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Local filmmaker debuts novel

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Alan Wills has been making short films for years through his company Steel Edge Films. Just in time for Halloween, he’s debuted his first novel, “Make Believe.” Based on several urban legends, the book tells the story of an 8-year-old girl who makes a terrifying discovery about a second-hand music box. 

The Indianapolis native developed a passion for horror after watching local icon Sammy Terry on television as a child.  

“Ah, man, Friday nights, I never missed an episode,” Wills, 43, said. “I would sneak downstairs and sit real close to the TV so just I could hear it. … I used to watch Godzilla movies with my mom all the time, too.” 

These late nights watching classic horror films as a child inspired Wills to make movies of his own. He’s made 15 short films throughout his career and intended “Make Believe” to be another movie. After a location for the film fell through, he turned the screenplay into a novel with help from his wife.  

According to Wills, there’s one major difference between screenwriting and writing a novel, and the devil is in the details.  

“When you’re writing a novel, you’re describing more than just showing,” Wills said. “In a film, I can set the scene and just say ‘a guy walks down the hall,’ where in a novel, you have to describe everything. You have to say ‘A kid walks down the hall, angry and has a smoldering look on his face,’ so people reading can visualize what’s going on.” 

Changing “Make Believe” from a script into a novel took Wills under three months, and he said he’s looking forward to writing more novels in the future. One thing that’s particularly important to Wills, both in his films and his writing, is diversity, especially in the predominately white horror genre. 

“Diversity is huge to me because in horror, you have the cliche of the Black man getting killed first,” Wills said. “I think a great way to get rid of the stereotypes is to think outside the box with your characters. Get the cliche and stereotypes out of your script and actually create a unique character.” 

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper. 

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