August 10, 2011

Sue's Interview with Lady Gwynedd about her story 'Nightingale'

Intrepid Isabella Swan leaves England to seek her destiny in the New World as an indentured servant. Little does she know her physical but temporary servitude would soon lead to another kind of servitude altogether. Not a BDSM fic, or even close to it.

It should come as no surprise that I'm going to rec another historical fic. Regular readers of this blog will know that is my all time favorite genre to read - inside and outside of fandom. To me, a well written historical story is worth its weight in gold.

I follow this lady on Twitter (it is where I tend to meet everyone) I also know her from her other stories, Mail Order Bride, the fabulous Parma High and, of course, the only other story by her I have interviewed her for, The Exchange Student (which shocked me because I have read all her AuH stuff). She asked for prereaders and I, of course, volunteered. How could I turn down a chance to preread a historical fic from a fellow history geek?

The amazing thing about this story, aside from it's adherence to history, is that it's a fun captivating read. ALSO her ANs (I know some people hate to read them) are where you will get fun tidbits about history. Let's not forget that she is a teacher, although NOT a history teacher, no matter how much I tell her that her geekiness would make history come alive for kids, she is far too attached to her current students to trade departments.

NOW, lets actually talk about the story:
Bella is an apprentice seamstress living in England when her teacher gets thrown in the poor house for non-payment of debts. She is now jobless and homeless. She then signs up to be an indentured servant, this gives her a job, room and board for years of service to a family for three years. WHAT? Three years? In history class I was told that it was 7 years? OHHH yes it was...except for skilled laborers (neat tidbit, I thought).

That is how the story begins. Later, she gets to travel across the sea to her new mistress to help launch her daughters into high fashion society. This story does not skimp on some of the nastier sides of life. For example, at this time sea travel was not fun, in fact, it was a dirty messy, nasty business. In this story you get to find out how people did things without the benefit of running water and electricity and modern medicines.

Yes of course she eventually meets Edward but I have to say that FOR ME that is not the main thrust of this story (pardon the dirty pun). The main idea of this story speaks to daily life and how two people from two different social ranks would deal with one another. Think about it, basically he is her master (no, not in a BDSM way). She is his servant. Those kinds of things, well, they were done but they were not socially acceptable at the time.

You know what to do. Read the interview. Read the fic. Leave the love and let me know what you think of it (don't forget that last part!).
OH The manips in here were made by Melolabel and the pictures unless otherwise noted were found for me by Spanglemaker9 Thanks ladies for your help! 


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 had to think about this because I honestly couldn't remember what inspired me to write Nightingale at first. I think that what sparked it was the fact that several people who had read The Mail Order Bride and Bear Valley Ranch suggested I write another historical fiction. History geek that I am, I was up for that so, I thought about what era I'd be interested in writing about. I already knew a lot about colonial times in the North American colonies, and I liked those times and the attitudes prevalent during them, so that was an easy choice.

Then, I had to think about the particular relationship that Edward and Bella were going to have. I knew that most people who came to the middle-Atlantic colonies from Great Britain were indentured, so that would make a logical part of the story. The cost for crossing the ocean was high and dangerous, so usually indentured servants were people who had no other choice. Most were contracted to work on plantations, in this case it would be the cash crop tobacco fields, and that was back breaking work. They really weren't more than beasts in the eyes of their employers. The usual indenture was seven years but if you were a skilled worker, it could be as little as three. I didn't want Bella to be a field worker because it would be harder to get to where I wanted my couple to be, so she had to have a trade. The only trades that women had in those days were as seamtresses, cooks, governesses, or maids, and I picked from that.

So, my inspiration actually came from my readers.

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 need quiet. I can't work with music or the TV on in the background. I actually like the quiet, to be honest. I think my brain just can't multi-task. I do best when I am by myself and as I am a school teacher and my own children are adults, in the summer I have my house to myself. That allows me to write during the day. Right now I am sitting on my lanai listening to the bird song. My back yard is a jungle basically, and so it's like I am in this tropical paradise.

I find that it helps me to get to where I need to be if I reread what I've written. That sets the tone and I can throw myself again into the setting easily.

