succumb.


Do you write long and cut, or short and backfill?

When I start a book, I always think this is going to be the BIG ONE – the grand 2000 page magnum opus.  Then somewhere along the line I think well, you know, maybe just a 100 page novella is all I really need if it’s good enough.  Somehow, in the end, after much angst and editing, cutting and rewriting and occasionally reinstating, it always seems to come out “book length.”


How do you feel about your Wikipedia entry?

I wish it were longer, weirder, more obsessive, more scurrilous and contested, more scandalous, a little more Charlie Sheen (though without the spousal abuse).


Best piece of advice you ever received?

From my first editor at Hodder and Stoughton, “It’s OK for an author to sleep with his publishers’s publicity people, but never sleep with editorial.”


Which classic author would you like to see kicked out of the pantheon?

Nah, don’t kick anyone out – the more the merrier.


What’s your favorite negative emotion?

“Creative cowardice” – Rayner Bahham’s term for what he employs while driving in the desert.  Applies to many other walks of life too.  Maybe cowardice isn’t an emotion but emotions certainly go with it.


What is your go-to shoe?

Something strappy, high-heeled, peep-toed, in red or black suede generally gets the job done.


Title of the book you’re probably never going to write, but would kind of like to get around to?

“My Summer of Lust With Joan Didion”


Does age matter? 

One of the few small consolations of literature is that you can be pushing 40 and still find yourself described as a “young writer.”


Is there a literary community?

Hell yes.  Don DeLillo phones up all the time wanting to swap cheesecake recipes.  Just yesterday Joyce Carol Oates asked to borrow my truck so she could move house.