May 4, 2010

Sue's Interview with the authors of 'Girl With a Red Umbrella'

Girl with a Red Umbrella by Spanglemaker9 and justaskalice, on Twilighted

Paris, 1950

The war is over and Paris is alive again with artists, writers and musicians. Rosalie Hale went abroad to study in this exciting and romantic city, but instead she vanished without a trace. Now her best friend, Bella, has come on her own to find her. She teams up with Rose's spunky roommate, and they are joined in the search by an American businessman, a battle-scarred reporter, and a handsome painter with his own mysterious past. Following a trail of clues left behind by Rose's letters, they plunge into the dark side of the City of Lights. Who is Royce? What secrets is he hiding? Why did Rose really leave? The search for Rose and life in Paris just might change Bella in ways she never imagined.

Twilight - Rated: M - English - Romance/Mystery - Chapters: 30 - Words: 169,444 - Reviews: 1422 - Updated: 4-16-10 - Published: 10-4-09 - Bella & Edward - Complete

In my mess of moving I TOTALLY forgot that I had this post to make! So in my usual screwed style I am bringing you this post late after the fic is already complete.

Without further ado HERE is the post I should have made WEEKS ago. Try to remember that this interview was done BEFORE the fic was complete so their answers are talking about the fic like it is not finished HOWEVER it is...

NOW for my comments

You should know by now that I have a bit of thing for period fics. Of course "a bit of a thing" is an understatement. When I find out about a period fic I have to read it. END OF STORY.

This fic is set in 1950s Paris. Bella heads off from her small town life to go searching for her best friend Rose who seems to have disappeared. Her letters to Bella stopped. In her adventures in Paris Bella gets a makeover, meets all kinds of interesting people and starts to learn a bit about French culture.

TO ME the most fascinating person she meets is Esme.

WHY, Sue, WHY are you so hung up on Esme?

THIS Esme is the epitome of the Esme I have always seen in my mind. Her character is well fleshed out and she just strikes a cord in me! WHEN you read it (and I am saying you should, so you better!) you will see for yourself and you can tell me if I am wrong! Go ahead I DARE YOU!!

This story has elements of Twilight in it but NOT in a cheesy way.


How can you not love that!

Now let's hear from the ladies who wrote this lovely fic and see what they have to say about it.

(normal: justaskalice, italics: Spanglemaker)

Where did you get the idea for this story? What was your inspiration?
Honestly, it kind of came out of the blue. Spanglemaker and I decided we wanted to do a collab, and we talked about the possibility of doing a darker mystery story. I had found a couple of black and white photos from Italy and France that I really liked, along with a kind of abstract painting of umbrellas in the rain (it's in the background of our banner now, actually), so I sent them to her. She suggested postwar Paris as our setting, and we started plotting. I think we outlined the entire story in under two weeks, although we've done several brainstorming sessions as the story as progressed. We did a TON of research, especially in the early days when we were still outlining, on the time period and the city and WWII and the clothing. Spangle is a total photo hound, so she was always sending out new pictures for extra inspiration. She still does sometimes, and I always find it helpful.
Well, Abby and I talked about writing something together and then started casting around for ideas. Abby suggested a mystery and my first response was "I can't do mysteries! I'm mystery-challenged! I can't even figure out what's going on in an episode of "Murder, She Wrote"! So okay, a mystery was out, then. Then a few nights later, Abby sent me three pictures, she said she'd been staring at them all night long. I opened them up and typed back "Paris, 1950". And once we started chatting about that, the story seemed to just unfold from there. And somehow it turned out to be a mystery!

Is there anything you would want readers to know specifically?
This whole experience has been really fun, and I really recommend it. Spangle and I met because I was reading her story "Faking It" (one of my all time favorites, by the way, have you read it?) and she was reading my story "Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry." We just sort of randomly connected, and now we have this fabulous story that we're both really proud of! Take the chance, it's worth it.
That even though it's a "period piece", we write it with a pretty modern sensibility. Some of the characters behave in certain ways because of social mores of the time, but by and large this is an artistic, bohemian society they're moving in, so it's not as "50's" as people might expect. That's code for "Yes, they do have sex".

