Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Faith Rice-Mills talks books and Buffy

Hi all,

A couple years ago I was speaking at the Writer's League of Texas's Agents and Editors conference. There I met a girl named Faith who was probably as huge a Buffy fan as I am. (And as you know that's saying something!) She even had a Buffy character name!! (Um, jealous!) We chatted for a while and shared our love for writing and Whedon and then went our separate ways. 

Today Faith is back -- with her new book, Identified: The Maya Price Story, which is a paranormal alternate dimension YA that one reviewer called a cross between The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones. (Um, yes please!) Here's a blurb:

Maya Price is a typical eighteen-year-old girl without much going on in her life. Her biggest problems include getting ready to leave her hometown for college, figuring out how to avoid her ever-so-strange stepmother, and trying to muddle through her feelings for her best friend, Pete. Yet, on one of her last nights in her hometown, she and Pete are in a car accident. A stranger pulls Maya from the accident, leaving Pete behind, and takes her out of this world and into another dimension. 

Maya soon discovers that she has been taken to a dimension called Leets by a group of people that call themselves shifters. Shifters are of mixed human and onyx blood and have various abilities.  These shifters are able to travel between dimensions and control the four elements (fire, earth, wind, water) and the five senses (sight, sound, smell, touch and taste). Their leader, Victoria, informs Maya that she, too, is a shifter and that she must choose to join them or risk being sought out by their greatest enemy, a shifter named Leonas. 

Maya joins Victoria and her ragtag group of rebel shifters in Leets, where she is teamed up with a group of seven other shifters. Her new "teammates" include a street-smart girl named Luz, who is especially adept at controlling fire, her twin sister Espy, and a nervous boy named Lamar, who can manipulate sound better than any other shifter. Together, Maya’s team trains for the battle that will soon be inevitable.

However, Maya soon learns that her purpose is not to just move the earth or send water flying into the air. There are rumors of a hidden prophecy and that the prophecy mentions Maya by name. Supposedly, the prophecy says that Maya will one day have to choose a side and will be essential in bringing her chosen ally to power..."

I asked Faith to stop by the blog and chat and share with us how her love for the Whedonverse has influenced her writing career. 

Here she is! And make sure you stay around after the interview--for your chance to win Faith's book!

I am a child of the 90s. During that decade, I watched a lot of trendy TV Shows: TRL, Dawson’s Creek, and Boy Meets World, to name a few. Yet, one show that I began to watch in the 90s became, for me, more than just a cult classic. In fact, when people now ask me what my favorite TV show is, I respond with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” And so, mis amigos, I would like to present to you the top five ways in which Buffy the Vampire Slayer influenced my first novel Identified: The Maya Price Story.

1. Buffyspeak. 

The characters of Buggy have their own unique way of speaking. For example:

  • Xander: “I don’t get wild. Wild on me equals spazz.” 
  • Buffy: “You know me, not so much with the damseling.” 
  • Oz: “On the plus side, you killed the bench, which was looking shifty.” 

To me, “Buffyspeak” makes the Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies feel like real, authentic characters. They way they speak does not necessarily define their personalities, but it makes each character unique. When creating my characters, I try to do the same. Maya, the protagonist, speaks with a southern accent since she’s from east Texas. Luz and her twin sister Espy, Mexican-Americans that grew up in New York City, consistently mix Spanish in with their English. (Oh, and the Spanish teacher in me refuses to translate what they say! If you want to know, go look it up!) Ivan is from Russia and has had little time to learn English, so his English is a little stilted. Lamar, who is quite nervous and jumpy, peppers his sentences with “um,” “uh,” and “like.” Of course, since most of my characters are under the age of twenty, they use the word “dude” all the freakin’ time.

2. I can create whatever the hell I want. 

I once heard that Joss Whedon and the gang sometimes rearranged the letters of the surnames of cast and crew members to create the names of demons on the show. When I started writing Identified: The Maya Price Story, I agonized, AGONIZED (yes, all caps) over the name of Leets (the dimension Maya travels to) and its residents, the onyxes. Then, I remembered what I had heard about the creators of BTVS and thought: “Wait a second, who cares? This doesn’t have to be real. It’s not even a Real. Place.” Thus, I named the dimension Leets after an imaginary friend I had as a child (Old Man Leets) and the onyxes after my childhood pup. Why did I do this? Because. I. Can. I created Leets. I created the onyxes. Thus, I can name them. (I mean, isn’t that the same reason parents are allowed to choose names for their children?). As a disclaimer, I must say that if I describe a real city or person in my book, I try to be as authentic as possible. For example, if my characters are visiting, say, New Orleans, I will not describe the climate as “crisp and dry.” People of NOLA are very proud and, as much as they probably hate the damn humidity, it is very much a part of that city. I don’t want to wake up to a smattering of hate tweets from a bunch of pissed off NOLA residents. But,Whedon and Friends taught me that, if it doesn’t exist in reality, or even in myth, I can (and will) do whatever the hell with my creations.

