The shared theme of my two Yuletide stories, one Breaking Bad and one The Godfather, being: siblings. (And crime, I suppose.) (And hot chocolate.)

This year something happened to me which never did before: I was matched with a recipient who requested something very similar to one of my own requests, and then I got exactly the story same type of story as a gift that I myself was writing as a result. Since it was one about Marie and Skyler and the aftermath of Certain Spoilery Events, I was all for it. My own recipient was [personal profile] nicole_anell, whose Battlestar Galactica meta I love, and so I was rather desperately hoping she'd like the result, which used a lot of the headcanon I have about the childhood and adolesence of the Lambert sisters as well:

Blood Ties (7070 words) by Selena
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Breaking Bad
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Marie Schrader & Skyler White, Hank Schrader/Marie Schrader, Skyler White/Walter White
Characters: Marie Schrader, Skyler White, Hank Schrader, Walter White Jr., Walter White
Additional Tags: Character Study, Grief/Mourning, Family Dynamics, Siblings

Is spoilery for season 5. )

[personal profile] chaila guessed this was my story, and thus is entitled to a drabble on the subject of her choice if she wants one.

My other story, which I wrote as a treat, is set in the granddaddy of all Crime-And-The-Dysfunctional-Family fandoms, The Godfather. I've always wanted to explore Connie, and her relationships with her brothers, particularly Michael, but also Connie and her mother, and the Godfather saga, which is as male-centric a narrative as they come, from a female pov. Now I know the book and the movies pretty well, but when I refreshed my canon knowledge, I still was startled to realise that I had plain forgotten Fredo was married in the second film (let alone what his wife was called - Deanna), and had trouble remembering the name of Sonny's wife (Sandra). Also, Vito Corleone's wife is referred to so often as "Mama Corleone", "the Don's wife" etc. that it took some time to hunt down her first name as well (Carmella). Which in itself tells you something about female characters not Kay or Connie in The Godfather. Anyway, the scene at Fredo's funeral between Connie, Sandra and Deanna ended up as one of my favourite things to write, and I could finally create something with the thoughts I had about how her parents' reaction to what Connie's marriage turned out to be formed her. As for Connie and Michael, who, as the third movie shows, end up having spent most of their lives together which was certainly not what either of them expected - well, read for yourselves:

Fuit Quondam (4869 words) by Selena
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Godfather (1972 1974 1990)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Connie Corleone Rizzi & Michael Corleone, Connie Corleone Rizzi & Santino "Sonny" Corleone, Connie Corleone Rizzi & Vito Corleone, Connie Corleone Rizzi/Carlo Rizzi, Kay Adams/Michael Corleone, Connie Corleone Rizzi & Frederico "Fredo" Corleone, Connie Corleone Rizzi & Carmella Corleone
Characters: Connie Corleone Rizzi, Michael Corleone, Carmella Corleone, Santino "Sonny" Corleone, Vito Corleone, Sandra Corleone, Deanna Corleone, Kay Adams, Carlo Rizzi, Tom Hagen, Frederico "Fredo" Corleone
Additional Tags: Character Study, Siblings, Mother-Daughter Relationship

Being a Corleone is supposed to be different when you're a woman. Connie and her brothers through the years.

selenak: (Borgias by Andrivete)
( Dec. 31st, 2013 08:37 am)
One last bunch of Yuletide recs while we're all still anoymous, and also: happy new year to everyone! May 2014 treat you well.

recs for The Borgias, Historical RPF, Lord of the Flies, Puss-in-Boots, Here Be Dragons, The Third Man and The Wire )
selenak: (Skyler by next_to_normal)
( Dec. 28th, 2013 06:55 am)
More Yuletide. Incidentally, I haven't had the chance to watch either of the Christmas specials I want to watch yet - Doctor Who and Call The Midwife, that is - and might not get the chance until after New Year. Being with the family is tricky that way. But it does offer the occasional time to read! And thus, without further ado:

Recs for Breaking Bad, Dexter, Galaxy Quest, The Last Unicorn, Psycho, Robot Series by Isaac Asimov, Sarah Jane Adventures and Watership Down )
selenak: (Alex (Being Human)  - Arctic Flower)
( Dec. 27th, 2013 05:19 am)
Part of the Yuletide experience is also the fretting about one's own stories. I was fretting A LOT until literally an hour ago when I got the lovely feedback from my main recipient which assured me she liked my Yuletide story. (Given she's someone I highly respect in another fandom than the one we were matched, I was mightily relieved.) With that burden off my chest, I can proceed to the reccing stage. :) A first bunch of recs, to be followed by many more, under the cut.

