Q&A with Robyn Burnett (Author of Crash Into Me)
Toronto-based author and Roswell fan Robyn Burnett was recently interviewed by Crashdown’s own black widow (Fionna) regarding her soon-to-be-published book about Roswell: “Crash Into Me: The World of Roswell”. (A must-have for any fan!)
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ATTENTION ROSWELL FANS! Meet Robyn in person and purchase a signed copy of “Crash Into Me: The World of Roswell” hot off the press at a one-of-a-kind book launch event, to be held in Toronto, ON, at the end of October. Keep checking Crashdown or visit the Roswell 2 message board for further details later this week.
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“Crash Into Me: The World of Roswell” is an out-of-this-world resource about all things Roswell, including background about the show’s origins, a detailed episode guide, cast and character biographies, information about the “real” Roswell incident, trivia questions and lots of exclusive photographs (many of which you might recognise if you are a regular Crashdown visitor!). But what really sets the book apart is the special attention given to the history of Roswell fandom–with particular emphasis on Crashdown and the fan groups and posters on Fan Forum’s message boards! From the renewal campaigning to the fundraising to the fan parties and much, much more … it’s all here, and serves as a wonderful memento of the past three years.
On behalf of Crashdown and Fan Forum, congratulations to Robyn on the book and thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts! :)
Q: Why Roswell? What was it about this show that made you want to write a book about it?
A: It’s an interesting story, actually. I had just published a book for ECW Press–the life story of a breast cancer patient–and I was having lunch with my editor. She happens to be a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was, and am, a huge fan of Roswell. So, we traded stories about the two shows. ECW Press publishes a whole series of books on different television shows, including Buffy. I began to promote the idea of a Roswell book. At the time, it seemed unlikely. Later, my agent presented the idea formally to ECW and they agreed to go forward with it. So, in reality, it is thanks to my agent and my editor that the book actually went forward.
Q: During your research and writing, did you uncover anything about the cast or show that surprised you?
A: While I discovered some interesting things about the cast and the show, it was the fan history that really surprised me. When I first began writing the book, I was completely new to the “TV” book process. Not only that, but I was using a very antiquated Internet system, so I wasn’t really aware of the Internet groups and posting boards. I knew about Crashdown, and loved the site, but had no knowledge of the depth of work that had gone into saving the show. I really only expected to write a chapter about one of the posting board parties (which was what was in the original ECW Buffy book). When I was fortunate enough to find an e-mail address for more information about the Crashdown Yearbook, it led me to various other fan projects and activities, and I discovered more than I had ever imagined. The incredible hard work that went behind the campaigns and the dedication of the fans floored me. From that point on, I wanted to tell their story and acknowledge everything that they had done not only to save Roswell, but in support of numerous charities. It is quite amazing what people can accomplish when they band together as one united voice. I also found it quite interesting to do some more in-depth research on the cast. My brother is an actor, so I wanted to make sure I did a good, thorough job with the biographies’ as much as I could with the few pages I had for each. I tried to include at least one quote, or one element to each person’s life that I found intriguing.
Q: Roswell was initially the critics’ darling during its first season, and yet wound up widely panned by those very same critics by the end of its third year. There were obviously some changes in direction for the show over that time, which many fans and critics feel contributed to Roswell’s downfall–do you have any thoughts about this?
A: Television is a very tough medium to begin with. It doesn’t help matters when a network keeps changing its mind on how a show should be handled. I think a lot of Roswell’s issues had to do with its own “identity” issues as a show. As the teens on Roswell struggled to figure out who they were and where they belonged, I felt the show itself did the same thing. While it seemed to have an idea at first, the whole issue of adding more science fiction began shifting the tone. Then, once Roswell was picked up by UPN, the show seemed to take on a more rebellious nature, as Max and Liz did. It was never really given a chance to grow on its own, but rather was “told,” as the teens were, what its “destiny” should be. As a consequence, it wasn’t allowed to grow naturally, but forced to grow into moulds that didn’t fit. Everyone grew frustrated. Consistency was thrown out the window only because there was no other option. So it’s not surprising the critics had issues. There’s my little metaphor for the day. You’ll find a few different metaphors in the book–forgive me my indulgence! :)
Q: Why do you think the show continues to have such a hard-core “cult” appeal among its fans, even though it’s been taken off the air?
