An interview with Amber Benson


AE: Did you watch The L Word? And who was your favorite character?

I did, and I really liked Mia Kirshner’s character. I’m blanking on the character’s name right now, but she was this sort of innocent straight girl who was introduced to this whole new lesbian world.

AE: Jenny, the writer!

Yes, you see it through her eyes — this whole other world exists that she didn’t even really know about. That was kind of the perspective that I had going into Buffy. There was this whole other world that I wasn’t really a part of, but that I thought was full of totally interesting and cool people.

AE: And like Jenny, you are also a writer. So let’s talk about your books. How did you start writing? Did you just decide that you were going to write a novel?

I’d written a couple of comic books with an author named Christopher Golden, who I think of as my mentor, and that led to doing an animated show for the BBC together. The show did really well and we were approached by Random House to novelize the universe we’d created for the show, and that’s kind of how I fell in love with writing prose.

AE: There are a lot of pop culture references and it really feels like I am talking to you when I’m reading it.

Well, good, that’s what I was going for. It’s kind of stream of consciousness and should make you laugh. It’s not brain surgery, you know? It’s supposed to be silly and irreverent.

AE: Did you have the main character of Death’s Daughter, Calliope, in mind? How did you come up with her? Was there influence from characters that you have played?

Even before I worked on Buffy, I’d been a fantasy and science fiction fan, so I definitely gravitated to that world. Plus, I knew it was something I already had purchase in because I’d worked in that genre with Chris.

I had the idea for the first Calliope Reaper-Jones book, Death’s Daughter, and I just started writing it. I wanted to create a world where all religions coexisted as one. Personally, I just don’t understand how one religion can be right, if it makes all the other religions wrong. So, I wrote a book where they could all exist together.

AE: Well your dad is Jewish and your mom is Christian, right?

Yes, my dad is Jewish and my mom was born Southern Baptist and then my grandparents became Born Again. All that stuff is very intriguing to me. When your Grandmother comes to visit and teaches you Psalms and talks about the Blood of Lamb while she’s doing carpool duty and driving all the Jewish kids to Temple Sunday School — well, it’s a bit confusing. My mom’s friend once said to her, “I always know when your parents are in town because your kids get into my car talking about Jesus.”

For me, there have to be aspects of each religion that have merit. The mythologist Joseph Campbell says there are more similarities between the world different mythologies then there are differences. I wanted to create a world based on that precept and the fact that human beings had a hand in creating myth and religion, well, that kind of plays into the book, too.

AE: And last night you finished the third book. Did you know how it was going to end?

I knew how I wanted it to end, but I wasn’t sure it was gonna go that way. Sometimes things change because the characters don’t want to do what I want them to do. Originally the series was plotted as a trilogy, but it looks like I may do a fourth book, so I had to go back in and change a couple of things, make the ending a bit less tidy, not tie up every loose end — which is what I’d originally done, and is which is why the book is a little late getting to my editor. I had to go back in and untie things. I wanted to leave a few plot threads hanging.

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