Why do you think readers should read your story?
One thing reviewers say they like over and over again is that the writing is really visual, like you're watching a movie. The whole thing has kind of been an exercise in description, and I think it's turned out really well. I also think that our characterizations are fun, and a little different from what you typically see. Readers especially enjoy French Esme, who has her own outttake called "La Resistance" which Spangle has just started to post (go read it!). I'm working on a Jasper outtake right now as well. Um... what else... it's a period piece, and I think those are fairly rare in the twiverse. It's been fun to write a world with no cell phones, internet, or easy air travel. It makes the mystery aspect of the storyline that much more challenging for the characters.
It's romantic and atmospheric and different from a lot of what's out there. It's a romance, but we tried to focus on a lot of other things as well...the mystery of finding Rose, the suspense of dealing with Royce and his underworld, Bella's experiences and how they change her during the course of the story. And we spent a long time developing the secondary characters, like Esme and Jasper.

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…?
Nope, I don't have any kind of special routine that I go through. I usually have music on, and sometimes I'll have a glass of wine, but I write in all kinds of moods and locations. I do my best brainstorming while I'm driving though.
For me, most nights just the laptop, the slanket (don't judge) and the cat are my set-up. If I'm writing sex, I need to remove a little more and I'll put my headphones in and listen to music. I don't even pay attention to what's playing, I just need to block out the real world a little. Oh, and I almost always have a glass of wine and a bag of dark-chocolate covered cranberries close at hand when I write.

What do you do after you click the submit button for a chapter?
I usually take a little break from my email, especially if something big has happened in the chapter I just posted. I like to give it a little time before I go check readers reactions.
Try to do something else and not scramble to check my inbox every five seconds for reviews. But it doesn't work. I check obsessively and let out a little inner squeal every time a new one comes in.

Do you have a soundtrack to your stories?
Nope, although our livejournal site does have some great jazz tunes courtesy of Mr. Spanglemaker, who is a professional musician and our personal jazz history buff. Also, a lot of our chapter titles are jazz standards.
Yes. For my last fic, Faking It, I had a bunch of songs that reminded me of the story or certain characters or whatever. For GwaRU it's actually pretty formalized. We created a live journal page to accompany the story: (you can find those original three inspirational pictures there at the bottom of the page) It's a repository for all the great research photos Abby and I found as we put the story together. Whenever I do a new entry for it, I create a new playlist that plays automatically when you visit the site. It's all jazz music from the period, since in the story, Edward has a gig as a pianist in a jazz club. I've used a bunch of songs by different artists, but a couple have really stayed with me as the soundtrack to this story. Ballata In Forma di Blues by Chet Baker, Tin Tin Deo by Dizzie Gillespie, and Blues Walk by Clifford Brown will probably make me think of GwaRU whenever I hear them for the rest of my life!
What actor/actress do you picture as YOUR Edward and Bella?
Gaspard Ulliel (a modern French hottie) and Pier Angeli (a model who dated James Dean). All our characters are cast actually, and they're from a fairly wide range of time periods. Our livejournal site, which Spangle updates with photos and music, has pictures of all the main characters, including my favorite, James Cagney as the skeezy drug dealer "James LaFave."

Well, Abby and I were really specific about that, too. Abby isn't really big on RPatzz (I know!), so she suggested that we look a little further afield for "faces" for these characters, especially since we were doing the live journal thing. She suggested the French actor, Gaspard Ulliel, for Edward. I said okay, thinking that I'd probably just picture RPatzz when I wrote it anyway. But over time Gaspard totally took over in my head for this Edward, he's all I see now. I found Pier Angeli, a 50's actress (and famously, the girlfriend of James Dean) to be our Bella. We cast them all, actually. There are pictures of all the characters on the live journal page.

