Everfound: Ghostly Inspiration

Early in the process of writing EVERFOUND, I found myself stuck. “Writer’s Cliff.” The original direction I felt the story would take just wasn’t working. I still had the ending fairly worked out—I knew where the story was going from book one—but getting there was the problem.

As it was a story about ghosts, I decided to spend a few days aboard the Queen Mary — which is a huge old ocean liner that is permanently docked in Long Beach California, and is now a hotel. A haunted hotel. It’s filled with creepy passageways and deserted ball rooms. They even give “ghost tours.”

After a day and a half, I felt like pounding my head against the bulkhead. No ideas. Brain dead. The story wasn’t gelling, and I doubted my ability to tell it. I stayed up till midnight in my little windowless cabin, and passed out from exhaustion. Not a page had been written since I arrived. Or, more accurately, dozens of pages were written, but every single one of them was torn out, and tossed into the trash.
Then I woke up at about 3:30 AM. I was lying in the pitch dark of the cabin, and suddenly I saw the book playing in my head like a movie, so I figured, okay, I’ll watch this movie in my head and see where it takes me. Out of nowhere, all these ideas began to fill my brain. New directions for the story, new motivations for the characters, even new characters. In short, the story began to write itself in my head. I kept watching that mind-movie getting more and more excited. With less than four hours sleep, I got up, and began writing. I went on deck to watch the sun rise, and wrote all day until it started to get dark. I was thrilled with everything that I came up with, and the story was moving forward in leaps and bounds. I love those times when a flash of inspiration hits you, and you begin to write up a storm!   More on Wednesday.


26 Responses to “Everfound: Ghostly Inspiration”

  1. Lori Says:

    Hummmm, that sounds like a good story line for another book! The dream theme…..mind movies, there are so many ways it could go!

  2. Georgeanna Says:

    I think its absolutely marvelous. Since I have just finished reading Everwild and anxious for everything that’s unfolding, i look forward to more of your mind-movies about Everfound 🙂

  3. kaitlyn Says:

    When is it being published? I can’t wait until it comes out!!!

  4. Crystal Says:

    Hey Neal,
    So glad you got unclogged. Man, I’ve been dealing with that “stuck like chuck” for a short while, but then the Elfman took care of that! I’ve been writing like a crazy woman the last few days! I’m on my way to cruise with Petula and we’re both on fire to write. Hang tough, Neal. And I haven’t forgotten I owe you a lobster.

  5. I am a pirate Says:

    Awesome! I’m so happy for you. I cannot wait to read this book! You’re an excellent author, Neal.

  6. Olivia Says:

    OMG!!! I went to the Queen Mary too!!! So creepy yet exciting at the same time!

  7. Best of my blogs | Mrs. McGriff's Reading Blog Says:

    […] Neal Shusterman reflects on his struggle with writer’s block during the writing of  Everfound, the conclusion to the Skinjacker Trilogy begun with Everlost.  Now if we could just afford to take a cruise on The Queen Mary to cure our cases of writer’s block.  I also discovered a website for the movie version of Unwind.  I’m in the middle of this novel right now, and it’s blowing my socks off.  Imagine a world where parents can have the teenage children unwound–taken apart bit by bit to be used as organ donors.  They don’t die; they just don’t live as one body any more.  […]

    • nealshusterman Says:

      Actually it wasn’t a cruise — the Queen Mary is permanently docked in Long Beach, and is a pretty cheap hotel now… The Queen Mary II is the one that’s cruising. Too fancy for me!

  8. An Author Says:

    Oh wow I cant really do that -the mind-movie thing when I start typing. The only thing that keeps me typing is that my gut is the one typing not my brain. And the fact that whenever I stop typing and click on the TV the ghost in my house -Mary the Republican Ghost- would turn on my computer and turn off the TV. Even faster if Obama was on. By the way that is true shiz nits. I also can’t control my self once inspiration has stuck. Sometimes I fall asleep while typing and wake up with two more paragraphs written. Apparently not only do I sleep-type, but I say what I’m typing to -according to my recording thingy. Oh and I type faster while listening to Pandora.

  9. tony Says:

    I find the skinjacker trilogy so far to be one of the top series ever written. You certainly are an outstanding author.

  10. nunuwashere Says:


  11. Danielle Says:

    I love these books. I’m 32 and can’t believe that a series for kids has cought my attention. I love to write. I’ve had nothing published, but I still love the thought of getting the “mind-movie” down on paper. But I would have never of thought of anything like this. The concept is so appealing. I mean, if I was to lose a child, I would hope that there was someone that would either take care of them like Mary/Megan, or send them to a better place like Nick. Either way they would be in good hands. Well, as far as you have the story going anyways, I don’t know what their roles will be in Everfound yet, but I can’t wait. I have a 12 yr old and I have begged him to give your bks a try, I just want him to think about the possibilities. Thanks again for giving me such inspiration. Keep up the great work!

  12. Another Shusterman Tribute « Inklings Says:

    […] the writing process and haven’t done so for a while, I thought I’d attach one of his blogs about his process. (Note: Everfound out next summer). From the writing perspective, it’s very identifiable, and […]

  13. Caitie Says:

    oh yeah, i’ve heard about the queen Mary! Thats ironic, it being haunted plus the fact its called the queen Mary. I actually watched an episode of ghost hunters and they went to the queen mary XD yeah i watch that show. I’m into all those paranormal shows, and i think thats what makes me so interested in this series. Can’t wait for Everfound! 🙂

  14. jojo Says:

    i cant wait until the book everfound comes out. Neal have you ever thought about trying to make a movie out of your books. I think it would be a great idea. those would be the best movies of all time

  15. The McGill Says:

    Can’t wait for the third book, I was just finished Everwild last night and it was brill, I picked it up at 4 from the bottom of my bag and read non-stop till late and finished it. I love all the characters, cant wait for the third book!

  16. Carley Says:

    OMG! I can’t wait until Everfound!! My mom and I just loved the first 2! Infact, we fought over them!

  17. erin Says:

    i want this book to come out so badly,but at the same time i never want it to come out because i don’t want the books to end.when i finish everfound i know i’m gonna cry my heart out because it’s over and thats it. 😦
    nel if youur thinking about doing an extened story DO IT!

  18. erin Says:

    i meant neal

  19. #1Fan Says:

    This book is out of this world!!! I’m afraid to stop reading it because then the story will truely be over! 6 Stars!!

  20. John Says:

    I read everlost the read the everwild in 2 days the took me.a week to read everfound and was so unhappy that it is over will there be anymore?

  21. Louis Says:

    The first and only time I have ever read a book by Neal I was in 9th grade I think. It was called Thief of souls. One of the best books of it’s kind I have ever read. After I had read it I moved on to more books and had forgotten the name of that book. That was about 5or6 years ago now. And after hours of looking on google trying to remember character names and story lines I can finally read it! I hope you keep writing for years to come Neal there are few writers that can write like you sir. Bravo!

  22. Ian Says:

    That could be a really cool writing technique! Imagining it in your mind as a movie. You could get a lot of interesting ideas if you try something unique like that. It often helps me write when I visit places that bring me a lot of memories. Places that have that little extra meaning. I just got into the Skinjacker series and I LOVE it already! Can’t wait for more!

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