Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Author Interview: Subtlynice

1. You are a fairly young writer and yet, you have so many pieces to your credit already. When was it you first realized you weren't just an admirer of the written word, but you had a passion for actually practicing this craft?

I’ve actually been writing ever since I was a little kid, but I didn’t find fanfiction until the end of 2007. When I was five years old, I decided I wanted to become a writer. I wrote a miniature series of god-awful stories about farmyard animals living in a theme park (my mum’s still got the original copies tucked away in the loft) and told everyone I knew that I was going to send them off to a publisher. I actually even went as far as to look up the publishers in my books and ask for an envelope so that I could send them a letter!
Since then, the stories I’ve written have matured as I have and I’ve got a few ideas that I’m starting to seriously develop now. Although I’m young, I can’t ever recall a time when I haven’t been writing something, and so it was only natural that when I discovered fanfiction I would want to become a part of it.
My real inspiration for writing though, was largely due to my dad. He’s like an older version of me – he’s always loved to read, he wrote Dr Who fanfiction for magazines when he was a teenager, and he’s just finished the first draft of his first novel, which I am so proud to be beta-ing. He’s always encouraged me, and although he doesn’t have a clue that I’m writing so regularly (I’m too self-conscious to show him all of my work) he’s the reason I write. I can only hope that someday I’ll write something that’ll make him as proud of me as I am of him.

2. You are fairly established in multiple fandoms as a fic author. What made you want to play in Twilight?

When I first found fanfiction, it was through Harry Potter, and so I inevitably started writing Harry Potter fanfiction. At first, when I read Twilight, I didn’t know how big the fandom was, I just wanted to write something for it. I finished New Moon, wrote a short story, ‘Elizabeth Masen’s Plea’, and posted it on fanfiction.net. It instantly got far more hits than I’d anticipated- and far more reviews than my Harry Potter fics did. When I finally stopped being so dozy and realised what I’d gotten myself into with the craziness that is our fandom, at first I was reluctant to write any more for Twilight – even the Harry Potter fans are saner than we are! But then I read Eclipse and got sucked in once more.
For me, the draw to Twilight was not so much about the plot, but the people and emotion involved. I’ve always been a character writer – when I write, the character comes first, and then the plot just naturally follows – so that was a huge appeal for me. And because the Saga captures the emotions of the main characters so brilliantly, it wasn’t hard to write from their perspectives at all.

3. In Twilight, you seem to have a penchant for the underdog in many of your fics. Tell us why you choose the characters you do to portray?

The great thing about Twilight is that there’s so much opportunity for ‘missing moments’. I have an obsession with filling in the gaps Stephenie left for us – which for the most part includes the characters like Angela, or Mike, or Ms Cope or Elizabeth Masen, who all have their own stories to tell, but never get to tell them. One of the things I love about first-person narrative is that it limits the story development, but also leaves little hints as to what the same story would be like as told from another perspective. This means that when it comes to fanfic, you can write virtually anything from another character’s perspective, and it’ll still match up to canon. Edward’s point of view is a real favourite of mine, because his constant internal conflict keeps even the most pointless of stories interesting, but at the same time, I do love to dabble in the relatively untouched aspects of the fandom.
In Twilight, Mike seemed like such a pointless character to Bella, because she saw him through the eyes of a girl receiving far too much unwanted attention. Edward’s perspective in Midnight Sun is biased too, because he’s irrationally jealous of poor Mike. I chose to write about Mike mostly because when I first started reading Twilight fanfiction, I was surprised at the abuse of Mike’s character, but also because even in canon Mike never got his chance in the spotlight.

4. There is a chaptered fic you are currently writing, Thy Beauty, that incorporates Shakespeare. Can you tell us a little more about that?

Thy Beauty is a challenge I’ve set myself- to write the end of New Moon (from Volterra onwards) from Edward’s perspective. I guess it’s no secret that I love all forms of literature, and Shakespeare’s plays just seemed to fit with what I was writing. The great thing about Shakespeare is that his ideas were relatively simple- the star-crossed lovers, the jealous husband, the greedy king –it’s all been done before and after Shakespeare’s time, but his characters and the emotions they evoke are what really makes them stand out. The simple plots make the stories so easy to relate to, and while writing the first chapter of Thy Beauty, I took a break to read Othello. One line of the play stood out in particular to me: “When we shall meet again at compt [judgement day] this look of thine will hurl my soul from heaven, and fiends will snatch at it”. It sounded so typically Edward – especially since Thy Beauty is Edward’s perspective in Volterra, and so I knew I wanted to include the speech as an epigraph. Then when I decided to continue the story, I rifled through my Shakespeare books to find a fitting epigraph for each chapter. The infamous Romeo and Juliet line which the title comes from was incorporated into the first chapter, and Edward’s eloquent narrative is unsurprisingly easy to add Shakespeare to. Every so often, I add a random Shakespeare quote into someone’s thoughts, just to see if it gets noticed in the reviews!

5. In your TLYDF recommended fic, In Defence of Mike Newton, you chose to write in the second person. Your use of technique here opened up a new perspective on the misbegotten boy. Why did you choose second-person?

This one’s hard to answer, because I didn’t sit down intending to write second person. I didn’t even intend to write about Mike – it just sort of happened, the way all my writing does. I don’t think much about what I’m about to write until I’ve got the pen in my hand. But as soon as I did start writing about Mike, I just instinctively knew that the best way to get the message through to people – that Mike really isn’t a bad guy after all – would be to put them directly into his shoes. The wonderful thing about second-person is that it allows the reader to connect with the character on a much more personal level that third-person or first-person. Mike’s version of the series isn’t anything flashy – there are no vampires or werewolves in Forks as far as he’s concerned. Whereas Bella’s main concerns in the Saga were immortality and forbidden love triangles, Mike’s main concerns are getting decent grades and deciphering the ‘girl code’ – which just makes him that much more entertaining. Who wants to read about territorial disputes between mythical creatures when you can read about Mike Newton’s high school discoveries?

6. How did you come up with your pen-name?

It’s actually an anagram of my real name. Most people know that my first name is Lucy, but I don’t tell people my surname. For those clever people with nothing better to do though, here’s an anagram for you to work out:

Subtly Nice [4,6] ;)

7. Tell us about your writing "routine" or how you get your thoughts on paper in general.

Most of the time, when I’m writing a story, I need to be in the same frame of mind as the characters, or the emotion just doesn’t feel right. That’s why I’m primarily a one-shot writer – because it’s much less hassle for me to write when I feel like it. If I’m in a really bad mood, I like to vent my anger out through my writing – usually by writing rebellious-era Edward killings or New Moon angst. If I’m in a good mood, chances are whatever I write will be something fluffy or funny. But it’s only when I’m feeling intellectual that I ever actually write anything that sounds good!

8. If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?

An archaeologist. Or an Egyptologist. Or a classical civilisations researcher/teacher. Basically anything to do with ancient history. But writing would be my ideal job.

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