1) Care to share a brief synopsis of the story, and perhaps the inspiration behind it?
STRANGEWOOD is about a man named Thomas Randall whose children's books, "Adventures in Strangewood" are the most popular in the world. The problem is, his recent divorce and his five year old son's response to it have taken precedence. Strangewood is suffering from neglect, and as a result, the characters from Strangewood abduct Thomas's son and bring him into Strangewood. It's filled with some of the craziest characters I could imagine. Actually, it sort of came about because of Winnie The Pooh. I love Pooh Bear, but my older son, who was then about three, was watching it 24/7 and I was just sick of it. I was telling a friend of mine, Hank Wagner, that I'd reached the point where I hoped that warriors on horseback would ride down into the Hundred Acre Wood, skin them all and nail their pelts to trees. Then i thought, hmmmm . . .. and the result was Strangewood.
2) Personally, my heart went out to innocent pawn Nathan, and I just loved the dragon Fiddlestick. Were any of the characters your particular favorite, to write for, to create?
First, let me give credit where credit is due. My son Nicholas mumbled something about the Peanut Butter General one day, which is where that bit of lunacy came from. My good friend and frequent co-author Tom Sniegoski not only gave me the name Mr. Tinklebum, completely spontaneously (probably never imagining what the name would inspire in a character description), but he told me about the bizarre nightmares his wife, LeeAnne, would sometimes have, about screaming oranges with teeth. It's all in there. My favorite character to write would probably have to be Nathan, though I also enjoyed the General and Fiddlestick quite a bit. And Emily. I felt very deeply for Emily.
3) Anything additional about STRANGEWOOD and the worlds within it?
Only that I've always said it was a stand alone, but I recently had an idea for a sequel. Maybe some day.
Now for your in-progress and upcoming works...
ETERNITY of IMMORTAL
4) Immortal, which you co-wrote with Nancy >Holder, is the first hardcover ever for the>Buffy the Vampire Slayer book line. What can you tell us about it?
Not much, to be honest. I don't want to spoil anything. It is the first hardcover, and it was a real pleasure to write. All of the Buffy novels have a specific theme to them, and this one has the ultimate theme: life and death. Mortality and immortality. Buffy goes up against a vampire who is truly immortal, who comes back to life no matter how many times she's dusted. How do you fight that? Also, we learn a little more about Angel's past in this novel. Another interesting element is the introduction of a couple of characters who I certainly plan to use again, and whom other writers in the line may also use. The first is a demon called Tergazzi, kind of a snitch and a black marketeer rolled into one. I liked the weasely demon Faith killed last season, so we invented a new one. The second, and more important, character is Lucy Hanover. Or, rather, Lucy's ghost. She was a 19th century Slayer, mentioned in the opening crawl of the Buffy pilot, and we have referenced her before. (She was the mother of "Child of the Hunt" character, Roland). Her ghost plays a role in Immortal, and in the upcoming storyline I'm writing for the monthly Buffy comic.
5) What is the target audience for the hardcover? Is >it still due out around Halloween 1999?
Actually, the book should be in stores on October 1st. As for target audience? Well, people of all ages watch Buffy, despite what the unenlightened might believe. That's the audience for the novel. That said, however, I do think the themes and such in Immortal (and some of the violence and sexual suggestiveness) make it the most adult of the Buffy novels thus far.
SINS of the FATHER
6) Your first solo BtVS novel, Sins of the Father, is due out in November. What can you tell us about it in advance?
Another tough one. I just don't want to give much away. I will say that it takes place in that late third season gray area where Buffy and Angel were starting to figure out that their love was doomed. Which is when Pike (from the original movie) shows up. In "the Origin" comic book, Dan Brereton and i redefined Pike somewhat. Now, in this novel, he joins the television continuity for the first time. Not that I think Joss will ever use him (though you never know with Joss), but this sort of follows up "the Origin" in revising the pre-Sunnydale events in buffy's life to match the show. Pike is on the run from something particularly nasty, but the creature chasing him ends up getting involved with a much larger and more sinister plot happening in Sunnydale. Can i just say that I LOVE this book?
7) Which character have you found it the hardest to write for? The easiest?
The hardest to write is undoubtedly Oz. He says so little, but everything he says must be both pertinent and clever. That's a tall order for any writer. The easiest? That would have to be Xander. I guess his sense of humor and sarcasm are closest to my own. Cordelia is also fun as is Spike. On the other hand, Drusilla takes real concentration. She's insane, after all.
8) You've described Sins as "gritty". Just how gritty is that?
