Nic Sheff’s bestselling memoir about methamphetamine addiction, Tweak, landed on bestseller lists earlier this year. Now, a new blog by the author, New Dawn Transmission, has quickly found a strong following. In direct and often profane entries (“I hate myself and I want to die. At least, sometimes.”), Sheff offers thoughts, stories and struggles about his recovery.
“The entries are really raw and honest,” says Sheff’s editor, Ginee Seo, v-p and editorial director of Ginee Seo Books, of the blog, which launched August 22. This is perhaps to be expected, given Sheff’s similarly stark account of his addiction in Tweak (PW’s review noted, “This book’s unmediated, down-and-headed-for-disaster sensibility may, for some teen readers, produce the same transfixing quality as a highway accident”).
First published back in February alongside Beautiful Boy (Houghton), a memoir for the adult market by Nic’s father, David Sheff, Tweak spent 14 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and father and son did a national tour in February and March. Sales were then boosted by a joint appearance on TheOprah Winfrey Show in April. “Tweak has been a great success for us,” says Seo. “It certainly surpassed all of our projections, which were already very strong.” There are just under 250,000 copies of Tweak in print. This week, the Sheffs are once again on the road, with several bookstore and library visits in New Mexico, Arizona and California.
The attention that thememoirs received resulted in cross-pollination among readers seeking both perspectives on Nic’s struggles, and generated strong reader feedback. “[Since] going on the road with his dad, he’s been getting lots of emails and a lot of support from people all over the place and some really touching stories,” Seo says. In the wake of Tweak and reader response, Sheff
David and Nic Sheff. Photo: Bart Nagel.
began to consider writing a second memoir. He saw that while there were books on the market about meth addiction, there were not many offerings about the recovery process. This became his starting point for a new project.
Sheff initially proposed a book of essays, but Seo felt that because Sheff was still in the midst of his recovery, he might lack a certain perspective to write about the process. “It seemed like everything was a little too immediate,” she says. “With Tweak, he was writing about things that happened in the past.”
It then occurred to Seo and others at S&S that he might consider writing a blog. “What was exciting about that [idea] was that he could also interact with his audience in a way he couldn’t before,” says the editor. “It would be a way of keeping in touch with people who really connected with him.” According to Seo, Sheff was game. “He is somebody who just needs to write. That is part of his recovery.”
Sheff’s entries on New Dawn Transmission, which according to Seo takes its name from a combination of two Joy Division songs (“New Dawn Fades” and “Transmission”), receive anywhere between a few dozen to well over 100 reader comments on each entry (he posts every few days). “From our perspective the blog is a success,” says Seo. “We’re expecting he’ll get even more readership when he promotes the paperback edition of Tweak next January.” Sheff’s MySpace page (where he has 3,500+ friends) links to the blog, as do his father’s Web site and the S&S page for the book.
And the posts may serve as raw material down the road for a book about Sheff’s recovery, per the author’s original idea; according to Seo, future titles are under discussion. “What Nic has written is really a modern classic,” she says. “Some booksellers have said it’s a Go Ask Alice for the 21st century. Certainly it has struck a chord in the same way.”