Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Amber Benson and Kathryn Leigh Scott Actresses and Writers

You may remember I discussed Amber Benson's first Calliope Reaper-Jones novel, Death's Daughter in August 2009.


Amber Benson played Tara on Buffy, a character who stole the show as layers of her background were peeled away to reveal startling and unexpected truths.

I met her on Twitter -- @Amber_Benson  -- check her out!

Since then she has had a second novel in her series published titled Cat's Claw-- and they're GOOD.

There are few writers whose novels pass all my technical craft tests (even Mass Market published writers), the attributes I talk about here in my posts about craft.  Amber Benson does. 

She has some prior books she's contributed to, which I haven't read yet, so take a look here:

Amber Benson

Amber Benson has a very distinctive writer's "voice" that is pleasant even when speaking (in the first person) for a tough-as-nails woman, or a woman who is soon to become as tough as nails.

See next week's entry here "Source of the Expository Lump Part 2" for more on Voice and how to find yours.

Benson handles the ugly truth of the world straight, with no compromises, but reading these stories doesn't make you feel ugly.  She makes her readers feel good about themselves.  It's an odd and very valuable talent, and to me that effect creates a dimension of realism indispensable in a Fantasy novel.

But it's also a rare talent.  Now I've found someone else who writes with that kind of a pleasant "voice" that is very easy to read even when confronting the ugliest aspects of the world.

She is, like Benson, also an actress with a TV series that has to be a favorite among readers of this blog, Dark Shadows.

Kathryn Leigh Scott played Barnabus Collins' bride on Dark Shadows.

Now Kathryn has done something unique that you should take note of if you are at all interested in PNR.

Kathryn created a new, original Urban Fantasy universe, a parallel world perhaps, where a young would-be actress (very different from herself) goes to New York to seek her fame and glory.

And she does two things Kathryn actually did.  She works as a Playboy Bunny serving drinks (giving us a glimpse of a real world as it was decades ago), and she lands a minor part in a startup afternoon soap opera TV show to be broadcast live.

This is both urban fantasy and historical novel, as the detail depicted of that era of live-TV afternoon soaps distributed by kinescope is extremely accurate but written without any expository lumps.

I will talk a bit about expository lumps again next week because it has a lot to do with Voice.

For now I want to point you to Dark Passages, this treasure of a novel about a parallel universe "Dark Shadows" TV show, and a young woman with Vampiric type supernatural powers she is determined not to use to 'get ahead' in The Industry.

Here is a link to a group of books by Kathryn Leigh Scott.  One is titled DARK SHADOWS.

Dark Passages leads to a list of some of her books.

But the one I'd like you to pay attention to is Dark Passages:

Dark Passages  this link leads to a single novel. 

Dark Passages is billed as a Romance, but it's not strictly speaking, PNR.  The plot is driven by personal Relationship, and it's definitely what I call Intimate Adventure Genre, but I think the real Romance part will develop in what I hope will be a number of sequels.

I found @Dark_Passages on twitter -- I think when they followed me ( @jlichtenberg ) and I looked at the little bio and followed back.  Or I may have gotten an email from the publicist.  I did get a two-page promo for the novel done as a pdf file which I read on my iPod Touch and wrote back and asked for the full novel.

You will note I've been blogging here about the place of social networking in a writer's modern life.

 Before I wrote this blog entry, I asked @Amber_Benson (whose byline is Amber Benson ) via public twitter post  if she knew Kathryn Leigh Scott personally.  Amber answered publicly that she knew someone who does know Kathryn and has a very high opinion of her work.  I hope this post will introduce these two extraordinary women.  They really should collaborate! 
You might also want to follow the twitter account @Dark_Passages which is how I encountered Kathryn Leigh Scott and ended up with her publisher sending me a review copy of this novel -- which I couldn't wait to read.  They sent me an ARC, I devoured it, and this post is only a few weeks after the publication date.

Dark Passages is written in that very pleasant "voice" that makes you feel good about yourself.  The characters are totally absorbing, the historical background sketched with elegantly chosen detail.

There are no boring sections to this novel.  But it's not an action novel.  It's a story about a very realistic supernatural person, young Meg, on a relentlessly logical karmic path to stardom.  It has one tiny gliche at the end which I won't discuss here because it would be a "spoiler."  But here's a clue -- one scene should have been moved to occur after another scene which should have been much longer and more complex.  Read this book and find that tiny glitch if you can.

Study Dark Passages, find the scenes that should have been in reverse order, and contrast/compare it to the Calliope Reaper-Jones novels which don't have a glitch like that.

Read my series on What's An Editor, and you will see that asking a writer to reverse two scenes is what Editors do for a living.


is the final post in that sequence on Editing and has links to the prior ones in the series.

Here's what an editor would see comparing the Calliope Reaper-Jones novels to Dark Passages.

The Reaper-Jones novels have a stronger "action" structure and the action itself provides the plot-driving energy.

Dark Passages has a plot driven by the Relationships, the suspense provided by an enemy stalking the main character because of a generations long vendetta against her family, and by the main character's ability to evoke caring from those she meets.

The flinty, hardened, actors and seasoned Playboy Bunnies, care about Meg, even though they don't know she drinks blood from animals in the park and would suck them dry in a moment were her self-control to fail.

And it seemed to me Meg had no clue how much the people she meets care about her.

She comes from a small-town, growing up on an isolated farm with a warm, caring family.  In fact, her background profile is pretty much like Clark Kent's!

Dark Passages is a heart-melting historical Vampire novel.  You don't want to miss this one.

And if you've missed the Reaper-Jones novels, pick up a copy.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

No comments:

Post a Comment