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?
Edward. Breeches. Hose. Tortured by the magnetic attraction he has for his indentured servant. I mean really, do I have to say more?

Do you picture particular actors for your characters, or are they someone else entirely? If so, who?
I don't picture actors at all. I picture the character. In the brief physical descriptions I may give, there's a lot of leeway. In Nightingale, I actually can see Robert Pattinson as Edward but really its not that important. I find I know the insides of my characters much better than their outsides. I know who they are as people and how they'll respond and act and think. Their body is pretty much just what contains that and is not nearly as critical to the story.

Is the story all planned out or do you do it as a fly by the seat of your pants thing?
The story is planned out but it morphs. I've learned to listen to the characters because when I write where they tell me to go, it seems to be a much better story. So, I'll start out with a general direction. I'll even put it down on paper, then something will crop up and I revisit my outline to see how I can fit that in. There are a lot of threads in Nightingale that I have to pay a mind to but at the moment what I know is coming up is all very delicious.

manip by Melolabel
Do you have a Beta and would you like to give him/her a shoutout here?
Yes. My friends have helped Nightingale be as good as it is by just making small suggestions and sharing thoughts about what makes sense and what doesn't. My beta is PrincessKris. She's helped me since about the middle of the writing of Bear Valley Ranch. I have three pre-readers, Roselover24, Mioakauncha, and Melolabel. They are so wonderful. I owe them all a lot.

Have you got any other projects going on? Any planned for the future?
I have donated a one shot to Fandom fights Leukemia and Lymphoma from The Mail Order Bride but other than that, I can see where Nightingale could be continued for many sequels if it works out like I think it may. I don't know for sure. Also, a plot bunny hopped across the page when I was writing Bella's Choice, so one day there may be a second sequel to After the Fall. Which, if I am going to do that, I really need to go back an fix my mistakes in the first part.

Fan Made banner by Melolabel
What was it that brought you to Twilight fanfic? What is it that has kept you here (besides your own writing)

As I said earlier, I am a high school teacher and I noticed a few years back scads of kids, boys and girls alike, although mostly girls, voraciously reading the Twilight Series. I asked one of them what is was about and when I got the answer that included the phrase, "vampires in high school" I decided I had absolutely no interest in something as ridiculous as that. Years went by and one day I got a phone call from my daughter, who is also a high school teacher, begging me to read Twilight. I am sure you can imagine my response but she insisted that, though she had felt the same way, she was convinced to read them by a colleague, so she did and now she wanted me to read them so she could have someone to talk to about them. My daughter can talk me into anything so I went out and bought the first book. It sat by my bedside table for a few nights and every day my daughter would call and demand, "READ IT READ IT READ IT!" Finally, one night as I was going to bed, I decided to read a couple of chapters just to get her off my back. The next thing I knew it was 3:30 in the morning and I was on page 360 or something. The next day, I went out and bought the other three books and I think I had them all read in a week. SM can sure tell a story.

But after I read and digested them, I was all "WTF?" This is an unhealthy relationship. Bella is NOT the example of a strong person. This was more a story about obsession and possession than love. And what the hell was that about Bella needing a man to "fill the hole" that Edward left? And so she USES Jake to do that and then kicks him to the curb the minute the first guy comes back. And what was the shit about Edward committing suicide if Bella dies? OMG! Is this what we are trying to teach our teens these days? I was horrified.

I became even more horrified when I went back to school in the fall and would hear my students say things like "I wish my boyfriend would treat me like Edward treats Bella." And I would be like all oO. And I would tell them, if their boyfriend DID treat them like Edward treated Bella they needed to call the damn cops. I think I even used the word "damn" in front of my students.
In the meanwhile, being the on-line creature that I am and still for some reason completely entranced by the Saga, although I didn't want to be Bella or a Vampire, not in my wildest dreams, I was noodling about and found Twilight fanfiction. A lot of it was really very good. And a lot of writers rewrote the original to suit themselves and I thought if they could do it, why couldn't I? And so, that's where After the Fall came from. It was the first story I think I ever wrote and I was shocked and amazed when I finished it. I actually thought I would be done with fanfiction after that but, no. Just about the first day I marked that one complete, I started writing an All Human The Exchange Student, then after that The Mail Order Bride and so on. I find I enjoy the creative atmosphere in fanfiction and it's quite wonderful that there are people out there who will read my stuff and, amazement of all amazements, actually enjoy it!

