sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
There were a couple of questions that came in after I'd already filled up the schedule of my mini-December posting meme, but they were good questions, so I wanted to go ahead and answer them!

[livejournal.com profile] winter_elf said: what inspired/got you going on Kismet? Did you wake up one day - 'I have a comic all laid out!' or was it a gradual thing? :)

I got started early. :D Basically I've been drawing comics all my life; it's how I taught myself to draw as a kid. I was never interested in being a comics artist for one of the big companies - that is, for me drawing comics was always akin to writing, in that I wanted to do my own "novels" that way. (I realize looking back on it that I wanted to do graphic novels before I actually realized it was a thing that people did.) This was before webcomics were a thing, and while I knew that independent comics existed -- I started finding them when I started going to the comic store -- I knew you needed money to publish them, so I figured that it was just a fantasy, not something that was likely.

In 2000, I got married and moved to Illinois, and I started spending a lot of time on comics message boards -- my main online hangout at the time -- and was introduced to the idea of minicomics (xeroxed and stapled). This was such a huge revelation to me. You could make! a comic! and sell it! You didn't need a lot of money or anything, just enough to afford making copies. I remember having a really strong feeling that I needed to stop thinking "maybe someday" and just take the plunge and do the thing now.

(On a side note, something I've realized about myself over the years is that having a practical outlet for this sort of thing is instrumental, for me, in getting from "fantasizing about doing the thing" to "actually doing the thing." Realizing that minicomics existed and were a perfectly viable small-scale self-publishing option is what got me to make more than a few pages of a comic at a time, in a similar way to how realizing that I could self-publish books on Amazon is what made the difference between spending years working on unfinished novels vs. going from idea to finished novel to published novel in a matter of months. I just needed to know that it could be done.)

Anyway, so I did that for a couple of years, working a now-defunct fantasy minicomic/graphic novel series called Raven's Children. In the meantime, I'd been working on Kismet since all the way back in 1992, but it was mainly intended to be written, not drawn. (I did have a number of sketches of people and tech from the early '90s -- I'd started out visualizing it as a comic, then switched to prose.) It was an anthology sci-fi series about a group of bounty hunters, smugglers, and other rogues in a little frontier mining-colony town. I wrote several Kismet novellas and short stories in about 1994/95, including Hunter's Moon (which became the first story arc in the Kismet webcomic). I rewrote HM again from the ground up in 1999. This turned out to be a big help in doing a webcomic version, since I already had the story down.

Once I started doing minicomics, I first of all tried self-publishing Hunter's Moon as illustrated prose (this was just the 1999 novella with illustrations, serialized as minicomics). It really didn't get off the ground, but around this time -- this was 2002 -- I'd started reading webcomics and kicking around the idea that maybe I could do Kismet that way. I tried drawing the first three chapters of a Hunter's Moon webcomic adaptation and put it on my website just to see how that'd work.

At that time I was going to comics conventions with my minicomics, doing about 5 or 6 a year. At Alternative Press Expo that year, I met a friend-of-a-friend who was putting together a paywalled webcomics archive and was looking for people who wanted to get in on it and have their comics on the site in return for getting paid. She'd seen the first few HM chapters (I did those first 3 as an experiment, but hadn't done any more) and asked me if I thought I could stick to a regular update schedule for Kismet in return for getting paid for it. I said sure (hey! money!) and, well, that is what I did. I never did get paid much, but I also retained all rights to my stuff, and when that site eventually went under, I ended up just having the comic on my own site like I do now. I finished serializing Hunter's Moon in 2006 and started working on the current Kismet arc, Sun-Cutter, in 2009.
sholio: Peggy Carter smiling (Avengers-Peggy smile)
[livejournal.com profile] sheron said: The one story of your heart that you would desperately like to read in AC fandom.

