The Poor and The Haunted

Dustin McKissen

Book Cover



    Core Theme













    Jimmy Lansford and his sister Kelly experienced severe child abuse after the strange suicide of their father in the late 90s. Now, as an adult, Jimmy thinks the demon that he believes possessed his father has returned to claim him. But is it a demon that haunts Jimmy, or something far worse?

    Target Audiences

    Age: 13-17,18-34,35-54

    Target Gender: Universal


    Rural Oklahoma, Suburban Phoenix

    Based on a True Story


    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Black Rose Writing

    Year Published: 2019

    Starting Description

    The story flashes back and forth between the late 1990s/early 2000s and 2019. In the late 90s, Jimmy and Kelly's father commits suicide by stabbing himself in the eye. What follows is a horrendous descent into severe child abuse. As an adult, Jimmy begins to see a supernatural presence in his life.

    Ending Description

    As adult Jimmy reaches a crisis, the story reveals his sister Kelly died in a horrendous car crash after Jimmy left their abusive for college, and has blamed himself ever since. The presence that returned is Kelly, who has come to live with the brother she always loved.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available




    Mature Audience Themes

    Language/Profanity,Substance Abuse,Nudity

    Plot - Other Elements

    Happy Ending,Twist,Meaningful Message,Coming of Age

    Plot - Premise

    Internal Journey/Rebirth,Tragedy

    Main Character Details

    Name: Jimmy Lansford

    Age: 15-18, 38

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Strong Moral Code,Insecure,Educated,Honorable,Faithful,Empathetic,Selfless,Complex,Modest

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Kelly Lansford

    Age: 12-15

    Gender: Female

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Aspiring,Badass,Aggressive,Adventurous,Charming,Engaging,Selfless,Sarcastic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Diane Lansford

    Age: 35

    Gender: Female

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Villainous,Narcisstic,Sexy,Criminal,Greedy,Desperate

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    The Poor and The Haunted is a supernatural/horror story about the enduring love of two siblings. Written with a film adaptation in mind, the award-winning novel features a limited number of characters, sets, and potential speaking roles. The story fuses socioeconomic themes not often seen in horror with genuine scares. The result has been a novel that's met with rave reviews from critics and readers, and could have strong potential as a profitable prestige horror film.


    Jimmy Lansford and his sister Kelly experienced severe child abuse after the strange suicide of their father in the late 90s. Now, as an adult, Jimmy thinks the demon that he believes possessed his father has returned to claim him. But is it a demon that haunts Jimmy, or something far worse?

    What We Liked

    - Audiences would enjoy the paranormal aspects and suspense of this story.
    - The suspense and thrill of paranormal activity in this story could entertain an audience and never gets old if done properly. The ending/big reveal is also slightly unique.
    - If adapted, this has the potential for a range of interesting characters. More paranormal episodes /activity could be included expanding the overall length. Story has almost no subplots which leaves opportunity for some to be incorporated.
    - Key points: Room to grow; characters have an opportunity to be developed throughout episodic storytelling; plenty of opportunity for great cliffhangers; audiences enjoy ghost/paranormal stories.


    Jimmy Lansford listens to his Walkman while imagining where is life might take him - anywhere is better than here. Shuffling around his room, he looks at his report card from this past semester, all A’s. He crams the report card in a shoebox next to a well-worn pair of running shoes and hides both under his bed. Jimmy’s younger sister bursts into his room and interrupts him for the tenth time that hour; however, he recognizes this time is different. Kelly tells him she just heard a terrifying scream come from outside in the barn. Jimmy, maintaining the calm, briskly walks outside into the heat of an Oklahoma summer day to investigate. What he finds is nothing short of the opposite of calm. In the barn, his mother, Diane, screams wildly and is covered in blood because her children’s father has just committed suicide in a most violent manner. Jimmy stares at his father’s limp body laying on the ground, surrounded by a pool of blood, with a rusty piece of farm equipment sticking out of his head that he just stabbed into his eye socket.

    More than 25 years later this image still haunts Jimmy, appearing almost out of nowhere like a flash across his memory. Even as he sits in his home in the suburbs outside of Phoenix, on a comfortable couch they never could have afforded back in Oklahoma, far away from the disaster he left behind in his past, it’s always there. Jimmy looks over at a picture frame with new memories, better memories, of the two children he has with his wife Jill. Sitting with his youngest, he lets her know that after her birthday party in the next day, he has to leave for a work trip. Despite watching television with Jessica, his mind is clearly elsewhere because he’s been feeling weird lately. During the trip and back at his hotel, he decides to unwind by making a visit to the hot tub in the courtyard. While trying to de-stress, Jimmy spots someone watching him from the window inside his hotel room. However, after a short panic and inspection of the room, there is no one there. When it’s time to sleep he shuts off the light and there it is - right on the same window he saw the image in, a handprint that is clearly illuminated now by the exterior lights.

    He calls an old friend and police detective back in Oklahoma for a bit of guidance. Detective Mike Carlisle suggests maybe he should seek some closure regarding his past and his father’s death. Jimmy goes to his storage unit to search for and review his father’s suicide note. He hopes this might clear some things up for him, make him feel better. Wrong. He finds the note and reading his father’s final words eerily remind him of the way he’s been feeling too. “There’s something wrong inside of me, I can feel it.” He also sees his beloved sister’s box of ashes he’s had tucked out of sight for so long. By the time he leaves, he is convinced he is possessed just like his father was. Possessed by some evil spirit haunting their family.

    On a very hot day in Arizona, things come to a head one night in the garage of his home. Fighting off a possible nervous breakdown, heat exhaustion, or evil spirit, things start happening when he returns from a long-distance run. He’s somewhat out of his mind as his cars in the garage start flickering their headlights, both radios play, and the individual alarms begin to blare. Luckily due to the noise, his family runs in and finds Jimmy slumped over. The doctors at the hospital treat him for dehydration but determine there is nothing else wrong with him. His wife is there to support him as well as the love and comfort of his family. Ultimately the hallucinations, sightings, paranormal episodes, and hauntings never occur again after that hospital visit.

    About The Author

    Dustin McKissen is an award-winning writer for a variety of publications. Dustin is a graduate of Prescott College and Northern Arizona University.