Thankfully, we haven’t seen the last of Steve. Though he likely isn’t rising from the the undead a la Billith, portrayer Michael McMillian and True Blood associate producer Gianna Sobol co-wrote a Steve-centric book that will give fans their fix of the snarky vamp.
Steve Newlin’s Field Guide to Vampires “chronicles all he knows about these Creatures of Satan: their strengths, their weaknesses, their bylaws, and, of course, how to kill them,” the book’s synopsis totes. And even better? The book — lovingly referred to as a “demented journal” — was defaced by Eric and Pam, who added hilarious comments to correct and make fun of his biased observations.
Wetpaint Entertainment chatted with Michael ahead of the book’s November 26 release about his favorite parts — spoiler alert: they mostly involve Sarah Newlin and Pam — the future of his other Truebie project, the comic books, and if he feels he’s closed the book on Steve now. Oh, and for you Six Feet Under fans, Michael has an amazing crossover idea that will blow your minds.
Wetpaint Entertainment: This is an incredible and intricate book. How long did it take you and Gianna to finish the field guide?
Michael McMillian: Well, the entire project was actually Gianna’s idea, and she had pitched it to HBO and Chronicle Books before Christmas of last year, and then after the holidays in January, she asked me if I wanted to write it with her. Then we just got to work and cranked it out in I would say two months. We had to turn the book in early March. She had already begun the outline process, but we were starting the book just as Season 6 started to shoot, and then we were done by the end of February, basically.
She and I had both been living with True Blood for so long, so I think a lot of the stuff came pouring out pretty quickly, and we already had the relationship from the comic books — she was the story editor on the comics — and we had a great repor. We split it up, like you take this part, I’ll take this part, and then we edited each other for a polish. It was fun, but it was a lot of work!
What was your favorite part about writing the field guide? Were you involved in writing Pam’s epic story about fangbangers?
There wasn’t necessarily a complete logic to how we split things up. I would say I took a good chunk of writing Steve’s stuff because I obviously played the character, but there were certainly chapters written in Steve’s voice that Gianna wrote, and I definitely wanted to take some of Pam’s stuff. The sections I enjoyed writing the most were the earlier chapters, like Theodore Newlin’s letter to Steve and Steve kind of talking about his upbringing, because selfishly, that was fun character work to do. I also loved filling in the little blanks about what went wrong with Steve and Sarah, filling in the continuity gaps about how their relationship fell apart during Seasons 3 and 4 before he was kidnapped and turned. And anytime you get to write something in Pam’s voice is such a delight. I mean, I think it’s a big reason why she’s taken off on the show — though so much of that is credited to Kristin Bauer — is because the writers just love writing for that character.
Now that Steve has sadly died, would you like to work on writing for the final season?
No, I think that they’re already up and running; they’ve hired new writers and they’re already in production. I would have loved to write for the show at some point, but one thing I think could be really exciting is if after the show finishes, they want to pick the comic book up again to work as a sequel. But that all depends on how Brian Buckner & Co. want to finish the show — there may not be any characters alive after the end of the series! [Laughs]
Maybe they could focus on the afterlife, where I’m sure Russell and Steve are living happily ever after in some sort of vampire hell.
Yeah, well I mean angels exist in Charlaine Harris’s book, so I think it would only be appropriate if Russell and Steve became angels.
Do you really think they’re suited, given their past killing?
I don’t know! It would have to be a very liberal heaven! [Laughs]
Did you feel closure with this book, kind of closing the chapter on Steve Newlin?
It was such a ridiculous thing in the first place that I even got to write a book about my character from the show! I really was a supporting player in the series. And that all just came out of this idea that Gianna had — who would be the one who would have collected all this information on the characters? Just being able to create an artifact that exists in the voice of my character, it’s such a blessing. That will never happen again! We wrote it before I knew I was going to get killed off or that I was revisiting him, but I’m happy that for those Steve Newlin fans out there, there is more Steve coming. It may not be on the TV show, but here’s a lot more of Steve — human and vampire, so you get the best of both worlds. Now, it will feel like closure on the character. I will kind of get to put him to rest after this book comes out.
You wrote the incredible comic book series. What’s the status on the next one?
I was finishing up the final storyline for the ongoing series while we were writing this book; I was writing the last four issues while we were writing the field guide. For now, the comic seems to be on hold indefinitely. The plan was that we would come back at some point with a brand-new mini series, but that’s up to IDW and HBO.
I think the True Blood comic will be back at some point — I was hoping sooner rather than later — but right now, nothing’s scheduled.
Oh my gosh, yeah! I think it’s such a funny, fun weird mash-up. It could be really interesting, but it will never happen. In its own weird way, it makes sense, but it would be so much fun. Maybe it will end with Jessica driving off in a Prius!
Which Fisher would you want to see vampired the most?
I think you’d have to bring Nate back as a vampire. His post-death — spoiler alert for those of you who haven’t seen — well, I think all of them would be great as vampires, except Claire, who would probably stay human. She’d probably be upset to have to deal with her new vampire family. But I think there’s a parallel between Claire and Jessica. Jessica’s an original character to the show; she wasn’t in the book. They do provide a point of view. It just popped into my head that it would be such a cool, weird mashup.
Steve Newlin’s Field Guide to Vampires (And Other Creatures of Satan) hits shelves on November 26, 2013 and can be purchased for $24.95 on HBO.com. It is currently available digitally for $9.99 on Amazon. Check out a few preview pages below (click to enlarge).