"It can often be difficult to instill these regurgitations of tv episodes with any real identity of their own. Keith seems to be the exception to this rule with his sympathetic take on the growing pains and love life of everyone's favourite geek. ... I hope Keith's plans for an original Buffy tale work out. On the strength of this he is likely to deliver the goods."
---Robert Francis, The Watcher's Web
In addition to original novels, the folks at Pocket Books also did a whole mess of episode novelizations. But they've taken the unique approach of doing novelizations that center on particular characters. The first was The Angel Chronicles Vol. 1 by Nancy Holder, which novelized "Angel," "Reptile Boy," and "Lie to Me"; the stories were linked with interstitial bits bridging the gaps between those episodes.
While working on The Watcher's Guide Volume 1, I pitched the idea of a Xander-focused novelization, since Pocket's Buffy editor had mentioned that they were looking at him next after Angel for that treatment. I figured the best bet would be to focus on his love life, such as it is, since he constantly is falling for women who are no good for him: a praying mantis, a murdering 500-year-old mummy, Cordelia, and, later, Anya and Lissa.
Pocket liked the idea, Fox liked the idea, Mutant Enemy liked the idea, and so I wrote The Xander Years Volume 1. (No, that was not the original title. If you've seen The Xander Files or Xander the Great floating around, those were titles that Pocket and I, respectively, came up with, both of which were nixed by Fox. Such, as they say, is life.)
"The author has managed to inject brilliant characterisations into these novelisations. He really understands the characters, and it makes the stories a wonderful read."What was the most fun about writing this particular novelization was the chance to get inside the heads of the characters. It's too easy for a novelization to just rehash the script; my goal was to do the one thing a TV show can't, to wit, hear the characters' thoughts. Each scene in The Xander Years is from a particular character's point of view. Pretty much every major character who appears in these episodes gets at least one scene (even Spike) -- about the only ones who don't are Jenny Calendar and Drusilla. Part of the reason for the latter two is that I was very careful in "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" never to be in the POV of anyone who had been whammed with the love spell.
---Ally, The Slayer's Handbook
Having been a wisecracking high-school geek with bad luck in love (though nothing as bad as a woman being literally after my head, as in "Teacher's Pet"), it was remarkably easy to get inside Xander Harris's headspace. And a great deal of fun, too. (If you want even more inane babble from me on the subject, I did interviews for "The Watcher's Web" site and for the webzine Voices.)
If you want to read the book in another language, there are also editions in French (Buffy, Contre les Vampires: Les Métamorphoses d'Alex, published by Fleuve Noir and available from Amazon.fr) and German (Buffy, Im Bann der Dämonen, Xander, Auf Liebe und Tod, published by VGS Verlagsges and available from Amazon.de).
Eventually, I got to write a couple of original Buffy novels -- Blackout in 2006 and The Deathless in 2007.
(And order The Watcher's Guide while you're at it -- no Buffy fan should be without it...)
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