Thursday, October 6, 2011

I have always been an OCC kind of gal right from the start. Never strayed far from my beloved FF characters and most certainly never considered mixed pairings of any type. Lately though I have found myself looking at the varying genres of stories in the Fandom. And there are so many! We have Sugar Daddy, May/Dec., Cougars, Horror, BDSM, and Slash to name a few. If there is a genre you fancy, I guarantee there is a story for you. And with the multitude of genre’s there are sites, contests, and causes geared towards them.

That is what I found most fascinating. It wasn’t any genre specific, it was the passion of the specific genre lover. Within the Fandom, there are mini Fandom worlds geared specifically towards a favorite genre. Sadly, most are over looked unless of course you are genre specific. And I, the original OCC Fluffy HEA gal fell in to the prior comment as well. It wasn’t until a genre specific tweeter started following me on Twitter that I took notice. And again, me being the nosey sort, checked out their site. And what genre was it? It was slash. I was gobsmacked. Why would slash follow me? I don’t read slash, never was even curious about it. Just not my thing. A few weeks later there was a rec being tweeted of a one shot that was being hailed as a fabulously well written tale of angst. I, a lover of angst, checked it out. I was more than half way through the story when I realized it was slash. No sex, just a powerful love. The story was breathtakingly beautiful and so angst ridden, I was completely silent when I finished reading. It wasn’t the beauty of the story that silenced me, it was the fact that it was two men that silenced me.

It was that story that led my curiosity into this particular genre. This is how I discovered the multitude of fanfic sites, contests, and challenges that embraced it. And though I was still confused in my mind at the draw, it was very nice to see the support and encouragement from this particular Fandom. Once I started poking around, I soon discovered all the stories that I looked at were written by women. I was very curious about that fact alone. Women writing a relationship they really know nothing about. The other similarity, they were all extremely well written, the relationship completely defined, and the POV’s clarified. You completely understood the stories. The romance, drama, angst, all of it, made sense in every chapter. And my favorite, not one used the New Moon storyline. I abhor that storyline and it always frustrates me when a writer introduces it. For SM, it was ok, these were teens she was writing about and teens are silly. We are adults, adults do not do New Moon behavior. I am sorry, just never made sense to me. With slash, you never see that. Nor do you see clinginess or whining. Very adult writing.

So am I a fan? To an extent, but I still freak myself out sometimes. And it was my freak out that led me to writer, KellanCougar. She is currently writing “Learning To Fly“. A story I have been following. I love the story. The entire storyline is wonderful. I enjoy every chapter. I review every chapter. I also have a tendency while reviewing to point out the fact, I am not a slash reader. Obviously I must have said it so much to her, that she responded asking me what led me to her story. Well, I launched in to it just as I am telling you all now. This led to us chatting back and forth and my curiosity sky rocketing. My stalking tendency reared it’s head and I just had to know this woman. How did she come up with her story lines? How is she writing her POV? How is she writing relationships that she can not possibly have a first hand experience with? KellanCougar, being the lovely and gracious person that she is, allowed me to poke and prod around her brain for an interview.

I truly believe after reading this article and interview, many of you will be a lot more open to the different stories that are in the Fandom. Granted, you still may not be curious about slash, but I am pretty sure you will look a little more closely in to others.
And in the words of the lovely KellanCougar….

"Find your own style and don’t try to be who you’re not. Never steal stories or plot lines from other authors; emulating someone else you admire will come over as forced and contrived – be comfortable in your own voice."     - KellanCougar

When did you discover Twilight?

Having heard the hype, I bought the Twilight DVD and I confess I didn’t really like it; it seemed to not make sense, like there were parts missing. But I decided to give it a chance and I went and bought the book which I devoured in 2 days. Then I watched it again. And that was that – hello, addiction! I just wish I’d discovered the books in time to see Twilight at the cinema. I’d have loved to have seen the baseball scene on the big screen!

How did you find the fandom?

