New Hampshire authors Killarney Traynor and Ceara Comeau are taking their mutual creativity to a new level – and a new medium.
Their new production company, Book Sisters Productions, is dedicated to translating the work of local authors (including their own) to the “big screen,” and are hard at work with some projects to get the company rolling. I recently sat down with them to gain more insight into this blooming dynamic of working together.
Just from the interview alone, I felt these two had known each other for a lifetime, even though it’s only been a few years. And I also found their company name fitting, as they did appear to me to be just like sisters. Traynor, (aka “KJ” below) originally of Chester, just finished filming her first series called the “Sadie McAllister Files” which is now in post-production with Claremont native Comeau (“CC” below) playing the lead, as Sadie.
This is their first project together and is due to be released in the fall for viewing on YouTube.
Author’s Note: I’m involved in this production as an actor playing the role of Carol Greene.
V: KJ, I have worked with you in the past. Some people might be familiar with you already as co-host of “The Early Late Night Live Show” with your brother Terry Traynor and Mitch Fortier out of Exeter or have worked with you when you were part of Narrow Street Films. How did you and Terry become so bonded in film over your other siblings?
KJ: Well, my whole family, since we were homeschooled would do plays and all the kids would play all the roles. When I was younger, we had a camcorder so me my brother Al, Augi, and Terry would create shows together and edit them. They were horrible, but at the time thought they were amazing. Terry got obsessed with Jackie Chan films and wanted to do his own films, but since I was older I felt too cool to do it then. At one point he just needed a girl, and I was like OK, I’ll be in your film and that’s when I got hooked. The next thing you know, I am talking my way into his movies…we just ended up working together all the time.
V: How does it feel now to work without your family?
KJ: I feel like everybody contributes a little bit. Even this project, I ran it by my sister Cali and she gave me some insight as to why the character has been acting this way. My mom helped me write the last scene because I was kind of lost…I feel like we are all ‘hams’ and we express it differently.
V: How did you and Ceara meet?
CC: We met at a book expo of some kind in Portsmouth. We were not table buddies, but table buddy adjacent; it was not the largest one I’ve been to (expo), but the largest one at that point and I felt very ‘little fish big pond’ syndrome. I sat next to KJ and Stephen Lomer, a mutual friend of ours, and within seconds, I’m pretty sure Stephen melted all the ice; melted everything and just made us all start laughing. Even though we sold books that day, I feel like we just had this bond that just started right there. It was through her (KJ) and that day that I heard about what Terry did and I was like ‘Oh this is so cool!’ I now know somebody who does TV! That’s awesome! That’s kind of how it started I guess, from there. The rest is history…
V: What year was that?
CC: 2018? 2019?
KJ: Stephen was being active and running around the room and we were more reserved sitting with our books and chatting. Teresa Boudreault (Stephen’s wife) was there and started having a conversation about which actors we thought were the hottest and could act in our books and I think that’s how we bonded.”
V: Did you ever read each other’s books?
CC: I read two of hers, one of them I’m trying to convince her to turn into a film because it’s absolutely wonderful, and it makes me very happy.
KJ: Oh, which one? They both have haunted houses in it.
CC: The Christmas one. The one you and Peggy wrote. I have never forgotten it. Oh my God that would be the most amazing film if we could do it.
V: What is the name of the book?
KJ: “The Tale Half Told.” I have a new cover that is coming out for it and it’s turning into an audiobook. I wrote it with my sister Margaret. We just watched a scary movie about a haunted house, and she turned to me and said, “Wouldn’t it be scary if you were snowed into a haunted house so you couldn’t leave?” and that’s where that book came from. I wrote it as a book and I didn’t think of it as a movie, but of course, it does lend itself to being a movie. I think it would be a lot of fun to do since it’s set in 1971, so you would have the cool ’70s fashion. The ghosts are from the 1940s, so you would have the cool 1940s fashion.
CC: We need to make that on our list somewhere down the road. We have to.
V: KJ which book of Ceara’s stood out to you?
KJ: “A Scientist’s Remorse.” It was a great dream line of sorrowful regret that I really loved, and I know that sounds really weird. I really resonated with this book, and I can hear what the soundtrack would be and I know what the ships look like. I dig this, I get this.
CC: It was the after-book. In the back of my head and when I first wrote it, it was one of those ‘why did I write this? ‘ I’ve seen so many people compliment it and I’m like ‘that’s why I wrote it.’
V: How would you compare or contrast your writing styles?
CC: I feel that we complement each other, to be honest with you. I write primarily science fiction/fantasy; that’s my niche, that’s what I do. KJ seems to write a little bit of everything. I remember “Summer Shadows;” that was a mystery. Kind of on the somber side and I never forgot that story. What is nice is that we are not actually competing against each other, we do complement each other, it’s hard to explain how that is.
KJ: I feel Ceara does more myths and I tend to lean more towards the supernatural. I watched too much Scooby Doo as a kid.
V: KJ, I actually thought you leaned toward history in your writings.
