Georgina Scull is the author of Regrets of the Dying, published by Welbeck on 30 March 2023.
Georgina kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Regrets of the Dying.
It’s a non-fiction book, about life, death and how we chose to spend our time. A series of 21 interviews with people who are either over the age of 70, or are living with a terminal illness; focusing on the things they regret, and the things they want the rest of us to know.
2. What inspired the book?
I had a near death experience just over 10 years ago (a ruptured ectopic), and wasn’t coping. I felt like I should have been happy and grateful to be alive, but in reality I was drifting. It got to the point where I felt so unhappy with myself and my ever-increasing list of regrets, that I knew I had to take action. I tried therapy, joined various sporty groups, but nothing seemed to help. So, I wrote this book instead. I thought, I hoped, if I could work out what was important in the end, and how to live a less regretful life, then I could move on – and then pass along all that I learnt to whoever else needs it, too.
3. How much planning did you do before you started writing?
Lots. Getting fiction and non-fiction commissioned is a long road, but with non-fiction you don’t write a first draft, you have to write a full proposal, most of which you’ll never use again. Mine ended up being about 50-60 pages long, and outlined the people I wanted to interview, who the book was for, the market, comparable titles, and sample chapters. It took quite a long time, but during that process I really fleshed out what I wanted it to be, how the book would feel, and how I was going to structure all the things I’d learnt. I really wanted the reader to come away with a renewed sense of making the most of what they already have/had, and that seems so obvious now I’m on this side of it, but it wasn’t when I first started. I really think the planning stage helped Regrets to be a better book.
4. Is there anything about the process of publishing a book that surprised you?
I was surprised about how blue I felt after publication. It was like, after of years and years of trying to get my work out there, it was finally happening, and then once it did – total flatline. I’m very proud of my book, and I’m very proud that complete strangers have told me that it’s changed how they view their life. But once the hardback was out it took me a few months to feel steady and level again. Such a strange feeling, and I’m very relieved it’s passed now and I can focus on the next story.
On a more positive note: the amount of input I got regarding the cover art and the actual edit was also a surprise. I felt very listened to by my publisher, and I know that’s not everyone’s experience, so I wasn’t expecting that. Also, the support from other writers, and reviewers, and bloggers has been lovely. Book people really are the best people.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I love watching old episodes of Veronica Mars with my daughter; going on long, long walks, and going to the gym. I’m also rather enjoying being in love again after the end of my 20-year marriage. I’m filing that last one under ‘a happy revelation’.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
What Makes Sammy Run by Budd Schulberg. I first read it about 25 years ago, and then every few years since. It’s amazing how you can see a story from different angles, at different ages. I used to think the main character – Sammy Glick – was a hero. He came from a very scrappy background (like me) and (spoiler) really makes something of his life. But when I read him now, I see someone completely different (no spoilers). But I still, when I need to muster up a bit of extra confidence, find myself repeating ‘Sammy Glick… Sammy Glick’ to help me through. Sounds a bit silly really, but it allows me to borrow a bit of his chutzpah.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
I’ve never done a booky Q&A, but have done a few podcasts. They usually allow you to talk more deeply about stuff so I’ve been asked lots of questions about lots of different things, but probably the one thing I haven’t been asked, is: how do you keep writing when you’re not in the mood, or find yourself avoiding it? Answer: every time I complete a chapter I buy a cheap, new-to-me dress on ebay. I am now in the process of selling half of them back, but it got me to hit all my deadlines, so…
About the Book
If you were told you were going to die tomorrow, what would you regret?
Ten years ago, without time to think or prepare, Georgina Scull ruptured internally. The doctors told her she could have died and, as Georgina recovered, she began to consider the life she had led and what she would have left behind.
Paralysed by a fear of wasting what seemed like precious time but also fully ready to learn how to spend her second chance, Georgina set out to meet others who had faced their own mortality or had the end in sight.
You can buy a copy of the book here.
(This is an affiliate link so I may earn a small amount should you purchase through it. You can also buy Regrets of the Dying from your local independent bookshop.)