Writing duo Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft are a pair I always notice. Firstly because they hail from the Big City near where I was born and raised, and secondly because they are always part of interesting projects: Glory Days, The Shield, Angel, Women’s Murder Club, Dollhouse… Their writing credentials are extensive and varied, and now they’ve reteamed with Kevin Williamson (Glory Days) for the second season of the CW’s breakout hit The Vampire Diaries. Hometown paper The Kansas City Star interviewed the pair recently, getting some scoop on their dynamic and what to expect from them this season:
Q. What’s different about “The Vampire Diaries” from other shows you’ve worked on?
Fain: Well, it’s a character show with huge genre elements, so it feels familiar to us.
Craft: Actually, this is the first show we’ve worked on that didn’t have a (weekly) “case” of any sort to it. Think about it: “Dollhouse” had a case. “Angel” had a case. “The Shield” obviously had a case. “Lie to Me” had a case. “Glory Days” had a case. So this is the first that doesn’t. It’s fun. I think we’re learning a lot, because you don’t have that “case” to hang your hat on, plot-wise. It’s a learning experience. And we like anything that’s challenging us and moving us forward.
But as we’ve seen in recent years, shows like that have a tendency to implode. Why didn’t that happen last year to “Vampire Diaries”?
Craft: Julie and Kevin and the creators went through so much story. Every episode felt like a season finale: “That happened? (gasp) Omigod, that happened? (gasp)” And you think, “That must be the end of the season!”
Fain: “How will they possibly keep this going?” And then they do.
Yeah, speaking of that, what’s going to happen in Season 2? Obviously when Elena walks into that kitchen,something’sgoing to happen …
Craft: Big things happen. But we’re so hesitant to spill any beans.
Fain: Kevin has said that someone dies. (Long pause)
Craft: Beyond that I would hesitate to say anything, except that it fulfills the promise set up by Season 1.
I remember some of the fans complaining last season, “Enough with the love triangle.” But I’m surprised at how well these three (Nina Dobrev as Elena, Paul Wesley as Stefan and Ian Somerhalder as Damon) have taken everything that has been thrown at them.
Craft: You can’t really separate them. They work as a unit, which is one reason I think the show is so successful. Actually, the whole show is so well-cast.
And what’s it like being a woman writer in 2010? Give us an update.
Craft: On “Vampire Diaries” being a woman is a non-issue, in a good way. But there are a lot of male-dominated shows out there. And if a show is 90-percent male, no one has a problem with it. But if you have a show with six female writers, you’ll hear something from the powers that be.
Fain: At the low levels, I think it’s easier for women writers to break in than it was 30 years ago. It’s the upper ranks that haven’t changed. Just looking at the pilots from last season; very few women had pilots. It’s astonishing. That’s people in power who are bestowing power on people, not choosing women.
Craft: It’s complicated. I mean, writing is subjective. Let’s say there are two ideas for shows. One’s a man’s show, one’s a woman’s show. There are many, many factors involved, but one is: Are you used to buying a show from a man?
Fain: I think it’s easier to have confidence in bestowing what is essentially a multimillion-dollar corporation on a man whose leadership style you understand, as opposed to a woman whose leadership style may seem unfamiliar to you.