TIH 503: Suzanne Young on In Nightfall, Vampires, and Co-writing a book with Tom DeLonge

In this podcast, Suzanne Young talks about In Nightfall, vampires, co-writing a book with Tom DeLonge, and much more.

About Suzanne Young

Suzanne Young is the New York Times bestselling author of The Program series. Originally from Utica, New York, Suzanne moved to Arizona to pursue her dream of not freezing to death. She is a novelist and an English teacher, but not always in that order. Suzanne is also the author of Girls with Sharp SticksAll in PiecesHotel for the Lost, and several other novels for teens.

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They’re Watching by Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella

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Michael David Wilson 0:28

Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and every episode alongside my co host, Bob Pastorella. We chat with the world's best writers about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now, today's guest is Suzanne young, The New York Times best selling author of the program series, and the author of in nightfall, which has been dubbed as the Lost Boys meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now this is a two part conversation. The first part was broadcast last episode in 502. But as with all This Is Horror Podcast conversations you can listen in any order. In this episode we dive deep into in nightfall, talk about all things vampires. We even find out about time, Suzanne Young wrote a book with Tom DeLonge of Blink one eight to fame. Now before we jump into the fun, it is time for a quick advert break.

Bob Pastorella 1:40

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Bob Pastorella 2:28

From the creator of This Is Horror comes a new nightmare for the digital age The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson after a teacher receives a weirdly rousing video is life descends into paranoia and obsession. More videos follow each containing information no stranger could possibly know but who's sending them and what do they want? The answers may destroy everything and every one He loves The Girl in the Video is the ring meets fatal attraction for iPhone generation available now in paperback ebook and audio.

Michael David Wilson 2:57

Okay, without sad here it is it is Suzanne Young on This Is Horror. So you have recently released in nightfall, and as one of the themes in this book is vampires. I want to know what the first movies and what the first books were that you read to do with vampires and vampire mythology.

Suzanne Young 3:31

So as I was saying, as a kid like I had, so we would steal HBO Right? Like back then you could do that right? You could fix the you could fix the rafters a certain way and still HBO and they would have you know all of these like horror movies on it like 2am And so we would we would watch those. And I would say like one of I'm trying to think I would say like Salem's Lot Like I definitely was reading about vampires before I was really watching them. And that I can think of there wasn't a lot of like children's books were like they made like a cute vampire like now you can go and see like a picture book with a cute vampire that that didn't exist. So yeah, I would say Salem's Lot was probably like my first introduction. And I would say the first movie that really stuck with me would probably be the Lost Boys and it was just I just absolutely loved that movie so much it was just it was so much fun. It was just such a time capsule of that period. But then you know I also you know really just enjoyed you know everything that's that's come after I'm trying to think it's funny because I know now we can like make fun of it. But I also was like totally obsessed with Bram Stoker's Dracula. Yeah, when it came out with LiteRider and counter ruse, and like I just love I think what I loved about that one so much was the aesthetic that it gave me like it was just so beautiful and interesting for the time to look at like Gary Oldman. But he was good, but like, I wasn't necessarily watching for him. But I love just visually that movie now, I don't know that I could watch it again, I haven't tried. But I did try to watch the Lost Boys. And and like I said, it's definitely like a time capsule of a different time. And so I loved it. I felt so nostalgic watching it. And yeah, I tried to show my teen and her and she's like, What in the world? Is this? Like, what are we watching? So it didn't it didn't translate well for her. But But I love that it brought me right back to being young.

Michael David Wilson 5:41

Yeah, yeah. I mean, there's something to be said for, you know, watching something at the right time. And if you right, what you kind of later, it just might not have the same impact. But But rewatching it because you've got the memories of the initial experience, it kind of elevates it. I mean, even if we think about some really classic horror movies, such as the original Dawn of the Dead. I mean, if you were to watch that for the first time, now, you might find it a little bit silly, because it's like, look, the zombies look like they've been painted this pale blue, and the blood is some kind of off red Orangey. Spaghetti color. And so it just wouldn't have the same impact. So So actually, in terms of the Romero films purely because of how aesthetically they've been shot, I think the original Night of the Living Dead has aged more favorably than donor the dead because they shot it in monochrome.

Suzanne Young 6:53

100%. Yeah, absolutely. I think I think that less is more translates better when it comes to that. But then there was that there was that era where it was like, the special effects guys is probably their heyday of like, let's figure out how to make these organs and how to rip them apart and make them as gruesome as possible. Like, I love watching, you know, like behind the scenes, they'll talk to spit the special effects are. And they would talk about how they made the blood and how they. And so there was something really fun before CGI that you got to do these really practical effects. That again, it makes me feel nostalgic, nostalgic, even though it doesn't look so great. Now. It reminds me you wish you could go back and see something for the first time. And with that, that thought like I I want to say maybe three years ago, they were playing the shining theater. And of course I'd never seen it movie theater. So we went took my daughter, because she's a huge just horror buff. And we watched it and I was like, Holy crap, this is still scary. Like this is still really scary. I'd never seen in a theater before I'd seen it obviously dozens and dozens of times. Never in theater. And you realize those long pauses are really long. In between those, like really terrible moments. And, and I really just as a storyteller, if I made movies, like I would have taken note of the fact that Wow, that really long pause there made it so much scarier because it made me so uncomfortable. And they just don't do that anymore. Now it's about jumpscares. But yeah, so it's to see the shining in the movie theater. I recommend it.

Michael David Wilson 8:42

Yeah, yeah. Well, I think we've Kubrick much like John Carpenter. And also I would say now, like Quentin Tarantino, when they're shooting a movie, when they're making a movie, they're not using, like the cutting edge technology of the year that they're putting it out. They are using time tested things. So I know that John Carpenter says that often. He's using techniques from 10 years previous because then you know, that is like stood the test of time and that it's going to work. But yeah, if you go something that we've something and it's like, right, this is the 2020 free technique. Could be a little bit dated in I know 2033 We'll find out. We'll check back in 10 years.

