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The world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has continued to live on long after the beloved television series concluded. Buffy has had a rich life in comics, but now the world of the slayer is taking over young adult novels for the first time. Best-selling author Kendare Blake is leading the patrolling party with the new book, In Every Generation.
Published by Disney Hyperion, Blake’s novel focuses on Frankie Rosenberg, the daughter of Willow. Trouble ensues when the annual convention of Slayers is attacked, and most (if not all) of the slayers are presumed dead… Buffy included. Frankie, who has already inherited magic talent from her mother, ends up being called as a slayer.
Frankie the Slayer-Witch must join with some new allies (and some old favorites) to get to the bottom of what happened. Buffy being presumed dead and the general story of the book were part of Blake’s “walking papers” as she put it to us, but she is responsible for making Frankie’s journey feel at one with the whole of the series that came before.
Before the book hits shelves on January 4th, 2022, SYFY WIRE caught up with Blake to talk about writing the next generation, her own Buffy fandom, and get an exclusive excerpt.
The book makes it pretty clear that you are a Buffy fan, is that safe to say?
That's very safe to say, yeah. I grew up watching Buffy.
Do you have a favorite episode?
I have many favorite episodes. Obviously "Once More, With Feeling" was a very accomplished and wonderful thing that stands out from the rest of the series. "Hush" is a favorite of everyone, I think. But I have a few favorite moments within episodes. The moment that has been recurring in my head as one of my favorite Buffy moments is an episode in Season 6 where Buffy gets caught in a time loop and she has to try to sell a mummy hand and it goes completely wrong. So Sarah Michelle Gellar has to play it nine different ways.
If you love her so much why did you "kill" her in the book?
I didn't, those were my walking papers. That was part of the initial order. The premise of the Slayerfest explosion and Frankie being called, that was given to me in the initial pitch. And then, I just kind of had to weasel my way around it to try to eventually say, "But she's not really dead, right? She's not really dead." I kept closing my emails with, "Okay. Yeah. This is great. But you know Buffy's not really dead, right?" And nobody would say anything to me about it.
The story isn't over when this book is finished. Is this hopefully only the first of these that we'll be reading?
Yeah. So, it's a trilogy. When I wrote the first book, I kind of thought of it as crafting Frankie Season 1. So Frankie being called as a vampire slayer, developing her own group of Scoobies, having her first big bad, and then the overarching questions would be what happens to the slayers? What is the slayer legacy? What is the fall out from this? And who is ultimately behind it? And more of that will come out in book two and then be resolved by book three.
You include a lot of characters from the show in the book. How did you manage to capture their voices so well?
I'm glad you think so. I think it's because those characters have been living in my head since I was young. I've re-watched the series maybe four times just over the course of my life, and then I re-watched it again right before I started writing. So yeah, it was a lot of fun working with those characters. And the characters that I get to use, just Willow, Spike, Oz, and Xander, who I didn't have clearance to use at first, so I left him out of the first a draft, and then my editor was like, "Wouldn't this be better if Xander was doing this?" And I said, "Yes, can I use him?" And then I got to write Xander too, which was really cool. But if you had asked me, "Okay, you want to write a Buffy book, who are the characters that you would want to use?" That would be my dream assembly. If I couldn't have Buffy herself, they would be the ones that I wanted.
The new characters feel like they could have been on the show. How did you really manage that creation? Was it also part of you being so familiar with the series?
It was. When I went into this, my goal wasn't really to even put my own spin on it, it was just to create more Buffy because that's what I wanted as a fan. I wanted more Buffy. I wanted classic Sunnydale, those classic Sunnydale elements that felt so familiar. Meetings in the library, patrols through the graveyard, all of the banter.
And the foundations of the characters that they gave me, Frankie being Willow's daughter, that gave me a really decent jumping off point for who Frankie should be or who she would be as a person. And Jake Osbourne being Oz's nephew/cousin, he was a classic Osbourne. So yeah, they just worked and before I knew it I had a whole little band of Scoobies and they were doing their own thing. And it felt very Scooby-like without being a carbon copy of the previous Scooby team.
