It’s no secret that Davy Perez is one of my favorite Supernatural writers. If you read my episode reviews regularly, you’ve heard me say that more than once, and he’s the only writer who wrote a chapter in the new book There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done: Actors and Fans Celebrate the Legacy of Supernatural, all about his journey as a writer and his experience on the show. There’s an online book club that’s currently reading Peace, and they’re inviting the contributors to join in their discord chat when they’re discussing that chapter. I pop in when I can, so I joined them when Davy’s chapter was the topic of conversation – and so did he!
It was Davy’s first time using Discord, so the only emoji he could find to try to express himself was the watermelon – which has remained the Book Club’s favorite emoji and is now used for all kinds of positive expressions in Davy’s honor.
The book club always has great questions and Davy had some great answers, so I’m sharing them here with the rest of the fandom (with Davy’s permission of course).
BC: What was it like to write an episode for Supernatural?
DP: I used to watch a lot of shock horror (in the) 80’s and kinda channeled that.
BC: How much influence did the network or the studio have on the writing?
DP: The network and studio give notes, but don’t mandate or dictate anything. They are more there to
guide you toward the ideals that they want the show to always be (striving) for. The writers/producers are still in charge of the story in the end.
BC: You said in your chapter that you had only watched a few episodes of Supernatural when you were hired, so you were not overly influenced by what had come before and had fresh takes on the characters and story line direction.
DP: In general, writing an episode is a lot like doubting yourself every step of the way (while also having
to) believe in your own genius. Also, specifically with SPN and with any show, you always do the work, from beats on the cards, to outline, to then just working on the scenes. I aim for an act a day when
(working) on a script. I actually found that whenever I watched an old episode, I found inspiration for
bringing something back, or looking at something from a new angle. I was hired to bring in fresh ideas, for sure, but I like innovating from existing stuff vs. just fabricating from thin air.
BC: What do you think have been your most significant contributions to the characters’ development?
DP: My most significant contribution might be either the glasses or the sweaters (in Mint Condition and American Nightmare).
(Me: mm hmm)
DP: Maybe the cowboy hats too (in Tombstone).
BC: (wholeheartedly agreed on all of the above)
BC: Is knowing that the actors will be able to handle anything you throw at them, from comedy to
horror, freeing as a writer?
DP: Yes, writing for actors who knew the characters inside and out, and had range was a gift. You
had the privilege to play in many genres and know it would get translated to screen.
BC: In your chapter, you said that you set out thinking you would come to Supernatural and soften some of Sam and Dean’s toxic masculinity, but that they ended up doing exactly that for YOU. What was it about them that got to you, or does that happen with every character you write (do they
end up changing you in some way)?
DP: I strive for that in a holistic sense with all my writing. I grew up watching too much of it (toxic
masculinity) in real life. I’d like to redefine it for folks so men can cry and still be viewed as manly.
BC: So many of us love that about Supernatural, getting to see more dimensions to a “hero” as a real person who doesn’t always win and doesn’t always have all the answers. I love it when the
writers explore that.
BC: What was your favorite episode of Supernatural to write?
DP: Stuck in the Middle (With You) has a sweet spot for me. It’s when I met Rich (Speight, Jr.).
BC: I love how that episode was shot!
DP: Me too, and edited together. Fitz (Editor John Fitzpatrick) was a really big part of pulling off that look.
BC: What was the working dynamic with Richard Speight, Jr. as director?
DP: Very satisfying. He was gracious with me as a new writer and (was) as passionate about the Tarantino stuff as I was. We had coffee and continue to be in touch and I can’t wait to work with him again sometime.
BC: In American Nightmare, when Sam’s powers were referenced, what was the starting point for that episode?
DP: I wanted to do stigmata blood.
BC: That’s awesome.
BC: In There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, your line on page 158 ‘how could this brown kid who’s been an outcast his entire life possibly know anything at all about two brothers?’ resonated with me so much. A fellow brown kid here (Filipino). What parts of seeing yourself (or not seeing yourself) played roles in how you wrote for Supernatural?
DP: Hola! I’ve always felt like an outcast, especially as a kid and especially when the media didn’t portray stories about my experience. Living outside of the norm is what really resonated with me going into the world of (Sam and Dean), and, of course, having family as the only people who actually get me.
BC: Do you prefer writing the darker/dramatic episodes or the funny ones?
DP: Oddly enough, I enjoy the funny stuff but when I start to write, the darker stuff comes up and it
became sort of what is/was expected of me.
