May 6, 2010

Sandy's Interview with BellaMarie117 about 'Take The Ice'

Picture this, Edward on ice. Wow, actually that didn’t come out the way I had planned but it does make him sound like a delicious kind of dessert that you can just … *eyes glaze over* … sorry, could you just excuse me for a moment?

(minutes later)

There, that’s better. Sorry, I just had to regroup. Okay, where were we? Interview? Gotcha.

Okay, today’s offering is TAKE THE ICE by BELLAMARIE117, and I have to say that I’m new to this story and I’m thoroughly enjoying it already.

Competitive figure skater Bella Swan meets NHL hockey player Edward Cullen. Bella's Olympic dreams are crushed by injury. Can he help her find the strength to take the ice again? Will they find love and friendship in the meantime?

This is a story that I stumbled across one day and started reading out of a vague sense of curiosity … and then I discovered I was hooked. See that story summary just above there? Sounds nice doesn’t it, a good, light read that you can just dip in and out of, but that’s where you’d be wrong. That story summary is lying through its sharp pointy teeth, because now I find that I’m anxiously awaiting the next chapter. Bellamarie, don’t you make me come over there …

People, we have a very talented writer here and I’ve been comprehensively impressed by her style right from the get-go.

I had never given much thought to my life "after." It never seemed like a pressing issue. When fate hands you a dream so far beyond your imagination, it's difficult to believe it will come to an end and throw you right back into the everyday hum drum of normalcy.
Normal. That was a concept I was completely unfamiliar with.
Normal for me was waking up at five a.m. to be on the ice before the sun rose. It was spending hours stretching and practicing, training and conditioning while others commuted to classrooms and offices. It was standing for costume fittings, listening to musical selections until my ears rang in order to find the perfect selection that would match the tone of the next piece. It was butting heads with coaches and choreographers. It was aching muscles, frustrations, and disappointments, always striving to be better. It was my life…until now.

Combine a life of sport, dedication and the ice-equivalent to a stage mom and you get a Bella that has a lust for life but no freedom or confidence to actually experience. Her life has been on a set path for years but that all changes when she gets injured. How fortunate then, that she meets someone like Edward.

He lifted his hand in a wave that I returned shyly as the cab pulled away. As we rounded the corner, I sat back in my seat, finally able to fully catch my breath and relax now that he was out of my sight. I gave the driver my address before closing my eyes, leaning my head against the back of the seat. I didn't know if I'd actually get up the courage to seek him out again, I'd probably psych myself out and convince myself that it was a fluke. There was no way I'd ever catch and hold the attention of a man like Edward. But for this one moment I sat, picturing his handsome face and dreaming that somehow he could be mine.

Don’t be fooled. Take The Ice Bella might be shy and reserved, but that doesn’t mean she’s lacking a spine. She has after all, the determination to become an elite athlete so she knows how to set herself goals and work hard to achieve them. Likewise, Edward is successful at what he does, the difference being he has grown up with a lot more freedom.

I stepped one foot out onto the slick surface, and then the other, leaning heavily on my toe picks to plant myself in place.
"First step's the hardest," he assured me, turning in a half circle to face me and grab my other hand before slowly drifting backwards until we were at arms length. "Let's go."
I allowed myself to glide forward slowly, but my legs were so tense and I couldn't unlock my knees. I caught a little on the ice, pitching forward. Here comes the wipeout, I thought, automatically bracing for the fall. But Edward was true to his promise and right there to catch me, darting forward to wrap his arms around me and hold me steady.
"I've got you," he reassured me, still holding me close. "Okay?"
"Yeah," I said, nodding against the wool of his jacket. "I'm good."

This story is better than good, and I suggest you go find out:

Before you shoot over there though, how about checking out the interview to get to know the author a little better?

