Monday, May 4, 2009

Author Interview: Ava Sinclair / Avalonia

1.The fact that you have always written in AU and canon is something to be noted, but the risk you take with introducing an OC to these genres is notable. What made you decide to go this route?

To be honest, I think that the fact that I was brand new to the Twilight fandom, knew no one, and really hadn't spent a lot amount of time writing or writing fanfiction in general was a huge help to me. This is how green I was: I didn't know my fic wasn't canon. I kid you not. I thought hey, I'm writing vampires, I'm basing it off the storyline...CANON! (I think it still says I write in canon on my profile on I also didn't know that AH-Human fics were so much more popular, didn't know the prejudices against different types of stories, and therefore, I didn't care. I did my usual angsting before I posted Extraordinary about how no one would read it (which, for the first several chapters, turned out to be true) but for the most part, I went into this without a huge amount of self consciousness. I wonder sometimes if it would have been different if I had been more involved in the fandom beforehand; if I would have been more insecure and possibly would have tried to write something in a more popular genre. I'd like to think not, because I have had the best time writing Elisa, but who knows?

As far as deciding to introduce an OC, it came very naturally to me without a lot of thought either because it was Elisa's story that came into my heads specifically, would not leave me alone, and inspired me to write Twilight fanfiction in the first place. I just fell in love with the idea writing this character who was really more like the sidekick you'd find in most stories; the wacky one who hangs around to make jokes and screws everything up.

2. Is ELISA the first OC you have written?

Elisa is actually not the first OC I have written, although out of all the characters that I've invented she's close to my favorite. Before I started writing for Twilight, I wrote a little fanfiction for other genres, but for the most part I wrote original stories. Writing is something I've been addicted to since I was a child, although I'd given it up for several years.

3.When writing OC, I find it more difficult than writing Canon characters who already have established characterizations to draw from. Do you find this so?

I have a constant cast of characters and stories in my head, so I think it just comes naturally to write my own characters. In that way, I don't find them difficult at all to write. I actually find it more difficult to stick with the canon characters only. What I think is more difficult is selling my own characters to readers. I have to remember that while I know their backstories and all the behind the scenes action, my readers don't, and I have to incorporate them realistically. It is definitely harder in fanfiction to get readers to care about a character you've invented rather than one who's established already, even if you're making the known characters OOC.

4. What drew you to write for the Twilight Fandom?

Writing for the Twilight fandom was really kind of a happy accident for me. I didn't actually start reading the series until the movie had been announced (Kristen had been cast, but not Rob). As soon as I read the first three, I was completely hooked and went trolling for more on the internet. I found some of the fan sites, and from there I read a few fics. When I say a few, I mean that. I think I'd read about four. (Passion Fish and First Light I believe were my first two). I was just getting my toes wet; I had not immersed myself in the fandom at all and I had absolutely no intention of writing a fanfic of my own.

Then I got very sick and ended up in bed with some stellar painkilers for a few weeks awaiting surgery. I spent much of that time re-reading the Twilight books and enjoying the hallucinogenic side effects of my medication. One of those side effects were these intense, 3D, Technicolor dreams I kept having where I found myself within the Twilight universe, and the twist was, whatever I did there ending up changing the book storylines. Those dreams stayed with me and kept niggling inside my brain. Elisa's character came to me shortly afterward and just wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote about her.

5. You also write a wonderful Leah series, the first being Independence Day and followed up with A Day Without Rain, and you have a third on the way. What made you write about Leah?

I have Breaking Dawn to thank for that. While I could gripe about that book all day, it really made me fall in love with Leah and before that, she hadn't really stood out for me. Usually I'm all about the woman scorned but in comparison to Emily, who was portrayed very sympathetically, Leah came off as a fairly one dimensional bitch. Breaking Dawn got me to see through her eyes, which was a point of view I hadn't really considered before, and I realized how much I'd underestimated the potential of her character. She has so much going for her as a protaganist; not only the love triangle and the double betrayal by her lover and her best friend/cousin, but also that she's a werewolf and she's Native American. But much like with Elisa, I didn't have any plans to write about her until I woke up one day and decided to write her point of view at the moment in Breaking Dawn where she leaves the main pack and joins Jacob. I had so much fun with that it ended up turning into a mini series. What I'm still scratching my head about is how Renesmee ended up in her story. Now there was a character I had no intention of writing about EVER.

