Pastiche Pen Pulls Out Her Notebook to Interview Oxymoronic8, author of Innocent, Vigilant, Ordinary
So, Pastiche Pen decided she really, really liked doing interviews and demanded to do some outside of the recced fics, and Smellyia said "yes," thus unleashing her and allowing her to reek utter havoc and question-mark chaos on the fandom. Oxymoronic8 was her first victim... (Heh-heh-heh.)
Okay, first things first. (And yes, I feel very Rita Skeeter doing this questioning) How did you choose your name? And do you think there's anything oxymoronic about the number eight?
The Oxymoronic part came from me never being able to pigeonhole myself into a single description. I’ve been “Oxymoronic81” in various capacities online since early high school. I was born in the 1981, and I didn’t want the fandom to know how old I was, since I stupidly thought most writers would be in their teens and didn’t want to reveal my age. Hence, the change to Oxymoronic8.
So, yeah… There’s nothing oxymoronic about the number eight.
On Innocent Vigilant Ordinary… You write a Bella who wants to go to a top tier college—and yet, what I found really interesting is that it was Edward that originally pushed her to apply. Later on, Bella makes the goal of going to college her own idea, but this plot line left me curious, was this partially a reaction to Breaking Dawn for you? And do you wish canon Bella had been stronger?
I finished my outline for IVO and started posting before Breaking Dawn came out, so that book isn't a factor in anything that happens in my story. However, it was pretty clear in Eclipse that Bella's interests were all Edward-centric and that college wasn't a priority for her. That left me scratching my head and ended up impacting how I wrote her in IVO. While I don't think college is for everyone or that a college degree makes one person stronger than someone who doesn't have one, the way Bella was written in Twilight made me see her as someone who would have really thrived in a college environment. She was smart, loved to read, and enjoyed doing her schoolwork. I pictured college helping her grow out of her insecurities and furthering her passion for literature. But then Edward came along, and Bella never objectively considered that she could have both—a life with Edward and a college experience (as a human). In the end, for me it wasn't so much of a question of Bella being "stronger"; I just wished she'd been a bit more mature in some of her decisions.
Okay, so on the (second-to-last) last posting of IVO, you wrote the following:
So, my question is how much do the factions affect you when you write? (And do you ever wanna flip anyone the bird?) I’ve noticed that everyone seems to think you’re going to do whatever they as individuals want, which is clearly not the case. Was this post basically a reminder to keep the book open and prep everyone?
Oh Jesus. Reading my own A/Ns is like listening to a drunken voicemail message the morning after. I always write them seconds before I post, when I'm at my most neurotic, not thinking straight, and basically incoherent.
Anyway, I love them to pieces, but my readers have no affect whatsoever on the overall plot arc of my story. I’m notoriously stubborn and refuse to change IVO to please people who want it to be something it’s not (i.e., fluffier, smuttier, faster-paced, less angsty, etc.). I have had a detailed outline from the beginning, and I rarely stray from it, though sometimes I elaborate on certain things if readers seem to be confused. Either people like the story or they hate it, but I won’t change the heart of what the story is just to make everyone happy. Even if I did want to appease readers, they don’t agree with each other anyway as to where the story should go, so someone would always be pissed off.
That A/N was basically my way of bracing everyone for what’s to come. A story ends once conflict ends (or at least it should), and just because two characters work out some issues doesn’t mean everything gets fixed overnight. Edward and Bella finally kissed in the story, and I didn’t want people to interpret it as meaning I was bailing on all the issues they still have to resolve.
As for wanting to flip anyone the bird, usually I just shrug off the nastiness, since I asked for it in the first place by posting my work online. Plus, I find any annoyance or bitterness is easily solved by a few well-mixed gin and tonics.
A girl after my own heart...
Tanqueray, Schweppes, and fanfiction belong together. There's no denying it.
Feeding into this, what are your biggest fears when writing?
Uh, sucking on an epic scale?
Seriously, my crazy A/Ns make it quite obvious I freak out about a lot of things—word choice, metaphors that make sense only to me, unrealistic dialogue, painful pacing. The list goes on and on. I have zero experience writing a love story or a piece of fiction over 30 pages. With IVO, I feel like I still have the training wheels on; it’s a huge learning experience for me.
Hmm... Is this the reason you write angst so well? ;-)
Surprisingly enough, I'm a pretty nonangsty person in real life, outside of obsessing about my writing. Actually, I think I'm into angst because real life is pretty hum drum and drama-free for me. Writing intense conflict gets me all worked up (in the best possible way), so I run with it.
You read M fics, obviously, but you write a T story. So, why did you choose to write a “T” fic in an “M” fandom? Did you ever consider changing the rating?
Initially, I figured if IVO ever had any sex, it wouldn’t happen until the final chapters, and I didn’t want people reading the story thinking “Where the hell is the sexin’?” A T-rating tells them from the get-go this story isn’t about sex. Case in point: I ended up having to rate IVO NC-17 on Twilighted because of their rules regarding underage drinking. Now, I get a couple of reviews a month complaining the reviewer picked up the story for smut based on its rating and was disappointed by the lack of heated cores and hardened lengths and whatnot. One even told me the story was unrealistic because I never included any scenes with Bella and Jacob fooling around beyond just kissing.
