May 25, 2010

Tanja's interview with giselle-lx about 'Ithaca is Gorges'

Ithaca is Gorges by giselle-lx, on Twilighted

Summary: New Moon from Carlisle's and Edward's POV: After the Cullens leave Bella and move to Ithaca, NY, Carlisle fights to keep his family together as Edward's pain threatens to tear them apart. Ithaca is the story of a son's quest, a father's love, and the unique family struggling to stand behind them both... Canon.
Twilight - Rated: T - English - Drama - Chapters: 19 - Words: 126,550 - Reviews: 1747 - Updated: 12-7-09 - Published: 4-12-09 - Carlisle & Edward - Complete

I bet most of you loved reading Midnight Sun (or at least the ones who actually read it) and can't wait for Stephenie Meyer to finally get her sh*t together and publish it.

So how would you feel about a well-writen story about New Moon in Edward's AND Carlisle's POV?

That's what Ithaca Is Gorges is for.

There isn't really much that I can say about the story that isn't already said in the summary. But let me try anyway.

The story starts in Ithaca where the Cullens relocated to after Edward left Bella and follows the timeline set in New Moon. As I said before, Giselle wrote Ithaca is Gorges in EPOV and CPOV. Not an easy task, writing male POV about a character we don't really know that well from the books.

But she managed beautifully to give an indepth insight of the father-son relationship that started 90 years ago, while they both struggle with their own pain (something that SM neglected a bit IMO). Be warned, your heart might be breaking while reading.

Here's a little teaser for you:
Esme was right. This was worse.
"Edward," I called softly, but he made no acknowledgement of my presence. "Edward. Edward, son, please." With each word I took a step toward him, landing finally on my knees before him. He did not look at me—his pitch-black eyes stared blankly forward, unfocused.
I choked on my incoming breath, and reached forward to him. Gently, I pushed the hood down from his head, expecting him to grumble and replace it. He did nothing. I ran a hand through his thick hair—again, nothing. As far as I could tell, he hadn't moved at all. I continued stroking his hair, feeling each strand race its way through my fingers.
My relationship with my son did not very often manifest itself physically, and when it did, it was usually in the form of a pat on the back or a hand on his shoulder. Even embraces were rare—with his gift, much love was expressed between us without anything overt on either of our parts. But seeing Edward lie there, his face frozen, his body unmoving—I couldn't bear it. And so, before I even really knew what I was doing, I did something I'd not done since that night in Chicago so long ago: I picked him up.
And another scene that I love, when Edward decided to leave.
Carlisle laid a hand on my shoulder and squeezed it. His thoughts were effusive: I love you so much. I can't bear to see you go. But he merely said, "We should get you on this train."
I nodded. I adjusted the pack on my shoulder, and gave them one last wave as I headed for the door to the car.
Edward. It was Carlisle. I turned to face him. His eyes were full of sadness; the lines of his face displayed an unspeakable grief at seeing me go.
I raised my eyebrows.
When? It was just one word, but the pain behind it bore witness to centuries of loneliness. For a split second I reconsidered everything. Maybe we could all stay together. We should. What kind of a son was I to do this to Carlisle? Then James' face swam before me and my resolve returned. I had to keep Bella safe…from Victoria, and from me.
Shaking my head in dismay, I shrugged in response to Carlisle's question. He knew full well that I had no idea when I would see him again. And he knew that this was something I had to do.
He nodded, his face further creasing with his worry. I love you, son.
"I love you, too, Dad," I mouthed, as the train whistled.

Lets hear what Giselle has to say:

1. Where did you get the idea for this story? What was your inspiration?
One of my closest friends and I were discussing the saga; she too had been skeptical of it and had waited until someone had really hammered it to her to read it. We had similar issues with it and took offense at many of the same things. (Probably why we’re close friends.) At any rate, we were discussing Carlisle and how I thought he was the most compelling character in the series and yet came off really flat. And she said, “You know, I think Carlisle is only so two-dimensional because we only see him through Edward’s eyes, and Edward adores him.”

