Get Home Before Dark - Interview questions by Danielle
The Monster Guide is a book that's a bit unlike the rest of the non-fiction Buffy series in that it deviates from the usual formula of focusing on the cast and the series itself and takes a sidebar into the monsters and the mythology relating to them. What attracted you to doing this type of a Buffy book?
Christopher Golden: Buffy is a landmark bit of television, no question. The writing, the acting, the stories, all are wonderful. But what made me tune in that very first night was simply this: it was about monsters. Over the seasons I've kept a close eye on the wonderful things Joss and company have done with the various legends of monsters, both out of mythology and pop culture. They've created their own legends, I think. But most people have no idea what the history of monsters really is, and what has gone into the thought process of creating them for the show. That's what this book is about
Was this kind of monster mythology always a topic of interest to you, or did it develop as a result of your involvement with the Buffy series?
CG: Hmm, just answered that. I've loved monsters since I was a very small child. One of the formative experiences of my life was seeing the movie Frankenstein at the age of seven.
This seems appropriate, seeing as it's a monster book, what's your favorite monster on Buffy? Can you pick just one?
CG: Faith. Hands down. As a monster, she's extraordinary. Her story is heart-wrenching. For coolness factor, it'd be Spike. For pure out and out terror? The Gentlemen.
How is the process of writing a nonfiction book different from writing a fictional one? Do you have a preference between the two?
CG: Writing fiction is more creative, of course, but that doesn't mean you don't need a great deal of creativity to write non-fiction. Also, of course, non-fiction is really just getting paid to write about a topic that excites you, and for offering your opinion on it. Which is nice, particularly since a lot of times when I offer my opinion, rather than give me money people tell me to shut up. : ) As for a preference, it's fiction. My original novels are more rewarding than anything else I've done in my admittedly varied career.
I think this is the first time we've seen the trio of Christopher Golden, Stephen Bissette, and Thomas Sniegoski collaborate on a Buffy book. How did this collaboration come about, and would you all work together again?
CG: Yep, it's the first time the three of us have worked together in a group. Steve is a legend in the comics industry as both artist and writer, but he's also the most intuitive, brilliant pop culture journalist I've ever known, and a hell of a fiction writer as well. I first made contact with him, I believe, back in 1990, when I was in the beginning stages of putting together my book CUT!: Horror Writers on Horror Film. It was my first book, my first non-fiction project also, and I won a Bram Stoker Award for it. Steve had a lengthy, amazing essay in that book. I probably first met him at a local horror convention called NECON in 1989, but we didn't really get to know each other until, during the period where I was working on CUT!, Phil Nutman and I went up to visit him. Interestingly, Stanley Wiater, my co-author on the upcoming book THE STEPHEN KING UNIVERSE, was also there that night. Tom Sniegoski and I first met at the World Horror Convention in Connecticut in 1993 or 1994, but we didn't really get to know each other until I worked briefly with Harris Comics in, I think it was 1995. Tom was writing Vampirella at the time, and blowing people away with his version of that character. He had already made a name for himself in comics by then. The situation at Harris turned ugly, but that nasty turn of events also led to us working together for the first time. The rest is sort of history. Since then we've written dozens of comic books together--right up to the current Angel comic book series and the recent Batman: Realworlds--and the Monster Book, of course. Tom is currently writing an ANGEL novel called THE SOUL TRADE that is a nasty, quirky, intensely cool book I think Angel fans will love.
The Monster Book includes a section on the human monster, such as Faith, the rogue vampire slayer. Obviously the Faith character is exaggerated for television, but do you really believe that there is such a thing as a human monster?
CG: Sadly, yes. Too many. Serial killers and pedophiles come to mindimmediately. People think of serial killers and automatically will say they should either be executed (if you believe in capital punishment) or put in jail for life. And yet pedophiles, who literally destroy the lives of the children they rape--sometimes dozens or even hundreds--are looked upon as sick, if they're even made to account for their crimes at all. They're released after far too brief sentences. Look at the statistics, read the essays of activist Andrew Vachss, and you'll realize that pedophiles have a 100% recidivism rate. That means that if you let them out, THEY ARE GOING TO DO IT AGAIN. Even if you don't want to put pedophiles in prison for life, they should never, ever, ever be allowed into a situation where they might be able to arrange to be alone with a child. Never. Once we've done that, we're practically accomplices to whatever horrors befall that child. Are there human monsters? Oh, yes. And pedophiles are far from the only ones.
As a writer, why do you think the genre of monsters and fantasy is so appealing for so many people?
CG: We're afraid of the dark. On the surface of it, it's easy to say that we're afraid of what might be there, lurking in the dark, waiting to attack us. And that's partially true. But I also believe that we're afraid not only of the monsters, but of the possibility that there might NOT BE ANY. See, in a sense, we want there to be monsters. We need there to be. Because if ghosts and vampires and demons don't exist, maybe there's no spirit world at all, nothing beyond this world. And if there's nothing beyond this world, then the only thing waiting for us after death is . . . nothing. Monsters, then, are a comfort to us. We shudder at their approach, shriek at the thought of their touch, but we need them. Oh boy, do we need them.
Who pitched the idea for this book, you or the publisher?
CG: I did.
You've all done work in other sci-fi/fantasy areas. What is it about the Buffy mythology that holds the attraction for you?
CG: Two things. First, that almost all of the monsters stand for something. They represent fears in our daily lives, the kinds of things we might not really talk about. The fear that no one will like us, or that a lover will break our hearts, or that we'll never be loved for what we are, only taunted mercilessly for what we appear to be. Second, that Buffy is such a great example for girls. I don't necessarily mean on a moral level, but on the level of empowerment. I'm only 33, but when I was a kid, there were no television series that I knew of where you had a female leader in an action milieu, and all of the guys deferred to her. That's pretty damn cool.
How long did it take to put The Monster Book together, from conceptualization to finished product? Since it covers all four seasons, it must have been a huge undertaking. How do you go about doing this?
CG: It WAS a huge undertaking. I can't answer the first part of your question, though. I've buried the memory, I think. Let's just say, nowhere near long enough, shall we? As far as the process, that's easier. After the pitch was accepted, I wrote a lengthy outline. I interviewed Joss, many of the writers, and makeup wizard Todd McIntosh. While Steve and Tom broke up the enormous task of researching the ENTIRE history of monsters in pop culture and folklore, each taking separate monsters, I tackled the Buffy end of things, cataloging and commenting on the monsters. Over a period of weeks we all edited one another (and then of course were edited by Lisa Clancy at Pocket Books), and the book took shape.
What's your next project?
CG: Hmm. Well, in October, you'll see my hardcover Spike & Dru novel, PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW. In February, the next book in my Body of Evidence series, SKIN DEEP, hits shelves. Finally, in April, my original, adult novel STRAIGHT ON 'TIL MORNING will be in stores (with a limited, signed, illustrated hardcover edition out in January). For more details, you can always check out my website at www.christophergolden.com
THANK YOU CHRIS GOLDEN! You have no idea how much doing this interview brought a smile to my face! :) - Danielle