Christopher Golden talks Cemetery Girl

Jo Fletcher has recently published Cemetery Girl, a graphic novel by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden. I recently reviewed it on the blog and Chrisopher Golden was kind enough to answer some questions about it.

What is the difference in writing novels and graphic novels?

CG: The two mediums are entirely different, actually. In format and discipline, they require different skill sets from the writer. Novels are both more textured (writing-wise) and less structured. There are a thousand ways to go about writing a novel, but the graphic novel requires a certain format and structure–panel descriptions and dialogue, the only movement that which is implied too exist in the space between panels. Of course, the other major difference is that a graphic novel is an entirely collaborative piece of art. Without skill and talent from the entire team &emdash; writer, artist, colorist, letterer &emdash; fine efforts on the part of one or two may turn out utter crap.

How did the character of Calexa come about?

CG: Oh, she’s Charlaine’s baby, no doubt. Charlaine had imagined the character and her basic story arc, being dumped in the cemetery, losing her memory, even some of her true identity and secrets and most of how she survives, before I came into the picture. When she asked me on board I obviously added my two cents, gave it a spin, but my most substantial contribution was to the plots of the individual installments. I’d like to think that I helped to forge who she is, and I think Don Kramer’s artwork also contributes a great deal to the character. But she’s Charlaine’s brain child, and we did nothing that strayed from her vision of Calexa.

How did it change things creating a book with other people?

CG: When you choose the right people, or are chosen by the right people, it’s a pleasure. I’ve collaborated loads of times and it can be tough, but working with Charlaine has been a wonderful process of give and take, exchanging ideas, teasing each other, apologizing for holding things up (usually me), and more than anything just being excited about Calexa. That’s the best thing about collaborating..the shared enthusiasm.

Cemetery Girl explores the problems of identity and accepting or creating it? The book seems torn between trying to remember the one(s) given= to her and making her own one from memories and items around her.

CG: For me, it’s all about a process that each of us goes through our whole lives…balancing the family within which we are born with the one we make of our own choosing. I love my family &emdash; I’m fortunate in that way, because many people don’t–but I also feel so lucky to have built the family of friends that I’ve had in my life. Identity is linked inextricably to those elements–where we come from and where we’re going.

You seem to have a balance between the morality of people who plawith the idea of magic without considering either the morality or the ethics. Is there a balance between a belief in the the afterlife and playing with it?

CG: Personally, I see no reason not to use such elements in fiction. Faith is a part of life for huge swathes of the Earth’s population. A belief in the afterlife is a major foundation of faith for nearly all of those people. Ghost stories–and this is, in some ways, a ghost story–are just looking at the belief in the afterlife through an entertaining prism.

What freedoms or challenges does the ghost form give you and co-artists with Cemetery Girl?

I’m not an artist, so that’s not something I can really answer.

What might we see next from Calexa?

Book two of CEMETERY GIRL, called INHERITANCE, is due out in late 2014 or early 2015. As to the plot … well, I’m not going to tell.

Thanks, Christopher.

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