Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Buffy Novel (Part I)

In the Spring of 2002, I fell in love. With a t.v. show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The affair started off innocently enough--a friend loaned me the Season One DVDs; but soon enough, things between me and the show were hot and heavy, eventually leading to a pop culture obession the likes of which have never been repeated in my life. This is the story of Hell Frozen Over (www.geocities.com/jhaeman), my unpublished Buffy novel.

In the Spring and early Summer of 2002, I was still living in Lincoln, Nebraska. I had finished law school but knew I would be moving to Toronto with my ex later in the summer, so I had several months of nothing but free time. The idea struck me--why not write a Buffy novel? I had seen several in the stores and it seemed like a fun way to occupy some time.

The first thing I did was figure out how long a Buffy novel should be. I counted the number of words on a few different pages from one of the first published Buffy novels, averaged them out, and then multiplied by the total number of pages in the book and got a total of around 30,000 words. I promptly set to work writing, with a goal of ten 3,000 word chapters.

The plot involved Buffy and her friends getting lured away from Sunnydale with "free tickets" to a largely defunct ski resort. In retrospect, quite Scooby Doo-ish, but at the time it seemed like a clever way to tell a story that hadn't been done before--how does the gang fare outside of Sunnydale and in cold, snowy conditions? The villains, from what I recall, were a nasty corporate-raider vampire and a Pentagon bureaucrat out for revenge, who had outfitted himself with stolen government technology to become a vampire hunter.

Now, when I wrote the novel, I had only seen Season 1 and part of Season 2 on DVD and I fastidiously avoided spoilers. The show itself was up towards Season Six and Angel had also aired a few seasons. I explain this because I had no idea that evil corporate types were a major theme on Angel (Wolfram & Hart) and that high-tech government vampire hunters was the main story arc for Season Four of Buffy (The Initiative). Heck, even the idea of Buffy, et al. encountering snow had been done before (in an episode titled Amends).

Anyway, although I had a great time writing the book, I began to flag a bit there near the end and I was glad when I was finished. I put it away for a few weeks to get ready for the move to Toronto and then, after getting settled in, I poked around on the Internet to see where to submit it. Now, I can't say I had high hopes of getting it published--I knew they must receive a lot of submissions; but on the other hand, I was quite proud of it and thought it had several original ideas and exciting action scenes. But when I found the submission guidelines, I saw they wanted a minimum of 60,000 words--twice what I had written!

How can this climactic cliffhanger be resolved? Find out next time on Jhaeman's Detritus!

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