Recs for Being Human, Elementary, Broadchurch, Emma, Coriolanus, Historical RPF, A Place of Greater Safety, Orphan Black )
selenak: (Marie and Skyler by Imaginary_Lives)
( Dec. 25th, 2013 01:06 pm)
For some reason, I thought the archive would open tomorrow this year, so it was a lovely surprise to find it ready to rock already: Yuletide 2013! This year, I wrote two stories - my assignment and a treat - in two utterly different fandoms, yet as it turns out with a shared theme. I think they're both very recognizably me, but then I think that every year.:) If you're not my two beta readers for the two different stories and can guess which one is mine, I'll write you a drabble (well, more than a 100 words, most likely) on your subject of choice, if I'm familiar with the fandom and it's not one of my all time squicks, of course.:)

My present is this great Breaking Bad story:

Unbreaking (4384 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Breaking Bad
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Hank Schrader/Marie Schrader, Marie Schrader & Skyler White
Characters: Marie Schrader, Skyler White, Walter White Jr., Holly White
Additional Tags: Sister-Sister Relationship, Grief/Mourning, Character Study, Dysfunctional Family, Season/Series 05, Post-Canon

Is spoilery for the last season )


It's the Marie story I wished for, and I love it. As for all the other stories now available to read, it will take me a while, due to Christmas business (thank you mails to write, visiting family members to entertain), which I imagine will be the case for a lot of us. Still: YULETIDE!
selenak: (Nina by Kathyh)
( Oct. 19th, 2013 05:13 pm)
Got my Yuletide assignment, which is fine (I already know what I'll write, love the fandom, and my recipient is someone whom I've admired from a distance), but reminded me I need to finish my Whovian remix since I'm off to a conference in Berlin next week. Right now, I'm at the Aged Parents' which is also why I have to delay my tv reviews; my mother took one look at my coughing, sniffling self and pronounced me only fit for bed and lots of hot tea. Being 44 is not a convincing counter argument, especially since I do feel a bit under the weather right now.

If anyone is wondering, I did start to watch Once upon a time: Wonderland and so far it seems to be delightfully daft, plus it has my favourite male werewolf, Tom McNair aka Michael Socha, in a prominent role, which is a plus. Not instant must see tv, but so far, so good, we'll see. Haven't gotten around to SHIELD yet, or Sleepy Hollow, or any of the other new kids because Darth Real Life. Sorry for any not replied to comments, it's not you, it's my cold and the need to finish various writing tasks.
selenak: (Default)
( Oct. 8th, 2013 06:17 am)
Dear Yuletide Writer,

Thank you so much for writing me a present! We share at least one fandom, and I'm looking forward to finding out what that shared interest inspires in you.

General likes and dislikes )

Breaking Bad )

18th & 19th Century RPF )

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Album) - The Beatles )

Bates Motel (2013) )

14th Century RPF )

The Welsh Princes Trilogy - Sharon Kay Penman )
selenak: (Alice by Letmypidgeonsgo)
( Sep. 17th, 2013 04:27 pm)
Day II of No Breaking Bad, Woe distraction was achieved by nominating Yuletide fandoms and - characters, which you should also do since nominating doesn't oblige anyone to actually write in those fandoms, and by getting my Doctor Who Remix assignment.

...which turned out to be an author who had written precisely the required amount of fanfic, and no more. (Five stories.) All shippery, which isn't that much of a problem as it happens to be one of the few things I ship as well. (Though on a less fluffy note, but that's not a problem, either; that relationship just lends itself to crack fic, and to treat it as grimdark all the time would be just as wrong.) What IS a problem is that the first story I clicked was a Torchwood crossover, set after Children of Earth, so, being the big CoE fan I am, I started my exploration with this story. Alas, this meant an immediate inner argument. Starting with the basics, but okay, handwaving the basic premise and saying this does happen: then it's still apparant she hasn't actually watched Children of Earth and just knows one particular thing that happens in it (the one that got the main ships's folllowers upset). So I found myself arguing "but Jack wouldn't..." and "no way" and "if... then he'd rather..." etc. Now, at a quick glance none of the other stories - which are amusing unobjectionable fluff for the DW ship - made me argue. But fiction that gets a strong reaction from me, even a negative one, is just more inspiring, and still arguing in my head, I did get inspired.

Which leads me to a question. I abhor bashing. Of characters, of relationships, and, well, of other stories, too. Plus that's one of the things the ficathon frowns on. But my idea would basically turn the premise of the original story on its head and completely rearrange the emotional priorities of one of the two main characters. Would this come across as bashing or would it simply be seen as creatively remixing?
selenak: (Beatles by Alexis3)
( Sep. 10th, 2013 06:19 pm)
I've started to watch Hatufim, the Israeli series which inspired Homeland, am three episodes in, and so far, it's as good as advertised, with because there is no Carrie and no "is she crazy or is he a terrorist?" first season story arc the focus being instead on how the released hostages (Brody's role given to two guys, one of whom has the bratty daughter named Dana and the other has the significant other who found another love while he was gone) and their families cope. Which is really well done. However. One thing that's increasingly hard to watch is how Noorid (I hope that's the right spelling) gets slut shamed by everyone - not the show, I hasten to add, which relates it from her pov and has her as a sympathetic character - for daring to fall in love again during the 17 years which in the Israeli version her husband was gone. In Homeland, you get one episode in which Jessica realises she's been very unfair to Thomas' wife in the past because she remarried, and now that she herself fell in love again is painfully aware of the irony. In Hatufim, the shaming of Noorid happens in the present storyline. I have no idea how realistic or not it is - I mean, I can believe that the girlfriend/fiance/wife of an imprisoned soldier who'd been build up in to a sympathy figure would get some media backlash if she stops waiting for him and has a new relationship - but Noorid practically can't go out of the house without running into people calling her whore and betrayer of the nation. It's really disturbing.


