Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Author Interview: Starsshinedown

Emibella's Recommendation: Aengus By Starsshinedown

1.What was it about the Twilight Fandom that made you want to write fanfiction for it?

My discovery and participation on the forums at Twilighted made me comfortable with the fandom, and that eased me into writing after I'd been reading for several months. When I first discovered Twilight fanfic, I just wanted more of this world of Stephanie's. Eclipse left me wanting more, and there were so many aspects of the characters that I wanted to explore.

Ok, the real truth is that by the time I'd plowed my way through the first three books twice over the course of six days, I was a Twilight addict. I needed a fix. I had the shakes. It was bad. I went online and got caught up in the silliness of the Twatlighters over on Oh No They Didn't. That soothed my need for a fix for a while, but it wasn't enough. Eventually pogurl, who is a real life long-time friend, convinced me to stop pretending I wasn't going to read Twilight fanfic and sent me a few URLs. I binged on reading fanfic. I lost sleep. I fell in love with all the ideas people had. I had ideas swirling in my own head but resisted the call. Eventually I caved to the urge to write when I saw the announcement for a fanfic contest (Jayeliwood's Sexy Eddie contest last year). It was just the thing I needed to jump into writing again.

2. Is writing a new venture for you and how are you finding your way through the process?

I wrote my first fiction piece in fourth grade when we had to write in a journal. When I was in eighth grade I wrote my first short story, and all through high school I dabbled in creative writing and poetry. It was a hobby and an outlet for me.

I have a B.A. in English Lit and I got a dose of serious writing guidance and inspiration as an undergrad in courses in wriiting creative fiction and creative non-fiction. While I was an undergrad I wrote a fair bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic, and read through the Highlander fandom voraciously. Eventually my involvement with those fandoms petered out. I submitted some short stories to different journals and magazines, and received some very encouraging rejection letters, and continued writing for myself. I later went on to earn a M.A. in writing, which, frankly, killed the joy of writing for me for a few years. I was burned out and didn't complete a story again (though I have many pretty-sounding paragraphs and snippets floating around my computer and notebooks) until I wrote Aengus this past Autumn.

I'm currently wading my way through the process of writing by experimenting, and by being forgiving with myself. I don't want to feel like what I'm writing is a burden or a chore; that is partially what led me to my post-MA burned-out state. I'm a more mature reader, and therefore, writer, than I was when I was a student. I can take the elements I enjoy from stories (pacing, point of view, atmosphere, approach, etc.) and work these elements into my writing. I'm not afraid to monkey around. I suppose this boils down to: I'm having fun, experimenting.

3.What made you choose the genre you write in versus the others?

Hmmm. In terms of vampire vs. human, I initially wrote, and primarily write in, all human alternate universes. This is mostly a function of where my brain went when I saw the options for the Edwards to write for the Sexy Eddie Contest. I saw "mythological Edward" and latched onto that. It happened that none of the ideas that popped into my head involved vampires.

Writing with a human cast gives an enormous amount of freedom. You can take the personalities out of the books, humanize them as needed, and plunk the characters down into an incredible number of situations. This isn't to say that I'm married to all-human stories. I've recently ventured into pre-book canon storytelling. It's intimidating, but rewarding. Maybe I'll eventually venture into post-BD or regular ol' AU stories. We'll see. I have no self-imposed restrictions.

If we're talking drama vs. romance vs. adventure vs. mystery genres and that sort of thing, I suppose I'm a sucker for romances and romantic dramas. I like my stories tied up in nice neat bows and as long as they are believable, I'm a big fan of HEAs. That fondness for romantic stories is what prompted the route I took with Aengus.

4.What do you do to avoid writer's block? If it's unavoidable, what do you do to surpass it?

I approach this two different ways: a) I spend some time away from the writing, doing something unrelated. I have a tendency to get frustrated, which is not conducive to writing, so at that point I just need to walk away and take a break. or, b) I work on another piece that maybe isn't frustrating me, or I tackle one of the writing exercises that are floating around the Internet and in the academic writing books from my college days.

5. Do you find that any certain characters are more difficult to write than others?

At the moment, in-canon/character Rose and Carlisle are the most difficult for me to write. I have a tough time getting in their heads.

6.What do you like to see in a review?

I appreciate reviews in general, but those that point a specific part of the story or chapter that the reviewer likes (or, in some cases, doesn't like) are the most helpful. I like questions, too; they let me know that the reader is engaged and curious about the world...and sometimes they let me know that perhaps I could have explained something better.

7.What made you pick your pen name?

This is a screen name I've used for a while in other Internet communities. I like it because it feels whimsical, and makes me think of the fun times I had star watching when I was younger.

8.Did you do any special research for your story? Do you have any other experience with mythology?

Newgrange Interior
Since starting Aengus, I've been reading through many of the legends from the Irish myth cycles, and also reading some scholarly analyses of those legends. It's been quite educational!

Prior to deciding that Edward was going to be Aengus from Irish myth and legend and the subsequent research, I had only a cursory knowledge of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythologies. I had considerably less prior knowledge of Celtic - just a passing familiarity with Gaulish and Brythonic Celtic deities. I knew almost nothing of the Irish myth cycles.

9.Tell us the guiltiest pleasure you indulge in ;)

Hmmm. If were talking to non-fanfic people, I'd probably answer with "fanfiction," but that seems like an inadequate response to give readers and writers who are equally as addicted to fanfic as I am.

I suppose my guiltiest pleasure is the ridiculous amount of man ogling I do online. Drooling over pictures of pretty, hawt men in and of itself doesn't sound all that much like a guilty pleasure, I suppose, but you'd think I'd find a limit on how many pcitures of David Boreanaz and Johnny Depp I can drool over and download. I haven't, yet. I feel guilty because I could be, I dunno, filling up that hard drive space with original stories or something, ya know?

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