Wondery’s latest project is a Buffy rewatch podcast called The Rewatcher: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It is hosted by Buffy superfan Alaina Urquhart (author of the best-selling book, The Butcher and the Wren – is now set for a TV adaptation) as well as Ash Kelley. In addition to revisiting the Buffy franchise, they are also the voices behind Wondery’s Morbid. Wanting to learn more about their podcast and their other work, I interviewed Kelley and Urquhart for ScifiPulse.
Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, what were some stories you two loved? Are there any you two still enjoy revisiting?
Alaina Urquhart: I was a big Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark fan, so I loved all of those older spooky tales. But one story that always stuck with me from those books was Harold. The story about the scarecrow. If you know…you know.
Ash Kelley: I’ve always loved a good urban legend. One of my favorites growing up was Bloody Mary, while it scared the crap out of me, I always loved that feeling. Now, as an adult I love looking back on some of the urban legends I heard growing up and finding out their origin story. Bloody Mary has so many potential origin stories that I could have you here all day long!
Yanes: Publishing a book and launching a podcast are huge accomplishments. As professional creatives, when did you two feel that you had ‘made it’?
Urquhart: Honestly, I have default mode of imposter syndrome at all times! I always feel like I can and should do more. I think it’s necessary for me to always be reaching and striving to do and be better. Growth is something I hope to never abandon.
Kelley: I honestly am not sure if that feeling will ever come, or if I want it to! If I ever reach the day where I believe I’ve “made it” then there wouldn’t be more for me and there is always more to do and learn, in my opinion.
Yanes: Urquhart, you received degrees in criminal justice, psychology, and biology. When were you forced to pick between becoming a creator, a crime fighter, or a serial killer?
Urquhart: It was easy to weed out the career choice of serial killer for me! Haha, but initially I thought that I wanted to go into law enforcement. But I always loved science. I took anatomy and physiology on a whim and it hooked me from there. Luckily, I also indulged the creative part of my brain as well and here the two shall meet.
Yanes: More seriously, how do you two think your backgrounds made you both better storytellers?
Urquhart: I would say that autopsies are a puzzle that just has to be formed into a story, so it was and still is a helpful path for me. I always look at it as helping the dead tell their own story and writing has always been something that brought me peace and satisfaction.
Kelley: My background as a hairstylist afforded me the opportunity to talk to all different kinds of people, from all different walks of life. I never knew who would be sitting in my chair next but I knew it was my job to keep them comfy and a lot of times that would be through conversation. I think that translates now into podcasting because I’m never sure what case I’m going to cover but I can take my time with each one, learn all the ins and outs to it just like I would with a client and I never get bored of talking!
Yanes: One of your latest projects is The Rewatcher: Buffy the Vampire Slayer podcast. In the process of rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, what are some new elements you now see in the series?
Urquhart: Rewatching Buffy has been such a treat for me. A lot has changed in terms of how we speak and what we feel comfortable saying now and that’s been interesting to see. The show is a 90s time capsule, but it was so ahead of its time in a lot of ways. They always made Buffy real and like someone you really could realistically strive to be like (minus the supernatural element I suppose? But to be honest, I still wasn’t deterred). It’s refreshing to see an older show with a strong woman leading the charge.
Yanes: Despite all the time that has passed since Buffy started as well as Joss Whedon’s fall from grace, much of the show has aged well. Why do you think that is?
Urquhart: I think these are characters you can identify with and also see in your own friends. We all have been where Willow is as she pines after Xander, a lot of people have been the new kid in school and a lot of us can identify with juggling school and personal lives. They walked the line of completely fantastical and completely relatable really well and it helped it stay really relevant today.
Kelley: Buffy and her friends are, in a weird way, your typical teenagers. Aside from preventing the apocalypse there’s something relatable about all of them and I think it’s really easy to see yourself as one of them. They’re all trying to navigate high school, home lives and personal issues just like the rest of us.
Yanes: Urquhart, you have recently published The Butcher and The Wren. What was the inspiration for this story?
Urquhart: Yes! It actually came from a nightmare I had where a man was chasing me in a swamp. There was music blasting, and it was so vivid (pregnancy dreams are so real!) and I wrote it down. I felt like I needed to know more of that story, so I started writing around it myself. Jeremy was born out of a sweaty, twin pregnancy nightmare. But I have always loved reading and consuming horror. So, this was something that just felt right.
Yanes: From developing the idea to submitting the final draft, when did the novel take on a life of its own?
Urquhart: It was honestly during the first pass of the manuscript that it started to become something real and alive. I was so invested in Wren and Leroux and even Jeremy, I had trouble bringing myself to write that last page. Luckily, it doesn’t have to end there.
Yanes: When people finish reading The Butcher and The Wren, what do you hope they take away from the experience?
Urquhart: I hope people are truly scared, truly invested in the story/characters and truly shocked. I want people to just have a really fun and terrifying journey that leaves them speechless. My favorite books were ones that just left me thinking of them the next day and the next week and even after that.
Yanes: Finally, what else are you two working on that people can look forward to?
Urquhart: We have been having a blast working on some new pods and I can’t wait for them to come out. One is coming soon and I think Ash gave a good hint! But besides pods, hopefully we get to see The Butcher and the Wren hit your screens in the near future! That’s been a wild ride that I am so grateful to be taking. I get to work with Radio Silence, Sister and Jennifer Yale. Don’t pinch me…I am not waking up.
Kelley: We’ve been able to work on a lot of new projects over the last few months and there is one in particular that I’m really excited for. It actually will be coming out pretty soon and if I had to give a hint for what it is I guess I would just say two words: chilly afterlife.