“She traded her eyes for forbidden knowledge.”
When creating the character of Susan Downs, I was looking for something with a strong logline that could carry any story I felt like telling. I wanted something with a supernatural bent, and I was tired of the crime noir stuff I’d been doing before that. She’s appeared in four comic books, a few ashcans, two short films, and now audio fiction.
Alycia Yates returns from the movies to portray Susan on radio. I can’t say enough about her performance as the character. She brings a sense of humor to that I think Susan has, but I don’t always get onto the page. She’s an offbeat performer, comfortable with all sorts of wacky stuff, and I could not do this without her. Alycia – thanks.
Jenny Key brings the low-key thunder as Emily Exeter, a woman who sold out her friend but didn’t get much out of it. She really communicates the character’s sense of world-weary shame. And much thanks to Tiffany Kiely for stepping in as the White Ghost. She’s a perfect otherworldly presence, and I do believe she could pull out someone’s heart.
This is one of the few Distress Frequency pieces that has anything approaching a happy ending. As Susan says, “Vengeance isn’t my thing.”
More Susan Downs
Here’s where you can find more Susan Downs:
Hoo boy, this one’s been a long road.
This was one of the first ones we recorded, nearly four years ago. In between then and now are at least one round of re-records, a guitar jam session, my grad school program, at least one child, and a pretty steep learning curve with Adobe Audition. I did this one originally in Audacity, then switched to Audition, then lost that version (something about the files opening on a flash drive – don’t ask), then had to mix it all over again.
I’m still having a little trouble with the stereo mix on this one – all I can say is I’m sorry. I believe pretty strongly in releasing and moving on to the next thing, but there are definitely some moments I’d like back. (I mean, I don’t regret them badly enough to mix the damn thing a third time, but you know.)
This specific story was inspired by two old-time radio shows. First, an obscure 1942 radio show called “Come to the Bank,” by Lights Out. In that story, a fellow learns how to walk through walls but gets stuck in the wall of the bank. Second is the Orson Welles version of “The Count of Monte Cristo.” The main character of “Monte Cristo” is wrongly thrown in jail, makes a daring escape, and takes revenge on the ones that sent him there.
Hmmm, now that I’m writing this out, the piece feels a little derivative.
Susan herself is a descendant of any mysterious stranger who sweeps in and solves someone’s problem, most notably the Phantom Stranger, Captain Kirk and Knight Rider.
The original ending had Kat Kenner trapped inside the mountain, entombed until she found enlightenment. The ending I went with is a little jokier, but I thought it but more human. I didn’t feel like being elegiac at that moment. I guess you can take your pick.