Looooong plotty gen fic with Peggy and Daniel and Jack, with friendship feels and h/c. SGA had so many of those, but I think it might be the last fandom I was in where there was really a lot of it. I need to find a fandom that has a lot of long plotty gen/team fic again.
sholio: Peggy Carter (Avengers-Peggy in cafe)
[livejournal.com profile] sgamadison asked: Where would Agent Carter have gone if they'd gotten a season 3?

Well, obviously there's what I wanted out of a season 3, and what we realistically were likely to get ...

Season 3 would have almost certainly had to do with Peggy's brother (M. Carter) and the mysterious key. It was my hope, back when we still thought season 3 was a possibility (*sob*) that it would've been more espionage-focused, with a broader, more international scope. If the main season 3 arc plot involved Peggy looking for her brother, it would have lent itself very well to a more globetrotting theme for the season, possibly relocating to London entirely (or a film set masquerading as London, anyway), or having Peggy go back to England and to continental Europe to run down clues.

I also expected that season 3 would have moved closer to the founding of SHIELD, with Peggy ending up even more out of step with the government bureaucracy she works for. In the first season, Peggy was basically a free agent with few to no allies, working against everyone in the SSR, even at odds with Jarvis and Howard for part of the season. In the second season she'd picked up some friends, so instead of Peggy as a lone wolf vs. SSR, it was Peggy, Daniel, Jarvis, etc. vs. the SSR bureaucracy and Jack. There was some friction within Team Peggy, but nothing like season one. So season one was Peggy vs. the SSR, and season two was Peggy + her friends at the SSR vs. the shadowy conspiracy controlling the SSR. So, in the third season, I was hoping for Peggy + the SSR (now almost entirely on her side) vs. the entire government -- with Jack as an ally, of course (very much not dead, thanks) and the entire SSR, or what was left of it, coming into conflict with various governmental elements stirred up in season two, as well as whatever foreign agency was responsible for whatever happened to Michael. And basically all of this would've set up Peggy breaking totally from the government and forming a freelance organization along with her SSR allies, which would have happened in season 4 or 5.

So yeah, Peggy being a globetrotting spy, looking for her brother with the help of her friends, and possibly ending up a fugitive from the government for a little while, was what I was hoping for in the Season That Never Was.
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
[personal profile] muccamukk said: H/C trope that you've had a couple goes at, but can't seem to get it to come off the way you want it to.

Once I started thinking about it, this turned out to be surprisingly difficult to answer. I think the problem is basically that, if I feel I didn't hit the mark on a fic, I don't generally think "I didn't nail that trope" but something more like "I should've had more emotion there" or "wow, the plot really went off the rails in the last few scenes." So I can't really answer the question because I just don't think of fics in those terms. I can talk about the fics that I think didn't work (of which there are quite a few) but they don't really categorize in that way.

However, I can definitely say that I have tropes I like reading but find difficult or off-putting to write, and the biggest category of those are ones involving characters having emotional breakdowns and ... well, turning into soppy puddles of tears, basically. Anything involving emotional over-sharing or characters being forced to confront FEELINGS. When I'm in the mood, I can read (or watch) epic quantities of tearful, "I thought you were dead!"-inspired confessions or characters having breakdown-laced recoveries from trauma, but oh my god do I ever shy away from writing it. I tend to write that kind of thing by delicately poking around the edges but not confronting the trope head-on, even though I actually DO enjoy reading it. Which does constitute a trope failure of sorts. (And this is making me want to write some sort of ridiculously soppy trauma-recovery fic. Hmmm.)
sholio: Harry from The Flash looking cute (Flash-Harry)
... so I kinda fell off the schedule just a tiny bit. Ahem.

[personal profile] musesfool said: Harrison Wells and the multiverse!

Soooooo I TRIED to make a sensible, thinky post, but instead it turned into an explosion of random feels. sorry not sorry

First off, I love what the DC TV shows are doing with the multiverse, and I sincerely hope they don't plan on having some sort of Crisis on Infinite Earths-style event to put an end to it. Which they probably do, because DC. But in the meantime, it's just so much fun. Among other things, it means they can have shows operate under completely different rules (like Supergirl vs. the Flash/Arrow/etc shows) and still exist in the same 'verse with the possibility of crossovers.