KJ: I actually do love it [history]. The three supernatural books that I’ve written are all set in the 1980s, 1930s, 1970s, and a western. I love reading history and it gives me so many ideas. The supernatural and historical fiction is where I like to stay.
V: Ceara is filmmaking new to you?
CC: It’s a yes and a no because I did a short film with my cousin who is a filmmaker years ago, who is off doing different things now. I stayed with her for about a week and it was an educational show addressing problems she saw in her school and she was doing it through film. I was playing the lead role and that is all that I was doing, but I still saw a lot of the behind-the-scenes, like the set-up, the lights, watched her edit and that was when I was about 15. I didn’t know at all what she was doing, I just knew it was a lot of work. About two years prior, I had written a short story that she turned into a screenplay. It was a paranormal story and honestly looking back, it absolutely made no sense, but she still loved it. It premiered at her local theater. That was my only experience; I was also part of the casting committee for that. That was my first taste of filmmaking and I’m like, ‘I think I kind of like this.’ My cousin and I went on different paths, but I knew I still wanted to film. Obviously, I was going to keep writing because that will always be my passion, but I knew I wanted to get into film and inevitably where this path was going to lead me.
V: KJ what are your thoughts on directing?
KJ: I’ve done it before, but it’s the first time I’ve done an entire production without my brothers. This is my first time doing post-production work and not getting someone else to do it. It’s been a lot different, but it’s a ton of work.
V: Did you feel any sense of overwhelm while directing the “Sadie McAllister Files?”
KJ: At this point, what I really thought was this is the next step. I have to be able to do this part of it otherwise I really won’t be able to participate as much as I want to. Yes, I was overwhelmed, but I had to kind of get over the overwhelmed. If I don’t, then I can’t do what I want to do next and there is a lot I want to do next.
V: What’s next?
KJ: A bunch of projects I have in mind a western, a gangster movie, a project revolved around Joan of Arc.
V: Will this be a book-to-screenplay adaptation or just screenplay?
KJ: In the case of Joan of Arc, I would probably write a screenplay because the best book was already written on it.
V: Ceara, I know you wanted to convert some of your writings to film. You wrote the “Amber Oak Mysteries” when you were 12 and it’s considered your ‘baby’ project. Can you tell me about your series?
CC: I started when I was 12, but the series is kind of wonky, because when you’re 12 years old, you don’t actually think ahead, at least I didn’t. I thought to myself let’s just start writing “Amber Oak” because I was getting bullied and didn’t have any outlets so she (Amber) was my alter ego and I felt like I could escape through her. Then I started writing little short stories about Amber, but they eventually turned into a longer series that I wasn’t expecting to write, and then the series went off a cliff somewhere and fell to the bottom of the ocean. I scratched it and I rewrote it, and that’s where “Memories of Chronosalis” came from, and that’s where all the science fiction/fantasy comes in. The book after “Memories” is “The Scientist’s Remorse” which kind of goes 2000 years before everything that happens in “Memories of Chronosalis.” It is an important book if you want all the details of the characters from “Memories.” I realized when I looked at all those books together, I looked at from the perspective of the film series, and I said let me combine all four of these books, because I knew I could. I said to myself, let’s do that and see what we can come up with.
V: When did you both decide to have your own production company?
KJ: It was during another book fair. We ended up going to another book fair and this time we were sharing a table. It was during the COVID pandemic, I had projects that I had been working on falling through or ended for one reason or another and I was discussing my frustration when Ceara brought up making “Amber” a series and one of us mentioned maybe we should work together on it. When we were not selling books, we were talking about how we would do that, and it just ended up being fun to talk about it with someone else. It will make things really overwhelming by yourself, but when you have someone to bounce ideas off of, it’s much easier.
CC: I said let’s just do it. Don’t question it, let’s just start doing something. Everything kind of fell into place to be honest.
KJ: She pitched “Amber” to me, and it has everything that I really like. It’s got a little bit of Sci-Fi, it’s got the kind of Nancy Drew feel, and it’s got the main character who is kind of doing quirky things. It made perfect sense and instantly I could see it.
V: What part was intimidating, uncomfortable, or challenging while filming the “Sadie McCallister Files?”
CC: This whole entire process. The process itself for me, I wouldn’t call it uncomfortable for obvious reasons because this is great, but it has thrown me out of my comfort zone. The reason is because, with the exception of working with my cousin, I’ve never really worked with somebody on a project unless it was a school or group project. Nine times out of ten, those projects didn’t work out very well. I’m a borderline control freak; I have horrible OCD even in my daily life, but it’s getting me out of my comfort zone gradually.
V: When it comes to the actors, would you allow them to improv, or would you require them to follow the script?
CC: It depends on the situation, at least for “Amber,” especially if the line is really important. I would love people to get into their character because it tells me I wrote it right.
V: Ceara, when it comes to the Amber Oak series how much involvement do you want to have in directing it?
CC: I will leave the camera work to KJ just because I’m afraid I’ll break something. I think I would like to try my hand at directing.
