BODY of EVIDENCE
1) What inspired you to create the "Body of Evidence" series?
Publishers have a category called "young adult fiction." When it was originally introduced, it was meant to be for, let's say, twelve to sixteen year olds. Over time, the kinds of books that were put out sort of slid down the age level until they were being written for and marketed to ten to thirteen year olds. With BODY OF EVIDENCE, the goal was to create something cool that would appeal to readers from fourteen to twenty, although of course we hope older readers will be intrigued as well. That's why the main character, JENNA BLAKE, is a freshman in college. We really felt there was a gap between what was traditionally YA and other mystery and suspense books. A lot of the main characters in adult mystery are much older and therefore harder for high school and college age readers to relate to.
2) The first book in the series is called "Body Bags" - Care to set it up for everyone?
Well, since it's the first book, we deal with Jenna arriving at college for orientation and all that. Her parents are divorced, and her father, whom she doesn't know very well, is a professor on campus. He encourages her to start thinking about the future. If she wants or needs to work, he believes, she should get a professional job instead of working in the local video store. See, Jenna's mother is a surgeon and her father is a criminology professor. She'd like to be a doctor herself, but she can't stand to see someone bleed, and she has a horrible fear that she might accidentally kill a patient. "What if the patients were already dead?" her father asks. Which is how she ends up getting a job as a pathology assistant at Somerset Medical Center, helping out the Medical Examiner. On her very first day of class, Jenna sees one of her teachers go berserk, kill a student, and then inexplicably die himself. On the second day, she assists at his autopsy, and the mystery unfolds from there.
3) The second book is titled "Thief of Hearts". Is that in the literal sense?
Oooohhh, yeah. In fact, in the second book, Jenna learns several very difficult lessons about trust and love, and life in general. She loses someone very close to her.
4) What is your target audience of the "BoE" series?
My hope would be that anyone who's into a cool story would pick them up. Sure, our main character's an eighteen year old female college student, sort of Dana Scully in college, if you want to look at it that way. But you don't have to BE Jenna Blake to get into the stories. These are not only cool mysteries, but they are WEIRD thrillers as well. Nothing supernatural will go on (at least as far as I can tell so far), but the science involved is very much "weird science." Plus, there's a lot of Jenna just dealing with college, starting life over, making new friends, dating (or not), falling for an older guy, dealing with family, stressing over classes. And the cast has some pretty fun supporting characters also, who'll go through their share of dramatic and romantic storylines. One of my favorite characters is Slick, the medical examiner. He's an odd guy, but you'll have to see for yourself.
5) How would you describe Jenna Blake?
The millenium girl. She's trying to figure out what her future will be, what her life will be like, who her friends ought to be, whether or not she'll have love in her life. She likes a party as much as the next eighteen year old, but she also wants to succeed. She is not a slacker. She's generation Z, maybe. Jenna likes to read. A lot. She likes puzzles and theater, and used to play the piano but got lazy and isn't very good at it now. She had some very tight friends in high school, and she's dealing with moving on, finding new ones, discovering that she's kind of a flirt now that she's in this adult setting, when she never really was before. Jenna's NOT the kind of person everyone notices. She's not a spotlight queen. But she is the kind of person who draws the admiration of those who get close enough to know her. She's the kind of girl who makes her parents' generation feel very old. She's bright and attractive and good humored and too damned headstrong for her own good. And it's going to get her in a great deal of trouble.
6) How often can we expect to see new "BoE" thrillers arriving in local bookstores?
Right now, they're scheduled to be out on a quarterly basis. BODY BAGS is out in May, THIEF OF HEARTS in August, SOUL SURVIVOR in November, and MEETS THE EYES in February. And yes, there's a theme to the titles. After that, we'll see.
BUFFY the VAMPIRE SLAYER
7) How did you get involved with the "BtVS" books?
Nancy Holder and I had been friends for a number of years, and spoke regularly on the phone. We had always wanted to collaborate on something. After the pilot of BUFFY aired, we spoke the next day and were insane with excitement. We loved the show, and Nancy said she'd look into who had the book publishing rights. A couple of weeks later, she figured it out, our agents made calls, and within a couple of days, we had the gig to write HALLOWEEN RAIN. We just loved the show, it was that simple. Otherwise, we would never have agreed to the insane deadline on that book. The publisher wanted it in four weeks, and Nancy and I did it in three and a half. Our editor, Lisa Clancy, told us later that she never believed we'd get it done in time. But Nancy and I both take deadlines very seriously. Since then we've written a lot of other Buffy books together, including BLOODED, CHILD OF THE HUNT, and THE WATCHER'S GUIDE.
8) "The Gatekeeper Trilogy", written by yourself and Nancy Holder, is jam-packed with familiar "BtVS" characters as well as various demons. How did you manage to keep track of them all?
Well, we did have an outline for each book, but I have to say, it wasn't easy. There were also some creatures, like the Beast of Gevauden, that were in the early drafts but didn't make the final edit.
9) What's the plot of your upcoming solo "BtVS" novel, "Sins of the Father"?
Wouldn't YOU like to know. I'll tell you this much. Sins of the Father features several threats that appear to be aimed at Giles, as well as the return of someone from Buffy's past, with whom she was very intimate . . . ALL RIGHT, it's Pike, from the movie, and who I wrote about in "the Origin" comic book.
10) Do you have any anecdotes from interviews or research that went into "The Watcher's Guide"?