It really made me think. I started then to wonder how to really show what Carlisle was like; to show the flaws I thought were hinted at in canon. Shortly before that conversation I had written “Form 1040,” my first CPOV piece, and I realized I needed to tell a section of the saga from Carlisle’s POV. I had always wondered what changed Carlisle’s mind from the beginning of New Moon when he tells Bella he won’t change her, to the end, when he is the final nail in the coffin and offers to do it himself. The decision and the change, I felt, rested on Carlisle’s relationship with Edward, and that couldn’t be written without some Edward in the fic as well. Thus Ithaca is Gorges was born.

2. Why do you think readers should read your story?
Boy, if that isn’t a question designed to elicit some self-centeredness, I don’t know what is. :giggle: But honestly? I think its biggest draw is that it’s pretty darn different from a lot of fic out there. It’s GEN (general, as opposed to romance) which makes it a big step away from over 90% of the popular fics in this fandom. And it retains the vampires. There simply aren’t very many canon-compliant fics in this fandom, much less long ones like IiG. I often hear people complain that they’re reading the same thing, fic after fic after fic. Ithaca has next to nothing to do with the Edward/Bella relationship in any incarnation. Most people tell me it’s a breath of fresh air for them when they read it. Also I’ve had more than a handful of folks tell me that it brought back the magic of the original saga for them. That’s what I aim for, so I’m always beyond pleased to hear that.

3. Is there anything you would want readers to know specifically?
That the title isn’t a misspelling? Hah! I’ve taken so much grief over that. “Ithaca is Gorges” is the slogan of Ithaca, NY, the town the Cullens move to during the months they’re absent in New Moon. So many people were confused by that. I grew up in the Midwest U.S., had never been anywhere near New York except once, and yet knew that slogan, so I figured most people would know it. BOY was I wrong. I have sort of fallen in love with the title and all it represents metaphorically, but if I were to do it again I’d probably try to think of something else.

But yeah. That and that it’s very different, as I said above. It’s a deep character study of Carlisle—the whole book is really about him—so, you have to have your hat on tight for that.

(Q courtesy of Mels) Give us a Random Fact about yourself
When I was eight, I appeared on a television talk show with Jerry Springer. This was before the Jerry Springer Show existed. This is probably my most interesting random fact (and possibly only relevant to people in the U.S.—the rest of you can wiki if need be).

4. 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?
Not really anything special when I write a chapter, except that I really prefer to be at my desktop than on my laptop. I do by far the majority of my writing sitting stock upright in a task chair, which I’m sure sounds weird to a lot of people. I can’t write sitting on the couch or in bed, or anything like that. Also, I often do the dishes and clear any clutter off the kitchen table before sitting down to write. I find that putting my apartment in order releases a lot of creative energy.

5. What do you do after you click the submit button for a chapter?
Panic and click refresh until I see the first review and have confirmation that somebody actually read the thing. Then I relax and let myself enjoy having posted.

6. Do you have a soundtrack to your stories?
Not explicitly. I have several playlists I listen to when writing and doing other “brain work” like studying. But I did develop a bit of a playlist for Ithaca, although I didn’t always listen to it when writing. It was very eclectic and included Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” “You Found Me,” by the Fray, “Prayer of St. Francis” by Sarah McLachlan, and Frank Tichelli’s “An American Elegy.” I tend to listen more to instrumental music than lyrical music when writing—as an instrumentalist myself, it’s rarely the lyrics of something that inspire me as much as its overall musical mood.

7. What actor/actress do you picture as YOUR Edward and Bella?
You know, I don’t particularly picture actors and actresses, including the ones in the movies. And I tend not to picture very many of my characters in great detail, even those of my own creation, although I have some sense of their basic physical features. If I had to compare the Edward, Bella (and I’ll add Carlisle) in my head to their on-screen portrayals—well, I imagine Edward with hair that is much redder first of all, and of course, a boy who is much younger. I envision him as being a young-looking seventeen rather than an old-looking seventeen, and now he’s permanently stuck having not completed puberty.