In Yuletide news, I hit upon another crazy idea and decided to nominate the Beatles' Seargent Pepper's Lonely Heartsclub Band album as a fandom, with Billy Shears, Lovely Rita, Lucy, the girlf from She's Leaving Home and Sgt. Pepper as possible characters. A few years ago, before I dared to write Yuletide, someone nominated Revolver and got plenty of stories, so there is precedence. Also, this nomination spreadsheet offers a handy overview of what everyone else thinks of nominating, and I've spotted a few possibilities where I could offer - I'd definitely like to tackle Connie Corleone from The Godfather, because I thought while Coppola's film version and Talia Shire's performance (Coppola casting his own sister as Connie is an interesting subtext) improved somewhat on Mario Puzo's horribly sexist writing of her, there is still a lot of fleshing out and exploration possible, especially given the gap between II and III and Connie basically becoming Michael's consigliere in between. Sharon Penman's Welsh trilogy also offers intriguing possibilities (what were Davydd ap Gruffyd's years as a hostage at the English court like, for starters?). And someone else kindly offered to nominate Bates Motel so I can get another historical fandom in. It's all proceeding very promisingly indeed.
I decided to Doctor Who remix ficathon; it'll be a good way to get back to the Whovian mind set in time for the anniversary, and Remix being what it is, I don't have to be afraid to land on a request I can't handle. (Since how you remix a story is up to you; i.e. even if I should get assigned an author who, say, is a hardcore Doctor/Rose or Jack/Ianto shipper, which I'm not, I could write a story about what was going on with Gwen, Tosh and Owen while Jack and Ianto were busy angsting and frolicking, or how bystander X reacted to whatever the Doctor and Rose did in the story in question. I still haven't seen nearly enough of Two and Four to feel like I could have a grasp on the relevant characters, so I excepted those eras.

Regarding Yuletide, of course I will sign up, but I'm a bit flummoxed as to which fandoms to request, and which to offer to write, especially given the new rules. Breaking Bad seems to be still applicable, which is good since I want Team Purple fanfiction - i.e. stories with Marie and/or Hank Schrader in the main roles -, Orphan Blackk ditto, but I'm pretty sure other people will request that and ask for stories that aren't all Cosima/Delphine (nothing against Cosima/Delphine, but that's the Jack/Ianto of tiny tiny Orphan Black fanfiction right now, and there are so many aspects of the show that interest me more!). But most of my other current fandom preoccupations are too big to qualify for Yuletide. Hm. I do have a hankering for some historical RPF about Sir William Hamilton and Emma that I could try to sneak in (yes, yes, Susan Sontag did it, but hers is just one version); I'm not actually that interested in Nelson, but those years where Emma goes from discarded mistress of nephew who tries to palm her off to his uncle to breaking the class barriers in when Sir William marries her after having lived with her for several years already; the way she made herself the 18th century version of a European star (what were her "atttidudes", if not performance art?) and William, very clear on her past, very aware of what everyone was thinking and by no means a progressive (other than in natural sciences and in his passion for the budding field of archaelogy, where he was one of the early experts who made the most of having the rediscovered Pompeji next door), went from doing the traditional Georgian aristocrat thing in "keeping" her as a mistress to deciding to marry her, which was exactly the opposite of convention. (He never was less than supportive of her when Nelson arrived on the scene, too, which got him even more public ridicule. There is a great letter where he chastises Nelson, who apparantly had thrown a jealous fit at the thought of Emma meeting the Prince Regent, not to be silly and upset her.)

Other Historical RPF possibilities: Katherine Swynford, recently brought to mind; James Boswell, whom I've requested before; Agrippina the Younger, since I lucked out last year and got Terentia and Clodia as a treat.

