A big welcome to Andrea Phillips who is here answering a few questions and celebrating the release of Webs, Bookburners Season 2 Episode 2 (published on June 29, 2016 by Serial Box).
Interview with Andrea Phillips
All Things Urban Fantasy: What is it like being one of many authors to work on the serial? Who gets to decide on the overall plot, or is that something everybody has a say in?
Andrea Phillips: I love it with a fierceness that other people reserve for things like chocolate or maybe their families. Thanks to the way we run a show, we all get a say in the overall plot. Serial Box essentially locks all the writers of a serial together for a three-day weekend to talk about the arc of a season. Season one is a little different because you have to invent characters and start to build your world. There’s a lot to hash out above and beyond “OK so what happens next?”
But coming into season two like I did with Bookburners is a real lark – somebody else already built the toys and you get to play with them. Basically everyone puts a bunch of ideas out, and you gradually steer toward a consensus that works in the best and coolest ideas everyone has contributed. It’s more fun than I can possibly describe to you.
ATUF: Do you get to see the other episodes before you write yours? (As in, did you get to read episode one before you wrote episode two?)
AP: Sometimes yes and sometimes no! It depends on how tight the deadlines are. Everybody does write an outline of their episode before anyone starts writing the main episode. So even if three or four consecutive episodes are due very close together, we all have a high-level view of how things are supposed to fit together. …In theory. There are always a few surprises!
If the schedule is a little more relaxed, then it’s easier to bake details from one episode into the next one. But even if you don’t really have time for that, you can do a lot of the same things on your second draft. So it doesn’t wind up mattering that much in the final result.
ATUF: Is writing an episode in a serial easier or harder than writing a standalone story or novel?
AP: I find it tremendously easier. There’s a little more work to do in hashing out continuity and discrepancies between episodes, to be sure. But by the time we start writing, I have a much clearer vision of what’s supposed to happen than I ever do on my own work, so the writing tends to go much, much faster. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but there’s one episode of the upcoming ReMade serial that I wrote in three very intense days.
Working with other writers challenges you to dig deeper and come up with more interesting ideas, too—nobody is settling for the first lame old thought that popped into their head. I feel like my collaborative work is always my best writing.
ATUF: Do you put your own touches on your episodes? Or do you try to make them as similar as possible, writing style-wise, to the other episodes?
AP: We do aim for a certain consistency in mood and tone. You want Grace to always sound like Grace, you want Father Menchú to always sound like Father Menchú. But there’s a fingerprint every writer has that can’t be completely eliminated, so Max has his lyrical descriptions of magic, Brian has his weird-weird imagination, Mur has her impeccable sense of comedy, and Margaret has her plots that wind up like a clock.
You’ll find this is true with a lot of writer’s rooms in TV, as well, once you start looking for it. Buffy always feels more or less like Buffy, but you can tell a Joss Whedon episode from a Jane Espenson episode if you’re looking for it.
ATUF: What do you think happened to team four?
AP: Hmmm, that’s a good question, isn’t it? I won’t tell you, but don’t worry, I think you’ll get to find out. Eventually.
ATUF: Have you read any good urban fantasy lately you’d like to recommend?
AP: As it happens, I just finished the third installment in Matt Wallace’s Sin du Jour series of novellas. Which I adore so, so much, by the way! They’re fast-paced, fresh, and super ridiculous in a deadpan, over-the-top way that is nothing short of magical. Also something-something irreverent, there really is nothing sacred in the Sin du Jour world. In the best possible way.
Andrea Phillips is a transmedia writer, game designer and author. She is on the writing team for season 2 of the urban fantasy serial Bookburners as well as ReMade. Her debut novel is Revision, an SF thriller about a wiki where your edits come true. She has also worked on iOS fitness games Zombies, Run! and The Walk; The Maester’s Path for HBO’s Game of Thrones; human rights game America 2049; and the independent commercial ARG Perplex City. She also writes an ongoing column about video games called Metagames for Strange Horizons. Her nonfiction book A Creator’s Guide to Transmedia Storytelling is used to teach digital storytelling at universities around the world.
Webs by Andrea Phillips
Available on June 29, 2016 by Serial Box
Magic is real and some books have teeth. Join Detective Sal Brooks, newest recruit to a black-ops magic hunting team, as she travels the world to keep the supernatural in check. Just remember: watch your back and don’t touch anything.
Read an excerpt
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