Poltergeist

This was my first novelization. I’d been working a Santa Monica emergency room, when I was called to the set of ET: The Extraterrestrial to help resuscitate the little alien guy. I got in a hazmat suit and pounded on his chest, but between takes got to know Steven Spielberg a bit, and gave him a copy of my recently released sci-fi novel, World Enough, and Time. I think he passed it on to the producer, Frank Marshall, but in any case they offered me the Poltergeist novelization later that week.

The catch was that Poltergeist was in post-production at the time, and under the gun, so I only got the job if I could guarantee delivery in less than one month. I got some of my doctor buddies to cover all my ER shifts for the next month, and holed up in Steven’s office on the MGM lot for the next 28 days, writing longhand 15 hours a day, and doing two drafts in that time. Some weird things happened in that office, too – but that’s for another web page.

Spielberg gave me pretty free rein to add new material, so I drew on personal experiences researching ESP in the laboratory, among other things, to add about 50% new story to the novelization. Steven later told me it was the best novelization of any of his movies – though to be fair, I don’t think many of his films had been novelized yet.

Still, it’s pretty scary.

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