CandyByte: Sometimes, What’s Inside Can Be Scarier Than What’s Outside

Chris Hadley
9 min readJan 12, 2024

While nefarious individuals and groups use artificial intelligence (better known as AI) to disrupt politics, commerce and human behavior, responsible consumers of the groundbreaking yet risk-filled technology use popular AI-based voice systems (such as Apple’s disembodied yet friendly assistant Siri and Amazon’s equally famous audio aide Alexa) to help them choose everything from their next dinner to their next destination.

Understandably, the inventors who developed those programs are an afterthought to the people who’ve enjoyed their products, but if you ended up seeing a similar system that not only had all the features of Siri and Alexa but also included an unmistakably human ingredient in its framework, would you buy it? Moreover, would you purchase the device even if that human ingredient is both the spirit of its deceased creator and the force in charge of the program?

Posing those uncomfortable questions to readers — and potentially, viewers, should it be filmed — is Diana Foronda’s chilling sci-fi/murder mystery screenplay CandyByte. As much a warning of the evils of technology as it is a nerve-wracking whodunit, Candybyte involves a most extraordinary connection between two women: Charlie, the imperiled inventor of a sophisticated AI voice-operated smart house app dubbed Candy, and Billie, who holds her and Charlie’s fates in one hand and the apple-shaped product she’s trapped in in another. Vowing to ensnare Charlie’s killer, Billie and her app-bound charge face escalating danger as the shocking motive behind the young inventor’s slaying is ultimately uncovered.

Foronda’s award-winning screenplay for CandyByte is available digitally and in paperback through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other sellers, and additional details on both the script and its availability are available on Candybyte’s web page (link below). For its author, the script’s haunting narrative originated from one of our most relatable and most primal emotions: a feeling that overcomes us every time we encounter monsters that are human, beastly and even mechanical.

CandyByte screenwriter Diana Foronda, here with her script honored with the New York Long Island Film Festival’s “Best Screenplay — Short” award.

Chris Hadley: What inspired you to write CandyByte?

Diana Foronda (writer, CandyByte): CandyByte was something I wrote out of fear. When I was very young, I saw one of the Child’s Play films and one of the lines from the film that haunted me was a scene in the attic where the little boy (tells) Chucky “you’re my best friend” as the camera is in Chucky’s point of view as he walks towards the little boy in a robotic motion. In the next scene, two women find a wooden box, and they open it with fear, seeing Chucky and the little boy who turned into a doll with an echoing voiceover from the boy: “you’re my best friend.” I took that childhood fear and wanted to write something different.

We rely on smart technologies like Google or Amazon’s Alexa to command our smart devices in our homes. I have seen news on smart devices being hacked inside of someone’s home, but I thought, “what if this would be a female-led murder mystery instead of a slasher movie?” Any item in horror movies reflects our daily lives: the shower (Psycho), dolls (Child’s Play), the TV (Poltergeist), the ocean (Jaws), and the birds (The Birds). With that, I created CandyByte to target my audience (that owns) smart devices.

CH: How were the concept and characters for this screenplay developed?

DF: In 2020, I attended a virtual screenwriting workshop hosted by the Moonshot initiative (formally known as the Women’s Weekend Film Challenge). In that workshop, they provided random elements to develop a script: 3 characters, the genre is horror, the tool is an apple, and you have 3 locations — a library, a nail salon, and an office. So the goal of this story (was) to write a short film.

Based on my original script and getting feedback from my seven colleagues, they all thought this would be a good TV series. That wasn’t the goal, but with the help of (veteran screenwriter mentor) Jessica Hinds’ Meditative Writing class, I discovered more about my characters and the story itself. While developing the story, I’ve been listening to a remix(ed) version of “Carmen — Habanera” (and) “The Motto” by Tiësto & Ava Max, and the full score of (composer) Bernard Herrmann’s Psycho for inspiration for specific scenes in the script.

CH: CandyByte is both a sci-fi story and a murder mystery. In what ways did you strike a balance between both genres and their respective tropes as portrayed in the script?

DF: I’m a fan of Only Murders in the Building and was super intrigued by the concept of solving murder mysteries with a podcast. I envisioned the show’s music score by Siddhartha Khosla in the story based on the score’s rhythm I wanted to portray in the script. The sci-fi element came from watching Black Mirror (the Miley Cyrus episode “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too.”) A colleague recommended that I watch it, and the idea of the story shows two parallel worlds of a friendship being built between an AI doll and a kid vs. a singer being restricted creatively and being in control by her aunt/manager inspired me to come up with something unique in its sci-fi world.

CH: Was Candy based on any voice-activated AI systems like Siri or Alexa, or was the character inspired by AI technology in a general sense?

DF: Candy’s voice is mostly inspired by Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany Valentine (in Bride of Chucky). From watching Instagram influencers doing the Tiffany and Chucky duo Halloween makeup, there’s a voice overlay of Tiffany telling Chucky “we have a problem with killing.” Something about Tilly’s distinctive voice made me want to play around with it as if she were the new Siri or Alexa.

