May 24, 2010

Sue's Interview with QuestionXisting for Ashen Skies: A Tainted Genocide

Ashen Skies: A Tainted Genocide by QuestionXisting

As you all know I have a thing for historical fics things set in another time.
I started reading this fic because of the description:

Summary: Edward a confused militant is trying to survive in a world where the systematic killing of people based upon qualities like race, sex, & income have been sanctioned by law. In the midst of death, hate & ignorance, he will discover love can still be found.
Twilight - Rated: M - English - Romance/Tragedy - Chapters: 10 - Words: 41,374 - Reviews: 307 - Updated: 4-25-10 - Published: 12-30-09 - Edward & Bella

I read it thinking, OHHHH! A WW2 story. Love in a concentration camp, could be interesting.

I had no idea what I was setting myself up for.

For a start, this is NOT set in WW2.

I KNOW, I was shocked too!

This story is set in the future. A future where overpopulation and poor land management has led to a severe food shortage. The solution that the people came up with, was to get rid of the unnecessary, unwanted people. Basically, the government decided to play God, choosing who would live and who would die.

So how does romance work into this? I find this fic to be an interesting look into the mind of humans, who are trying to survive. I know lots of shit is given to those in the situation of the Edward in this story, saying that if they had balls they would stand up against the evil. Think hard about this here, people. IF you were in this situation, would you take the place of the people suffering, knowing full well that your death would not mean an end to their suffering, and that keeping your mouth shut would probably mean they would be a little more comfortable?

Who is to say how we would react? And it is my hope that no one is ever put in that place ever again.

So enjoy my interview with QuestionXsisting

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?

A TV REMOTE! It's actually a funny story. Before Ashen Skies, I had been looking into writing a TwiFic, but my mind was at a blank, I couldn't think of a decent plot that other writers hadn't already divulged into. There are so many different types of Edwards & Bellas out there in the TwiFic world, but I wanted something different.

It was a late night sometime in December, I was drunk, and there wasn’t a damn thing on TV. I was just flicking through channels looking for anything to watch. I don’t know how but I ended up on the history channel, which is bizarre because I never ever watch that channel. That just hints to how drunk I was but anyways there was a special on the Holocaust. In high school I was always really interested in the Holocaust, so in my drunken stupor I was sucked in. While watching it, the idea of writing a period piece surrounding the Holocaust came to mind and what it would be like to be in love in such difficult times as that.

Before I knew it my mind was on a roll, so many ideas were coming to me like flies on shit! I started doing research and getting my facts together. There was only one real problem! I didn’t have the heart to make Edward, something as hateful and disgusting as a Nazi. It just wouldn’t work! I couldn’t go for Naziward, and I’m sure readers wouldn’t either. However I knew for a fact that I want Bella to be a prisoner and Edward to be an officer torn between doing his duties and following his heart. Thus I was met with a bump in the road.

So I said fuck it, I’ll make my own Holocaust. I would make it so Edward was forced to become an officer, rather then the Nazi’s who followed a belief and chose to be killers. It would also be easier to make my own rules while telling the story. I wouldn’t have to follow historical events. I wasn’t alive during that time so, I don’t have a first hand account to how the times were back then and I wanted the story as believable as possible. It’s much easier to work in the future; anything can happen in the future.

I just had to find a reason for the Holocaust. I started looking up world problems and conflicts, and the only sensible cause for my Holocaust would be over population. This is the birth of Ashen Skies!

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?

This probably sounds morbid and morose, but I have to be depressed to write. Disheartening songs like Evanescence’s “Breathe No More” and Max Richter’s classical composition, “On the Nature of Daylight’s” definitely help create the preferred mood.

A lot of times, I run to twitter to talk to my girls of inspiration, Katie and Manda. Katie always seems to find great pictures/sayings that reflect Ashen Skies and we call Manda “Mother Nature”. She has a “mysterious” way with the weather. Rainy weather and thunderstorms are an added benefit to get my gears churning as well; somehow she always sends a storm my way. Love those girls!

Ashen Skies is such a discerning heart wrenching story that is supposed to pull at your heart strings and in order to encompass this sadness I have to put myself in their predicament. It’s obvious that their quandary isn’t rainbows and sunshine; it’s not budding flowers and singing birds. It’s the total opposite. Its death, despair, and a lack of appreciation for mankind, sprinkled with a pinch of hope. Putting myself in a bleak, depressed mood only helps me pour my feelings into my story, so it has a slow burn when you read it. I want to feel the characters pain and as a writer you want your readers to be able to feel the pain as well. It’s kind of weird but I see it as sacrificing my happiness to help Ashen Skies tell its story. Oddly enough I’m okay with that.

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?

Um … okay … let’s see … there’s this guy … and then um there’s this girl …haha!

But take a second to imagine a world, much like our own, ruled by governments that have merged together from various countries to put an end to a global issue. Live in a world where there’s not enough fresh water for drinking. Food shortages and starvation cause crime rates to grow. Pollution is so strong that even the air is unfit to breathe. All of these issues stem from one primary source, overpopulation.

