selenak: (Money by Distempera)
Trying to distract myself from awful news, another meme prompt replied to. The question being about characters rather than heroines, I devote this entry to the shadier spectrum of female characters beloved by me. None from a still open canon, to make things easier on myself. In no particular order:

Spoiler for Highlander, I Claudius, Angel, The Three Musketeers and Breaking Bad )

The other days
selenak: (Peggy and Jarvis by Asthenie_VD)
The second season will start soon (yay!), and fanfiction is a great way to get in the mood for more canon:

The Sound of Silence: well plotted and -researched backstory for Anna and Edwin Jarvis. (Co-starring Howard Stark.) I'm looking forward to meeting Anna on screen in season 2, especially since she's going to be played by Lotte Verbeek aka Giulia Farnese in The Borgias, but until then, this is firmly my headcanon on who she is and what happened in Budapest. Also: fanfiction that really manages to give a sense of place and era is rare, but this is a point in case.

Pack up your troubles: Peggy doesn't need Howard to cheer her up. Not at all. No, really. Great little vignette of Peggy and Howard friendship, post war.

A married man: in canon, I never ever want Peggy/Jarvis to happen, because I adore their crime fighting bffness. In fanfiction, I'm not looking for it, either. However, occasionally when on the lookout for Peggy and Jarvis stories I come across a gem like this one, which slips under my radar. It's all unspoken, because Jarvis wouldn't cheat; however, IF he developed non-platonic feelings for Peggy, this is something I could see happening in his head and heart.

Au revoir: Highlander crossover in which Amanda meets Peggy Carter and Howard Stark in the 1940s, and then again and again through the decades. Naturally, they hit it off. (Seriously, as soon as I saw the summary I thought, OF COURSE.)
selenak: (Borgias by Andrivete)
From [personal profile] intrigueing and [personal profile] muccamukk:

In a new post, list ten fic that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take but a few minutes, and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “right” works, or even all the same pairing or fandom, just the fics that have touched you or that stuck with you somehow.

I'm sure I could come up with ten more, but these are the ones that came immediately to mind (and which I could find again online!):

1.) From Me To Q by Julia Houston (Star Trek: The Next Generation). Star Trek in its first three incarnations is one of my oldest fandoms, and the time when TNG and then DS9 were broadcast was when I started to get aquainted with fanfiction, first via fanzines and then via the earliest online archives. Finding this particular story was like striking gold. It's TNG; it's plotty, like a well written episode complete with ethical dilemmas; it's Picard/Q (which was what I was looking for when finding the story) but uses the entire TNG ensemble well; it takes the most reviled of fanfic clichés, the Mary Sue, and gives it a highly original twist. (Well, back then it was original, for all I know, it's been often imitated since.) Also, the dialogue sparkles. In short, I fell in love, so much so that I gave Voyager, which I had almost given up upon, another shot, simply because Julia Houston back then was also writing Voyager reviews and I adored her writing that much.

2.) Last Set Before Closing, by Kat Allison. (Highlander: The Series). HL was another early online fandom of mine, and this story left me shaken and breathless the first time I read it. On the surface, not much happens in this tale, which is set several years after the series ended; Joe Dawson is very old, not far from death, and his mind has started to wander; Duncan visits. Behind that simple description hides one of the best and most gutwrenching stories I've read in any fandom, which at once gives us the relationship between Joe and Duncan, and how both of them relate to Methos, about friendship, about mortals and immortals, and at the same time manages to say something very personal to anyone who has an older relative. (Until then, I don't think I had ever read fanfiction tackling a rl subject such as aging, its physical and mental decline, so unflinchingly, and with a beloved character, no less.) Another reason why I love it is this: at the time when it was first posted, its take on Methos was pretty much unique and went directly against how most fans then wrote him. (Probably still does.) And yet I find it entirely plausible.

3.) Changed Utterly by Parda (Highlander: The Series). Another HL story. Parda was a writer I interacted with a lot during my HL days, both as a reader and as a writer. This story is still my favourite of hers, and at the time it was first posted struck me as one of the best meditations onf grief and surviving I had read i nthe fandom. It's set about a year after the show ends, wherein Duncan is still dealing with Richie’s fate, when he sees Cassandra again. Not present in body but very much in thought are Methos, Connor and Richie. What to do when you’ve both done and experienced the unforgivable is a question with a dozen answers and none, and all the characters here are dealing with it. Poetic and profound.

