Slayer Lit

Slayer Lit Interview


Interview by Shiai

Christopher Golden

Christopher Golden is a busy man. Seriously. Case in point: Six days prior to this interview saw the release of not one, but TWO novels co-authored by the New Englander...and that's just one of nearly a dozen or so publishing projects he's got going in this year along! Plus, there are the film development deals, and just for the heck of it, he and former "Buffy" actress Amber Benson recently announced that they are going to do a limited comic series based on their GHOSTS OF ALBION books in 2007.

If Chris has a motto, it ought to be 'Live to Write and Write to Live!'

Because he is so creatively prolific...he's written over a dozen Buffy novels and countless Buffy comic would be nigh impossible to do a career comprehensive interview in one sitting (which is why I intend to corral him for additional Q&A;'s in the future!). But we were able to cover a fair amount of ground in this one, and Chris shares a few details that I don't think he's had the opportunity to discuss previously.

It was my pleasure to interview Chris, who is a true gentleman, and I look forward to having the opportunity to speak with him again someday soon.

SlayerLit: You, along with Nancy Holder, co-authored the very first original Buffy novel, HALLOWEEN RAIN. How did that assignment happen to come to the two of you?

Christopher Golden: We had been talking for a long time about writing something together. The morning after the Buffy pilot first aired, we talked and were so blown away by it that we immediately had our agents go and find out who had the publishing rights. We pitched some ideas. They liked HALLOWEEN RAIN but wanted to know if we could write it in four weeks. We wrote it in three and a half.

SL: So you had been a Buffy fan right out of the gate, eh?

CG: I'd never seen the movie, but I did tune in to watch the pilot that first night, and was hooked immediately.

SL: What sort of input and editorial control did Fox exert at first? It seems that you were able to take a few small liberties in HALLOWEEN RAIN…explaining how Willow came to dye her hair red, creating some new minor supporting cast members…that authors really couldn’t indulge in later books.

CG: At the beginning, there was very little. We had scripts for the first, very brief season and little other input. Later, Fox did still allow us--and me, on solo works--a little more leeway than they seemed to allow other writers. I'd like to think it's because they were familiar with us and trusted us, but maybe we just got lucky.

SL: You continued to work in tandem with Nancy for a number of other books before you began writing solo. Did Editor Lisa Clancy prefer that the two of you collaborate at first, or was that simply how you and Nancy preferred to work on the series?

CG: Just the way it worked out. Nancy and I had both written a number of books on our own, but Buffy was the thing we decided to write together.

SL: When you do collaborate with someone long distance, what are the logistics like? Do you prefer to trade off whole chapters, or just portions of chapters? And do you and your collaborator rewrite each other’s work?

CG: There are always rewrites. And yes, it is normally a back and forth, like tennis. Usually the trade off is by chapter, but sometimes it's done by scene or by character.

SL: You’ve done a lot of media tie-in. What is it about working with other people’s characters that appeals to you so much? And do you find yourself creatively constrained by the fact that these characters are not your own?

SL: A lot of writers turn up their noses at media tie-in, but it's been very good to me and provided a lot of opportunities I wouldn't have had otherwise. It isn't media tie-ins in general that appeal to me, though. There have been plenty of assignments I've turned down, including DARK ANGEL and CSI. (Though I probably should've said yes to the latter.) It has to be something I'm passionate about. Sometimes it's sheer pleasure working with someone else's characters. Certainly there are constraints and compromises, but that doesn't usually prevent me from enjoying doing something like, for instance, the Justice League. You don't get to write Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc. every day.

SL: Generally, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Would you come up with a story idea and pitch it to Simon & Schuster, or would Lisa call you up and say, for instance, “We need a book about Oz traveling the world to learn to control his werewolf side.”?

CG: The ideas always came first for me. It would be easier, probably to do it the other way, but not nearly as much fun. For instance, when I brought Pike (from the Buffy movie) into SINS OF THE FATHER. Nobody thought Fox would say yes to that. But I loved writing that character into the Buffyverse.

SL: You’ve written a great many Buffy and Angel comics, including an adaptation of Joss Whedon’s original script for the motion picture. Between all of that and the books, were you ever feeling any Buffy burnout?

CG: Absolutely. That's why I stopped writing them. I still love the characters and the shows, but other than a couple of novels I wish I'd had the time and approval to do, I think I had gotten pretty much Buffy'd out. I haven't done one in years now, though, so I do miss them. Also, I don't think it's a coincidence that my burn out started around the time when I think the show began to falter.

SL: Tom Sniegoski, your co-author on the celebrated MONSTER ISLAND, said that the story was originally intended for the comic book series before you decided to make it a full novel instead. Did you ever have any thoughts about pitching some of your ideas to the BtVS or AtS programs as episodes?

CG: That's just not the way it works, unfortunately. They wouldn't have had any interest in hearing from us at that point. They had an entire staff of very talented television writers, and everyone else in the entire tv industry would've been lined up ahead of us. Everyone wanted to write for that show.

SL: Is there anything you’d particularly love to do in a Buffy book, but you know they’ll never let you pull off?

CG: They might surprise you. One thing I'd like to do, but never pitched, is Faith in love. I think it would be fascinating to really get down into that character, knowing how she's wired and how complex she is, and see what it would take and what she would have to sacrifice of all of her defense mechanisms for her to fall in love.

SL: How did it come about that Amber Benson co-wrote the Willow and Tara comics with you?

CG: A mutual friend of ours introduced us while I was in L.A. The next time I went out, we had a big dinner with a large group of people and Amber's mother, Diane, mentioned that she'd written screenplays and stage plays. I said something like "if you ever want to try your hand at comics, we should do a Willow & Tara comic together" and it just took off from there. I had written a bunch of Buffy and Angel comics by then.

SL: That project has grown into a prolific partnership between the two of you, with not only the Ghosts of Albion novels, novellas, and original BBCi animated film, but another pending novel, THE SEVEN WHISTLERS, plus a film script, “The Heir,” that you’re looking to produce. I take it that it’s safe to say the two of you ‘click’ together as collaborators?

CG: More importantly, we've become friends. It's one thing to work with someone and to get along with them, but somewhere along the line you realize that you've achieved a comfort level that only comes with friendship. I think Amber's brilliant. I've always said she was a Renaissance woman. I think THE SEVEN WHISTLERS is the best thing we've written together and it came together very naturally.

SL: And because you have apparently forsaken sleep, you have several new projects coming out soon. Can you tell us about them?

CG: Aside from THE SEVEN WHISTLERS, which hits in December, last week saw the release of WITCHERY, the second GHOSTS OF ALBION novel, and STONES UNTURNED, the third of the MENAGERIE series I write with Tom Sniegoski. Tom and I have a bunch of movie stuff going on as well, which is a very interesting development. Early next year I'll have THE BORDERKIND out. That's the second book in an original trilogy called THE VEIL.

SL: Simon & Schuster has begun making forays both beyond the seven seasons of BtVS (with QUEEN OF THE SLAYERS), as well as to take a more in-depth look at some of the supporting players (GO ASK MALICE, featuring Faith). Would you be interested in doing such a book now?

CG: You never know.

SL: And finally, is there one particular Whedonverse character you’ve most enjoyed writing?

CG: I couldn't name just one. Seriously.

SL: Chris, thank you for taking the time to speak with us, and thank you for all of the entertainment you continue to provide us!