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Good People, Cool Things
Good People, Cool Things

Episode 57 · 6 months ago

Ghost Hunting, Shakespeare, and Writing Engaging Stories with Susan McCauley

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Very few people have written stories about ghost hunters, sent a poem to a NASA astronaut, AND performed scenes with Jeff Goldblum. In fact, I’d argue no one has done all three of those things — except for today’s guest, Susan McCauley.

Susan is a writer and producer of paranormal, fantasy, and horror films and fiction for adults, young adults, and middle grade audiences and readers. She also studied acting at Playhouse West with Robert Carnegie and Jeff Goldblum in Los Angeles.

But most important of all, she has a great knack for storytelling. We’re diving into how that skill can help anyone, whether you’re a writer or not. Plus, a foray into Shakespeare, Susan’s newest book, Ghost Hunters: Pirates’ Curse - A Ghost Hunting Adventure, and some of her spookiest encounters.

Good people cool things, an the codcastfuture and conversations with contrepreneurs writers, musicians andother creatives get inspired by their stories to do your own cool thing andhere's your host Joe held welcome to good people cool things. Today's guestis Susan mccauly, a writer and producer of paranormal fantasy and horror filmsin fiction for adults, young adults and middle grade audiences and readersSusan, when she was eight years old, sent a poem to a Nessa Astronaut andher love of writing. Just continued to take off from there. She's alsoexplored acting. She studied with Robert Carnaga nd Jeff Goldbloom atplayhouse, west she's written films plays a ton of Novellas and shortstories and her most recent novel, Ghost hunners pirates curse. A ghosthunning adventure came out earlier this month, spooky yet fun Middle Grad,novel aimed for kids, eight to twelve, but really anyone atin above is goingto enjoy this. It's set New Orleans. It's got all kinds of charm and cultureinvolved in it, and it's about a twelve year old, with my metal name Alex whocan speak to ghosts, thos ar pretty commonplace in NewOrleans, and so there's lots of fun adventure going on and there and goingon in here. In this conversation with Susan we're chatting all things rightand we're chanin acting we're chatting flying to outer space. We haven'tactually done it, but there's some outer space involved in this as wellplus some creepy experiences that Susan has had in her life. There's lots ofgood stuff so be sure to stick around for all of it. If you'd like to supportgood people, cool things, you can do so by headid over to the shop good people,cool thingscom shop, pick up some hats, shirts, hoodies a Mug. You can havesome coffee. So when you're getting all spooked out reading stuff, THAT'S SCARY!You got something warm to come for you always very helpful and of course youcan always reach out to me. Joey Act, good people, cool thingscom- if youhave a guest for the show, want to hear more about something. I just want totell me a cordy joke, because you know we always end the show with a Cornyjoke, and I would love to hear yours, so I can give you a shout at as I shareit on a future episode, but enough about that. Let's happen to theconversation with Susan. I say this every episode and I stillbelieve it that it's kind of a cliuchetd question of give us yourelevator pitch, but I like to put a twist on it. By also having you tell usthe elevator were on while you're giving this pitch. Okay. How far back?Do you want me to go? That's the that's up to you! How long's theelevator read? Okay, that's true! Well I'll, be quick! I was born and I wasborn in Texas on the Gulf coast and in a way I like to think you know, maybethat experience kind of I don't know cause inspiration. I grew up across thestreet from NASA, so I went to school some of the astronauts kids and then sowe were, you know we were surounded by space and boats and just it was a greatneighborhood and my parents were really supportive and Iwent to. I went to a little private school when I was younger and thenmiddle school and high school. I went to a public school, but I had a reallystrong supportive foundation, but I think I remember I loved writing. SinceI was eight and whonvof our friends was Charle Bolden, he was, you know, becamethe director of Nassa. Later Andr Obama and Charlie was going up into space forthe first time when I was a kid, and so I wrote a poem for him about space andhe took it up on the shuttle with him, so that was so cool and so inspiring,and I said, that's whyt, I think kind of you know the space and the water andeverything around me kind of led to my inspiration. When I was when I wasyounger and then I went to university, Houston, Undergrad and then I went toCalifornia, I worked on powder, the movie when I was a teenager and I wasgetting ready to graduate from college and I met Jeff Goldbloom when we wereon the set and it kind of like things...

