Bitten Interview with series star Laura Vandervoort and Otherworld author Kelley Armstrong
The supernatural never had it better, at least on television. In fact, as of this year, we have everything from zombies to ghosts to vampires to werewolves, and everything in between, all over our television screens. Syfy already jumped on the bandwagon with Being Human, but now they’re airing a new supernatural-based series called Bitten, based on the Women of the Otherworld novels by Kelley Armstrong. In a recent interview Armstrong, along with Bitten star Laura Vandervoort, spoke about the series, its origins and how it differs from other shows about werewolves (that’s right, move over Teen Wolf).
In case you didn’t know it, the novels that have become the Bitten TV series began back in 2001 with the first novel, which was appropriately titled Bitten. But where did the initial idea for the book series begin? Armstrong answered, “Bitten actually came out of an X-Files episode. I was in a writing group and as part of that, you’re expected to actually write new stuff. I was trying to come up with an idea, sat down and watched – it was way back in their first season: their one and only werewolf episode. And I said, ‘that’s not how I would do werewolves.'” Of course, that led to Armstrong figuring out how she would approach the subject and resulted in a short story about a character named Elena that grew into a book and then a series of novels.
Obviously, Elena is the key character of the series. So how did Vandervoort see this character that Armstrong created? “There are a lot of parallels with Elena in the show and women in general. You know, Elena flees to Toronto to hide who she truly is, but she’s just pushing down the animal inside of her. It’s such an amazing character with a lot of skeletons in her closet and we explore that this season. You learn a lot about her history and some of her demons come back.”
Vandervoort also described the werewolves in Bitten as being different from what we’ve seen on TV before. “Our werewolves are actually more down to earth,” she said. “They’re life-sized to any other wolf. It’s not a fantasy show. It’s as realistic as we can be with the situation at hand. And the wolves have the actor’s eyes and the same coloring – their fur is the same color as their hair.” Vandervoort did mention that werewolves are mythical, but that it was important to make them as true to life as possible on the show.
Armstrong added that the book was written in the 90’s, long before a series like Teen Wolf ever hit the air waves. In fact, she mentioned that her concepts came from from the film An American Werewolf in London. She questioned how she could create something different from what we’d already seen. “If anything,” Armstrong said, “the fact that I wrote about werewolves was a huge strike against me because nobody knew how to sell a book where the werewolves weren’t monsters.” Armstrong looked at folklore, calling herself a “huge folklore geek.”
One of the most interesting things about Bitten and the book series is that the lead is a female character. But does Vandervoort feel that Elena could be a role model? She answered, passionately, “That’s exactly why I loved what Kelley had created. After playing Supergirl, I’d see 8 and 9 year old girls who look up to superheroes. But those superheroes are in tube tops and short shorts. And it just turned me the wrong way. So I wanted to always play women that I would be proud of young girls looking up to.” Vandervoort did point out that Bitten may not necessarily be targeted to young girls, but she thinks the character of Elena stands out in such a way. “She speaks for herself,” Vandervoort stated. “She always comes out on top. She’s strong. She puts these boys in place when she needs to in the pack. And I love that about her.”
That’s enough to get me to tune in and watch Bitten. Will you? It premieres on Syfy tomorrow, Monday night at 10/9c.