The governments are anxious and frenzied. Together they govern a plan, which is basically fixing the problem right where it started, at life. Genocide, the systematic killing of people based upon qualities like race, sex, and income has been sanctioned by law. Taking parallels of what happened during the Holocaust, the government is placing people based upon their societal standing, in concentration camps to be worked to death.

Edward is given a chance to protect his family by essentially doing the government’s dirty work in one of these camps. This is already something he can’t stomach, but what happens when he discovers a girl who is imprisoned to the camp, that he has a natural yearning to protect? In the midst of death, hate, and ignorance, he will discover love can still be found.

4. Do you picture particular actors for your characters, or are they someone else entirely? If so, who?

In my mind R.Pattz will forever be Edward Cullen, and K.Stew will forever be Bella Swan. When I’m writing a lot of times, I’ll pull up a picture of them that conveys the current mood of the scene. I think it helps when trying to describe the characters physically. All the other characters I see as the assigned actor as well, with the exception of Caius. Don’t get me wrong I love Jamie Campbell-Bower as Caius in New Moon, but I see someone much older as the Caius in Ashen Skies. I see someone like a younger Christopher Walken. Love Christopher Walken, he always plays a good villain.
A young Christopher Walken as Caius

5. Is the story all planned out or do you do it as a fly by the seat of your pants thing?

At first I was just writing the story as I went along. I would jot down ideas as they would come to me but that was it. It wasn’t until recently that I put an outline together. There was just too many sticky notes posted around my desk and there are just so many places that I want to take the characters. With all my ideas, an outline became a must, so I didn’t write myself into a corner.

6. Have you got any other projects going on? Any planned for the future?

Ashen Skies is my baby right now. As far as having any other projects going on, no I really don't think I could handle having multiple stories, but I do have a few future ideas filed in the back of my mind. I'm doing the whole depressing dystopia thing now, I think if I were to do a fic after this I would want to head into the whole psycho thriller genre. I'm thinking a game of cat and mouse. Riddles, puzzles, explosives, and crude consequences would be the sweet frosting on that cake!

7. What was it that brought you to Twilight fanfic? What is it that has kept you here (besides your own writing)?

At first I wasn’t that interested in fanfic. I didn’t want the characters that I loved from SM’s series to be warped. I thought there might be a point in time where I wouldn’t be able to remember what was from the actual saga or what a fan had written.

Hopping on, looking for my local dose of Twilight news, I noticed they started Fanfiction Fridays. It was just a few recommendations from one of the sites creators, nothing serious. I looked over the summaries and sometimes even clicked the links with no real intention of actually reading the fics, but one Friday they recommended Wide Awake. Need I say anymore?! The link was complete, the addiction was strong, and QuestionXisting was born.

8. Do you have a background in writing?

Hmm not really, I did write a pretty lengthy fanfiction story for a popular boy group in 2002, which will remain unnamed. Hehe! I’d be super surprised if anyone could guess the group’s names. Anyways, looking back on it, I wouldn’t even call it writing. I was 13 haha! Other than that, nope.

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 absolutely love it. Its tough coming online and putting your story out there for the whole world to read. It’s even tougher when you’re using characters that aren’t yours, and the original characters are adored by millions of people. You have to be careful! When I started writing for the fandom, the fandom as a whole was very welcoming and open. Right away I met some pretty awesome people, like CullenLovingMom who actually was the first person to answer my call for a beta. She’s fantastic and very much a mother-figure to me! AndyMCope/JandMsMommy she was one of my first followers on twitter. She’s been a great friend and an awesome pimp. Not only is the writing experience wonderful, but you meet so many great people that have similar interests as you, it’s really a confidence booster. I have more friends on twitter than what I have in real life. I love them all to death. They’re supportive and encouraging; I consider them my online family.

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?

O_o ... God, No! That would just be another reason for them to lock me up in a white padded room. I feel as though they know enough about my extreme obsession with everything Twilight. For them to find out that I spend countless hours chipping away at a story that deals with dystopia and genocide, is a bit weird, but the fact it stars Twilight characters like Edward and Bella, just might be too much! Haha! So yeah fan fiction is a secret hobby that I keep to myself. I totally feel like that 13 year old boy that hides Playboy under his mattress from his parents now! *blushes*

The funny thing, is one of my co-workers caught me scribbling down a dialogue one day. Him being the nosey bugger that he is absolutely had to know what I was doing. I must have not had my head in the game at that point, or someone had drugged my orange juice that morning, because foolishly I told him. He was the first and last person I told about my online "occupation". But wait, here comes the best part! I hyped up the experience and the fandom so much, he's in the process of reading the Twilight Saga and writing his own Twilight fan fiction story. I read the first chapter, it's phenomenal! *mumbles* it's even better than mine *cough*

I consider my online "occupation" confession a win/win situation now. I've even considered telling my other friends about it ...... hmmm .... Nope probably not!