4.) Father's Heart by Fernwithy ( Star Wars). Still my favourite Star Wars story, many years later (this was written shortly after The Phantom Menace was released). Set between trilogies, it pulls off something a lot of people tried since, and does so in a credible way: Vader and the child and later teenager Leia forming a tentative friendship, which falls apart with a vengeance as she grows older and experiences the Empire at its worst. In addition to a terrific take on Leia and Vader, Bail Organa and his wife (who in this version is one of the former handmaidens, Sabé) as well as some original characters are compellingly written. ( Not to mention it caters to two of my narrative soft spots: non-romantic intense relationship, relationship that breaks up because of politics and ethics (and rightly so). ) I was only ever at the periphery of SW fandom, not least because I happen to like the prequels, but this story made me search for and read a lot of SW fanfiction for a while. It was years before I found its match.

5.) Freefall by Penknife (X-Men movieverse). This is an X2 AU, ensemble story, Scott pov, and one of the earliest [personal profile] penknife stories I read. X2 had just been released. As after X1, I hunted for stories that weren't Wolverine/Rogue. Hard to imagine for current day fans, but back then it was actually difficult to find Magneto/Xavier stories, or stories that featured Mystique in a prominent role, or stories that featured Scott at all. Bingo, thought I, when I found this one, and little did I know I had also found a favourite writer in many fandoms more. Oh, and I think this was the first AU I really liked (the twist is that Scott realises a bit sooner what's going on during the prison visit at the start of the movie, with the result that he and Xavier end up as fugitives together with Magneto and Mystique; it's Jean who gets captured instead). Until then, I had avoided AUs. After reading it, I gave them a shot.

6.) Ten Thousand Candles by Andraste. This is another early story by a future favourite writer; Charles Xavier post X2, trying to cope with all that happened (read: spoiler for big X2 twist )). Back then, Charles Xavier centric stories were incredibly rare; stories in which he wasn't either the wise mentor type or trying to win Erik back were even rarer. What he experiences in X2 is pretty horrifying, and I loved finding a story which addressed that. Of course, Andraste turned out to be the biggest Xavier expert in the planet, but I didn't know that then. :)

7.) Bed of Bones by Roz Kaveney (Buffy the Vampire Slayer): I had spotted Roz on a couple of Buffy discussion mailing lists (remember those?), but this was the first BTVS or fanfiction in any fandom tale of hers that I had read, and it was sharp, poetic, and made the First Slayer(about whom at this point we only knew what Restless had mentioned) into a fascinating character. I was wowed. It also raised my standard of expectation re: fanfiction creating mythology in present day or futuristic fandoms to no end.

8.) Queen of Spades by Astolat (James Bond: Casino Royale): Ah, ye golden days when the Craig Casino Royale had been released and for the first time in my life I actually went and looked for Bond fanfiction, because Dench!M and Craig!Bond dynamic in that movie had gripped me in and fascinated me. (I had also loved Eva Green as Vesper and her relationship with Bond, but not in a way that made me look for fanfic.) And again, I hit gold. I think this probably was the first Bond/M story online. It set a most pleasing trend - for the next few years, you could rely on Yuletide including some great and sharp Bond and M fanfiction. (And then came Skyfall which brought the avalanche of Bond/Q and the Bond movies were no longer qualified for Yuletide, but that's another story.) Now, most combinations that have one character in a position of power over the other character are hard to sell to me as pairings, but there are exceptions, and Queen of Spades made me realize Dench!M and Craig!Bond were such an exception for me, because wow. (It also made me realise that I had a new story or rather old story archetype, not necessarily always as pairings, I love the gen variations, too, but: Morally ambiguous queens and their morally ambiguous battered knights, bring them on! Though only if the Queen is the older of the two. Read: Dany/Jorah does nothing fo rme.)

9: Working Order by Eatscissors (Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles). John/Cameron is a pairing that intrigues me but which I find more interesting on the actual show than in most of fanfiction, because, imo as often, fanfic tends to simplify and dispense with much that makes this particular relationship so layered, starting with the fact that Cameron is a machine, no matter what she looks like.Some spoilery ramblings about John and Cameron on the show ensue. ) Working Order, by contrast, addresses this and the other issues between them head-on while also being one of those stories where the explicit sex is part of the character exploration instead of reading as just being there for its own sake. For a reader like me who often finds sex scenes (both slash and het) reading like involuntarily funny gymnastic mannuals, with the participants interchangable to other fandoms and thus not very interesting, this was an eye opener. Really well written.