That said, sometimes, sex is imperative to the plot, and several of the stories I read do this effectively (The Office, Consecuencias, and Art After 5 come to mind). While I do think sex could fit into IVO, ultimately I gave up on the idea because some readers chose the story because it doesn’t contain graphic sex scenes, and I don’t want them to have wasted all this time following the story only to be misled.
Also, I’m kind of sick of the bum rap T-rated fics get. I don’t think you need to have sex in a story for it to be worthwhile or realistic or even “mature.” We’re all here in this fandom because we read Twilight and loved it, and it, of course, has no sex. T-rated fics aren’t just for kids, so I guess I’m trying to show that you can write for grownups and not necessarily have to play the smut card or include a slew of expletives in every chapter. I can make this story work with or without sex and an excess of foul language, so I’m sticking by my T-rating for IVO, though I look forward to doing something different with future stories.
Heh. Does "something different" include sex?
Indeed, it does. I'm looking to branch out, as I've never written a sex scene before. I have a M-rated novella in the works, and it's focused on one sexual experience between a human Edward and Bella. Also, limona and I have a collaboration piece planned that will probably be a little smutty, but the jury's still out on how crazy we'll get with the sex.
Now, onto the topic of your Twilighted.net forum thread for IVO—there are like introductions made every time a new person comes on, the posts are just epic long, and those girls engage in what might be close to literary criticism. First, does this scare you ever? (I’m scared on your behalf, honestly.) And how the heck did the thread evolve into having "Oxyminions?"
My thread comments initially made me nervous because I never thought of IVO as a “smart person’s” story and wasn’t prepared for it to be scrutinized so closely. Now, though, I embrace it. I love that they dig into the details and look at the subtle layers of my characterization and plot. When I write a new chapter, it takes me a lot longer than it used to because I don’t want to let them down; I want IVO to stand up to that kind of intense examination. Basically, the people on the thread make me a better writer because they won’t let me get lazy and rush or gloss over certain details or character development. Their discussions also help me hone in on things I need to make clearer or plot holes I need to fix. I can’t thank them enough for forcing me to raise my game. That’s probably why the “Oxyminions” thing seems so strange to me (and just to clarify, that name was NOT my idea). I find it funny that they claim to be my minions, because truthfully it's the other way around: they totally own me.
Anyway, the thread isn’t always so intense. We spent, like, six pages debating whether Nutella was disgusting and another five or so posting the nastiest kisses in pop culture history (I think the Lisa Marie-Michael Jackson make-out session at the 1994 VMA’s won, by the way). So it’s not like everyone’s a bunch of uppity brainiacs comparing fanfic to Voltaire. It’s a good mix between friendly debates and goofing off.
Until more recently, you didn’t have a favorites list, and from forum posts etcetera, you’ve admitted to not being a super reviewer, so first, why so shy? Second, what fics are you reading that you’d like to give a shout out to?
I always joke that I’m the fandom recluse, but I think it’s more that I’m lazy than shy. I admit I belong in the seventh circle of fandom hell for my lackluster reviewing. There’s really not a reason for it, other than I read most fic on my Blackberry and I hate typing on the damn thing, so once I get my giant fingers to a normal-sized keyboard, I usually forget what I wanted to say about a story. It’s probably a blessing in disguise for a lot of authors, though, as I can be kind of blunt. But I do and try to make the effort when something really blows me away.
As for the favorites thing, I've had a favorites list on FF.net for a couple of months now, although at first, I didn't because I only wanted to add fics once they were complete. But I got sick of waiting, so I took the plunge and updated my profile along with adding a couple of my favorite stories.
Right now, I’m reading a lot of stuff, but I’m especially ga-ga over:
1. La canzone della Bella Cigna by philadelphic, an amazingly well-written story where Bella’s a soprano and Edward is her pianist. It has some twists in it, and the author clearly knows her shit about voice training.
3. Answering Bell by ilsuocantante is the only Bella-with-a-kid fic I’ve ever read that I love. The budding relationship between Bella and Edward is poignant and sweet, as is the way they change each other’s lives for the better.
4. I also have an unhealthy obsession with Hydraulic Level 5, but who doesn't?
You’re a lawyer. You have to write a lot of boring crap. Do you ever find that any aspects of your legal writing seep into IVO, or is Fan Fic the big escape?
Yes, it is excruciatingly boring. It sucks the creative energy right out of me, so last summer, I took the plunge and started writing fanfic to keep my creativity alive. I was a creative writing minor in undergrad and aside from the weight I wrote down on my driver’s license renewal form, I hadn’t written a drop of fiction in five years. Weirdly enough, though, I approach IVO the same way I do a brief or a legal memo: I build on logic, usually, and try to lay a foundation for what’s to come in the story the same way I would start an argument in the legal world.
Finally, any tips for newbies in the fandom, trying to get their stuff out there?
Don't give up. If no one’s reading at first, don’t pull your story or stop updating out of frustration. It takes time for new authors to build an audience. I mean, IVO got at most 20 reviews per chapter for the first 20-something chapters, but I was having too much fun to quit. If writing is something you love, write for yourself and try not to obsess over review count or number of hits.