Michael McEachern McDowell (June 1, 1950 – December 27, 1999) who was an American novelist and screenwriter, was the creator of Betelgeuse and author of the original script for the film Beetlejuice (1988) that was quite different than final film. His screen credits also have collaborations on The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and Thinner (1996).
McDowell was born in Enterprise, Alabama. According to his biography in the 1985 edition of Toplin, McDowell lived in Medford, Massachusetts. He also maintained a residence in Hollywood with his sister Ann and adventurer-filmmaker Peter Lake. The bio described a typical day: McDowell "writes in the mornings and spends the rest of the day looking out of the window in hope that something interesting will happen" and "collects photographs of corpses". He specialized in collecting photographs of train-decapitation victims and plaques from baby caskets. McDowell's life partner of 30 years was the theatre historian and director Laurence Senelick.
He received a B.A. and an M.A. from Harvard College and a Ph.D in English from Brandeis University in 1978. Stephen King once described him as "the finest writer of paperback originals in America today".
McDowell died in 1999 in Boston, Massachusetts from AIDS-related illness. His unfinished novel Candles Burning was "completed" by Tabitha King, wife of Stephen King, and published in 2006.
"I am a commercial writer and I'm proud of that", he said in the book Faces of Fear in 1985. "I am writing things to be put in the bookstore next month. I think it is a mistake to try to write for the ages."