10.) Petrarchan Sonnets from the Vatican by Petra (The Borgias): I was and am grateful for all the stories I got in exchanges, and often loved them to bits, but this one will always remain special. Its just that awesome. It's a story in the guise of a fake article about the discovery of sonnets between L.B. (now who could that possibly be in Borgias fandom?) and person unknown, female and apparantly her tutor. Complete with the sonnets. And the commentary. Absolutely delightful, needless to say, poetic (my Yulewriter's ability to compose Petrarchan Sonnets with clever allusions to events from the show's first season still stuns me), and full of subtlety, and the wit and love for language that the characters in question display on the show as well (and did in history). (And now I'm grieved again that the Lucrezia and Guilia relationship post s1 fell by the wayside on the show, but never mind me.) If I could ensure that just one bit of Borgias fanfiction survives, this would be it.
selenak: (Science Buddies by Mayoroftardtown)
I won't be able to watch Peter Capaldi's first Doctor Who episode in real time, after all, and not for a considerable time after (read: Monday), but it's for a good rl cause. Meanwhile, there's multifandom fanfiction:

Marvelverse: Howard Stark usually shows up in one of two ways in MCU fanfiction - either as part of Tony's daddy issues, or, more rarely, in Captain America WWII era fanfiction in pretty much the same capacity as he did in the movie - flirting with Peggy (and/or Steve), but nothing series. This story, by contrast, takes the canon info of Howard having worked on the Manhattan Project and runs with it in this taut exploration of science and responsibility, dealing with history in a way very few Marvel stories do which usually go for window dressing. Short, but every sentence carries a punch. Like this one: He would ask Arnim Zola about it, once. About Poland. Once, and never again. Says it all about post WWII transfer of German scientists (though Zola, as he points out to Steve in the movies, is Swiss) to the US, and all the handwaving that entailed. Here's the story:

A particle, a wave (1068 words) by kvikindi
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Captain America (Movies), Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Characters: Howard Stark
Additional Tags: Manhattan Project, References to Injury of a Child

"My father helped defeat Nazis. He worked on the Manhattan Project."

Highlander: Even shorter - a drabble - but a great character piece about Rebecca and Amanda, and how to survive as an immortal:

those who shine brightest (100 words) by storiesfortravellers
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Highlander: The Series
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Amanda Darieux/Rebecca Horne
Characters: Rebecca Horne, Amanda Darieux
Additional Tags: Pre-Series, Training, Swordfighting, thieves, Mentor/Protégé, Drabble

Amanda and Rebecca are practicing their fighting skills when Amanda finds out that Rebecca knows some of her secrets.

selenak: (AmandaRebecca by Kathyh)
Fearful Symmetry (4178 words) by Selena
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Highlander: The Series
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Kenny & Amanda Darieux, Amanda Darieux/Duncan MacLeod, Amanda Darieux & Methos
Characters: Kenny, Amanda Darieux, Duncan MacLeod, Methos
Additional Tags: Character Study, Backstory

Kenny stopped being a child a long time ago.

Highlander was both my first online fandom in terms of interaction with fellow fans - previous fandoms had me going to cons and buying zines -, and the first fandom I wrote in English in. The above wasn't my first story, but it was an early one. It was also the first time I wrote a fanfiction in first person, which I rarely do. (Mostly because as a reader, my suspension of disbelief often breaks over a first person narrative not presenting a believable "voice" for whichever character the author chose.) Now and then, though, a story idea simply calls for first person. In this case, I tackled Kenny, who showed up only twice in Highlander: The Series, and was an unusual and memorable villain. Kenny aka Kenneth was an 800 years old Immortal, but unlike most of the Immortals the audience encounters in the course of the show, he became Immortal while still a child, meaning he was stuck in a child's body for the rest of his existence. This, to put it mildly, did not improve his disposition. He also became very adroit at using his harmless and helpless looks to deceive and kill other people.

