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Interview with author Christopher Golden

Posted on September 30, 2005 by Flames

How did you get your start as an author?

I had started my first novel in college and, shortly after graduation, I attended a small convention in Rhode Island where I met a number of people who would become influential in my career, including the woman who would become my first agent and Ginjer Buchanan, the woman who eventually bought my first novel, OF SAINTS AND SHADOWS, and subsequently has been the editor of many other books of mine. A lot of writers start with short stories, and I had written a few, but believe it or not, that was my first ever fiction sale.

What differences and/or challenges do you face writing a novel versus writing a comic book?

They are entirely different disciplines. Writing a novel is creating an entire world, with all the texture and visuals and themes and heart contained within the words. In comics, it’s much more collaborative, like writing a film script. You’re providing the skeleton, the structure that the artist will build upon. You still, hopefully, provide much of the theme and heart, but so much of the texture comes in the art, so much of the story is there. Tone and atmosphere are all in the art. The biggest challenge in comics is that very collaboration. Unless you’re very successful and can barter that success for creative freedom, it’s difficult to get what you really want out of a comic book, at least in my experience.

Do you consider horror to be a mood or a genre? Why?

It’s both. Really, they’re too separate things. Horror as a genre contains a great many things. I’ve written a lot of novels that truly are not horror, by my definition, but some have been published as horror. Fine by me, that’s all to do with what the publisher is trying to accomplish in the marketing of the book. But to me, what constitutes a true horror novel is the intention of the author. If the author has set out to terrify the reader, to me, that’s a horror novel.

What advice do you have for hopeful authors out there?

Simple as it sounds, my advice is always the same. Read as much as you can. Write as much as you can. Network, meet people, go to conventions, and get to know your field. And try to find an agent who believes in your work. That last one is the hardest. I’ve been representing myself for the past five years or so, but that would have been very difficult to do at the beginning of my career.

How did you get involved with Buffy and Angel?

I had been speaking with Nancy Holder about the two of us one day collaborating on a book together, but we could never figure out what it ought to be. Then we both watched the Buffy pilot. The morning after it aired, we talked on the phone and said “this is it.” My agent found out who had the rights to do original Buffy novels and we pitched one. They liked our pitch, but the caveat was that we had to write the book in four weeks. We did it in three and a half. The rest is history.

Do you have a favorite episode of Buffy and/or Angel? Why?

Not any one episode. With Buffy I have a handful. “Passion.” “Hush.” “Once More With Feeling.” A few others. With Angel, ironically it was the episode where Darla gives birth to Connor. Amazing stuff. Unfortunately it also signaled the beginning of a disastrous storyline. I hated all the Connor stuff.

What can you tell us about your work on the Hellboy RPG?

Not much to it, actually. I read over some of the material, if I recall correctly, and commented. And I wrote the short story, “Dakini,” that’s in the book. I’m much more involved in the new novel series coming out from Pocket Books, working as editorial coordinator on that, choosing writers, vetting manuscripts, working with Mike to approve outlines, that sort of thing.

What can you tell us about your other Hellboy projects?

In addition to performing editorial coordinator duties on the line of Hellboy novels at Pocket Books, I’m scheduled to write the fourth one in that series. It’s tentatively called HELLBOY: THE DRAGON POOL. I also have a non-Hellboy project in the works with Mike Mignola, but it’s a bit premature to get into detail on that.

What challenges do you face when writing for established settings like Buffy, Hellboy and X-Men?

My attitude with any media property is to deal with the characters just as I would my own original characters. I try always to approach them as though they’re real people, three dimensional, and to look at their motivations and relationships. If all a writer does with work for hire properties is put the characters through their paces, what’s the point?

What can you tell us about Ghosts of Albion?

Ghosts of Albion began its life as an online animated series Amber Benson and I wrote for the BBC. We did two hours of animation, serialized, focusing on Tamara and William Swift, who have just inherited the power and responsibility of the Protector of Albion. That means they’re suddenly the most powerful sorcerers in England and they’ve got to protect their homeland from the forces of darkness. It’s a blast, really. It’s set in early Victorian England and its filled with demons and ghosts and zombies and dragons and fairies and vampires and every other thing you can think of. Plus, sex, and some funny as well. We had the greatest voice cast for the animation, including Anthony Daniels and Emma Samms. It was just a blast. Now we’ve written the first GHOSTS OF ALBION novel, ACCURSED, and it hits stores on October 25th. Amber and I are thrilled. You should go check out the new website, www.ghostsofalbion.net when it goes live on October 1st.

What can we expect to see in the Ghosts of Albion RPG?

Everything that’s in the animation and the novels and more. Truly, everything that Eden and the game writer Timothy Brannan have done is extraordinary. They’ve added history and depth and texture to this thing that’s so much more profound than what we’ve been able to accomplish. Garner Johnson and Tim have been leading test games at conventions and all of the feedback is basically saying that this is the best game any of these people have played in years. It has EVERYTHING. You can play as all different sorts of characters, from Protectors and priests, to fairies and vampires, to ordinary magicians. The landscape for this game, I can honestly say, rivals any other fantasy or horror game out there, simply because it includes all of those things in one game. One stop shopping, as it were.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on the second novel of a new trilogy I’m doing for Bantam. The first book, THE MYTH HUNTERS, is due out in January. And I’ve just written the novelization of Peter Jackson’s KING KONG, which is due out, obviously, in December. Meanwhile, check out my website for more information at www.christophergolden.com

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