Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Interview with Adrienne Barbeau

Taken from her biography: "Television, film, and Broadway star Adrienne Barbeau began performing at age 16. Film fans know her best from The Fog, Escape From New York, Creepshow, Swamp Thing, Cannonball Run, and Back to School. She starred as Bea Arthur’s daughter in the hit series Maude and as Ruthie, the Snake Dancer in HBO’s Carnivale. On Broadway, she was Tevye’s daughter Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof and was nominated for a Tony for her portrayal of Rizzo in Grease. Her bestselling memoir “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” was published in 2006. Currently, she has three films awaiting release and she is hard at work on her second novel."

One of my favorite actresses, and now one of my favorite authors, Adrienne Barbeau gave this Fan-Girl a chance for a quick interview. You can read my review of her wonderful book Vampyres of Hollywood here.

-After such a long career in the movie industry what led you to start writing fiction?

Actually I started out writing a memoir, not fiction, and that came about quite by accident. I lost one of my closest friends to cancer and I was just looking for something to fill the void her passing left in my life when I heard about a writing class being offered for people who had never written before. I'd always kept a journal, just for myself, from the time I was 12 years old, but I'd never considered writing for anyone else to read. But I started the class and I started bringing in homework assignments - writing short pieces about things that had happened in my life that I thought might be interesting or funny to other people. After about six months of writing about working for the mob in NYC or working with rats in a low-budget horror film in Russia or dating Burt Reynolds, etc., my teacher told me I should submit them to an agent because she thought I had a book in my hands. So I did and I had an offer to publish my first book "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" (which I named after the song I sang when I originated the role of Rizzo in the Broadway production of "Grease".)

-Do you find that there is a lot of difference between preparing for a movie role as opposed to preparing to write a novel?

Well, I guess there are some similarities. I have to understand the character I'm playing and I have to understand the character I'm writing. I have to know why both of them do what they do and how they feel about what's going on around them. I have to know how they sound. But other than I prepare for a film role by memorizing my lines and making decisions about who the character is. I'm not sure I have a clue how I prepare to write a novel. Clean off my desk, maybe?

-Will we still be seeing Adrienne Barbeau acting, or is writing going to be a full-time job for you now?

I'll be acting as long as people keep offering me roles I want to do. I just finished a film last month and I have one "in the can" awaiting release and another one which will premiere on the SciFi Network in March.

-Vampire legends have always been a big “seller” in terms of Hollywood, but the literary community is starting to get in line as well. I guess my question would be, Why did you decide to start your fiction career by writing about vampires?

Michael Scott, an Irish author who had many scifi books published in the U.K., had read my memoir and suggested I write a novel for my horror film fans. When I voiced some anxiety about not having written fiction, he offered to write it with me. So we sat down and he asked me what I wanted to do - scifi like Escape From New York or fantasy like The Fog or what? I don't remember specifically how we settled on vampires but I realized very quickly that a female vampire is just the kind of character I usually play - strong, capable, sometimes heroic, unafraid. Ovsanna is very much like all my favorite novel characters, too - Jack Reacher in the Lee Child novels, Doc Ford in Randy Wayne White's books, Davenport in John Sandford's.

-Would you classify horror as your favorite genre? For movies, books, or both?

Egads, I don't like horror at all. Except to act in. But I don't like watching horror films and I don't read horror novels. I think the last one I enjoyed was Firestarter and that was a long time ago. I have started reading several vampire novels but I tend not to finish them. Three I really enjoyed were Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin, Ano Dracula by Kim Newman, and Hotel Transylvania by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. I think my favorite film genre is action/adventure/espionage/thrillers and definitely my favorite novel genre is mystery/thrillers.

-I can see that the ending of “Vampyres of Hollywood” is rather open-ended. Will you be writing a sequel or even better, a series with Osvanna? Or will you go somewhere else completely?

I am two thirds through writing the sequel to Vampyres of Hollywood, by myself. Should be published next fall. It's a true sequel, picks up very soon after Vampyres of Hollywood leaves off.

-As a true Hollywood insider, I assume that you used a lot of personal experience to write about in the book. Could you give me an example of something that actually happened to you, that was written about in the book? (though I had to laugh at the line about HBO’s horrible mistake in cancelling Carnivale! And I had to agree. Shame on them, since the show was fantastic!)

Well, that's my favorite example. But let's see, I have been on film sets where people disappeared for awhile, only to reappear wiping white powder off their noses. That was years ago though, definitely not recently. And my husband's mother makes great steak pizzaola.

-As a side note, do you ever look to see if any of your own personal autographs are out there on eBay?? (There is a lot of talk in the book about Hollywood Memorabilia).

My husband comes across items of mine a lot. I don't pay any attention. There's nothing I can do about it so why bother. I did have one person who was using my name and photo for her MySpace page and I had to contact her to ask that she remove them. She was very nice about it.

-Again…I just wanted to thank you for answering my questions. I truly enjoyed your book, and I look forward to many more to come!

Thanks, Stephanie. I'm really glad you liked it.

If you haven't read the book, definitely check it out!! Fantastic genre book!! And also check out the website for Vampyres of Hollywood!


Debi said...

Fabulous interview!
She's every bit as cool as I've always imagined. :)

Trish said...

Great interivew! I bet this was a lot of fun to conduct.

Ladytink_534 said...

Great interview!!! I'm looking forward to getting my hands on Vampyres of Hollywood soon!

Melody said...

Great interview, Stephanie! I've to go check out this book.

Iliana said...

That is such a great interview!
I've got the book on my radar :)

Amy said...

plz let me know if you got my email RE: BBAW Awards asap, thanks!

naida said...

wonderful interview!! I definitly want to read Vampyres of Hollywood.

John Marco said...

I'll just echo what everyone else said and agree that it was great interview. I always liked Adrienne and was happily surprised to see this here. Nice!

Serena said...

It's interesting to discover she does not like horror at all. Great interview.