...just fell into place. I did a smallrole in the classroom scene and then Jeff and I I was also interning and sojeff and I were like in the back of this we're sitting on the back of attruck in the middle of this field and they were shooting like an aerial shot.I think powder was running down. Sean Patrick clannery was running down thefield and they had this aerial shot so jeff and I were sitting there and hehad tho script. He was reading, and so he goes read this with me. So westarted reading the script back and forth, and then I got called away tohall ice or some Nice Intern job and and apparently Jeff said Tho Sombo, oneof my friends, she's, really good and so from there. He asked me invited meto study acting with him and Bob Carnegie playhouse West in California,in Los Angeles, and then my parents came to visit the set like a week or two later and Jefftalked to them, and you know my they'd been on the fence about acting andwriting and all that they were like. Oh, you need to do something stable,especially my mother, she's like be an accountant. I took one accounting classand I left crying. I called her and I said I cannot do that mom, I'm sorry, Iwill be miserable, so jeff talked to my parents on the set and he told them hethought you know. I had ability and I should come and study andthat really kind of swayed the needle for me because having him when hedidn't need to say that come to them and talk to them. After that I hadthere, they were always supportit, but after that I really had their fullsupport about moving to California and pursuing acting, and that was initiallywhat I was pursuing was acting. So I studied at playhouse West for coupleyears, and you know I loved it, but I'm tall I'mtall and blond, but I'm not you know a Bikini Babe, and that isvery much what. Unfortunately, you know when you're a teenor in your is thatreally is, or at least at the time was what Hollywood was looking for, and soit was really frustrating and going to castings with that. You know pushing upagainst me, and so I was like I'd, always loved writing and I was like youknow what I wrote a short film and we made tha short film and I, as like. Ireally love writing. I need to focus more on writing because then I don'thave to worry about. You know what image I fit for a casting director ornot, and so I am applied to USC and I gotinto their master's professional writing program. So I focused onscreenwriting and playwriting there, but I also did fiction as well when Iwas at USC, and so that was fantastic and I stayed in La a little whilelonger and I taught some college English and I did a few commercials and-and I was like just for some reason- abuve bit me in the butt and I was like-I need to go to London and I had never. I had never even visited London at thatpoint S. I had never even been there. I just Sumptin said Susy, you gotta go toLondon, I'm like okay, I I Londit, so my mom surprised me with a trip, and sowe went to London with some family and I absolutely fell in love with it andI'm like I got to figure out a way to go there, and so I was looking for jobsand when I was looking for jobs, I saw that the Royal Academy, an dramatic ArRoda and Kings College, had a Master's program in text and performance, and Ithought Oh, how cool is that? And so I applied, and I got in and I was youknow, ecstatic and I moved over there for that program, and it was one of the.I was one of the best years. In my life I mean the masters in England areusually one year instead of like here, two or three. I wish it would have beentwo or three there, because it was such a fantastic experience. You know we didacting and writing and directing, but you really got to focus on your area ofexpertise, so my thesis was playriting, and so that was just a fantastic year.I met you know, fabulous actors. I got to meet Allan Ritman, which was reallynice and Ben Kingsley. His son was at Rotda when I was there, so I met thoseguys, but I also met these fabulous upandcoming actors and a lot of themare doing great things and it was just a supportive amazing place to train,and then I didn't want to leave London when that year was over. So I stayedand I talghke for a little while and then finally, it was like: Okay, I'mworking so hard to make a living,...

...because it's so expensive there,because I couldn't I couldn't pursue acting o writing. So I didn't have avisa for that. I had a teaching Vasa, so it was working like sixty hours aweek and not having any time to write and it was like okay, it's time to goback and you know and focus on what I really wanted to do.So I came back to the US ended up meeting my husband got married.We moved to the DC area for a few years, totally had a weird wacky change inlife and like didn't write for a couple years at all, we both work for thegovernment for a few years, and then we came back to Houston with our newbornson. My husband works for Exxon and I, like I have to write. It was driving mecrazy. I hadn't written in a few years so for the past ten years, I've beenrefocused on writing and so fiction and screenwriting bothwhat kind of elevator we're going to the top of the empirestate billing. Wonderful, wonderful people are getting on at every floor.Oh my gosh, someone accidentally pushed at buttons. Yes, just the top one yeah,it's always always a common, always a common concern. Getting on an elevatorabsolutelyly people hit in the wrong thing. Well, there's a lot to dive intoin there. I I guess I can start when you said London. I was thinking. Idon't know if you saw this. This is back in two thousand and eighteen. Ithink London, by the Tower Bridge, put up a life like a huge replica of JeffGoldboom Fum Trassic Park, guys I did not. I did not know that and it's sofunny. I lived on Towerbridge Ros, so I lived in the old towerbridge hotel. Sowhen David Blane did his stunt like hanging in that box without eating ordrinking for weeks whatever it was, I could see him out my window just making eye contact a o him. It wasrical advice, oh its crazy. o people were obnoxious, they would drive by atlike two in the morning and honk their horns and I lived above a pub and sopeople would come out of the pub drunk and screaming at poor David blame was,but I mean he knew what he was doing. So I mean, I guess you know whatever,but it was at you sign up for that. You Yeah what Youe getting into yes and Isaw him get out when they brought him out. I mean they had an ambulance thereand they, basically he couldn't walk. I mean they like put him in the ambulanceand took off to the hospital, but it was pretty. It was pretty wildand we had magicians from all over the world coming there and press was like abig camp camp out city wl, fantastic stuff, falleron. We don't want to getinto the writing, but as an actor. I have to ask, because I say as an actorlike I'm an actor I've dabbled in occasional, like Improvclasses, but I do think obviously a lot of acting takes elements of improveabsolutely doing it. So do you have a favorite Improv game? Well, I studied Misner for two and ahalf years and I mean e the core of Mie. Do you know much about Myisner? I donot know t there, it's the foundation of it, our repetition. So you look atwhat's right in front of you and you make a simple observation and theperson with you just repeats it back so you're focused in those improvosations,not on the words you're saying, but on the emotion and on what you're seeingwhat you're getting right in front of you. So then the emotion floats on thewords and you're, not thinking as an actor about the text, so they would belike the Textis for the rioter to write you're focused on what's going oninside of you and outside of you and what you're experiencing. So it's aback and forth, give and take just base on what's in front of you, whether it'san emotional observation about the person state of being or something that they are they're wearingor something about them. So it's just a very simple back and forth back andforth and it builds then with emotional intent beneath it, and so I really likethat because because it was simple and it took the brain out of acting- and Ithink you know I mean by saying the brain- obviously we have to use ourbrains for our motions, but but it took the thought out of it and it helpeddistil the feelings and the emotions so you're working more emotionally andmore truthfully...