Is the story all planned out or do you do it as a fly by the seat of
your pants thing?
Everything is planned out, though, like I said, we've fleshed out the details a little more as we go. This is the most detailed outline I've ever worked off of actually. The second half of the story has been slightly less structured, but we usually touch base with each other before writing the next chapter. For my solo stories I use a really general, bullet point style storyboard. A, then B, then C. For GwaRU, we have a chapter by chapter outline that's been edited pretty extensively, with little comments and additions that have been made over time.
Very planned. We had an outline for the whole thing from the start. Some things shift around. Like we'll have planned for a character to have X revelation in a certain chapter, but about two chapters ahead of that, they just feel like they're there already, and we don't fight that. We have an outline, but prior to either one of us writing our chapter, we'll have a g-chat, to establish what needs to get done in that chapter, what storytelling bits of business need to happen, what character development things we need to see, etc. If a change happens, oddly, we're almost always in agreement about it. "I know we said she wouldn't do X until chapter 20, but doesn't it feel like she wants to do it now?" And we usually feel the same way about it.

Do you have a posting schedule? If so what is it?(as you dear reader saw at the beginning of the post this fic is now complete so this Q is kinda irrelevant now completely MY fault )
Yep, we're very consistent. Every Tuesday, usually in the morning.
Tuesday mornings. God, we sound so regimented! But we've written ahead on the story a bit, so we can stick to a consistent posting schedule. What goes up that week was already written several weeks ago.

Do you believe in HEA?
Absolutely, but my version of HEA isn't always "And they got married and had babies."
I do! Maybe not always in life, but in fanfic, yes! I'll read non-HEA, but if I'm writing it? I like those stars to align at the end.

(Q courtesy of Mels) Give us a Random Fact about yourself
When I'm really upset or sad, I like to blast my Broadway show tunes, chow down on some chocolate, and dance around my apartment in my pajamas.
(SUE really loves to do this as well it is so freeing)

I've seen lots of famous people in their underwear. That one always intrigues people and gets them guessing! (now you have SUEs attention. HAVE YOU SEEN COLLIN??? um just asking)

Give me a list of your current projects AND do you have any more fic
plans in the future?
I'm writing that Jasper outtake that I mentioned above. It bounces between the events in Chapter 17 and Jasper's time as a combat reporter at the end of WWII. It's really dark for me, but I'm having a lot of fun with it when it's not giving me nightmares. No seriously, ask Spangle.

I'm working on the last chapter of "Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry." After I finish, I have some EPOV outtakes I'll be writing for that story for the winner of my Fandom Gives Back auction.

I'm participating in the current round of Twi25 with a series of drabbles and one shots all about the 7 original Cullens. My goal is to do all canon with the possibility of some AU, and to not mention Bella at all. All of my twific so far has been really Bella-centric, so I want to try playing with some other characters for once.

I have a fluffy AH fic I'm working on that's based on my experiences as a college tour guide. It's short, silly, and cutesy, but I'm entertained by it. Hopefully someone will want to read it. I'm going to do something different (for me, anyways) and not post it until it's complete, so who knows when that'll go up.

Once GwaRU is finished, I think I'm going to take a little bit of a break from the full length fic and maybe write a couple of oneshots, enter some contests just for fun. Spangle and I have talked about writing together again, but we don't have solid plans yet.

Aside from GwaRU, I've written a side-shot story (only 8 chapters ) about GwaRU's Esme and her experiences during WW2. It's called La Résistance and it'snow complete. Abby wrote a side-shot about Jasper's experiences in the war, called Frozen and it's brilliant!

Outside of GwaRU, I have a new fic, called
The Wedding Party that I'm writing. There are 4 chapters of that up now.

