Two sisters, two brothers, and the rebirth of the Deadtime Stories

Grave Secrets by Annette Cascone and Gina CasconeBy Annette and Gina Cascone

When our editor offered us the opportunity to contribute an article to this newsletter about our middle grade horror series, Deadtime Stories, we were hesitant—until she wrote, “What we are unequivocally NOT looking for is an article about how you got your ideas …”

We couldn’t have been more relieved.

It’s not that we are incapable of waxing poetic about our creative process; it’s just that we don’t want to. Nor could we, really, without offending someone. Even our muse walked out on us—with good reason. Nobody wants to be trapped in a room with two menopausal women who act like eight-year-old boys.

It’s not that we don’t take our work seriously. We do. In fact, we take it so seriously that it is important to us that we identify with our audience. As a result, we have no choice but to play “What if …” for hours. No booger joke is beneath us; and there are entire days when bathroom humor rules.

Yes. That’s our process.

Writing horror and humor for middle grade readers is not for the faint of heart.

Anyway, since we’re not going to discuss the birth of our series, we thought it would be fun to tell you a little bit about its rebirth.

A couple of years ago, in a land full of tinsel, two filmmaking brothers, David and Scott Hillenbrand, were looking for brides …

Wait. We lie. We are, after all, fiction writers. The brothers weren’t really looking for brides; they were looking for projects suitable for children to produce as a live action film series. And so, we shipped them one—in the form of the original series of Deadtime Stories books published in 1996.

It was love at first sight.  One month later, a marriage really was made.

Luckily for the brothers, we all live in different houses, on two different coasts. No way they wanted to be trapped in a room with us while we adapted the first two books into screenplays. Even Skyping was out of the question. If the honeymoon was to be a success, there could be no visuals; and no conversations about “special effects.”

With the screenplays for Grave Secrets and The Witching Game complete, the honeymoon was over, and the real magic kicked in.

It started with the casting of Diane Ladd and Jennifer Stone; and ended with a food truck.

Yes. That’s right. A food truck.

No. We’re not lying to you this time.

That food truck was magical. We couldn’t believe the meals that came out of that thing. No wonder everybody wants to work on a film set—you’ve got catering chefs feeding you morning, noon, and night! Talk about a dream come true. No cooking; no cleaning; no kidding!

In all seriousness, if we could take just one thing away from our entire movie making experience, it would have to be that truck.

Now, if we could only convince the brothers to add some massage tables to the set of The Witching Game, this really would be a marriage made in heaven!


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