Suzanne Young 9:33

We'll be rewatching it and be like, Oh, that looks so good.

Michael David Wilson 9:38

Yeah, but I mean, the lost boys I understand was one of the influences for in nightfall. But of course instead of boys, we're focusing more on teenage girls. I mean, we're we're also focusing on a lot more than that. There's a lot in terms of like family dynamic and navigating, being In a new town, navigating divorce and trauma, there's so much baked into this novel. But, I mean, it might be helpful. In fact, if we start off for those unfamiliar, could you give us a kind of 62nd elevator pitch.

Suzanne Young 10:20

So in Nightfall is about a pair of siblings. Theo and her brother Marco, who throw an epic party in Arizona get busted and are sent to spend the summer in nightfall, Oregon with a grandmother they have never met. And when they get there, they're known as superstitious, and antisocial. And she has one rule always be home before dark, which, of course, if any adult tells you that, no way, so they go out, they meet locals. And the locals that they meet are these three like beautiful beguiling, like interesting girls who kind of invite them into their world and the siblings have been struggling with you know, the parents divorce and you know, that feeling of, you know, feeling a little bit lost. And so the chance to be a part of this very cool crowd these, these amazing girls, this amazing town really appeals to them. But of course, then body start washing up ashore, and you find out that the town, their grandmother was right that after dark, the monsters come out, and they will have to team up with a pair of horror podcasters to to do monsters and save themselves and the town of nightfall.

Michael David Wilson 11:35

Yeah, yeah. And there's so much foreboding in terms of we know, we know that something is coming. But it's kind of not really, until the third act where things really, really kick off. And so I love that sense of pacing. And that, I mean, you know that something has happened to Marco fairly early on. But I guess like when we don't explicitly say but we foreshadow to the reader, it kind of makes us feel like we're almost part of it. We are the investigative podcasters. And so I mean, how important was pacing and kind of setting up these dynamics and hinting but not quite revealing the vampiric element until, you know, towards the closer

Suzanne Young 12:35

what I'll say this book was actually one that I had rewritten multiple times, like, oh, the very first draft was almost was more of a comedy. I'll be honest, and it was still more like it was a bloody, bloody comedy. But I had a great time that there were different characters in it that I cut out. But it was very jokey. That's what I'm saying. It's always hard to cut a good joke, and I had to cut quite a few.

Michael David Wilson 12:57

Yeah. So now I want to read that draft as well.

Suzanne Young 13:03

I love that draft. And I will tell you that one was originally called the beast of a story because it took place in a place called Astoria, Oregon, but so there was definitely, you know, that part of it. And then I forgot the original question what?

Michael David Wilson 13:19

Well, I was talking about the sense of pacing and holding back the vampiric element.

Suzanne Young 13:26

So there is no mention. Okay, so it started off as a comedy. But the reason we rewrote it, or I rewrote it was to get I wanted to make nightfall itself, the town of nightfall, almost like a character like town itself, to have a vibe and to be something where Theo could see herself staying there. So I ended up having to go back to slow it down, because I had gotten to the vampires very quickly in the original version. And it was more just about like defeating them. And I realized, like, that's fun. Like for one episode of a show, for you know, a novel, there needed to be a lot more going on. And I needed to have that slower build, I need you to trust people. And I need you to question like, you knew the girls, were up to no good, but like, you kind of hoped that Mina was different, like you really did just hope for something different. And I always kind of play with that element in my books, like, you may know that something someone is bad, but it doesn't mean you're not still rooting for them, or knowing more than the character does. And sometimes that's a good thing, because it makes you wonder like, Well, are they going to do exactly what I don't want them to do or something else going to happen here. So I tried to I tried to play around with those elements a little bit of, you know, obviously we could see something was wrong in nightfall long before Theo did, but at the same time. We were kind of hoping that we were wrong. I don't know. I do. We wanted things to work out. And you know, and some things did and some things definitely did not. But also like she by having that later. reveal of the vampires. I'm hoping, you know, with the with the podcasters. Like, they were putting other doubts in your head to like, maybe it's more than just vampires. Maybe there is something else. So I wanted to have that question is of like, well, we know it's vampires. And then maybe there's a moment here like, is it to buy or sell? Or is it sirens? Or is it? Is it something else? And so I tried to have those those few moments have you thought you knew, but maybe question a little bit, but no, you're right.

Michael David Wilson 15:29

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, expectations. Yeah. And there's many moments where as a reader, you're like, oh, shit, you gotta get out there. And I mean, of course, to begin with, I mean, we've even the kind of marketing and the promotion. We know this is going to be a vampire book, because you mentioned in the last boys, you're mentioning, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So it's always interesting how you can create that foreshadowing even off the page, even through marketing. So that's the kind of first sense of foreboding, but then the second is like, you know, that the podcasters the introduction of them and like, what you've never heard a nightfall you're not here because of all the, the spooky shit and strange happenings going on. And then, you know, the third one where it's like, okay, see, you need to run the hell out of here. You know, I'm not gonna say exactly what happens. But for people who have read it, it involves finding a watch. And it involves the just very nonchalant reaction of everyone else, including authority figures. And it's like, yeah,

Suzanne Young 16:47

yeah, this supernatural gap.

Michael David Wilson 16:50

Exactly. That is exactly what it is. And, you know, like a curse, because this is happening in a small town it brings to mind over, you know, small town horror. Obviously, you mentioned Stephen King, many, many books by Stephen King have the small town horror, we've recently had Stranger Things, and then was also Wayward Pines by Blake Crouch, which I didn't get also made into a TV series. And I think that is brilliant and vastly underrated.

Suzanne Young 17:27

There's something about a small town that makes it seem more possible for you to be trapped there.

Michael David Wilson 17:34

Does that make sense? It does.

