With a second book of essays about our favorite ‘verse, I think Jane Espenson has started a trend. I’ll expect another one of these every year or so. (And somewhere she’s laughing at me…)
Fortunately, laughing comes easy when Jane’s around. Her writing for Buffy, Angel, and Firefly always included wonderful character moments and plenty of humor mixed in with the drama — she wrote the Firefly episode “Shindig,” for those of you coming in late — and in the first book she edited for BenBella’s SmartPop line, “Finding Serenity,” she brought together writers, fans, psychologists, and even a ship’s engineer to talk about what Joss Whedon’s worlds meant to them. Now this one — written with the knowledge gained from the movie — calls on more writers, more fans, a physics professor, a CG guy, and the captain himself to open up a little. (Check out my chapter-by-chapter review here) She stopped by SerenityStuff on her blog tour to answer a few questions for us. Hi Jane!
SS: For “Serenity Found,” did you have a theme in mind? Apart from, you know, “Serenity”?
Jane: I can’t say there was a conscious theme, although I think everyone involved was focused on the idea of perspectives, if you want to call it that. The idea was to get intelligent points of view from as many different angles as possible. I’m really pleased with how there isn’t overlap between the essays — some see the show from the inside, some from the outside, some with an eye to artistic analysis, others to political or social analysis, some looking to fit the show/movie into its larger place in history or sci-fi literature… Every essay has a really different reason to exist and a very individual point to make. So yeah, let’s say “Perspectives.”
SS: There has been a surprisingly large amount of excellent essays and commentary written on this half-season show and movie. Are there any more elements of Firefly/Serenity you’d still like to see explored?
Jane: How about a book about a second movie? Who’s with me?!
Actually, I’m pretty much serious about that. I’m always even more interested in the extension of a world than the analysis of it.
But in terms of analysis, the thing I’m still waiting for is more from Joss about how *he* sees the show now as he looks back at it. For now, we’ll have to glean it from interviews and such, but some day I hope he writes down his take on the show, the movie, and the robust fandom that still thrives.
SS: If “Firefly” had not been cancelled, how would you have worked Jonathan in?
Jane: Ah, Jonathan. It’s hard to get him into space, I guess. But the actor — the delightful Danny Strong — would’ve been great as some sort of surprisingly dangerous foe — maybe an unexpected man from Zoe’s past. Of course, Danny’s all busy now, writing big movies for HBO.
SS: Staff and actors from Whedonverse shows have been spreading out through other TV shows. Have you noticed Joss’ influence on storytelling spreading? Is it some kind of cult thing?
Jane: Hee! I always talk about how Buffy fans, unlike any others I’ve encountered, indulge in the “Cult of the Writer” — how a lot of us continue to get outsized fan love because of our connection to Buffy, in a way that doesn’t happen with alums from other shows. And, yeah, the Dear Leader of that cult is Joss — he’s the one who determined what a Buffy episode was, and in fact, shaped every single story. He sent us all out into our subsequent jobs asking “What’s this story *really* about?” “Why are we telling this story?” “What is the emotional impact of this story on the main character?” “How is our hero taking a heroic action?” So, in that way, certainly, the Buffy Way has spread.
It’s also spread, of course, without any one Buffy alum having to be there to do it. Some Buffy *fans* have shows of their own now, of course, since TV writers were among those who loved the show. I think you see this reflected in the number of pilots that are being written and purchased now in which drama and comedy and a certain self-aware whimsy are mixed.
SS: Were there essays you didn’t use? Enough for, say, a third book?
Jane: I think all the berries went into the pie. If there’s going to be third book (“Serenity Regained”, anyone?), then we’ll have to go out and pick some juicy new essays. I don’t think we’ll run out. There seem to be many ways to look at a firefly.
Unless, of course, your name is April Norton. In that case you just won a free copy of “Serenity Found,” signed by the Jane herself. Congratulations! And thanks to BenBella Books for setting this up. And, you know, for publishing the books. More, please.
Jane is off to her next blog tour stop — here’s the full list — but you can find even more Jane at her blog, one of the best off-the-cuff resources for any screenwriter, aspiring or professional. Several times a week she gives you inside tips on writing spec scripts, answers questions about the industry, and occasionally lets slip some fun tidbits.