Sarah Cannata is a professional writer, journalist and best-selling author. She specialises in working with women running their own small to medium businesses. 2016 is going to be a massive year for Sarah who is launching a digital magazine called This Woman Can and releasing her first picture book. This Woman Can is a digital magazine for those looking to delve deeper into the important issues in life. Meanwhile, the Willow Willpower series is for kids aged between 4 to 7 years old and is all about sending positive messages to kids who dare to dream. It will be available to pre-order later in 2016.
This interview (heavily centred around the brilliance of Buffy) is part of a series which examines creative inspiration and influence.
TRM: What were your favourite texts growing up?
SC: It’s hard to believe but it’s over a decade now since Buffy: The Vampire Slayer was first broadcast on TV. This show was definitely my single biggest influence in terms of TV/movies growing up. I really identified with every member of ‘the Scooby Gang’ and I think that’s why I was so hooked – I understood Buffy’s feelings of being lost and different, Willow’s place as the geek who didn’t really feel like she needed to be like everyone else and Xander’s fears that he would ultimately, amount to nothing.
Looking back, I see Buffy as a show that was way ahead of its time (it still is really) and that’s why, when I watch re-runs (of course I have the whole DVD box-set), it doesn’t feel dated to me. When you look beyond the surface and see past the vampires, demons, goddesses and other evils on-screen, you’d see that Joss Whedon, the show’s creator, used villains as metaphors to act for very real situations that teens and adults of all ages face in real life.
When you’ve had the same ringtone on your phone for the last 6 years and it’s the Buffy theme song, you know you’re a lifetime fan!
What texts do you keep coming back to and why?
For me, the only show I really come back to is Buffy. I have my favourite episodes and when I have a spare hour or so (I run my own professional writing business so personal time is precious), I’ll watch an episode. It’s possible that since growing up and going through the motions of university, working and growing pains, I identify even more now with Buffy as a character than ever. She was written as a strong female – someone who did what was right even in the face of personal tragedy (when forced to kill Angelus, her lover, to save the world). Whedon created one of the most well-rounded characters to hit our screens in my opinion. Even though she was strong, she had her flaws, made mistakes and despite having superpowers, her vulnerabilities were still exposed. Like all of us, she experienced disastrous relationships and fell in and out of love. She was real.
On a different level, as I’ve matured as a writer and been more and more drawn to writing about gender, I’ve had many moments where I am just in awe of the writing itself. The core group of writers – Jane Espenson, Drew Goddard, Marti Noxon – just continued pushing the envelope and while I do think the show lost its punch as the show went on, it remained engaging TV right up until the end.
Are there texts that relate to your life?
As touched on briefly, the Buffy characters were very relatable for me while growing up. I’ve always known that I’m different from others (not vampire slayer different but I just don’t share the interests that are typical of someone in my age group) and to be honest, I may have tried to hide it in certain social situations, but I’ve never gone out of my way to be someone I am not (like Willow). There are so many scenes where I could point out how they are some way similar to a situation I’ve experienced – I think that’s what makes anything creative great.
Are there any artists and texts that influence you creatively?
As a writer, I’ve never tried to really emulate anyone else’s style. I write how I feel comfortable writing and speaking to the reader. For me, writing is very personal – if I am writing something in a way that doesn’t match my style, it feels forced and so often, it just doesn’t work. I feel as though I am more impressed by ideas than writing styles as such – the likes of Stephen King, Joss Whedon (obviously), J.K. Rowling and R.L. Stine (I also had a bit of a fascination with Goosebumps at once stage) can only be applauded. Since starting the business, I’ve also been reading a lot of business books, poetry and books or poems that help me to remain grounded and that’s been a real shift for me.
Are there any quotes or other words of wisdom you find helpful for your practice?
I could include so many different quotes here – in a Buffy sense, there are a few quotes I’ve stuck up on my wall because they really speak to me.
“The big moments are gonna come. You can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.” – Whistler, Becoming, Part One
“I’m cookie dough. I’m not done baking. I’m not finished becoming whoever the hell it is I’m gonna turn out to be. I make it through this, and the next thing, and the next thing, and maybe one day, I turn around and realise I’m ready. I’m cookies.” – Buffy, Chosen
“Passion is the source of our finest moments; the joy of love, the clarity of hatred, and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d truly know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank… without passion, we’d truly be dead.” – Angelus, Passion
Aside from Buffy, I’m a huge fan of Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” poem.
What is a text that every developing artist should read/watch/listen to?
I think if I said anything else besides Buffy at this point, I’d be telling fibs.
For more information on Sarah, you can visit her website. You can also order the first issue of This Woman Can here.