I wanted to tell my readers a little bit about myself (all the cool kids are doing it these days),
but I wasn't quite sure where to begin. Then in the summer of 2002, Jamie at Whispers of X
sent me a list of questions for her author interview section, "Talk Dirty To Me." I don't think
I could have improved on her questions, so I'll just let her interview speak for me. This is
probably more than you ever wanted to know, but that's tough. Read it anyway. Then visit
one of my favorite sites, Whispers of X.
If you're interested to see how obsessed I can be with The X-Files, check out the essay I
wrote for my first college class.
1. Why did you start writing fic?
Start with the hard one, huh? I wish I could come up with a witty, intelligent, urbane response. The truth is, I just don't know. I had been reading fic for about three years when I suddenly had an idea for a story. That became En Veritae. I wrote it, then I sat on it for a good year before posting. The feedback messages were amazing -- all three of them. I honestly thought that was the only story I'd ever write. When I get it wrong, I do it in style.
2. Where are you from? How has your location affected your writing?
I was born in Cleveland and raised all over northeastern Ohio. Right now, I live in a college town, about a mile from the campus. I hope to stay here the rest of my life -- it's a great place. I'm not sure if being a Buckeye has affected my writing other than using my home state in a couple of stories and making me end sentences in prepositions. (Hi, Twinsy!) But being in a town with such a diverse population, I've had a wonderful opportunity to know people from all over the world and all walks of life. Some of them have made their way into my stories. And now that my sons are older, I'm going to college for the first time. I never would have considered college if not for the writing experience I've gotten with fic. There's nothing more humbling than being a middle-aged college student.
3. What all kinds of genres and pairings are you interested in reading?
I love just about anything. Over the years, my tastes have changed, and I'm more willing to try anything by an author I respect. I'm a shipper at heart, but I'll at least give other pairings a consideration. I've enjoyed M/O and S/O as long it becomes MSR by the end. Yet there are a couple of those that stay with the other that I like, too. I'm discovering more and more slash that I enjoy, so M/O slash or M/K slash is always welcome if it's done well. My tastes are very eclectic, so as long as the writing is good, and I can see the characters in my head, I'll give it a try.
4. What kind of summary, keywords, pairing, etc. really gets your heart pounding before you even read the first line of the story?
The best words I can see in a header are "profiler," "hostage," and "stalker." I adore casefiles, especially profiler fics. I wish I'd known about profiling twenty years ago, because that's what I would have studied. I love to see someone obsessed with one of the characters. Some of the most frightening stories are told from inside the stalker's head, and when the author gets it right, it just gives me chills. Hostage situations aren't fun in real life, but in fic, they're a way to explore what the characters would do in a given situation. I like to think it might come in handy if I ever find myself in such a dilemma.
5. What is your secret strategy for writing good sex scenes?
What a question! Let's see if I can explain it. When I first started writing, I discovered that it's hard to put sex into words. I'd be blushing and squirming in my seat the whole time, and still not be very explicit. Then I went to Chicago where I met an amazing group of XF authors. ~waves to ChiMeet gang~ That's when I found out that if you don't write the sex correctly, it sounds funny rather than hot when you read it aloud! That caused me to re-evaluate my style. Now, instead of being graphic, I try to find the least explicit way to do a sex scene without losing the heat. It's even more difficult than being graphic, but I think it's made the writing itself easier. And I blush a lot less because the common terms are hidden under flowing generalizations. It's sneaky, but it works for me.
6. What causes you the most difficulty while you're writing a story?
Usually the middle. I tend to write the headers first (they're sometimes more fun than the story), then the first few paragraphs or chapters, then the end. After that, I have to figure out what goes on in the middle if I don't already have an idea. I do my RL writing that way, too. A lot of times, I'll end up with just a scene or two that I like, and no story to go around it. When that happens, I'll hang onto the scenes until the right fic comes along. It's not an efficient way to write, and it's damned slow, but it's been working so far. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
7. What advice would you give someone who is thinking about writing their very first fic?
Decide what kind of beta help you want, then go find one who will work that way. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have the right beta. I've been incredibly lucky to have aka "Jake" as my first-strike beta ever since I began posting. She's strict and ruthless and the best finder of dumb mistakes I've ever worked with. Some of the other people who've helped me over the years have been great at seeing continuity errors or pointing out character mistakes. While I was doing Wishing To Serve You, I was fortunate enough to have someone who had researched the subject of a Dominant/submissive relationship. She didn't let me get away with being soft, even though the subject was not easy for me. A good beta is a god-send and should be showered with gifts and trinkets and cyber chocolates at every opportunity.
8. With the XF now over, how do you think that will affect you fanfic-wise? Do you think you'll still find the interest in it as much as you did when you first started?
To me, the show and fanfic have always been two separate entities. I don't plan to stop writing anytime soon. Not with the number of story ideas I've got! I've never been as interested in the post-episode stories as I have the stand-alones, so I'm not planning to lose interest in reading as long as there are others who write within their own universes, as I do.