12. Is there a particular character in your story that you identify with the most?

I think I identify mostly with Leading Officer Jasper Hale. He's probably one of my favorite characters to write in a scene, because we are so much alike. I can just pour my heart out in a scene where I step into his shoes and write the words coming from his mouth. Essentially that's me speaking out to my readers through my story. Jasper is the rational and conscientious one of the group. He's careful, and likes to think things through before taking any steps. It's kind of sad but I consider myself the same way and a lot of time that jeopardizes the amount of carefree fun I have in my life ... leading back to why I can be such a boring person. Haha! I also feel the need to constantly try and right wrong things, not necessarily around the world that’s nearly impossible for little ol' me, but at least people and things around me. I have a habit of trying to take other people's burdens and problems and make them my own. I like to see people happy and respectful towards each other, even if that puts my own happiness at jeopardy. That's Leading Officer Jasper Hale in a nutshell.

13. Which RL author(s) inspires you?

Wow, this one’s hard because there are so many authors and writers that I love. This is so lame but I really enjoy Shakespeare. Only because I love how cryptic his stories are, like you can’t understand a damn thing the man’s saying until you pull apart the sentence word by word. It’s exhausting but really cool in a way, once you discover what the hell he’s saying. I’m a sucker for Romeo and Juliet.

I also enjoy Edgar Allen Poe. His shit is weird as fuck and macabre, but oddly enough I’m into that kind of stuff. He’s another writer that leaves you wondering during the middle of the night, like what the hell was he on? I think a good writer should always leave you thinking. My favorite works of his are The Fall of House of Usher, The Pit and The Pendulum, and The Tale-Tell Heart. Awesome pieces!

As far as dystopia goes, I think Suzanne Collins does an remarkable job with The Hunger Games.

14. Did any FF authors inspire you? What was it that had you reading FF and thinking “I could do this”?

One of my favorite authors in fandom would definitely have to be Melissa228. Not only is she a phenomenal writer, she’s an absolute sweetheart. I think sometimes writers get a little big headed when they gain recognition around the fandom. We all know reviews are like diamonds and gold, but she’s managed to not let the “riches” get to her head. I try to model myself after her, I really think everyone should. She’s an extremely gracious, humble and supportive individual. She opened up a door for me, which has gained me a great majority of the readers that I have now and for that I’m forever thankful.

I also have a great admiration for AngstGoodess003 and Kharizzmatik. Their stories are beautifully written and dangerously addicting!

15. 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.

Haha! This is probably my favorite question, because it totally came out of nowhere. I actually had to read it over twice. Going by the rules my porn star name would be Jewel Kelmar, but if I'm going to go into the porn business, I'm going balls out! No pun intended! I think I'd have to go with something more absurd like Ivana Spankadocious. My preferred partner? .... Definitely Arnold Swollenmember!

16. Give us a Random Fact about yourself.

I honestly don't consider myself that interesting of a person, so my random fact is either going to be severely stupid or ridiculously questionable, and lead to inquiries of whether or not I was drunk during this interview ... um lets see ... I’m an extremely happy loving person, I think I may be made up of rainbows and sunshine. I’m flexible and able to fold myself into a pretzel. Also, my absolutely favorite thing in the world besides my dogs, are cupcakes. So to all my readers, I much rather have cupcakes than reviews. Private Message me for my address. Haha!

17. 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.)

I absolutely adore Edward, but the fact that Sue allowed me the option to switch out characters for the actors; I’m going to have to go with Rob. Yup I’d definitely choose Rob. He seems like such an interesting individual with a kind heart and an aura of just silliness. I love laughing and he just seems like the guy who likes to put smiles on peoples’ faces.

So if I were to have 15 minutes to spend with Rob, trying to ignore the fact that I would probably try to molest him, I think I would want to do something adventurous with him. Like sky diving or bungee jumping. He has some great facial expressions. I’d love to see his face as we’re jumping out of a plane. I would then treat him to some delicious chocolate frosted cupcakes. Dessert first!

18. What is your FanFic Pet peeve?

I can’t stand when writers threaten their readers with reviews. “I’ll post the next chapter when I get so and so reviews,” is a huge turn off for me. If people like your story they should have the courtesy to review and if they do, thus they will. Stop putting the “review gun” to the readers’ heads, it’s not cute!

19. What is your Fandom Pet peeve?

Going along with the above answer, I can’t stand when readers pressure and bully writers to update sooner. We all have real lives outside of fan fiction. We have jobs, families, and things to do. We’re not getting paid to write, the internet isn’t going to replace the time we spend with our families and friends. Receiving messages from our readers to write faster or update quicker is bittersweet. The anxiousness to read another chapter of our story is great but sometimes that deteriorates the motivation to write. Stop putting the “update knife” to the writers’ necks, it’s not nice!

20. What do you want to be when you grow up?

If the porn business doesn’t work out for me, I’m going to school this fall for fashion design. Yes I’m one of those girly-girls. I’ve been obsessed with fashion and clothes, since I was little. I’m really looking forward to it.

21. Anything else you would like to add?

I just wanted to say thanks to Sue for this opportunity, she’s fucking awesome, and to all of my supporters and readers. You all mean the world to me. Peace! Love! & Cupcakes!

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