Saturday, March 1, 2014

Author Guest Post: Daniel Sherrier

RIP: Choices After Death—like Buffy, but not Buffy

By Daniel Sherrier


My favorite TV show of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Therefore, I can never write about vampires.

In my subjective opinion, Buffy’s use of the vampire concept was close to perfect. If I attempted my own take on the blood-suckers, the gravitational force of Buffy’s influence would be too powerful to resist.

So I wrote about ghosts instead.

After my last Buffy re-watch several years ago, I thought, “I want to do something like that!” However, “like” is the key word that cannot be omitted from that sentence.

I considered why I enjoy the show. It was never about the vampires specifically. The real draw was the combination of drama, humor, and action, all centered around great characters, with supernatural elements adding a distinctive flavor.

That’s what I sought to emulate. Still, as I developed the concept, I had to check myself to make sure I wasn’t unconsciously copying a beloved show.

RIP, basically, is about a young guy who has to beat up ghosts to prevent them from corrupting the living. He perceives the dead with his five senses as if they were flesh and blood, and he’s just as solid to them. Oh, and he needs to adjust to adulthood, by the way.

Replacing vampires with ghosts wasn’t enough to distinguish it from Buffy. That’s just switching out one monster for another. And yeah, sure, Rip falls in the “new adult” bracket—at 24, he’s older than Buffy ever was onscreen. Still not enough. His being a guy just renders him “a male Buffy who fights ghosts,” or, due to his more subdued nature, “an introverted male Buffy who fights ghosts.”

So what was enough? The difference between vampires and ghosts.

Vampires are soulless. Ghosts are pretty much all soul. If a ghost becomes a monster, he allowed himself to become a monster.

I latched onto this idea that all ghosts on Earth are in purgatory. They weren’t good enough people for instant access to Heaven, but they weren’t bad enough to go straight to Hell. They’ll eventually go one way or the other, but that depends on the kind of person they choose to be. And since they have no proof there actually is a Heaven or Hell, many snap and start doing whatever they want, such as haunting a person who reminds them that, yes, they have much to be bitter about.

The flip side of that, then, is a ghost who’s trying to earn her way to Heaven without knowing if it’s even possible to attain anything like it. That’s the plight Serissa faces in RIP, and it drives her a different kind of crazy. She’s a sociable dead young woman, and Rip is the only living person she can interact with. Rip’s loner lifestyle suffers accordingly.

The more I built the world, the more it diverged from Buffy. The supernatural elements are limited to ghosts and Rip’s abilities – no zombies, werewolves, ogres, witches, smurfs, or anything of the sort. Any ghost’s descent into villainy results from weakness of character, not a bite. And instead of being “The Chosen One,” Rip is one of “The Seven,” but some of these folks go straight into denial and suppress their abilities, never reaching their full potential. The ghosts can hurt them, too, remember, in a physically painful way they can’t hurt others.

Stepping out of your comfort zone can leave you vulnerable, but it’s the only way to grow. Can Rip and Serissa mature into the people they need to be?

Find out in this Buffy-esque series that is most certainly not Buffy.

Follow Daniel Sherrier on Twitter

*Please look for the review of RIP: Choices After Death on Lizzie in Wonderland*

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