Kevin Williamson, writer and producer of "Dawson's Creek," "The Vampire Diaries" and the forthcoming fall CW series "The Secret Circle," talks about the art of writing classic teen television.
Q: What do you find appealing about writing for young people?
A: It's weird. I don't think I'm some guy who connects with youth as much as I'm just this guy who never really, truly grew up. My whole game is writing teenage characters. The worst thing that you want to be is that middle-aged guy who's writing what he thinks a 16-year-old is thinking or feeling.
I've always tried to write my teenage characters as young adult, college-educated, been through like 10 years of therapy because they've had some sort of traumatic event happen to them and then they're thrown into a situation called high school. I never set out to write a teenage character.
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Q: Do you find it harder to address issues that teens deal with when you have to add vampires and/or witches to the mix?
A: What I like about it is I've already done the teen angst. I've done the teen drama. It sort of freshens me up when I sit up late at night to write. There's something very epic about being a teenager in general because everything is extreme — when your boyfriend breaks up with you, it feels like the end of the world. I've always sort of been that guy who has that sort of yearning. If you look at all my characters, they all long for something, and it's always just out of their grasp, and I think that just makes for great conflict. When you add the life and death antics of a supernatural world, it's fun. It makes it important.
Q: You are pulling double duty this season with two supernatural shows on the CW, "The Vampire Diaries" and "The Secret Circle." Is it overwhelming to juggle both?
A: I've always been that guy who juggles multiple things. Even if you go back to my childhood, there was a time — I was 17 — I drove the school bus, mowed yards, pumped gas, bused tables and babysat. I've always been a multi-tasker.
Q: Does it ever get old hearing people gush to you about "Dawson's Creek"?
A: No, I'm the only one who gets old. When people tell me they grew up on "Dawson's Creek," I go, "Why am I still here?" I feel like I should be in a retirement community somewhere. I'm old. But I smile too, because the whole point was, I had John Hughes. I had John Carpenter. I remember the day John Hughes had a heart attack, my whole world stopped, because it was my childhood. If I get to be in that camp, then boy, am I the luckiest man alive.