9. What music, if any, most inspires you to write? What do you like to listen to while writing?
I absolutely cannot listen to music when I write. Having a football game on the TV in the other room, however, makes it imperative that I focus on my work. Must be the three decades of trying to block out the sound of colliding bodies. There has only been one time when a piece of music helped me to write a story. I had already found a quotation from Theodore Roosevelt that spoke to me of a post-colonization fic. When I got the idea for While Daring Greatly, that quotation, coupled with Carl Orff's O Fortuna from Carmina Burana, became the inspiration for the story. In the same way, the two sequels I have planned for that fic now have quotes and songs that I will use to put me in the right frame of mind and set the direction of the story. That's the only time I've ever worked in that manner. I hope it's not the last.
10. Where do you get your ideas or inspiration?
Strangely enough, I usually get a title in my head, and the story develops from that. All Choked Up is going to be a casefile where Mulder and Scully investigate bundles of bones that resemble owl pellets -- composed of human bones. Shakespirited was about them going undercover in a Shakespearean troupe when the actors start dying. Twisted was a tornado story with a bit of a bend to it. The titles almost always come before the actual idea. I've got several titles on hand at all times, just waiting for the right idea. A couple of my stories have been inspired by something else I read. Jacquie LaVa's The Boy was the direct pipeline for my Train Up A Man. The post-col fic she did with Tess, Deliverance From Evil, led straight to While Daring Greatly. Most of the time, it's a single word or phrase that will set me off. I don't think I can pin it down any better than that.
11. Do you ever get writer's block, and how do you cope with it?
Lord, yes! Constantly! Usually when I get stuck, I'll put that story aside and work on something else. Which is why I always have a dozen stories in various stages of completion. (God, that's embarrassing.) I once read a book called A Writer's Time, where they explained the process by which our minds operate when we're writing. There's a whole section of the brain that will work on a problem even after you've stopped thinking about it. I've found that if I just put it out of my conscious mind, my subconscious will spit out the solution at some point -- usually when it's totally inconvenient, or in the middle of the night when I'm shuffling off to the bathroom. Another piece of advice for new authors -- put a pad of paper and a pencil next to the bed, and learn to write in the dark. You'll never have to worry about losing that perfect line or scene because it was gone when you woke up.
12. Why did you originally get involved with the X-files? How did the show catch your attention enough to keep you watching?
I was intrigued when I first saw the promos for it, but since it was on Friday nights, and Friday was my grocery shopping night, I didn't get sucked in until it moved to Sunday. My older son, however, would run in the house on Fridays once we were home and refuse to help bring in the groceries because "X-Files is on, Mom!" The very first episode I ever saw was F. Emasculata, the one with the exploding boils. It's a wonder I ever watched it again. But I've always been fascinated by the paranormal. Add two people with unconventional good looks, intelligence, and UST that sizzled, and I was truly hooked.
13. Have you found that your own relationships have altered your writing in any way? Has it helped it to become more detailed and thorough?
Well, when you're writing bawdy fics, you just can't beat "research" and lots of it. I'd say that's been a big plus for my marriage. My family has been very supportive of my fic habit because they know it keeps me out of worse trouble. My husband is very nice about letting me bounce ideas off him, even if I usually end up doing the opposite of what he suggests. He was the one who came up with the main idea for Charlie in the Chip Off The Old Block series, though. He has definite flashes of brilliance, even if he isn't a fan of the show. And my older son co-authored While Daring Greatly with me. That was a wonderful experience that I would love to recreate some day. The best thing that has come out of my writing is the online relationships I've formed with readers and other authors. Because of them, my writing couldn't help but grow and develop. The XF fanfic community is a truly giving, caring place.
14. How much of a factor does characterization play in your stories? Do you find yourself drifting away from the original characters developed by Chris Carter and developing them into something more your own?
I try very hard to keep the characters as in-character as possible in most of my fics. Sometimes I'll let them go a bit wild, but not often. And only when it's planned that way. Jake has called me on a number of instances where I had one of them acting unlike what we've seen on the show. But if you really think about it, every story we write has them out of character if it's a situation we haven't seen in an episode. So I don't worry too much about letting Mulder laugh a bit. But I do like the challenge of asking "What would this character do in this situation?" rather than "What do I want him to do?" There's a big difference, and it makes the writing a lot more difficult when the character won't listen to what you want them to do.
15. What else would you like people to know about your stories?
That's probably the hardest question of all. I guess I'd just like readers to see my stories for what they are -- my view of the X-Files world as seen through my own warped filter. If what I write doesn't agree with your personal view, that's fine. I don't set out to do anything more than to tell a story I hope others will like. Mostly, I write because I enjoy it. The fact that other people enjoy my writing, too, still blows me away after many years of hearing from satisfied readers. To be mentioned in the same breath as the authors I've admired over the years is the greatest honor I can imagine. And to hear from some of them that they liked a story of mine is mind blowing. Writing fanfic is a self-generating activity. You write, and people send feedback, which makes you want to write more, and you get more feedback, and on and on. It makes me happy to know that years from now, my stories will still be out there somewhere, finding new readers. I couldn't ask for a better legacy. Well, grandkids would be nice, but we've still got a few years for that. Till then, I'll stick to fanfic.
The X-Files belong to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, and FOX.
No copyright infringement is intended, no monetary profit is made.