Writing: again, Breaking Bad and Orphan Black, I'd be up for. My default options for writing were always Greek and Roman mythology, which is going to be split this year, but I could volunteer for indvidual myths once I see which is nominated. Ditto for individual fairy tales. And maybe I'm lucky and someone will nominate a classic movie again I'm also keen on, like last year (though minus the bit of confusion once the "dear Yuletide writer" letter got posted).
selenak: (Carl Denham by Grayrace)
( Jan. 1st, 2013 06:40 pm)
This year, I wrote what turned out to be the longest stories in the realm of fanfiction that I ever did, and enjoyed every minute of it, though the fretting afterwards once they were beta'd and posted was, as always, abominable. They were my love declarations to early Hollywood and the Swinging Sixties respectively, and here they are, courtesy of the neat "share" button at the AO3:

Lebenswerk (9874 words) by Selena
Chapters: 8/8
Fandom: Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warning: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Norma Desmond/Max von Mayerling, Norma Desmond/Joe Gillis
Characters: Max von Mayerling, Norma Desmond, Cecil B. DeMille, Noah Cross (Chinatown), Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Joe Gillis, Mabel Normand

Eight movies Max von Mayerling made with Norma Desmond. Max, Norma, and the camera: their story from the beginning to the end.

You may recall there was a bit confusion when I got my assignment, and I was thus worried whether or not the recipient would like the story at all. As it turns out, she was the ideal audience every writer dreams of, giving extensive feedback for every chapter and writing a lovely overall review here. This was a big relief, not least because Sunset Boulevard is one of my favourite movies of all time, and when you play in the universe of the late, great Billy Wilder, you really don't want to make a mess of things.

Ramblings about the writing of the story follows, with spoilers for said story )

Such an easy game (11874 words) by Selena
Chapters: 9/9
Fandom: Swinging London RPF, The Beatles
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warning: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Alma Cogan/Brian Epstein, Alma Cogan/John Lennon, Brian Epstein/John Lennon, Alma Cogan & Paul McCartney, John Lennon/Paul McCartney, Cynthia Lennon/John Lennon
Characters: Alma Cogan, Brian Epstein, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Sandra Caron, Fay Cohen, Cynthia Lennon, Jane Asher

Friendship, misunderstandings, sex and song: or, what happened when the biggest British singer of the 50s met the biggest British band of the 60s and fell for their gay manager. Or did she? Alma Cogan, Brian Epstein and the Beatles.

[personal profile] naraht and I had dared each other to write this story for eons, so when I saw her prompt, I decided to take the plunge and do it as a treat. Her thoughtful review is here, and honestly, I like her summary ("it is about fame and love and family and art and being Jewish and being queer and so much else besides") much better than mine!

Ramblings about the writing and spoilers follow )
The Christmas special of Call the Midwife was lovely. Spoilers ensue. )

In Yuletide news, I got some lovely comments on both stories by now; more on the official assignment than on the treat, but that was to be expected because of the fandoms in question. Also, I spotted the assignment story recced on the journal of someone who is a complete stranger, which is extra thrilling. For all the fretting, that's the charm of the anonymous period before the reveal: getting comments, and perhaps being recced, solely on the basis of the story itself.

I haven't had the chance to watch the film version of Les Miserables yet for the simple reason it hasn't been released in Bamberg (but I'm off to Munich again next week, which is when I'll also go watch The Hobbit for a second time in the undubbed version). However, being familiar with both the novel and the musical meant I've been leisurely reading through reviews. Some comments about Marius reminded me that Hugo is a good example of reader/viewer training clashing with authorial intent, and not in the usual way. Because I don't think Marius is meant to be the young romantic hero of the tale (and failing at it). Hugo, writing from exile on his channel island because of his anti-Napoleon-III. pamphlet Napoleon Le Petit, isn't exactly charitable towards Marius ; spoilers for Les Mis ensue ) And yet Marius is still the most sympathetic variation of a certain type that shows up in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Le Roi s'amuse, the drama which forms the basis of Verdi's opera Rigoletto (Verdi had to transport the whole plot to Mantua and make the king a duke in order to get around the censor), always in conjunction with an amazing woman in unrequited love with him. Spoilers for Notre Dame and Rigoletto ensue, along with ramblings on a favourite Hugo trope. )
selenak: (Claudius by Pixelbee)
( Dec. 28th, 2012 07:54 am)
I still haven't read all the stories and fandoms I want to expore, there are that many this year. :) But here is a second bunch of reccomendations:

Singin' In The Rain: Top Billing

What happened to Lina Lamont and Cosmo Brown after the film. The author hit on the ingeneous idea of letting Lina essentially become Hedda Hopper (who was a film actress before switching to becoming one of the two lethal gossip journalists of Hollywood), while Cosmo gets into script writing in earnest, and the zingers fly while Hollywood is Hollywood.

Star of the Guardians: Sanctuary

I think I may have mentioned before, years ago, that among the many, many Star Wars inspired space operas, this one, a series of novels by Margaret Weis is my clear favourite. Given the central relationship in it is between friends/lovers-turned-enemies-turned-allies-where-trust-is-a-big-question, how could it not? The simplest explanation for non readers is probably: think Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi as one and the same character (the Lady Maigrey Morianna), with a telepathic link to the Darth Vader character (Derek Sagan), whether or not they're currently enemies or allies. This story is set after the novels end and probably makes no sense if you haven't read them, but it captures their dynamic beautifully.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Familiar

At Ezri's zhian'tara, she is most nervous about meeting the most recent former host of the Dax symbiont. I'm fond of Dax in various incarnations, and this one was written beautifully. The Ezri-Jadzia-in-Kasidy encounter is the well deserved climax, but I confess I had a particular soft spot for Curzon-in-Quark.

