Written by Veterans Magazine
talked to Suzy Pearce and Jeff McCarley, who wrote ROSE, a suspense-laden horror film screenplay, which was just published by the Written By Veterans imprint and is available as a Trade-Paperback.

Suzy Pearce at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

Written By Veterans: For those who don't know you, how would you describe yourself?

Suzy Pearce: Well, I guess you can call me quirky, perhaps even a bit neurotic. I'm definitely very silly most of the time. But when it comes to my arts, like writing and acting, I take those things very seriously. I also suffer from a disorder that I have discovered, named, and diagnosed myself; it's called ACC (Acute Chronic Creativity), which is responsible for me zoning out while driving or walking across a street and very nearly causing a disastrous accident. My husband, before we were married, saved me once from being run over by an MP on base in Yuma by grabbing me and not letting me step in front of the moving MP truck. I was thinking about a screenplay I was working on at the time and just didn't think to look before I stepped into the road. I guess I owe him my life. Those sorts of things happen to me a lot.

Jeff McCarley

WBV: Your husband served in the military?

SP:
Yes, he was an active duty Marine from 1998 – 2003.

WBV:
And he worked with you on your screenplay, "Rose"?

SP:
He is responsible for the initial idea and he wrote the first draft with me two years ago.

WBV:
How was it working with your husband on this screenplay?

Jeff McCarley

SP: We learned a lot. Not just about writing and character development stuff, but we learned about each other and about ourselves. I learned that I get very defensive about my ideas and don't like to compromise as much as I initially thought. I also learned that when I truly get angry, I don't yell or flip out or anything – I walk away and I need to either go for a long run or take a hot shower. I think the biggest thing Jeff (my husband) learned is that he struggles with the overall writing process. He described it to me once as "torturous". He is an idea man; a story man. So that's why we decided that I would take over "Rose" totally and do the rewriting process on my own.

ROSE cover painting

WBV: You chose the horror genre for your first screenplay. Is there a reason for that?

SP:
It wasn't intentional, if that's what you mean. I wasn't like: "I will be a horror writer!

That's my genre!" No, I have always loved horror films, but I love all kinds of films. I mean, three of my favorite movies are "Aliens", "Sling Blade", and "Brokeback Mountain" – none of which I would consider horror films. But when Jeff and I walked into that arcade at the Redondo Pier, he came up with a basic idea for a slasher film that revolved around the arcade itself. We were so ready to write something and to start making our own films that we decided that we could write and produce a cheesy, simple slasher movie, no problem.

I don't know if you've read "Rose", but it's not exactly a simple horror film. It took two years and millions of minutes of drafting and redrafting and more redrafting because it became something else. "Rose" is so much more than a maniac going after half-naked, screaming college girls like Jeff and I had originally thought it would be.

ROSE in Page View in Createspace's Digital Proofing Tool


WBV: What makes "Rose" so different?

SP: Mainly it stems from the characters being older. They're all in their early to mid-thirties, rather than in their early twenties. I am experiencing a time in my life right now that is similar to the dilemmas these characters are facing, in that now, in the 21st Century, life has shifted. Life expectancy has shifted, life goals have shifted, and even life itself has shifted as we can see with the changing circumstances with our climate. But we live longer, therefore we are allowed to be children longer, and I find that when people reach their mid-thirties there is a sort of crisis that happens.

Photo for cover painting

Not really a mid-life crisis, because that generally doesn't happen until later. It's more like a "Mid-thirties Crisis". It's the point where the career should be well-established, children are well on their way to growing up, the house is bought, the bank account is stable. Life should be pointed in the right direction by that time. But what if it's not? What if someone flounders for years? What if someone is dealing with abuses that were never truly addressed? What if the people we might consider monsters were simply misguided, innately good people? What if? I guess that's the difference.

WBV:
This sort of "Mid-thirties Crisis", is that the reason you are starting your writing career now as opposed to having started it when you were younger?

SP:
It's hard to admit, but yes. I've always wanted to be a writer and an actor and make my own movies. But when I was younger I was so scared of being rejected. I still don't want to be rejected, of course, but it doesn't frighten me nearly as much as it used to. I'm ready to do what I've always dreamed of doing. "Rose" is just the beginning.

WBV:
You quote Shakespeare often in "Rose". Is there any specific reason why?

SP: I'm a Shakespeare nerd. If I write something impressive, chances are Shakespeare said the same thing a billion times more beautifully. The words inspire me, the meter inspires me, the lack of subtext in his characters inspires me. There are dozens of symbols in "Rose" and Shakespeare's words were a means to link those symbols and the characters together.  He's the master of words and I love him. He mastered the Universal Human Condition.

with the Written by Veterans Writers Group

WBV: What's on the horizon for your next project? Is it another horror screenplay?

SP:
Actually, yes, it is in a way. Jeff is writing a treatment for the story and I'd thought I'd begin writing the screenplay this summer. However,
Jeff has grown more interested in the writing process and will become a much more active member of the Written by Veterans writing group with Andreas Kossak. So if he decides to write that project, I have another one up my sleeve to begin that's a thriller based on high school students. But I'm also starting something different that should be done within the next few months – hopefully before summer. It's a
semi-romance series; but, as always, it won't be as simple as all that.

WBV:
Is there anyone in particular you would like to thank for the publication of your first screenplay?

SP:
I have to thank my parents, Lawrence and Loretta Pearce, and grandma, Carolyn Bates, of course, because they are always supportive of me, no matter what I decide to do with my life. My brother and sister, Larry and Jenny, are also huge inspirations to me. My daughter, Corie, has been magnificently patient with me during this whole process. I also must thank Agustin Ramirez, a great friend that I've known since high school, who introduced me to the Written by Veterans writing group at CSUSB. And last, but not least, I must thank Andreas Kossak and Vanessa Booke. Without those two wonderful people, this screenplay never would have been finished.

Suzy Pearce signing ROSE at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books



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