May 7, 2010

Rae's Interview with TalulaBlue about 'With Teeth'

With Teeth by TalulaBlue

Summary: Edward is a 27-year-old alcoholic/addict struggling with his recovery. Bella is a 23-year-old who's moved back home after college. This fic chronicles how they meet, fall in love, and struggle with the complexities of their relationship. Not nearly as maudlin as it sounds (I hope). Rated NC-17 for graphic (and sometimes non-romantic) sex, drug and alcohol use and abuse, profane language, and brief (very brief) suicidal ideation (although NO suicide attempts). No sexual assault, no cutting.

God – where do I even start with this review? This story is probably one of my top five fics of all time and it’s so hard for me to put into words why it’s so awesome. I swear, I’m rendered completely speechless after each and every chapter.

As the summary states, Edward is an alcoholic struggling with his recovery and Bella is sweet and adorable and such an easy character to identify with because she’s just so fucking real. In fact, the whole story is so damn realistic I feel like I’m watching someone’s life unfold. Everything about it – the conversations, the mannerisms, the emotions, the smut (oh god… the smut… I’m dying just thinking about it…). Everything is just fucking perfect. In the first chapter we get a glimpse of Edward’s life as an addict – a series of drunken and drug induced interactions with people he doesn’t know and doesn’t give two shits about. Months pass and he’s finally fed up with his mundane lifestyle and he checks himself into a treatment facility.
I am rarely sober.  I drink and pass out.  Wake up and snort something, take some pills, drink.  I pass out again, wake up and smoke something.  Snort something.  Drink.  Vomit.  Try to piss in the toilet and piss on myself instead.  I drink whatever is offered me.  I smoke or snort or swallow anything I can get my hands on.  One night it’s vodka and coke and E at some rich girl’s parent’s house; the next I’m in the passenger seat of a Toyota Corolla, snorting some teenaged kid’s Adderall. 
We then get a glance into Bella’s life and what kind of character she is. She’s just like any other 23-year-old girl trying to figure out who she is and what she wants out of life. Again, I think this is what makes her so relatable. You can so easily identify with her and you can just put yourself into her shoes.

A few chapters in Bella and Edward meet and they slowly start to form a relationship, one where from practically the moment they start it you can tell it’s going to be a slippery slope and full of ups and downs. We’re getting an incredibly realistic look into what it must be like for recovering addicts to try and build a relationship. Their relationship is incredibly complex and is an addiction within itself. A friend sent me a quote the other day; one that I think represents With Teeth incredibly well:
“What I want is to be needed. What I need is to be indispensible to somebody. Who I need is someone who will eat up all my free time, my ego, my attention. Someone addicted to me. A mutual addiction.” – Chuck Palahniuk 
With Teeth is incredibly complex and multifaceted, so much so that I’ve spent hours on Skype having discussions with some of my girls from Twitter. With each chapter, something new is brought forth that make us question the characters actions and emotions. Information that had been provided previously is brought into a new and different light. This is what is so fabulous about this story. The discussion it brings forth and the mystery we are unraveling about the characters just brings us closer to them. I literally feel everything the characters are feeling in the chapters and I’m almost haunted it by them.

So, GO. Read it. Now. You wont be disappointed, trust me on this. I know this review hasn’t done With Teeth or TalulaBlue a lick of justice, but just trust. It’s so much more than words can describe.  Go on, find out for yourself.

Where did you get the idea for this story? What was your inspiration? 
The inspiration for this story was real life – sort of.  It’s not autobiographical, but my own experiences shape the characters and their experiences/actions/words.  This was a story I’d wanted to tell for a while, but none of the venues in/for which I normally write were a good fit.  When I was introduced to Twilight, I was struck by how – thematically – the story is, essentially, a story of addiction. Edward is addicted to Bella’s blood; both Edward and Bella are addicted to each other’s physical presence. The co-dependence in their relationship nears obsession, and I couldn’t help but see how that mirrored the way addiction generally works.

Additionally, I would characterize my fic as a romance, and that’s not a genre I normally work in. But, because fanfiction tends to incorporate a romantic plot into the storyline (usually), this seemed like a good fit.

Why do you think readers should read your story?
I don’t know if anyone SHOULD read the story, but it’s nice that they do.

Is there anything you would want readers to know specifically? 
Good dental hygiene is important for overall health? Just kidding. Personally, I don’t feel it’s my job as an author to explain the writing; the writing should speak for itself. I guess I would mention that the story is a work in progress and that character development is inevitable.

Give us a Random Fact about yourself. 
I have wicked insomnia.

Do you do anything special while writing a chapter? Like listen to special music, need total silence, eat a bag of M&Ms, drink heavily, whatever… 
I write late at night. So I’m usually on my couch in my pajamas.

Music is a big part of the story for me. I can spend a ridiculous amount of time putting together the playlists for each chapter. I’ll listen to the music when I’m writing the first draft, and then again when I read it one last time, but for the revisions/editing that happens in the middle, I need silence.

It’s always a nice moment when someone tells me they like the playlists because I do spend considerable time figuring out how the music fits with the plot and mood of each chapter. 
What do you do after you click the submit button for a chapter?

Normally it’s pretty late, so I try to sleep.

What actor/actress do you picture as YOUR Edward and Bella? 
The ones who are in the movies, I guess. When I’m writing, they don’t always have faces, but when they do, it’s kind of hard to escape those particular actors.