By accident, pretty much! After finishing the books, I typed ‘Twilight’ into FB to see what came up. The amount of groups, even back then, blew me away! I joined a couple both now sadly defunct, and it went from there. I run fan pages of my own now too on FB and tumblr.

Are you in the Twicloset?

Yes, unfortunately, as only one of my RL friends shares my love of all things Twilight. The people I work with just think I’m sad and pathetic and won’t let me talk about it. They certainly understand my need to write about it. Most people think it’s a fad I should have grown out of, especially as I don’t have children to use as an excuse for liking the movies. So yep, I’m pretty much in the closet, especially when it comes to the subject matter of my writing. The people I see every day are very conservative; therefore I only share my stories with my online friends. It’s our secret.

Does your significant other support your fandom life?

I’m single, so that’s not an issue. I could imagine it being a problem though as I have a made a lot of strong friendships within the fandom, and I like to chat to them when I can. My friends always come first.

Have you met fandom people in real life?

Not yet, but I hope to later this year.

Why or how did you start writing fanfiction?

When I finished reading the books I, like so many others, was disappointed that that was it. People were discussing these new fanfiction stories and I decided to dip into one that was very popular at the time and see what all the fuss was about. I discovered how wonderful it was to read my favourite characters in different story lines, different scenarios and still have them be so believable and well written. It reawakened the writer in me. Combining my love of writing with my love of Twilight, fanfiction was the obvious step to take. At school I wrote all the time, but as I grew older I was told by my careers teacher that wanting to be an author was ridiculous and to forget it and get a proper job. So, I hid that part of me away like an embarrassing secret. Now, thanks to the Internet, I can do what I love once again. I do wonder what might have happened if Twilight had never been written. This side of me would have stayed buried, I guess; I don’t even want to think about that now. It has become an all consuming addiction; even when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about it.

How do you come up with your story lines?

My main inspiration comes from song lyrics; I find that songs are the most common trigger for me as I’m always listening to music when I want to escape into my bubble to write. It only takes one line, and if my mind is receptive then a story line starts to form pretty quickly. I tend to have a song hijack each chapter which then doesn’t leave my head until the chapter is completed and definitely colours my writing My imagination is sparked by colours and imagery so, for example, when I see a banner competition I always go and check out the entries. My story ‘Windy Afternoon’ was part of a competition where the banners were made first, and then the fiction was written around them. The one I chose was gorgeous and I just knew who my characters were immediately. The story unfolded in my head as I drove to class the next evening, and I wrote for several hours when I got home. It flowed so naturally, as if Alice herself dictated it to me, and yes, I know how crazy that probably sounds to anyone that doesn’t write! That piece came second in the judges’ vote and recently won best Alice and best Emmett in the Hopeless Romantic Awards. I was an honour to share the best Emmett award with an author I deeply respect, Sebsastien Robichaud. I have once or twice woken up with a story in my head which is rewarding, but rare! My drizzle piece, ‘The Promise’, was written in 20 minutes after waking up in tears. I had a very similar experience with my entry into the slashbackslash 3.0 contest, although the writing of that piece was spread over a week during which I barely slept as I grieved with my characters. I do find that level of emotion very draining and I feel very low for a few days after a story like that is completed. That piece is a prime example of my earlier point; an old, sad song from my childhood started playing in my head. I went and found the song on YouTube to refresh myself with the lyrics, and then the line from the movie started circling in my mind. So much so that I had to go watch the film. I discussed it with my pre reader who told me to go for it – I didn’t honestly know if the idea would work or not.

As a woman who writes slash, what attracts and how do you come up with the ideas?