And we get to see the actors play multiple versions of the same characters, which is always a treat. I have always enjoyed canons that give us canonical AUs, and in these shows, as in a few others (e.g. Fringe, Stargate) it's baked into the whole concept.

And, well. ♥ HARRISON ♥

Spoilers of various sorts )
sholio: Snow-covered trees (Winter-snowy trees)
[personal profile] lunabee34 asked: Tell me about your design aesthetic. If you got to build and decorate your own house, what would it be like?

Well, honestly, the house I live in is basically that house. Not entirely; I think if I were designing something from the ground up, I'd want it to be cozier and full of little nooks and cubbies and tucked-away rooms, while the current house is very open with high ceilings. But y'know, in dark Alaskan winters, spacious and bright is better than small and cozy anyway.

In general, though, I really like natural wood and a rustic kind of look. I fell in love with this place when I first saw it: lots of wood inside, big picture windows looking out at the forest. The only problem is that it's a little restrictive to decorate; there's no opportunity to paint the walls (it's all wood) and I pretty much had to start over again on art, because everything I had, from our house in Illinois, didn't really fit with the look of the place. Basically, where most houses have white walls and beige carpets, and generally provide a blank slate that you can do almost anything with, THIS house has an overwhelming enough personality of its own that the decorating direction is predetermined, and anything that doesn't go with its rustic look blatantly clashes.

Here are a couple of pictures from Facebook that give you an idea of what it looks like:

SDC16972

SDC15177

So yeah, I haven't really decorated it so much as just added a few things to what was there already. But that is basically what I would have wanted to create for myself if I hadn't happened to find a place that already had it.

I've also tried to clutter up the place with decorations as little as possible because I tend to like a minimalist kind of look while also being sort of a packrat and pretty lazy about cleaning. So my life is a constant battle between wanting an uncluttered environment and just not being dedicated enough to keep it that way, heh.
sholio: Text: "Age shall not weary her, nor custom stale her infinite squee" (Infinite Squee)
[livejournal.com profile] leesa_perrie asked: Pick a fandom and tell me what got you so excited about it.

Ooh fun. :D

You know, there's a general, overall answer to this, and I'm answering with that, rather than with a specific fandom example, because this is something I've kinda wanted to make a post about for awhile. I can actually peg the specific combination of factors that tends to draw me to something fannishly. There are always exceptions, but most things that have gotten their hooks in me have the following factors: worldbuilding that is clever, fun, and interesting enough to make me want to explore the world more, but not so tight that there's nowhere to insert my own imagination; an ensemble cast with a number of different characters I like in different ways; and a character relationship (or much more rarely, an individual character) that pings my id. And for the latter, the relationships that make my id go "zing" are usually (though again, not always) either an antagonistic friendship with combined elements of love and situational distrust, or two characters who start out disliking each other and fall in "like".

You'd think with a roadmap that detailed, I'd be better at guessing what I'm going to like, but the subjective elements are SO subjective (and so hard to recognize at first glance) that I have a long history of initially dismissing the things I later fell in love with. There are a few things I've glommed onto from the first episode, e.g. Agent Carter, but it's more common for me to go the route that I went with shows like Stargate Atlantis, White Collar, or more recently Flash, where my first reaction to it was disinterest, and then I watched enough episodes to have it grab me.

So actually that's more of a general answer than a specific answer, but I guess that's the way my brain rolls tonight. :D
sholio: Cocoa in red cup with cinnamon stick (Christmas cocoa)
[livejournal.com profile] ride_4ever asked: What first got you into Forever Knight fandom?

That's kind of a two-part answer: what got me into the show vs. the fandom (I mean, to the extent that I AM in the fandom, to which the answer is "kinda").

