Cailtin Sumer

Posted on: April 9, 2011

1. Where did this story idea come from?

The story is based on a screenplay I wrote for the 2005 Shot in Philadelphia Screenwriting Contest.  The screenplay, which I titled “The Fetch,” ended up as a contest finalist that year. (“Fetch” is another name for Doppelganger according to Irish folklore.) The screenplay told the story of a schoolteacher who was falsely accused of a murder that was actually committed by her double. One of the comments I received from the judging panel was that they would have liked to see more of a police investigation. So I added Frank and Holly, paranormal investigators, to the novelized version.

2. How much research went along with writing this book?

I did most of the research while I was writing the original screenplay. The character of Emma, the schoolteacher, is based on the story of Emilie Sagee, a French teacher from the mid-1800s. She taught at a school for girls in what is now Latvia. Rumor had it that she could be seen in two places at the same time. There is a story that one day she was teaching a lesson at the chalkboard, and her double appeared right beside her, mimicking her writing motions, without the chalk. She was also observed with her double in the school gardens and during dinner. It’s even said that some of the girls actually walked right through the doppelganger!

3. What would you say the message is behind this book?

By juxtaposing two such seemingly level-headed investigators, Frank and Holly, with the strange events at the Gracewynne School, I’d have to say the message is “keep an open mind, because things aren’t always what they seem to be.”

4. Did you get stuck anywhere while writing this book? How did you push through it?

I got stuck in the middle of the screenplay version. For me the second act is the longest and always the most difficult to get through. I believe it was Dove Chocolate and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee that got me through it.

6. Do you have any other books published or any other WIP’s?

I have another completed paranormal screenplay which I used as a basis for NANOWRIMO a couple of years ago. Somewhere on my computer I have a hastily written 50,000-word novel just waiting to be rewritten. I also enjoy writing flash fiction from prompts.

7. What would you say is very important to your writing?

These days I like taking everyday characters and imagining how they’d react and adapt confronted with the strange and paranormal.

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