Saturday, February 28, 2009

Exclusive Interview: Angel's Kelley Armstrong Answers Our Questions and Yours

**Spoilers for Angel: Aftermath**

Our first interview with Kelley Armstrong was actually the first we ever had on Buffyfest, so we definitely hold her near and dear to our hearts and want to give a big thanks for giving us her time once again. Kelley already has a fanbase all its own from her successful Otherworld series. Now, with the premier issue of Angel:Aftermath dropping this past Wednesday, she has a whole new fandom to get used to. What better way to do that than by giving readers a chance to ask Kelley their own questions too, which you'll find after the jump. Thanks to all of you who participated.

Buffyfest: Which character do you find the easiest to write for in Angel: Aftermath? Which is the hardest? Why?

Kelley Armstrong: Angel would be easiest in the sense that I feel fairly confident in writing him, though I worry about getting him just right. The toughest would be Gwen because I find her viewpoint hardest to understand, but I want to explore it.

B: On that note, do you ever look back at the TV show for references or clues into the character's nuances when writing the comic?

KA: I've rewatched the whole TV series since agreeing to do this. I'm not sure how much it helped. In some ways, I think it panicked me a bit--I'd be watching season 4 and see a reference to season 1 and draw a complete blank on it, then start worrying about what I'd forget when I wrote my story arc. It's like studying for an exam and realizing not matter how many times you go over it, you'll never remember everything covered.

B: There have been a lot of characters from Angel: After the Fall who have not made it into Aftermath. Which character would you like to have a chance to write if they could be brought back into your series?

KA: It would be a toss-up between Fred and Spike. There were a lot of characters I couldn't use for various reasons, and they were two.

B: Many fans have been talking about the line Angel says within the first few pages while fighting off a demon, "I've redeemed my past." Has he really learned to accept his past? How do you think Angel's personal view of himself has changed since the end of season 5 and his experience in hell? [credit to Buffyfantic who submitted a very similar question and also says "Very nice first issue."]

KA: I think he has redeemed himself, between the work he did in the TV series and After the Fall. The question is whether he believes it or he's just paying lip service to the notion. Either way, he's in a position of not quite knowing where to go next, so this story is about Angel (and most of the characters) in a state of flux, searching for their way.

B: Kate seems decidedly different since we last saw her in "First Night" both in personality and clothing choice! Will there be backstory revealed on what happened to her in Hell-A? [Credit to AndrewCrossett who submitted a very similar question.]

KA: I know what I think happened to her, but that backstory doesn't come out in this story. Aftermath starts with characters who are all a little lost...all except Kate, whose experiences in Hell-A showed her exactly what she wanted to do with her life. So we get a very happy Kate here, in contrast to the other characters. Whether she stays that way is another question. As for the clothing choice, that's the artist, but I think the new Kate would approve. :)

B: Angel and Kate start the new Angel Inc. in a church. Where did that idea come from? Why didn't Angel go back to the Hyperion?

KA: Aftermath really is about starting over. For some, like Lorne, they want to go back to exactly where they were. For others, like Angel, they want to go back, but not completely. There are a lot of memories at the Hyperion and Angel isn't ready to deal with that. In this, he wants a fresh start. Why a church? A thematic choice.

B: Connor is looking for a job, is he no longer attending Stanford?

KA: Again, Connor is someone who isn't the same and who's learned a lot about himself and what he does (or doesn't) want from life. There will be more on that in the next issue. I just couldn't imagine Connor, after everything that happened in Aftermath, thinking "You know what I really want? To go back to college." It's too different a mental place for him right now, if that makes sense.

B: Wolfram & Hart are still M.I.A. Any chance they'll be back during Aftermath or will Angel and co. be dealing with a whole new set of enemies?

KA: I left W&H out of this one. It was a compromise. Being new to writing for Angel, I was worried that if I brought in too much of the "big" stuff from the series, I'd screw up worse than I was already going to, getting even more wrong and pissing off even more fans, no matter how much research I did.

B: What do you find the most surprising aspect of writing comics? Is there anything that you weren't expecting out of this experience that has happened or vice versa?

KA: I don't know about most surprising. I've dabbled with the form before, so there was nothing new there. What was new was writing in someone else's universe, and it taught me a lot, namely that however big a fan I consider myself, it's such a complex world that I struggled at times, knowing I was going to make mistakes. I hate continuity errors in a series. I'm paranoid about them in my own work, with a series bible to remind myself and a half-dozen beta readers making sure I don't miss something.

