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Amber Benson

Amber Benson - "Death’s Daughter" Novel - Sfbg.com Interview

Saturday 28 March 2009, by Webmaster

Though she’s probably best known for playing Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Amber Benson has kept busy since her three-season stint on the series. A screenwriter, director, and author, she recently released her first solo novel. The first in a trilogy, Death’s Daughter follows Calliope Reaper-Jones as she’s forced to take over for her father (that would be Death) while trying to locate his whereabouts. I spoke to Amber about the origins of the story, her mythologist ambitions, and the future of the series.

San Francisco Bay Guardian: My first question is sort of the obvious one — where did these ideas come from?

Amber Benson: You know, I hadn’t really read a lot of paranormal romance, and then I read Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series, and I was like, this is an awesome genre. I really like it, the paranormal romance-slash-urban fantasy world. And I thought I’d like to try something in that vein. Until then, I’d written mostly horror with a Victorian slant to it, so I started just trying to come up with ideas for something in that genre. And then I was like, well, I love mythology, I love American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Maybe there’s a way to incorporate this mythological sort of context to the paranormal romance. That’s when I came up with the idea of Death’s Daughter. What would happen if death was run like a corporation, and the daughter of Death had to come and take it over because her dad was missing, and she didn’t want any part of it? I guess that’s where the idea came from: working all these things that I liked into a genre I was curious about.

SFBG: So did you end up doing any research, or was this all mythology you were already familiar with?

AB: I love mythology and religion. That’s something that I’ve been interested in since I was a kid. I saw Joseph Campbell’s thing on PBS with Bill Moyers, that big interview, and I was just hooked. And I actually thought for a while that I wanted to be a mythologist. In fact I applied to Berkeley; they had a Celtic Studies department, and I was like, that’s where I want to go. So I was interested in all this stuff, and the research that I ended up doing was mostly on fashion, which is something I know less about. But I’ve learned a lot in the interim. But I tried to incorporate a lot of different mythological stories and characters from different mythological pantheons. I just love the idea that the afterlife has room for everybody’s beliefs. And you know, this isn’t brain surgery — this is easy, fun chick lit. But I wanted to inject a little bit of something heavier into it.

SFBG: Actually one of the things I really liked about the book was that you have Heaven and Hell, but it doesn’t stick to this Judeo-Christian understanding of the two.

AB: Yeah, I wanted all of it in there. Actually the second book deals much more with Egyptian mythology. And then the third one will be its own thing totally.

SFBG: So are they all plotted out already?

AB: Yeah, they’re all plotted out. I’m working on the third one as we speak. The second one is with the editor.

SFBG: Is it daunting writing a trilogy, or is it exciting, knowing that you can tell more of the story?

AB: You know, it’s funny, because I originally just conceived the one book. And it kind of dealt with some of the stuff that’s going to be in all three. But when I sold the book, my editor Ginjer Buchanan was like, no, I want to do three books. So I just sort of picked pieces and said, OK, now this is going to be in book three, and this one will stay in book one, and this’ll be in book two. So it was a little daunting to try to break it into three pieces instead of one. But in a way I’m really glad that she did do it this way, because there was too much story to tell.