Bella I imagine as having a girl-next-door kind of beauty. She has features of her face that aren’t absolutely gorgeous; maybe her nose is too big. And she’s not a rail-thin girl, either—short, and curvy. But with a really wonderful smile.

As for Carlisle, I *do* rather like Peter Facinelli’s portrayal of him. But I also imagine him much, much younger. I teach twenty-two and sometimes twenty-three year olds, and in a hoodie and a pair of jeans, they can look much more like boys than men. So I often imagine Carlisle as a very lean, strong young man whom sometimes people have trouble believing is over the drinking age (except that his comportment underscores his centuries of life). And in my mind, Carlisle is bigger than Edward—although they’re the same height, Carlisle’s build is sturdier.

8. Is the story all planned out or do you do it as a fly by the seat of your pants thing?
I like to give the story room to breathe, but I don’t start a long piece (or really, even a short one) without knowing where it’s going to end. The power of the end pulls me forward through the work. I knew the last line of Ithaca is Gorges for months before it was written. (I then proceeded to write a different ending anyway, sent it to beta, and then deleted the additional ending so it stayed at the line I’d always envisioned.) So I usually know at least the start, the end, and then several major points along the work—where Act I is going to end, where Act II is going to end, etc. How does the story turn, and on what?

So I create the “bones” of a story first. Then I put flesh on it. Sometimes I’m really detailed about what the flesh looks like, and sometimes I let that fly. My current fic, Stregoni Benefici is more “let fly,” Ithaca was more detailed because I had to be very careful to stay in lockstep with New Moon.

10. Do you believe in HEA?
Yes, but I don’t think HEA is always the boy and girl riding off into the sunset on a white horse. I think there’s a lot of room for an ending to be “happy” without everything going right. I mean, look at real life. Plenty of people have “happy” lives without having the perfect ever-after ending. I try to reflect that balance in my writing.

11. Give me a list of your current projects.
In fic, I’m working on a long fic, Stregoni Benefici: The Story of Carlisle Cullen, which looks at Carlisle’s history. I don’t want to say much about it, because it’s in the preliminary stages. In RL, I’m revising two novels and finishing a third, with the hopes of getting some queries out over the summer this year.

Do you have any more fic plans in the future?
Yes. After Stregoni, I’m tackling Book IV of the saga with a canon-based AU treatment. Since the original is 270,000 words, I think that will take me a while. And recently a friend seeded an idea for a parallel canon AU take on Book III, which I may do later. So I’m not stopping any time soon. At the same time, fic has gotten me to think more about my original work and not just confine it to November, and so I anticipate working on that more as well, which may slow down the fic writing a bit.

12. What brought you to fanfic? To Twilight?
I’ve read fanfic for over ten years, since undergrad when my roommate was obsessed with Buffyverse fic. I read a lot of fic in that fandom before I ever saw the series (I watched them finally about five years later). And I read HP on and off (Sirius/Remus FTW). But I’ve never written, nor gotten as absorbed in a fandom as I have in Twilight. And that’s all Carlisle’s fault. I fell in love with him on page 330 of Twilight and that was the end of it. When I finished BD, I went hunting around for reviews of it, came across, and thought, “Gee, it’s been ages since I’ve written a short story.” I finished “The Talk” in about four hours, it posted the following day (that was before Twilighted got so big they couldn’t get authors through the queue anymore), and I haven’t looked back since.

13. What is your background in writing?
I’ve written basically since I could make letters. My first book was titled GEBILS and was about the gerbils in my preschool class. The teachers copied it on the machine and gave all my classmates a copy. First publications rock, especially when you’re 4.

But more to the point, I’ve studied creative writing and written fiction my whole life. Ironically, I did not get into my university’s creative writing program, but in the end that turned out well because I wrote an academic thesis instead which lead to what I do now, and I love what I do. I have done a LOT of freelance writing work over the years, but have sold almost no fiction, mostly because I’m too lily-livered to send it out. Contract work they just hand to you and you write it and they send you a check. You don’t have to deal with rejection—they ask you to do it. So I’m working on toughening up my skin for the fiction stuff.

