Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chatting with Char: A Disguise

A few weeks ago, I was working on my blog and trying to get ideas for articles. I came up with the idea of a new column, and decided it would consist of interviews with different Fan Fiction writers.  There are many of us who read and even write for Fan Fiction.  l  thought it would be interesting to get to know some of these great writers, and maybe eve learn some of their tricks.  My first interview is with Jade, otherwise known as Suaru-chan on Fan Fiction.  

I met Jade while I was looking for a beta.  She seemed very knowledgeable, and I needed someone with a lot of experience and a lot of patience.  We talked and decided we would give each other a try. Soon we were humming right along as a newbie and her beta. She has been such a great help to me and I’ve learned so much.  However, one thing I didn’t realize was how much talent and experience she was disguising with her age. Don’t get me wrong, I knew she was talented.  I just didn’t realize how much experience she had at the ripe of old age of twenty one.  

I hope you enjoy my interview with a young, but very experienced writer.  I am sure you will find her story interesting, as well as informative.  Please feel free to post any questions for Jade in the comments section.  She has assured me she will be happy to respond.  

Char- When did you get interested in writing?
Jade: I became interested in writing when I was very young. My mother always read to me and I grew up with loads of books. So, I'd say at age six, when I wrote my first short story.
Char- Really? What was it about?
Jade: Oh lord, uh, I think it was about a fairy princess that saved the forest with the help of dragons.

Char- LOL So counting even the one's you wrote as a child, how many stories do you think you've written?
Jade: Around about one hundred or so. Some of them were very short - and not very good, mind you, haha! - but I've written loads. My mother still has all my old notebooks containing the stories stashed away somewhere.
Char- Oh that's wonderful! I bet she cherishes them.  
Jade: I used to write short stories and give them as 'presents' to my parents and grandparents. T
Char- Oh that is really sweet! I guess we better tell  the readers a bit about you.
Jade: Sure! I'm currently twenty-one; soon to be twenty-two on October 20th. I live in a small town in Ohio with my husband, Nick and our pup and two cats.

Char- What do you do in “real life” ?  
Jade: I've worked in positions from clerk, to sales associate, to Assistant Manager in different jobs. Currently I'm taking a break from that to focus on getting into school for Teaching Pre-K level and Child Psychology.

Char- Where does your writing fit into your career plans?
Jade: I love to create and I think that as a teacher it's important to encourage creativity in your students, no matter their age. Working with small children early on and encouraging that helps them develop better social/language skills and confidence within themselves. As for the psychology, sometimes writing/drawing - some creative outlet - is a better way to communicate and even heal. I think just having my passion and sharing that bit of myself is a great way to connect to children, which is what I really want to do with both careers.

Char-  So basically use your writing to help reach children in both of the positions.
Jade: Plus, how awesome is it to have a teacher that is willing to write a story just for their class and let them help, you know?

Char- Yes, that would be. I had a geography teacher in Jr. High that did that and I learned more in that class than I did in any other. So now that we know a little about you and your aspirations, let's talk about your writing.   Do you have any current original writing pieces you are working on?  Can you tell us about them/it ?
Jade: I have several at the moment. A few are still in the early stages and I'm always re-working the plots to make sure I have a solid foundation.

Char- Can you give us a peek at one of your plots?
Jade: Eek. Um, I'm not really prepared to share any at the moment. However, I wouldn't mind doing so at a later date, if that's alright?

Char- Sure, Let's talk about genres is there a specific one you like writing?
Jade: I love several genres. I can never stick to one! Currently, my three main projects are fantasy/romance, romance/family, and a horror/mystery.

Char- Do you have any favorite writers in each of these ?
Jade: Um, yeah. I really enjoy Laurell K. Hamilton, Judith Tarr, Iris Johansen, Steven King, John Saul, Charlaine Harris and Katie MacAlister
There are a host more, but if I started listing them all we'd be here for a few hours!

Char- Do you have a favorite?  Let's put it this way... You are on a desert island and can have only books by one author - who is it?
Jade: Um, honestly? Judith Tarr  (Steven King was a close second.)

Char- Do you see any similarities in your writing style with hers?
Jade: Yes and no. It wasn't until I read her Hound and The Falcon trilogy, that I really began to look at my writing style. I changed it because I loved how she wrote. It's very elegant and detailed yet easy to read.  I have a bit more 'modern' feel than her, so it brings a different message across, I think.
Char- If I'm understanding correctly, you became more of a detailed writer after reading her work?
Jade: Yes.

