Joss at the GFT


Joss at the GFT 008 (resized)

Sometimes truth really is strange than fiction, and a decision I made nearly four years ago to answer an email from a Hollywood star has led to a situation in which I find myself with a vampire flatmate, an online celebrity correspondent, the resolution of an unfinished story arc which – if published – could turn Buffy the vampire slayer’s fictional universe (the “Buffyverse”) upside down; as well as memories of the metaphorical theft of the USS Enterprise in search of my own personal Helen of Troy in a Los Angeles which for me, was Camelot.

A reviewer in even said of Dear Miss Landau that:

I read this constantly thinking “is this for real?”  An autistic Scottish man in his 40s has an obsession with a character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and writes a 250,000 word novel based on the character and ends up travelling to Hollywood and meeting the actress who plays her.  You couldn’t make it up.

Sometimes I ask myself whether our fates are already written, and it’s hard to be sceptical when, four years after answering that email from Hollywood, I find myself (along with James Doherty of the National Autistic Society Scotland [NAS]), on a Scottish street late one Sunday night meeting Joss Whedon, the man who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The Oscars are happening in Hollywood, but as far as I’m concerned, Hollywood is here.

The facts are beyond dispute. Joss is Hollywood’s golden boy. Creator of Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse. Director of The Avengers, third-highest grossing film ever. He is, without irony, Numero Uno, A Number 1, the Head Honcho, the Big Cheese.

He’s standing three feet from me. He knows my name.  Dear Miss Landau is in his hands, and if and when he reads it, who knows what might happen.

Luck, timing and happenstance has brought him to Glasgow.  Dear Miss Landau has been published but the Drusilla trilogy with the secret twist remains under wraps.  It has been difficult to attract media attention despite a well-reviewed true story which reads like “Rain Man meeting Notting Hill via 84 Charing Cross Road” and only a few weeks ago I was (not very happily) contemplating the possibility that this wild four-year ride could all end tomorrow.

Then I hear the word on the grapevine.  That Joss Whedon will be at the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) for a screening of his new film Much Ado About Nothing.  The chance seems too good to be true, but I try and seize it all the same.  I contact the NAS and the GFT.  Arrangements are made and the chance is offered.  The meeting must be secret.  I even use the old Foreign Office phrase “I can neither confirm nor deny” a couple of times at work.

Sunday 24th February, Rose Street.

Jim and I are at the GFT on time, only to be told by a distraught press officer that Joss has cancelled, feeling that he cannot give any one fan special treatment.

Fate, however, does not seem to want to send us home empty-handed.  The press officer promises to get the packages – a signed copy of Dear Miss Landau and the complete Drusilla trilogy – into Joss’s hands.  If we wait outside in the queue, we are told, we’ll probably get to meet Joss.

As we run down to Rose Street, I ask her if Joss knows my name.

He does.

We wait.

A silver Mercedes draws up.  A familiar face is seen, coming down the line, glad-handing ‘til he reaches us.

I open with the words:

“My name is James Christie.”

And I see Joss recognize them.  I show him my own copy of Dear Miss Landau and we talk for a few seconds.

Jim captures the picture for posterity and the moment is past.

I don’t know what will happen next, but this is a West End tale.  Nearly four years ago I sent a couple of Drusilla’s Roses to Juliet Rose Landau from a post office in Great Western Road, never allowing myself to believe she’d actually read it.  But she did.  Now, Joss Whedon has received a copy of the book it inspired at a theatre on Rose Street.

I can’t allow myself to believe he’ll read it.

But I hope he does.

Walking The Crow Road

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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