I've been chatting with The Vampire Diaries' co-creator and executive producer Julie Plec since she worked on ABC Family's Kyle XY. She's a terrific interview and amazing writer who takes her characters into the most challenging places.
Before it was announced that The Vampire Diaries had been picked up for a second season, we talked in general about the show and here's some of our conversation, with more than a little info on what emotional toll it takes to put a TV show together:
KATHIE: You are huge hit.
JULIE: Kevin [Williamson] and I are really proud of everything that our group has accomplished... We have yet to have that dud episode or that one we say, "Oh, gosh, well we could have done better, but oh well." We feel so proud of each individual episode and that’s actually really hard to do [laughed]. I’ve certainly never worked on anything where every episode I’ve been like yeah that’s the one, you know. We’re so proud of the level of quality. We can pat ourselves on the back for a lot of things, but it’s what the production value, the acting, the chemistry between the actors, the casting, all the production design elements, the directing. We’ve been incredibly blessed with a production team and a cast that is just kind of surprisingly amazing. You wouldn’t believe, you are always looking for that one person that just doesn’t do as well anybody else, or that you’re like, "Oh well." But everybody is great. That’s thrilling.
KATHIE: What has been the biggest challenge with the show?
JULIE: It’s not wanting to settle, and when you don’t want to settle you become a bit of a control freak and a perfectionist. Being a control freak and a perfectionist takes a lot of time and a lot of emotional energy, and wow did we work hard and almost too hard. We worked to the point of near collapse and it is consistent with first season shows and it’s certainly consistent with Kevin and me and the way we work together, that we just want everything to be as good as it can be. We won’t go home until it is and so that means a lot of late nights and a lot sleeping on the couch in the office at six in the morning and a lot of personal struggle.
KATHIE: How do you manage it?
JULIE: We’re both, Kevin and I, are both sort of single, pathetic losers with no children. Kevin has a dog, I don’t even have a dog [laughed]. I make the joke, it’s fun to the have the show be successful and my regret is I haven’t been able to experience the fun that comes along with it.
KATHIE: So in some ways this is your child.
JULIE: Yes, exactly. You get on Twitter, Kevin and I love our Twitter universe and the Twitter fans. We get on Twitter and you get the feedback from the them and the genuine positive or negative critiques from them and to be able to have that kind of access, a direct access to the fan base has been kind of cool, too. Just to see what they love and what they’re hating, who they would kill [laughed].
KATHIE: How many books are out there?
JULIE: I think we’re up to… they published five.
KATHIE: What do you do when you run out of books?
JULIE: Well, a lot of this stuff is stuff we’re embellishing and taking the rote story, the back-story of the book, and then further expanding that to create more story out of it. The good thing about the books is we’ve got all kinds of stuff to choose from, but we’re not handcuffed to them either, so we can take a storyline and for half a season that never even existed in the books, and then return to something that was very present in the books and not mess it up for ourselves. So it’s good.
It is good indeed. Good enough that The Vampire Diaries is a huge hit on The CW nad has already gotten a second season. And good enough that the series is now Number 4 on TV.com's list of Top 100 TV Shows, just below Lost, Grey's Anatomy, and Supernatural.
Looks like it may be a long time before Julie gets that dog.
For more with Julie Plec check out my column "TV In Focus" in Sci Fi Magazine on the newsstands.