1. What was it that gave you the ‘spark’ for your story? Was it a picture? A moment or event? Can you remember the initial inspiration?
I’ve had the idea in my head for years that I’d love to see a romance between a hockey player and figure skater, even before I ever read Twilight. I’ve always read a lot of romance novels and it was one I never saw but always looked for. I love The Cutting Edge but I wanted a story where the guy remained a hockey player and didn’t make the shift to figure skating. After I got into the world of Twilight and then Fan Fiction, the idea shifted over into doing that storyline, but with Edward and Bella. I really just can’t get enough of the two of them falling in love and am enjoying putting my own spin on it.

2. Do you have a particular process when it comes to your writing, perhaps a certain mood, environment or music? Do you have any ‘triggers’ to get you in the writing mood?
I’m still playing around with my process. I can’t have anyone looking over my shoulder and I can’t have anything on TV that I need to actually pay attention to, but Family Guy is often on in the background when I’m writing at home. Sometimes I’ll listen to music while in a WC, but it has to be mostly classical and slower songs. Both selections that appear in Chapter five were on my writing playlist. My handy helpers, FanpireMama and Caren are AWESOME to bounce ideas around with and I check in with them as questions come up to get things flowing. Other than that, I keep a pen and my little cupcake journal by the bed or on my desk at work so I can jot down ideas or dialogue as they come to me.

3. Give us an elevator pitch. Say you’re in an elevator with a prospective reader for 2 minutes – what would you tell them about the story?
I hate summaries, thus why my FFN summary sucks so much. I would say that at the core of it, my story is about love and friendship. Bella’s a high caliber figure skater who has been isolated for most of her life. When she’s injured, she’s finally forced to take a hard look at what she wants. It’s really a coming-of-age story for her as she breaks out on her own for the first time and starts to form relationships with people who really care for her. She meets Edward who starts to show her that she’s deserving of love and that a “happily ever after” is something that can happen for her. And let’s face it; Hockeyward is just way too hot for his own good.

4. Do you picture particular actors for your characters, or are they someone else entirely? If so, who?
I’m fairly movie canon. I love both Rob and Kristen and think they fit Edward and Bella very well. A lot of the time when I’m writing dialogue I hear their voices saying the words, especially when either are being shy or awkward. Bella in this story also has a large dash of Sasha Cohen, who just happens to be my favorite figure skater and a big inspiration for that part of Bella’s life. It helps that she visually fits the part. For supporting characters, I use the same actors from the movies for visuals, but their voices aren’t defined as any specific actors. Except Carlisle. When I’m writing his dialogue I hear Kurt Russell’s voice from Miracle in my head. If you’ve seen it you know what I’m talking about.

5. Is the story all planned out or do you do it as a fly by the seat of your pants thing?
It’s planned. My outline is about four pages long last time I checked. I could never write if I didn’t know where I was going. In the beginning I wanted to have more pre-written so I could stay ahead of myself…but that just didn’t happen. I have scenes from future chapters written, but other than that I stick to my outline and fineness as I go along, adding scenes here and there as they come to me. For example-in chapter five (SPOILER ALERT) I always knew the group was going to go skating and that their first kiss would come at the end under the lights in the park. What I didn’t know until I was writing it was that there would be an “almost kiss” earlier on in the day and that she’d overhear that lovely little conversation in the bathroom. Things like that. I stick to my outline and won’t be making any severe alterations to what I have planned, but things pop up here and there that make me really think about where I’m going and tweaks happen.

6. Have you got any other projects going on? Any planned for the future?
I do plan on going back to First Time Caller, the first o/s I wrote and posted. I’d like to stretch that out into a short story, fairly fluffy. Other than that…I have nothing else planned. I don’t see myself as being the most prolific, I obsess and over think things way too much to try and have multiple plot bunnies running around in my head. Maybe another big idea will come to me, but I’m really happy with just getting this one out there.