What brought you to fanfic? To Twilight?
I'll answer the Twilight question first. It was really random actually. I moved to a new city for law school, and school hadn't started yet, so I didn't know anyone. Consequently I had a lot of time on my hands, which I spent (ta-da!) on Facebook. I was surfing the "Pieces of Flair" application one day and saw a ton of references to "Edward Cullen." One google search, two trips to Target, and four days later, I had read the entire series. I was hooked. That first semester of school I reread the books over and over again. In January I finally got sick of rereading and discovered fanfiction when I was looking for alternate versions of the fade to black in BD. I'm pretty typical in that respect, I think.

I wasn't active in fanfiction of any kind before Twilight, so I guess Twilight is what brought me to fanfic.

Twilight? I was going out of town on a stressful work assignment and needed something easy and mindless to read every night when I got back to the hotel. A co-worker shoved Twilight at me. I protested and said I didn't like books about vampires, which is true. She insisted, I caved. I finished Twilight before my plane landed and the first thing I did when I got there was to hit the bookstore for the other three!

A couple of months later, on some random (non-Twilight, non-fanfic) message board, I was chatting with someone about Twilight and she asked if I ever read fanfic. I said "Absolutely not! That stuff is for losers who go re-enact
Lord of the Rings in the woods!" But she insisted that I had to go read this one. She posted a link to Wide Awake. That was last May, and here I am! 
(SUE resembles the remark about loosers who go in the woods to play LotR... umm YUP D&D too)

What is your background in writing?
When I was a little kid I liked to write one act plays, short stories, and really depressing cry-for-help type poetry. I stopped writing creatively for a long time, although my undergrad degree is in Journalism, so I've never stopped writing altogether. Fanfiction helped me rekindle my creative writing skills, actually, and for that I couldn't be more grateful.
I wrote all the time as a kid. All the time. But no one ever read it and I never had the guts to take a creative writing class or anything. I quit completely for a long time once I started in my major in college. I didn't start again till last summer when I wrote Faking It.

If you could have 15 minutes with any Edward FF or SMs 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, Peter, Kellan or Jackson)
I have to pick? Not fair. What about if I give you a short list? Hmmmm.
Okay, I think I'm going to pick the Edward from "The Port Angeles Players" by WriteOnTime. Mmmmmm, Bardward. I want him to recite Shakespeare to me and feed me nutella and shortbread. Oh! And I want a back/neck massage. 
 The Edward from Breaking News. Because he's super-hot, but also super-smart. And interesting and fun and has been everywhere and done everything. I like to think I'd do something naughty with him, but he's so interesting that I'd probably just make him talk to me all about the places he's visited while I stare at him all moony-eyed and try to come up with something sufficiently witty to say. 
(OH I like both of those Edwards!! Breaking News Edward is FANTASTIC cause he Tap Dances. I love TAP dancing)

What is your FF pet peeve?
Uhhhh, this is a hard question. Something that will make me stop reading a story almost immediately is if one (or most) of the characters use the word "fuck" too liberally. Nobody talks like that, even teenagers with authority problems and bad manners. I grew up with an older brother who taught me all my swear words by the age of six, and *he* didn't swear that much. It almost seems to me like writers who use that word to often are trying to shock me. It doesn't do it for me.
Really just poor writing. I'm pretty forgiving on punctuation, because mine's atrocious, but bad spelling and misused words are distracting to me and pull me out of the story. There are a lot of cliches and over-used bits in the fandom, but it is fanfic and some things are kind of universal. So I tend to give that stuff a pass.

What is your Fandom PetPeeve?
Easy. The "Edward can do no wrong" complex. I think we forget, especially in AH stories, that Edward is flawed and makes mistakes, and sometimes (a lot of the time) he shouldn't be allowed to just apologize once, give a dazzling smirk, and get away with it. On the flip side, I hate it when Bella is blamed for something that Edward has done.

To be fair, I also get annoyed when Edward makes a tiny mistake and is forced to jump through ridiculous, flaming hoops to earn forgiveness. I think this fandom has a problem with hyperbole.
OMG, the drama and cattiness! Come on, people! I come here for fun! Real life has plenty of drama already, I don't want to deal with it here. When that stuff starts up, I log off. I like to write, I like to talk about writing and stories (and sometimes Rob) with a lot of smart, like-minded women. The rest of that stuff I left behind in middle school, where it belongs.