BC: Your comment about feeling like an outside, the episode ‘Don’t Go Into the Woods’ was a standout for me too. Where did you find the inspiration to tell that particular Native American story?
DP: Glad you asked! I actually wanted to do El Silbon, which was the Whistler from South America – but
because of the region it made more sense for it to be of Native origins. Either way, I wanted to show that monsters are not all Euro-centric, so I took the Whistler elements and then created the myth.
BC: How did your experience writing for two white characters (the Winchesters) help you see yourself in the writing, and how do you think fans of color can see themselves in those characters through your writing?
DP: Same thing about living outside the norm. Having society that exists in a way that labels your way of life as “other”. Being a hunter is “an other” when it comes to the mainstream.
BC: I loved “Breakdown” because it leaned towards modern horror movies like “Saw” and reminded me of thrillers with trafficking themes which really connects outside of the genre; connecting
fantasy and reality.
DP: (with a watermelon emoji) One of my favorites too. If you look at a lot of my episodes, the people are often worse than the monsters.
BC: And I love that!
BC: It seems like previews of your episodes sometimes called you Supernatural’s go-to horror
writer and you said the darker stuff was expected of you. Do writers on the show become known for a
certain genre in the writer’s room?
DP: Maybe? I think there do become some expectations, but in a way, I think we are all a part of each
episode in some way, and sometimes we may not be called to write something, so I think the branding of it by writer (for me) is something I tried not to pay too much attention to.
BC: That’s good you don’t pay attention to labels, because your episodes are so much more than just horror!
BC: Whose idea was it in Mint Condition to use the Red Hood costume?
DP: I put in the script a general “Easter egg and pop culture reference with plenty of WB property, etc.”
and then the art department went wild! (I can’t find the heart emoji so everyone is getting watermelons…)
BC: lots of watermelons in reply
BC: What was your favorite part of writing Sam and of writing Dean?
DP: For Sam, it was the investigative mind coupled with the empathy. I loved having him be this
understanding teddy bear who wants to hug people. For Dean, I just loved the quick, on-your-feet
thinking, the food, the one-liners, and then the badass Steve McQueen moments.
BC: lots of thumbs up
BC: Which character did you never get to write for, but wish you had?
DP: I would have loved to write Rowena. For some reason, it just never lined up that I got to play all that
much with that character and there was so much fun to be had.
BC: sad faces
BC: As a writer, I’m guessing you didn’t have much chance to be on set, so were most of your interactions with the director and the cast from a distance? Is it harder to write for a production that’s so far away?
DP: Yes and no. They had a system that worked for them, having been doing it for so long, but also, I
visited the set myself and paid for my own way because I personally knew the importance of meeting
and knowing the crew and spending time with the cast.
BC: What was your favorite or most extraordinary learning experience being part of SPN?
DP: My favorite moment was actually being up there, shadowing directors and being in a van scouting
locations. Being around the crew and watching the guys work. I was on set when the Chupacabra giggles started and watching that moment play out in real time as everyone is cracking up – man, that was fun.
BC: We can imagine!
BC: You mentioned tentacles in your book chapter, so I wanted to express appreciation for the fact that you introduced a bona fide tentacle monster in ‘The Thing.’
DP: This can never be understated; tentacles are canon!
BC: You talked in your chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done about the Supernatural job coming along when you needed it the most. Have you found it opened doors for you in the industry?
DP: Yes 1000000%. It was my second job and it was for an established show, and it opened a lot of doors. It also said to the industry – “This is a writer who knows his job” and not just a diversity hire.
BC: If you could pitch your own TV show, what would that be?
DP: A weird Western with shamanism and gun fighting.
BC: Can you share what you’re working on next?
DP: Yep! I’m a co-ep on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds which is like a sequel to Discovery and, at the
same time, a prequel to the original series.
BC: That might convince me to pay for CBS All Access so I can watch.
DP: Nice! I did my part then. Our Captain will be Christopher Pike and Spock will be his Science Officer
(not yet Number One).
BC: We’d love to have writers come to cons – and yes, we would pay to get a photo taken with a writer!
DP: If I get invited, I’ll try to go! Thank thank you and thank you for everyone. I’m happy to see you all enjoying the work we do.
WATERMELONS FOR EVERYONE!
Be sure to check out Star Trek: Strange New Worlds! Thanks to @waywrdaughter67 for the transcription and some of the great questions and to kayb625 for the caps.
You can find There’ll Be Peace When You
Are Done and the other book with chapters
by the Supernatural cast and crew (Family
Don’t End With Blood) at the links on the home
page or at peacewhenyouaredone.com