This is one reason, though, that I urge authors to hone, hone, hone. Writing is part talent, but not much. I see a lot of people who don’t bother to think about how they could improve as writers because they think they just don’t have talent, when really, much of writing is a learned skill. Practice, practice, practice, and study the craft as much as you can.

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’d talk to Canonward, of course. For me, there is no other Edward. And in 15 minutes I would try to understand what it is that makes him who it is—what his relationships are like with the rest of his family, what his thoughts are on vampirism, what life is like for him as a husband and a father. He’s a fascinatingly multi-dimensional character, but he’s hard to pick apart. If I could talk to him personally, I’d devote as much time as I could to really understanding better who he is and what drives him, which, since all we got was Bella’s unwavering adoration in the books, didn’t really come across.

15. What is your FF pet peeve?
Grammar. It’s not a gift from the grammar fairy, it’s a system of rules that can be learned. Putting out a great fic full of grammar errors is like stepping forward to give an important speech in a faded t-shirt and ripped jeans. And it should not be left up to your beta to fix. You should know the rules yourself and do your best to produce something gorgeous the first time; your beta should help you polish, not do the writing for you. Grammar is the final turn you give your writing to make it truly beautiful.

16. What is your Fandom pet peeve?
That people use the internet as an excuse to behave badly. It’s too easy to whip something off in anger or frustration, and then it stays as record. I am one who thinks pretty hard before clicking “submit” on anything—for me, the written form actually slows my temper rather than fires it. But to me, it’s never acceptable to treat someone in any other manner than you would if you were speaking to their face. If more people kept that in mind, fandom would be a more comfortable and interesting place.

17. Which character do you Identify with the most? Any character who would you like to see yourself with? Either as buddies or more?
Carlisle, for sure. I think we are both compassionate to a fault, although I certainly have a hotter temper. But he’s very intellectual, very driven, sometimes quiet and sometimes extroverted, and very deeply rooted in and guided by his faith. These are all things we have in common. We’re also both natural leaders.

I can’t think of a character I’d see myself with. Ben Cheney is most my type—quiet, kind of nerdy. Or maybe Jasper. He’s very in his head, though, and that would probably bother me since I tend to be very in mine. Edward would drive me bananas.

18. Which RL author inspires you?
I really adore John Irving. I love how he writes such rich, deeply flawed characters and tells these incredibly complex, weighty stories and yet his prose keeps you along for the ride again and again and again. But really a lot of authors inspire me. Whenever I read a wonderful story, or a fantastic bit of description, or a unique turn of phrase, I’m always storing it away for later.

Did any FF authors inspire you?
Many. minisinoo keeps me thinking outside the box and firmly rooted in putting my craft ahead of considerations of popularity. thatwritr’s story makes me think a lot about the canon as it exists and why the flaws we feel are in it are there. sleepyvalentina amazes me daily with her fortitude and her innate talent for storycraft. And all the other primarily canon writers who keep chugging away at what seems like a lost cause sometimes in the midst of the whirlwind of AH. Some, but certainly not all of them: blondieAKArobin, edward-bella-harry-ginny, EliseShaw, Emily Fauve, gleena, Justine Lark, Scarlett71177.

19. If you could ask any Twilight Cast member a Question who would you ask and what would your Question be?
Peter, of course. And I would ask him what his hopes and dreams are for his daughters. No one asks him questions like that, and he loves talking about them. He’s a really terrific dad.

20. Anything else you would like to add?
I’m slow these days with review replies and PM replies—it’s been a very rough academic year for me both professionally and personally. Expect responses from me at strange times! But I still appreciate talking to people—I’m a very open person. They should look me up on or on twitter.



giselle-lx said...

Thanks, Tanja for the interview! It was a lot of fun to do. And what a great photo of Peter, Luca Bella, and Lola. I haven't seen this one!

Anonymous said...

This is a lovely interview, you have been very generous. I also adore minisinoo's writing, and deeply respect her approach to it in general. Her meta essays on writing are among my favorites.

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