Slayer Lit

Slayer Lit Interview

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REBECCA MOESTA
Conducted by Shiai Mata

REBECCA MOESTA

"Who wouldn’t enjoy writing a kick-ass vampire slayer?"

Although an established name in modern fantasy fiction, Rebecca Moesta (pronounced MESS-tuh, just so you know) is perhaps not immediately thought of as a Buffy novelist. That's because she only has one such book to her credit, but that particular tale... LITTLE THINGS... is what I like to call one of the small gems of the literary Buffyverse. It's a tale that weaves equal doses of fun and seriousness, all the while staying true to the spirit of the characters as we know and love them.

So it should probably come as no surprise that Rebecca herself is a great blend of fun and seriousness... as you're about to discover in this interview!

SLAYERLIT: Welcome to SlayerLit, Rebecca. Let’s start off by asking how you first broke into professional writing.

REBECCA MOESTA: I've liked to spin stories out loud ever since I was twelve or so. I would make them up for the kids I babysat or even for my friends. I used to write down only the story ideas and titles. I always figured that someday I'd have time to write. Unfortunately, I never finished any stories on the printed page until 1991 or so. I finally realized that no one was going to "give" me the time to write, so I would just have to take the time to do it. Since then, I've written or co-written more than 30 books.

SL: I suppose I should ask if you were a fan of Buffy on television before writing your book.

RM: Definitely. I saw snippets of episodes in season one but didn’t start watching regularly until second season. Then I was hooked. I went back and watched the first season, and have seen every episode since, multiple times. I watched Angel from the beginning and followed it straight through to the end, as well.

SL: How did you get the assignment to write LITTLE THINGS? Did you submit a story idea cold, or had the S&S editor asked you to recommend a story?

RM: My husband Kevin J Anderson was on a book-signing tour with Brian Herbert for one of the Dune novels they had written, and I was along for the California segments of the tour. Before the signing at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego, I was chatting with the owners, Maryelizabeth Hart and Jeff Mariotte, and the subject of Buffy came up. Soon we were deep in a spirited discussion of what might happen in the next season of the show and what directions we hoped the show would take.

Jeff was already writing Buffy novels, and he and Maryelizabeth were also working on some of the nonfiction BtVS books. Quickly realizing that I was a true fan, one of them commented that I should write one of the Buffy YA novels, and I said it sounded fun.

I thought no more about it until I got an email a few days later from the then-editor of the Buffy line, Lisa Clancy, asking me to consider writing a BtVS novel for her. Apparently, Jeff had sneakily informed her that I was a fan and that she absolutely had to invite me to do one.

Though surprised and flattered, I was intimidated and wasn’t sure I had any ideas for a Buffy book. Talking it over that night with my husband, I mused that I’d never written a horror tale before -- even humorous horror like BtVS. In fact, I seemed to lean much more toward fairies than vampires. Immediately after that, I said, “You don’t suppose they’d let me do vampire fairies, do you?” Kevin thought the idea unusual enough that it just might “fly,” so I suggested the idea to the editor, and the rest is history.

SL: I’m fascinated by the underlying thread of the story…of how “little things,” seemingly so small and mundane, or even (as in the case of this tale’s villains) fancifully impossible…can suddenly become major troubles. I thought this was underscored remarkably well by the fact that Buffy is suffering from a toothache throughout the story. What made you decide on that particular ailment?

RM: The editor wanted me to come up with a “little thing” as a parallel to the microvamps. I figured a physical problem would be annoying, but Buffy’s ability to heal from injuries is well documented, so I didn’t think I could give her a nagging wound. Fortunately, there was a precedent for Buffy getting sick, so I decided to go with a toothache -- something that a person as resilient as Buffy would try to tough out. Although the exact diagnosis was an abscess, for various reasons I decided against focusing on the specifics and purposely left the explanation for the toothache vague.

SL: Had you read any of the other BtVS novels before?

RM: I already had some of Jeff Mariotte’s Buffy novels and one by Nancy Holder and Chris Golden. Then, before I started writing, I got a “care package” with script books, background guides, and more BtVS novels.

SL: Was there something or someone you wanted to incorporate into LITTLE THINGS, but couldn’t for various editorial reasons? In the past, for instance, there were limits on the use of Faith, Spike and certain other characters in the novels.

RM: The primary limitations were imposed by the placement of the story in the timeline.

SL: The book’s packaging plays up Spike. Was there a firm effort from the start to highlight him in this story?

RM: I happen to be a big Spike fan and wanted to show his complicated relationship with Buffy in the book, but the publisher didn’t actually let me know that Spike would be on the cover until after I had turned in the manuscript.

SL: Was there a particular character you found yourself enjoying writing most of all?

RM: Well, who wouldn’t enjoy writing a kick-ass vampire slayer? Aside from Buffy, I enjoyed writing Xander because of his witty observations and pop-culture references, and Spike because of his internal conflicts.

SL: The book is set at a specific time in Buffy’s history, not long after her mother Joyce has died, and she is struggling to now be the surrogate parent to her sister, Dawn. Were you asked to set your story at this time, or did you want to work in that period?

RM: The timing was a corporate decision. At the outset, Lisa Clancy let me know the exact time in which the book needed to be set.

SL: As a writer, what is it that in your opinion that makes Buffy such an enduring character? Not even TV cancellation could kill her off.

RM: Buffy is the type of friend we’d all like to have: competent, loyal, take-charge, fast at thinking and acting in a crisis, with a healthy sense of humor. She’s not perfect by a long shot, though, and has problems with friends, school, family, her love life, etc., that we can all relate to. At the same time, she is almost a classic archetypical hero who starts life as a normal person only to find out later that she is The Chosen One. On top of that, she’s a hot chick. How could we leave all that behind? Long live Buffy!

SL: Is there a “dream Buffy story” you’d still like to tell?

RM: I’ve wanted to do one set in the same timeframe, where a fire god creates a volcano in Sunnydale and demands a virgin sacrifice... Dawn, probably. Naturally Buffy and the Scoobies have to save the day.

SL: What books do you enjoy reading and recommending?

RM: I really enjoy Young Adult novels. In YA, after telling people to read the CRYSTAL DOORS trilogy and the STAR WARS YOUNG JEDI KNIGHTS series, I recommend what I consider to be the classics: McCaffrey’s DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN series, C.S. Lewis’s CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, Lloyd Alexander’s CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN, Madeleine L’Engle’s A WRINKLE IN TIME, and... more recently... J.K. Rowling’s HARRY POTTER series.

For adult novels, I recommend Anderson’s SAGA OF SEVEN SUNS series, Herbert’s DUNE and all its prequels and sequels, Larry McMurtry’s LONESOME DOVE, and many of Dean Koontz’s novels.

SL: And what new works can we look forward to from you?

RM: CRYSTAL DOORS: OCEAN REALM, the second novel in my YA fantasy trilogy (written with Kevin), came out in June 2007. Book three, CRYSTAL DOORS: SKY REALM, is due out in late spring 2008. I’m currently working on a proposal for more YA novels.

SL: Rebecca, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us!

RM: Thanks for giving me the opportunity.