When attending a convention, one expects to have encounters with other participants and the location, and then to come away with fresh knowledge and clearer understandings. One doesn’t expect to expand one’s impression of a television star as being insightful, creative or smart, but after two conference sessions with Amber Benson most famously Tara of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I’m ready to admit my impressions have been altered.
Amber appeared at the World Horror Convention in New Orleans as the “New Media Guest.” That didn’t tip me off about what to expect, but her presentation brought the invitation into light. She spoke about her project, the Ghosts of Albion, co-created with Christopher Golden. What started as a multimedia web series now archieved on the BBC’s website expanded into two book adaptations and two novels including Ghosts of Albion: Accursed and Witchery: A Ghosts of Albion Novel. In a roleplaying game based on the series, “players join in the fight to keep the ever-present forces of evil at bay.”
The story of the Ghosts of Albion revolves around a sister and brother, Tamara and William Swift, descendants of a wealthy earl in Victorian London. They are called to the bedside of their grandfather, a stage magician, where he informs them of his true identity as a protector of Albion, or England. They attribute his claims to his illness until he is attacked and killed by werewolves in front of them. With the help of mystical protectors including Lord Byron and Admiral Nelson, they take up the work of their deceased grandfather.
Amber inspired the audience to use all available avenues when creating the universe of their stories. She addressed the need to reach beyond traditional media to make connections with readers and invite them to become participants in the worlds authors and artists create. She was very funny, and warm, and welcoming– and I was reminded of the value of letting go of expectations to be open to learn from unexpected teachers.