CH: Candy’s outward appearance in the script is in the form of an apple. What inspired you to have that be the design and look for the character and the app?

DF: The inspiration came from the product (brand) Apple, but (I asked myself) what if they created a smart device like Google and Alexa but only in the shape of the fruit Apple? Based on my research, Apple did create a product called Homepods, but it’s more of a circular shape and not apple fruit-like.

CH: The screenplay for CandyByte has already been published in both hardcover and digital formats. What led you to distribute it as a book, and what advantages — and challenges — came with self-publishing the script before potentially producing it?

DF: I applied to a screenplay festival called 13 Horror and was selected as a finalist at their 2022 festival. As a prize for being in the finalist category, I had an opportunity to publish my screenplay on Amazon and have a video made to advertise my script. I took that opportunity to make my screenplay known outside the festival circuit. 13 Horror is partnered with Dizzy Emu Publishing. They’ve been super helpful and communicative during the publishing process.

The challenge I faced was when my script became available to Amazon. I discovered my script became available to all types of publishing websites and figured out if I would receive royalties through the many publishing sites besides Amazon. Another challenge is that during the festival circuit, I had to be careful about which festival to apply to because some do not have projects published in services outside of the festival circuit.

CH: You’re working on a rewrite of CandyByte’s script. How is that going, and how far along are the plans for this script being produced?

DF: As of right now, I’m taking a break from re-writing the script. Over the summer, I attended a Sundance Short Film Screenwriting class, and that class helped me work around my 31-page script to minimize scenes that should be needed and fewer flashbacks. I feel like I’m almost there for this script to be produced. I even submitted this script to a few screenwriting services, and they all gave me good advice on how to work around the script.

The 9–12-page script is still a work in progress, but it’s the same story (except for different characters and smaller scenes [for me] to pursue [in] a low-budget/[low] concept type of project). I will eventually come back to writing it. However, I’m creating a pitch deck for the script and (for) the whole story of CandyByte. I think visually creating a pitch deck will help me find my goals and the style I want to pursue for this revision story. My goal is to get this project produced this year or sometime in the near future.

Foronda’s terrifying script for CandyByte has won dozens of awards from prestigious film festivals across the country, and recently found itself on screenwriting web site Coverfly’s “The Red List”.

CH: Besides its mix of sci-fi and mystery, what, in your opinion, makes CandyByte similar to/unique from other tech thrillers?

DF: That’s a good question. My ultimate goal in writing this script is to make it stand out and not create another slasher-voodoo film type (like the modern remake of Child’s Play [with] Chucky being an evil AI doll). Mixing sci-fi and mystery with (elements) of horror (and) comedy would make my readers want to read more and want more of the story.

CH: For readers who interact with AI every day, what can they take away from reading CandyByte, and how will this help to make them aware of the power — and danger — of AI?

DF: For anyone who interacts with AI, reading CandyByte takes away human interaction and the dependence on smart devices. We rely on smart technologies, such as the iPhone, Apple Watch, Alexa, Google, Smart TV’s, and more, that can help our daily lives: cooking, monitoring health, streaming, text communication, and so much power in their hands. It will make readers of AI aware of the power and the danger of AI based on people’s control of using these smart devices.

CandyByte’s tagline is this: “If there is a spirit inside of a smart device, what would you do?” Many people would say: throw it out or take it to a genius bar/repair shop. If you trust your smart device, what happens if you put your credit cards in your digital wallet, write out your confidential notes from your job, or put your passwords in a digital notepad, and then, one day, a hacker takes control of your device? What would you do? How can you save your device as you put your whole life into it?

CH: What have you taken away from having written CandyByte, and in what ways has it made you more mindful of what AI is capable of?

DF: (I’m) hoping (that) this story would change the (style of) horror/thriller/sci-fi storytelling (because) (those genres) are known to have (some clichéd) and stereotypical scenery and moments. Writing this story has made me more mindful of AI’s capability to be part of our lives. ChatGPT, for example, has often been used for people to chat with an AI device on their phones. People ask AI to write a script, tell a joke, write a cover letter, search for relationship advice, and find the best baking recipes — you name it! It’s bigger than we think and it’s a blessing in disguise.

CH: Besides Candybyte, what other screenplays/films are you currently working on?

DF: (I’m) currently working on a few screenplays. One is a TV (pilot) about a female-led mafia living on Long Island dealing with their lives as they live in the seven deadly sins. Another script I’m working on is also being developed — think of the card game Uno meets 12 Angry Men and This Is Where I Leave You. Filming-wise, I plan to edit my iPhone short film Normal Times and hope to put it out (on) the festival circuit (either) this (year) or next year.

For more information about CandyByte, plus a link to purchase a copy of the script, visit:

For more information about Diana and her screenplays (including CandyByte), visit:



Chris Hadley

Writer, @SnobbyRobot, @FSMOnlineMag, Writer/Creator, @LateLateNewsTV