PK Interview: Rebecca Levene (Part 1)
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
The Pornokitsch team was honored to have author Rebecca Levene drop by (virtually speaking) for our site's first interview.
Ms. Levene has penned countless hours of series television (with another show in the works) and books for all ages: kids, grown-ups and awkward adolescents.
Let's start in the Afterblight.
First, what's it like writing in a shared world like this one - and directly following someone like Si Spurrier (who set the bar pretty high with The Culled)?
It was pretty daunting following Si. He’s a terrific writer with a unique voice and I didn’t feel I could – or should – imitate it. That’s why I decided to keep the narrative first-person, which seemed the series style, but to write it from a different, female viewpoint. Writing in a shared world is obviously more limiting than writing something entirely original – but it takes the burden of world creation off your shoulders, too. And being bone idle, I didn’t really object to that.
Is there a big 'map' of the Afterblight somewhere? With "don't write here - Paul Kane's claimed it" or "if you use Vegas, don't forget the druggie cultists"?
When I wrote Kill or Cure, there was no map – just a brief series bible and Si’s book. These days I don’t know, though I suspect it may exist only in the head of Jon Oliver, our editor. I think writers do tend to be respectful of other people’s creations and generally steer clear of them. In fact, most of the Afterblight writers seem to be penning their own self-contained trilogies within the larger world, which I think works well.
Kill or Cure and The Culled are the only two books to contemplate the Blight [the disease that's wiped out the world]. Was that a conscious choice, or just part of being early in the series? In Kill or Cure, we see Jasmine and Ash doing some funky shit due to the Blight - will we ever get to the bottom of this?
I think it’s because it was an early book – but I’d certainly like to explore the Blight further. I’m not sure how much longer the Afterblight Chronicles will be continuing, or if Jon will want me to write another one given my commitment to my own series. But I do have a proposal in with him which continues Jasmine and Kelis’s adventures and reveals more about the origin of the Blight.
You've written a lot for TV as well. Are there the same sort of rules regarding the shared world situation - no nuking Charnham, for example?
Ha! Well, soaps tend to be storylined inhouse, with the scriptwriters given a loose framework around which to structure their episode. This would usually tend not to include nuclear Armageddon.
I first worked in TV on the storylining side of things – I was employed on Emmerdale with my erstwhile writing partner, Gareth Roberts. The first sitcom script we wrote together was actually a product of our frustration with the soap’s storytelling limitations. The first episode features the village sweetheart returning from holiday with a new fiancé – sentient sand from outer space. Meanwhile, the postmistress has spent her daughter’s savings on gun-running for the Kurdish separatists.
Shockingly, it’s never been produced – though it was optioned by the BBC. And it did help to get us our agent.
Stick with us for the second part, in which Ms. Levene discusses the inspirations behind Anno Mortis, gives us a preview of Abaddon's next series and talks a little poker.
Kill or Cure is available for purchase through Amazon or your local, half-decent bookstore.