It seems a bit more intimate, to me. I wanted you to feel like you were in it with them, fighting that fight. And it's a story where people are emotionally hurt, even savaged. Which the show does so well. I'm not sure how gritty it really is, but I guess you'll let me know. : )
BEHIND THE SCENES of BODY of EVIDENCE
9) Switching topics again for a moment, what's the current news on the Jenna Blake front? The books have been extended, the publishers are negotiating with a major film and television studio - How is she handling these newsflashes? :)
Yep. I'm very excited about all of this. I've just finished the fifth book in the series, HEAD GAMES, in which Jenna's life takes another nasty twist. In this one, she goes home for Christmas. That means most of the regular cast, aside from Slick, is sidelined in favor of her friends from home that we've only really heard mentioned before. It's VERY hard for her, trying to cope with these people who look at her as still the girl from high school, when she feels so competent and adult now. But that's a lesson we all go learn. And, yes, we're negotiating right now. I'm waiting for details from the lawyers, but the series is being optioned by one of the largest entertainment companies in the world. Fingers crossed that it will actually be made.
10) The third book, Soul Survivor, comes out in November. Set it up for us.
Oh, SOUL SURVIVOR is the metaphysical one. Of course, it's also really gross and nasty. : ) There are a series of murders, all with the same m.o., in and around the Greater Boston area. Each one has similar ritualistic elements, but, in addition, they all have something different. One has elements of Japanese mysticism, another has ancient Gaulish symbols, and there are Hindu symbols as well. None of it makes any sense. Except, of course, to Jenna.
11) Book four is called Meets the Eye. What's your take on the zombies?
Ahhh, wouldn't YOU like to know? Let's just say, I believe in zombies. But they're not what you think.
12) And the other BoE books in the works . . . ?
There will be at least three more books. SKIN DEEP, BURNING BONES and BRAIN TRUST, and each one is weirder than the last. : )
13) You mentioned a second teen series for Pocket. What's going on with that?
Well, I'm still not saying much about it, because the first book is a long ways off, but I will say that it is an out-and-out horror story. BoE is a s uspense/thriller series, even mystery, but the new series is truly horror, with monsters and nasties and things that go snarl in the night.
SLAY US WITH COMICS
14) The first BtVS annual just came out and included your handiwork. . .
Yeah. the first Buffy story I wrote with my pal Tom Sniegoski. Tom is busy with other things, like the BONE miniseries, but it looks like we're going to be doing a big story for next year's annual as well.
15) What has been your favorite BtVS comic to work on so far, and why?
Hands down, it would have to be Spike & Dru. Both the first one, which I wrote with James Marsters, and the second one, which is due out in October. Working with James was a blast. He's an excellent writer, with a great ear for dialogue, and he adapted to the comics form very quickly. Plus, they're just amazing characters. Other than Buffy herself, they're probably my favorite.
16) BtVS spinoff Angel premieres in October and is setting up merchandise all its own. What's being planned for the monthly Angel comics?
Well, we've been working on it for a long time. The first issue is due out in November, and is part one of a three part story called "Surrogates." Angel gets a new client who was suffering from infertility and went to a clinic for help in conceiving a child. She did, but the doctor said it was stillborn. Problem is, she got a glimpse of it . . . and it just didn't look . . . right. (insert nasty cackle here). It's a very dark story. After that is a single issue story, and then another three issue tale, which deals with demonic possession in a very new, very L.A. kind of way.
17) What story drips behind The Blood of Carthage?
That's the title of the story I'm doing for the Buffy monthly (issues #21-#25). The editor, Scott Allie, wanted me to plot out a comic book story arc the same way I'd plot a novel, and that's what this is. It has the same scope and scale, the same variety of characters, the same historical texture, that I'd put into a Buffy novel . . . but it's comics. It's got demons and vampires and ancient cults and the ghost of Lucy Hanover. And it's got Spike. Always a plus.
18) Immortal's not the only slayworthy work of yours coming out in October. What will Spike and Dru be up to in their second comic excursion?
The second story, "Queen of Hearts," is Spike and Dru on the road to Sunnydale, maybe a week before they first appeared on the show in "School Hard." As usual, Spike wants to have a little fun, and he takes Drusilla to a riverboat casino on the Mississippi. All I'll say is, they're nasty as ever, and Spike doesn't like to lose.
MONSTERS, MONSTERS, EVERYWHERE
19) You're working on BtVS: The Monster Book. Who are your cohorts in crime, and which mischevious monsters have been the most intriguing (or perhaps disgusting) to research thus far?
I'm working on that book with Tom Sniegoski, an excellent writer who happens to know a little TOO much about such things, and with comics legend Stephen R. Bissette, who also happens to be a pop culture writer specializing in horror, and who literally knows more about movies and monsters than anyone I have ever met in my entire life. I'm in excellent company. As for the monsters that have intrigued me the most, I can't really say, but I did love Mr. Pfister, the guy who was made of maggots and worms, from "What's My Line."
NEVER NEVER LAND
20) And, to close the interview, what can you divuldge about Straight On 'Til Morning - if anything?
That's the novel I'm working on now. All I want to say about it at this point is that it's very much a horror story, but it's also a coming of age novel, set in the summer of 1981, and it contains a great deal of autobiographical material. I think it combines the human emotions and other strengths of STRANGEWOOD and the cruelty of the SHADOW SAGA quite nicely.
21) If you had one day of free time, how would you spend it?
Believe it or not, I'd read.
-- Little Willow, Fiddlestick supporter
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