In the second of his two appearances, the audience finds out Kenny has a backstory with recurring guest star Amanda, aka my favourite character on the show (and one of my all time favourite incarnations of the "female thief and conwoman with on/off relationship with hero" trope), who mentored him for a while when he really was a child. She's not prepared for what he has become, but then, she's always been good at improvising. Now, one of the problems any show using child actors has is that they grow up very fast, and if the character in question is defined by his inability to grow up, that problem is unsolvable, so I'm not suprised the show didn't use Kenny again (though he survives both episodes). Fanfic rarely does - or at least did back then -, perhaps because there is something deeply disturbing in the idea of a a centuries old being in the body of a child, and Kenny is definitely not prone to easy woobiefication. (For starters, he doesn't solely kill other Immortals. He exploits and kills the occasional mortal as well.) Which was why I wanted to tackle the character, of course. Not to mention that back then, I had only recently read Interview with the Vampire and thus Claudia (the vampire trapped in the body of a child there) and her rage about her state were fresh on my mind.) And the relationship with Amanda did fascinate me.

So I came up with something that both fleshed out the time between Amanda and Kenny meeting and them getting separated 800 years back (complete with Methos cameo, because as a HL fan fresh into the fandom I was as prone to include Methos in tales as everyone else), showed something about what the rest of his life had been like, and ultimately revealed why he's telling the story and whom he's telling it to. The story is now fifteen years old, but I think it holds up fairly well.

The rest of the meme )
selenak: (Emma Swan by Hbics)
Today's [community profile] fandomsecrets has, for about the fifth or sixth time that I recall, a secret involving Once Upon A Time character Regina Mills aka The Evil Queen and the fact that back in season 1, she had a non-consensual sexual relationship with a male supporting character (he was the one non-consenting). Now Regina did a lot of other villainous things (including ordering massacres), but I don't think any of them, with the arguable exception of her gaslighting her son, is brought up and argued about more. (I may be wrong about that, since I try to keep away from most OuaT fannish discussions unless I know the people in question.) Cue usual "oh no she didn't!"/"oh yes she did", as well as "if she was a male character, this wouldn't even be a question" (both from the "oh yes she did" side in the sense that a male ruler ordering a female prisoner who is revolted by him into his bedchamber would not be interpreted as anything but a rapist, and from the "oh no she didn't" side (which argues that male fictional rapists get excused all the time). In between, someone points out that Regina did a whole lot of other stuff which doesn't get argued about, and why is rape treated as the ultimate crime? Good question, and not just regarding Regina. It's the crime most often named when people argue why they can't root for the redemption of character X and/or the crime most argued to not even have been committed by X from people who want said character redeemed (or see him, and in rarer cases her, already as good).

Now I think that "more/less evil" isn't a criteria you can put on rape versus, say, murder. They're both heinous actions. But it's still worth noting that as far as fannish discussions are concerned, the killing score of sympathetic villains/morally ambiguous characters seems to bother fans a whole lot less than if their canon shows them committing, or trying to committ, a rape. At a guess, part of this is that fantasy violence (especially if the canon avoids showing much of the resulting dead bodies and gore) is easier to dissociate from real life, while rape is not. And then, there is probably the fear: "I like this character, maybe I even love him/her or fantasize about him/her, I want this character to succeed, to win, to be loved - but this character committed rape. What does this say about me? Therefore, this character hasn't really committed rape. The fantasy surroundings make it not count. Or I take the Doylist appraoch and declare it was the writers (whereas the character's other actions which endeared him/her to me in the first place were of course Watsonian and only the character). Or: the character was himself/herself a victim and so traumatized that she/he can't be held accountable for their actions. Or the ever popular: hero X did something just as bad, so there!"

I decided to do some self inventory and see which of the characters whom I like (in varying degrees ranging "mildly fond" to "love and adore") comitted rape in their canons, and how fannish discussion (if it exists at all) handles that. Let's start with the Romans, because if you are in a slave owning society, and among the owners, and also not in a show that deliberately avoids the issue, chances are that you're guilty as charged, but even so, some characters go above and beyond:

Rome: Mark Antony, definitely. One of his very first scenes shows him having sex with a peasant woman against a tree mid-travelling. I doubt he bothered to ask her first. There is also an episode in which he wants to have sex before getting out of bed, Atia is not in the mood and orders one of her slaves to accommodate him. Which btw means Atia is enabling said rape. Also a rapist: Pullo. Who is in love with his slave (later freedwoman, even later wife) when having sex with her but doesn't bother to ask for her consent, either and is shocked when finding out that upon being freed, she wants to marry a fellow slave (cue death of male slave). I'm fond of Mark Antony, Atia and Pullo. I think the only one whose actions get debated in this context is Pullo, with the argument being "but he thought Eirene was already in love with him!" and/or "different times". Well, yes, different times, and presumably he did think she was in love with him until disabused of the notion. He still didn't ask, and she was his property at the time, to do with as he pleased. The scene as shown also had her enduring, not responding, to his caresses.