Okay, so, the show. It was 1992 and I was 15, and it was weird and quirky and fun -- also, there wasn't really a whole lot to watch late at night. I wasn't really into vampires per se, but I did really love what we now think of as urban fantasy; it wasn't recognized as a genre then, but basically weird stuff happening in a contemporary environment. I liked it even before I knew it was a thing.

More under cut )
sholio: Christmas ornaments (Christmas ornament)
Fandom stocking signups are still ongoing, 'til the 14th. Also, for the Peggy/Daniel shippers, there is PeggySous Advent, a story a day 'til Christmas (in theory, anyway). I have a story in the collection, but it hasn't released yet.

[livejournal.com profile] sgamadison is doing a post-every-day thing in December with a twist - she gives prompts (such as self-reccing a fic or sharing a piece of feedback) and people answer them; you can find this at her Heart of Winter tag.

I have decided to have another go at that December posting thing. When I've done this in the past, I have reliably failed to answer the questions. So THIS time, I'm going to do an actual schedule, try doing it for a week and see if that works. (And yes, one of the days is today. Because I have ALSO learned that I need to jump on things when I'm excited about them, as opposed to waiting, which is usually a terrible idea and leads to procrastination central.)

December 5: What first got you into Forever Knight fandom? ([livejournal.com profile] ride_4ever)
December 6: Pick a fandom and tell me what got you so excited about it. ([livejournal.com profile] leesa_perrie)
December 7: Tell me about your design aesthetic. If you got to build and decorate your own house, what would it be like? ([personal profile] lunabee34)
December 8: Harrison Wells and the multiverse! ([personal profile] musesfool)
December 9: H/C trope that you've had a couple goes at, but can't seem to get it to come off the way you want it to. ([personal profile] muccamukk)
December 10: Where would Agent Carter have gone if they'd gotten a season 3? ([livejournal.com profile] sgamadison)
December 11: The one story of your heart that you would desperately like to read in AC fandom. ([livejournal.com profile] sheron)
[despite cutting off at 1 week, people gave me a few other topics as well; not entirely sure how to add them to the schedule. stay tuned.]

So, guys, pick a day and prompt me with a topic/question you want me to write about, until the schedule fills up. Ask me about shows, characters, fic, non-fandom stuff, whatever. If I actually manage to do this for a week, then I'll see about maybe doing it for the rest of the month as well.
sholio: Cocoa in red cup with cinnamon stick (Christmas cocoa)
[personal profile] mific asked: You've written a lot of great Genfic. What is it about Gen that you like?

Thank you! :)

The flip (though accurate) answer is that, unless I specifically concentrate on getting other results, everything comes out gen. I look at canon and the kind of thoughts that run through my head are things like, "What if they fell out of a plane into the wilderness? That'd be awesome!" or "What if they were werewolves?" or "This plot development really needs everyone to sit around and talk about ethics for awhile" ... and then I write 20K of it. XD I'm just not a shipper by nature; even in the cases where I enjoy pairings (and I do enjoy a lot of canon pairings and a number of non-canon ones as well), I tend to be more interested in writing about the pairing doing something completely non-couple-related together -- investigating a jewel heist, fighting dinosaurs, etc -- than in exploring their couple dynamic on a date or whatnot. (The date would probably be crashed by dinosaurs. Actually, that'd be fun. *makes mental note*)

As a reader, I have enjoyed plenty of stories, in a skilled writer's hands, that were all about couple dynamics and nothing else. I admire the ability of other writers to do this! It's just not my fundamental setting as a writer. I'd actually like to get better at it, because I know that one of my big weaknesses as a writer is developing an emotional plot to complement the action plot.

But you know, even on the emotional side of things, I find gen relationship dynamics -- in general, though not always -- more fun to explore. I guess I'd say for me, there's more untapped territory there. We've all seen the getting-together story a million times, and I've read plenty of playful or touching or beautiful takes on it, but am not compelled to write it myself very often.

