1. When did you first read Twilight, and what about it inspired you to start writing fan fiction?
I consider myself fortunate, because by the time I first heard of Twilight, all the books were out, and the movie had just been released. I didn’t have to wait for any of it.
I was in the middle of a week-long bout with bronchitis, and I was sick and tired of watching TV. While waiting for my prescriptions at Walgreens, I decided I needed something light and not too mentally taxing to read. I remembered this vampire series I had been meaning to check out and decided now was the perfect time to indulge.
I was amazed, and I couldn't figure out why at first. Then I realized it was because Stephenie Meyer had literally put everything in the book that would have made my thirteen year-old toes curl. I finished it within twenty-four hours. I remember being relieved I was reading it as an adult because as a teen I would have pined so badly for an Edward of my own (a guy who is entirely focused on me and yet doesn't pressure me for sex? Score!), it would have made my life miserable.
Basically, I read all four books and saw the movie in the span of two weeks, which is just the way I like it. It wasn’t actually Twilight itself that inspired me to write fanfic, it was the second piece of fan fiction I read that inspired me to write my own story. It was a New Moon AU fic, in which Bella resorts to cutting (I know, unpopular subject) as a way to hear Edward’s voice after he left her, and unfortunately can’t stop even once he is back in her life. It wasn't the subject matter itself that drew me to this story, it was the fact that it felt genuine to me, it felt real. Sure enough, a few chapters in, the author revealed that she was writing from personal experience. I started wondering what I could come up with in that same vein, something that Bella might use to cope with the pain of Edward's abandonment and that he would disapprove of, and something that I had personal experience with. I came up with smoking marijuana. And so Pot-Bellie was born (credit for that name goes to Philadelphic), and I wrote Flirting with Danger.
2. From some of your author's notes, I've gotten the impression that you believe Stephenie Meyer made Bella too perfect in Breaking Dawn. How has that opinion influenced the kinds of stories you tell, if at all?
It made me want to portray a Bella with flaws, and lots of ‘em. I don’t think this is evident in Flirting, and it only becomes obvious at the end of Captive when she is turned into a vampire, but it will practically be the whole basis of the sequel.
I think the reason I was disappointed with Breaking Dawn was because I went in with some pretty hefty expectations. I was so excited when I found out that Stephenie Meyer was actually going to make Bella a vampire. That is a turn of events I never got to see in the vampire shows I enjoyed. We never got to see it in Forever Knight, we probably wouldn’t have seen it in Moonlight, and we probably won’t see it in True Blood either (not that I am currently watching that one). Even in fanfic, if the female love interest got turned into a vampire, it was usually at the very end of the story. I wanted to find out what happened after the bite, and I also had very specific ideas on what I wanted to see happen.
It seems completely unreasonable to me that it would be easy to adapt to being of an entirely different species, especially one such as vampires, without growing pains. New vampires have a lot to get used to. Frankly, if my senses went into overdrive from one day to the next, I’d probably lose my marbles. Add bloodlust into the mix, and I’d basically be screwed. Stephenie Meyer chose not to address any of that when she wrote Breaking Dawn, so I decided to do it myself.
I also want to focus on and play with the "science" of being a vampire. For example: vampires look inhumanly perfect to humans. Therefore, when Bella became a vampire, and her eyesight became vastly superior to that of humans, shouldn’t the Cullens’ flawless skin have looked less perfect to her? By the same token, wouldn’t post-transformation Bella’s venom-enhanced beauty have been partially negated by the fact that she now has improved eyesight? In my opinion, she should have awoken from the transformation, looked at herself in the mirror and found that she didn’t look that different at all. These are some of the things that Stephenie Meyer overlooked in her books (this isn’t criticism—she couldn’t think of everything. That’s what fanfic is for), and that I would like to play with as I write the sequel.
3. How did you come up with the idea for Captive?
The idea basically sprang from the scene near the end of New Moon in which Bella has secured Carlisle's and Alice's promises to change her and Edward realizes he has no say, no control over the eventual outcome. This excerpt in particular (including the part, not shown here, where he grabs her jaw to the point where she can barely enunciate) struck me:
I cringed away, hands over my ears. (New Moon, pg. 535)
After such a violent reaction to the idea of her becoming a vampire, I found his willingness to trade Bella's humanity for marriage a bit odd, unless he was only trying to buy time and had no intention of following through. I started wondering about the lengths to which he might go to keep Bella human, and decided that kidnapping her wasn't beyond the realm of possibility. Once I read Midnight Sun and saw that Stephenie Meyer had made Edward consider kidnapping, albeit very briefly, the idea didn't seem so farfetched.