Norse Mythology: The Lidless Eyes of Night

Sigyn is holding the bowl. Fantastic fleshing out of a character somewhat obscure in the myths, Loki's wife Sigyn. Pulls no punches.

Looper: Across The Sea: impossible to describe in an unspoilery fashion, and the film is still relatively new, so I shan't try. Let's just say it's an intense portrayal of the three main characters that deals with some of the central questions of the film.


The Spy's Guide To Survivor's Guilt: Carrie after season 2. A possible future. Excellent ensemble use, and I love the Carrie-Dana encouner in particular.

L'Dor Vador: Backstory for Saul and Carrie, Saul's pov. How their relationship was forged. A magnificent Saul voice.

Adrian Mole Diaries For Historical Characters:

I picked this header because there are actually two this Yuletide, and they're both hilarious, one for Alexander the Great and one for Augustine. The Augustine one has already been recced all over the place, but I'll link it anyway, because it's just that good:

The Very Secret Diaries of Saint Augustine

Correspondence Jerome continues. Infuriating. Do not understand why he does not see my point! Translation of "gourd" vital to understanding of gospels.

And then we have young Alexander, Achilles and Patroklos fanboy extraordinaire, whose parents just don't get it:

The Not Remotely Secret Memoirs of Alexander the Great, Aged 13¾

When will I meet my own Patroklos??? Father has dozens of lovers, and six wives to boot. I only want one! Well, I suppose I’ll need a Queen someday, as well, but one of those will be quite enough, too.

Dollhouse: Documentation

As far as Whedon shows are concerned, I think of Dollhouse as an interesting and sometimes even fascinating failure, but it had its moments and most definitely its actors. Some of the characters stuck with me, which is why I still check out the fanfic at Yuletide, and I'm glad I did, because this Topher portrait just about kills me.
selenak: (Londo and Vir by Ruuger)
( Dec. 27th, 2012 07:36 am)
Emerging bleary-eyed from a lot of reading, I bring reccomendations. (Well, the first part of them anyway. More to follow.) As for my own stories, both the recipients liked them and wrote lovely things about them at their own journals (their summaries of what the stories are about are better than mine, drat!), which makes me glad, but not too many other people so far bothered to check them out so far, woe. Ah well. Self, you knew this would happen, a rare fandom is a rare fandom, and within rare fandoms, at least in one case you picked a subject you knew maybe only recipient and yourself are interested in. (But I still want other people to read both stories, she sniffles, they mean so much to me this year!)

However, as a reader, I'm in unqualified ecstasy. Have a first bunch of recs (excluding, of course, my gifts which I have already talked about).

History/Hunger Games: The Sticking Place

Yes, you read the fandoms right. Someone wrote an ingenious fusion of the Hunger Games premise with the 15th century. In the Fifth Hunger Games, Lucrezia Borgia, Richard (III.) of York, Marguerite d'Anjou and poor Henry of Lancaster are all tributes. It sounds like crack, but the characters are played, err, written straight, and of course it has to end the way it does.

History: The most pleasant tale of Lady Bessy

Four titles Elizabeth of York never held, and one she did. The "Five Things" format applied to the woman who was the last Planatagenet princess and the first Tudor queen, but rarely gets fictional or biographical attention. This year, she got several stories. This one which applies the "Five Things" format in ingenious ways is my favourite.

A Place of Greater Safety: Parallel or Together

In which Camille Desmoulins tries to bring Robespierre and Danton together. It doesn't work out the way he expected. The characterisations ring very true to Hilary Mantel's novel, and it does something I've been secretly and not so secretly hoping for when reading the actual book, where it didn't but could have. :)

Babylon 5:

The Subtle Arrangement of Stones: the Babylon 5 story I never knew was missing in my life, but retrospectively it so was, and oh, how it wins at Yuletide! Set during the first season. Londo, G'Kar and Delenn are kidnapped by the Homeguard, and it's up to their valiant aides, Vir, Na'Toth and Lennier to rescue them. The characterisations and - as invevitable given the characters in question - the bickering are top notch, the format (Garibaldi interviewing everyone for the security files afterwards) ingenious, and it fits into canon beautifully. I loved this to bits.

The Price of a Favour: Timov in the days of Cartagia. I'm always thrilled to find fic dealing with my favourite B5 one episode character, and this was great.

In Flagrante: three times Londo and G'Kar are caught in the act. One happy, one angry, one sad. Alternatively funny and heartbreaking, as Londo and G'Kar are wont to be.

James Bond: Protégé

M passes on what she learned. Contains two of my favourite things, M backstory and Eve Moneypenny fleshing out. I loved it.

