Nancy Holder is a multiple award-winning, New York Times bestselling author (including the Wicked series which she co-authored with her current writing partner Debbie Viguie). She has won four Bram Stoker Awards from the Horror Writers Association, as well as a Scribe Award for Best Novel (Saving Grace: Tough Love.) Nancy has sold over eighty novels and one hundred short stories, many of them based on such shows as Highlander, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and others. (Edited From Nancy Holder's website).
Those are the dry hard facts, but let me add to them that she is one of my favorite people, has crashed on the couch at my wife's and my home, and was the first horror author (we'll get into genre later) to take time to actually talk with a fan boy (me) who wanted to write. I even hit her up for a short story ("Out Twelve-Steppin', Summer of AA") in my first Dark Delicacies horror anthology. She is a fan favorite at Buffy the Vampire Slayer gatherings having written multiple tie-in novels and viewer guides to the show. She has written in several genres showing her skill and versatility in all of them. Being as this column is on a horror site let me add that Nancy can sling gore with the best of them and should not be overlooked. But despite her output and many offers she has only had one project optioned - Wicked - by her own choice.
"I've turned them all down except for one. Most of it has been for short horror. In one case, it was for a novel, and my agent (at the time, who is not my current agent) wanted me to hold out for more money and nothing happened. In another case, it wasn't really an option—they wanted to buy all the rights. It was Roger Corman's wife's company, and I wanted to do it just because of that, but my agent (the same one) talked me out of it. That story was Blood Gothic and I've sold the reprint rights for it more than any other short story I've written, so it was good advice. The other offers were for very little money, although one probably had a good chance of getting made in a foreign country. But my agent wanted me to defer, so I did.
"The option for the Roger Corman connection was for a horror story. Most of my low-budget option offers have been for horror. I also had interest in something I wrote from an Aussie producer but he had contacted the editor of the anthology instead of me, and she neglected to tell me until a long time later, and the producer had moved on."
The option was never produced but Nancy and her partners feel it is going to happen with a few tweaks so our conversation on it specifically was kept low key.
"Since we're close to pitching again, I'd rather not point out any perceived flaws with our project. Our agency asked us to help write our pitch and treatment material, and we had a blast doing that. We answered a lot of questions during the rounds of pitches and later on during development. We're confident that the steps our agency is taking right now to rework the material will result in another option and hopefully a made movie."
So will Nancy be on-board to write the script this time around?
"I didn't ask (to write the script the first time around). I was more interested in getting my movie made than writing a script for it, and I have no street cred in scriptwriting. The situation was such that the studio and agency had writers in mind for the project—seasoned writers with great credentials—and I didn't want to complicate the situation by asking to write the script.
"My coauthor and I have discussed writing a script but we've had so much on our plates that we haven't had time. I've talked to other people about writing scripts for various things, too, but same thing—I have so much contracted work that I haven't found or made time to write a script, because I know how hard they are to sell."
The one option Nancy had approved of was climbing the ladder to the Heaven of Being Produced at one point. This must have been one wild emotional ride of anticipation. But Nancy already had some Hollywood experience and played it vampirically cool.
"Since I came into the option aware that hardly any movies get made in Hollywood, I was able to push it to the back of my head until the last minute. When it was patently clear that we had gone all the way up the ladder, I did get very excited. I was in a hotel room working on a deadline, so I was isolated and put in a long call to my coauthor. But the trigger wasn't pulled, I was disappointed. I was glad to get as far as we had. But I just kept writing so I could make my deadline."
So, is there any final advice to pass on to the non-optioned writer to help them make that leap?
"Use an agent and make sure you can trust your agent."
What about the novice writer is there anything to offer there? How about heading into the recently exploding self-publishing arena if one has a hard time getting a mainstream publishing contract?
"To the novice writer: read, write, network. There's no other way to do it than to do it. Writers write every day. Write it, finish it, and move on to the next one. It's very important to finish things even if you think they're terrible. You need to read everything and you need to make contacts and get the skinny. Social media makes it happen even for the shy. Some self-published writers have gone on to great success. I'm thinking of Coleen Houck, who self-published her first one or two books in a trilogy, got an agent who asked her not to self-publish the next one, and is a New York Times bestselling author now."
My feelings about Nancy Holder are wrapped up in this quote, "I do consider Horror my home."
You can visit Nancy online at www.nancyholder.com
Del Howison is a journalist, writer and Bram Stoker Award-winning editor. He is also the co-founder and owner of Dark Delicacies "The Home of Horror" in Burbank, CA. He can be reached at Del@darkdel.com. If you have any information on the optioning of horror books he would love to hear from you.