Slayer Lit

Slayer Lit Interview


Conducted by Shiai Mata

Chris Golden

Chris Golden is a man who needs to introduction to Buffy readers. He’s also exceptionally busy, writing best selling novel after best selling novel (with some comic book work thrown in there for good measure), so we’re very grateful that he made the time to participate in this, his second full interview for SlayerLit.

When it was announced several months back that Chris would be returning to the Buffy novels after an absence of several years, we knew we just had to ask him for the details. And, after clearing things with his editor first, he’s more than generous with some of those details.

So now, in a SlayerLit exclusive, here is Christopher Golden and his impending DARK CONGRESS…

SL: Chris, I’d like to welcome you back to SlayerLit. We’re here to talk about your upcoming Buffy novel, DARK CONGRESS, so let’s get right to it. So, in DARK CONGRESS, the vampires have given up lurking about in dark alleyways, they’ve taken up politics, and they’re running for high office, correct?

CG: Not quite. Here's the gist. Once upon a time, all of the demonic and monstrous races, and the old gods, would choose ambassadors to send to the Dark Congress, which would take place under a general truce once every hundred years. The world is populated by demons from dark dimensions and many other supernatural beings and breeds, and they all have different attitudes toward humanity and the world. Some want to leave to return to their home dimensions, some to conquer this one; some want to live in peace with human beings, and others want to eat them. For the most part, they live and let live, out for their own agenda, but once every century, they would get together and try to come up with a consensus about their relationship to the world and to humans. It never worked out. The one time it came closest, about 1500 years ago, was because of the influence of an African river demon named Kandida and a desert demon named Trajabo. Think of them as Romeo and Juliet. Their kin hated one another and, in spite of the potential peace (or perhaps because of it), a conspiracy was hatched to destroy Kandida. Unable to kill her, they trapped her, half-dead, in a tomb in the bank of the river. As the story opens, Kandida is freed. Trajabo never knew she wasn't really dead. With them reunited, the Dark Congress is called for the first time in all those centuries and hundreds of supernatural creatures of all varieties descend--in secret, in peace, and under agreement not to take a human life--to Providence, Rhode Island, whose supernatural history makes it a perfect meeting place. There's just one thing the Congress needs, and that's an objective Arbiter, someone to settle disputes who has no loyalty to any group, but one who is also supernatural. That, of course, is Buffy Summers. Set a couple of months after season seven's wrap-up, DARK CONGRESS also features the return of a lot of familiar faces, including Oz, Faith, and at least one character who is the last person you'd expect to see in this story, but who is vital to the theme. Honestly, that's just scratching the surface of the plot, which eventually becomes a murder mystery.

SL: Is this a story you’ve had rattling around in your brain for a while, or did it come to you when you needed to sit down and come up with an original Buffy adventure yet again?

CG: At a certain point, a number of years ago (four and a half or so), I became too busy with other things to continue doing Buffy novels. It seemed a very neat and appropriate time to end things because Lisa Clancy, who'd been my editor on every single one of my Buffy projects at Simon & Schuster--as well as a number of other things--was taking her leave. The end of an era, really. At that time, there were three or four Buffy novel concepts and outlines still sitting in my idea file, but I just figured they would stay there forever, and that would be that. One of those was a FAITH story, which I'd still be interested in telling someday, if the opportunity presented itself. The one that had been the most fleshed out was DARK CONGRESS. Strangely enough, I think it's a much more interesting book, with more interesting themes, having written it now than it would have been if I had written it then.

SL: Just how did DARK CONGRESS come about? The last time we spoke, you mentioned you had gotten a bit “Buffy’d out.” Did you contact the publisher about doing a new book, or did they call you?

CG: I had done about thirteen Buffy novels, two video games, a bunch of comics, and various non-fiction projects and the truth is, I *was* Buffy'd out. Still, I had these few things niggling at the back of my brain that I wondered if I'd ever do. But, again, Lisa's departure seemed to coincide so well with my getting extremely busy that it was a natural stopping point. Then, a couple of things happened. Well, first, four years went by. I had a rest from the Buffyverse, and that was nice. Then my two sons became interested in the show and the video games I'd written with Tom Sniegoski, and through their eyes, I started to see all over again how much there was to love there. Not that I had lost any of that love, but I'd gotten kind of burned out. Around the same time, I realized that I had an upcoming hole in my schedule and that if I really wanted to, I would have time to do something. I sent an e-mail to Patrick Price, who runs the program now, and that led to a phone call, and pretty soon we were off and running--me, and Patrick, and my editor on the book, Emily Westlake.

SL: Is the book set during a period of time in Buffy’s history that you particularly enjoy working in, or were you asked to set it at this point in time?