Elementary (which had 21 new stories in Yuletide - hooray!):

Three Anniversaries: A Love Story: Not all great love stories are about romance is the summary the author gives, and this one celebrates the (platonic) friendship between Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson through the years. Present and future fic that feels true to where the characters are now and where they could be through the years, and has that same restraint and understated affection I find appealing on the show.

The Long Summer: this one is an ensemble fic that uses a frustrating case to show Holmes' relationships to Watson, Gregson, Bell and deliver an excellent Holmes character exploration to boot.

Greek Mythology: this year one of the requests was for a story about Ariadne and Icarus growing up together in Crete. This resulted in a dozen or so great tales, and it feels unfair to single one out, but this is my favourite of them all:

Thirteen Views Of A Labyrinth: They are not so very different, Ariadne and Pasiphaë, Icarus and Daedalus, Ariadne and Icarus. This has fantastic world building and awe-inspiring characterisations of everyone, is full of shades of grey and surprising yet sense making twists on the myths. I admire it so much.

The Count of Monte-Cristo: Constant.

It's a rare story which takes one of the source canon's villains - in this case Fernand Mondego, the later Count de Morcerf - and fleshes him out without going the excuse and woobiefication road. This story accomplishes it.

New Tricks: New Tricks for Old Dogs (or Five Alternate Universes Where Sandra Pullman Was Always Awesome)

What the title says. :) Wonderful banter and character voices in every universe.

Prometheus: Satellites: Three events in the life of Peter Weyland. Dysfunctional family relationships are my soft spot, and they rarely come more messed up than with Weyland, Meredith Vickers and David 8. This story gives us some background for this, in a Weyland, Meredith and David pov respectively, and it's fascinating.
selenak: (Emily by Lotesse)
( Dec. 25th, 2012 01:08 pm)

And I got not one, not two, but THREE stories as gifts, which makes me beaming as if someone reformed by face to a permanent grin. (Otoh, that sounds suspiciously like the Joker and his victims, so perhaps not the best simile. But you know what I mean.)

Here is what I got, in historical order, for lo and behold, all these stories are based on real people:

Roman History:

Scenes from something which is certainly not a friendship: Two formidable ladies from the last days of the Republic, Terentia (Cicero’s wife) and Clodia (as far as Roman historians were concerned, her total opposite in terms of life style and politics). The relationship the author builds up between them is terrifically written, the dialogues sparkle and then a quiet descriptive statement hits you in the gut with its understated emotion, and watch out for the appearance of the most famous Roman lady of the early empire, Livia, as a young woman.

Literary History:

The Sound of Thunder: the story of the Brontes begins when four gifted children start to play with toy soldiers, and it ends, all too soon, when the toy soldiers are all that is left. This author wrote me the birth of Angria and Gondal, the morning Branwell brought his new toys to his sisters and their imaginations were set on fire, and she also gave me the two survivors after all those children were gone, Patrick Bronte and Arthur Nicholls. I loved it.

Swinging London History:

A guy who really knows his way around: in which young Brian Epstein meets even younger Andrew Loog Oldham, who wants a job and maybe more. Yes, the manager of the Rolling Stones used to work for the manager of the Beatles just around the time when everyone was on the verge of getting their breakthrough, and the author – the only one of my Yuletide authors whose identity I’m fairly certain I can guess – develops a fascinating dynamic between these two men, and captures the whole dawn-of-Swinging-London atmosphere beautifully.

Now, before I dive into the rest of the treasure: I think the two stories I wrote are pretty obvious, but then, I thought that before and was wrong. If you can guess them, you get a drabble on the subject of your choice, provided I know the canon.
selenak: (Katniss by Monanotlisa)


( Dec. 19th, 2012 08:56 pm)
All the prompts given for this year's Yuletide are now visible, here, so naturally I spent the last 24 hours reading through them, as much as real life would allow. Quite a lot of them made me go "oh, I hope someone has done something with that one". Several made me think "hm, I could work with that, but not on short notice, I'd want to do source research first". One spawned the tiniest, tiniest bunny which is now hopping up and down and telling me I could pursue it even on short notice and without checking the source material again. "Bunny," quoth I, "I am with the Aged Parents now who need my help these last few days before Christmas. Get thee behind me. I've already written a treat." And now it's making Bigwig-defending-the-warren eyes at me.

....Anyway, one thing I could not help but notice is that an awful lot of prompts ask for "awesome ladies being awesome", the word "awesome" more often than not in capslock. While I sympathize with the sentiment and of course also wish the ladies in my various requests to be awesome, this is not, imo, a very helpful writing prompt. (Which is why I'm glad I was not given it.) Suggesting situations or asking for exploration of specific issues or relationships is. But requesting "awesomeness" is not only far too general but bound to give at least yours truly a headache because what makes character x awesome to me might not be exactly what would make her awesome to you. Also, does general awesomeness exclude exploration of flaws, yes or no? Etc.

You know which fictional work did a good in-story meta on this? Susanne Collins' Mockingjay, the third volume of the Hunger Games trilogy. Read more... ) As the kids say these days, this. And that. And also the other. Err, I mean: it's just not a helpful prompt, is all.
selenak: (QuarkDax)
( Dec. 17th, 2012 12:51 pm)
Stolen from [personal profile] petra: reflections on Yuletide past.

I don't have that much to reflect, seeing as I only participated these last three years, though I've eagerly read far longer than that. :)

2009: Spinning Fate
Arachne strikes back at the Gods

I had signed up for a lot of fandoms and mythology - specifically Ovid's Metamorphoses - was a last minute "oh, why not, I love myths and Ovid!" addition. Wouldn't you know it, Ovid is what I got. For a minute or so, I wondered about tackling one of the lesser known metamorphoses - the change Ovid concludes his book with, which is Julius Caesar after his assassination - but then thought, no. Because ever since I read the somewhat bowlderized but still captivating versions of the Greek myths by Gustav Schwab at age 9, I'd been haunted by the fate of Arachne, ending up as a spider for having the nerve to challenge a goddess not via murder a la Tantalus or with another crime but simply with her superior weaving skills, and even more so after we read Ovid in school and I discovered that while Schwab had Athena win the competition and Arachne trying to hang herself in shame, Ovid had Arachne win, Athena/Minerva destroy Arachne's work in fury and Arachne hang herself in fury at the injustice of it all. Both versions of course end with Athena having a last minute attack of compassion and changing the dangling but still living Arachne into a spider. So the idea to write a follow up in which Arachne gets her revenge was irresistable, all the more so because I had an idea of how she could do that which would fit with the quintessential Ovidian theme of change. Drafting those other challengers of the gods, Prometheus and Niobe, into the story followed almost naturally. And I was absolutely delighted to find out some spiders do indeed travel by wind.

2010: Let It Be
Losing Jadzia, finding Ezri, being Dax: Worf, Ezri, Quark and Julian Bashir. Grief and the connections that endure.

This was the first year in which Star Trek: DS9 was accepted as a Yuletide fandom, so course I put it on my list of fandoms I could write. Back in my DS9 writing days, I had mostly focused on Cardassians, Ferengi and Jadzia Dax, with some Jake Sisko thrown in, so the request which asked specifically for Worf, Ezri, Julian and the fallout of Jadzia's death meant a challenge in the good way - focusing on characters I hadn't written before. Worf had a cameo in one of my previous DS9 stories, but no more than that; I'd never written Ezri at all, though an earlier story about Curzon turned out to be good practice for writing a Dax who isn't Jadzia. This turned out to be more a loosely connected series of vignettes than a story, but "characters dealing with grief and identity" is catnip to me. I had thought Worf would be troublesome to write, but as it turned out, not all, and it was a good opportunity to bring in some of his TNG backstory. And I couldn't resist bringing in Quark, who hadn't been requested at all but insisted he had to be there, and so he was, getting as much page time as Julian. But really, it was necessary, I swear! Ezri and Julian both needed someone to talk to!

2011: Collaborators
Investigating Ferengi, getting blackmailed by the Bajoran resistance, and working for Cardassians: how Odo's assignment to investigate a murder on Terok Nor became a permanent job. Naturally, it was all Quark's fault.

I was matched for DS9 in the second year in a row. (Which is why I didn't sign up for it this year; much as I love my space stations, I wanted another fandom challenge, and I got one.) One of the prompts given called for Quark and Odo, at which point I realised that as often as I had written Quark, I had never written Odo from his own pov (except for a drabble eons ago, and that was Alternate Odo from Children of Time). Self, thought I, it's time for some serious Odo character exploration. Also the use of a plot hole, which was: given that in the second season flashback episode Necessary Evil, which shows how Odo got drafted to solve a mysterious death by Dukat during the Occupation, had Odo NOT solving said murder in the past (though he does in the show present), we didn't know what made Dukat keep Odo as Constable. (Or why Odo chose to take the job once the immediate cause was over.) So I wrote my first lengthy Odo piece, with the added bonus that it also detailed the start of his relationship with Quark.... and not one of the Odo fans on my flist commented on it. I'm still somewhat crushed, I tell you. :( I did get some nice feedback from the general DS9 and Quark fans, though.
Well, I do. That is to say, I check out the list of posted Yuletide fandoms quite often, and mentally make notes about which fandoms to check out first once the archive gets opened. There are already four B5 stories and two Breaking Bad tales. And I THINK I've spotted the so-far-one-story-fandom which might be my gift, though of course I can't be sure. As for "huh, didn't think someone would write this this year, but it looks like someone did" pleasant surprises, did I spot A Place of Greater Safety on the list with one story? Why yes, I did. Must check out Hilary Mantel inspired French Revolution fanfic as soon as I can. And so forth.