Spartacus: nearly every Roman character, sooner or later, but re: the topic in question, let's stick with Batiatus and Lucretia, both of whom use their slaves as sexual toys for themselves and for other people. I don't think I've seen anyone saying Batiatus isn't guilty, but I did some some debate around Lucretia, specifically, her relationship with the gladiator Crixus. (The debate nexter brings up all the other slaves Lucretia and Batiatus use to turn themselves on at all.) The "oh no she didn't" argument usually goes thusly: she developed genuine feelings for him, then she thought he also loved her, and then there was that one time where she didn't have sex with him when he didn't want to because she was concerned for his life (plot reasons). This ignores that Spartacus isn't subtle about the whole ownership point: Crixus and Lucretia first start to have sex because she orders him to, he is her property, and the fact she doesn't insist that one time doesn't negate all the other times. (Not to mention Lucretia's reaction once she finds out Crixus loves someone else.) Lucretia is played by Lucy Lawless, and she was one of my favourite characters on the show. She's also, no question about it, a rapist. (Ditto, of course, her husband, whom I was also fond of, horrible person who he was.)

Moving on to contemporary shows with long lived characters:

Highlander: Methos, obviously. Universal fannish favourite, and for quite a while, he was mine, too. (Then Amanda overtook him.) (I still like Methos a lot, though.) He's also, no question about it, a rapist, over a really long time. And wouldn't you know, while fandom never tried to explain the pillaging part in "rape and pillage" away, or the massacring of "tens of thousands", au contraire, thought that Methos' Bronze Age raider past made him even more interesting than he'd already been, it solved the "rape" part by vilifying the surviving victim of same and/or write stories in which Methos was the one raped (by other characters), which made him so traumatized that he, da capo, al fine. Oh, and of course times were different.

Buffy and Angel: oh, the can of worms to dwarf most others, and I really don't want the discussion to end up in a reiteration of the Spike Wars, but it would be cheating not to bring the Buffyverse up. So: Angel(us): definitely a rapist, and not just in a metaphorical bloodsucking vampire way. (There are the servant girl in the Amends flashback and Holtz' wife, and the implication is certainly that there were others.) (And driving mortal Drusilla into insanity culminated in Angel and Darla having sex in front of her before Angel turned her; what do you want to bet they left it at taking her blood?) Spike: see above re: Spike Wars, avoidance of same. But even leaving out Seeing Red, he mentioned multiple rapes in Never Leave Me, which however often gets dismissed as "he just wanted to get Buffy to stake him on that occasion" (well, yes, but that doesn't mean he made that up; over at AtS, near the end of Damages, a key Spike self realization is his admittance that while he wasn't Dana's tormentor, he did do similar things to a great many other people). Darla: while we don't see her having on screen sex with an unwilling victim, she certainly gets a kick of watching her darling boy doing so. Faith: when about to strangle Xander, she sexually assaulted him as well (and he did say no repeatedly). I do like Angel, Spike and Faith, a lot. Darla is my overall AtS favourite.

Torchwood: my own assumption when watching the Torchwood pilot, in which, among other things, Owen uses a alien pheromene McGuffin to make himself sexually irresistable when going out) was that when he used it on the boyfriend of the girl he'd been hitting on, he made a quick getaway as opposed to having a threesome, so that on this particular occasion, no sex took place. However, the original intention certainly had been to have sex with the girl, who showed no inclination to respond to his overtures before he used the pheromene McGuffin. Which, yes, makes Owen an attempted rapist (and since I doubt this was the first time he used the McGuffin, I'd be ready to drop the "attempted".) Owen was my favourite TW character during the first two seasons.

