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NYCC Interview: Christopher Golden & Amber Benson Talk ‘Slayers: A Buffyverse Story’

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Slayers: A Buffyverse Story, a new Audible original podcast, is back to slay and dust some vampires. It’s the first audio adventure in the Buffyverse and is set ten years after the events of “The Chosen,” the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series finale. Slayers has us returning to the Buffyverse, where vampires, demons, and a new baby slayer meet. The audio drama features a mix of returning BtVS cast members and fresh talent, including Laya DeLeon Hayes. At New York City Comic Con earlier this month, Slayers got a splashy rollout. We had the chance to sit down with Amber Benson and Christopher Golden, the creative minds behind Slayers: A Buffyverse Story, for a roundtable chat. 

Given that they’re a big part of why we have Slayers this spooky season, we were thrilled to chat with them both at NYCC. Benson is a writer, director, and actress and played Tara on the original Buffy TV show. Golden is a writer and director in his own right. We had a lot of questions for Amber Benson and Christopher Golden about their work on Slayers and the differences between working in audio and film. During the roundtable, we talked about how they picked the characters to be included in the audio drama and why they decided to make Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) their alternate reality Slayer. We also talked about their experience working with Kc Wayland. 

The Interview with Amber Benson & Christopher Golden about Slayers: A Buffyverse Story

[Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity. There are mild Slayers spoilers ahead.]

Ayla Ruby: “Can you talk about the process of writing this? Because this is very different than a television script, or even a novel or comic. It’s an audio drama and it’s a different medium. What was that like? What was your approach?”

Christopher Golden: “We were really lucky actually, because years ago we did an online animated series with the BBC called Ghost of Albion that we wrote together and Amber directed.”

Amber Benson: “That Anthony Daniels [C-3PO from Star Wars] is in.”

Christopher Golden: “It was great. It was a great experience. But while we were doing that, we found out partway through the process that they were also going to want to play it on BBC radio, and that was a trial by fire for us to even go back and look through the scripts we’d already written, be like, what would the experience of this be if you’re only listening to it? We had that sort of background already to be able to kind of get into it. But it was great. It was really fun.”

Amber Benson: “No, we were really, really lucky. The people we were working with at Audible, Lydia, and Meg, they’re big fans, but they’re also, they know the audio world. We would veer maybe a little too much to sort of, you needed more context, and Lydia would be like, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no. We have to be able to hear it. You need to let us know what’s actually happening in an auditory way versus in a visual. I know it looks on the script like it’s going to be easy.”

Then the other, I think, really hard part is we have Laya DeLeon Hayes, who’s incredible, and she is our entree into this world. She, not a fan of the info dump and it’s always boring, but when you give all this information and you do it in a fun way where she’s a fan of this mythology, and you have her doing it makes all the info-dumpy stuff awesome. Just, if you want to write an audio drama, make sure she’s in it.”

Slayers A Buffyverse Story
Emma Caulfield Ford and Laya DeLeon Hayes recording Slayers: A Buffyverse Story (Audible)

Christopher Golden: “You bet, and we, it was a learning curve, but we’re, you know.”

Interviewer: “I’m a filmmaker who’s just recently, last year, moved over to producing audio dramas.”

Amber Benson: “Awesome.”

Interviewer: “My big takeaway from it is like, wow, this is so much easier and funner. Easier in a way. There’s less steps.”

Amber Benson: “Oh yeah.”

Interviewer: “There’s just so many less steps. I could put something that I wrote and it’s more immediate to get it to, like farm to table much more quicker.”

Amber Benson: “Yes.”

On working in the audio medium as a creator

Interviewer: “How’s that experience been like working on this?”

Amber Benson: “It’s so much more accessible as a creator. You get to do stuff, like when you want to make a film or a television show, you really do, you have to have a lot of money and you have to have all these moving parts, and it takes forever. This, it’s audio and you have your actors. If you can just get those two things in there and then have Kc Wayland, who is also our co-director producer who did all of the sound design.”

Christopher Golden: “He and his team.”

Amber Benson: “His team, they were incredible. They did the Dolby Atmos version of it. We were in a Dolby Atmos stage mixing. They were incredible. You have that department who steps up and posts, and it’s a much more accessible, and I love it.”

Interviewer: “Especially if you miss something, it’s like, oh, we missed a line.”

Amber Benson: “Yeah.”

Interviewer: “It’s like the end. Okay, we got everybody here. It’s just like, you got to figure out this logistics. It’s like, ‘Hey, can you go say that real quickly?'”

Amber Benson: “Yeah.”

Christopher Golden: “Yeah.”

Interviewer: “It’s so much better.”

Amber Benson: “It’s so much better.”

Christopher Golden: “The studio experience with everybody just there looking at each other.”

Amber Benson: “You record it all together.”

Christopher Golden: “Yeah.”

