Georgina Scull

Whilst pregnant with her second child, Georgina became very ill and came very close to dying. This opened up a new-found respect and interest in dying. In 2017, she released the Regrets of the Dying podcast with Acast, which explored stories of life, death, and regrets.

In 2022, her related book, also titled Regrets of the Dying, was released. The book was billed as “a powerful, moving and hopeful book exploring what people regret most when they are dying, and how this can help us lead a better life”.

Meet Georgina Scull

Questions On Writing

What was the hardest part of your writing experience with Regrets of the Dying?
Approaching people to do the initial interviews. I was really worried about how people would react once I told them the title, and what I wanted to ask them, and I really didn’t want to upset anyone. But, I found, that the vast majority of people in that situation wanted to talk.

What did you learn about yourself when writing Regrets of the Dying?
I wasn’t quite sure I could do it, so the thing that I learnt was that I could. I’ve been writing for years, but never nonfiction and never books – so when I got the deal I had to look up how to format a page and where to put the quote marks and commas, because as a reader I’d never really noticed, and I didn’t want to look like an idiot! If I’m honest, I always start every project or story thinking I can’t do it; but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. It makes you work harder.

Do you have a favourite part of the book, and if so, which part is it?
Regrets has been described as a book where every chapter is like a mini novel, so to be honest, there are moments in each story that I love. But I think the accumulative effect of the stories, and my last chapter, passing on all the things I learnt, is my favourite part. My aim was to try and help people to stop drifting through their lives, wasting time like I was. I really hope, for a few readers, I managed to do that.

What does literary success look like to you?
Being able to focus on the actual writing rather than the business of where the writing will go. The reality is, it’s hard to make a living out of books. So, if you can write and keep a roof over your head and food in the cupboard… that sounds like success to me.

How did you celebrate when your book was published?
I’m very bad at celebrating my own successes. Very bad. I think I bought some new stationary. But the paperback is out at the end of March (23) so I’m planning on having a little toast, and maybe treating myself to a daytime trip to the cinema.

Is there anything you edited out of the book that you now wish you’d kept in?
No, everything that’s there is meant to be there; and everything that wasn’t, was cut.

Do you force yourself to write everyday/regularly, or do you only write when inspiration comes?
I think writing is a practice, so the more you do it, the more you want to do it. Even if you only have an hour a day then that really adds up over time. I’ve always hated this idea that you have to do a creative writing course or pay to stay at a retreat to get ‘inspiration’. To me that’s BS. If you think you’ll get something from it, or will enjoy it, then that’s great, but you can write anywhere if you want to. I think inspiration is a bit of a fallacy: you can be enthused and excited about an idea but still not crack on with it. So, my top tips (for what it’s worth) are 1) don’t spend energy talking about an idea when you could use that energy to actually write it; 2) write through the sh*t to get to the gold. The first draft is always rubbish, so try and remember that and just keep going; and 3) find a way to make it happen. Carve out that 30 or 60 minutes every day, and gradually the pages will build.

Questions on Books and about You

Firstly, the most important question, what books are currently ‘on your bedside table’?
My reading over the last couple of years has been very erratic. When I’m writing a lot I tend to not read much, and always the opposite to the kind of story I’m working on; so I read nonfiction when I’m writing fiction, and vice versa. At the moment, I’ve started a Barbara Vine (Asta’s Book) I’ve had on my shelves for years but had never started. Then I think I might reread A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I gave my copy to my dad last year for his birthday. He died a few months later, and when we cleared out his home it was passed back to me. I’m not sure he got to read it, but – and this may sound strange –I think I’ll feel closer to him if I do.

What  children’s book would you suggest every adult read?
One of the picture books I discovered, and loved, when my daughter was younger was Not Now Bernard by David McKee. It’s about a little boy trying to get his parents attention. Very simple but a great story. An older, more YA story I’d suggest would probably The Outsiders by SE Hinton. Hard to believe she was only 15-16 when she wrote it, but a brilliant book about loyalty and belonging. I have to confess I saw the film first (an amazing cast!). Such brilliant characters, and Hinton captures their voices so, so well.

What does your writing space look like?
To be honest, I do most of my writing in bed. I didn’t have my own space for years and then in lockdown I got my book deal and my husband and I decided to call it a day. We lived in the same house for about six months, so at night we segmented the house; after years of his snoring I got promoted to the bedroom and he got the boxroom-office. So, the bedroom became my office, and now it’s the place I write.

How many books do you think you own?
Probably about 600, but I’ve never counted them all. Sorry books!

Who is your literary icon?
I feel very new to the industry (even though I’m not young!), so I’ll pick an author: Agatha Christie. She wrote so many brilliant stories, stories that people have enjoyed and retold so many times over the years. To be chosen to be on that many bookshelves, by so many people across the decades and across the world is a truly amazing thing.

If you could own one rare/1st edition copy of a book, which one would it be?
I wouldn’t. I love my books but I have to confess I don’t look after them very well! I’m afraid I’m that person that dog-ears the corners and uses them for tea coasters, so I’d rather have a copy I don’t have to worry about and can just read and enjoy. If I was a different kind of person, then probably What Makes Sammy Run by Budd Schulberg. It’s about a hungry and ambitious man who comes ‘from nothing’ and wants it all, at any cost. Weird to say it now, but God I loved that character when I first read it in my early 20s. I wanted to be him, and be ruthless and get all the shiny things. But now I see him very differently, and freedom and contentment mean so much more than stuff, and it’s hard to imagine I ever felt like that. That’s the great thing about books: they’re like friends you think you know, but change with you over the years and surprise you all over again.

Is there an author who you always read?
Not really. Is that bad? Maybe someone like Jane Green or Jane Fallon. Someone who writes relatable stories well, but allows you to escape a little. Maybe John Irving, or Graham Green, or Fitzgerald, or Agatha Christie, or Maggie O’Farrell, or Joan Didion. I also love Ed McBain’s books. Hard boiled stories with characters with double names (Meyer Meyer etc). Love it!

And finally, are there any plans for any new books? If so, what teasers can you give us?
I am working on another nonfiction book. It’s very early stages, but I really hope I get to write it, and interview more strangers. I love talking to strangers, even though it’s rather nerve wracking sometimes.

Thank you Georgina for being so honest with us 😊

Georgina Scull Books

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