Horror Writer Sued By Church? Guest Post & Giveaway *Ended* of $10 Gift Card!

Horror Writer Sued By Church?
By Scott Nicholson
My first novel The Red Church was inspired by a local legend of an actual haunted church here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with ghost stories dating back 150 years.
I’d put together a short video on the church as a college student, and when it was time for an idea for a novel, that story stuck with me. I loosely incorporated elements of the legend, modernizing it and populating it with my own characters. Only a few details came from the actual legend, such as the church bell ringing even though its rope was long gone because a preacher supposedly hanged himself from it.
The publisher asked me for cover ideas and I sent a photo of the actual church, and the original paperback cover looks a lot like the real church. When the book was released, I probably used the local legend in some of my publicity for the book.
The church elders sent me a threatening letter after my novel was published, accusing me of “slandering” the long-dead preacher and the church:
“We…are most distressed at your recent novel supposedly based on legend and “research.” Brother [name redacted] was a holy man…With the help of his flock he built the church you slander erroneously. What kind of “research” did you do for your damaging book?”
The letter went on to mention the beloved saint died of natural causes and was buried near the church entrance out of respect. They also sent a copy to the editor of the local paper, but I don’t think it was ever published.
I know slander and libel law pretty well, and a building can’t be slandered, and neither can a dead person (except maybe in California, where laws don’t make sense and Mickey Mouse has more rights than a living person). But secretly I was thinking, “Boy, I hope they take some kind of legal action. Fox News couldn’t resist the headline ‘Church Sues Horror Writer.’ And I’d sell a million copies.”
Alas, it never came to pass. Neither did my threat to hold a book-burning to protest the publication of my own book. Life went on, and so did death, and the church is still there.
I don’t know if anyone at the church actually read the book, but the truth has never stood in the way of moral indignation. I don’t go around divulging the church’s real identity and address, because the church has been vandalized in the past because of the legends.
But I also don’t think anyone owns folk legends, or can suppress them, and a you can’t keep a good ghost down.
(The Red Church is 99 cents at Amazon and signed copies are available directly from the author for $8.95 plus shipping at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/redchurch.htm)
Scott Nicholson is giving away 15 percent of his ebook revenues in September! Details are at http://hauntedcomputer.blogspot.com. His other books include The Skull RingSpeed Dating with the DeadDrummer Boy, and nine other novels, seven story collections, and six screenplays. Look for Liquid Fear and Chronic Fear from Amazon on Dec. 20. More at Haunted Computer
I hope you’ll go buy your own copy of The Red Church which is the book I’m promoting for the month of September!  
The Giveaway: *ENDED*
In addition to all the awesome stuff Scott is doing this month he’s giving away a $10 Gift Card to one lucky person who comments on this post!
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Ends 9/30
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The Red Church is 99 cents at Amazon & signed copies are available directly from the author for $8.95 plus shipping at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/redchurch.htm

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  1. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I myself am a Christian and things like this make us all look bad. Heck I love me a good ghost story, Stephen King is one of my favorite authors!

    I am glad that nothing came of it it’s always sad when some one gets upset by a book. (Now it’s a book mapping out how to commit crime, then I can understand people getting upset crime is illegal.)
    But a ghost story, they wanted to sue over a ghost story?
    People never cease to amaze me.

  2. That’s pretty bizarre that a church took offense like that. I never would have thought that would happen. I am glad they didn’t decide to take any legal action. I LOL’d at the California comment because I live there and there are pretty bizarre lawsuits that go on all the time.


  3. I don’t know what to think of this story. I don’t get why people can’t just take a book as a story. It is published as FICTION. Not NON fiction. If it was labeled as a true story, then maybe the church has a right to get mad. People overreact to everything – sometimes it really makes me hate everyone. The world is becoming to catering to every person as to not “offend” anyone. Personally, I think people should be offended, it keeps thinks interested and thoughts untainted by “politically correctness” or how others would feel about the issue. I’m glad nothing came out of this, I would be really mad if your book or you yourself would have been in anyway punished (for lack of a better word) for this story.

    ilikethesebooksblog at gmail dot com

  4. This story actually doesn’t surprise me. It was really interesting, and I completely disagree with the church, but was I surprised by their wanting to sue over this book? Nope. People don’t really surprise me too much anymore when it comes to things like this and banning books.

    I am a huge horror fan, though. Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to read The Red Church now–I think it’s the perfect Halloween read I’ve been looking for!

