Rebecca Dessertine: Turning 'Supernatural' Into Print
Supernatural fans are probably already paging through the CW show's latest tie-in novel, One Year Gone, which hit bookstores yesterday. I sat down with the author, Rebecca Dessertine - who is also the assistant to series creator Eric Kripke - to talk about the process of penning a tie-in to a cult TV series, and her experiences working on the show.
Let's start at the beginning: how did you get involved with writing one of these novels? Was it your idea or were you approached?
I've worked on the show for almost four years, and I was like, "How does one do one?" and that's sort of how the process started. I can't actually remember; it was a natural progression considering I was the one vetting the ideas from all the other novelists. I was sort of involved with it in the first place.
What made you want to tell this particular story?
I knew coming back last year, between season five and season six, that we were going to be jumping ahead a year. Depending on what the show was going to cover, I knew that I could explore that year a little more in depth, and not come up with a monster of the week the show would maybe wanna do, and end up going over it. It was going to be a fun and important place to start. As we went through the season, we saw some flashbacks but we didn't get to see a lot, so I sort of wanted to explore the characters.
Once you got the gig, what was your creative process?
I sent the logline to the publisher and they liked it, then I vetted it with Eric and Sera [Gamble]. I might have done a twenty-page outline, a chapter-by-chapter type thing. On a TV show, you have to write the outline, because the outline gets read by the studio and the network anyway, so it's difficult but it's going to show you all your problems. Then I went off and wrote.
Who would you say were your biggest influences?
That's a pretty good question. I don't have one influence per se; I don't think I have enough of a voice to have one influence, but I know what I like. Right now, I'm super into the Hunger Games [series]. As a kid, I liked Madeline L'Engle and George Orwell. I'll just go in and out of who I'm jiving on. I'd love to be super well-read.
Let's talk about making the translation from TV show to novel form. Did you find that difficult at all? As a screenwriter myself, when I've written my novels, I always see elements of my screenwriting in the prose.
I feel like I have an fortunate advantage, being so close to the show, so the novel came sort of easily. Normally with spin-off things, the person writing them is not as close to the show, so I had the extra ability to always be here. It wasn't a hard transition. I actually feel for the other people who do our other spin-off novels, because it's a lot of work.
You're writing a novel that has to fit into what's been established over several years of the TV series. How did you work with the canon?
You just have to respect everything. You don't want to change anything. That's the show's job. What you want to do with the novel is just add a little bit for the fans.
How much did your experience with the show inform the writing? Were you thinking of the actors when you were writing for the characters?
I think, especially doing a spin-off thing, you try to keep in your actors' voices as much as possible. The actors' voice is very much their voice, but informed by the writers on the show. Especially with our show, because there's so many pop culture references. You do. You hear the voices in your head. Crowley was super-easy to write because it's a very specific peppy, interesting character and I just heard his voice in my head.
Supernatural fans are an incredibly passionate group of people. Did you feel any pressure as far as delivering to the fans? Is there anything specific you want them to take away from the novel?
It's like, when you're writing, you take it into account and you don't. You want to stay true to yourself and your writing, and you want to make everyone happy, too. You just keep writing. It doesn't make much sense to make any tie-in canon, because you're not dealing with the same set of people. It's marketing rather than studio. The novels and all sort of spin-off material is just for the fan to want to read something different, and if you like it, we're super-happy.
My thanks to Rebecca Dessertine for this interview! You can pick up One Year Gone at Amazon or your local bookstore today.