Suzanne Young 17:36

Yes. It's like in a city, you have more people to run to for help. Even though obviously cities have their issues. In a small town, there's something about the idea that you might not have anyone else to talk to, it's harder to get away. in small towns, you can imagine that there's fewer ways even out of that town. So there was one show that I recently watched it, I really love that it was called from. And it's on epics. And it's a town and once someone drives through, like they can never get out. Right. And the night, these monsters are waiting, you have to watch. I mean, it's it's excellent horror. It's excellent work. And at night, these monsters come out, but they don't look like monsters. They look like people from like, the 50s. Like in like, poodle skirts and like, they're like, Hey, do you need help? But everyone's like, screaming and running away from them. And you're like, what is happening in this town? And so it's it's a fantastic show. But again, that sure doesn't work if they're in a city, right? Like, it's, it's not the same. Something about the isolation of small town horror is what makes it so creepy. I mean, the shining is the shining, because they couldn't get away like, yeah, it's Yeah, so I wanted to have that element of isolation. And but that's also part of why she didn't run not just because she couldn't get out. But because it also can make you feel like it can also trick you into feeling like you belong there, too. Yeah, I think it's easier to make me think like, Wouldn't it just be easier to stay here with us for like a family? You know, you're part of us, like, I don't know, it gives you a sense of community. But yeah, a lot of times it's easy to manipulate that as an author or creator into being something dangerous.

Michael David Wilson 19:26

Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, with the pacing, and I don't know if you're gonna find this quite an odd comparison. No, I'm not. I'm not saying ascetically or totally, it's the same, but the pacing did remind me a little bit of from dusk till dawn, just in the sense that

Suzanne Young 19:48

Yeah, first of all, I love that's an amazing comparison. I didn't think of that and I wouldn't have thought of that, but I am flattered because to me I will say like for that movie, that's when I went and saw that in the theater. No idea what it was about. Because I don't know, in the early advertisements for it. I think you thought it was about two brothers because that was kind of at the height of those, you know,

Michael David Wilson 20:14

the same the same for me. Like, I just don't we got some cool kind of like Coen Brothers last gangster thing going on. Yeah. Yeah.

Suzanne Young 20:25

And it went a different way. And it was just so yeah, so that was like an amazing marketing and reveal. Like, I love that. And, yeah, it's tough. Because you know, right on the book, it says the Lost Boys need to Buffy so everyone knows there's vampires. And it really was little I could do to fully conceal them. So I just wanted to make sure that I used the the time before they actually were open about what they were to making you feel at home in nightfall. Like I wanted, when you're reading the book, I wanted you to feel like you knew this town and like you were there. And that also like, you trust Nona, you trust Parrish, to some extent, are you at least you want to, you know, you want to trust me? No. And it also I really wanted to build that brother sister relationship, because really, the book hinges on that. Like everything. Theo's is for her brother. And that was something that I knew was really important from the beginning. And, you know, they peck at each other, just like siblings, but ultimately, like, they were best friends. And she was never going to leave the Taliban. And I think she would have stayed and died there, rather than leave him. And so I wanted to make sure I took the time to develop that.

Bob Pastorella 21:48

Yeah, I think it was important to build that up. Because when you when you, you give the characters a breathing room, and it allows you to learn to characters and actually give a damn about them. Because, you know, to me, that that's, that's probably the one of the most important parts of creating horror, is you got to be horrified for the characters, and you have to care about them. And if you can't care about them, then it's not going to be very scary. So, I like that, that you gave it the breathing room and allow, you know, allow the reader to, to experience you know, nightfall the way it's supposed to be, or the way you wanted it to be. And then you see the reality of it. So that's, you know, it's a little eye opening.

Suzanne Young 22:35

I appreciate that. And, and I wanted to one of the things too, is, I wanted to make it seem like, it isn't such a bad place to be. Yeah, like, you know, you may be you know, when you're going to that bonfire, you know, sometimes if you're reading a book and you're feeling a little bit alone, you're like, oh, that actually sounds kind of fun. Like, I wish I was there with the this group of cool kids. And of course, you know, something horrible is going on, but you're still like, it seems so fun. Like, everyone's been so nice. And not like, even fake, nice. Like, they genuinely seem to be nice to do. And so, like, I wanted to lure even the, you know, the readers in a little bit with nightfall and be like, Oh, maybe it's not so bad. Like, hey, their dad's met someone like, you know, it could be good for him. And he's been so sad. And, you know, I also wanted to have that that part too. Like, as, especially with this book dealing with the divorce, you know, you have that that angle of, of the her father there and, and how part of their behavior and why they were staying when they knew things were getting strange was, you know, they wanted to support him. And I thought that was something important to see because a lot of kids do that. But we don't often see that in books, like they don't see that side of it.

Bob Pastorella 23:47

You know, you have that, that that small town, you have that sense of community. And it's it's, it's endearing. It's we all can relate to that, especially people who've lived in small towns you can relate to, if you go into the city, you have, again, you know, there's there's, there's a different kind of isolation. It's a social isolation,

Suzanne Young 24:09

Rosemary's Baby, like something like that works so well in a city. But no, I agree. I absolutely agree with you. That social isolation, that's really smart.

Michael David Wilson 24:21

Yeah, and I think you did well to you know, make nightfall a character. I think you absolutely did accomplish that. And, yeah, I know that you've lived in Oregon. before. You know you live in Arizona. And now you've lived in New York, as you said, so. I mean, how much were you drawing upon those personal experiences? Did you have a specific town in mind when you conceived of nightfall? And I wonder, just from a kind of past Snowe perspective. What were your favorite and least favorite things about living in each of those areas?