6. Who do you think are the most undersold characters in the Twilight univers (Leah excluded if you mentioned her in #5)? Why?

JaneJaneJaneJaneJane. It just shocks me that there aren't more (or any) Jane fics. I mean, we've got a character who in her human life was ostracized, feared, burned at the stake with her twin brother while still a child, and now is a vampire and one of the most terrifying members of the Volturi, all while looking like an angel. Excuse me, I've just died and gone to storyline heaven.

There are several other minor characters I'd love to explore...the humans, particularly Jessica and Angela. Laurent is another character I might take out and play with eventually. I like the inevitable tragedy of his tale.

7. When is ELISA updating -- seriously? You are walking the fine line of "UPDATE SOON".

I know! And I have a ton of excuses but I'm saving them for an epic A/N in my next chapter. Which, by the way, is almost done. I'm hoping to upload in a day or two. Seriously.

8. When you find yourself "blocked", what do you do to get the creative juices flowing?

I have really struggled with that, as my lack of updates attest to, and for a long time I just gave in to being blocked and stressed rather than force myself to get past it. What's really helped me with that are two things...timed writings and some sage words of wisdom from the authors on TLYDF. A while back there was an interview with Minisinoo where she was asked the same thing and her response was something along the lines of just forcing yourself to do it, not relying on an imaginary muse or waiting until you 'feel' like it. I'm paraphrasing at best and misquoting at worst but I think you get the gist. That really stuck with me, because I love to write and making excuses not to do it because I felt insecure was really hurting me. The other advice was something I used to be good at but I think I'd lost sight of, and that was to write for yourself. I fall into this habit of being very self-conscious about my storylines and that's when I have to remind myself that if I had over-obsessed about whether anyone would like my stories or not I never would have written them in the first place.

9. What is the best "fandom" gift you have recieved (this is an excellent time to publicly tell everyone how awesome Smellyia is -- I'm talking THE BDAY here)?

Ahahahaha...well, there was a lovely bath set.... :D Actually though, the best 'fandom' gift I've received is *cue cheesy music here* the gift of friendship. I really never thought, even when I was writing my first story, that I'd actually become part of this community. I had planned to slink around on the sidelines and fade away quietly unnoticed. I never imagined I would become as vested in the fandom as I have, and that's because of the truly wonderful people I have gotten to know through it. I don't think I'd continue to show up every day if it wasn't for the connections I've made, especially with a certain Society...

10. You are a timed write junkie -- tell Fandom about this highly addictive practice.

I'm sure timed writing is nothing new but my own particular experience with it was born through a late night chat I was having with my cyberbud Navi. We were both whining about how we had no motivation to write, blah, blah, when I said something along the lines of 'we should really shut the hell up and just write for fifteen minutes, then trade and see what we've come up with'. It worked brilliantly and we were addicted immediately.

How it works is, you hook up with your cyber partner through chat (I swear this is not as dirty as it sounds), select a time (anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes seems to work the best) and then both of you write as much as you can on whatever fic you choose to work on. It can be done in small groups too, which is great fun. When the timer goes off, you trade and get instant feedback. It works so well because it's motivating. Even when you don't feel like writing at all there's a certain shame in just sitting there scratching your ass or looking up half naked Rob pics when your partner is waiting on you.

There are a couple of things to remember if it's a practice anyone reading this decides to take up:

1. Trust your partner/group: it can be a sensitive issue. You're presenting stream of consciousness writing in a very raw, un-edited, un-beta'd form and you don't want to try that with someone you don't feel comfortable with. And also, there is a very good possibility you will be spoiling future chapters of your fic and there are few things worse than doing that with some random Jane who is going to blab to the masses.

