I am pleased to welcome actress & author Kathryn Leigh Scott to Wicked Lil Pixie today. Ms. Scott is best known for her work on Dark Shadows, a gothic soap opera that is currently being adapted by Tim Burton for a film release next year. Ms. Scott has just released Dark Passages, a novel that mixes her time on Dark Shadows with fiction. Thank you for taking the time to join us today!
WLP: Can you tell us a little bit about Dark Passages and how it came to be?
I’ve always wanted to write about my first year in New York, a period of time bookended by the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 and President Kennedy’s assassination a year and a month a later in November 1963. It was such an extraordinary time of change for me, a farm girl from the Midwest arriving in the Big City, working as a Playboy Bunny ad eventually getting cast in the daytime soap, Dark Shadows. When I finished the book, it occurred to me . . . “what if Meg Harrison was a real vampire?” I rewrote the entire novel, adding the paranormal elements.
WLP: What percentage of Dark Passages would you say is based on what you experienced and how much is fiction? I wanted to capture that period of intense change and youthful exuberance I experienced in my own life at the time, and I wrote about that time and world I remembered so well, but all of that is background and setting. In fact, nothing that happens to Meg Harrison happened to me in my own life. It is complete fiction.
WLP: I really loved the ending of Dark Passages, but its left open ended. Does that mean we can look forward to more of Meg’s adventures? If so, when can we expect to read it?
I am already at work on the sequel, but I cannot tell you when the second novel will be published. I’m afraid I have a backlog of writing projects!
WLP: You founded a publishing company, Pomegranate Press, in 1986. What made you start the company?
When I wrote My Scrapbook Memories of Dark Shadows in 1985, I already had my eye on starting a publishing company. I knew how to reach my audience for the book and I had already secured deals with two book clubs. I poured profits from my first book into production of four books I’d acquired from other writers for second season catalog. I really wanted to publish “evergreens,” nonfiction books on entertainment subjects, such as classic film and television. It was a good business plan and my company has been active for more than 25 years. I cut back only because of my husband’s health and my desire to focus more of my energies on my own writing.
WLP: Did you have any trouble writing any of the characters in the book?
Honestly, no. I almost feel that my characters created themselves. I had such a lot of fun with this book! When my husband read the completed manuscript, he said, “I hope you realize you are writing about your mother!”
WLP: I’d be remiss not to make mention of your Playboy Club days, did you have any embarrassing moments while working there?
Like my Bunny tail sweeping someone’s cocktail off a table? Nothing memorable that was too terrible, but the life of a teenager is one embarrassment after another, so I am sure I was mortified much of the time. I do remember the Beatles coming to the Club in 1964, all of them ordering rum and coke. The fun thing was that as awed as all of the Bunnies were, the Beatles were clearly in awe of us!
WLP: You played many characters on Dark Shadows; which did you find the hardest?
I played Maggie Evans, Josette DuPres, Rachel Drummond and Lady Kitty Hampshire. I loved the first two roles, both love interests of the vampire Barnabas Collins. The hardest role was Kitty, because she was not as clearly defined. In soaps, you play roles moment-to-moment and they soon evolve into dimensional characters, but Kitty remained hazy . . . although I loved her elegant wardrobe!
WLP: Many of us are excited about Tim Burton’s interpretation of Dark Shadows, but even happier that some of the original cast has cameos in it. Did it feel surreal to return to Collinswood?
It was extraordinary to see the incredible interior and exterior sets for Collinwood and the entire town of Collinsport! We had elaborate sets, but they were confined to the interior of a cramped soundstage. We all felt utterly transported, and it was a thrilling experience to meet and work with Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter and Michelle Pfeiffer.
WLP: What do you think about all the new vampire movies making the rounds?
I’ve only seen one of the Twilight films, and none of the various other films. I simply have no interest in them.
WLP: Do you have any favorite Dark Shadows bloopers?
Many! And I have written about most of them in Dark Shadows Memories. I think one of the funniest occurred at the very end of one episode when Jonathan Frid was caught on camera walking out of his quick-change room behind the set of Collinwood carrying his clothing on a hanger over his shoulder. Another time, he was seen swatting a fly dive bombing his nose throughout a very dramatic scene in the mausoleum.
WLP: It’s been 45 years, this year, since Dark Shadows aired. What’s one thing you’ve learned during that time has stuck with you for those years?
When serious flubs and bloopers occurred on Dark Shadows, producer Dan Curtis assured us the audience would see the show once and that would be the end of it. Instead, 45 years later those horrendous moments are immortalized on DVDs and youtube. Lesson: Producers lie to you!
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