Near Death—Author's Note

Almost 30 years ago, I met Loyd Auerbach when I was working in the Paramount Pictures Motion Picture Story Department and was tasked with finding an expert on the paranormal. This was before “the internet” and meant making several phone calls, which eventually pointed me to Loyd. Although the project didn’t get made, it began a decades long friendship where we connected on the personal and professional. Sharing holidays – and seances – and creating a seminar for filmmakers to harness a better understanding of the paranormal, “Would a Ghost say that?”.

Loyd and I wanted to work on a project together, so we came up with a buddy cop/parapsychologist idea for a series about a skeptical police detective who has a near death experience and the parapsychologist who wants the cop’s version of the afterlife. Through years of development, that part has remained to this day. We called the project Psi Cops, but the characters were Raney and Daye, who we originally envisioned being played by up-and-coming actors Brian Dennehy and Anthony Edwards. While we got interest in the pitch, without other produced credits, we were advised to spec out the script. First we planned on a pilot, but then we decided to do a “backdoor pilot” movie.

Rich Hosek and I became friends years before, at the University of Illinois, where we met in Julius Rascheff’s film class. Rich and I worked on each other’s thesis films and made several community cable shows together (pre Wayne’s World). When my wife and I moved to California, Rich helped us drive cross country, and then after wasting time at film school in Chicago, he moved out to Los Angeles a year later. We were both writers, and while I worked with various partners – including Loyd – Rich wrote on his own. After exchanging script notes on several projects, Rich and I decided to become an “&”, where we teamed up, wrote dozens of television specs, got an agent, went through the Warner Bros Television Workshop, and later worked on several television shows and a few pilots and features.

When we first teamed up, Loyd was happy to have Rich join us to finish the script for what became Raney & Daye. By the time we finished the story, we had decided Professor Daye should be female, so we began the painstaking rewrite of changing the character’s first name to Jennifer and doing a search and replace for all the hes to shes and hims to hers. When development executives complimented Jennifer Daye, we realized the secret to writing strong female characters – write strong characters. We had several fans, but response on the few submissions was lukewarm. “Good characters and writing, but nobody wants to do a paranormal show.” Shortly thereafter, a friend gave me a VHS tape of Fox’s new pilot, The X-Files. For the next 9 years, Raney and Daye were “too similar” to Mulder and Scully so it went on the shelf.

When I returned to the paranormal with a young adult chapter book, ESPete: Sixth Grade Sense, Loyd wrote the introduction. There was occasional interest in the script, but instead of waiting for it to maybe get made, Rich wanted to novelize the script in a Raney/Daye Investigation series, which brought us here. We hope you enjoyed the book and find Raney and Daye as captivating and charming as we have all these years.

Watch for more books in the series, and maybe you’ll see Nate and Jennifer on television one day.

—Arnold Rudnick—October 1, 2020