...yeah, I think, having done inpropclasses, I think that's a very common barrier of just you. You know you're trying to think ofsomething funnier that fits with the scene but like you're, saying like when you justlose yourself in in it and are really giving it all emotionally and beingtruthful like that's. When you have the best scenes, it's not when it's likeI'm trying to get that clever line in there, no absolutely it's like and Ofor us and the miser. It's like! No! That's for the writer. You know focuson on the on the emotions on the feelings, so it was like they would describe itas the emotions were like the ocean and the waves. The actor was the ocean andthe waves and the the text was the boat. So and then, when we when we would getto actually scenes, we would remove all the punctuation and capitalization andyou would just memorize your lines. There was one one: Tis is one exercise,so you'd memorize all your lines and take out the other persons. Sobasically you have this chunk of lines, and you don't know when the otherperson supposed to speak or not, and then you would do the scene together and you'd know the word so well. Youwouldn't have to think about it, but it was just a motion and you would respondto them w when it felt appropriate, and it was amazing how you would prettymuch hit where you were supposed to say the line. So that was a terrifying but reallyinteresting, exercise yeah that sounds super intense, but yeah it was O was,but it was good magical and you said that you've done over th the past decator, so you'rewriting four, both film and plays and Novellas and short stories, and allthat good stuff. Do you have a different writing process based on whatyou're writing for, or is it still kind of the same overall way that you workscreenwriting definitely have to get n y different mindset from fiction? Istill use. I Love Christopher Bogler's writers journey. It's based on JosephCampbell's Mith structure, so I use kind of that structure for fiction andscript because it really it works. It's like universal storytelling and whatworks, and it also looks at you, knowdifferent Archi character, archetypes, which I, which I also look at when I'mwriting, but for screen. Writing it's so visual. What can you see here andwhat can you see in here? Light motion, sound and you know fiction you can getto the character's head. So I'm definitely. I write at a much quickerpace I think with fiction which is great, for I think for young adults and kids,especially, but even as an adult, I can't get through a novel where they goon and on and on for pages of description. I find myself scanning I'dlike okay where's, the plot pick up again. So for me as a reader and awriter, I do like to be visual, but I also like the pace to move, so theperson feels like they're theyre living it. So that sense it's the same, but Idefinitely need to get in a different mindset when I'm wriating screenplaysover fiction for sure I just had a flashback to high schooland reading the Odyss, and Oh my gosh yeah yeah. Just yes, you'd I'd losetrack of who was talking because they introduced the person about to saysomething and then given a page description of what was happening absolutely and the other challenge Ithink, for high school. This is the teacher part of me it's when they tryto teach Shakespeare in the English classroom and want you to sit there andread it, and it's like no people. This is meant to be performed. That's how it makes sense when you knoweither get the K. I think, ideally let the kids see the play or the film andthen let them read it in different parts. As a class bcause then they'llunderstand what they're you know what they're reading. But Oh, I agree. Iagree wholeheartedly. I always enjoyed the the men with their this again. Thisis just reading it, but it was a visual thing within the book they had the menwith their heads that were below their shoulders, and I don't know why thisAsith me, but it's it was just such a such a goofy. Little photo of like ThiKy's head is just on his chest like it. His faces on his chest, I thought youwere going to say men and dresses or something at first. I did part of a play. I wrote wasperformant the Tower of London and it...

