I’m proud to announce our first exclusive interview in our countdown to San Diego Comic Con and with a contest to boot! I had the pleasure of interviewing Mariah Huehner who co-wrote (with David Tischman) “True Blood All Together Now” and “The French Quarter”.
by: Ann Kirla
TBC: I have to ask. I’ve checked out your twitter profile and you are a
mustache aficionado. Can you tell us how that came about?
MH: Well, it started because I just can’t seem to take pictures of myself very seriously. However, I wanted to have a more “official” online presence and I thought that should probably include my actual face. But every time I tried to find the right pic, I just didn’t really look like myself. I had an image up in Photoshop and idly drew a mustache on it and voila! It finally seemed right. Especially the current one which is clearly fake, pink, and curly. It sums up my personality pretty well. Not the fake part, but a kind of playful irreverence.
TBC: How did you get started writing comic books. Was it something you always wanted to do?
MH: Before I even considered writing comics I’d been editing them for about 10 years. I hadn’t really thought about writing them before because I didn’t want to be “that” kind of editor, the sort that’s really a frustrated writer. When you’re editing someone else’s work it’s about their story, not you, so it hadn’t really come up. I had been writing prose on my own and always loved the process of writing, but for a long time it wasn’t a goal to write for comics.
I’d been working at IDW for awhile, editing collections, and then Angel and The Last Unicorn, when the True Blood license came along. We had about a day to come up with a short script for an artist to draw so we could submit our proposal. I sat down and wrote 3 pages. I kind of crammed as many people as it made sense to into Merlotte’s, because I figured the most important thing was to show we could translate how those characters “sound” into a different medium. Well, I guess it worked because we got the license. And I got to meet Alan Ball in person in L.A. and plot out True Blood: All Together Now in a real writers room type thing. I couldn’t believe it. After that I had the bug.
TBC: How involved has Alan Ball been in the process?
MH: Very, especially the first storyline (All Together Now). We sat down with him and two of his writers at the time and hashed the whole thing. We talked about backstories for each of the characters, the general plot points and beats, and Alan approved all the scripts and made notes. He was, I really can’t say this enough, lovely and gracious and a pleasure to work with.
TBC: How do you go about creating your scripts?
MH: Since they’re co-written with the incomparably generous (and hilarious) David Tischman, we had a kind of weird process we worked out. We’d do an outline first, figure out the whole story arc, and then do sub-outlines for each issue. We’d look it over and decide who wanted to do what scene and go from there. We talk on the phone a lot, give each other notes, make sure it all “flows” so you aren’t reading something disjointed in two entirely different writing styles. And it works, somehow.
TBC: Who is your favorite True Blood character to write for and how does your storytelling evolve around that?
MH: That’s a tough one. They all have such distinct voices and interesting character personalities. I really like writing for Lafayette because he’s probably my favorite character. But getting to do Bill/Sookie/Eric banter is also too much fun. There’s nothing like writing suggestive, dirty dialog for a good time. The most important thing about writing for characters and a world like this is that it all has to balance out. It has to show their personality, move the story along, provide useful exposition, and introduce tension or levity depending on the scene. It’s a delicate balance.
TBC: I know you created a never before seen creature in the the first True Blood series “All Together Now”. Did you do anything similar to that for “The French Quarter”?
MH: We did invent some new characters in The French Quarter. We have our creepy serial killer villain, Le Deux, and the vampire crime unit Detective who was also part fairy, like Sookie. Both were fun to create and develop. I also liked being able to bring back Godric in some of the flashbacks. We didn’t get much time with that character in the show but he had a very striking presence.
MH: In the first series we were limited to working within the confines of Merlotte’s and fitting all the characters in. It was a challenge but ultimately fun because we got to develop some backstory and get to know the characters in ways even the show hasn’t been able to do. In the second series we were able to concentrate on fewer characters and set a particular tone by going to New Orleans and opening things up a bit. Plus, we got to explore the dynamics between the Bill/Sookie/Eric love triangle and Lafayette dealing with Pam at Fangtasia. It’s a weird world so it was great to get to go to other locations and explore relationships.
TBC: I know you’ve worked on Buffy and Angel and now True Blood. What is it like to be able to write stories around these two different worlds? I know for me that Buffy is the thing that really got me into vampires and I have to tell you that I actually own almost every single Buffy action figure that Diamond put out. I’m missing two super rare ones I’ve been on the hunt for years. So I’m super passionate about both Buffy and True Blood.
MH: Insane, I think. I still can’t quite believe it when I see my name in the books. I’m a huge, huge, huge, Whedon fan, so getting to write Angel stories was just beyond awesome. And then True Blood, with Alan Ball, was another, wait, I get to do WHAT? Kind of feeling. They weren’t things I ever thought I’d be doing. Even though the story worlds are very different, at heart they’re both about characters and relationships. They’re about all the big life questions and finding meaning in who you are and what you do. Mostly I just feel honored and grateful I’ve gotten to work with both. I’m extremely lucky.
TBC: So what is your favorite book you’ve ever worked on and why?
MH: Oof, that’s a tough one. I mean, between writing and editing I’ve worked on a lot and I wouldn’t want to slight anyone or be too much of an egotist to pick something of my own as my “favorite”. They all have different things I’m proud of and love about them. Mostly what I really enjoy is the collaboration. In comics you get to work with so many great people, other writers, other editors, the artists and fans…it’s a group effort. On a purely personal level I think I’m probably most proud of certain moments from all of them. The Illyria: Haunted story I worked on with Scott Tipton and Elena Casagrande as part of the Angel universe was very important to me. But so was Lafayette’s story in All Together Now, where we dealt with his mom and homophobia. There’s a scene between Angel and Connor I was so happy to be able to write towards the end of IDW’s run…and I love everything Brian Lynch ever did with Spike. I recently got to work with Anne Rice on a comics adaptation of her novel, Servant of the Bones. She was so sweet and wonderful, and I learned so much on that project. That’s really the best part in all of this. You get so much out of each book and the people you get to work with always make it a worthwhile ride.
For more info on Mariah you can follow her on Twitter @TiredFairy or visit her blog
So in honor of this awesome interview I am giving away a True Blood All Together Now #4 NYCC Exclusive. I will also try to get this autographed by Mariah during SDCC. No guarantees. Winner will receive prize sometime in late July. Contest is open for one week June 4th – June 14th. Winner announced on June 15th. All you have to do is fill out the form below (include your email address, Facebook name or twitter id) “like” us on Facebook (box on the right hand side of the page) or follow us on Twitter @TrueBloodComics. Please note that you can either follow me on twitter or like me on Facebook. Both are not required. So if you have liked me or followed me since Monday you will automatically be entered to win. Winner picked at random by random.org. Winners will be contacted via email. If no response is given within 24 hours the next person will be notified. TBC reserves the right to substitute or change the prize in case the prize becomes unavailable. Contest open to United States/Canada residents only.
Contest Closed. Winner has been notified. Once accepted will announce winner on this page.