7. What was it that brought you to Twilight fanfic? What is it that has kept you here (besides your own writing)
This is not my first fandom. Embarrassingly enough, I read a lot of fic in high school based off the Sweet Valley High “Senior Year” series. (Um…Liz and Connor anyone? Please tell me I’m not the only person around who has read those books.) I got into Twilight and fell in love with the characters more than the plot or the writing. They’re all really great characters with a lot of wiggle room to play with and mold. The relationships are there, but again, they can be stretched in so many fun and different ways. I couldn’t stop thinking about them, so I went in search of fic, something I hadn’t done in about five years. I found Meyer University by Sh.C, and was completely turned onto the idea of AH. Since then I’ve stuck mostly to that universe, only making brief visits to Canon/AU. Boycotts & Barflies by VJGM was the first M rated story I read and again, I haven’t read much that’s not rated M since. Lemons aren’t the draw for me, but the passionate love story is and lemons are often a part of that. I read for over a year before I got the courage to post anything of my own. I still say I’m a reader first and writer second. There are so many great storytellers in this fandom, all with different voices and directions. I love the variety and that I get to see my favorite characters fall in love over and over again. That’s what keeps me coming back.

8. Do you have a background in writing? Has the fanfic experience expanded your creativity?
I do. I’ve done creative writing since I was little and ended up majoring in English. During college I shifted a bit into more of the copyediting side of things and didn’t write as much of my own stuff. I’ve always loved making up stories in my head and this one just wouldn’t stay cooped up in there any longer. Fan fic has been a huge aide in learning more about myself as a writer. The biggest thing I was afraid of when starting up was the dialogue. Dialogue scared the pants off me and still does a lot of the time when I’m starting a new chapter. A lot of my creative writing has been more “internal” pieces where dialogue didn’t play much of a role and I’m always nervous that it’s not going to come out as natural as I’d like it to be. So much of fan fic, my story included, depends on good dialogue so it’s forcing me to come to terms with that. Once things get rolling along and there’s not as much blank space in the document I get a little more comfortable.

9. How about your creative self-confidence? By nature writers tend to be a notoriously insecure lot so how are you finding the online writing experience?
I definitely fit into that category. Ask FanpireMama or Caren…I’m always checking in with them about “do you think this is ok?” “Is this realistic?” “Is everyone going to come after me with torches if I don’t have them kiss yet?” I admit that reviews can get to me sometimes. I love and appreciate every single one of them, but they can throw me off a groove once in awhile. Not necessarily when it’s a critical one, but if there’s mention of what the reader is expecting and it’s not in line with what I have planned, that can make me pause a bit and nervous that people will be disappointed with what I have mapped out. I haven’t changed my story line yet and I don’t plan to. If I start making changes because of what everyone else wants to happen, it won’t be my story and I honest to goodness could NOT write it unless it’s what works inside my head, but I do want to make readers happy at the same time.

10. Do you tell your friends and family that you’re an online author with a devoted following, or is this something that you tend to keep for yourself?
Hubs has known that I read my “stories” for a long time. He knows they’re based on Twilight but that’s about it. I did tell him when I started writing, only because he found my notebook open in our room and read a bit of it. Sneaky punk. He hasn’t read anything else, but is mostly supportive, unless I start slacking elsewhere. My sister-in-law and best friend (also fellow Twi-hards) both know that I write, but neither read fic. My BFF has mentioned wanting to try a bit, so maybe down the road. My mom also knows I write, but nothing other than that. I do keep it to myself for the most part; each person that I’ve told took a lot of me gearing myself up before I mentioned it. I’m very open with the fandom, but I tend to keep it separate from my real life. If someone I knew if RL was reading my stuff, I don’t think I’d want to know until after the story was finished. Take a gander at the first line of First Time Caller and you might understand why I’d be self-conscious.

12. Is there a particular character in your story that you identify with the most?
I think it just happens most of the time that I identify with Bella. There are versions of her out there that I am not a fan of and feel no connection to, but at the root of it, a big part of what makes Twilight so popular with girls and women is that Bella is so relatable. In my story, I relate to her being a bit shy and insecure, though I’ve never been in her position and have a very loving family. I am not very comfortable with physical affection with anyone except my husband, so I can relate to her uncertainty there. I also didn’t really date until I met my now husband. We have one of those relationships where we’re very flirty and snarky. Some of the banter between Bella and Edward it based off that. We were friends first and some of the pacing of their relationship comes from my experience.