And also, most times, it's the gen character relationships (siblings, parents & children, partners, awkward nascent friendships, sympathetic enemies, etc.) that make my heart flip. Couples don't do it for me nearly as often, though there are some, and also quite a few relationships that I can enjoy on both sides of the gen or ship divide.

Mostly, I think what it comes down to is that gen is my default setting, for most things. It always has been.
sholio: Peter and Elizabeth from White Collar (WhiteCollar-Peter El hug)
This question from Leesa Perrie is spoilery for season six of White Collar, so I'll put the whole thing under a cut.

General WC season six spoilers; nothing for future episodes )
sholio: cup of cocoa with a swirl of whipped cream on top (Autumn-cocoa)
[personal profile] theladyscribe asked: What are your favorite tropes to read and/or write?

TROOOOOPES! :D (This is a fun one! Thank you for asking!)

I have some trouble here figuring out where to draw the line between trope and narrative kink and just plain "what I like in fiction", so I'll lean more towards the idficcy stuff here. Not that this is limited to fanfic specifically; it applies across the board, though some things work better in fic and some work better in original stuff.

Cheerful tropish chatter under cut )
sholio: Cocoa in red cup with cinnamon stick (Christmas cocoa)
There is a brand new interview with me at the webzine Sequential Tart this week, in which I talk mainly about my webcomic Kismet, but also about Patreon, my Summer Arts Festival teaching gig, and various other stuff.

I am absolutely loving the December posting meme! So many posts on my reading page!

I'm nowhere near organized enough to commit to doing this myself (or, perhaps I should say that I have a very reliable but limited amount of organizational ability that is reserved for important stuff like turning in freelance work on deadline; the more responsibilities I add, the harder it gets to do any of them). However, I seem to recall that last year or the year before, I did a modified version of this: no dates, no specific commitments to respond (that is, as with all of the prompt stuff that I do, you may or may not get an answer), but ...

... is there anything you want to ask me about? Anything you'd like me to talk about in a post? I've been kinda wanting to talk about fiction stuff, writing stuff, tropey fannish stuff, but I don't have anything specific to talk about. So if there is anything you'd like me to talk about, feel free to prompt me and maybe I'll make a post about it. :)
sholio: Neal from White Collar, hand on hat (WhiteCollar-Neal hat)
The only question I didn't get to in the December posting meme (I think) was [livejournal.com profile] aragarna, who asked, What's special about White Collar?

... which is not entirely an easy question to answer. I don't know why, exactly, I've latched onto this show so hard. There are better shows out there; there are certainly shows whose plots make more sense. To some extent it's the same indescribable something that makes a person either fall in love with a book, or give up halfway through -- some stories and some characters you just like, and some you don't.

The closest I can come to pinning down the appeal of White Collar to me is that it gives me relationship drama without the relationships being mostly romance-focused.

I love relationship drama. I eat it up with a spoon. People fighting and angsting over their fights and making up; people learning and growing and evolving their relationships over time; people discovering a fondness for someone they never looked at twice, or having longtime relationships blow up in their face. Basically I just like relationship drama a lot. :D

But problem #1 is, I'm not especially fond of romance -- or I guess I should say, I'm not fond of the romance story, the one that's told in the vast majority of romance-focused media. (Boy meets girl; boy and girl fight; boy and girl struggle with their feelings for 60 episodes or so; boy and girl cave and admit they are Now Officially Together; the end.) There are MANY MANY other romantic stories that can be told, and I like many of them, but The Official Romance Story is boring to me, and even more, I hate the way that romance has a tendency to take over the other relationships on the show, either by sidelining them completely or by converting them into romances as well, because Romance Is The Most Important Thing and it's the story most writers want to tell.

(Which isn't bad, necessarily. It's just not for me.)

And problem #2 is that I tend to get bored and annoyed when relationship drama is the entire focus of the show. I want relationship drama ON A SPACESHIP or people having relationship drama WHILE FIGHTING CRIME!

