December 2, 2011

Sue's interview with GrayMatters about her fic 'Til I Said it to You'

She's a serial rescuer with a history of adopting strays. He's selfish and arrogant, cut loose by his family to find himself. Will Bella fall for his act, or will Edward find more than he bargained for? AH/OOC M for language & lemons.
Twilight - Rated: M - English - Drama/Romance - Chapters: 9 - Words: 37,738 - Reviews: 624 - Updated: 11-29-11 - Published: 10-3-11 - Bella & Edward

You ever read one of those fics where Eddie boy is a spoiled brat adult and you say WTF why are his parents still supporting his stupidity? Why are they whining about how he should better himself and see the gifts he was born into and yet they do nothing to encourage his change in behavior? WELL in this story Eddie boy is spoiled brat adult but his parents decide that instead of supporting his self destructive behavior they are gonna cut him off.

He has to get a job on his own merit, support himself on a budget, find a place to live. Their hope is that by living like the rest of the world their spoiled son will gain some empathy (or is sympathy? I can never keep those straight)

Enter Bella. Single mom, student, working a crap job trying to deal with baby daddy and his new love of his life while raising a kid. And her new neighbor is yup Edward.

I know I make this sound like a fandom cliche but I'm being honest when I say this to me is a well written fresh take on this scenario.

They do not have the instant connection,
They do not have unrealistic monsters in their closet.
What they have is real life issues that are being dealt with in a real life way and I love it.


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 been struggling with a story idea (one that's still sitting in my WIP folder) when the first chapter of Til I Said it to You played out in my head. I typed as fast as I could to keep up and sat there kind of stunned when it was done. Then my mind started to plot what kind of Bella could handle this kind of Edward. Next thing I knew, Chapter 2 was written.

I will say that some of the secondary characters (especially Tanya and James) were inspired by a fic group discussion where we were saying how James and Tanya are always awful and evil. I vowed to make them likeable in my next fic, and well...they are!

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 would say that work must inspire my writing, because I always seem to be attacked by plot bunnies while I'm on deadline there! I'm such a cheater – I'll have my story open in a separate screen and sneak over to write as the story prompts. I live in fear that one of these days, I'm going to file a one-shot with the Court and upload a legal brief to FFN.

But seriously, I am one of the few writers that I am aware of that must have quiet to write. I can't listen to music when I'm writing, the TV has to be off, everything. If there are background distractions, my writing is fractured. I have a very difficult time reading fic while I’m writing because I get sucked in to reading and don’t want to stop to write. These days I’m bookmarking stories like crazy for when the story is complete.

I am a very visual girl, so I have to say that certain pictures will create moods or inspiration. Any time there is an influx of Robert Pattinson and/or Kristen Stewart pictures, I am usually inspired. If I know I’m going to be writing a specific scene (i.e., first kiss), I will go in search of pictures that help me visualize what I want to write.

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 would probably tell them to read something else *laughs nervously* No, seriously, I would. I am reluctant to even post on Facebook or Twitter when I update because I always feel funny about the self-promotion. I don't mind when other authors do it, I just feel funny doing it myself.

However, if I am forced to self-pimp, I would mumble and stutter and blush, and then say… Edward’s basically a self-important asshole who is only out for himself, until his parents kick him out. Bella’s a single mom struggling to get through college to make a better life for her daughter and herself. Two individuals, as different as can be, yet attracted to one another in spite of, or maybe because of, those differences. An Alice you can hate, a James and Tanya you can love, and a little kid that I’m kinda crazy about. Give it a shot – you might enjoy it! Oh, and please let me know what you think, because I live for the feedback!

Do you picture particular actors for your characters, or are they someone else entirely? If so, who?
In my head, Edward is Robert Pattinson (although the build is sometimes different) and Bella is Kristen Stewart (again, not necessarily body type).

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

Both. I have a story-progression outline, character outlines, etc., but these two are just hard to know. Edward especially. I was working on Chapter 9 today and he JUST told me his back story. Seriously? Nine chapters into the fic and I'm just learning these things? These two surprise me every time I sit down to write. I feel like I’m learning the story right along with my readers, which makes it very exciting…and very scary!!

Do you have a Beta and would you like to give him/her a shoutout here?
I have an amazing team without whom I could not write and would not publish. My betas, pixiekat7 and ScottishRose1028, are spectacular; not just with the grammar, punctuation, spelling and tense issues, but they are great for bouncing ideas off of as well. They never complain (to me, at least) when I send them multiple emails with questions!

My pre-reading team offers tremendous support and feedback as well. Melee07 is my banner and blinkie queen. Athome Jo, BilliCullen and Onebravelamb always offer encouragement and have all at one time or another helped me through an issue or two…or ten. An extra big shout out goes to Cullen_Crazy01, without whom I wouldn't even know about the fandom. She's been my pre-reader since day one, and a friend for over 20 years. She's simply the best :)

Have you got any other projects going on? Any planned for the future?
When I'm writing, I tend to be consumed by that one idea. But I save all the “extra” thoughts and off-shoots. A couple of those have turned into one-shots. I am ruled by the voices in my head; I write what they tell me to write and they’re generally pretty focused on the story at hand.

What was it that brought you to Twilight fanfic? What is it that has kept you here (besides your own writing)
As I mentioned above, I have known Cullen_Crazy01 since college. We realized through Facebook postings that we both had a love of the Twilight Saga, and began discussing our mutual dissatisfaction with the “fade to black” in Breaking Dawn. She sent me a link for a two-shot that was from the fade to black until the next morning when Bella woke. After that, I searched for “Twilight Fanfiction”, found Twilighted, and the rest, as they say, is history.

