I met Amber Benson once. It was in February 2001, at a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Posting Board Party. She was talking to a friend of mine, and thinking she must have been one of the regular posters whom I knew and seeing her in profile, I walked right up to her and put my arm around her shoulders as though we’d known each other since the dawn of time.
Then I realized who she was, and was pretty much in awe that she hadn’t thrown my arm off her shoulder and been all, “We’ve never met. Please don’t touch me.” Because that’s probably what I would have done, had I been in her situation. Instead, she engaged me in a very pleasant conversation.
Amber Benson is both lovely and multi-talented, and thanks to Little Willow of Bildungsroman, she agreed to be one of my interviewees for the Summer Blog Blast Tour this year. While Amber is best-known (among my friends, anyway) for playing Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she has many other credits to her name, including authoring two novels with Christopher Golden (Ghosts of Albion: Accursed and Ghosts of Albion: Astray) and her first solo novel, Death’s Daughter, published this year.
My interviews almost always run exactly seven questions, so here are the seven Amber was kind enough to answer for me:
You have written for several media: film, comic books, theatre, online animation, and novels. What is your favorite thing about each medium?
I love writing plays because they are all about dialogue (one of my fav things ever) and imagination. If you have talented actors, they can take you anywhere without ever leaving the confines of a plain, black stage. Comic books and animated/live action film have a similar draw for me. You work heavily with dialogue, but then you also get to describe all the great action/set pieces that your characters get to play around in/with. Prose is the most challenging thing for me. It incorporates all of the stuff in the other mediums, but then it also adds the element of getting inside the inner monologue of your character/s. For me, writing novels is a real balancing act, but a very rewarding one, too!
How does your experience as an actress inform your writing process?
I think being an actor makes me more aware of character and dialogue. That’s the stuff I’m drawn to as an actor and I think it only informs my writing and makes it better.
Much of your writing has been in genres related to the supernatural. What about that type of story appeals to you?
A good story is a good story, whether you’re reading Dostoevsky or Heinlein. Still, the thing I have always liked about fantasy/scifi is that you can tell a story without preaching or getting up on a soapbox. You can deal with very topical subject matter, but throw it into an alternate world and no one gets offended. It’s really freeing. [For more on this subject, see my interview with Sonja Foust; she feels the same way Amber does.]
Your first solo novel, Death’s Daughter, was released recently. How did writing this alone differ from working with Christopher Golden on the Ghosts of Albion novels?
Writing by myself was really scary at first because I didn’t have anyone to fall back on if I got stuck with a scene or a charcter’s motivation, but as I got further into the writing process, it got much less daunting. Writing with Chris is awesome - and a lot of fun. He really taught me all I know about writing prose. Actually, I feel like I went to Chris Golden’s: Writing 101. He enjoyes the written word and imparted that joy to me!
The Ghosts of Albion novels are Victorian horror, with a sort of Gothic feel to the prose and a distinct voice that fits in with that time period. Death’s Daughter is a very modern novel with a more chick-lit feel. What was it like to make that change?
I love writing in different voices. If I was writing in the same world/voice for more than a few books without any relief, I would get horribly bored. Mixing things up genre and voice/world wise keeps things fresh and interesting for me.
What are your favorite books, comic books, or graphic novels?
Graphic novel: Blankets by Craig Thompson Comic book: Sock Monkey by Tony Millionaire Novel: The Idiot by Dostoevsky
So, you’re an actress, singer, director, producer, and writer. What do you think you’ll do next?
I am working on a middle grade book book called “The New Newbridge Academy” and I just co-directed a film with Adam Busch called “Drones”. I am trying to stay as busy as possible and never have vacation! J/K! :)
Thank you Amber so much for this interview!
Stay tuned here at lectitans, as I’ll be reviewing all three of Amber’s novels over the next few weeks.
Don’t forget the Guys Lit Wire Book Fair for Boys!
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