5 fun facts about RIP: Choices After Death by Daniel Sherrier

Fun Fact #1: I originally wrote it as a television pilot script.

Back around 2009-11, I wanted to be a television writer, and among my spec scripts was the RIP pilot. I entered it in contests, and it became a finalist in the 2010 People’s Pilot Competition and a semi-finalist in the 2011 PAGE International Screenwriting Contest. In the latter, it ranked somewhere between 11th and 25th out of 313 entries in the TV Drama category.

I eventually got it into the hands of a producer who was nice enough to read the work of an unknown. He passed on it, saying he would’ve preferred to see it executed more as a procedural. I can see how that would make more business sense in television, which made me realize the story would work better as a book series.

Side note: The first drafts of all four novelettes were written in teleplay format, though the third and fourth novelettes wound up diverging significantly from the scripts.

Fun Fact #2: The story is told in episodic novelettes that form an arc.

RIP’s television origins led me to structure the series as episodic novelettes. Each “episode” has its own beginning, middle, and end, but it builds toward the next installment. These aren’t self-contained short stories; the characters grow from episode to episode, and I wouldn’t recommend trying to read them out of order.

I’m not sure how many episodes or volumes I’ll end up writing, but each volume will present a clear arc. Volume One’s arc basically addresses the question, “Can Rip learn to let people in?”

Fun Fact #3: The Historic Church of Sidwick skeleton structure exists, sort of.

The historic church skeleton structure we see in RIP was inspired by the Historic Polegreen Church in Hanover County, Va. The real church was one of the birthplaces of America’s struggle for religious liberty, and a young Patrick Henry (“Give me liberty or give me death!”) worshipped there and was inspired by the Rev. Samuel Davies’ oratorical skills.

The church was destroyed during the Civil War, and a historical foundation erected a skeleton structure as a monument. I’ve covered events there for a Hanover County newspaper. It’s a wonderful historical site.

Fun Fact #4: I didn’t know I had a story until I thought up the character Serissa.

A guy punching out ghosts is a cool idea but not a story. A ghost touching a living person for the first time since death, however, is what had real potential.

That thought resulted in Serissa, a lively dead young woman who’s trying to be better than she was in life. Of course, like all ghosts, she has no idea if a place like Heaven exists, so she has no guarantee her efforts will pay off, and it’s driving her bonkers—that, and the fact that she can’t touch or communicate with any living person aside from Rip. By the way, she’s not the romantic interest. That would be weird, what with her death and limited options. They’re two lonely souls with contrasting personalities thrust together in a special kind of friendship.

Serissa is easily my favorite character I’ve ever written, and I look forward to writing more of her.

Fun Fact #5: I had the most fun writing the dialogue.

You’d think the ghost fights would be the highlight, but no, it’s the dialogue exchanges, especially the ones involving Serissa. I have a theatre degree and a playwriting background, so I’m used to giving most of my attention to the spoken words. I often had to go back and add more background detail and character action to avoid pure talking heads scenes.

“Zombies. Do I have to worry about zombies, too?”
“I never met any.”
"Not really the firm answer I was hoping for."
"I've only been dead a couple of years. What am I supposed to be, the Encyclopedia Brown of death? ... Was that the correct usage of Encyclopedia Brown?"
--Rip and Serissa


RIP: Choices After Death by Daniel Sherrier
(November 30, 2013)

Ghosts are people, too, but not all ghosts choose to be good people. Rip Cooper must overcome his fears and kill dead people to prevent them from corrupting the living. This young loner learns he can perceive ghosts with his five senses as if they were flesh and blood, and he’s just as solid to them — pretty much the only solid thing, in fact. He works alongside an impure “angel” and his ex-best friend’s ex-girlfriend as they teach him how love can lead to strength. RIP vol. 1: Choices After Death features the first four novelettes in this coming-of-age and redemption story: “Touch,” “Alone,” “The Crazy Line,” and “Point B,” plus the short story “Strength.”


Daniel Sherrier is a writer based in central Virginia. This is the guy who writes the Earths in Space and RIP series, which you've doubtless heard much about. Occasionally, a play he's written gets performed somewhere. He graduated from the College of William & Mary in 2005, where he earned a degree in the ever-lucrative fields of English and Theatre. Recently, he achieved his black belt in Thai kickboxing. And there was that one time he jumped out of an airplane, which was memorable.


  1. Interesting that it was a television script first.
    I'd think if you were dead, zombies would be your last worry.


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