What keeps me here? The amazing talent and pure unadulterated generosity of the writers! Fanfiction is above all a gift from the people that share it with us. The ingenuity and imagination of the writers, everyone taking the same basic characters and building and expanding upon it. Even if I never wrote again, I would stay to read, because I love the ideas and the interaction of fanfic so much.

Do you have a background in writing?
I wrote a children's story in middle school that my school “published.” I wrote for and edited the newspaper and yearbook in high school. I completed my first full-length novel in college. Yeah, it was SO awful. It will never see the light of day. But as far as actual background? Nothing more than a love of reading.

However, I do a lot of editing and argument analysis in my job as a legal assistant, so you could say that I 'write' every day.

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 think the online writing experience is amazing. I mean, I still get an attack of nerves every time I hit that button to publish, especially when I know that I’m putting something up there that people may disagree with, but the instant feedback and give and take between author and reader cannot be duplicated. I have made several friends through reviews and replies, and I do try to make it a point to reply to every review, even if it's just a “thank you” in response to “I liked it.”

I try not to be upset by criticism or negative feedback, and I look at every review as a chance to grow as a writer. Some of my frequent reviewers can tell you that sometimes my replies can get pretty lengthy! I consider it an honor to be able to respond to those who take the time to read and review, and I love the dialogue and friendships I’ve built through that process.

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?

Devoted following? *snickers* I’m just thrilled that ANYONE reads my stuff.

I’m a pretty open Twi-a-holic – the merch sits out there for all to see, people know I take time off for the movies, and I probably have daily conversations about Twilight with people outside the fandom because they come to me with their questions. But when it comes to fic, especially MY fic, I have to admit, it makes me a little squirmy that people in my RL read my stuff…especially my lemons. I have a couple of co-workers that read and it always makes for interesting water cooler conversations. My mother knows I write, but has never read anything (thank GOODNESS!). My kids know I write, but they’re too young to read. Frankly, my daughter will NEVER be old enough to read it!

Is there a particular character in your story that you identify with the most?
Not in Til I Said it to You. These characters are very different from anything I’ve ever written before. I identify pretty heavily with my Bella in Never Enough, though.

Which RL author(s) inspires you?
Stephenie Meyer, of course, who inspired all of us here in the Twilight Fanfic world. I admire her for sticking to her guns and writing her vision, even with all the critics out there. JK Rowling, Sherrilyn Kenyon, J.R. Ward and Katie MacAlister, for creating such amazing alternate universes. Seriously, I wish I had the kind of creativity that these authors do.

Did any FF authors inspire you? What was it that had you reading FF and thinking “I could do this”?
One of my biggest inspirations and cheerleaders early on was Iadorepugs. We developed a rapport through my reviews and her replies, friended one another on Facebook, and got to discussing ideas one evening. She took me under her wing, so to speak, and encouraged me, as did Cullen_Crazy01, to give in to the voices in my head and see what they had to say. I did it and sent it to them, and a few months later I published my first fic.

So many other FF authors inspire me on a daily basis, just by putting themselves out there, opening up their minds and their hearts by sharing their “babies” with us. The list would simply be endless. But I do fangirl hard when someone that I read also reads and reviews me.

What advice would you give to an aspiring fanfic writer?

Find someone you admire and trust for advice and feedback, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, lots and lots of questions! Ignore the negativity—especially from yourself. Don’t let a bad review or criticism get you down, because you’re never going to please everyone. And if you do get a bad review, give yourself time to think about it before answering—my mantra is, “Respond, don’t react.”

Finally, I’m going sound like a Nike ad here, but Just. Do. It. Where would any of us be if we hadn’t given in to the temptation and written what was in our minds and in our hearts?

Give us a Random Fact about yourself?
When I was going through my divorce, my kids manipulated one of my wedding pictures so it’s me and Robert Pattinson. Yeah, my kids are all kinds of awesome. It's still hanging in my bedroom.

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?
Ohhhhh, such a difficult question! The pervy part of me wants to say Robert Pattinson and there wouldn’t be a whole lot of talking going on…just some of those grunts and groans we got in New Moon and Eclipse ;) But the writer in me shouts out Shakespeare, Austen, Rowling, Kenyon, Ward. The reader in me wants to sit down with Edward and Bella and find out what happened after the end of Breaking Dawn. So I’m gonna go for pervy and choose Rob!

What is your FanFic Pet peeve?
This question is bound to get in me trouble with someone! If I really enjoy a plot or story, I will ignore simple mistakes—misspellings, punctuation, etc. I find myself wincing when I see the wrong word used (shudder vs. shutter; piece vs. peace; peek vs. peak vs. pique), but I also realize that many of our authors are not writing in their native language. I say if you have a beta, use them. If you don’t have a beta, find one. If you don’t work well with your beta, find a new one.

What is your Fandom Pet peeve?
Public castigation of authors. There are a multitude of reasons that an author stops writing or updating, or pulls their stories. You have no idea what’s going on in their lives. We all have opinions, but if you have something to say, do it privately. Not in a public forum. I would be crushed to hear that people were talking about me, especially in a negative manner, in a setting in which I could not defend myself.

Anything else you would like to add?
A huge thank you to everyone who has ever read, reviewed, favorited or recommended one of my stories. I am so humbled by the response, the support, and the love. A special thanks to SYTYCW for giving me my first ever author interview! I feel so honored!


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