Suzanne Young 25:09

Oh, wow. Well, so as I mentioned earlier, it was originally called beasts of Astoria. So I had initially imagined it as a story of Oregon when I lived in Oregon, we would go there all the time. It is a beautiful town. And I will say that it definitely seems like they could have some Northwest beach vampires like it, it definitely just has like, an eccentric vibe to it. And when I started writing it, I really wanted to have that really sinister dark history of the town. And I felt as I started to write that I didn't want to attribute that to a real place because it was so so dark and terrible, with the mayor of the town and what he had done. And so I decided that I took away Astoria, and I made it into nightfall. But if you're from Astoria, you'll notice Cannon Beach, I call it you know, Sunrise beach, or something close to that. There's a museum that's similar. So I still had that in my mind. So that way, it was nice, because it always grounded me. Like I could always, like picture what it looked like, because I think it's really hard to write about a place you've never been. You can to an extent, but you're pulling from a place you have been to write about a place in our event, if that makes sense. Like I can write about maybe a desert because I live in a desert, and I can relate something. But But luckily, I had actually been there. And I could picture the hills with the houses and like, I just knew what it looked like. And I knew it was like that beach and, and being from or having lived in Oregon, like I knew, you know, if you've never been to the Oregon coast, like you think Oregon, the beach, you know, you're gonna go to the beach in a bathing suit. Like, that's not how it works in Oregon, when you're gonna be wearing a windbreaker or a hoodie, because freezing and windy. And so I didn't make sure that I had those two elements. So I think for me, what I loved about Oregon is, for some reason, the Northwest just really has creativity on lock, like they really something about that, whether it just makes you want to write like I just I couldn't stop writing when I lived there. So that was, that was nice. And it's also just, you can find a community for anything, they're like you could, like you could be the art of the fire breathers club or you could be the part of the pirate club or the writers but you will find a club for anything there. And so that was great, because I found an amazing writing community there. And I'm still friends with them. Even though I met back in Arizona for 12 years. still friends with them. In Arizona, I love Arizona, I was caught Arizona my lucky state. I don't know what it is, I think it's the sunshine. I've just always been able to, you know, find work, which is important. I've been able to just be more active and just have, you know, a good, stable, happy life. Whereas in the Northwest it was it was actually a lot more challenging. I couldn't find a day job when I was there. So probably that's also why I wrote so much but but sometimes weirdly, when it is always always warm and sunny, like it gets it has kind of the opposite effect. And like, can it just please rain? Like can it please do something like I just can't stand it. And then we'll have like, three, four days of overcast skies. And you will see people walking around and everybody's wearing like black or gray and everybody is so so down. So it's it's very funny because we'll all that's why we love like the monsoon season here, because it'll be like a storm. And then we'll go back to being nice, and there'll be a storm and then effect of being nice. So we get that that little flashes. So there's that. So Arizona is too sunny. And then 100% I left New York because I was cold. I do not like being cold. Right. I had to leave I left as soon as I physically could. Because I hated being called I went to school in I went to college in Plattsburgh, which is up in the Adirondacks, essentially. And it would be negative 13 Negative 14 Walk in a class. And I was like this, this is not how I plan to live my days. So the day after graduation I drove I drove home is before I had a computer so I went to AAA got a triptych. And I put my dog in my car. And on New Year's Day we drove to Arizona and I didn't know anyone out here I'd never been out here. I have a job. Like I didn't know anything. I just drove into town stopped in an apartment complex and rented an apartment. So yeah, that's the thing that I really is As far as New York and I hate being cold, and I think, to a lot of my books, almost all of them take place in Oregon. There's something about Oregon, like a lot of them take place in Oregon. But a lot of my formative experiences and grief and trauma took place in New York. So there's a little bit of both didn't all of those books?

Michael David Wilson 30:21

Yeah. Yeah. I can't believe just how cold it was for you walking to school, you know, and minus 13. Like Fahrenheit for those, you know, from Europe. We're talking minus 25. Sounds so yes. You know, I always thought it got bad when it very occasionally gets to minus 10. here and it does it that is bad. But yeah, did another 15 degrees.

Suzanne Young 30:53

Yeah, pipes would freeze. One time I was I was frozen inside my house because there was an ice storm. And there was like, six inches of ice. And so I couldn't open the front door to call a friend. Shop it so I couldn't get out. Yeah, so yeah, no, I am not about that. As I live in Arizona, where it's, you know, most of the year, 7080 degrees, and then in the summer, it's an inferno. But you know, two and a half, three months.

Michael David Wilson 31:21

Yeah, yeah. I mean, like, like most people, I'd prefer to not have extreme heat or extreme cold. But if I have to choose between the two, I go for extreme heat. Because if I have extreme cold as well, like, my joints start to hurt. Like I'm getting joint pain. This isn't a very attractive image, but also you never it's like pictures of my skin and how starting to crack. It's like, what am I transforming into? Please stop this falling away. Yeah. It's like it's some. It's too cold. We're just gonna shed the skin don't shed the bloody skin. That's not going to do anybody. any favors. But yeah, I mean, in Japan, we do get some pretty intense heat. Like, I don't know if it's Arizona style. I mean, it can go to like, it can go to over 40. So yeah, like for 442 Celsius is about 108. So what did you say it gets to

Suzanne Young 32:35

115 120.

Michael David Wilson 32:37

Okay. You still got a little

Bob Pastorella 32:40

heated decks? Yeah, our heat index will get up to about 115 120, which means the temperature is actually about 100 105. On a really dry day, so yeah, I've felt that. It's, it's not good. That's why I would rather be cold. I can always put on more clothes.

Suzanne Young 33:02

Oh, no, I can't I just my body knows when it's cold, even if I have like everything on. But also the humidity makes a big difference. And I'll tell you, I flew out to Dallas in May of last year and it was 8580 degrees. And mine are calling on me. And I didn't know that I could sweat this month. I had no idea that my eyeballs could sweat because I swear I was just like, so sweaty from the humidity. Because we don't have humidity. I never sweat here. So it was just such an extreme like, and it's only 88 But I can't bear it. And they didn't even have the air conditioning on I'm like, Oh my goodness. They were like open the window.

Bob Pastorella 33:46

Yeah, you know, ice storm and it's like people start they can't even drive because it's like if you know what I'm talking about. It's like just like, what is his ice? I can handle it. You know and they get out on the road. Next thing you know is like whoa, shit. I'm not even driving anywhere. Fuck this. house with my blankie Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 34:08

no, I get that because I guess at the peak heat, Lisbon in Portugal and Japan it's about the same temperature but Japan has this overbearing humidity, whereas Lisbon has this nice kind of river breeze. So yeah, 110 in Japan feels so much hotter than 110 in Portugal. So that is the obligatory British portion of the podcast covered.