Char- Has that been a good thing or a bad one?  And in what way
Jade: It's been a very good thing. It helped me to be more open to what I could 'show' the readers. I am able to use all of my characters sense now, to give a depth to my writing that wasn't present before. It's made me put myself into the mindset of my characters so I can 'feel' what they do and give that a  sense of life.

Char- It has helped them become three dimensional
Jade: Yes. Which I'm very grateful! They were a little flat there for a bit. Poor darlings. Haha.

Char- I'm sure your readers are very happy about this too. How long ago did this change occur?
Jade: Oh boy. Uh, let me think here...around six years or so now? Yeah, around about that.

Char- It's been awhile.
Jade: Yes. It's kind of surprising when I think about it, because it's just part of my writing now, you know?

Char-  Sure I can understand that.  Was that before or after you found fan fiction?
Jade: That was about two years after I started reading fanfiction - so a year after I started writing it.
Char-  I'm curious, have you went back and rewritten any of those stories.
Jade: Fanfiction stories? No. I started to re-work the plot of one, but I've been so focused on my original works and my Southern Vampire Mysteries fanfic that I haven’t had time.   My originals - some. I've started taking bits and pieces and have started to add them as I find a use for them.

Char-  So  you want forward momentum.  
Jade: Yes. Very much so. I'd like to go back eventually, but we'll see what happens.

Char- Since we've opened the topic of Fan Fiction let's talk about your involvement there.  How did you first discover it?
Jade: My friend Lucy and I were huge anime fans. She found it - no idea how though - and sent me a link.   I've been hooked since!

Char- How long ago was that?
Jade: Um, that was in 2002, so eight years. Wow...I feel old now. Haha.

Char-  Time flies when you are having fun, huh.  When did you decide to write your first FF story and can you tell us a bit about it and the experience?
Jade: I decided to write my first story in 2003. It was an Inuyasha (anime) fanfic. I was so scared! 'What if nobody likes it?' etc. I drove my mother crazy worrying. When I got my first review though, I was so excited! It was a learning experience. The fear of rejection and the joy of reader response. It helped teach me that not everyone is going to like what I write and that I am truly grateful for those who do.

Char- Those are wise words for aspiring writers! How old were you?
Jade: I was fifteen.   Well, actually fourteen when I posted it. I turned fifteen that year.

Char- How was your first experience and do you remember anything about it?
Jade: I remember checking my email and noticing a review. It wasn't a detailed 'oh wow, you're the best ever', it was just kind of a 'this is ok' kind of review. I screamed and jumped around and nearly broke my neck to run and hug my mom.  I had a few ups and downs with that story, but I learned a lot. To write what I feel and enjoy and to be willing to take the good and bad reviews. Each opinion was a validation that I could do this - even the bad ones.

Char- Do you remember what the interview said?
Jade:  Actually I do it said; “Very Cute story, keep the story going.”

Char- It’s great that you can still remember the review and it’s a  interesting outlook on feedback. So you believe a bad review is something that can be used to make you a better writer?
Jade: Of course! There is no bad review - unless you get one where they tell you to 'die, you suck, you can't write' etc. A negative review is a persons honest opinion and you need to look at what they found to be lacking. Take it with a grain of salt and try to improve upon that. For all you know, it could really be a weak part of your writing and working on it can improve your story overall.

Char- Good advice...I'll remember to use it and I’m sure a lot of other new writers will too.  
Jade: I think that is a big fear - bad reviews - for new writers. It's going to happen at least once, to everyone. It's not the end of the world.

Char- How many stories do you have up on Fan Fiction?  
Jade: I've written nine stories. Five oneshots and four that aren't finished. Two are current and the other two are ones I want to eventually get back to as time allows.

Char- Do you have one you are particularly proud ?
Jade: I'm proud of my story All My Love. It's a new venture for me. My first Southern Vampire Mysteries - popular book series - story. These are really detailed characters that I'm getting to work with and I am happy with what I've written so far.

Char- It's a work in progress?
Jade: Yes. I started writing it in April and posted the first chapter in May, of this year.  I have no idea when it will be finished. My muse, she is not a timely creature.

Char- Can you give us a quick plot review?
Jade: It's a story about finding yourself and learning to love - and express that love in its different forms. It's a very positive feeling story with some crazy thrown in to keep it 'spicy'.