A: When a cast has chemistry, it is hard to forget it. The fact that Roswell truly hit both the emotional market, and the sci-fi fans worked to its benefit. There were a lot of soulful moments on the show that touched many people. Everyone has felt alienated in their life at some point. “True love conquering all” is always an audience draw. There were so many unforgettable episodes, despite the inconsistencies that occurred. Also, Roswell was unique. There are so many shows today that feel like carbon copies of another show. Roswell was one of a kind. When a show touches you, whatever the show is, it’s hard to let go. In Canada, it was on Mondays on CityTV. Every Monday night I get this feeling that I should be watching something. Now, I’ve watched episodes over and over and analyzed them to death and yet I STILL miss it. What is the reason behind Roswell’s “hard-core” appeal? You know, that’s a good question. Maybe someone can explain it to me.
Q: What are your thoughts on the fans, and their fundraising and renewal campaign activities over the past three years?
A: Phenomenal, phenomenal, phenomenal. I have nothing but the utmost respect for all of the campaigning and fundraising that the Roswell fans have done over the last few years. I have been working with kids with cancer for a while now and when I heard of the campaign for pediatric oncology patients–thank you. Thank you for your work for FSMA and for the work for the 30 Hour Famine and all other charity work you have done and continue to do. You do make a difference. The renewal campaigns show a united voice and that in itself is amazing. The dedication that people have shown to the show is wonderful. Hey, I appreciated it greatly! We got to have three seasons of Roswell instead of one!
Q: Have you read the ‘Roswell High’ series of books by Melinda Metz? How do you think they compare to the TV show?
A: I’ve only read a couple of the ‘Roswell High’ series, but I did enjoy them. Actually, I have devoured the ‘Fingerprints’ series that Melinda wrote. They are amazing! I think the original book series was definitely on a different slant than the television show but it was for a different audience. I’d be curious to read the whole series now, actually. Maybe I should get on that now. Then I can properly answer the question. :)
Q: Do you have a favourite episode, or story arc?
A: Okay, I’m going to split this up into my top five, in no particular order, otherwise I’d be mulling it over forever! So:
285 South: Awesome.
Blind Date: The Max and Liz element was great, but Kyle rocked.
Summer of ’47: Liked the twist, loved the ending.
The End of the World: Could you break my heart some more, please?
Cry Your Name: Tough to watch, well done on all fronts.
Ch-ch-changes: Would’ve changed the title, but the concept worked very well.
Wow. That was hard to do! As for story arcs, that’s a tough one. I felt they were a bit scattered, but I did find the contrast between Max’s journey and Michael’s in Season Two to be well done. I felt the best *consistent* story arc over three seasons was Kyle’s.
Q: What about a favourite character?
A: Loved them all, and I hate to play favourites so I won’t! I’ll say this much, I happened to love Miko Hughes as Nicholas.
Q: If you were a writer for Roswell, what kind of episode / story arc would you like to create?
A: I felt the whole ‘Kivar’ storyline was misused. After all the hype regarding Kivar in Season Two, I was seriously disappointed by the way the situation turned out. So, I would explore that further. I actually thought Jesse might be Kivar at one point, or at least get possessed by him. That could have added an interesting twist to things.
Q: If you could have the opportunity to go back in time and correct one of Roswell’s flaws, what would it be, and why?
A: Correct one, eh? Okay. You’re asking a writer, here, so choosing *one* might be a tough call! As I said earlier, I felt the characterisation suffered as a consequence of the constant network demands so … we’ll leave that. The story arc was affiliated with the characterisation as was the “sci-fi” element. To be honest, one of my biggest pet peeves involved Jim Valenti. Jim was such a prominent character in the first season, became uncharacteristically irresponsible in the second season (which worked–to a point) then practically disappeared in the third season.
I also felt that the Evans’s discovery of their children’s genetic history could have been explored earlier in the season and with much more depth. And Liz with powers–how cool is that? That could have been explored further as well. I also felt the whole “enemy” shift was too inconsistent. First it was the FBI, then it was the other aliens, then it was–what, exactly? Morgan Fairchild? Again, there were a lot of holes here and there, but the biggest thing I would have held onto consistently was the whole “teenage alienation” factor. The issues began to overwhelm the characters. Phew … was that enough of an answer for you?
Q: Any closing comments or remarks?
A: On a final note, I wanted to say thank you to all the Roswell fans who helped me out on this journey. Your generosity was amazing and I couldn’t have done it without you. I hope you all enjoy the book. I’ll keep poking around on the boards (once I get hooked up again! I am hopeless with computers) to answer any questions you might have.