And the thing about White Collar is that it's relationship-drama-focused in exactly the same way as most romances -- in the sense that it's all about the relationship between these two people, it's always going to be about them, and no matter how many times they break up, there is probably going to be a happy ending, after serving up bucketloads of angst first -- but it's not a boy-meets-girl romance.

And let me tell you, as someone who seeks out those kinds of stories ... that's RARE! It's not like there isn't some of it around, but mostly you get a bait-and-switch, in which the first few episodes serve up a variety of interesting, non-traditionally-romantic relationships, but ultimately it ends up being about the romance after all, and everything else tends to get shuffled out of the spotlight, ends badly, or never really gets followed up on. (LOST, Fringe, I'm looking at you.) Or else you have a lot of shows in which the central relationship(s) are more or less static (see: most buddy cop shows -- and frequently that is served up with a side order of misogyny and/or homophobia).

But at the same time, White Collar isn't myopically focused on the central relationship; it's an ensemble, and the ensemble get lots of screen time, and lots of storylines and relationship focus too. There are some romances -- which I mostly enjoy -- and there's also a fascinating constellation of very different relationships, most of which get at least some screen time on a regular basis, all of which is taking place against a backdrop of action-focused FBI/con artist heist hijinks.

So basically: White Collar gives me LOADS of relationship drama, in a show that is also charming and adorable and generally pretty respectful with the treatment of its female characters. It's not going to win any awards and it's not ~great art~, but it's charming and sweet and funny and well put together, and probably heading for a happy ending after serving up enough angst along the way to keep the sweetness from being too cloying. It's static enough that I don't expect any major shakeups (killing off half the cast, say) but it's changeable enough that things do evolve over time and the characters have ended up in a fairly different place than they started out.

Basically this show has absolutely nailed my ideal-TV-comfort-food formula.
sholio: Cocoa in red cup with cinnamon stick (Christmas cocoa)
There's something I forgot to say in my earlier post talking about AUs, which specifically applies to the difference between fanfic AUs and original fiction of whatever stripe. Fanfic AUs throw a really wonderful element of character incongruity into the mix. That is, you end up with space adventures or epic fantasy or rom-coms in which the characters are really not the type of people who tend to be in those kinds of stories. And that's wonderful! I think that's honestly one of the things I love most about AUs, and it's something that I keep making a mental note to apply as much as possible to my original fiction. It's one of the reasons, I think, that fanfic AUs can be so much livelier and more original-feeling than a lot of published genre fiction -- because, when you go to create a fantasy or urban fantasy or space opera or whatever from the ground up, it's really hard to think outside the box and not go straight to the fresh-faced farm boy and tomboyish princess in disguise, or whatever. Your character may (hopefully will) eventually evolve beyond the stereotype, but it's difficult not to do that in the initial planning stages without even thinking about it.

Although I've thought about this before, what got me thinking about it today was answering older comments on my "White Collar IN SPACE!" AU, and one of the comments was speculating on Elizabeth's role in the AU: she could be an event planner for spaceship galas! And I thought, wow, how cool and original is that? I've read a ton of sci-fi, but I've never seen anything like that. I'm not sure if I would read a contemporary novel about an event planner, but I would totally read a novel about a space event planner. (Or write one!)

But you get that a lot in fanfic AUs, because you start off with a cast of characters who are typical cop-show characters, or sci-fi spaceship show characters ... and THEN you stick them into a whole different genre, so suddenly they are space explorer types running a coffee shop, or cop-show characters as the police force in a fantasy land. I wish there was more of that kind of thing in original fiction, though you do get some genre crossover (murder mysteries in a space setting, for example).