Char- As is usually the case with SVM,  lol.  Let me ask you, do you have any original characters in “All My Love” ?
Jade: Yes! I have Alexander and Saga Northman! There are a few other characters that will come into play, but those are the two known at the moment. They are Eric's children in my story. I am so in love with them,  My little cousins were my inspiration for Alex and Saga.

Char- Which is harder to create, an original character or your own version of the writer's character?
Jade: I think an original. When you write fanfiction, you have the character already laid out for you and since it's fanfiction you can tweak the characters to your whim. With an original you have to create them from the ground up. Looks, personality, history, etc. It's a long list and a long process.

Char- Where do you start when you develop a new character?
Jade: I start with a personality. I kind of 'feel them out' and from there build their looks, then move to more detailed personality info - likes, dislikes, etc. History - family, schools, etc come later.  

Char- So you write almost a biography?
Jade: Yep. I cover everything from their eye color to their favorite scent, childhood memory, food - the whole nine yards. Friends, family; all of it gets covered to some extent.

Char- How long does this usually take you?
Jade: It differs from character to character. Sometimes its days, other times its months. I usually read over my character sheets at least once a month - all of them - and edit them as needed.  I keep information sheets - word documents and  spread sheets that detail the relationship links, etc - and I like to refresh myself as I write by reading over them.

Char- I think I might need to have you do another article on writing for
newbies... lol
Jade: Haha! I didn't use to do that. I've learned that the more I put into these character the more real I can make them. Having solid foundations for not only the plot but characters themselves helps me build a stronger story.

Char- I’ve  read that many famous writers use these types of tools.
Jade: I have some 'cheat sheets', actually. Quick/easy Plot Outline and Chapter Outline and Character Outline sheet things. They're just a brief cover of what I usually do.  I have too. It can be a little daunting - so much work! - but in the end I think it's worth it. Anything that helps you keep it all together and keep things straight is a good thing in my book.

Char- You're  saying it helps writers to keep their information organized.
Jade: Yeah, it really does. As you write and edit things while going along, you need to have those bases covered. Plot holes or weak characters can really derail a story.  Notes are your friend! I promise, haha!

Char- More great information for new writers. Since we seem to be talking about new writers, Can you give them a few tips?
Jade: Sure! First of all, notes really are your friend; you'll be making a lot of them as you start out. That's a good thing, honestly.  A 'rule of thumb' I use for writing a chapter is to have no more than 3 main points(things of importance that happen) and no more than 5 sub-points (minor things that happen). Get to know your characters - how they talk, react, think; everything. The more you can 'get into their head' the better.  Research. Put some time into researching the things you're writing about because it helps keep you both correct and free of plot holes.  Keep trying. When you first start out, you're not going to be perfect - no one is, not even the big time writers. You're still learning your style of writing and it will take time to develop! That's fine. Write and learn and don't give up!  Use details. Details and writing clearly will give your readers a better sense of what you're saying.   Use a beta also, if possible. They rock.

Char- Is there anything you wish someone would have told you as a new writer?
Jade: Oh yes! I wish they would have told me to get a beta-reader, that I would eventually come into my own writing-style but that it would take a while, and to take notes. I was not a happy note taker when I first started.  I was anti-notes. 'It's in my head!' Problem was, it didn't always stay straight in my head. Ha!

Char- You have learned the hard way ?
Jade: Oh yeah. I'm stubborn that way. Stubborn is not a sexy trait when writing. It usually bites you in the bum. Hard. I still have the scars, I'm sure.
Char- LOL But it has made you the writer you are today?
Jade: Yeah, it has. However, I could have done without a few of the panic-attacks and mood swings. There will be rough patches for everyone, but if you are willing to change/learn, it makes it a much better process.

Char- That sounds like a personal mantra?
Jade: It may be. Usually I'm too busy trying to hose my muse down from the ceiling to really pay attention.  Haha!
Char- LOL  Well on that note is there anything else you would like to tell your readers or other writers?
Jade: Be happy? Hah. Seriously though; enjoy what you do. Find what inspires you and let it take you to wherever that path may lead. Writing or reading a good story is a great experience and when it's all said and done, it is very rewarding for both the writer and reader. I hope that everyone enjoys that journey. I know that I have. Still am, at that!

I hope you have enjoyed this peek into the life of one of the many great writers at fan fiction.  I want to thank Jade for letting me share her story with all of you.  Please read her stories and check out her page on Fan Fiction.   I know you will appreciate and enjoy her work.

Chat with you soon.   



SouthernLady23 said...

Awesome interview! Great job, ladies! *hugs*

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