...was so funny because that we were doingit in conjunction with some Shakespeare pieces and the guys were actually insome of the scenes. The men were playing. Women like they did duringthat time, so I remember seeing these guys trying to put corsets and dresses onand it was hysterical well now. I have to ask because this issomething I saw in London, but I believe it's American originally, butthe Reduced Shakespeare Company. Yes, I haven't seen it. I need to see it. I'veheard it's hysterical, it was very entertaining I remember. Our familywent to London and I've been back since, but I think I must have been likefourteen or fifteen hen. This was going on, certainly in like the age of likeeverything is lame and I don't Nowyou, don't Wanto do anything, but I alsolike I get it I'm in a foreign country, so I was like okay. I guess I'll go tothis thing and I just like I thought it washysterical and I bought the the DVD who were three other people, not the peopleat the show. Oh Wow, that's a I thought, even even the DVD is still very funny,I'll, throw it on every once in a while and I'm like, I know, what's coming andI'm still laughing so that's awesome, yeah yeah we're! We were supposed to goto England this past December, but of course thank you covid. We did not sowe're going to try again this coming December. Hopefully we'll be able to gosafely and if we do then, hopefully we're going tosee some shows which would be awesoleand looking forward to yourreviews. Oh yes, I can't wait, and you kind of touched on this alittle bit with we're going to we're going to jump back to to writing howyou wrote a poem when you were eight. You said Yes, first of all, do youstill remember the poem? I don't remember the poem when we recentlymoved and I found like a whole bunch of my poems from when I was a child, sothey are in they're in a trunk and they're marked. So I told my son, youwill have my early poems. I need to really dig it out and like type themall up, so I have them all together and I haven't done that, but I did find alot of them. Niceness, that's the first step I feellike I have lost so much writing to the either Yes yers I mean you know. Noneof it would be obvious, not if it would be publishable, but it's interesting.It's interesting seeing the process and the journey. Oh absolutely one of myfriends out of the blue, just texted me a couple weeks ago saying he had found his old. I don't know wewere like second graders than had to do like a little coloring book orHat'asjust a short story, and it was about how us, like the group that he had texted.We were all basketball players and we, I think we Wen in the sewer orsomething to like fight these monsters off, so that we could save the ChicagoBulls. That's awesome for them Os a whole ordeal, but it was phenomenal andI hadn't I hadn't heard from him ind, probably like ten years la like this isamazing. Like it's awesome, Love It love it dad. He send you pictures of it.I hope or scan of it or something yes, yeah. Okay, awesome, which was justyeah just the drawing, also is phenomenal becauseyou know we're all fantastic artists and second grade yeah. Actually I think Ipeaked in artistry in Second Grade I drew a mone and everyone raved over it,and I was like maybe I'm good at drawing and then no yeah, my my pig, mypik was about then as well. If I'm tracing, maybe it's possible, but yessameet me drawing it. No. I cannot dry to save my life I would love to, but noI can't so. You have your poem yeah and it sounds like that was kind ofinspired more by your experiences growing up near Nassan and just kind ofbeing in that environment. But do you remember the first thing or an earlything? You read where you're like wait a minute like I love that I want towrite stuff like that. I remember: Well it S it's funny. My Dad was dyslexicand he was terrified that I was going...

