I am thrilled to introduce you to Susan McCauley, the author of the Ghost Hunters series. This middle grade series is just spooky enough for children ages 10-14 and their parents to enjoy. The series starts with Bones in the Wall and continues with the new book, Pirates Curse. which comes out on March 2. Today, you’ll get to meet Susan McCauley and take a closer look at the process of writing a horror book for young readers.
In this ghostly and fast-paced adventure, twelve-year-old Alex must use his psychic gifts to speak with a pirate ghost to solve the curse of an old pirate hangout—if he fails, his best friends could be trapped there forever.
Ghosts are commonplace in this dark and exciting world, and the psychics who deal with “The Problem” are rare. Apprentice Psychic Investigator Alex and his two friends take on their first solo case to discover who’s haunting an old New Orleans pub. They battle ferocious winds, driving rain, and raging spirits to put the pirates’ curse to rest.
Ghost Hunters: Pirates’ Curse (Book 2 in the Ghost Hunters series) is filled with rich characters, spooky moments, and action-packed fun.
Susan McCauley is an award winning author of paranormal, fantasy, and horror for adults, young adults, and middle grade readers. Susan fell in love with writing, theater, and film when she was eight-years-old. That passion inspired her to receive a B.A. in Radio-Television with a minor in Theater from the University of Houston, a M.F.A. in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California (USC), and a M.A. in Text & Performance from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and King’s College in London. Susan also studied acting at Playhouse West with Robert Carnegie and Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Independence Day) in Los Angeles.
While living in Los Angeles, Susan wrote the story for and produced a short film, which later won awards at the Houston International Film Festival and the Seabrook Film Festival. In 2002, she moved to London to further explore professional theater. While in London, her stage adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s “The Nose” was performed at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art’s George Bernard Shaw Theatre; and, scenes from her play The Prisoner: Princess Elizabeth were performed at HMS Tower of London. She returned home to the U.S. in 2005. In 2007, she was the line producer of the Emmy Award nominated Civil War short film Now & Forever Yours: Letters to an Old Soldier.
Susan has several short stories published, one of which, “The Cask”, was made into an award winning short film. “The Cask” was republished in the Camden Park Press anthology Quoth the Raven, which won Best Anthology of 2018 in multiple reader polls. In addition to her short stories, Susan has one novella and two novels in print, as well as two feature length screenplays in development.
Born on the Gulf Coast of Texas and having grown-up across the street from NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Susan was exposed to boats and spaceships from an early age. This and her love of travel have given her inspiration for books.
You can visit her on the web at www.sbmccauley.com
Q&A with Susan McCauley
Author of Ghost Hunters: Pirates’ Curse
Question: Congratulations on your latest novel, Ghost Hunters: Pirates’ Curse. Tell us what the book is about.
McCauley: Ghost Hunters: Pirates’ Curse follows a 12-year-old boy, Alex, who has only recently come into his psychic abilities. He didn’t want to be part of the sometimes scorned “psychic class,” but now he is, and he’s learning to make the best of it. He used to be a champion ghostball player, but all that ended when he was in a car accident that claimed his mother’s life and started his ability to communicate with ghosts. Pirates’ Curse follows Alex and his best friend, Jason, and cousin, Hannah, on their first solo case at a local haunting. Once there, they quickly discover that there are more than just pirate ghosts haunting the place, and in order to set the spirits free and end the haunting, they must put an end to the pirates’ curse that’s keeping the ghosts trapped there. Internally, the book explores a boy overcoming self-doubt as he grows in his abilities, and how each of the kids is struggling to find their own way in this new and unfolding world.
Q: Why ghost stories? What got you interested in the paranormal genre?
McCauley: The first time I remember having an experience with “ghosts” was on Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride when I was almost three-years-old. I was enthralled with the entire thing and terrified at the end of the ride with the ghost in the cart, but then begged my parents to take me again and again. As to why? I’m not sure. I believe we don’t end when we die. I believe in Heaven and Hell and ghosts stuck here on earth. So, I think the fact we simply don’t know that much about the afterlife, and the ability to creatively explore the possibilities — sometimes in a very fun way in my middle grade books — is exciting. I suppose, in a way, it gives me hope. And I hope it gives kids hope. If they’ve lost someone or they worry about losing their parents like I did as a child, maybe they will be a little less afraid about death and have hope that there is more after this life.
Q: What age group do you think would enjoy Ghost Hunter: Pirate’s Curse? And just how scary is it?
McCauley: I always say “ages nine and up”. I don’t like to put an end cap on the age because I’m an adult and I love to read middle grade and young adult books. So do a lot of other people. I know that librarians and book sellers need age ranges so they can shelve and classify books, but I don’t like limitations if I don’t have to have them! Now, if a parent tells me their seven-year-old is a strong reader and LOVES Goosebumps books, then I’ll tell them to go for it. They should LOVE Ghost Hunters. But, if they have a ten-year-old who is easily terrified, then I might tell the parent to read the book first to see if they think it will be too scary for their child or not.
As for “just how scary is it?” Well, that’s tricky because it’s so subjective. Some parents let their kids read Stephen King’s adult books. For them, Ghost Hunters won’t be scary at all, but will be fun. For kids and adults who like small-medium scares, this will be just right. The Ghost Hunters series certainly won’t get any darker than the Harry Potter books. I like to think of the Ghost Hunters series as a bit like the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney. It’s spooky, but it’s fun, too.
Q: What excited you about writing a ghost story for the middle grade level?
McCauley: I love that middle grade readers aren’t worried about romance yet. LOL. I can write romance, and have done in my YA novel The Devil’s Tree, but it’s not my favorite thing to write. I like to focus on the paranormal and adventure aspects of stories, and the personal growth of the kids themselves, which make writing these a great fit for middle grade. That said, if the series progresses, the characters will age-up. As that happens, there might be a dash of romance – but that will come later.
Q: What stands out about the books is that the main character actually can communicate with ghosts through his psychic gifts. Why did you decide to add that element?
McCauley: Each of us has his/her own unique talents and quirks; it’s okay to be different – that’s what makes us who we are. Even if that “quirk” is something paranormal. Growing up I never felt like I “fit-in.” I was pretty shy back then and extremely tall for my age (at 12 I was taller than all of the boys in my class). It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I really got more comfortable with being who I am. I want to help kids see that it’s okay to be who they are while they’re still kids, and that it is good to embrace what makes each of us unique.
Q: Did you do any research or consult with other psychics before writing about Alex’s abilities?
McCauley: I probably over research things sometimes. In a former professional life, I did research as part of my job. So, that’s definitely carried over here. I have talked with psychics, visited with owners of paranormal stores, chatted with psychic investigators, and done quite a bit of research on ghosts, spiritual beliefs of different religions, and more for these books.
Q: Do you believe in ghosts?
Q: What’s next for you? Will you be writing another book in the Ghost Hunters series, or something fresh?
McCauley: My hope and plan is to write a total of five books in the middle grade portion of the Ghost Hunters series. I’m already half-way through the first draft of Book 3. I’m considering following the characters as teens in a YA series, but we’ll see how the middle grade series does first. As for something “fresh”, I already have a few other series ideas and one standalone novel on the back burner, and two other novels complete that I’ll have a look at again as my career moves forward.
Ghost Hunters: Pirates’ Curse will be available everywhere books are sold as of March 2021