Author James Christie once made a remarkable journey from his home in Glasgow, travelling all the way across the States to Hollywood by Greyhound. The purpose of his journey was to meet Juliet Landau, one of the stars of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the reason the trip was so extraordinary is because for James, coping with new experiences feels ‘like smashing his head through a plate glass window’. James Christie is autistic.
You can read an account of James’s journey in his brilliant book, Dear Miss Landau. I interviewed James a few years ago (interview here), and he has very kindly come back today to talk about what happened after his epic trip, and about his new book, Differently Wired: Articles by an Autistic Blogger.
The author, differently wired; and his dear Miss Landau’s destiny…
by James Christie
Fitting, somehow, that it finished and began for me in the church where I was named Anthony over fifty years ago.
Dear Miss Landau was published six years ago by Chaplin Books. It was written a year or so after this adult Asperger crossed America overland to meet Juliet Rose Landau, stage actress and star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A trek so surreal (though thoroughly recorded) that my favourite review says:
“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.”
Differently Wired, a new ebook compilation of virtually all my blogs and articles from 2012-2017, fleshes out the tale of these last ten years, which began in 2009 with the unexpected arrival on my doorstep of a virtual vampire flatmate (Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, played by Juliet) whose story desperately needed to be told. I did so with a fan-fiction novella called Drusilla’s Roses, which amazingly reached Juliet, knocked her socks off (even more amazingly) and (amazing beyond belief) led to an email correspondence between us. There was the once-in-a-lifetime trek across America to that faraway city on the edge of forever, Los Angeles. Then the publication of Dear Miss Landau (DML) itself and the creation of DML’s stage musical by music publisher/producer George Porter. Three sequels to the original Drusilla’s Roses were written, my Great Scottish Novel, The Legend of John Macnab (second sequel to John Buchan’s original work) was successfully published. I also wrote eighty-odd blogs and articles for the Huffington Post UK et al. and met Miss Landau seven times at comic-cons…
And there were other treks. In 2012, 2013 and 2016. Providing traces of answers to the questions some asked after I met Juliet that sunny Sunday on Sunset Boulevard in March 2010:
What happened next?
Or, as Hugh McIlvanney wrote after Muhammed Ali’s last inglorious fight:
“As was said after that Roman heavyweight was done in, when comes such another?”
(McIlvanney on Boxing, Stanley Paul, 1982)
Differently Wired is the nearest thing I have to a discreet, partial answer.
Meeting Miss Landau that morning on Sunset did indeed feel like the Alpha and Omega of it all. For geeks and Trekkers (of whom I am one), it really did seem like I’d stolen the Enterprise, much as Kirk did in Star Trek III, virtually run out the guns like a captain at sea and crossed a continent for my Helen of Troy like a knight of old.
If the crossings were a crusade, the comic-cons were an arena of friendly gladiatorial combat into which, despite my autism, I gladly strode (try to have a quiet personal chat up in front of two hundred people and see how you feel) and somehow, while it became public, it also stayed private. The impossible made possible.
And there was real redemption. In my case I’d failed badly in the past, decided my personal redemption could only be achieved by publication on merit and with this epic experience I’d actually achieved it.
As if I’d fallen from the path I was meant to follow and Drusilla had, quite roughly, jerked me back onto it.
I was named Anthony, after St. Anthony of Padua, in a church in Shifnal, Shropshire. He’s the saint of lost people, lost things and even lost spiritual goods.
And never was there a soul more lost than Drusilla.
I think Dear Miss Landau was our destiny, but it’s been my experience that destiny ain’t democratic and it don’t do debate…
So there are words written for Juliet that day on Sunset Boulevard (DML, p. 175) which she has never heard me speak, a good stage musical for that great stage actress, languishing, and the Dru quartet (as I call it) still unpublished. A second shot at stardom, fading away…
That’s what you’ll find in Differently Wired. Echoes of what should have come to pass and now may never be. Like the last blog written on that long road:
Welcome, Welcome to LA…
If, seven years ago, someone had told me that today I’d be in a coffee house in Needles, last leg on the road to LA, I’d have been a little sceptical.
My guide along the way is home on Avalon. If Drusilla found her chosen one, she’s satisfied, for what she wanted I have done.
Four tales of Dru:
‘Spike & Dru : the Graveyard of Empires’.
All written like Dear Miss Landau, the latter two concluding Joss Whedon’s story arc and well able to turn the Buffyverse on its head.
Joss has copies, delivered by me one February. Like a stick of literary dynamite, they’re probably sitting somewhere in a stack, the words on the page waiting for the light they lack.
Now they’ll know, those who read, who I was and where I went. A book is forever, a fact undreamed by many; made true only for the very few.
There may be a stage musical, too. I wonder who’d play me. James Marsters might well do.
Truth and reality can be cliché, and when a man is young tomorrow is another day. I will take the last train for the coast: Needles to Union Station in LA.
My cup is full. The last trek done, or nearly so.
I should feel like a teenage broncin’ buck. Full of luck, full of bull.
But I don’t think so.
Seven years, what did we do?
Oh my dear Miss Landau, whatever happened to you?
Did you go the way of Peggy Sue?
I remember how it was that day.
On Sunset Boulevard, it’s not so far away.
Your hair, raven black in the light.
I remember the hours and miles and years it took to see that sight.
I worry for you every day.
I do not know if, even now, you’ve found your way.
But for here, for now, there’s nothing left for me to say.
Except these words:
Welcome, welcome to LA…
(Written in Juicy’s Famous River Café, Needles, on 5th December 2013 and revised 11th May 2016; acknowledgement to the works of Don McLean)
They say life and love is circular, though they also say you can’t go home again; but I did face her one last time, just this year at a comic-con near Shifnal.
It was a Sunday, and I stopped by the church where I was christened before I set out on the road. I talked with the minister, and he spoke some words for Juliet before I took the field that final time.
So I faced her, and I told her Dear Miss Landau was her destiny.
And then I went away.
When comes another, who can say?
* * *
Thanks so much for your post, James. I enjoyed it immensely. Wishing you the best of luck with Differently Wired – and I hope ‘another’ comes your way one day soon.
If you’ve enjoyed James Christie’s post – or have any questions or comments at all – please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!