...to be dislexic and I just this is theone. That's the I remember the most strongly I was in fifth grade. We readwhere the red fern grows, which I found incredible incredible, but incrediblysad as well, and we had an essay test, and Iremember that we were all doing the tests and I wasstill writing because she said you know answer in detail, and so I wasn'tfinished. It was time for recess and I said, can I please stay I and work onmy test during recess and I wrote the entire racess and then I turned mytestin and when I got it back, I had it. You know I had a good grade, but shewrote not that much detail with an exclamation Lark, and so you know I for me. That was aturning point that wow I really like. Writing. I realized it and then for mydad he said when he saw that he was no longer worried that I would havedecisee so for both of us at that. That momentmade an impact and then in sixth grade and on I mean I started taking, I thinkyou know more advanced English classes and things like that. But but I mean eight was the like magicnumber. When I started writing poems, I made my first short film when I waseight, which was hysterical with my cousins. It was about this drunk man in an alleyway and he was my cousin was dressed up in my grandfather's clothes and it wasjust you know. It was a goofy kids thing, but but all that started at eight, butit was around ten eleven when, when it clicked that, I really love writing sogetting started early, and I love that a drunk man and an alley is s your deut Fil. Well, my my grandparents, like they lived inthis amazing. It's they, like my aunt, still lives there in this amazing oldfarmhouse that the farmer had built it's over a hundred years old now, butof course, the city they live outside of Detroit, so the dinity grew uparound them, so next to them was is an alley now in a gas station you know, sothere was a little bit of crime in the area, so I was probably I'm guessingwas pulling from that that, and I saw my first prostitute asa kid with my parents in Detroit- and I was like you know- oh my gosh. What isthis to all that stuff? I'm sure fed into that where I was going with that hobfully love yeah, I mean you pullfrom your life experiences so that that absolutly absolutely and your mostrecent book- Ghost honers, yes itirercurs, the second in the ghosthunters series it is with a ghost hunting adventure. Is this one andbones in the wall? The first one so tell us about this series? Did you wantit to be a series right away, or did you write one and you're like? Oh I'vegot enough for a second. No, I knew this one. I knew this one was going tobe a series for sure my editor and I were talking and she were originallylike. Five books do five books and you know it's picking up. It'sgetting good reviews. People are really liking it reaching readers is a is a isa big challenge, so we're going to do four books for nowand then I'm going to do another series. But if ghost hunters continues pickingup steam, then I will probably go back and do more in the middle grade. I dohave an idea for a young adult spinoff to following the kids as teenagers, butI I definitely knew I wanted to do it as a series for sure nice yeah. I think a spin off. Iimmediately jumped rug. Rats jumped to my mind right Yo, I feel like thoseepisodes are kind of divisive of like Brogress is teenagers, but I alwaysalways liked it. I like to win day absolutely yeah get us some new newexperience lit mean yeah and between this is like upper middle grade middlegrade. I've had some. I V had one. There was one teacher who read thefirst gost centers book to her seven year old because the it was tooadvanced for the reading level, but apparently the kid really loved it.FOURH FIFH, six, seventh graders. They seem to love it. You know it's not too scary, it's alittle scary, but you know their kids. I want them to have fun to me. It'slike to me. The books are like writing the haunted mansion right at Disney,it's kind of spooky, but it's also a...

...lot of fun. At the same time, Nice,nice and is that- is that kind of your motivation of it of like because for myreference I think the scariest stuff I would enjoy growing up was like goosebumps, yes and then I really didn't get into argue afraidof the dark, but I don't know if it was necessarily because I was scared of it.I think I just watched one and was like whatever but yeah what one of myteachers I think it was in. I can't remember its third or fourth grade readone of those. Are you afraid of the dark stories and it scared them out ofme for for years, but definitely I didn't read I mean Ididn't read. I don't know if I might be too old to have read Arlstein when Iwas a kid. I don't even know when those books start coming out, but I didn'tread: Arlstein a lot of people like in my go son, er series O Arlstein. Idon't know if you're familiar with Jonathan Strout at all he's a Britishauthor and he writes a ghost series with these young, their young teens.Going after ghost to me, it's more like that. Arl Stein is obviously brilliant andbut he's very, very plot focused. I definitely focus on plot, but I tryto have the characters, growth, development, character, Arcs just asimportant as the plot. So to me, that's how I see it's different fromMorelstein yeah. I think I think that's a cooldistinction to and I feel like I've read tin, tothin Tro. Before bcaus hewrote a series called Bartimaus, which I first discovered when I was living inLondon and then he wrote a lockwood en co, which is his ghost series and hejust came out with the new series, and I can't remember the name of it. Ithink it's set in the West like wildwest type thing. Well, I guess Ihave. I have some stuff to add to my reading list. Then absolutely it's Fune,it's fun and that's why I love writing the middle grades, because it's fun andyou know once you get into Ya you know have to, but you know definitely aromance starts entering the ficture and it's like my my one young adoltenovelty. Devils stree has some romance it's Light Romance, but that's as faras I want to go, I do I'm not a romance writer. I do think that's an importantdistinction because I'm thinking of it now, like I read a lot of the goosebums books and definitely read read a lot of the chooseron ending oneswhere, yes, I did too like yeah. I love marks throughout it because, like Iwant to come back to this, but I can't read two pages at once and I can like,I can remember plots for sure, but I like could not tell you, I don't thinkany of the characters. Now I think there was maybe a clown in a departmentstore that might have been the one one like Ril cloud, but I think that'sa good distinction of having character development in the importance of it too,because, yes, those books are very entertainingand enjoyable to read, but when you have an attachment to the characterslike you're, so much more invested, you are absolutely are, and I mean to me itwas important to try to balance both the plot and the characters in an Arlstyame he's a machine. I don't even know how many books he's written it'scrazy, but I did the master class because Arle Sin has one of the masterclasses and he is when he talks about it. He is it's all about plot and that's his focus, and I took oneNeil gaymans master class and he's all about character, so totally oppositeend of the spectrum. So it's really interested. I took them back to backand I was like okay wow, I'm kind of in the middle of these two yeah. I feel like I've signed up on onlike waiting list for probably a dozen different master classes, but I'venever actually fully explored one officially on master class. I've donelike similar types, but I do think it is like you really do get such a varied opinion.I think based on who yyou're seeing, but it's just so interesting to seelike inside their head. Basically, absolutely I think that's the crazything about I mean any artist. Is everybody works so differently andeverybody fig? I mean everybody has to...

