Interview: Jane Espenson

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Susie Rantz over at GeekGirlCon, I and a handful of other bloggers were able to sit down and chat with one of my favourite television writers, Jane Espenson. Here are some of her thoughts on her work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the shows she would most like to work on and what she plans to dress up as for Halloween.

On the reason she keeps coming back to GeekGirlCon
I really like this convention. It is small and it is friendly and it is accessible. It’s relevant to me. And as a marriage equality state, it’s a good fit with Husbands (the web series she writes when she’s not working on Once Upon A Time). We just always feel really welcome here.

On being the only woman on a writing staff
For many, many years, I would be the only woman on a writing staff. That was usually the case. But I’ve seen that change. It intimidated me. I won’t say that it didn’t. But it didn’t stop me. You just have to be a little bit better. There are things I don’t do particularly well, and I made it anyway, so it’s not like you have to be so perfect, or you should give up going into a male dominated field. If you’re good enough to land a few jobs, give it a go. That’s the only way it’s going to change, is if women are brave enough to go into those male dominated industries and make it happen.

And we shouldn’t always think of men as the enemy. Look at Joss. Look at Eli. Look at Brad Bell, the creator and star of Husbands. Brad faces as many obstacles as women do. If we frame it as men versus women, it becomes men versus women. We have to think of it as “how do you get the best product out there, and help the product?”

On whether she will be writing on Agents of SHIELD as you have on every other Joss Whedon show.
The only thing I think I haven’t been involved with is Doctor Horrible. I would love to. They should give me a call.

On a franchise she would love to work on if she wasn’t writing for Husbands and OUAT.
You know what I love, I love Big Bang Theory. I don’t miss the room of a multi-camera comedy, it’s a very draining process. But boy if there were a way for me to turn in a first draft and let that room do its magic on it, that’s a show I really admire. I think those characters are beautifully drawn. If I had my name on one of those, I would be very proud.

On why she’s not as big a fan of her work on the third season Buffy episode, Band Candy.
There are (episodes) where I think I went wrong, when I look back. I think Band Candy is one. I gave the principal the same cultural references from my childhood. They should have been older. And with Willow and the stoned teacher. It feels like college writing. Like, “this is what I think stoned people sound like.” When I should have found some people who know what stoned people sound like. But I’m better now. It’s better than looking back at something you did 20 years ago and going, “Oh I could never do that now.” I’d rather look back and go “I could do it better.”

On cosplay and what she is dressing as for Halloween.
I have a great Halloween costume which I had made by a costume designer on the show. It’s a shark, but I’m sticking out of the mouth of the shark, in a swim suit. Like I’m in the process of being bitten by the shark. It’s adorable. If I were to cosplay as a character. I’d say Cheeks (from Husbands), but I don’t have that kind of body. Probably the evil queen from Once Upon A Time. Those gowns are so gorgeous. Prettiest costumes I’ve ever seen. I think I could rock a high feather collar.