Monday, May 18, 2009

Author Interview: hwimsey

Gustariana Recommendation: The Lost Boys By hwimsey

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

In truth, I was looking for a fandom that created strong, well written fanfiction based upon characters I enjoyed. When Twilight became such a phenomena, I began to look for decent fanfiction on (where The Lost Boys was first posted) since I hadn’t seen so many stories pop up there since the heyday of Harry Potter. More stories meant more eyeballs. If you’re ‘giving it away for free,’ you at least want as many people as possible to eat up your work.

Once I stumbled across the Twilighted site, I was impressed by the talents of hmonster4, profmom, feathers_mmmm, among others What surprised me was the age of the writers I most admired. Thirty and up for the most part. Hmmmm. It got me thinking, these may be my kind of women: an intelligent, literate community. I had no idea they would become such incredibly supportive readers of my work. You, Gustariana, yourself, being the perfect example. And don’t even get me started about all The Lost Boys siggy love. Check out The Lost Boys thread on Twilighted to see all that wonderfulness. Ah, sigh.

2. Tell us about the other Fandoms you have written for.

The only other fandom I have written for is Harry Potter, years ago, on, to be exact. My novel length fic, The Coven of Echoes, remains in the top ten, I think, and a story I still think fondly of. That story introduced me to my beta who became a good friend of mine. There’s another story over there, No More Time, that I still can bear reading, and, like The Lost Boys, it has a definite ghostly feel to it.

3. What is your previous experience in writing? Do you have any plans for original work?

I have written all my life but not as a profession. I worked at Andersen Consulting in Manhattan out of college, then went on to get my CPA and focus high end tax work and then in enterprise wide accounting systems sales. Highly stressful and demanding to be sure. When my children were born, I knew that chapter of my life needed to come to a close. I’ve spent the last three years concentrating on writing, taking classes, and participating in a writer’s group. My work has appeared on NPR and a short humorous story of mine was published last year, in an anthology entitled Can I Sit With You?

Two years ago, I finished my first novel, entitled Jane, and promptly shelved it. It is a modern day version of Bronte’s, Jane Eyre, set in San Francisco. I’ve just dusted it off and am eyeing it suspiciously.

Six months ago, I began a young adult novel as a result of the coaxing/pleading of my very persuasive eleven year old son. It involves the mysterious and romantic adventures of a fairy, but not the dainty storybook kind. We’re talking Elizabeth Bennett with wings and attitude. It is a third complete and the rest is outlined. There are plans for three novels in total with this series, but I have much work to do there. I spent six months alone on character development and plot.

4. What made you choose the genre you write in versus the others? Do you think you might ever venture beyond your chosen genre?

I enjoy writing in the fantasy and romance genres. I call fanfiction my knitting – I write it for two reasons: one, to break through writer’s block, and two, to keep the gray matter nimble. Writing is like exercise to me, the hardest part is the proverbial getting my sneakers on – sitting down. Once I’m there, the movie starts in my head and I’m off, just taking dictation, trying to soak in as much of that world as I can. There is a miraculous thing that happens between the mind and the fingers, I can’t explain it, I just love it. I think most writers feel that, that getting into the zone. It can suck you in, though – the kids could be starving , the dog may have wondered off, but man, when it’s working, there is nothing like it.

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

Now I’m probably going to be speaking heresy here, but other than a few of Stephanie Meyer’s characters, I find most of them need some serious fleshing out. For me, that’s what makes this fandom so vibrant. Writers are adding more depth to the characters that we all enjoy. I do fight not trying to make them clich├ęd unto themselves, if that makes any sense. For example, the girls always do x, Emmett always does y. That’s a hard line when writing ff, though, you have to hold your readers by giving them something akin to the characters they love, but at the same time, make them something of your own. Perhaps that is why I adore, I Love L.A., so much. Feathers_mmmm created a tremendous woman in Grace.

6. What do you do to avoid the dreaded MarySueism when creating an OC?

Excellent question. And get out the pillory, because here I go again. I am not the world’s biggest Bella fan. In Twilight, I thought she showed promise. In New Moon, I could empathize with her distress, but I started to worry about the lack of development in her character. By Eclipse, I disliked her, and I won’t discuss Breaking Dawn because it was a major disappointment for me. In Twilight, Meyer captured something raw and powerful but the ending of the series just abandoned that promise. It was a Mary Sue ending for a Mary Sue character. Now you can stone me. As a mother, I just wanted her to have desires that other young woman might look up to. I was raised on Katherine Hepburn. I also realize that Stephanie Meyer is a gazillionaire for a reason, so perhaps I should just shut my mouth.