...find out what works for them and,ultimately you know it comes out whether it's a book or a film orperformance- and you know people are either going to love it or they're, notgoing to love it. The media is either going to attach to it and run with itor they're. Not, but you I for me, it's like you've gotto put do make it the best you can do the best. You can do and put it outthere, and you know it's terrifying. I mean you know that as a performer, ifpeople don't like it, it hurts, but if they love it it feels really good andthen then you're like okay. I got to make it just as good, if not betterthan next time, yeah the work. The work is never truly done. It oes notabsolutely not, and then I mean I've got Thi situate. I mean there was A. Ihad an Navella come out in October and that one is totally adult I don't want.I actually tell pell parents. I do not want your child to read this, and somepeople have still bought it for their teenagers and I'm like okay, but it's the Navella is just dark and twisted,and it's adult horror and that's as dark as I want to go. I started writingit. I really wanted it to be Ya butultimately. I was trying to betruthful to the story and to be truthful to the story. I couldn't Imean I cut four pages because my editor was like this is too much but and my copy editor to the COP. Wehad a copy, editor quit and had a good different copy editor, because I guesshe had had some incident when he was younger that ittriggered and he just couldn't read it, and I was just like: Oh Jeez, I'm sorrywow, but I was like you know. I had to betruthful to the story. I mean lightened up bits of it and you know horro horror.Fans are loving it, but it's only for certain. You know certain audiences anddefinitely a do adult and ye that one was that one was hardfor me to write emotionally. It was hard for me to write, but the that'swhy you know again the Middle Grade. It's fun, it's so much fun. Can youshare the four pages that were cut ore? Those just going to be mysterious forforever pphoably be mysterious. I don't even know I mean I must I ha sure Ihave it in a former draft. It was just too she we talked about it. I was likeyou know she was like you had to go there because it's the point of view isthe characters. It's a. So it's a sixteenth century serial killer. He wasreal hes known as the demon tailor. His crimes in reality were so horrific thatthey burned all documentation with his name on it, and so we don't have much informationabout who the man was just about his crimes, and so I thought well, that'sinteresting. So that's why that the idea just stuck with me- and so it'stold from one of his victims point of view, a victim who escapes so I mean she like, survived thehorrors and saw what he was doing and she got through it. But you know I meanit was horrific. It it was. It was horrific, and so, as I was, writing ith s, the stuff that got cut. My editor was like no, you had to go there toreally again be in the character's head, but that doesn't mean the reader needsto read it on Iwas like you're, right, you're, right yeah. This is whyeveryone everyone listening. That's a writer editors are wonderful. They arethey're, wonderful and like middle grade. Some people say: okay. Well, ifyou write this adult stuff, but then you write a lot mostly, I mean my forme the guts of my fiction work is, you know, middle grade and young adolt thatthat's the bulk of it and there somebody asked me: You know how how doyou know it's right, fror middle grade and I was like well, if I'm not sure Iask my editor. Absolutely I mean she's worked withMiddle Grade and Hya for twenty years and so I'll be like. Is this all right?Or's this off and she'l she'll tell me for both of us. It seem like growing up.We had no problem picking up a book diving into it, exploring getting lostin the story, but for a lot of kids reading is not something that they'reactively doing they're, you know maybe maybe being assigned something inschool, like maybe they'll check out a book once in a while, but they're notas voracious as youere. I were so. How do you getkids interested in reading? I wellit's funny because when I was veryyoung I had books everywhere but, and I...