2. Feedback/Brainstorming/Suggestions are grand in a timed write. Nitpicky criticism or beta'ing each little slice that comes your way generally isn't. There's time for that later...this again goes back to the whole unedited, steam of consciousness writing bit. The goal is to get each other over the hump, not discourage the process with too much analysis. Besides, what you're reading is generally in pieces and until it's all put together, you're not getting the whole picture.

11. How did you pick your pen name? (BAHAHAHAHAHA! STRIPPER!)

*facepalm* Well, I've been using Avalonia for years (there's a story behind that too, but trust me, it's boring). The natural nickname for it became Ava on various forum boards, to the point where many people just assumed it was my name. So when I registered for I got this brain fart that it should be my pseudynom. Then I needed a last name, and I remembered this book series I used to love when I was a kid...Taffy Sinclair. So I stole Sinclair for my writing name and was quite pleased with what I thought was a dandy pen-name. Little did I know that the moniker Ava Sinclair did not prompt mental images of a quirky yet somehow still cool writing queen with ink-stained fingers, but instead conveyed to many that I like dollar bills stuffed into my g-string while wearing clear heels. Even when this was pointed out to me *repeatedly - YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE* I still didn't believe it until I googled Ava Sinclair one day. Ahem. That is all.

And now I'm kinda screwed because some villainous soul on FFN is already using Avalonia, but also I'll probably keep Ava Sinclair for the pointing and laughing potential. Just because I can take one for the team like that.

And now I'm kinda screwed because some villainous soul on FFN is already using Avalonia, but also I'll probably keep Ava Sinclair for the pointing and laughing potential. Just because I can take one for the team like that.



    I miss the days of our timed writes. :(

    You forgot to mention the collective procrastination in which some of the funniest shit EVER occurs. See: WaT, L tangents, and peppermint foot cream.

    Some of my best experiences while writing WA were doing timed writes with Ava and siDEADde, and got me through some really tough times.

    Anyways, loved the Leah, bb. You are full of epic win.

  2. Thanks for the insight into your mind, Ava! Loved your interview--some good reminders about writing for yourself and not so much for readers. Ultimately, when you do that you give readers the best story you can.

    Brava to you for being unique in the fandom fic universe! AND for making use of one of the most underrated, crapped-upon characters--Leah.

    I never ever associated your penname with a stripper. Old Hollywood glam, definitely. But now that it's out's in my head, ha.

  3. BAHA....I have no idea what you're talking about Miz Ava. =P

    AG...i miss too =( Gotta get out of the grey girl. I think that's why I've been so fail lately. No timed writes.
    I miss the L tangents and awkward hugging.

  4. You realize that now there is going to be an explosion of Jane fics! It actually makes me want to search and see what is there now!

  5. Kaci - I live in hope! I'm sure when a really fantastic one comes out I'll gnash my teeth in jealousy that it wasn't mine, but love it anyway.

    Amy - sure you don't. Pure as the driven, yellow snow.

    Gondolier - Ava Gardner! :D See, I knew I wasn't crazy. Certain people have their heads in the gutter and again I say, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! o.O
    I do think the most important thing is to write for yourself but it's hard to keep that at the forefront sometimes because we all want that feedback and validation.

    AG - I very much miss our timed writing sessions too. Ah, the beloved L tangent. Has been a sad lack of it lately...must regroup, and soon.

  6. This is totally ironic! I just finished reading (and reviewing) your two Elisa stories (ahem, update soon), which I found randomly. I like going through other author's favourites list and reading every story on it, if the author is one I really like. I think that's how I found your stories. Maybe. Or else I did a search for OC stories. I don't remember. Whatever.

    Anyway, imagine my surprise when I come on here to check what I've missed for the past few days and find an interview of you! How cool is that?

    Timed writing sounds like a lot of fun. I'm too much of a perfectionist (and rabid researcher) to take part in such enjoyments, though. I have a tendency to write half a sentence and then pause to ponder the ramifications of each word choice. *sigh* That's how I roll, 'cause I'm weird like that. Maybe one day I'll try timed writing, though. It would be a good exercise for me, I think.


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