At my kindergarten graduation I said that I was going to grow up to be an actor. While the other kids were planning to follow in their parents’ footstep, contribute to their local community, and do things that kids normally dream of, I was already planning a life of $20 million paychecks, rehab stints, and winning Oscars.
Obviously, I didn’t go into acting. After a year of dance lessons and a couple of summers doing community theater, I decided I might want to be behind the camera. Plus, you wield more of the power that way. For as long as I can remember, I was always writing stories or wanting to create television shows. I never actually knew if I was literate enough to be a professional writer, but it came easily enough to me.
When I reached high school, the movie Scream was released, and it was something different than what had come before it. I can’t explain my connection to the movie, but it woke something up inside me. My 9th grade English teacher saw this desire and suggested that I join the local newspaper’s teen section. It was a weekly section that was written entirely by teenagers guided by fearless woman who wrangled our teenage brains into coming up with stories that would appeal to our peers.
From that experience I found a niche in entertainment writing that I truly enjoyed. I got to review movies, interview actors and filmmakers, discuss trends in the industry. I was even a 16-year-old with a gossip column! Oh, and there was plenty of free swag. I am a free stuff whore, so I loved that aspect of the job.
When I was graduating college and looking for a job, I interviewed at a weekly magazine. The interviewer said that she spent her first day at work standing outside of the Olsen twins’ house to report back what they were wearing that day. Look, I have nothing against paying my dues, but I wasn’t going to stalk celebrities or go through their trash to get information to write about them. Instead, I ended up going into publishing, editing books instead of writing them. Then, as social media became more prevalent in the last decade, I used that to seg way into marketing. The older I got, the more that I began to love the interview process and not as much the writing process.
I used to joke that I was going to write a book one day with my exploits as a teenage entertainment journalist. Share all my stories. I even had the title picked out, “I was a 21-year-old Hasbeen: Tales of a teenage journalist.” It would be filled with the full story about why Debbie Gibson is my nemesis or explain why John Travolta played with my hair. Or the time that I was flashed by the boyband O-town.
But I never got around to it. Life happens. You doubt yourself. It also seemed like a lot of work to write a book. Sleep becomes your favorite activity.
That all changed last year. With being home all day, every day, I didn’t have all those excuses anymore. Plus, I am a boy who needs a project to keep myself from going crazy.
Rather than jumping in with my tales from the trenches, I decided to go back to what really invigorated me to become a writer. 2021 is the 25th anniversary of the release of Scream in theaters. So, I decided to see if any publishers would be interested in a book that looked behind-the-scenes of the film and its sequels. It turns out they were. The first publisher I sent the proposal to accepted it and in June 2020 I had a signed book contract! All these months later, I still don’t know if my mind has fully accepted that fact.
With help from my friend, former boss, and mentor, I was able to set out a plan of attack. We set a goal of trying to get 20 interviews for the book. I made a list of about 100 cast and crew members involved in the series and began reaching out to them. It didn’t take long to start hearing back from their publicists and getting the ball rolling. In the end, 30 people agreed to be interviewed for the book. Almost everyone that I spoke to was so kind and generous with their time. Many sent photos to be included in the book and helped me to connect with others who worked on the film.
I was right, writing a book is a lot of work. When I wasn’t working my regular job, I have been typing away on my laptop sending out request letters for interviews, transcribing interviews, writing drafts, or researching information. In the end, it was worth it though. The sense of accomplishment is huge.
It’s been 25 years in the making, but it feels right that this is my first book. I turned the manuscript into the publisher at the beginning of this month. It’s going through a final edit. We are on track for the book to be released this summer. Much like I don’t know if I’ve fully processed having the contract, it feels very surreal to have gone on this journey and to have a completed manuscript.
Who knows, maybe I’ll write my memoir as a follow-up. Debbie Gibson better watch out.
Padraic Maroney hails from upstate New York, suffering from middle child syndrome. His writing career began after moving to the Philadelphia suburbs while in high school. He wrote for The Bucks County Courier Times’ Reality section, written by local teenagers, and has the distinction of writing a weekly gossip column for a college newspaper at a school he didn’t even attend! His love of pop culture led him to intern at Teen People, where he met Janis Gaudelli, and realized he could turn being a millennial into a career. Since then he’s alternated between writing and marketing, but always focused on Millennials and everything they bring to the table. Padraic is a lover of shenanigans, 80s music, and the movie “Scream.”