Again, thank you very much to the always lovely Kelley Armstrong for doing this interview with us and check out Angel: Aftermath if you haven't already. Continue reading below to see the answers to all the fan-submitted questions like: The status of Angel's Shanshu prophecy, why Kelley loves Willow so much and whether Buffy will be showing up in Aftermath or not!
Continue Reading...

Fan Questions submitted to Buffyfest:

Ryan wrote: Without her electric powers, assuming the LISA device still works, does this mean Gwen's main role in Aftermath is less battle savvy, to explore the "aftermath" of her betrayal and feelings for Connor?

KA: Yes, she's definitely going to be less battle-savvy here. They particularly want her watching their backs....if they want her around at all.

Elena wrote: Do you plan to mention shanshu again or do you think that the window of opportunity has closed?

KA: Oh, it's still there. Part of what we'll see in Aftermath is Angel dealing with the whole concept of prophesies and the role they play in his life.

Anonymous wrote: Nice way to set up the change in theme, :) a theme that seems to be saying "back to the beginning". If we are heading back to the beginning, any chance we might see Angel mention Buffy? Is there ANY chance that she could cross-over? Or maybe another BTVS character? Like Giles?

KA: No, there isn't, as much as I would love to. It's a rights issue. One company holds rights to the Buffy comics and another to Angel, so that was one firm restriction I was working under--no cross-over with characters from that series.

Thorn Of Gachnar wrote: Cordelia Chase is on a cover for #21, so is there is a good chance that she may be appearing again? Are you a fan of her and is there any way you can confirm that she is back without spoiling your work? Thank-you.

KA: Mmm. Yes, she will return, but it will be a fairly...restricted return.

Blade wrote: Just wondering if you'd heard anything about any crossover type moments with the events of the Buffy comic you'll be allowed to address? For example (and I know you can't give specifics), would there ever be a situation where Angel might comment on what's going on with his former employee Harmony?

KA: I'm sure I'd be allowed to comment on what's happening over there, as long as I didn't show it. One problem I've found so far, though, is that I have this mega-list of "stuff I'd love to do" that isn't fitting into the story-line, as hard as I try. I find the same thing with my novel series. I work with a huge revolving cast of characters there, so I always want to give little updates on the characters who aren't part of the current novel...and my editor keeps slashing them out with "Kelley, that isn't part of THIS story" So I've been well-trained. If the update doesn't arise organically from the current story, it stays out.

Enisy wrote: Which of your original characters are you most proud of? Are we going to see any payoff for Lindsey's murder on Lorne's or Angel's part, or has that ship sailed? You've said your favorite Angel character was Fred; who was your favorite Buffy character?

KA: For original characters, I'm going to guess you mean ones I created for this comic, and there's only two, so while I'm tempted to choose, that might give away spoilers! We aren't going to see more of Lorne here, so that issue won't be addressed. I'd considered it, but in my mind, Lorne would be the "character most in need of a rest," just wanting to get away from everything and everyone for a while. My favourite Buffy character? Hard to pick, but I was always partial to Willow, probably because I'm a former computer programmer.

Allycat wrote: I know the series won't carry the subtitle "Aftermath", but I thought that at least would be the name of the arc. I couldn't find it anywhere in the issue. Have they/you decided not to name the issues?

KA: I wasn't sure myself so I had to check! Apparently, they dropped the After the Fall title from the last few issues (which I saw in PDF so I didn't notice). While the title isn't going on the covers, my arc is still called Angel: Aftermath. Which is good, because that's what I've been calling it!

Craigoxbrow wrote: After the pretty straight-faced After the Fall, "Aftermath" already seems quite a bit lighter and more comedic. Is this going to run through the story?

KA: No, it won't continue. One problem I faced with starting Aftermath is that I was following an amazingly high-impact story, chock full of great action sequences and world-altering stakes. And my story won't be like that. It can't be--it wouldn't make sense to solve that and jump into something just as big. The characters need time to recover and find their footing again. So I decided to signal the change with a lighter issue, like sherbet between courses to cleanse the palate and prepare fans for a different tone. That first issue really lent itself to that tone. (Come on, how could I resist playing with "Angel as celebrity"?) While there will be a lighter tone overall, it's going to get more serious--just don't expect the heavy-duty action of After the Fall, please!

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