...read easy books I didn't throw myselfinto fiction till I was probably around eleven or twelve and it took findingsomething that just realetly interested me, which in my case was fantasy, CSLewis and Madeline Alingol. So I say- and I do this when I teachwriting- I tell my students. You got to write about something to interest youand I would tell I tell parents and kids, you got to find something thatyou're interested in and read about that. So I mean a kid: that's areluctant reader! If they like science and nonfiction.That's my son. Let them read science non fiction. They only read novels inschool. That's okay! As long as they're reading, whatever it is, magazines,popular mechanics, whatever they're interested in, let them read that andthen it'll grow and if they're not a super strong reader. Like my son, hewas you know he was kind of a reluctant reader first second grade. Well then, captain underpants right, he discoveredcaptain underpants and even though it drove us crazy with the potty humorHewe bought every single book and he sat and he read every single book. Sofor him that was a turning point. We found something he liked and eventhough we had you know the potty humor going on for a while. I was like thekid is reading, I'm going to buy him every single book because they were outthe library can't keep them in. So I bought him all the books and he satthere and he read Hem all and now that heis matured and grownhe's like you know, the first ones are really good, but then they kind of justget the same after that I was like I know, but you read them at the time.That's what you love and he agreed. So it's interesting watching him grow. Butthat's that's! My thing is if you need to get a graphic novel, and so the kidsdon't feel like they're reading as much because they got a lot of pictures.That's fine! They're! Still, if they're reading those words it's going to buildit's going to build their ability and if it's potty humor for boys, so be ityou know. But if a kid love sports find sports book, if somebody likes horses,you know: Do Horses, martial arts find stories about martial arts. That, I think, is the best thing to doand if they're struggling get them a little bit easier reading levels o theyfeel confident. You know. Yes, I was able to read that mom dad awesome.Let's find you know, let's find another one and then when they feel reallyrealy confident try to see if they'll guide you to a higher reading level andread with them. I mean for a long time we read red to my son and then, as wewere, bridging the gap between US reading to Him and him reading. I wouldstart off reading him a chapter and then I'd say: Okay, you can finish thechapter yourself, and so we would give him the book- and you know say goodnight and he'd end up reading. You know two chapters, so those are some things I think reallyhelp, but but the core of it is get a kid to read what they're interested in that'll make it easier yeah. I thinkthat last tip was actually how I got into Harry Potter. Back in the day myan had like heard about it was like oh well, let's read a read a chaptertogether and then we finished- and I was like I want to keep reading that-give me that book. Yes, yes, my son, that was like the first big series. Heread. It was a year and a half ago. He he read the entire series in a summer.That is very impressive and I was just I was like wow when he last summer hedidn't Rassommery, hardly read anything but the summer before it was just likehe took off on this reading tear and it was great but yes, Harry Potter. I haveto put this out there too. It's another great middle grade series to for peoplewho, like Harry Potter, you know Rl Stein, it's Suzanne Collins who wreate thehunger games. She wrote a middle grade series which is fantastic, but it's notvery well known. You know it didn't take off like the Hunker Games, it'scalled Gregor the overlander and that that was another one, my son loved, so that was fun Gregger the overlander, but I do have to say this about gosenter the first book, they're still getting the second book. So sometimes you know, writing is reallyhard, sometimes you're having a down day and one of my son's friends who wasa really reluctant reader had ghost...

...toners and both my son and his mothercalled his mom called me, and apparently this boy's Daniel was takingghost hontokers and sitting out during recess to read it and he took it tolunch and was reading it at lunch and he was reading at the back of the cargoing to soccer practice and it was the first book he didn't want to put down, and that gets me through the tough days. So knowing there was one kid whocouldn't put my book down, that was awesome. That is that is so awesome andI think Seguez very nicely into a question. I like to ask because it'sminimal work on my end because you're providing the question, but it's aquestion that you wish you were asked more frequently and I liked youours ofwhat's your ultimate goal as a writer, it's probably in part whath a lot ofwriters hope, for I mean obviously I would I would love to be. Everybodywants to be a best seller. Well, not everybody, but a lot of people want tobe a best seller. I'd love to. I want to reach a lot of raiders, so in thatcase I want to be a best seller becaus. I want to reach a lot of readers. Iwant to be able to make my my living full time from writing. You know I'd like that to be temperedwith some. You know critical praise. I got one good cercis review on Ghospunthers, which was amazing but so kind of balanced between you know greatnumbers sales, but also some critical approval too, like yeahthis. This book is good, but also because of my screenwriting background,I would love to see some of my books stories turned into you know a show ora movie. I love adaptation, so one of the things I would really really loveto do would be able to option one of my films or N my books and be one of thescreenwriters to adapt it. Even if I share the screen writing with somebodyelse, I would love to do that because I think adaptation is so funand I've done it before for the stage, and I did one of my short stories Iadepted into a short film that we made, so I would love to do that. Lotlywelwe're, sending all the positive insor way. I think I you aresettingyourself up nicely for that and you're almost off the hook here, but we alwayslike to wrap up with a top three and yes very excited to hear yours ofyour top three creepiest experiences that you've had. Yes, okay, let me think: okay, there are three I'm trying tothink which one I should start with. Okay, this one I'LL START I'll. DoChronological Order? How, with that we were, we were doing that short film. Itwas like the first short film I did. I was I housand, nine Tunden and twenty,and we were scouting logatcations in Montgomery, Texas and the guy who I wasscouting with had been out there before and so he's like. Oh, you got to seethis cool graveyard. Well, of course the sun is setting right, it's gettingdark, so we go to this graveyard. You couldn't even tell it was a graveyard.It was an abandoned, forgotten, graveyard, with grass growingeverywhere and by the time we got back in the trees the sun had set. It wasPitche, dark and there's this cracked masoleum thing and I'm just like. Oh mygosh, he flicks on a light and we're going up, and we see movement insidethe crypt through the crack and I'm like what in the hill is that and so hecourse walks closer and this crow comes screeching out at us. I flies over our head. Of course, Iscreamed- and that was just I had had enough of the creepy old graveyard atthat point, but it was really cool and also kind of sad that it. You know,these people's family have been buried there and they'd forgotten about it,but having a crow lurch out of a out of a crypt at night in your face isa bit startling and creepy and terrify just a little bit yeah yeah yeah, the next one. I was at a friends inLondon outside of London, her name's Julia and she had two teenagers at thetime and I was staying there and they had all the kids ha gone to school. Shehad gone to work and I was getting ready to go out as in the bathroomputting on some makeup and the door...