Is the story all planned out or do you do it as a fly by the seat of your pants thing?
Planned, planned, planned. I’ve got this thing outlined and I’ve got bits and pieces of future chapters already written. There’s no way I could undertake a project of this scale (it’s a lot of words) and not have a game plan. It would never be finished if I didn’t.

Do you believe in HEA? What is YOUR definition of HEA?
My idea of an HEA is one that’s realistic and fits the character and plot arc. This doesn’t necessarily include a romantic pairing-off of all of the characters, although it can.

I think everyone’s definition of an HEA is dependant upon how they see fanfiction (if that’s what we’re talking about) functioning in their life. If the kind of escapism you’re seeking is one without conflict, this probably affects how you want your stories to end. And, I think a person’s definition is reflective of their values. If you’re a person who values marriage and children, your HEA probably includes those things.

Give us some insight into your current and future fic projects! 
I don’t have any future projects planned. For now. At this point, I can’t really see beyond getting the last ten (or so) chapters of this story written.

What brought you to fanfic? To Twilight? 
My fourteen-year-old cousin brought me to Twilight. It was Christmas two years ago, and no one in her family would take her to see the movie…again. I hadn’t seen it and didn’t know anything about the books, so I agreed to go. I couldn’t believe how entertained I was. The first movie has this wonderful, ridiculous campiness to it, and I couldn’t stop laughing. Plus, Robert Pattinson is a fine looking young man. That helped. This made me want to see what the books were about, so my cousin loaned me her copies. I read them in something like five days – which I think is an experience that many people can identify with. I don’t normally read books in this genre and style, but I could. Not. Put. Them. Down. Even when I wanted to slap the characters around.

I came to fanfiction because after thousands of pages of blueballing, I just wanted to see these characters fucking fuck already. 

What is your background in writing?
I write a lot. I have some instructive and professional background, I guess.

FANTASY TIME: If you could have 15 minutes with any Edward FF or SM’s which one would you choose and what would you do? (If you do not LIKE any of the Edwards feel to substitute an actor here. Rob, Kellan, PFach or Jackson)
At first this question was really difficult for me to answer, but then it hit me. I’d really like to make out with “Neverending Math Equation’s” Edward. He’s smart, he’s weird; I dig that.

What is your FF pet peeve? 
Oh, where do I start? =) I’ll spare you the exhaustive list because, quite frankly, it’s kind of bitchy. Isn’t that how pet peeves usually come off? I will say one thing, though. I’m frequently squicked out by the way femininity and masculinity are constructed in fanfiction – particularly in relation to sex. I have BIG problems with lots of the ways gender is executed in the Twilight books, and that extends to fanfiction. Although there are quite a few authors who do really interesting things with gender as well. So…

What is your Fandom pet peeve? 
People have been supportive and enthusiastic in ways that I was not anticipating. That very pleasantly surprised me.

One thing that puzzles me is when readers conflate the POV and/or opinions of the characters with the POV and/or opinions of the writer. Yes, how I view the world colors my story in many ways – some of which I can identify, some of which I can’t. But, the collapsing of an author with his or her characters doesn’t seem to me to be a very productive move.

Which character do you identify with the most (either in your story, in the saga or both)?
In the saga? No one, really. When I first read the books, I liked that Bella was something of a weirdo.  And I like that some of her characterization has changed for the movies. I don’t identify with characters in my story, not exactly. But I would say there are elements of my own experiences in each of them.

Which RL author inspires you? 
Ernest Hemingway. Charles Bukowski. Joan Didion. There are many more, but those are three big ones. I appreciate authors who write simply and cleanly, and/or who demonstrate control over their words. 

Did any FF authors inspire you? 
There’s this great chapter in “Neverending Math Equation” by Twanza – the one where Jasper watches the old men playing chess then goes back to Aro’s (I think) apartment – that I thought was really very well done. In “Sanctuary” (jennyfly – though I’ve seen it as jfly, too), there’s a recent chapter that contained dialogue between Edward and an older woman whose house he was visiting, and something about their exchange just really struck me as authentic.  

If you could ask any Twilight Cast member a question who would you ask and what would your question be? 
Billy Burke: do you want to get a beer and go to a show?

Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for having me! (So to speak.) =)


angel said...

thanks so much for the great interview. I love this fic-as the author knows and it's def in my top 5 of all time.

thank you for sharing your story and for sitting for this interview!


songirl said...

Let me second Angel's comment above. And let me tell you, she knows whereof she speaks.

Rivetting and visceral writing. A privilege to read.


JenE said...

Thanks for the insights provided in this interview. Your writing is superb and I look forward to how each chapter. Your words open up my mind and make me rethink some parts of my past.

mallmouse said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH for this interview!!! I *love* the writing in WT, and now that I hear that the author has 'wicked insomnia' I love her even more lol :)

lonesometown88 said...

Wow--thanks. I've been waiting for this interview to show up somewhere.

"Ernest Hemingway. Charles Bukowski. Joan Didion."
A trinity that makes perfect sense in light of TB's writing and her story.

I would love to hear more about TB's gender construction issues in Twiilght and ff--not that some of it couldn't be guessed at---but that I'd be willing wager it would be eye-opening. It's what I love about her writing--it's deeper and wiser than I can ever predict.

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