Masha, Junchao, and Alice have planned the perfect slumber party . . . until Sunny insists their house is haunted. An unexplained howl. Flickering lights. And someone-or something-may be watching them from the front hall closet.
At first, Sunny tries to scientifically explain what’s going on. But as more strange things happen, she sees the opportunity to be the first scientist to collect actual data on the spirit world and becomes Sunny Sweet: Ghost Hunter.
With no other choice in sight, Masha, Junchao, and Alice reluctantly follow Sunny on the trail of a real “live” ghost. The girls are sufficiently spooked, but is Sunny up to her usual tricks? At the end of the night, Sunny Sweet is so not spooky.
Buy it now!
It’s release day for SUNNY SWEET IS SO NOT SCARY, the fourth book in the Sunny Sweet series. To celebrate I’m chatting with J. Albert Mann, a fabulous author and dear friend.
I love a good ghost story. How do you get your scare on?
I watched six straight seasons of Ghost Hunters on Syfy and all the Paranormal Activity movies. Ghost Hunters was pretty funny, since they never catch a ghost. But the Paranormal Activity movies were seriously scary. I lost a ton of sleep. What I learned is uncertainty is the key to fear.
What is your favorite scary book?
The Haunting of Hill House. It’s so scary, but hysterically funny at the same time. The humor intensifies the fear. Shirley Jackson is truly the queen of creepy. Another master of the downright spooky is R.L. Stine with his Goosebumps series. There is one where a mob of terrifying ghost children attempts to shove two real children (trapped in the ghost dimension) into a black, smoking abyss. Ahhh!
Once when The Exorcist came on television I thought I’d watch it. It had been years and years since its release and I thought somehow this would make it less scary. I remember thinking, “It’s a classic, like It’s a Wonderful Life,” how bad could it be? It was bad. I ended up spending the night learning about how television worked—radio waves, electricity, magnetism, transmitters, receivers—all to try to get myself to think about what I just witnessed as simply pictures, and not a horrifying demon possession of a child.
Who’s your favorite fictional monster?
I’ve always been partial to Frankenstein’s monster because I love the idea that there is good in all of us, even monsters.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Do you still dress up for Halloween? What’s your costume this year? (Or last year, or ever!)
I haven’t dressed up in a while. But my favorite Halloween costume was the year I went as a dining room table. I took a big box and covered it with a table cloth, and then pasted four settings of paper plates, plastic utensils and cups to the table. I glued ziti to the plates, and painted some of it red for sauce. Then I glued flowers to a hat (sound familiar?) and stuck my flowered head through a hole in the center of the box and it became the table’s centerpiece. It was such a great costume, although difficult to sit in.
This is the fourth installment of the Sunny Sweet series. Are we saying goodbye to these characters for a while? Is that sad? Sweet? Bittersweet?
It’s definitely bittersweet. I had a truckload of fun writing Masha and Sunny, but after four books, I’m excited to spend time with some of the other characters I have swirling around in my head. I’m also in the middle of my MFA with Vermont College of Fine Arts. And being able to focus on my degree is important.
I love Masha’s besties Alice and Junchao. Any chance you’d tell a story from their perspective?
Wow, I’ve never thought of this. Although it wouldn’t surprise me if either of these characters had a story or two up their sleeves.
Flash forward 20 years. What are Sunny and Masha doing now?
Masha is a community organizer and Sunny is working on solving climate change.
Your first YA is historical fiction and debuts next year. Tell us about SCAR. Can we get a sneak peek of the cover?
Scar is the story of two young enemies left wounded on the battlefield following one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolutionary War. I began writing this book after a simple hike in the woods on a fall day. I was visiting a friend, and she suggested a trail she’d heard about. In the middle of the trail, we came upon a rock with a wooden plaque screwed into it. It read: Here on July 22, 1779, eighteen men lost their lives. I couldn’t get those eighteen men out of my head, and wanted to learn who they were and why they died. That hike turned into this book.
This isn’t a question exactly, but I love the new website!! How did that come about?
With Scar moving closer to its publication date, I felt like my pastel website was due for a change. I engaged Frederik Petersen, a student at Northeastern University for help. He is studying programming and website design. All I did was set him loose. He did such a great job.
Check it out here!
What’s next? What are you working on now?
I’m working on a middle grade retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol called First Day. It’s about an eleven-year-old mean girl who has lost her excitement for the first day of school. So in essence…I am writing another ghost story!
Where to find Jen:
Where to buy her books: