Because of my overwhelming curiosity about the story line of In Love and War, I asked RaindropSoup if she would do a small interview centered on her story.
Well, she was so gracious and accommodating with her responses, I just had to turn it in to it's own spotlight segment!
In Love and War is an amazing story. The story line in itself is completely original with the obvious Twilight characters, but definitely more robust. There is also the pairing of Caius and Bella. Very OCC and written in a way that just makes perfect sense and believable *ducking flame throwers*. I am completely foaming at the mouth over her story.
After reading the responses to my questions about the story, I can see why it is as amazing as it is. The amount of research and detail put in to ever chapter is staggering, and it shows. Truly a gifted writer and genius in her approach of originality.
Interviews are my absolute favorite thing about the fandom. Having the opportunity to chat and pick the brains of the writers whose stories I love, I can think of nothing better. You find out some really amazing things about the stories and how they go about their craft.
It has been a thrill for me getting to know RaindropSoup. Not only is she a phenomenal storyteller, she is a wife and mother to 3 young children, a full time job in itself. Along with her family life, she is also the creator of The LUV'NV, a fabulous new blog you will be seeing a lot from, the author interviewer for The Love of Non-Canon, a beta for Project Team Beta, and the host for WC Sessions on TwiFic Central.
Whew! *wipes brow*, I am exhausted just listing all that!
I adore and love stalking her *grinning*. RaindropSoup is definitely what is good about the fandom. Nothing epitomizes the spotlight more than this lovely and generous lady who gives so much of herself to us all.
Now, as for her writing. Completely amazing. Are you reading In Love and War? If you aren't, you should be.
OK, enough blabbing from me, without further ado, in her own words...RaindropSoup...
Where did you come up with the story line?
How to put this without giving too much away ... I mainly had questions about a lot of the secondary characters—the Volturi, the Romanians, Taha Aki, the third wife, and so many others—along with their history. Twilight's Official Illustrated Guide hadn't come out—I didn't even know it existed until I saw it on the shelves a few months ago—and I had yet to find a fic with their background and human lives. I really wanted a story that revolved around the premise of the Twilight characters' pasts, and not a romance with the sap story as a minute detail thrown in there.
I thought about it for a few weeks, and it wasn't until I got into a heated debate about Twilight with someone in real life that I got the idea. Comments that Bella was a weak characterization of a girl hellbent on throwing away her life for love, that SM was creating a new generation of girls with an entirely wrong and unrealistic concept on love, and that the world and story of Twilight had no meat and was just too damn perfect and typical really had my wheels turning. I mean, this was a story I adored. How dare someone shit on it—and to my face! ;)
In all serious, though, I agree—to a point. In context, with the series and paranormal romance genre taken as a whole, it's a good, easy read for young adults. But in hindsight, compared to all the published books and great literature available, Twilight has an insane amount of following for decently written fiction. The series does end too perfectly. There's no battle at the end of BD, not one death, not even a sucker punch thrown, and Bella saves the day like she always wanted. It did feel like a cop-out. She isn't as strong as Hermione and Katniss in many aspects, and I'll admit it, she can be aggravating as a character. Having your heart broken certainly doesn't justify not taking care of yourself. Love isn't the most important thing in life (most of the time it isn't, anyway.) Sometimes, it isn't as grand as we make it out to be , and it doesn't conquer all as we'd like to believe or often write.
But again, hindsight. When you've had your heart broken for the first time, it's devastating. As a teen, it can seem like your world is ending. When you're young, you have delusions of grandeur when it comes to love. You don't really know any better, and you're just beginning to discover who you really are. Bella is supposed to be an ordinary, seventeen-year-old girl who is just as deserving of love as the next. Life might not be or end in an outright battle, but you'll still have the looming fear the characters and everyone else has—loss, that of loved ones, stability, security, power. And just because one person has a weakness for sparkly vamps and shiny peens—or their hairy counterparts (the wolves, you pervs)—doesn't mean another will see the appeal.
So that's what I did. I took those themes and bundled it with the idea of perspective. How it changes over time, with your own experiences and the people you meet. I wanted to get behind enemy lines, so to speak—whether getting behind the Volturi (the enemies in Twilight), the unknown (but upcoming) enemies in IL&W, or the unseen and dark enemies in the characters' minds (their past and how often it works against them).
There are, at least, two sides to every story. When you know someone's—especially a villain's—past, or in Bella's case experience it with them, you can begin to understand who they are, why they act as they do. Your perspective might change, and then everything else might change along with it. (Kind of like how I felt before I read Twilight and thought it was just vampire love story for tweens.)
*cringes* Jeez, that long explanation is probably useless babble to everyone and won't make any sense until the ending.
You have made a tremendous effort in the character details of the Volturi, how did the characters evolve?
Since the story has a lot of their pasts and how it effects them and their actions, both in the series and in my fic, I had to outline the majority of my characters beforehand. I took what we learned in the series, like Jane and Alec being saved by Aro at the stake, Aro changing Didyme because he figured she would have a gift, and expanded from there to fit how they react to certain events in my story to move the plot along.
I researched the eras we know the characters were changed and applied it to how it would frame their personalities, principles, expectations, etc. I used the origin of a character's name, even the spelling, or tried to find out when it was popular to set a foundation for those we know next to nothing about, also taking into account how their homeland can tell me their more prominent physical features if we didn't get their descriptions.
Real history and how it would effect the vampire race as whole, if they could have had a hand in it and so on, was considered as well. Although most of my research was for small details, nothing kills a story more than an author not doing their research, and I think characterizations are just as important as plot. They are what make a plot more plausible and believable and can bring a more natural climax.
I also try to make sure the Volturi differs from what's been done in the fandom, or what's become typical in non-canon fics. *spoiler alert* I don't want Jane to have a nice side and befriend Bella. Athenodora won't hate Caius's new found mate, and there won't be the usual "other woman" conflict between the three of them for the sake of drama. Bella won't be loved and babied by her new coven, like she usually is. There's nothing that irritates me more because I don't think Bella needs it, and it ultimately doesn't help her in the long run.
Yet, even with all my planning, my characters do surprise me once in a while. They've evolved into something more real than I ever hoped or imagined. If I try to write them a certain way for the sake of sticking to my outline, I can't seem to write and make the chapter work.
Of all the Volturi, why Caius? What drew you to him?
Caius has more ... redeeming to do than the other characters, and in my opinion, he's the most misunderstood as both a character and a villain. He's also what anyone would classify as the complete opposite of Bella. *laughs* Backwards thinking, I know. I'm not trying to do the opposites attract thing, though. I simply don't think he and Bella are all that opposite, not the Caius I imagined and created. One of my reader's reviewed:
"I always had Caius as the cold, unfeeling vamp that didn’t care about anyone."
She went on to say that "[she] was so glad that [I] wrote him like [I did] cuz now that image of him in [her] head has changed," but I think everyone has the same image of a heartless Caius, and I can't think of a better way to explain my take on him than my reply to her in Twilighted's discussion forum:
A lot of people wanted me to write Caius more ... unfeeling and dominating. While I can see why, I just couldn't write him that way — not with this fic. To me, his anger is a driving emotion. It is passion. He cares deeply and, sometimes, too much. You can't have anger without caring first, so he couldn't be unfeeling. As the story progresses, he will seem cruel and ... unforgiving — unrelenting — but that's because he wholeheartedly believes in his values to the degree that it's logic — common sense — and above all else, he will always be logical.
Well, he thinks he's logical. He will do whatever it takes to protect those he cares about and are under his command. He's similar to Bella in that respect. Even if Bella can be considered meek, I do think she has her passionate moments. Yet, where Bella is also slightly irrational and overreacts (um, hello, Eclipse and stabbing your-blood-singing-self around your vampire fiance), Caius will come off as downright ruthless, when in retrospect, he could be contriving and trying to provoke the reaction he needs to protect the race as a whole, like he did by killing Irina and trying to get the Denali sisters to attack.
Also, I can't remember where I read the trait, if it was from the series or fan fiction, but Caius detests vulnerabilities. The main theme of the story is how circumstances and a past alter a person, and I wanted love and the idea of mates to be one of those circumstances. That it can be a weakness, a vulnerability. At the best and worst of times, it can be a distraction and irrational. We often play up having a mate as good thing, and in reference to war and hardship, people say "Love conquers all." But is it really a good thing? Is it that simple? Because it is also said that "True Love burns the brightest, But the brightest flames leaves the deepest scars." So, can't that "conquering" love be our greatest "vulnerability," as well?
I guess it would depend on what you loved more, and if, in the end, from your perspective, the answer is logical.
Your story line is very detailed. Is it already outlined or are just writing as you go?
Both. It's outlined pretty thoroughly, down to the tiniest of details and the word/image I'll use for specific aspects. But I do deviate from it. I've found my characters aren't exactly where I had planned or needed them to be. Sometimes the back story doesn't fit the overall theme of the chapter I end up with either. I've had to shift a few things around, and the outline I've chosen—I had a few—has become more of a reference and list of ideas. Though there are points I want to hit, if I never get to use some, it means it's not important enough to include.
Who do you bounce your ideas off of?
Until recently, no one. The majority of the story is plotted out, so I never really felt the need. I occasionally talked to my beta, Twimarti, but that was more about my insecurities with how a scene would be taken and how it progressed. Now, though, I have Arianna-Janae, who's a dear friend, a staff member of The LUV'NV, and one of my prereaders. She offered after she read the fic and fell in love with Caius. :) She's become my main soundboard. I go to her and Twimarti when I'm stuck and in desperate need of cheer leading, as well. I also have another prereader, xconfessedx, from Sparkly Red Pen, and the newest addition to the editing team, sweetishbubble. I've found the further you go into a story the more complicated it becomes and how much harder it can be to write—at least, for me—especially with the fic plotted out as it is. I need the extra ears and pairs of eyes for the smallest of details.
You have been writing this story for over a year. How many more chapters do you anticipate?
I have it outlined around 32-34 chapters, shortened from 38, plus an epilogue and a sequel that can stand alone (without having read IL&W). I'm thinking of shortening it more because a few other scenes can probably be taken out and written as companion pieces or outtakes.
I know what my readers are thinking ... 20 more chapters? Really? How long is it going to take? I hope not as long as it's taken me to get to Chapter 14. I know there's been so many gaps between updates, and I apologize for that, but I honestly couldn't help it. First, it was because PTB was editing the posted chapters and I didn't want them to have to play catch-up if I updated too fast. Then I had to get radiation treatment, and immediately after that ordeal, I had to sell my house and move across the country with three kids. While we got settled, I took a hiatus from all things fan fiction. I needed to spend time with my family, and I've found that fan fiction can get in the way of real life. It's not supposed to be the other way around.
Your definitely a non canon girl, who is your favorite pairing?
*grins* Caius and Bella, but a close runner-up is Edward and Alec.
Well??? Tell me that was not just the best interview ever! Now you see why I fawn and stalk the way I do. ~ credoroza
To read Love and War as well as the one shot, The War Within