'Buffy's' Amber Benson Goes Solo as an Author
Today's cuppa: instant coffee (sacrificing taste to get this post up quickly!)
Since moving on from the role of the witch Tara Maclay on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Amber Benson has added playwright, screenwriter, film director and film producer (and blogger) to her resume ... along with author, having co-written novels and comics.
But now Benson is a a full-fledged solo author, with the February release of her mass-market paperback novel from Penguin USA, called "Death's Daughter." The first of a planned series, it follows the adventures of Calliope Reaper-Jones, who juggles shoe-shopping and online dating with a boring work life.
But when Callie's dad -- who happens to be Death himself -- is kidnapped, and the Devil's Protege decides to begin a hostile takeover of the company, Callie returns to take over as CEO and soon discovers that the family business is harder -- and more dangerous -- than she expected.
Benson grabbed a few minutes from publicizing the book to employ her writing skills to answer some email questions. Enjoy:
Q: What's the biggest difference between writing a screenplay and a novel?
A: Writing a novel is harder for me, because not only are you writing dialogue and plot, you are also creating the sensorial world that your reader (and characters) live in for the duration of the book. You have to do this by using words alone, without help from actors, cinematographers and production designers. It's a huge undertaking, and I am only just beginning to understand and use the medium properly.
Q: What's your writing day like?
A: I get up and go sit in a coffee house or cafe for two or three hours each day. I try and write two thousand words a day -- even if I end up rewriting a bunch of it later. Just getting it down on the page is what's important. I usually sit there, headphones stuffed in my ears, giggling to myself about what I'm writing. I probably embarrass myself a lot.
Q: Is there anything from your years as an actress that is particularly useful in novel-writing?
A: As an actor, you learn what works and what doesn't as far as dialogue is concerned. I think that the years I spent saying other people's bad dialogue for cash helped me write better dialogue myself.
Q: You've chosen subject matter that should appeal to 'Buffy' fans. Was that a conscious choice, or are you naturally attracted to this kind of subject material?
A: I enjoy reading urban fantasy, especially the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris. (HCTV: These novels inspired the HBO series, "True Blood.") They were definitely impetus for creating "Death's Daughter." In the end, I wanted to try my hand at creating an urban fantasy book that was fun and easy to read, but that the other things I'm interested in, like mythology and religion.
Q: Which novelists inspire you?
Q: What's the promotional plan for this novel?
A: I am basically using the social networks Facebook and Twitter to get the word out. I am also blogging and doing a series of book signings in Southern and Northern California.
Q: Will your focus in the future be more on writing projects or acting?
A: I want to continue to do both. Hopefully, I will learn to be a better writer and a better actor and director, the more projects I undertake. I'm striving to do things that interest me, as well as fulfill me from a creative standpoint.
A: I miss writing with Chris Golden! Literally, it was like being at Chris Golden U, because I learned so much about the craft of writing during the process of conceiving and creating the Willow/Tara "Buffy" comics and "The Ghosts of Albion" books and web series. It was really nice to have someone to call if I got stuck on a plot point or was having trouble with a character or scene.
During "Death's Daughter," I didn't have that luxury, so it was a little tough at times to figure out the best way to fix a problem. On the flip side, writing something on your own is pretty gratifying. I know that, for better or worse, every word of the book came from my own imagination -- and that's pretty darn thrilling.
Q: On the tech side, are e-readers like Amazon.com's Kindle the future of books, or, will paper never die?
A: I hope that paper never dies. I love cracking a book's spine, folding over its pages and disappearing into its innards. I get lost in books. I can be anywhere, and if I'm reading, forget about it, I could have a Mack truck barreling down on me, and I'd miss it because I was so engrossed in the book.
On the other hand, I think that Kindle will open up the written word to a whole new audience, so it can't really be the end of the world. Things change, no matter how much we don't want them to, and if we don't embrace the new stuff, well, I think we'll just get left behind. It's as simple as that.
Q: What's the strangest thing someone has asked you at a book-signing? And keep it clean!
A: I signed a girl's arm once ... and she went and got my signature tattooed there permanently. But by far the strangest thing I've ever encountered at a signing was the marriage proposal I got from a very cute young girl at Comic Con one year.