  5. Wow, what an interesting post. I was surprised that anyone would ever be accused of slandering a building or a dead person – too bad they didn’t try to sue. That would have been great publicity.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  6. Any book with such controversy definitely deserves my attention! So much going on in the world and this becomes the church’s focus? Unbelievable. Some people just don’t know the difference between non-fiction and fiction I guess. I have to say the first cover is extremely creepy but the second is just as great, thanks for the chance to win and congratulations on The Red Church, I’m sure it’s going to be a hit with Halloween just around the corner!


  7. Nothing surprises me anymore where people are concerned. Everyone is suing and damn happy about it to. They should be ashamed with there ignorance and attitudes with cases like this one. A church at that Really? I’m always *shaking my head* at these people. I’ve never believed in the Christian or Catholic crap, but they sure act like they are superior to others when it suits them. I give a WOOT to the Arthur, excellent way to deal with the situation.


    Well I just purchased the Amazon kindle ebook and can’t wait to dig in.


  8. I wanted to read THE RED CHURCH before, but after reading this post I MUST read it. People get upset over the craziest things. How un-christian of the church elders.


  9. I love a good ghost story especially when it’s based on true story/facts.


    I’ve also Tweeted both paragraphs above. My Twitter username @MzAngelJoy

    Thanks for the giveaway 😀

  10. I love a good ghost story especially when it’s based on true story/facts.


    I’ve also Tweeted both paragraphs above. My Twitter username @MzAngelJoy

    Thanks for the giveaway 😀

  11. How ridiculous! Most readers will probably know that it’s just a cover art, and the church on the cover has nothing to do with the book. I could see their point if the book was non-fiction and claimed that the hauntings are real facts, but it’s just fiction.

    Thanks for the chance!

    spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

  12. It doesn’t surprise me at all that the church was threatening to file a lawsuit. These days people are constantly filing lawsuits to make money and some of the lawsuits are so stupid. It makes it look bad for the one that are legimate. I don’t see why the church would be offended by this book. It is fiction nothing more. People do tend to over react though. Tore923@aol.com

  13. It always amazes me when people shout slander about a book, and then never read it. Of course, that carries over to all the book bannings,too. People now just want to make a quick dollar, it doesn’t matter if it hurts someone or not.
    I would love to read your books.

  14. I am ALWAYS on the look out for a good ghost story. My daughter loves to read them with me too. There is nothing better than a good, spook session! So when I read your review of The Red Church, I said I HAVE TO HAVE THIS BOOK! I reallly wish that Scott could have gotten the publicity he DESERVED for bringing this legend to print. While I agree legends, lore and BUILDINGS cannot be slandered (imagine being sued for saying “OMG that building looks like crap. The paint is peeling and it is a total train wreck”..hehe)! This book sounds FASCINATING and I cant wait to read it. I might even have to order a signed copy just to add to my collection. Nothing better than a signed copy!

    Thanks for the great post and the give away!


  15. I think it’s ridiculous when a book is “loosely based” on a true event, and this is clearly stated, and somebody kicks up a fuss as though the book were labeled “nonfiction, true story!”. For a church to do this just lends credence to the story. If they just ignored it, people wouldn’t think twice about it. But when they kick up a fuss, it makes you wonder what they are trying to hide! Sort of the old “the lady doth protest too much” scenario! They just end up making themselves look petty, and like they are trying to keep people from finding out the true story! Ridiculous!! I am even more interested in reading this book, now!
    jwitt33 at live dot com

  16. It is kind of ridiculous for them to be upset when there is already a legend about the church. Writing it down doesn’t change anything.

    Interesting post!

    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  17. That is ridiculous that the church would do that! I have bought this book but it’s on my kindle in a long list of TBR’s :) This is an awesome giveaway!

  18. This sounds like a great read. And too bad the newspaper didn’t post the letter. That would be a great publicity for your book.
    scrtsbpal at yahoo dot com

  19. I am afraid of horror stories but as long as it’s not the whole true story being used it’s not so bad.

    This is like what happened with The Da Vinci Code! People just overreacting over a FICTION NOVEL!

    reviewsbyabby at gmail dot com

  20. that’s why i don’t like the “church”, as in the institution, not the buildings itself (those are pretty remarkable). such institutions are just damaging for their beliefs – that’s pretty stupid i think.

    witchvela at web dot de

  21. Candace, what do you mean you must have a comment for each entry? Does that mean that one comment will have to be my comment for the review, another one for the 1st tweet and another comment with the 2nd Tweet?

    I posted above but I placed it all in one comment. Did I do it incorrectly?

  22. It’s odd that the church would want to to sue over a well-known (in the area) legend, or expect what is clearly a work of fiction to be factually accurate. But I agree, it would have made a great headline!

    icecreamavalanche (at) gmail (dot)com

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