Someone's in the house. He's watching. He's creeping round, only you can't see him. He's watching you from the walls. He's right behind you now. Looking over your shoulder. He wants the remote control. He's a bad boy. He wants to watch bad movies. Bad bad Ronald...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl: Book One

             Sunshine Girl's New Adventures - 

          Haunting Bookshelves Near You! 

  It was in the Summer of 2011, and I was tooling around YouTube. I was checking out trailers for upcoming scary movies, and searching through good creepy short films.  The sidebar recommendations were providing great undiscovered related titles, so I was flipping through its
suggestions, when I saw this very intriguing title: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl.  The title was just too cool not to click on.

Before I knew it, I'm deep into the playlist of stacks of 1-4 minute videos, detailing the adventures of a very engaging and charming teenage girl, named Sunshine, who is doing quirky little vlog entries about school and pop culture... AND who just so happens to be haunted by some weird ghostly beings. The curious part of it all was that these videos weren't full of wide eyes and bated breath and pounding pulse atmosphere. Oh, it would go there, with some real chilling moments.  But, instead of drowning in the horror movie tropes of contemporary genre movies, HAUNTING nestles itself in the real world, giving Sunshine an average teenage life, with average teenage problems -- and then there's the strange girl in the corner! Or the odd lady standing out in her yard! Or the bloody words on the wall!  The Haunting of Sunshine Girl was
I don't wanna look!
simply the freshest thing I had seen, in any medium, related to the horror genre, at that time.  And it still delivers after over four years on the interwebs.

In case you're not familiar, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is a YouTube program created by Nick Hagen and Mercedes Rose, and stars Rose's daughter, Paige McKenzie. They debuted the show back in December, 2010, and it quickly amassed over a million viewers (and still rolling them in by the thousands a day!).  They followed up HAUNTING with spin-off shows, and added new shows to the line up (featuring zombies, Bigfoot, another haunted girl, and screen printers!), and made their own grassroots horror movie, Sunshine Girl and the Hunt for Black Eyed Kids. Paige has been busy, herself, with connections to Seventeen magazine, making appearances in other films, and shooting videos on the sets of director Guillermo Del Toro.  And now she's authored her first Haunted Sunshine novel -- The Haunting of Sunshine Girl: Book One.

Paige and her Mom have always been very cool, granting me interviews. I first spoke with them before their show had reached the one-year benchmark, and had several chats since. With the coming of Paige's first book, I'm thinking they might get too big for my little blog, though.  You see, the book is being released by Weinstein Books, a joint publishing venture between The Weinstein Brothers and The Perseus Book Group. In case that went over your head, that would be the Weinstein Brothers -- Bob and Harvey!  The Oscar winning movie moguls!!!  So yeah, I'm expecting a secretary the next time I try and
contact Paige and her Mom, who will politely reply "Sorry, they're in a meeting."

The book is out now.  Check out the book trailer they made, below! I suggest you get a copy and become acquainted with Sunshine and her world. I've got my Kindle version, and will check back with a review!  In the meantime, here is my chat with Paige "Sunshine" McKenzie...  (her responses are in bold)

So… Wow, right?  A book! What has been the coolest thing about the whole book thing?

Well, I LOVE books and reading so just being part of the whole literary world has been a dream come true. I get to talk about story and hang out with authors and go to bookstores and just surround myself with all things BOOKS!  

When you and Nick and your Mom first ventured off into the Haunted Sunshine thing, did you expect it to blossom like this?  I know you all probably had great hopes and dreams of big things – but, Weinsteins!  Did that ever factor into your dreams?

I think we thought there would be more "steps". You know, make a film that went to a small film festival and then a little bit bigger film with a "name" in it and maybe after that have a film go to Sundance and get a sponsor for the Youtube. We have always had big dreams and chose to go a more non-traditional route to get Hollywood to pay attention. So it makes total sense that the most creative, think-outside-of-the-box film studio in Hollywood is the one to see the potential of Sunshine! 

Alright, you have  a dodgeball match – who do you pick for your team, Bob or Harvey?  

Oooohhh, tough one! Dodgeball is scary stuff! So I guess I have to say Bob! He IS the one that loves the scary stuff after all! 

You’ve had a lot of cool experiences in the past couple years, with the book, the magazine, the Del Toro House of Horrors set shoot, acting roles outside of Sunshine...  What has been the big highlight of all your adventures, so far?

You are right this has been an amazing adventure so far...if I had to choose one, I have to pick the book and the collaboration with Weinstein. I mean, it's Weinstein! And all the book people are so nice and chill and so very genuine. I feel like I have made life-long friends and that is an amazing bonus. 

Can you tell us a bit about the novel?  Is it stories from your YouTube show, or new adventures?

Book one is basically the 1st playlist or so of the channel. Think of it as Sunshine's "origin story"! Fans of the YouTube will recognize some of their favorite moments from the videos and find "Easter eggs" that they will love. Some changes had to be made, and additions were necessary but the basic idea is the same. But if you have never heard of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl YouTube, no worries. The books are a complete adventure all on their own! 

Will there be more Sunshine books? 

At least 2, maybe more! ;) 

How cool is it to have book buds like RL Stine and Wes Craven?  Those were great endorsements.

Any good review makes me happy but when it is an iconic expert of creepy, the feeling is amazing!

Welcome to Sunshine's world
With the Weinstein connection, is there any talk of turning these Sunshine books into a movie series? 

Most people don't even realize that Weinstein has a book division, movies is the logical next step. But who knows, TV might be an option too! 

What’s new on the YouTube scene?  You, along with Mom and Nick, have been madly producing a variety of shows to run along with Haunting of Sunshine Girl on your network. Are there any new things on the YouTube horizon that we can look forward to?

I have been madly creating content to go up while on my book tour! There will be plenty of scary and creeptastic stuff plus some fun other videos from other Tubers. Plus, I'll be posting all kinds of behind the scenes book tour stuff which will be fun! 

We have talked before about how important it was to have Sunshine be a positive role model for girls. Now that your reach has expanded out from just the YouTube show, what are your hopes for further spreading the message of girl power and a positive media image for females?

I think for many girls there are plenty of "cool girl" role models...the Jenners and Taylor Swift and even JLaw seem so perfect and stunning. I mean, Jennifer Lawrence can make tripping look effortless. Sunshine, however, is very accessible and real. Her flaws (real or imagined) are on full display for all to see. She has zits and out of control hair and is scared and brave and confused and positive. And she is your friend.  

The landscape of home entertainment is evolving and growing. How do you see the future of the Internet and streaming television changing?  And where will Sunshine fit in!  (Whoa! -- this is the 60 Minutes interview all of a sudden now!!!)

The changing landscape is one of my favorite things about this time in the entertainment world. Technology has made storytelling faster, easier and far more accessible than ever before. And I only see that growing. For creative thinkers, the sky really is the limit. We are right now brainstorming how to incorporate platforms like Meerkat and Snapchat into how we tell a story. And I love that! 

One last question -- Sunshine has been a part of your life for going on five years. How has Sunshine effected your life, your world?  How has Sunshine changed? (Now I'm Barbara Walters!)

My life is so much different than I think it would have been had I not started the youtube. College would have been the next logical step. Instead I have discovered all these different hats I like to wear: actor, producer, author, creator, Tuber... who knows what is next? 

Throughout the series, and also the book, Sunshine's kind of grown into herself. In the book especially, she find more people to help and guide her in her journey of discovery. She realizes her potential and her destiny. 

The book is out now, folks, on all your bookstore shelves and on your mobile devices.  If you're a fan, drop a line and let me know what you think about the book!