13. Which RL author(s) inspires you?
Nora Roberts. I know she’s a romance novelist, but she’s a damn good storyteller. She always has clear characters and a little dash of surprise thrown in, especially with her mystery/romances. I’ve always been able to tell (and my mom has pointed it out) that my writing has been affected by reading her stories. I’ve gotten to where I pay a lot more attention to details and tend to be very descriptive. I don’t write a lot of short sentences and I tend to use a lot of adjectives. There will be a slight tribute to one of my favorites by her, Valley of Silence, in a future chapter of TTI. If you’ve read it, you might catch it.

14. Did any FF authors inspire you? What was it that had you reading FF and thinking “I could do this”?
I hate to liken myself to other writers in case they read this and are like “Really? She thinks she writes like me? She sucks!” I’ve always connected really well with stories by Bittenev (Stitches & Scars, When Fiction Becomes Reality) and the one that really inspired me to get mine out there (I fangirl over her constantly, she probably hates me by now;)) was Isakassees (This is Not My Life). Though our stories are eons apart, I really felt like I could relate to the flow she has in her writing, and the characters and relationships she has going on. There was a short period before I found her story where I wasn’t finding a lot of new stuff that I was liking and most of the stories I was reading were wrapping up at the time. I felt like I was starting to fizzle out a little bit. I’d thought about writing, but if I wasn’t really reading I didn’t think I’d want to. Finding TINML really renewed my passion for fic and got me thinking “okay, maybe I can do this.”

15. Other than self confidence there’s one other thing writers dread – writer’s block.  If you find your writing starting to stall or stop outright, how do you get through it?
This one scares me. I'm knocking on wood as I respond to this one because I've been lucky enough not to run into TOO much writers block. I have had days where nothing has gotten done even though I sat there with Google Docs open all day, usually when I'm starting a new chapter and that blank page just seems so daunting. You can't push it, at least I can't. Things will come out forced and that's exactly how it will come across. I'm lucky to have the support team I have in Fanpiremama and Caren. They're both great to bounce ideas around with and if I'm stuck on something, they're very eager to help me figure out what the problems are that are keeping me from getting things done. There are some days where I just can't write and I embrace that. Writing is not my full time job, and though I love it, I still have other things that are going to require my attention. I focus on those things when I'm not feeling the vibe, and then dive back in again when my brain starts itching.

16. Bella has a specific occupation in your story, do you have a personal background in that or are you a big fan of the sport?  
I have no experience ice skating other than on school field trips and outings as a kid. I love to watch the sport and I'm also a huge hockey fan. I do as much research as possible to find the proper lingo and names of specific moves. I've looked around a lot for information on the process skaters go through in order to qualify and with Bella, what is involved in an ACL injury and recovery. It's very important to me that I'm not just spouting off whatever comes to mind. Yes it's fiction, but I want it to be as realistic as possible. If I'm not sure of something, I make sure to run it by the helpers to make sure it at least sounds like I know what I'm talking about. I think it's important to have some idea of what it must have took for the character to get where they are. What's their past like?  In TTI, Bella's had a solid career of skating but still has so much of her life left in front of her. She needed to be old enough to have had experience but not so old that she should be retired from competition. Your characters don't just pop up out of nowhere, mid-twenties, rich, instantly successful and well rounded just because you write it that way, how did they get to that point?

17. I have a hard time winding these things up so let’s have some fun. What would your porn star name be? That’s the name you get when you combine the name of your first pet with the first street you lived on – personally I’m *cough* Fluffy Brockman.
Let’s see…I know we had a bird before this one, but I don’t remember that at all, so it would be our hamster. That would make me Hartford, Pudge Hartford.

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