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How Coin Trick Became a Podcast

By Susan Hanson

You know how some of your best ideas come when you let your mind just wander?

The idea for Coin Trick came when my mind—along with the rest of me—was wandering through the Santa Monica Mountains with my dog years ago. The national recreation area, located in Southern California, has hundreds of miles of trails, and Cleo and I would often head out to explore the hills near my home in Los Angeles.

One day on our way to the trailhead, we passed a mailbox with Kokopelli painted on it. Then during our hike, a series of things happened:

  • I noticed some random etchings on a stone;

  • a kingsnake crossed our path; and

  • a mountain biker barreled past us in a cloud of dust.

And that was it. As soon as we got home, I sat down and outlined the story, then wrote it over the next few weeks. Yet the adventure had only begun.

Like Koko, Coin Trick itself has been a bit of a shapeshifter, morphing from a live-action movie to an animated series, from a boy named Cole to a girl named Cassidy. The script sat on a shelf in my office for years, and atop someone’s desk at a major studio for many months before being rejected.

As soon as I turned the story into a podcast, however, all the pieces began to fall into place—and in relatively short order. Jeff Braswell, an actor (and my neighbor) in Bellingham, WA, agreed to direct. A friend persuaded esteemed actor Michael Horse (Twin Peaks) to be the podcast’s narrator. Initial funding seemingly dropped in our laps.

Filmmaking guru Mark W. Travis says, “(T)he story’s first teller is our self, and the first listener is our self.” I’ve only recently realized just how much of myself is in Cassidy—and how much I am still learning from her and the other characters. And after all these years, Koko (brought to life by Aaren Herron) still makes me laugh.

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