Creativity is necessary for life. It makes us happy, restless and eager to get inside the moment. Some people need creativity more than others, like someone who was born to write two great works, I’m talking about Susana Gross.
Susana Gross, an American who has traveled the world and finally adopted Barcelona as her home, is an inexhaustible creative mind whose life is highlighted by two very personal projects, the novel, Maggie Scratch and the feature length film, The Blue Shepherd, a life-long work.
Susana, born in Philadelphia with a restless spirit, was sent to a Swiss boarding school at 13 where her infatuation for the European way of life unfolded. At 18 she left Philadelphia and moved to Boston to study French literature, but this wasn’t enough, she needed to know more, especially about her own capabilities, both body and mind, and this led her to study dance therapy, a relatively new clinical technique.
During this new stage of dance training, she moved to Eureka, California, a small coastal town in the heart of the Redwood trees and from there went on to San Francisco to further her training while taking a job in a publishing firm. During her apprenticeship in dance therapy she traveled to New York, Montreal, North Carolina and Mexico and finally ended up studying for a Master’s Degree in Dance Therapy at New York University. This type of dance allowed her to her to help people from a psychological vantage point and at the same time taught her to know herself better and to connect with her creativity.
She met a painter in Mexico and later married him. Two creative spirits, ready for new experiences, they decided to move to Ibiza. They bought an old farmhouse in the middle of the country. Without knowing it at the time, this is where the seeds of her novel, Maggie Scratch, were being sown. Susana began writing her own column for the English edition of the The Ibiza News, under the pen name of Maggie Scratch. Her articles were critiques on island society, laced with humor and satire, parodies full of ironic commentary.
Although the six years they lived on the island were the best years of their lives, the couple decided to move to Barcelona where Sadie was born. That name, some years later, would embody the female character in Susana’s screenplay, The Blue Shepherd.
Upon her arrival in Barcelona, Susana was inspired to write a sitcom, and when she decided to show it to television producers in the city, she accidentally stumbled upon the two most important men in town, Sergio Schaaff and Sergio Gil of TVE in Sant Cugat. They weren’t able to produce her show but offered her a job as sketch writer for the national hit quiz show, Si lo sé no vengo, (If I’d Known I Wouldn’t Have Come) hosted by the well-known Jordi Hurtado. This is how Susana inherited her mentor, Sergio Schaaff. He would put her in a room full of paper and pencils expecting great sitcoms with jokes every twenty seconds. From here on in, Susana learned scriptwriting.
Among other teachers, Susana studied under the guru Robert McKee. It was just after one of his seminars that the idea for The Blue Shepherd was born. One morning, as Susana was walking down the street, she suddenly remembered the dream she had woken up with and stopped in her tracks to take notes. Two days later, she was still writing The Blue Shepherd. She met with the producer Enrique Esteban who funded the development of the script with the intention of offering the lead to Gerard Depardieu, but soon after, Enrique died and the script was left without a backer.
From here on in, The Blue Shepherd fell in and out of many hands. A producer at Universal Studios, Jose Carrillo, helped with further developments, but he moved to Los Angeles, and once again the script went unproduced. Soon after, Antonia Kerrigan represented the film, but just as she was about to promote it in the United States, 9/11 occurred and everything was put on hold.
Since then, Susana continues moving the screenplay, The Blue Shepherd. Thousands of corrections and rewrites later, (including a screenplay in book format published in 2014), the final draft is complete.
On the other hand, her novel, Maggie Scratch has been a success in February of this year, especially in Ibiza, Barcelona and Brooklyn, having first been published by a UK press as a Kindle in 2012. Susana has done various book signings and has several now pending in Barcelona.
Her two big projects, those that summarize her life, where she lives inside of each character, two works that, while you are reading them give you the sense of something more than a novel or a screenplay, a sense of something magical…
And you ask yourself, what is that magic? It’s years and years of a creative process, boiled down into two works, because that’s what the word creativity can mean, create-a-life, create a life’s work, which Susana has done with Maggie Scratch and The Blue Shepherd.