Suzanne Young 34:47

Also say you know the rain honestly played such a big part in this book too, because yeah, in nightfall. When I lived in Oregon, it did bring so much that after about five years that was without actually was what made me leave like I could not. I just couldn't take it anymore. I was like I need I need just some more sunshine, it was July and the sun had still not come out. So I wanted to give that to my character, you know, her being from Arizona and the book and going to this place when she thinks like, it's summer, it should be nice. Well, I mean, no offense, Oregon, but you know, you're not really that nice in the summer sometimes. And in June, I mean, it's, it's still cloudy, it's still overcast. And like I said, Here, if it's a few days of cloudy weather, people start to feel a little low. For her like she gets there and it's in it's like that. And so a true Arizona person, like you start to start to feel oppressive, almost like to have that that weather when you're so used to it being nice, like it's going to be 90 here this weekend, like 90 degrees Fahrenheit. But you know, if I went to in right now, Oregon's probably nice, but like in late May June, I get to still be raining, it'd be a shock to your system. So the weather itself kind of took on part of a place in the book because it made her feel even more displaced and, and more isolated and more alone, and which made her more vulnerable to the the vampires trying to lure her in.

Michael David Wilson 36:24

Yeah. Now you mentioned Nona. And Nona is the grandmother of Theo and Marco, now believe that one of the inspirations was your own grandmother. So I'd love to know a little bit about some of your favorite memories of your grandmother. I also wonder, I mean, did you know your grandmother or kind of from birth or again, was it? Like in the book you you met her kind of later in life? So how? Yeah, what are the kind of autobiographical elements here?

Suzanne Young 37:02

So I'll say, um, so I've written I've published 22 novels, 20. And most not all more than print. But if you look, every single one of them is actually dedicated to my grandmother. Yeah, the front of every book, you'll see. See my grandmother. Yes, I didn't know her from birth, she, we lived with her. So she was you know, growing up, like she was that maternal figure for me, she was my mom. And we were very, very close, very close, both my grandparents. And then after my grandfather passed away, I was a senior in high school. And what was interesting is, you know, my family was definitely tough. Like, they're tough family. Like I said, like I said, I was gonna be a writer, and they're like, why would you do something and they didn't necessarily say it like that. There wasn't that kind. Where my grandmother was, like, let her do what she wants. She's gonna do what she wants, like, she's smart, she can do it. And, and that was the thing that she always did Just believe in me. My grandmother was very no nonsense woman like she was, you know, an Italian New Yorker like she told you what. And it was what I always love, because she was so funny and sassy, and like, funny in like this this blunt way. And so when I did create the character of Nona, like, she definitely has that same sense of humor, as my grandmother did. And you know, for an example, this sounds silly, in hindsight, but it was so funny. When I was in seventh grade, she had come to birthday party, and she gave me a gift. And I was a huge fan of the New Kids on the Block when I was in seventh grade. And she gave me a package of sheets, New Kids on the Block bedsheets, and I like opened up, she goes, now you can sleep with the whole band.

Michael David Wilson 38:49

That's amazing.

Suzanne Young 38:51

Correct up laughing and she just would always just say, like, the funniest things, but they were always like, in an offhanded way, like, it wasn't like, you know, just coming up and like delivered one liners, like to just say something and then like just smirk like a little smirk, or she looked away. And so I definitely had that in in the character of Nona. I started writing. When I started writing my first novel and trying to get it published. I think I got an agent in 2007. My grandmother passed the year before so I had just started sending out my book and to two agents in trying to sell it. And she was in New York, and I was in Oregon at the time, and she unfortunately had cancer. And I went, I flew out to New York to to help her to stay with her. And it was actually we thought she was in remission. So I actually went out there to celebrate with her but unfortunately, it was not in remission and she passed away. One of the things that she was saying to me is we would just sit there we'd sit around And we've talked about the books. And she goes, and she's like, well, you know, because my grandmother, she only went to eighth grade, she only graduated eighth grade, like she wasn't going to ever read my book, she was never going to be able to read my book. But she said, she goes, it's just sitting there she goes, Well, you better make sure all of them are dedicated to me. And that's just in her offhanded jokey way, because at that point, no one had ever thought I would publish a book like, but she said it as if like, of course, you're gonna publish this book? Like, what do you mean? Like it was so expected, I would publish this book, where everyone else is like, I can't believe you're wasting your time on that. She's like, we better make sure they're all dedicated to me. And, and I did, I made sure every one of them was dedicated her so

Michael David Wilson 40:44

yeah, it's a wonderful story. And I love that. Yeah, she had that belief in you. And you made good on your promise and unit. You know, how many books did that you've put out You did say 2020 20 612 20 221. Were

Suzanne Young 41:07

were books that were under contract, but got cancelled. So I still put them out as ebooks. So that was 22. But 20 traditionally published novels that went to stores. So yeah, 20 official ones. And they were all all except for all young adult and one middle grade. But yeah, so when I was thinking of Nona for the book, I definitely, you know, I had my grandmother in mind. As far as I wanted that sense of humor, I wanted that Italian grandmother, like I wanted all those pieces. And I especially wanted to write the grandmother into the story. Because for a lot of people, and of course, not everyone, for a lot of people, their grandparents are actually such a huge part of their lives, like when you're growing up, like your grandparents are there and like your grandkids are such a huge part of your life, and then you lose them. And they're typically the first person you lose. And no one really talks about it. Like I read a lot of young adult literature and not saying no one does. But it's not like a big topic. And I think about what a huge, huge deal it was for me to deal with, with that loss, dealing with loss of my grandfather at 17. And then dealing with the loss of my grandmother, even years later, obviously, still makes me cry, it still is so devastating. So I and I, you know, I know my cousins who have lost and so on, like, I really wanted to have that relationship, because there is something very special about our grandparent you get along with and we don't all get along with all of our grandparents. But there's something special about that grandparent you get along with because often they treat you in a different way than your parents do. Yeah. And they may be leaving you in, like a way that other people don't. Like they see something very special.