Slayers A Buffyverse Story
Amber Benson working on Slayer: A Buffyverse Story. (Audible)

On old radio dramas and bringing that immersive feeling to Slayers: A Buffyverse Story

Interviewer: “Do you ever refer back to old radio dramas? I mean, it’s kind of invented the medium back then.”

Amber Benson: “I love-”

Christopher Golden: “Go ahead.”

Amber Benson: “No, I love old radio dramas, and actually I participated in, in LA there’s this thing called The Thrilling Adventure Hour.”

Interviewer: “Yes.”

Amber Benson: “Yeah, and they were doing all this amazing audio drama stuff. There was a sound effects person and music and amazing actors. Yeah, it was incredible. I’ve always loved the medium. I love listening to audiobooks. I love podcasts. This is a world I like playing in.”

Christopher Golden: “Yeah, I mean, for me it’s the immersion.”

Amber Benson: “Yes.”

Christopher Golden: “I love audiobooks, but to do an original series like this, it’s the total immersion.”

Amber Benson: “Audible original podcast, Slayers.”

Christopher Golden: “You close your eyes. Yes. The Audible original podcast, Slayers: A Buffyverse story. But the immersion of it and the ability to feel like you’re there with these characters, I mean, every fan of this world would love to be there in the middle of these characters. I really feel like this audio experience does that in a way that television can’t.”

Amber Benson: “It’s so intimate. You listen to it, headset, headphones, it’s like Spike is narrating the opening to you in your head. Like he’s right here whispering in your ear, and that’s very intimate, and it puts you as an audience, an audience member and listener into the drama. If you close your eyes, it’s like it’s happening around you. You could be in it, which you can’t do with film and TV.”

Christopher Golden: “Right.”

Amber Benson: “Film and TV, you’re watching. You’re not a participant.”

On deciding on characters to bring into the Slayers story

Interviewer: “You can put together a great cast, and the Buffyverse is just full of amazing characters. How did you decide which characters to bring into this story?”

Christopher Golden: “Two ways. Go ahead.”

Amber Benson: “Who can Amber call?”

Christopher Golden: “Yep.”

Amber Benson: “Whose phone number did I have, and who did we love? Really it was like, these are all people I adored, who I genuinely am happy to see when we’re at a convention together. I’m like, hugs, real, “Oh, I love you guys,” and it’s real. It’s not bullshit. It’s actually like we care about each other.”

Slayers A Buffyverse Story
The cast of Slayers: A Buffyverse Story (Audible)

Christopher Golden: “For me, it’s there are these personal relationships that Amber has, but that I also have. Most of these cast members I’ve known for a long time. But then also, which characters did we feel like in our hearts needed to be here? Who did we want to see take another bow, give another opportunity to shine?

Again, the best example for that is James Leary as Clem. Clem is in eight episodes for a total of hardly any minutes, but everybody loved him, including me. I’ve known him for a really long time. Immediately I said, ‘We need this comic relief sidekick character to be in this story, and it’s got to be Clem, because I know in my head how we can present him in a way that will make him beloved even more than he already has been.’ It’s that sort of thing combined, and then not bring him back, but adding Indira to the story was, it was like, okay, we have to have a character who’s going to bring us in, a young slayer who’s going to bring us into this world, and be a fan, and share that fandom with the people who are listening.”

Amber Benson: “Really, I also wanted to do a quasi-make-out scene with Juliet Landau. I mean, who doesn’t want to look across at this incredible, consummate genius, performer in a room, and she’s like, ‘I’m going to do naughty things to you?’ It’s a little hot, a little, you know.”

Christopher Golden: “Honestly, it made everybody in the room uncomfortable. We were all like, ‘Oh, this is just, can you-‘”

Amber Benson: “No, selfishly, I wanted to work with her. I wanted to work with Charisma [Carpenter]. These are people that I never-”

Christopher Golden: “Yeah, making Charisma the slayer was-”

Amber Benson: “Very important.”

Christopher Golden: “… key for what we wanted to do from the beginning.”

Interviewer: “How long is the one season? How many episodes?”

Amber Benson: “Nine episodes. Nine/eight hours.”

How to listen to Slayers: A Buffyverse Story

Slayers: A Buffyverse Story is now available on Audible ! Tune in however you like to listen to your podcasts.

Check out our other interviews out of NYCC here and keep following for more coming soon!

Interview: Charisma Carpenter & Emma Caulfield Ford Talk Slayers: A Buffyverse Story

NYCC Slayers Buffy interview

Interview: James Marsters and James Leary Talk Slayers: A Buffyverse Story

NYCC Slayers Buffy interview

Interview with Juliet Landau & Laya DeLeon Hayes about Slayers: A Buffyverse Story

NYCC Slayers Buffy interview

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Ayla Ruby

I am a writer and interviewer based somewhere in the Alpha Quadrant. I love all things nerdy - but Star Trek and Spiderman have special places in my heart. Find me at @TulinWrites on Twitter. And visit my other website for more reviews and interviews:

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