Which character do you Identify with the most?
Rosalie. I think she's kind of unfairly maligned, even in stories that paint her in a "positive" light. She's tough, and she doesn't get along with everyone, but she's sharp as a tack and a good person to have in your corner. We also share the trait of being a bit too willing to hold onto a grudge.
Hmmm, I never really thought about it. Canon Bella is enough of a blank slate that it's kind of easy to project on her what you'd like to see. But I really admire Rose's fierceness. I wish I had more Rose in me.

Any character you would like to see yourself with? Either as buddies or more?
I would love to hang out with canon Alice. Not Alice as the fandom has portrayed her (tragic sigh), but Alice as she was originally written. I would let her buy me clothes and make me look nice, and I'd love to pick her brain about the business world and computers. Canon Alice is practical, hilarious, and kind of badass. That's the kind of person I'd love to be friends with.
Rose, totally. You'd much rather have that girl as your friend than as your enemy anyway. I imagine Jasper would be fun to have a conversation with. And I'd want to ask Aro what ancient Rome was really like.

Which RL author inspires you?
Is it too cliche to say JK Rowling? I love her. She's done amazing charity work, and she still seems like a real person, despite her crazy success. Authors I like in general... Orson Scott Card, Agatha Christie, Christopher Moore, JRR Tolkein, Mark Helprin, Philip Pullman. When I need a good cuddle read I pick up Little Women or Anne of Green Gables (although those books are more shockingly anti-feminist than you remember them being when you read them as a kid!).
Michael Chabon, John Irving, George Eliot and of course, I draw a big puffy heart around Jane Austen. Austen is like my favorite flannel pajamas.

Did any FF authors inspire you?
Besides my co-author? :) Hmonster4 and Profmom72 inspired me to give collaboration a try, so that's prettty awesome. WriteOnTime is generally fabulous and way too talented for her own good. Daisy3853, Iwant2sparkle, TheHeartofLife1, Legna989, ciao_bell27, MsTallulahBelle, and littlesecret85 are all wonderful people I feel blessed to have met. I love reading anything by philadelphic, ezrocksangel, ItzMegan and LillyBellis.
My co-author, justaskalice, of course. My little inner circle of fanfic friends, WriteOnTime, ciao_bella27, littlesecret84, TallulahBelle, and the_glory_days. They're all so smart and talented and write such enthralling stories. Also, AngryBadgerGirl. I admire anyone who can write comedy, because I can't. At all. In_A_Blue_Bathrobe, Gondolier, philadelphic, and Fiestyybeden all impress me so much with their writing.

Any recs for us?
My favorites right this second? A Litany at Dusk, Bella Swan: Zombie Killer, Breaking News, Bright Like the Sun, La Canzone della Bella Cigna, Elemental, Cannebean Betrothal, Rhapsody in B, and The Walter Cannon Theory: Expanded.
Things I race to my computer for when they update: 
TNGUS, Hydraulic Level 5, Bella Swan: Zombie Killer, Bright Like the Sun, Living Backwards, Elemental, Brown Study, Rhapsody in B, and I just got sucked in to Something Wicked This Way Comes.

If you could ask any Twilight Cast member a question, who would you ask
and what would your question be?
I want to know how Dakota Fanning landed her part. Does anyone else remember cute, sweet little Dakota Fanning? Uptown Girl, Charlotte's Web? She was surprisingly creepy though, so I guess good for her.
I'd ask Anna Kendrick if her ranting about the zombie movie outside the movie theater in New Moon was really in the script or if that was her. Because that was some of the best dialogue in the movie.

Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you to our readers. You guys are fantastic.
Just thanks to all the readers and reviewers of Girl with a Red Umbrella. People have been so kind and enthusiastic and committed to the story. It's been very inspiring.

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