Writing two men is more interesting, more diverse in its content, as there are often issues and hurdles to conquer. It’s a different dynamic; men tend not to be the clingy, whiny type of characters that some females can be. And to be honest, two men together just appeals to me than a man and a woman! I am primarily a romantic, so whatever I write will have strong emotional content to it. Any story can be slash in my mind! My initial ideas come from the most random of places; I can see a crashed car on the back of a breakdown lorry and my mind will consider the possibility of what happened and squirrel it away for later use. It’s not a conscious thing. I also use observations from my own life and weave them into a new story. In ‘Learning to Fly’ I took the usual cliche of an older woman trying her luck with a young, handsome bartender (think ‘Cocktail’), and instead made it a beautiful, older man. As soon as those opening lines were written, those two men were in my head constantly; I couldn’t stop thinking about them and they chattered to me incessantly. I was writing notes on scraps of paper throughout the day at work. That piece was written for a Carlward competition and so the pairing was pre chosen. However, usually when I get a new story idea it usually hits me fully formed with a mental snapshot of a scene and who the characters are. I don’t have to consciously make those decisions, or whether it will be hetero or slash. When Jasper broke down on a deserted road in ‘Rescue Me’, I knew his rescuer would be Emmett, a happy go lucky guy who would go out of his way to help someone in need. In my mind it couldn’t have been anyone else. The fact that Emmett and Jasper aren’t a common pairing didn’t make any difference to me. They were the two that fit my vision and that was that!I write the pairings that I really love which unfortunately means I write for a niche market. I write what suits my story best, but I confess to having a particular fondness for writing Carlisle/Edward as the two of them are always so clear in my head.

Favorite fics – Completed and WIP’s?

These are the ones that immediately come to mind. I hope no one is offended if they aren’t mentioned below as I have excluded no one deliberately:
  • The Ice Queen and Mr McCarty by Sebastien Robichaud
  • Roads by Prassacut
  • Mergers & Acquisitions by Touchstone67
  • Sleeves by Iamamy
  • Stay by Avioleta Inscrutable by Lou-La
  • Going Under For the Third Time by Busymommy
  • Tuesday Night Poker by LauraACullen
  • Million Dollar Baby by clpsuperstar
  • Cullen Club by Twilightmum69
What kind of environment do you like to write in?

A quiet one!! I prefer to be home alone, usually working into the small hours of the morning. Sometimes I have music playing in the background that’s relevant to the chapter or story I’m working on, but more often, like today, I work in total silence. At work I have earphones in during lunch breaks to at least get some writing done. But concentration in a tiny, cramped staff room is difficult at the best of times, especially when the noise is inescapable. I also find it off putting when members of staff take the mickey out of me for writing, and then try to read over my shoulder. That really annoys me. The perfect location for me would be a remote Scottish Island with no neighbours, an enormous supply of chocolate and a good Internet connection!

Where and when do you write and on what?

I write both at home and during my lunch breaks at work. I have an A4 notebook in my bag 24/7, and I then type up my notes when I get home, carrying on from there. The majority of my writing happens late at night on the weekends when I don’t have to work the next day. It’s not unusual for me to work through the night and go to bed at dawn when I’m in the zone. I even admit to writing whilst waiting for a christening to start as an idea hit and I wanted to get it down! Luckily I was seated at the back so no one noticed! The downside to handwriting a lot of it is the fact that it has to be typed up later. But, I find that if I sit in front of the screen for hours with no notes then my creativity dries up. Hand me a pen and paper and off I go! What’s really odd is that my creativity really sparks if the paper is blue (hard to find, unfortunately) and I write with red ink! It’s really bizarre. Usually, as my notepads are white paper, I write with red or green ink only – very rarely do I stumble across purple ink which is my favourite. (As you can see, I really AM inspired by colour!)

How do you find time to write?

I live on my own and so everything else pretty much comes second to my creative side. I have other hobbies too which I turn to when I have writers block, or if the characters just won’t talk to me. I write notes all the time but I don’t tend to force it unless I’m right on top of a deadline – it should be a pleasure not a chore Ironically, when I take time off work to write, I get blocked and can’t write a word. It’s unbelievably frustrating.

When writing: outline or as it comes to you?