Michael David Wilson 42:50

Yeah. Yeah. And the wonderful thing about writing her into fiction is she's now become immortal. I mean, this is how we immortalized people and you no one can kind of exist forever. So I mean, it is very obvious of course, how special your relationship with was and is and you've just done a great job.

Suzanne Young 43:20

And I'll say Nona is one of people's favorite characters, like everyone loves Nona. This book. She is and of course, you know, as you start writing the book, you may have like someone in mind when you start it, but then she became my nightfall known, right? Like she became her own person. And yeah, and I love, love that character. And I loved how she she kept so many secrets. And you know, you want you may wonder, like, Well, why didn't she just say something? But you know, she's just, she thought she was doing the right thing. But I just loved how no nonsense she was in. And I did want to emulate the grandfather from the Lost Boys a little bit. Yeah. And even though he wasn't art in the movie, at the end of the Lost Boys, you realize, Wait, so he knew all along, there was vampires and didn't say anything. And I always love that closing of Lost Boys. I was like, brilliant, like, brilliant. And so I definitely wanted that grandparent who knew a little too much about what was going on and just didn't say anything. So but what I think what I think she she ended up becoming so much more than just like that joke at the end. Because I think Theo healed so much through her relationship with her grandmother. And I think by by their growing closeness it actually just made to grow up and have the courage to fight the monsters and I don't know that she would have had that courage without her grandmother.

Michael David Wilson 44:48

Yeah, yeah. And of course, you said that this was written as many of your books as a why a novel And indeed, your new book what stays buried as a middle grade? So I'm wondering when you're writing, why a, what do you think are the advantages? And what, if any, are the limitations to writing ya.

Suzanne Young 45:19

I mean, I'll say personally for me, when I, when I write these books, I don't have, I don't have the audience in mind, I don't necessarily look at this. And I think I'm writing for this reader. My characters are the age they are, and you can have adult books that have those teen characters, but they just are different. They're their differently paced books, and they deal with different issues. And what I love about writing why a especially is you get to talk about things, you have a lot of first strike like the first time you experienced grief, you the first time you fell in love, like a lot of things happen to you for the first time that you know, later on in life, you become jaded by these experiences, like first time you're heartbroken is much different than you know that the eighth and ninth time, when your parents get divorced, it's a much different feeling at 17, than it is at 20 or 37. So that's really what I'm writing about is the that experience, because I'm trying to capture that that moment. You know, that moment that I think a lot of us can relate to if we've ever experienced it. And so I don't typically set out to write ya, it's just that's where it fits into the market. If that makes sense. Yeah, yeah, my middle grade book. Yeah. So I think that's why like, actually, a lot of my readers kind of, they just really span like, it's anywhere from 12 to like, in their 50s. Like, I mean, it's just, it's too big group. And I think it's because I don't have it, you know, I don't use like, you know, trendy Teamspeak type language. It's just, it's, that is for everybody. But that's where it fits into the market. And then for the middle grade. I, I did, that's where I had to make some changes to how I normally write like in the middle grade, you know, there's, there's certain elements that you can't have in there that I would normally have in there. Like, I like to have some kind of romantic element in my books will obviously in a middle grade, to have that element. However, my because it is this is interesting. My middle grade is probably the scariest book that I've ever written by far, like it is terrifying. And I always joke that and of course, this is like a this is something we always use in like publishing to describe a book. It's like a meets like this meets this. So the the middle grade was Coraline meet it. So it's a genuinely, genuinely terrifying. And I think I was able to be that scary, because I was able to take these other elements out, and it really was just focused on the horror of it all. So that was kind of fun. I really liked I really enjoyed writing for that that age group. But yeah, why seems to be the sweet spot. Now I also wrote away with Tom DeLonge. Who's from the band Blink 182. Yeah, so we had a series together. We had a series together, and that one definitely sews even though to ya, like that one definitely skews older. As far as just the way the story's laid out and everything. So that's probably my closest to an adult.

Michael David Wilson 48:30

Yeah, I wanted to say some things about ya, we are going to return to you writing a book with Tom DeLonge. Because we don't just gloss over that. We are definitely getting back to the way you just casually slip that in. But I, I think and I was saying this to Bob off. And I think there is sometimes like, there are misconceptions surrounding ya. Because like, I mean, as you said, like ya can be read and really is written for any audience. And I mean that this story, like I don't feel, you know, reading it, like, Oh, I'm reading a why a book, I am reading a book, I'm reading literature, I'm reading a bloody good story. And I, I wonder, I mean, I don't know if this is my own misconception or my own ignorance, but it felt like growing up that there was a bigger distinction between why an adult literature and I just don't see that anymore. You know, apart from the fact that you know, you can't use certain profanity, which a lot of books The so called Adult books don't have any way. Like there really isn't much difference. So I wonder I mean, do you think there are a lot of have misconceptions. Do you think that the marketplace in terms of what a why a book is has changed over the years? I mean, I'd add to so that that you obviously said, when you're writing it, you're just writing a story. So in that respect, maybe y is just a marketing category is just what the publisher has decided to label it. But it's no different whether you're writing an adult or a why a book.