What keeps me here are the people. From what I have seen of the fandom, it is both the people that keep authors here and it is also people that drive them away. So far, I am staying. I avoid controversy and I try very hard to be fair and kind to the other people here.

Do you have a background in writing?
Not really. I've had a live journal for eleven years and I write about my life there but nothing like telling plotted stories.

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 AM INSECURE IN MY WRITING. OMG. It's rather embarrassing. I am always bugging Kris, my beta. "Is it good?" I'll ask. "Did you like it?" and she has the patience of Job and holds my hand throughout and tolerates with great equanimity my "What the crap am I doing this for" moments. It's funny because I am pretty secure in all other aspects of my life. For heavens sake, I've been a teacher for more than thirty years and I am a cantor in church and get up infront of a thousand people each Sunday and sing by myself...I mean, that takes confidence doesn't it?

But my writing. OMG. I will read other writers who write so amazingly well that it makes me want to throw away my keyboard and run away, never to even try again. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, sometimes the stories won't let me go until I am finished getting it out there for better or for worse.

I truly don't think of myself as a writer so much as a story teller.

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?
I don't give links but people do know I write for a hobby. My husband is incredible and he sees how much enjoyment I get out of writing and so encourages me but he has never asked to read it -- truly, romances aren't his thing. I think what really surprised him was when I showed him the traffic my stories get on a daily basis, he was floored. After that, he took what I do a little more seriously and and I think he is even proud. I've printed out some of my stories for my mother and she gets pissed off that I am writing for free. She wants me to get an agent and publish. I've tried to explain to her that I am not interested in that but she can't see it. She liked The Mail Order Bride but she thought Bear Valley Ranch had too much sex in the first part. (All I can say is "Whert?") My daughter doesn't want to read what I know about sex, so she won't read them. My son isn't interested in the genre but he's a history geek so I ask him about background stuff once in a while.

Is there a particular character in your story that you identify with the most?
In Parma High, I was Mrs. Masen. In Nightingale, not so much. Maybe Mrs. Crowley.

Which RL author(s) inspires you?
JRR Tolkien.
Of course, who doesn't like Austen.
There are a million authors I love.

Did any FF authors inspire you? What was it that had you reading FF and thinking “I could do this”?
I love Rochelle Allison's work. Also Wyndchimes write amazing stuff. WriteonTime. Whatsmynomdeplume. Profmom. Duskwatcher2153. And a dozen more.

Actually, when I read the works of these, I don't think "I can do this" rather I think "OMG, whatever made me think I COULD do this compared to them."

What advice would you give to an aspiring fanfic writer?
I think the advice I give is what everyone says, "WRITE." The second piece of advice is "GET A BETA." A good Beta.

Give us a Random Fact about yourself?
I drive a '04 Honda Accord. Is that random enough? I also have a beagle boy. I love that dog.

If you could have 15 minutes with anyone alive or dead real or fictional who would it be and what would you say to them?
I would truly wish to have my dad and brothers back on earth to continue to share my life with me. I miss them every day. I'd apologize to my brothers for being such a bratty kid sister and I'd tell them and my dad that they are my heroes and I have always, always been proud to be their sister and daughter.

What is your FanFic Pet peeve?
Historical Ficts with bad history. Drives me batty and as a result I haven't read many of them. I can't seem to get past the first few chapters.

What is your Fandom Pet peeve?
People who are cruel and spiteful. The anonymity of the internet can bring out the worst in people, especially jealous, insecure, cowardly people. Kindness never killed anyone.

And if you're going to leave a negative review, please tell the author exactly were you think they went wrong.

Anything else you would like to add?
I truly appreciate the readers who have taken the time to read my work. I truly thank the people who take the time to tell me. And, I am truly so honored and delighted to know that there are many who seem to like what I write.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great to see Lady Gwynedd get some well-deserved recognition! She is a great asset to TwiFanfic (and thanks for the shout-out, sweets!)

Post a Comment