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Horror author Yvonne Navarro Branches out with BUFFY tie-in books.
By Denise Dumars
February 08, 2000
Novelist Yvonne Navarro would look right at home in the cast of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. The slim blonde author practices martial arts and, given the right tools, could probably kick some serious vampire butt. But her main weapon is her computer, with which she writes horror stories and novels that could be said, in another context, to 'kick butt' themselves. She's one of the most highly regarded members of the Horror community, friendly and open and participating in discussions at conventions and online. Her website is a feast for the eyes and the mind. So it's no surprise that she's written the first tie-in book based on the bright and engaging character Willow in BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, and is working on an original novel for the series.
'One of the training seminars I attended at the martial arts academy last year was taught by Ron Balicki and Diana Lee Inosanto,' she says. 'Diana did some of the stunt work on the show for the character Faith. Not only is Diana a super nice person; she's also an incredible martial artist.' Yvonne was brought to the martial arts by a friend, and is 'slowly working up through the belt rankings.'
THE WILLOW FILES VOL. I is Navarro's first BUFFY tie-in novel. 'It was a fun project--my first time writing a young adult novel. I can't say that I wrote it much differently than my other novels, except that I tried to not get too obscure with the adjectives. Also, no swearing and, well, you know...'
Navarro got the assignment after meeting the editor for the BUFFY series at a convention. After she was recommended by Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder, veteran BUFFY authors, the editor asked for samples of her work. The assignment came soon after.
When asked for her thoughts on Willow--the A-student, tech-nerd, good girl and Wiccan, Navarro doesn't admit to seeing much similarity between her own high school experience and the character's. 'I can't say that I really identify with any one character on the show,' she says. 'I've celebrated and agonized with each of them at one point or another. So I can't say I identify with her...unless you count my shy, bookish ways throughout much of my educational 'unlife,'' she laughs. 'And Wicca wasn't a big thing in my Catholic Chicago neighborhood. Now, however, I'm a supernatural glutton. I'd love to see more witchcraft and magical powers on the show.'
Navarro has a passion for vampires. 'There is just so much you can do with them. Spike is excellent, and I wish they'd bring back Drusilla--there was something deliciously creepy about her. [New vampire] Harmony is an excellent example of what I've always believed about how vampires should reflect the characteristics of the humans they once were. Someone who is whiny and pathetic would be just as whiny and pathetic as a vampire,' she says. 'Of course, the mythology of the show ignores a bit of logic...if Hell swallowed the entire world, or vampires killed everyone, then what would vampires eat?'
Good question. But Navarro enjoys other developing aspects of the show. 'I always thought Angel was a marvelous character, but at the same time I wanted Buffy to have someone who was at least semi-normal; too much angst isn't reasonable. Riley is a brilliant conception--a boyfriend who can help her in slayage yet who is completely different from Angel.'
She applauds other current developments on the show. 'The recent episode 'Hush' really appealed to me. All the classic BUFFY elements were there: excitement, danger, humor, warmth, and then finally they kissed. But they couldn't find the words to talk things out in the end. Isn't that always the way?' Navarro has identified a clue to the show's success, perhaps, in the fact that even in the midst of supernatural mayhem the realities of human relationships shine through.
Navarro is already working on her next BUFFY project-an original novel titled PALEO. 'You know what they need in Sunnydale?' she asks. 'Dinosaurs!' In this novel she gets to explore her fascination with them. 'In PALEO, a young paleontologist discovers a way to 'revitalize' dinosaur eggs furnished to him by a new Sunnydale High student. Both are innocent of the forces which are really behind the fast-growing dinosaur hatchlings--they are brought to life by a supernatural force that has a hidden agenda, and Buffy and her Slayerettes have to deal with it.'
Navarro published her first short story in 1984, and her first novel, AFTERAGE, an apocalyptic vampire tale, was published in 1993. Her second book, DEADRUSH, was 'my take on zombies, and was completely soaked in my hometown of Chicago.' Both of those novels made it to the Bram Stoker Award ballots, and her third novel, FINAL IMPACT, was given the Chicago Women in Publishing's 1997 Award for Excellence in Adult Fiction. FINAL IMPACT was followed by RED SHADOWS, a companion volume that can also be read solo.
While THE WILLOW FILES VOL. I was her first young-adult novel, it was not her first tie-in novel. 'I've done one book in the ALIENS series called ALIENS: MUSIC OF THE SPEARS. It's still in print and selling well. I get a lot of email from people who enjoyed it. I also did the novelizations for the SPECIES and SPECIES II films. Alfred Molina read the audio version of the SPECIES book, which won him the 1996 Audie award for Best Solo Performance.'
The year 2000 will bring two more of Navarro's original novels to print. DEADTIMES will be published by DarkTales Publications. 'DEADTIMES is definitely an odd book,' she says. 'Only a true horror lover would be interested in it. It has everything: vampires, voodoo, the Salem witch trials, AIDS, the KKK, the horrors of prostitution. It's what I call a horror time-jumper, with the same character see-sawing through time trying to redeem herself for a critical mistake.'
The second novel to come out in 2000 will be THAT'S NOT MY NAME, a book that will be marketed as a mainstream thriller. 'It's my first complete departure from horror, as in the supernatural kind,' she says. 'Still, the events are pretty horrifying. In the book a woman is kidnapped from a grocery store parking lot by a man who believes that she's his wife. As time goes on, the woman--and the reader--begin to wonder if this actually might be true. But if it is, what about the woman's other husband? And if it's not--what really happened to the kidnapper's wife?'
Although pegged primarily as a horror writer, Navarro says, 'I try to write in all genres. Some of my work has been labeled science fiction and even mainstream. I've also just completed my first Western horror story.' But she's not one to downplay her interest in the horror genre. 'I've always loved horror,' she says. 'The monsters, the darkness, the thrill of being frightened and being rescued...sometimes,' she says ominously, and laughs.
'The first horror film I ever saw was Hitchcock's THE BIRDS, and the Friday night Creature Features on local television were the highlight of my week when I was a kid. The first horror novel I read was probably Peter Saxon's SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN. My mother tried to hide it on top of the refrigerator and somehow I managed to get up there and grab it. I couldn't put it down,' she says. 'And I've been hooked ever since.'Click here
to visit Yvonne Navarro's webpage.