Suzanne Young 50:31

Yeah, and and I'll say, a lot of people have different opinions on this, this is certainly just my, my opinion on this. You know, when I was growing up, I didn't have we didn't have ya, like, ya wasn't really a category. I'll say, like, I, you know, I loved Stephen King, as I mentioned, I loved Like, my sweet Audrina, like, I would read these, Clive Barker, like, I would read horror. And, and that was kind of that was my ya. And it's funny, because if you talk to other white authors, so many of us also loved horror, I don't know what it is, but we just kind of all really enjoyed it. But I think I'm gonna have to say it's just marketing, because you definitely have, you have a huge range when it comes to reader. So, you know, for my middle grade, you know, again, I was very conscious of who, you know, I was writing for, and, you know, I was, I was being protective of them, because I wanted to make sure it was appropriate for that age. And then when you get to ya, you have you have a range, you have the younger readers who want to read younger, more wholesome types of stories. And then you have those that have different experiences in life, and can relate to stories with tougher topics. And you also have those that are going through, you know, much different, you know, life lessons, and, you know, they want to see themselves reflected in a story. So, you have just, I think there's such a difference between the age of 12. And the age of, I guess, 18 1718, you know, 12 year old, I mean, you could just have totally different life experiences. So, I think what's great about way is it does capture all of those, those parts, right? So you can find those books, but you're gonna have to look for the ones that are the most age appropriate. And I think, you know, we need to trust, you know, young adults to be able to read a book and know when it's not right for them and be like, I don't want to read about that. And then they put it down. And that and that is generally what happens. And I wouldn't say it's tough, like, I think as far as, you know, marketing goes for ya, like, there's definitely something to be said about it. But I will say like adult books that have teen main characters, they're usually looked at in a different way, usually like to pick a different way. Like, they usually have an adult voice. That's there. You don't I mean, there's, there's still like there, that adult voice coming through when you have a teen character. And it's usually not about the experiences that most young adult fiction is about because again, like, you know, I write about these experiences that you're getting for the first time or things like that. So yeah, I think, I think part of it, of course, is marketing, but But mostly, it's just about the way the tone of the story and the voice behind the story.

Michael David Wilson 53:26

Yeah, yeah. We have got to go back to what you said about CO writing a book with Tom DeLonge. So how did that come about? And also, are you a fan? Or were you a fan of Blink 182 Before this came about?

Suzanne Young 53:46

Oh, gosh, um, so I had was just kind of coming off the program series I hadn't, I was actually still reading the program series when my agent had reached out to me and said, Hey, I kind of have a strange request. Tom DeLonge of Blink 182 likes your series and is interested in finding a co writer for a series he wants to start. And I was like, me, like, me, like, that seems strange. But apparently, they had liked the program. And so I was actually at school. I was teaching full time then. And they're like, Okay, Tom is gonna call you in about 10 minutes. And I'm like, so I go to my principal. I'm like, Hey, I'm about to get a phone call that I need to take. And so I was in the staff room. And he called, and I talked to him on the phone, we probably talked about, like, 1520 minutes, and he told me about the series. And if you've ever listened to Tom talk, he's hilarious. And he was just like, Yeah, it's like rad. And it's about like, dreams and love and affinity. And I was like, I know that I'm the right person for this. Like, I appreciate it. Like it sounds cool. And he's like, I'll tell You and like he knew he's like, I'll tell you what, I'm gonna send you this animated short film that we made. That takes place in the world of poet Anderson, which is the which was the series. And I said, Okay, sure. So he sent me the short film. And I watched it. And it was so good. It was so incredible that I literally called him back and said, I absolutely want to write this series. It was just it. Really cool. So basically, Tom came to me with this fully baked idea of, of this character who was a lucid dreamer. And we created this story together about him and his brothers about his two brothers. And one of them gets into a car accident, and one of them is in a coma. And he is living in this dream world. And poet Anderson is a dream Walker. So he is a lucid dreamer. He can go into the dream world, and he's trying to find his brother so he can wake him up. And of course, once you get into that dream world, it's like, full like, cool. Like that motorcycles, like certain kinds of like motorcycles and like a little Tron esque. But just this amazing, like dream world, Dream Warriors, like, just very cool. So yeah, it was a great experience riding with them, like I remember I would, I would send him some pages, and he'd be like, Dad is so rad. We need illusions. So he's a great guy. And probably one of the best experiences I had as an author is we got to go on tour. And we would go to book signings, and blink fans are, I mean, the best fans there, they're just dedicated, hardcore. And they would come up to him, and they'd asked him to sign their arm, and he would sign their arm, they would be at the next stop on our tour. And they had got his signature tattooed from the last stop. And so we just if people would like, run after the car, as we were leaving, at one point, someone tried to cut the lock of his hair, and security had to like pull them out. And then Tom's like, wasn't that so crazy? And I'm like, Yeah, I'm a writer, I don't have people trying to steal locks with my hair. This is a very unusual experience for me. So it was a great time. So yeah, that was the experience of writing code Anderson. And, and I'll tell you, like, I still have, you know, fans of that series reached out all the time to ask about a book three. So yeah, maybe we'll see if that shows up. But yeah, we did two books in this series. So

Michael David Wilson 57:34

yeah, I don't know how under wraps. You kept it while you were writing. But I can imagine to the fact that you will write in a year you were working at a high school, then there would have been, you know, students that would think like, our teacher was writing a book with Tom DeLonge. What is going on there? Oh, my God.

Suzanne Young 57:58

My students never thought of me as an author. Like they would forget that I was an author until they would see something on the news or see something in the paper about a book signing, like, that's when they would remember Oh, yeah, you're, you're, you're an author. And then they would all show up to my book signing. And we would have like events, and they would like act out scenes from the book. And it was it was very cool. They were very much involved. They were like, make posters. Make all my book trailers, my students, even like, after they graduated, they would talk and so most of my books, have book trailers, and all of them are student made, book trials that they were making after school. And it was just kind of just a really fun, fun experience. But yeah, it's it's still wild to this day, like, just at my day job. Someone said, Hey, I hope someone join the team that I'm on. And they were like, I'm sorry, I looked you up. And are you saying that? You know, Tom DeLonge. And I'm like, Yeah, we read a book series together. I just paid like $2,000 for blink tickets. Are you kidding me? So it's just, it's just a fun experience. And we still, you know, Tom and I still connect, you know, and again, to go to Anderson and some of the things he's working on with the series and truly just a great, great, nice guy.