Anyway, since I'm still working out my slate of things to write in 2014 - help me brainstorm, flist! Spaceship marines, doctors, and emotionally constipated smugglers are a dime a dozen in sci-fi. One of the things I really loved about Zenna Henderson's 1960s SF books and short stories is that she often wrote about stay-at-home moms and kids, which is something you hardly ever saw in sci-fi of that era. What else don't you see in sci-fi or fantasy? What would you like to see? Throw ideas at me -- what are some occupations/social roles you don't really ever see in spec fic? (Space event planner!) On the flip side, it'd also be interesting to hear which occupations/character types are so common in sci-fi/fantasy/urban fantasy that you're getting tired of them! (Space marines, anyone?) Flist: go! :D
sholio: Neal from White Collar, hand on hat (WhiteCollar-Neal hat)
[personal profile] frith_in_thorns and I have started uploading our Fallen London AU fics to AO3. We'll be doing them one or two at a time over the next few days/next week or two, so as not to spam people. Eventually they will all be listed in chronological order at the series landing page. (There are only a couple there so far, though.)

More December meme!

[livejournal.com profile] fitzwiggity asked: If you had to pick anywhere else in the world to live, besides Alaska, where would it be and why?

I actually think I'd be pretty happy living in most places that are northerly, cool, and mountainous. The places I've gone so far that really appealed to me are Vermont, Wales, Switzerland, and British Columbia. I think climate is probably one of my big criteria, if I did move somewhere else -- well, obviously practical concerns would also be an issue, such as available jobs, cost of housing and so forth, but if we're going strictly for fantasy-moving, I can't really see myself living somewhere hot and humid for any length of time. I know many people live in hot places and really like them, but I would prefer just to visit, thanks. On the other hand, give me a cool climate with pretty scenery, and I'm there. :)

Lots of Alaskans retire to Washington, Minnesota, Michigan and places of that nature, basically for that reason -- same nice scenery, but milder winters.

Vermont might be at the top of my list for nice places to live that I could move to without having to deal with immigration restrictions.
sholio: (SGA-Jeannie Rodney Last Man)
[personal profile] frith_in_thorns asked for all my thoughts on AUs. :)

AUs: I think they're great! But I didn't always think so. When I first got into writing fanfic, I wasn't really interested in them at all. Looking back on it now, I think this was partly because I used to move through fandoms very quickly compared to now (so I'd move on before I started wanting variations on the source canon), and partly because a lot of canons simply don't make me crave AUs, just like a lot of canons don't make me want fanfic.

(The only exception is that I'd write both AUs and fusions for my original stuff -- the characters in the Wild West, the characters transported to Video Game X, etc -- although I didn't realize at the time that there was a name for it; I used to call it the Apocrypha.)

Anyway, I first started getting into AUs in Stargate fandom. That was a very AU-heavy fandom, and I read a lot of them and started to realize how many different things you could do with different settings and ideas. I'm not really into cracky AUs so much, because for me, the worldbuilding is a big part of the appeal of an AU -- as a writer and a reader. Which is not to say I haven't enjoyed (and written!) some truly bizarre AUs ... but generally, just as I prefer realistic fiction to zany comedy, I prefer realistic AUs that take a serious look at the differences from canon.

And that's the thing I love most about AUs, I guess -- the ability to put the characters through their paces under radically different circumstances: scifi/fantasy AUs for canons that don't have magic or spaceships; real-world AUs for characters from SFF canons; "turn left" type AUs that take a particular event from canon and send things spinning off in a different direction. I think that for me, AUs straddle an interesting middle ground between original fiction and fanfic, because they come with the built-in fannish attachment to the characters, but they include the ability to build a whole world from the ground up or to do a character-growth arc that wouldn't really be possible in a strictly canon-compliant fic.

For me (and I know mileage varies on this), the fandoms that work best as AU fandoms are the ones in which the characters detach from their canon easily. For example, I'm not that into AUs in Avatar: The Last Airbender, especially not total AUs (i.e. ones in which the characters are baristas or space pirates or a rock band), because the characters are so intrinsically rooted in their particular world and storyline. White Collar, on the other hand ... the world is pretty generic, it's the characters who are distinctive, and putting them into an urban fantasy AU or a fusion with a Victorian-horror video game is ridiculously fun; it's sort of like running a one-player RPG, in a way.