V: KJ, did you miss being in front of the camera while filming the “Sadie Series?”
KJ: I love acting, but I never write scripts for myself. I’ll always write a script and then think, oh I should have put in a character I could play, but I always forget to. Whenever I’m helping out in other people’s films, I always want to get in front of the camera, but when I write it, I have the vision in my head. I want to be behind the camera. When it comes to film, I’m not a control freak, but when it comes to my books, I am. When it comes to filmmaking, what I actually like is the collaboration of art. The reason I do filmmaking is that I love to write, but writing is very introspective. It’s a very lone ranger type of deal which I love but I’m also the type where I need people around me. I’ll deliberately write scripts just so I can have people come hang out with me.
V: Was there any stress when it came to casting or getting people to work behind-the-scenes for “Sadie?”
KJ: I thought no one was going to show up, like no one was going to want to do it, like oh this is stupid. Plus, I always think everyone is going to get sick the night before. Usually, the night before filming I’m a basket case.
V: What is the future vision of Book Sisters Productions?
KJ: Right now, I’m still new to it, I’m like let’s do another season of “Sadie” and let’s get “Amber” done and if we can get those two things, I win.
CC: For me, I’m same boat, but also in my brain, I take it a step further…I’m thinking red carpet. That’s something I always had a thing with. Even though realistically I know we can’t go from 0 to 90 right now, but it’s something still in the back of my mind, of what if? Me, I would love to monetize “Amber.” We have a lot of steps to do before that happens. That’s part of the reason why we are doing “Sadie,” so we can familiarize ourselves with what we can do better. I’m looking at “Amber” as something of a long haul. I honestly think we can be like “Stranger Things” with the Duffer Brothers; I think we could get there.
V: Hypothetically, if you were given a contract to sell the rights to your scripts for a price would you do it?
CC: No, I grew up with “Amber” she is essentially part of my soul. Even though those stories are done and long gone and in the past as it were, she is literally a part of me. I know how Hollywood works and how big-ticket film people work because they often work a lot like traditional publishers. Once they get that in their hands, it goes completely different than what you were expecting. That concept terrifies me. What if they add something that has nothing relative to what “Amber” represents? Even if nobody liked it, I want to be true to “Amber.” I want to be true to my little self. I want to be able to theoretically look back in time and say to my twelve-year-old self…we did it and we did the right way.
KJ: “Sadie” is a different thing for me because the story came together so fast, and I have never written anything that quickly. There was of course a lot of changes after the first drafts, but the story came together like that! [snaps fingers] Even though it was essentially written as an experiment to see how we would work together and what we need to do, I wouldn’t want certain points to be corrected or changed. I don’t want lines of the script to be taken out of context of the true meaning. I would sit down with them first and talk about what they would do and maybe we can come to some sort of agreement, because it’s my name that’s going to be attached to it.
V: Who is the target audience for your films?
CC: I know for “Amber,” my kind of audience (thinking)… Harry Potter, that’s the kind of genre and age range I’m going with. You’re going to have kids who are super intelligent, they are ten years old and they’re going to know every concept of Stephen King, but you’re also going to have people in their 70s who really like it. I want to target everybody, but the main focus for me, will be people who are young adults and I’m looking to create the next Marvel meets Harry Potter. I want to be the next Marvel.
V: KJ, do you think you will be directing more than writing?
KJ: I’m a writer first, so I don’t see me giving that up, but I really like directing. I love trying to figure out the best angle to tell the story. I was telling Ceara, that for every shot that I liked, that I really really loved in Sadie, there were three more shots I should have gotten. It came out great, but it was more like what if I had gotten this angle? I would have highlighted this motion rather than it being square. To me directing is kind of like rewriting. You’ve already written the story, now what is the best way to edit to tell the story and that’s why I love directing.
V: Do you have projects lined up after “Sadie” and “Amber?”
CC: Right now, that is the main focus. I’m hoping we become more bonded through these experiences, and we do more things. I think it would be fun to collaborate with other writers out there and to do films with them, but for now all that KJ and I can absorb is just what we have which is “Amber” and “Sadie.”
V: Do you both have any doubts right now?
KJ: Oh always.
V: Do you feel any pressure or added stress when there is public opinion involved or buzz about what you’re doing?
KJ: I really love it, so sometimes I have to turn off the outside voices. I can’t focus if I’m worried about what other people are thinking. At some level I have to not care otherwise I won’t be able to do it.
CC: That, to me, drives me. I’m a marketing person, so if people are catching wind, I’m thinking to myself, oh I did my job right.
KJ: For me, I’m the world’s worst marketer because I will write an entire book before I tell people that I’m writing a book and apparently, that’s the wrong thing to do. If I tell everybody, then I have to deal with their expectations, so I stop.
V: Any advice for future writers or filmmakers?
KJ: Do it for love. Everything else will come later but do it because you love it and enjoy it. Don’t forget to enjoy it.
CC: I concur.
- On the web: Book Sisters Productions
- Follow Book Sisters Productions on Facebook
- Book Sisters Productions YouTube Channel