It also enabled me to bring Edward's dark side into play, which was an added bonus, as I have a bit of a thing for Darkward (or dark anyone for that matter).
4. You've started a sequel to Captive called Bringing Up Baby (no babies are involved). Sequels can be sticky and some people think they are hard to do well. Why is a sequel necessary, and what do you hope to accomplish with Bringing up Baby?
Sequels are rarely, if ever, strictly necessary. I believe they often stem from an unwillingness to let go of the worlds we have created or the rapport we have built with those who read our stories. In my case, it is mostly the former, and is probably why I billed Captive as a sequel to Flirting, when it turned out to be nothing of the sort. In my mind it is a continuation of that storyline, but it is quite obviously not a true sequel. Bringing up Baby is, as it refers back to Captive occasionally, though I really see it more as the next chapter in Bella's life (it's also the last. No more sequels after that).
Having said that, Bella as a vampire is the story I always wanted to write, and since I was going to ignore Breaking Dawn and the Dreaded Baby, I had to write the story of how Bella came to be a vampire first. I guess you could say Captive is a prequel.
One of the things I want to do with BuB is delve more deeply into the characters of the other family members. I wasn't able to fully use all the Cullens and Hales in Captive, and in the sequel I'd like to shine the spotlight on all of them. I am doing this by dedicating a pair of chapters to each of them in turn. Though it will be a Bella-centric story revolving around her struggles with adapting to being a vampire, and will be told mainly through her point of view, I want to explore the other family members individually, in relation to Bella and each other, and maybe give them hopes, fears, hobbies and pasts beyond the ones outlined in the books. What better way than having them heavily involved in Bella’s “upbringing”? Giving them each their own chapters will force me to develop them all more or less equally.
BuB will not be plot driven the way Captive was. Instead, I am writing chapters that are not only long(ish), they are also self-contained stories that can pretty much stand alone, but taken together will show Bella's evolution from volatile newborn to stable vampire. I chose this format not only to give myself boundaries to work within, but also because I have found that as a reader, having to wait a month for an update really diminishes the impact of the story (that is if I even remember the plot in the first place), and I hope to avoid that by giving people a series of short stories, that leave no loose ends or cliffhangers. This also takes the pressure off me to get out another chapter, leaving me with the peace of mind to work on other projects if I want to.
5. Do you have other projects in the works that we should be keeping an eye out for?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say you should keep an eye out for them, but yes, I have a few other projects in the works. For a start, I have been wanting to try my hand at an all-human story. I find the all-human concept to be quite baffling, frankly. The Twilight Saga is about vampires and werewolves and humans (oh my). Surely that is the whole point? And yet, most of the stories on my favorites are all-human stories. Go figure. So, I have dusted off the old romance novel I wrote for Mills and Boon (the Brit equivalent of Harlequin), and I am in the process of reworking it into an Edward/Bella story. I find I work better with an audience, and since I am never going to finish it as it stands, I might as well put what I have so far to good use. Marine Biologistward, anyone? Yeah, probably not. I think I will make him Paintward instead.
Mentioning my other project requires that I share a dirty little secret: I don’t really like Edward. This is probably why I am a big fan of New Moon AU stories in which Bella doesn’t take him back. Just once, I would like to see a story in which Bella leaves Edward because it is the right thing for her, and not because she has Jasper or Jacob, or some other guy waiting in the wings to take his place. The Bella of fan fiction (including mine) seems to be unable to have a life without some male appendage to take care of her, and this is starting to irritate me a little. Since I can't find any stories like that out there, the obvious solution is for me to write it myself. It will probably be short, because no one is going to want to read a Twilight story where Bella ends up on her own by choice, but it is one of those stories that is just begging me to write it. I have two possible formats for this story, and have yet to pick one. Currently, it only exists in my head.
I also really want to write a true Darkward story. I was quite surprised at how many people felt my dark-lite Edward was creepy dark. Really? Well, let me show you what I consider creepy dark...
Limona, the interviewer here, is not only the author of our favorite all-human suspenseful romantic fic, Hiding in Plain Sight, she is also the creative mind behind the Eddies & Bellies. And she is just nice as hell to boot.