I know that AUs aren't everyone's cup of tea and that's fine -- they didn't used to be mine, and I still only enjoy AUs for a few fandoms, so I understand it completely! But personally, I think they're a lot of fun to play with. To use a probably ridiculous metaphor, it's like canon is a line, and fanfic is a two-dimensional graph around that line (lots of possibilities going off in all directions, but still within the same plane as canon) and then AUs add a brand-new axis going off from canon at 90 degrees.

For the record, I also really enjoy canon AUs, as in Fringe or Once Upon a Time or any number of time travel stories I could name. Of course, those tend to play with identity in a way that fanfic AUs usually don't (though some fanfic does; I've written some fics in which comparing the AU versions to "our" versions is the point). In fanfic, I think the comparison is implicit, usually; we can't help comparing the originals to the AU versions when we read, enjoying the pleasant tension between our mental idea of how the character is supposed to be, and the different direction that an AU takes them. It's an enjoyable reversal of expectations, a happy little stroke to the narrative pleasure centers of the brain if we "know" that one thing is true and then get a little bit of a surprise. And I think that's one of the reasons why we do it -- it's why the AU is about the canon characters and not about original characters. But in original fiction, the comparison needs to be made explicit, and usually the concept is not introduced if the identity issue isn't going to be played with a little.
sholio: Autumn leaf frosted at edges (Autumn-frosted leaf)
[personal profile] madripoor_rose asked me about an average day in my life.

To start off with, I quit my job back in 2009. Up to that point, I ran the layout department of the local paper, and I was good at it. But my husband also had a good job, and we were in a very stable living situation with no kids or plans to have kids, so I thought this might be the best opportunity I'd ever have to pursue some of my non-job-related goals, such as finishing my college degree and trying to make a stab at making a living as an author.

More under the cut )
sholio: Cocoa in red cup with cinnamon stick (Christmas cocoa)
From [personal profile] lunabee34: I'd love to hear about your zombie apocalypse survival skills.

This may be unrealistic confidence on my part, but I think I could survive the apocalypse like a BOSS. :D

(We shall ignore the small issue where my body seems to need regular medical attention or it falls apart. Also the fact that I am completely blind without my glasses. SHUSH. XD)

But anyway, while I am not so sure about the actual "surviving the zombies" part -- my firearms skills are a bit shaky, not to mention the "hitting Grandma in the head with a fire axe" issue might be a problem -- assuming that I do either manage to hole up somewhere remote or find someone larger and more ruthless to protect me, I am all over the rebuilding part of it. :D I actually have fantasies along those lines periodically, which means not only do I have a lot of the applicable skills, but I already have plans! Utterly ridiculous plans which would probably not survive first contact with an actual apocalypse, but hey.

I grew up in rural Alaska without electricity or running water, and so as well as being used to not living with those things, I have a fairly useful pre-industrial skill set. I know how to garden, including saving seeds and/or selecting plants that are easy to propagate (potatoes!). I know how to raise, breed and butcher farm animals. I can fell trees and chop wood (although having to stay warm in Alaska without internal combustion engines at the very least would suck). I know most of the wild plants in my area, their uses, and how to obtain the edible ones. I recently learned to spin, and I have at least a general idea of the principles of weaving (though I would like to learn how to do it properly!).

I'm also married to someone who has the other half of the post-apocalypse skill set that I lack, such as blacksmithing and generally tinkering with things. One of his projects lately -- I am quite serious here -- has been building an electrical power generator in the creek from his extensive collection of scrap lumber and scrap metal; at this point he's still working out the mechanics of the rotating shaft, and I don't actually want the creek dammed considering that in the pre-zombie era we can get perfectly good power from the electric company ... but there is a definite possibility that the Chez [personal profile] sholio Post-Apocalyptic Compound may have electricity, at least in the summer. And, if I know my husband, internal wi-fi. You are all welcome to stop by, charge your laptops, and stay as long as you like, in return for news of the outside world and some help in the garden. :)

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Sholio

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