Now, as far as character development goes, my eyes were opened when I read Jonathan Truby’s, The Anatomy of Story. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is serious about writing. I blew the doors off my idea of “knowing your character.” As a result of that, I try to weave my characters into my story’s theme(s), and imbue them each with motivations, wants and needs. Plus fears. All decent characters have to have fears, both personal and moral (relating to their environment). I think you can relate to a character, be fascinated with them, and they can remain entirely unsympathetic. Take Snape, for example. He was J.K. Rowling’s richest character

I also love having the reader “see ahead,” and know what is best for the character, even though he/she doesn’t. The ending can be a surprise, but it should always be expected at the same time.

The last bit is that I have to have my readers inhabit my characters. We live with all our senses, so should our heros. So setting the setting, for want of a better term, is paramount to me. Each chapter needs to have an emotional arc.

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

Ah, another great question. I like detail, what the reader enjoyed such as specific lines, setting, mood. The more detailed the better. The best is when a reader writes that they feel connected to the characters, or as one review once wrote, “Can I marry your story?” I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed harsh criticism, but I’m well aware that Baskin Robins makes 32 flavors for a reason. A few people didn’t much care for Nick and Nora in The Lost Boys, that’s fair. I don’t care for zombies so I’m not about to run out and buy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, no matter how much I adore Mr. Darcy.

8. Your latest story deals with the paranormal. What prompted you to weave ghost lore into you story? And the question we all want to know. Do you believe in ghosts? :-)

Hah! I adore the supernatural. Wizards, witches, ghosts, things that go bump in the night. There are gargoyles in my garden and The Ghastlycrumb Tinies (autographed by the man himself) not a foot away from me in my bookcase. I feasted on Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and the lot as a young girl. I’ve toured every damn haunted castle in Scotland and am in the process of reading The Graveyard Book to my daughter. Please go out and buy that book. It’s lovely. So yes, I have it bad.

As far as ghosts go, hmmm. First off, I’ve never seen one, but (you knew that was coming) when we moved into our old house in San Francisco years ago, the previous owner had eaten, breathed, and slept under that roof for over 60 years. I do think the essence of people can be imprinted on a place. I’m a pretty “bells and smells” high Episcopal (though raised as Catholic as they come) so I believe in heaven. But this old woman that lived in our house for all those years, I could have sworn she was there, at night, lurking in the shadows. I felt her. My husband thought I was nuts, but he usually does. It wasn’t until we bought home our wailing little boy from the hospital that she skedaddled. I think the incessant crying drove her out.

9. What do you look for on the stories you read?

In fanfiction and romance: likeable/fascinating characters, a decent plot, and satisifying smut (The Outlander Series, e.g.) (Come on. Don’t you?) In everything else, anything that grabs a hold of me and won’t let me go even after I’ve put it back (A River Runs Through It). A book where I’d like to grow up to be the main character or married to him (Lord Peter Wimsey). A book I’d eat if it were a desert (Love Walked In) or one where the writing is so superlative, you hang your head in dejection knowing you’ll never be that good (Persuasion by Jane Austen).

10. If we could hear The Lost Boys perform in concert, who would they sound like?

I’ve thought about this, a lot. If I had to tie them down, I’d say they have the wit of Elvis Costello, Okay Go, and Squeeze, the drive of early Bruce, the edge of My Morning Jacket, the playfulness of Fountains of Wayne, and the soul of Mike Doughty (especially on Haughty Melodic which has never left my car’s CD player, and probably never will.)

11. You weave literature and poetry into the story. Were you a lit major in college?

Would you believe computer science, accounting, a minor in math and an almost minor in literature? As Maxwell Smart said, “I missed it by this much.” Poetry is my crack cocaine, though.

12. What character do you identify with the most?

Edward. Hands down. But mostly in Twilight. By Breaking Dawn, I was ready to find Buffy.

13. Your last fic was AU. Why did you switch to AU-Human for this story?

Sex. It’s too difficult when your lover wants to eat you. Not that my Edward doesn’t.

In a way, though, I wanted to play around with the theme of wanting to devour someone because you are so in love with him/her. How do you handle that? How do you battle that on a day to day basis? And not just one person feeling that way, but two people. How do you begin to fall in love when you’re already light years beyond that?


  1. First of all...Lord Peter Wimsey! *loff*

    Second, you are so right about what it takes to make intriguing characters, even unsympathetic characters. Know everything about them, inside and out. It brings your readers sooo much closer! I'm really excited to find writers in fanfiction doing that. Just because it's fanfiction, it doesn't mean a story can't be well-written.

    Can't wait to read your stuff!

  2. Hello--

    I love "The Lost Boys." I only started reading recently, but this is an excellent story. I love the addition of ghosts. I love the characters you have written. When Bella and Edward are around each other, I FEEL it.

    This is a truly wonderful fic, and I am so thankful it was mentioned here on TLYDF because I would not have found it otherwise.

    Keep up the wonderful work Hwimsey!



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