It’s an honor just to be a finalist!
No, really! Wish me luck at the awards ceremony on October 7, 2012.
This script is the result of my lifelong love of Sarah Winchester and the Winchester Mystery Mansion (what they used to call it in the old days). It’s not a biography. I couldn’t have copyrighted a biography. So, I took some liberties.
Inspired when I heard that one of her builders had been with her since she first arrived in San Jose, I created the story of a foreman who comes to work for Sarah when her regular foreman has a heart attack. The new foreman has no idea why any of the strange building is happening — he just follows orders. As he learns more about Sarah, he becomes fascinated with her. His ill-fated love challenges her terrifying, supernatural obsessions: are they real? Or is this all a ruse to keep everyone out of her life since she lost her husband and baby?
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “GAG-O-RAMAWTF? A romance in the middle of a horror movie? Are you HIGH?!?”
Yes. Yes, I am.
No, wait — I’M NOT.
Because if a film about Sarah Pardee Winchester focuses solely on her creepy construction project and the dusty old spooks, that’s an emotionally hollow tale. Who she was and in particular why she did what she did for so long is The Story. All the scary stuff grows out of that yarn. The grief and the ghosts are inextricable. Further, people can relate to her withdrawal from the world in the face of loss. They can also relate to the foreman who gets his heart broken when he falls in love with an amazing person who can’t let go of the past. That POV plays a critical role in challenging her motives.
But I’m not one for trifling with history. I get stabby when people mess with established facts for the privilege of creating bad fiction. (Some fussing is fine. I personally love The List of Seven by Mark Frost, which is brilliant in its fussing and bending and even downright twisting.) So, I sat on the mountain for a while before writing that first draft. What I discovered then was that I, myself, was building a metaphorical Crazy House around me to keep out other people. (I wrote a poem of the same name based on that theme that’s been published a few times since.)
That was the emotional core of the story. I kept it.
Yes, I’m aware that Hammer is doing a Winchester film. Some of the things I’m hearing about it are making me sick with worry for the well being of The House. But it’s Hammer and I love them. The Woman in Black — their comeback film — was terrific. My fingers are crossed that everything goes well.
And if it doesn’t, I suspect a whole lot of restless Winchester spirits will have something to say about it.
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