The Haunting of Sunshine Girl–a metaphor for a media-savvy world

As both a reviewer and an author, sometimes I wonder: are books ever just books anymore? There’s a huge trend lately to create multimedia works, turning novels interactive, or creating books out of blogs.

The Haunting of the Sunshine GirlDon’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. As a lover of all things pop culture, I’ll take my stories served to me any way I can get them. Which is why I was so intrigued when I discovered Paige McKenzie’s The Haunting of Sunshine Girl (Weinstein Books, 2015).

Even just as a book it sounds intriguing: the tight bond between sixteen-year-old Sunshine and her mother, Kat, is tested when they move across the country and into a house that Sunshine is sure is haunted. Kat doesn’t believe her, forcing Sunshine to try to seek out proof that the creepy children’s laughter and strange occurrences are more than just in her imagination. Together with her new classmate Nolan, she uses photography and her burgeoning detective skills to hunt out the ghost in her house. But of course, the path it leads her down is more winding than she ever could have imagined. Creepy, right? Plus, check out the movie-style book trailer:

 

Any fan of horror and young adult fiction would be captivated by the premise alone, and a blurb from horror legend R.L. Stine certainly doesn’t hurt. But the real story behind The Haunting of Sunshine Girl started back in 2010, when Nick Hagen and Mercedes Rose created a web series that followed a young girl who was sure her house was haunted. She posted videos chronicling her life in the haunted house, using baby monitors and photographs to prove the ghost was real. The series introduced other characters—like her mom, the “creepy lady” who warns her away, Nolan, and her Uncle Tommy. Now, five years and twelve seasons later, the web series has became wildly popular, spawning spinoffs and, well, a book. If you want to try it out, here’s the very first video to get you started:

 

 

 

Reluctant to reveal her name, the main character simply became known as Sunshine Girl. It took a few years to discover that she was being played by actress Paige McKenzie, real life daughter of co-creator Mercedes Rose. McKenzie, the face of Sunshine, wrote the book along with veteran YA author Alyssa Sheinmel.

But Sunshine Girl isn’t stopping with books. While the original production team, Coat Tale Productions, ran a Kickstarter to create an independent film, the Weinstein Company has recently closed a deal to produce a film franchise starring McKenzie herself.

With all this multi-media floating around us these days, it makes sense to try to deliver a story across a wide-spectrum: you reach a greater audience, and there’s a little something for everyone. Fans of the non-commercial can simply tune into Haunting’s Youtube channel to watch the organic roots of the series. Readers can pick up the book, available on March 24th, 2015. And if you’re a film buff, the big screen version is right around the corner. The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is covering all of its bases, a true metaphor for the media-savvy world we live in. The fact that it’s an interesting, truly haunting tale is really a bonus, as far as I’m concerned.

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