Sorry to all the organised writers out there, but I’m all about the improv! My brain just doesn’t react well to structure and constraints! I know my main plot points, those big events I have planned from the start, but they just never turn up where I thought they would or in the order I expected. My current WIP started life as an ironic one shot for a competition, but got expanded by popular demand. My beta and I initially thought 4 chapters would do it, but then the characters started talking and took it where they wanted it to go. We talk frequently to hash out any tricky plot details and to keep the plot flowing, and she, along with my pre reading team, keep me on track.

Whose POV do you like writing?

Hmmm. Very fond of Carlisle, I find him fascinating. And then there’s Edward, such a complex character. I loved writing Rosalie too – I found her self-centeredness almost refreshing to write! But, for some reason I can’t fathom, I find Jasper difficult. I guess my slash loving friends would just say that I need more practice and I’m working on that!

How do you find inspiration when the ideas just won’t flow?/How do you get over writer’s block?

I have two choices basically: walk away or slog it out. Both work to a degree, but I get very stressed if I can’t write, and so I’ve found a better way. I lay down comfortably, my arm at full stretch with a pen and paper, and just write whatever floats through my mind. I don’t focus on anything; I just relax and let my hand write. I find this technique works well before sleep as I am far more creative when I’m tired. I find writing like this removes the roadblock in my head and I’m then able to continue. Often, what I’v written turns out to be useful plot material for later on. If that doesn’t work then my beta is fabulous for throwing ideas at me to see what triggers a spark in my empty brain! She is an absolute lifesaver.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start writing?

Find your own style and don’t try to be who you’re not. Never steal stories or plot lines from other authors; emulating someone else you admire will come over as forced and contrived – be comfortable in your own voice. Invest in a good dictionary if your spelling isn’t great, and if your punctuation and grammar aren’t the best then find a great beta to sort you out. There are also some excellent sites on the web for learning grammar and punctuation usage which I highly recommend. Good writing makes the reading experience more pleasurable.

Do you write professionally? Do you aspire to?

No, I’m not a professional, and yes, I’d love to be. I can’t lie! I just haven’t reached the stage yet where I’m ready to start writing my own characters. Maybe someday!

How do you handle negative reviews/blog postings?

I’ve been fortunate so far. Writers can’t please everyone, and I’ve seen some shocking flames left on friends’ stories because the reader either didn’t like the pairing, or the plot had gone in the ‘wrong’ direction, according to the flamer. I would hope that if someone didn’t like my work they would contact me privately to let me know the reasons. But if not, then I guess I would have to accept it as part of writing. I’d feel pretty sick though, as non-constructive, negative reviews are no better than hate mail, and there’s no need for that.

If you could say one thing to your readers (fans) what would that be?

Thank you for all the wonderful comments and support on my stories and for finding the time to read my work when there are so many wonderful writers out there in fanfiction land to choose from. It’s humbling.

One thing you can’t live without?

Only one? How cruel! I’d say the support of my friends and my FB family. It’s so important to me.

What part of the world do you live in?

I’m in England.

Are you working on anything right now you would like to tell us about?

I’m bouncing around a couple of potential competition ideas, but nothing concrete. I will say that another chapter of No Turning Back is coming at some point – I’ve had so many requests. I’m not as prolific as some writers; the maximum I can have on the go at any one time is one WIP and a one shot. That’s all I can cope with without feeling over pressured. Fan fiction writers do this for love, not profit or fame, and I need to be relaxed in order to be creative. That said, if a plot bunny attacks I will make notes to file away for later use.

And a nosey one – how did you come up with your pen name?

That’s easy! I’m a huge Kellan fan, and at my age I’ve attained official Cougar status!

From one cougar to another, I really enjoyed getting to know KellanCougar. You just never know what you will like and I hope her words give you all the push you need to look in to the differences that are in our Fandom.

More Stories by KellanCougar on FanFiction
KellanCougar’s Blogspot
The story that started me on this journey – Amid The Lucid Stream

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