 3. Badass females come in all shapes, sizes, and outfits.

Buffy is not an exceptionally tall woman with man-style biceps. She often wears cardigans and mini-skirts. Picture Willow in Season 1 and Season 2: she walks awkwardly through the Sunnydale campus, sporting her oversized overalls. Joyce Summers is, more often than not, conservatively dressed and works in a museum. Yet, each of these women could not be more of a badass. Buffy takes on all sorts of underworld uglies. Willow singlehandedly almost destroys, and later saves, the world. Joyce raises a teenage daughter with supernatural abilities, all while working full time. In Identified, all of the female characters exhibit qualities that I would call “badass.” And I don’t just mean they could take on a UFC fighter (which, some of them could). Luz and Espy, twin sisters, both put the safety and happiness of the other above her own safety and happiness. Paige, though struggling with depression and anxiety, manages to pull herself together to take on those who destroyed her family. Maya would, and does, take on her worst enemy to protect those she loves. Even Maya’s (estranged) mother, Linda Price, is a badass in that she is always coming up with original recipes for tasty pastries to put a smile on her children’s faces. And that, my friends, is quite badass. I choose not to describe these women as “hot,” “beautiful,” “gorgeous,” or all of the above. In fact, the only character I describe as exceptionally good-looking is Maya’s arch-nemesis, Leonas. I want readers to judge my characters based on their actions, not the way they look. That may sound cliché, but, when you finish the book (wink, wink), stop and think about what left a lasting impression in your mind. Also remember, the next time you hear the term “strong female,” and conjure up a mental picture of Jessica Biel in Blade 3, remember that getting accepted into the college of your choice, helping a friend through a life crisis, volunteering in your community, or even * ahem * writing a book is pretty badass.

4. Buffy is not a man-hater. 

Buffy loves Angel. Buffy loves Riley. Buffy loves Spike. Buffy loves Giles…like a father. (Don’t gasp. I said “like a father.”) It is obvious that the writers of Buffy do not hate men. Yes, there are plenty of male villains: The Master, Angelus, The Mayor, Adam, Warren/Andrew/Jonathan (I’m going to go ahead and group them together as one person) and Spike (sometimes). But! There are also plenty of female villains: Darla, Drusilla, Glory, Harmony and Faith (sometimes). The First Evil is genderless. Let’s also not forget that the heart of the Scoobies, aka Xander, is male. In Identfied: The Maya Price Story, several of her friends are just as strong (Ivan), talented (Nathaniel), and compassionate (Lamar) as Maya is. Yes, her nemesis is male. Yet, that does not mean there won’t be some female villains along the way. In my opinion, if one gender is portrayed as superior to the other, we do not achieve the equality so many of us seek. So, as a writer, I will continue to write about male AND female good guys as well as male AND female bad guys. (I am now stepping off my soapbox.)

 5. And finally, “Passion.” 

 “Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping...waiting...and though will its jaws, and howl. It speaks to us...guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love...the clarity of hatred...and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we'd know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we'd truly be dead.” -Angelus “Passion,” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2 

Ok, so this quote pretty much explains why I write. I guess it isn’t really a Buffy “influence” per say, but I cannot think of a much more applicable quote that explains the way I feel about writing (as well as reading, being a friend, a mom, and a wife. And the way I feel about macaroni and cheese.) I write about Maya Price, because I have to write about Maya Price. There is no other option. Yes, sometimes it hurts to write about her. Yes, sometimes I hate what I write. Yes, writing sometimes causes me (and my husband!) and inordinate amount of stress. But, it is my passion. With that, my fellow Scoobies, I hope that I have helped you to understand a little bit of where some of my strange ideas come from. Yes, I am just a little crazy. But the influence of Joss Whedon did manage did wheedle itself into my brain and stick. So, if you like badass women, interesting dialect, and some crazy- ass, made-up worlds, give Identified: The Maya Price Story a read. And remember to always have passion.




Win a copy of Identified: The Maya Price Story

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Anonymous said...

I started reading "Identified" yesterday...feels very original and the characters are unique. Hard to put down...

I recommended it to our High School Librarian to see if she wanted to start an "Aspiring Writers" Club.

Jamie31 said...

I don't have and answer for that but I still watch almost every night on chiller.

Martha Emms said...

I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!

Belle said...

An awesome post from my good friend, Faith! <3

youarethecasket said...

The Buffyverse influenced my life, by making the dark/scary things in life, not so dark and scary. It was also a pretty kick-ass show and book! :D

Scheherazade said...

I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect! I hope you stop by to visit me at

bn100 said...

by making me like vampires

Jan Moran said...

Nice blog! I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe. Great to connect!
- Jan Moran at JanMoran dot com

GeGePet said...

I've never actually watched much Buffy, my mother heavily regulated what we watched when we were still at home. But it's always been on my list to watch someday.

Jeanne said...

Ok I see that I won the giveaway, but I haven't had an e-mail or anything... Did I miss something or was it a different Jeanne?

Mari Mancusi said...

Jeanne, Faith should be contacting you directly. If you don't hear from her, let me know! Thx! :)

Jeanne said...

Thanks! I did get an e-mail yesterday.