It's a distraction from fretting about the fate of my own two tales, at any rate.:) The joy and peril of Yuletide is that you get to write rare fandoms and have a chance of having those stories read by more than five people, plus you're challenged to tackle themes which might be outside your usual parameters, but - what if the recipient had something else in mind and leaves nothing but a polite "thanks for writing"/ hardly anyone else bothers to check out the tale because there are so many others/ the format you picked doesn't work in the way you hoped it would/the characters you focus on aren't the characters anyone else is interested in/et cetera. You know, the usual. Ah, well. I might as well practice singing "two weeks more" to the Les Mis tune of One Day More, since that film version is another thing to look forward to. And speaking of filk songs, here is a fun one, Xena by way of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Something else distracting to make you smile among worries trivial and tremendous (i.e. the rest of the world): Breaking Abbey, the one and only Downton Abbey/Breaking Bad crossover. Written by Vince Gilligan and starring Thomas (wearing the Jesse Pinkman look quite well), Carson (clearly born to be Mike in another life) and His Lordship (Hugh Bonneville's Walter White impression is hysterical). Mind you, clearly the Downton Abbey character BORN to make a career in the drug trade is the Dowager Countess, for who could ever defeat her?
My actual Yuletide assignment being written, beta'd, edited and posted, I feel ready to move on to the next stage of Yuletide angst. You know, the one where the glow of satisfaction that the story is accomplished is quickly followed up with "but will anyone read it... oh damm, it's an entire month more until I find out!" Since I wrote a treat before the actual assignment, I can now fret for two stories instead of one, but on the bright side, the week before Christmas won't have any panicked "but I haven't posted my story yet and when the hell should I find the time?" cramps.

Uploading the story, I idly checked my statistics at the AO3 and was surprised. For years the most read stories had remained constant (the most often read was Spinning Fate, as it happens a Yuletide 2009 story), but this year the Arachne-Strikes-Back tale got toppled by a new story. A hastily written Remix Madness tale from this year, which when it was first posted hadn't been reviewed by anyone before the name reveal. And now has double as much hits as any other story of mine at the AO3, so colour me stunned, because Messenger (The Earl Grey Remix) is hardly the best thing I ever wrote. I can only conclude that it a) got that many hits because the original is a story by [personal profile] penknife, and/or b) Jean-Luc Picard character introspection complete with Spock's Dad And Spock is popular. Merci, mon capitaine. Anyway, neither Picard nor any Vulcans are in either of my two Yuletide tales, and both fandom I picked are relatively obscure (but then that is the point of Yuletide), so I don't expect the statistic to change again any time soon.

Rather counter productive to my plan of Yuletide angsting is the fact I came across this lovely, incredibly relaxing and fond smile inducing Avengers tale:

Tea, Chocolate, Coffee: In which Bruce, Pepper and Tony live their lives as a threesome, and this is so my fanon until the inevitable day when canon angst will return to the Marvel Movie Universe with the release of a new film.

On another note, I was thrilled to read that there will be a radio production of Neverwhere (by Neil Gaiman, aka the one he first wrote as a tv miniseries and then as a novel), with a dream cast that includes James McAvoy as Richard, Natalie Dormer as Door, David Harewood as the Marquis, Sophie Okonedo as Hunter, Benedict Cumberbatch as Islington and Anthony Head as Croup. And Christopher Lee as the Earl, which makes Neil Gaiman adorably fanboyish in his post. (Who can blame him?) I was also thrilled to discover Jack Harkness' daughter Alice, aka Lucy Cohu, in a minor role (she's Lamia). A radio series won't have the problem that troubled N.G. about the tv series (let's just say the BBC budget for the great Beast was, errr....), and the actors are fantastic. I'm so looking forward to this. Also it reminds me there was a reason why I kept using the term "London Below" when writing my Bond meta, and that someone should write a crossover AU where M and Bond go on the run there, instead of Scotland, pursued by Silva, of course. Because M has been been there before as a young agent, though not since then; she has made arrangements that mean no interference from either side. But after Silva does that thing he does with the London Tube, certain dignitaries in London Below see this as an outrageous violation of the treaty and her responsibility (she created Silva), so M and Bond have those pissed off entities after them as well as Silva, who is mad enough to find the way all on his own. Whom will the Marquis sell to whom? Will Bond avoid hitting on Lamia and get himself (nearly?) killed again? Will M manage to keep outright war breaking out between Below and Above? Etc. Come on. It would be glorious.
This is a really good day. After the political relief overseas - the times, they are indeed changing! - I heard back from the Yuletide mod, and via them from my now again recipient. She's into Fandom C (see earlier post for explanation) as well and provided a prompt for it instead of for the fandom I didn't know, so we're back in business! Can resume my brushing up and chewing on ideas, now slightly modified to work with her prompt. Yes indeed.

And to round off my blessings, a dear friend has returned to lj. Off to read more on fabulous election of female senators and bounce Yuletide ideas!


selenak: (Default)


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