Hmm. What can I tell you that's "clean?" I have far too many anecdotes to share. One of the coolest moments, I guess, was sitting behind Joss and Sarah and Marti Noxon during the filming of the scene from the season two finale in which Spike and Buffy agree to join forces. Right before the scene was being shot, James Marsters asked me to run lines with him. So here I am, reading Buffy's lines (the visual humor of that is HUGE), with James rehearsing his own lines. It was pretty funny.
As far as other moments -- Nancy spent an hour alone with Tony Head in his trailer. Apparently she found him a fascinating interview subject. *LOL* Of course it was perfectly professional, but I had to give her a hard time anyway.
Also, I should say that both John Ritter and Seth Green said a number of things in their interviews that had to be removed. I fought NOT to cut John's, because it was damned funny, but Seth was just wonderfully perverse. He knew it was the "official" book, and that Fox would cut out anything gross, so he was just nuts. He had me laughing so hard I could hardly conduct the interview. I won't even repeat what he said, but ask me in person some time, and I'll be happy to.
11) You and Nancy have two very other unique joint "BtVS" projects lined up -- the first hardcover book, "Immortal", and the Yearbook. Any little hints you can give just yet about either one?
Well, the yearbook will be out in September, but believe it or not, there are still some questions about what it will actually contain. Most of the work has been done, but we'll see. It is the official Sunnydale High Yearbook, however.
Immortal will be out in October for Halloween, and what I can tell you is this: it contains the kind of history and evil that Nancy and I love to explore with Buffy, but it also has a side story that forces Buffy to examine mortality and immortality in a light that she really hasn't before.
12) Which BtVS character are you most like? (or) Which BtVS character would you most like to be?
Well, I think I have more confidence that he does, but I'm thirty-one. In high school, I wasn't nearly as confident. I'd have to say I'm most like Xander. I understand him. He tries too hard, and I get that. As far as which of them I'd most like to be, I'd have to say none of them. Though they manage to find happiness, think about what they face every day. On the other hand, Oz is the coolest.
13) Is "Strangewood" as strange as the title implies?
Yes and no. It's an odd mix, I think, of dark fantasy, and real human drama. It's about a family being torn apart by divorce, and the pain that's involved in that, and the guilt of the main character, who is the father involved. He's the creator of the most popular series of children's books in the world, ADVENTURES IN STRANGEWOOD, and when he begins to neglect his work in favor of dealing with his son and ex-wife, he is haunted, even terrorized, by the creations of his imagination . . . or are they his creations at all? (MWA HAH HAH!)
14) Who do you think "Strangewood" will appeal to?
I hope everyone. This is the book I've been waiting my entire life to write, the one that most reflects the kinds of stories I want to tell, and the things that matter to me. I think one good sign about its appeal is the different writers who have given me quotes of support after reading the manuscript. First and foremost, there's Peter Straub, the author of Ghost Story, The Hellfire Club, and so many others. His quote was wonderful and receiving it via e-mail was one of the most sublime moments of my life. I also have quotes from Kevin J. Anderson of Star Wars fame, and F. Paul Wilson. In various quotes, STRANGEWOOD has been compared to the work of Stephen King, Clive Barker, L. Frank Baum and Lewis Carroll. I don't buy any of it, but the fact that these writers I so respect and admire have made those comparisons thrills me beyond belief.
I guess that doesn't really answer the question. I suppose the real answer is, though there are darker elements, it's a book I think will appeal to anyone who loves to read.
15) If you weren't writing, what career might you be persuing?
Hmm. Before I went freelance, I worked as the Licensing Manager for Billboard magazine. I suppose I'd still be in the entertainment business on some level, but who knows?
16) Which is your favorite genre to write for -- sci-fi, horror, mystery, TV-related?
Actually, you didn't mention it. I prefer fantasy. That doesn't mean sword-and-sorcery to me, though. It means stories where imagination takes the world we know and twists it around to be shown in a different light. And, yes, I like monsters.
17) How long does it take you to write an average-length novel?
That's a tricky question. How much time do I have? For the most part, an adult media tie-in novel is usually written in about ten weeks, but not by choice. The books would be better if the publisher allowed more time, but I feel confident of the job I've done on things I've had short deadlines on. Well, with one exception, but we won't discuss that.
For an original novel, one of my own, that's a completely different story. Those unfold at sort of their own speed. Let's say four months, though ideally I'd like to take longer there as well.
18) What other authors or types of mediums do you draw inspiration from? (I know yuo love comics.)
Writers and other entertainers draw inspiration from EVERYTHING. Let's call it frame of reference. Everything I write is informed by my frame of reference, the people I've known, the experiences I've had, the movies and tv shows I've seen, the books and comic books I've read. I love comics because at their fundamental level, they're more about good and evil than your average novel. That's probably why I like horror novels as well. The battle between good and evil has always been the most fascinating theme in the world to me. Both externally and within oneself. As for individual authors who've inspired me, the list would be just too long, but it would include Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, Tolkien, Stephen King, Peter Straub, Clive Barker, Larry McMurtry, Joe R. Lansdale, Tim Powers, Robert Holdstock, Jonathan Carroll, Carol O'Connell, and Laurie R. King.
19) Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Read. Write. Get an agent.
20) Okay, Christopher, I have to ask -- If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why?
I'd be Yggdrasil, the World Tree of Norse mythology, 'cause I want my branches to be everywhere!
-- exclusive interview conducted by Little Willow, part tree
For more information about Christopher Golden and his fantastic books, visit http://www.christophergolden.com