...behind me was cracked open and I feltlike somebody was standing behind me, and so I looked it glanced up in themirror and nobody was there and I'm like. Okay, it's my imagination, so Iwent back to what I was doing and right over my shoulder. I heard hello, helloand I was like I turned her out and nobody was there and I was like hello.Your free me out. I can't do this right now and I basically ran out of thehouse and then later I texted her and I waslike: Are you home? Yet? Are you home yet? So? Finally, when she was home, Iwent back home and we had to go pick up her son's girlfriend from the trainstation, so we're all riding in the car and I'm like Julia she's like yes as like. Have youever experienced anything unusual in your house and she likeremember looking at her and her lips got really tight. She goes what do youmean very properly and I was like just anything supernatural. She goes. Oh youmean the ghost yeah he'll come around, sometimes and say hello, hello, and Ihad not told her what he said and I just goose bumps all over my arms andapparently her kids would not be alone in the kitchen or in the bathroom forthe next month after they ferthat. But she told me he was harmless and hecame around a lot and she thought he was just very sad and lost, but I didfeel him around me and the house after that, but that was the one ndonly time.I've heard anything say anything to me, the hello, hello, and that was reallycreepy. The last one actually happened not toolong ago, and it was in New Orleans. We had gone to see my family on their farm in Florida. IsMy husband's family for Thanksgiving Ey? We, you know we wanted to be carefulwith covid and all that, but we didn't want to drive the entire way back, andso we stayed in in New Orleans in th, Roosevelt Hotel for a night, and so while we were sleeping, I kindof woke up in the middle of e night. I felt pressure on my legs and I thought,Oh, my husband, you know he's coming back to the bed from the bathroom andhe was like, you know, couldn't find a baty. You know patting befor to find hispot, but it was like really pushing hard pressure, and so I sat up and Ilooked- and he was sleeping next to me- not touching me at all- and I like okay,so I sat up and looked further over and my son was sound asleep in the otherbed and I thought okay, maybe my feet are tangled in the blankets orsomething, and so I just let it go, and I didn't think about it anymore and Iwent back to sleep okay well, the next morning we ordered viners in the room,so we didn't have to you know be around people in the restaurant and so we'reeating. Vinie is my husband, son and I were all sitting there and there's onechair that was not being used but had two pillows in it. Well, all of asudden one pillow went flying off the chair and the other pillow picked upand flew off the chair in front of all three of us, and I was like Oh hello, take a seat.Would you like a Bine, and that was just really crazy and freaky, becauseI've never seen anything, lift up and fly off a chair before and all three ofus saw it goodness, so that was kind of that was kind of crazy and creepy. Sothose are really my. I mean I've had a few other litt ghostly experiences, butthose were my three. Those are my three kind of creepy ghosty experiences, asmorgas sport. I talk thrtaccular moments there. Yes, my top three Novbeen yeah, so you've done great work. Im Mi call around yes, yes and cost GOS hunters is set inNew Orleans yeah. So, yes, bane is magical stuff and ifpeople well, you can't, I don't think you can provide them binyes, but ifthey want to learn more about you, Thoy want to check out ghost hinners or anyof your other work work. Can I find you my website? would be great, it's SB,mccaulycom, wonderful, Susan! Thank you! So much for hopping on this flu by Ithought you had lots of great tips. I...

...loved hearing all your stories and TellJeff Hone for you, I'm sorry. If my I will and I'm sorry if my elevator wastoo long ago, it was a wonderful ride and now we're at the top of the EmpireState Building. So it's it's a gorgeous view, asom all around good stuff. AllRight! Thank you! So much for having and as always, we got ta end with aCorny joke. I found a nice ghost Goodlik imed one where do baby ghostsgo during the day. Oh boy, I have no idea to the day scare center. Oh myGodh got after it today. People. Thank you. Good people, cool things isproduced in Austin, Texas. You dug this episode, go ahead and hit thatsubscribe button, whether you're on apple podcast, Spotifi, stitcher, pod,chaser or any other podcast AP. I want to keep delivering great content to you.You want to keep hearing it tap that subscribe button. We'll see you nexttime.

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