CG: It just felt right, for a number of reasons, to set it post season seven. I think I felt that *I* had moved on, and if I was going to go back and write these characters, it made sense to write them after *they* had also moved on. I haven't actually read any of the work that's been written by others in post season seven. And with Joss bringing the comics back with his own season eight, all I could do was try to go by the few glimpses we've had of that storyline. But the novels have always had their own continuity which is not the same as, but is parallel to and as similar as possible to the official continuity.

SL: Is there any specific character in this story you really enjoyed writing for? For instance, in many of your past books, I always had a sense that you got a real kick writing Giles.

CG: It was sheer pleasure writing Xander again, oddly enough. Especially an older, scarred Xander, still wanting to be the guy he always was, but with the weight of all he's experienced hanging over him. In a way, he reminded me a lot of the future Xander I wrote in THE LOST SLAYER. Then there's one other character who, again, I'm not going to name. At least, not yet.

SL: You’ve said this will most likely be your swan song with the Vampire Slayer. As such, do you plan to go out with a slam-bang Viking funeral? And do you really think you may never write another Buffy story again?

CG: Well, never say never. I've always said the door is not closed. It's all about having the heart for it, and having the time for it, and then having people actually want you to do it. That Faith story is still kicking around in my head. But as anyone will notice, the novels have been fewer and farther between lately. I certainly hope that they continue on, that I haven't come in for a last bow as the curtain draws closed, but whether or not there will still be Buffy novels at some point down the line, if I ever find myself with the time and the desire to do another, only the Oracles know for sure.

SL: You told us in your last SlayerLit interview that one thing you always wanted to do, but couldn’t, was give us Faith in love. Do you plan to include in DARK CONGRESS some other things that you would have liked to have done with Buffy in the past, but for whatever reason, you never had?

CG: Ah, well, Faith in love. Wouldn't that be something? The novel I wanted to write about her focused a lot on her time in prison. None of that Faith stuff is in DARK CONGRESS. There are a few things in here that I always wanted to do, however. Send the Scoobies to Providence, for one. Xander visiting Lovecraft's grave is fun stuff. Really, it's mostly a visit with old friends for me. Micaela Tomasi, who Nancy Holder and I created and Sniegoski and I used in the comics, appears. Having Oz and Faith was a blast. I had wanted to use Spike, but with the Angel/Buffy license situation, it was a bit confusing, so he's left out. I managed to sneak in a scene with the Gentlemen, believe it or not. And then there's that other character I keep mentioning...something I wanted to do for a long time, and I feel a real contentment about getting the chance.

SL: One of my favorite recurring characters in many of your Buffy books is Lucy Hannover, the ghost of a Slayer from the 19th Century. Is there a chance she’ll be popping up in this story…and if so, can we hope she might bring Admiral Nelson, Lord Byron, and Boadicea along for a quick cameo?

CG: Nope. No Lucy Hanover this time around, unfortunately, though I love that character. And no Ghosts of Albion, either. After all, if I wrote them into the book, Fox would own them.

SL: 2006 was a very busy year for you. What more will we see from Christopher Golden in 2007?

CG: In March, Bantam will release THE BORDERKIND, book two of my trilogy THE VEIL. It's a huge, dark fantasy piece that starts very small and grows larger and larger until, in the final volume, it turns into full blown war, crumbling kingdoms, secret destinies, and all kinds of other stuff. It has my love of mythology mixed with a passion for monsters. Then, around Labor Day, you can check out BALTIMORE, OR THE STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER AND THE VAMPIRE, a collaborative project I've done with Mike Mignola. Mike and I wrote it together and he has done 150 illustrations for the book, plus the cover. It'll be out in hardcover from Bantam and the reaction we're getting so far from those who've read it is incredibly gratifying. It's a gothic novel. At the New York Comic-Con at the end of this month, I'm told there will be some limited edition promotional items for the book, and then at Comic-Con International in San Diego in July, Bantam plans to give away a sampler book containing a significant preview. Also, 2007 should see my short story collection, THE SECRET BACKS OF THINGS, but I can't talk any more about that at the moment.

SL: And I have to ask…I know it’s kind of like asking which one of your children do you love the most, but of the many Buffy books you’ve written, is there one in particular you take special pride in?

CG: I like them all for different reasons. THE LOST SLAYER was the most ambitious, and I think it came out very well. PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW is the most unique, and probably the most pleasure to write. But DARK CONGRESS means a great deal to me too. You'll have to read it to find out why.

SL: Chris, I sincerely hope that DARK CONGRESS won’t be your last visit to the Buffyverse, but if it is, I’m glad you’ve been given the opportunity to come back one last time and tell your story. Thanks for talking with us today!

CG: My pleasure, and thank you.