By Len Lear
A secret molecular formula that can cure or kill, lost in the melee of 1940 war-torn Paris … Is it true that Mackenzie’s late chemist mother hid it in the secret tunnels under her Parisian finishing school? The hunt is on, and the U.S. and British governments must get to it before the KGB does …
Set in 1969, “Mackenzie’s Secret” is the story of Mackenzie Conyers, daughter of Doug, a high-level intelligence officer from WWII, and Anna, a brilliant research scientist. Hunted by the Gestapo in 1940 for her secret serum that can extend or destroy cell life, Anna took her secret with her when she died; or did she?
This is the exciting, compelling plot of “Mackenzie’s Secret,” the latest novel (just released last week) by S.A. (Susan) Williams, a resident of Spring House for 25 years who, if there is any justice in the world, will see her novel made into a movie thriller.
“The screenplay (for Susan’s earlier novel, ‘Anna’s Secret Legacy’) is finished and under wraps until we get a film agent or producer on it,” Susan told us recently. “Generally, film scripts are picked up by Hollywood A-list writers that have the credibility. We have Facebook fans all over the world (based on ‘Anna’s Secret Legacy’). Everyone was asking for the film, but alas, Hollywood is difficult to break into unless you live out there and are Hollywood A-list. This is an epic, so the budget puts us in a studio arena; very difficult.”
A member of the Screen Actors Guild, Susan was an extra in several major movies such as Martin Scorsese’s “The Age of Innocence,” M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense,” “Philadelphia,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Fallen,” “Unbreakable,” etc.
“Working on a set was informative,” she said. “I learned set protocol and just how important the cinematographer is. I learned a lot through osmosis and watching how the shots were set up. This was research because I wanted to see ‘Anna’s Secret Legacy’ as a film.”
When asked her age, Susan replied, “I’m old enough to know better. I stopped counting at age 30.” Born in New York City, Williams moved with her family to Madrid at the age of 3. ITT, the corporation for which her father worked, took advantage of an opportunity to establish a communications infrastructure in Franco’s Spain. Remaining abroad for 16 years, the family also resided in Brussels and London. Williams attended school in all three countries as well as boarding school in Paris and Rome.
In 1974, the family returned to the U.S. Scarcely had they settled on Morris Road in Fort Washington than Williams set off for Syracuse University. There she majored in psychology with an emphasis in marketing and communications. A few months before she graduated, friends founded WAQX-FM. “I got thrown into sales,” recalls Williams, who wound up regional sales manager for the radio station.
A stint as senior account executive at WNYT-TV in Albany followed, as did the establishment of her own media buying company. SAW Broadcasting (not active anymore), which advised clients when and where best to invest their advertising dollars. It was while working in sales that Williams began producing commercials for local and regional markets, thus involving herself in the creative and business ends of the entertainment industry.
In addition to extensive experience in advertising and sales, Williams boasts a certificate in Global Marketing and Strategic Management from Harvard Business School and participation in the CEO Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. (Her brother went to Chestnut Hill Academy, and her parents were Philadelphia Cricket Club members who lived in Fort Washington.)
Williams’ interest in the performing arts started at an early age. At childhood sleepovers, she remembers, “I would make up stories and cast my friends in different roles.” She took dance classes and also studied at the London Academy of Dramatic Arts, where the successful completion of a series of rigorous examinations earned her bronze, silver and gold medals.
In an earlier interview, Susan said, “What you’re doing at 5 or 6 is what you should be doing.” What did she mean by that? “By 5 or 6 I was already inviting my friends over and casting them/directing them in stories I would make up. It was so much fun. I think I’m still doing that.”
What is Susan’s ultimate goal for both books? “In a perfect world, a feature and then a TV series… I would like to direct my projects but would be happy to be consulting on a team for them. I miss the teamwork. Writing is a lonely endeavor.”
Who are Susan’s own favorite authors, living and/or dead? “Walter Isaacson, David McCullough, Nelson Demille and John Le Carre are just a few.”
Louise Wright also contributed to this article. “Mackenzie’s Secret” and “Anna’s Secret Legacy” are obtainable through Amazon or Barnes and Noble. More information is available on both books at www.Mackenziessecretnovel.com and www.annassecretlegacynovel.com