You've got them being led by a slayer/witch combo. What kind of unique challenges will a character like that face?
Magic in the Buffy-verse is kind of a balancing act because you don't want to go too far with it. You want the spells to be cool. You want the spells to be useful for their plots and their plans, but you don't want to have them be so strong that you start thinking like, "What do we even need a slayer for?" You don't want to overpower your witch, at least not too early on.
She needs time to grow. So Frankie herself has been a very sheltered witch. She's always been a witch and that's always been fine, but because of Willow's experience with magic and how bad that went, she's been very, very careful with Frankie's magical training and very, very limiting.
So for me, most of the focus in book one was Frankie learning to handle the slayer powers because the witch powers she's kind of used to. She does develop them a little bit more and has to make them work in conjunction with each other, but yeah, the new slayer powers... that's the shiny new toy that she was really eager to mess around with.
We have an exclusive excerpt from the book. Can you give some context to what readers are about to read?
Yes. In the excerpt, you're going to be meeting Hailey, who becomes one of our new Scooby members. Hailey is the little sister of Vi Larsson, who if you watched season seven, Vi Larsson was the potential slayer played by Felicia Day. Vi has now been activated for a number of years. She's been an active slayer and then after the show ended, she had to raise her little sister who was orphaned in a car crash and they've been together ever since. So you kind of get a glimpse of what their life has been like together as Vi is on her way out to this quarter's Slayerfest.
Take a look at the cover below, as well as an exclusive excerpt from In Every Generation, which will be released on January 4th, 2022.
“Don’t you think you should pack other things?” Hailey asked.
“Like underwear and socks?”
Vi stopped and put her hands on her hips. Already she looked less like Vi and more like Vi the Slayer. Vi was lanky and pale. She walked with a slight hunch and had guarded eyes and a kind smile. Vi the Slayer was lithe as a cat. She didn’t walk. She ran. She leapt. Her eyes were hard and focused. She cocked her head at her much younger sister and smiled. “Clothes and stuff are in my backpack.” She turned around the room and surveyed the whole apartment. Final mental checks before she dashed out the door. “Are you all set? Food? Beverages? The internet’s paid up for the next month, so I don’t want to hear any excuses about falling behind like last time—”
“Last time was summer vacation.” Hailey went to high school online. Which was a weird way of putting it. She didn’t “go” to high school anywhere. She did high school from the middle cushion of their couch.
“Either way, I don’t want you sitting around doing nothing but reading your comics the whole time, or traipsing around with those delinquent friends of yours. . . .” Her voice trailed off. Before the Slayerfests, she couldn’t even focus long enough to nag properly.
“Comics are valid forms of literature with highly developed themes, characterization, and story arcs,” Hailey said. “And those delinquents have names.”
“Never mind. Where is this quarter’s fest anyway?”
“Well, we fly into Halifax. The actual meeting is at this remote resort. Cabins in trees or something.” Hailey cocked an eyebrow. The meetings were starting to sound less like training and more like retreats. Every slayer in the world hanging out in a tree house wearing a flannel robe and a mud mask. But her only comment was:
“Some of us are portaling in,” said Vi. “Most of the internationals. With Andrew and the other Witchers.”
“He can’t just call them that, you know, just because they’re Watchers with magic. They lack the abs. And the white hair.”
Vi snorted. “I’ll tell him you said so.” She held her arm out.
“Come here, kid.”
Hailey groaned—she was sixteen, not a kid—but she went and hugged her sister tight. It hadn’t been easy between them at first; Hailey’d been an angry ten-year-old, and scared. And Vi—Vi had been a young slayer, not even thirty yet, with enough on her hands trying to keep herself alive. It had taken time to figure things out. To become a real family, and a team.
“Don’t answer the door without looking to see who it is first.”
“Duh, I never do.”
“Don’t go anywhere after dark.”
“Nothing ever happens here after dark.”
“Don’t spend all our money at the bookstore.”