Michael David Wilson 59:20

Yeah, well, what a fun experience and what surreal one because I mean, I sometimes think, you know, I want writers to be more like rock stars, and you got to live it. You got to really do that with those live events as well. But yeah, I think more live reading events, you'd be like rock concerts, I'd be all for that. I mean, maybe not with people cutting a lock of your hair. Not that that's really an issue for me right now. I mean, they could learn to snip a bit of the beard off if if they want that So

Suzanne Young 1:00:03

you should have a buddy program like writers should be paired off with like, musicians or with like stand up comedians, or like they should like have to pair off with someone else in the industry and me, I'll do like our own version of like, a buddy cop film like we all have our Yeah. Or like writing experience with someone a different creative profession. I think that'd be hilarious.

Michael David Wilson 1:00:23

Yeah, yeah. So I Okay, because you have mentioned that let's just be totally self indulgent, if there was enough a musician, or a stand up comedian that you could creatively work on a project, who do you think you would go for?

Suzanne Young 1:00:42

Oh, gosh, I don't know. I don't know that I have a comedian in mind. And like, musicians, it's so hard because oh, I don't know, you know, this is funny, but I would maybe want to do something with like Lady Gaga. Like, I feel like, you could do something really kind of fun in there. But then also have like, a really like, you know, Ross center. So something like I think Lady Gaga would be nice, just because you'd have a lot of options and where to change?

Michael David Wilson 1:01:18

Yeah. Well, I was just gonna say, I think with Lady Gaga, you had to create something, it would be dark, but it would also be really unique and original. So I mean, I think we had a kind of similar conversation with Eric maraca, but she's a bit of an artistic genius, really. So it would be like nothing you couldn't anticipate you couldn't predict what it would be. So yeah, in in terms of me, if we stick with musicians, you know that the first person who who came to mind was Trent Reznor. But you know, trying to think about it a little bit further, I think in terms of maybe a better acetic pairing, maybe someone like Rob Zombie, and he's obviously deep into horror, and all the things that he's done musically. And both in terms of the film, I mean, he's so about that horror life. And so of course, Brian Evans and did collaborate with Rob Zombie on Lords of Salem. So that must have been a surreal experience. I would hope if I was put in this bizarre situation that I would get, like, a little bit more time, then just like 60 seconds while you're talking to, to form an answer, and kind of still thinking about it, as I'm talking now, because if we've got rock star or comedian, I mean, a lot of my work, it's dark, but there is also comedy to it. So I feel like strategically, it would be better for me to be working with a comedian, not a rock star, because we're probably going to feed into each other's energy more. And I mean, Matthew wholeness wrote gaff Marang, these dark place, but you know, he's already done that. So maybe I want to be with, with like a comedian who hasn't done anything in the kind of horror space yet. So maybe I even won from peep show David Mitchell. Obviously, that's not the David Mitchell who did the Cloud Atlas. This is a British comedian. Or if I if I really want to do something bizarre and socially awkward, let's just go with Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm this week, create together

Suzanne Young 1:03:58

would be more you know, that would work. I had an I had a book idea once and I'm gonna tell you, so when we had to return to office after COVID I was joking. And I was telling everyone. Well, my next book is called Return to office and right it's it's after a zombie apocalypse. And one of you has been infected, but it'll be called returned to office because that'll be very funny. So that would be something that he would be great to write that with. I feel like he could make that that office. Small Talk as painfully awkward as it can be. Yeah, that's it. I would Yeah, that's what I would pitch for you guys.

Michael David Wilson 1:04:36

That's the day There you go. If for some bizarre reason, Larry, David is listening to this then get in touch. Let's make it happen. That'd be the most bizarre thing to come out of the podcast. But yeah. Nearly 500 episodes is enough. Every day for it to go right with me. Probably Oh, but you gotta take all right. Well, thank you so much for talking to us for the majority of your evening. This has been so much fun. And I mean, we could have kept going for, you know, another two hours and potentially another two after that this has been great. And there's so much to talk about. But I wonder where can our listeners connect with you?

Suzanne Young 1:05:32

I'm typically most responsive probably on Instagram, even though it's it's probably be the the happiest place you'll find me honestly, right. Twitter, I don't need too many of my comments. And Tik Tok? You know, I'm trying that I'm just not that good at it yet. So, I would say definitely that I also have a Facebook group, where I typically talk about everything I'm working on and ask people's opinions on new ideas. So that's always really fun to interact on that Facebook fan page, like the Suzanne young author, Suzanne young, maybe Facebook page.

Michael David Wilson 1:06:12

All right. Do you have any final thoughts for our listeners?

Suzanne Young 1:06:18

I think, you know, with this podcast, like it definitely helped me kind of go back through why I started writing. And I think we really talked about writing and, and kind of overcoming some of the obstacles in writing and finding the time to write and I felt like really, really like delved into the challenges of writing. And I think that'd be really beneficial for people to hear. I think, you know, if you want to be a writer, you have to know it's tough sometimes. But then it's also about finding what works for you. And in finding, you know, maybe there's different places of inspiration. And maybe we have novel graveyards and things like that. And I really, I really enjoyed talking about that writing process. And of course, talking about all the horror movies that we've seen, and going into what's held up over the years and why it's held up. And, and I just, I really appreciate the analytical aspects of what we talked about today. And I think it could help storytellers like looking at not just the writing process, and also like the movie process and what holds up so I think there was a lot for people to enjoy her. So I appreciate you bringing up such cool topics, because I had a great time.

Michael David Wilson 1:07:30

Thank you so much for listening to Suzanne young on This Is Horror. Join us again next time when we will be welcoming back the Texas literary legend, that is Joe R Lansdale to talk about his brand new book to donate Legion amongst a host of other topics. Now if you would like to get that and every other episode ahead of the crowd, then do consider joining us on Patreon patreon.com forward slash This is hora, you also get to submit questions to our interviewees. And this weekend, we will be chatting with ID Aang. And towards the end of the month, we'll be chatting to Josh Malerman. Now we've also got a number of other conversations lined up with the likes of Tim Wagoner, amongst many others, and before I wrap up, it is time for a quick advert break. It was

RJ Bayley 1:08:33

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Bob Pastorella 1:08:42

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Michael David Wilson 1:09:51

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