Nancy Holder is the author of over 80 novels and more than 200 short stories. Her latest work is ‘Beauty and the Beast: Vendetta’ and fleshes out the tale told by The CW’s ongoing hit series ‘Beauty and the Beast’ which has been picked up for a third season. This isn’t Holder’s first take on a television novelization either as she has previously written official novels in both the ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’ universes, as well as ‘Teen Wolf,’ ‘Hellboy,’ ‘Hulk,’ ‘Saving Grace,’ ‘Smallville,’ and many others. She is also a Carolyn Keene writer having pennned a Nancy Drew book. Her take on horror, however, has also won her five separate Bram Stoker awards in the past.
ScienceFiction.com (SF): First up, could tell our readers a little about your new novel, ‘Beauty and the Beast: Vendetta’?
Nancy Holder (NH): I tried to go back to the roots of the show as portrayed in the first few episodes, as I could not hope to loop into the unfolding evolution of the characters’ lives. So I devised a good, solid case for main character Catherine Chandler, her true love the Beast Vincent Keller, Cat’s detective partner Tess Vargas, and Vincent’s best friend and protector, J.T. Forbes, to solve together. This involved the kidnapping of the son of a noted crime boss who has ties to Tori Windsor, a former love interest of Vincent’s, who died trying to save J.T. There was a lot of fan reaction to Tori, so I wanted to finish her story in a way that gave that character some real closure.
I also wanted to use other characters to anchor the story firmly in the ‘BatB’ continuity, and I included Cat’s FBI father because he’s the guy I love to hate. I also gave Gabe his own story, hinting that bad things were on the horizon. I had received a call from CBS informing me of his ultimate fate, but not precisely how he would get there. So I decided to stop short of that reveal and give Gabe a lot to do.
Most of all, I wanted to celebrate the deeply romantic love between Cat and Vincent. They truly are destined, and their love is epic. I know that was one of the huge draws for me when I started watching the show, and that other fans love VinCat as strongly as I do.
So those were my three main areas of emphasis in ‘Vendetta’: police procedural, adventure, and romance.
SF: What was your process to immerse yourself into the television series and prepare yourself to tell a story using the pre-existing characters?
NH: I was so happy when I was asked to write not one, but three novels set in the world of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ I was already watching the show and I just loved it. To have to learn the show was a dream come true. I asked for and received all the scripts for the first two seasons and practically committed them to memory. Then I watched the episodes over and over and over, both with the sound on and off. Watching shows I’m working for with the sound off has always been my secret weapon. You learn about the subtext of the show—what is important to the writers and the director.
I read each script and watched each episode from the point of view of each of the main characters in the hopes that I would be able to accurately predict what they would do in the situations I put them in. As a result, to me, they’re as real as any flesh-and-blood person in my life.
SF: What are the pluses and minuses of writing characters that someone else created over your own original characters?
NH: There are definitely more pluses than minuses. When you have a strong show like ‘BatB,’ you can go all over the map with the kind of stories you tell—a romantic story, a spy story, a caper—because the readers are reading for the characters and the world. There’s a lot more freedom than there would be if you were writing your own series, for example, because your readers demand “more of the same, only different.” I find writing tie-in material (writing novels and other material tied into someone else’s created characters) far more freeing.
Minuses are that I don’t own the stories I write. An Indian director recently contacted me and asked me if she could make a Bollywood movie out of ‘Vendetta,’ and I had to tell her to ask the production company, because they own it, not me.
SF: Which of the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ characters was your favorite to write and why?
NH: That would be like choosing among my children! (Although I actually only have one child.) I love Cat because of her strength and her deep love for Vincent. She has truly risked it all to be with him. I love Vincent because he’s worthy of that kind of sacrifice. He’s been through so much, and yet he learns to quell the anger that compels him to “Beast.” He reclaims his humanity when Cat claims his heart. Tess is stalwart, brave, and ultimately loyal, and J.T. is brilliant and funny.
SF: What other projects do you have in the works which would be of interest to our readers?
NH: I have two more ‘Beauty and the Beast’ novels. The next one is titled ‘Some Gave All’ and it will be out in March. The following one is out in August. I have a young adult thriller titled ‘The Rules’ (co-written with Debbie Viguié) coming out in June, and a new Buffy nonfiction book titled ‘Demons of the Hellmouth,’ which was actually written by Rupert Giles. I facilitated the publication of the book for him.
SF: What is your favorite type of ‘monster’ to write about and what is your favorite type to either read or watch?
NH: Right now I’m all about ghosts! Ghosts give me the willies and I love old English ghost stories. In Victorian England, ghost stories were told on Christmas Eve, which is why we have ‘A Christmas Carol.’ My favorite ghost movies are ‘The Haunting’ (1963 version), ‘A Tale of Two Sisters’ (Korean version), ‘El Orfanato’, ‘The Devil’s Backbone,’ and ‘The Woman in Black.’ I want to go see ‘The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death’ but I’m too chicken! I love the English author John Harwood, who wrote ‘The Asylum’ among other neo-gothic works.
SF: What is your favorite interaction with a fan to date and is there anything you would like to share with your current fans?
NH: Several of my fans have become good friends of mine. Shoutouts to Mariann Palmer and Timothy Cox!
SF: If you had the option to co-author a novel with any other writer out there (living or dead), who would it be and why?
NH: Edgar Allan Poe, who was funny, smart, generous, and had a strong work ethic, contrary to his public persona. He was a skilled editor and brilliant critic. He coached writers and did ghost writing, and I think he would have been a wonderful collaborator.
SF: Which piece of your work are you most proud of?
NH: I wrote a vampire short story called ‘Changed,’ about a girl who is in love with a gay boy. What she learns is that you don’t have to stop loving someone just because they don’t love you the way you wish they would. Love is love. And that even in the darkest place, there is hope.
SF: As a writer of novels, series, and short stories, what are the highlights of each style for you?
NH: Novels give you room to take a story idea and really run with it, exploring it from all angles. Series can expand an adventure and a world over the course of many years, which is an exciting and rewarding process for a writer. Short stories are as difficult for me to write as a novel, but I love the discipline of condensing my vision down into something that can be read in one setting, and adheres to Edgar Allan Poe’s notion of a singular effect. Poe is my very favorite short story writer and my literary crush.
SF: What is your ideal writing environment?
NH: I need coffee and my laptop, and that’s pretty much all I need. If I can be sequestered in a beautiful hotel, so much the better.
SF: Do you have any advice to upcoming authors out there?
NH: Read! Read as much as you write. Authors today tend to watch a lot of TV and movies, but not to read. Write, write, write, and finish things, even bad things. You need to put the time in. Don’t write one thing and spend all your time trying to place it. Write the next thing and the next.
SF: Thank you for your time. In closing would you like to say anything to your fans or those interested in learning more about your work?
NH: I have a website that’s not completely up to date but my listing on Fantastic Fiction is a little more up-to-date. I hope people find something that interests them!