Hailey grinned. “Okay, I promise.”
Vi let go of her and stared at her for so long that it started to get weird.
“What?” Hailey asked, and went back to the couch. “You’re only going to be gone for a few days. I don’t know why you think you have to feed me for two months.” Except she did know why. Vi always stocked her up. Just in case she didn’t make it back.
“Well,” Vi said. “The way you eat . . .” She slung her backpack over her shoulders and reached down for her duffel bag. When she bent, the red roots of her hair stood out in a bright line, growing out under the dark brown dye. Hailey laughed.
“We should have dyed our hair again before you left.”
“Oh yeah?” Vi touched her head.
“Yeah. You look like a rooster or something.” Hailey’s own hair was black naturally, inherited from her mom, who’d been Canadian and mixed-race Saulteaux First Nations. Hailey considered it a gift—it made her Goth aesthetic one step easier.
Vi put her hand on the doorknob.
“I don’t know why you have to go to these anymore anyway,” Hailey said. “Haven’t slayers ever heard of teleconferencing?”
“Too easy to hack,” Vi said quietly. “Don’t you watch the news?”
“I read the news, Luddite. But even I know that demons can’t hack.” What had Vi told her? Most demons and vamps were terrible with gadgets. Need to figure out if your new boyfriend is a demon? FaceTime him. If all you get is thirty seconds of his forehead and a lot of saying “What?” then call your big sister to take him out.
“You’re a smart kid, Hailey.”
“I’m not a kid. But yeah, I know.”
“I’ll see you Monday.”
Except that Monday came and went.
Slayerfest had always come and gone, so often and so routinely that Hailey didn’t bother keeping track of them anymore. She should have paid more attention.
On Tuesday morning, she ignored it and told herself Vi was fine. By noon, she was googling reported traffic accidents in and around Halifax. Not long after that, she was pacing and messaging Vi every two minutes like a desperate ex. But there was no response. There’d been no activity on Vi’s accounts for days, not since a few photos she posted of her and a few other slayers hanging out in the city after their plane landed.
“It’s because there’s no service in a tree house,” Hailey muttered. The stupid Slayerfests were always held someplace so remote.
She checked her phone again. In her gut, she knew it wasn’t just a lack of service. Something was wrong.
She pulled her backpack out from under her bed and dumped out the junk she usually kept in it: a small stack of graphic novels and manga, a couple of makeup bags, three studded leather bracelets, and a pair of comfy shoes. Also a notebook and some pens. Then she put back the makeup bag with the best eye-shadow palettes and all the leather bracelets and the shoes. And after a moment of consideration, her dog-eared lucky copy of Amulet: The Stonekeeper and the volume of My Hero Academia she hadn’t finished reading yet. The rest of the space she filled with clothes: T-shirts and rolled-up jeans. Black leggings. She winced at her eyeliner in the mirror as she twisted her long black hair into a ragged ponytail—the liner was messy and smudged from worry, but she didn’t care. She’d layered up in a hooded sweatshirt and was lacing her boots when someone knocked at the door.
Vi was her first thought. But that was stupid. Vi had a key.
Whoever it was knocked again, and Hailey tensed. No one in their apartment complex ever came calling.
She reached for her backpack and looked out her window. She’d never had a need to sneak out of it before, since Vi was gone so much at night anyway. But she could. Their unit was only on the second floor. She could hang and drop.
“Hailey Larsson. You in there?”
“Yeah . . .” Hailey answered hesitantly. She walked slowly to the door. It was a man’s voice, and he knew her name. And she could guess who he was, by his British accent.
“It’s . . . Spike,” he called through the wood.
Spike. Vi’s Watcher. She’d rather it was someone else. Anyone else. An intruder. A lost delivery boy. Because if Spike was there without Vi, it meant that . . .
She unlocked the door and swung it open and saw him standing there. Platinum hair. Black leather duster. A heavy blanket to shield him from the sun. And a look of grim relief to see her.
“Hailey,” he said. “We have to talk.”