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Exclusive: LeakyNews Interview with Amber Benson

Amber Benson may be best known for her role as Tara Maclay on the beloved TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but she has always been much more than “just an actress”. Since her time on Buffy, Benson has written, directed, and acted in many films including Chance (2002) and Lovers, Liars & Lunatics (2006).  In 2009 Benson’s first solo novel Death’s Daughter, the first novel in the Calliope Reaper-Jones series, was released. Now the series is comprised of four volumes with a fifth in the works! Leaky News was lucky enough to sit down with Benson at Wizard World Comic Con in Philadelphia.

What is the biggest difference, for you, between the entertainment world and the writing world?

The entertainment world is very much about what you look like, whereas you go into the Young Adult/Adult fiction world and it’s not at all about what you look like; it’s much more about what you want to say and to me that was very appealing. As an actor you are regurgitating somebody else’s words, but as a writer you are creating the world and that’s very enticing.

There has been quite a bit of talk about the Calliope Reaper-Jones novels being developed into a TV series. Anything you can say about that?

We’re in the process of meeting with different production companies and we’ve had a bunch of meetings and it’s been interesting because I want to be involved and that seems to be the holdup. [The Production Companies say] “We’ll take it off your hands, but we don’t want you.”

And what would you ideally like your involvement on the TV series to be?

I would like to be involved with the writing and I would like to learn what it’s like to run a television show. I don’t want to do it all myself. I want to be mentored by someone. I’d like to be part of the process, that’s very appealing, but they [the production companies] don’t want that. They want to take your property and give you some money for it then go do what they want with it and that’s fine, but I want to do other things. I’m not primarily a writer or primarily an actress, I want to do lots of stuff. I don’t want to act in it, but I want to be a part of the making of it.

Other than the TV series, what else are you currently working on?

I’m working on book five in my Calliope Reaper-Jones series right now and then I’m actually working on a boy oriented YA, so I’m excited about that.

Is your new book from a boy’s perspective?

Yes, it’s really fun. I think I like writing male characters better than female characters. I go around with my friend, Sarah Kuhn, we both write very fallible female protagonists and they’re not aspirational. They’re much more their own person and I find that male characters can get away with that, but people get very annoyed with female characters that aren’t aspirational, or aren’t milquetoast, or who make mistakes, or don’t do things right the first time. I really feel like that’s a problem in writing right now, where you can’t have a woman be a real person and I really enjoy writing real people. I hate being harassed about it. I hate people saying “your character is annoying because she makes mistakes” or “she’s annoying because she has a personality, she doesn’t do what I want her to do”.  Well you know, I can do that with a male protagonist in a way that I won’t get lambasted for it.  I want to try that and see what it’s like. It’s a rare thing to be able to write someone other than you, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.

I look forward to reading it. Well, thank you so much.

You’re so welcome, thank you.

You can follow Amber @amber_benson on Twitter. Check out the Calliope Reaper-Jones series and make sure to keep an eye out for her new novel!

  • Katherine

    I think Amber Bensen should be one of our champions. She really understand what it’s like for us (and I’m about to alienate the boys reading, sorry). But she so eloquently speaks about how young adult literature is so important and that it can get girls interested in geek culture. I think that can echo for a lot of us who read leaky news. For me personally (sorry this is getting boring), even side stepping into comic books (which you can still get weird looks for if you’re a girl, even though, duh, lots of girls read comics) comes so easily if you are interested in young adult literature. One author can write Y.A and comics *cough Neil Gaiman* and you’re not going to be put off by the medium because you already trust the author. But you may never have started reading them if you didn’t have that reassurance already. Also Gail Simone; she rocks.

    • Katherine

      and I went and spelled her name wrong. shame on me.

  • Melissa

    Great interview, Chaya!

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