Being Human: Mitchell and Hal, step forward. Definitely, like Angelus, guilty of rape in the literally sexual as well as the blood taking vampire sense. Neither of them were my favourites in their canons, but I definitely had times of being fond of both, and my Mitchell issues weren't due to him having raped people (also my Mitchell issues were brilliantly resolved by canon, but that's another story).

Once upon a Time: and we're back to Regina. Who isn't my favourite, but I like her and am certainly on board with her current storyline. In addition to being a multiple murderer, guilty of mental and physical torture on various occasions, and the kidnapper to dwarf all other kidnappers (it's hard to beat transferring everyone in Storybrooke from one dimension to another in order to play out her fantasy scenario, but Regina is also a kidnapper on the mundane literal level, see also: Hansel and Gretel, Owen), she is most definitely a rapist.

And now for the future - including the wretched Prophets of DS9 would be cheating, because while they do committ rape I never could stand them, and they're not fannishly popular, either, so they don't qualify.

Babylon 5: I was going back and thro whether or not to include this example, because it's not sexual non-con, and if you start to include fantasy metaphors, you don't have to bother to differentiate with all the vampires between literal rape and blood taking to begin with. But still: what happens in the episode Dust to Dust is a mental assault/violation which gets textually, on screen, called a rape (Bester, who ought to know, explains the effect of Dust that way in the exposition scene early on), so I'll include it. Anyway, the perpetrator, G'Kar, who hits rock bottom here, followed by enlightenment, is most definitely among my favourite B5 characters.

In conclusion: I seem to be fond of a lot of fictional rapists. (Or fictional versions of historical characters, in the Roman cases.) The fact they raped people isn't why I like them, obviously, but neither did it stop me from liking them (or prevent me from ever developing sympathy, in the cases where the rapes happen early on). Whereas I don't think there is a rapist among the few fictional characters I have a visceral loathing for, come to think of it, which presumably goes to show rape isn't one of my triggers, at least not in the sense of reacting with "I no longer like this character" or "I have to explain this away in order to continue liking this character". I think my own inner self justification for this, beyond "but they're interesting", is to keep their victims in mind (and in both Methos' and Spike's cases, write fanfiction from their pov). (The other day I came across yet another variation of "but how rude and horrid are the Charmings and the rest of Storybrooke for not wanting to have dinner with Regina mid season 2" . Err. Just about anyone from the Enchanted Forest, with the exception of Rumplestilskin who did his share to form her and besides is guilty of centuries more crimes, is justified in not wanting to socialize with Regina for the rest of their lives. ) (Though since Regina has interesting interactions with other characters, I'm glad some are around her anyway.) And not to prettify anything they've done. Especially when/if I want them to redeem themselves.
selenak: (Regina and Snow by Endofnights)
The other day, when looking for someone, anyone, writing anything about Regina and Snow that's not driving me crazy, I came across about the comment that "Regina has been remarkable patient with Snow", complete with somewhat later a comment about "The Charmings' black-and-white morality". Now, other than immediately thinking "you have that backwards, Ma'am, on both counts" (and massively so), it reminded me of something that I've observed in fannish circles since ye olde Highlander days, and the more time passes, the more fandoms I travel through, the less true when one looks at the actual canon it appears to me. To wit, two basic assumptions:

1) Heroes (male or female) have a black-and-white morality, are unwilling to compromise, and have a narrow, inflexible world view. By contrast, villains (and morally ambiguous characters) have a far more sophisticated point of view and are able to appreciate the shades of grey in life. This goes hand in hand with heroes being naive and child-like whereas villains are mature and smart.

2) Being able to see the moral shades of grey as opposed to having a black and white world view equals unconditionally supporting the fannish favourite, no matter what good reasons there might be to object to actions of said favourites, act against the favourite or, gasp, dislike or hate the fannish favourite.

Going back to my earliest online fandom, back in the day, and I bet that's still the case, show hero Duncan's reactions in the Horsemen episodes was unfavourably contrasted to Joe's. Duncan, a great many fans argued, was showing his narrow, black and white world view via his shock at the revelation that their friend Methos turned out to have a past as a mass murdering warlord, whereas Joe was able to see the shades of grey (different times). By which they meant Joe's instinctive reaction to Cassandra's revelations about Methos' past was "that crazy bitch must be lying" (classic rape culture, though the phrase hadn't been coined back in ye early 90s), and then, when it turned out she hadn't been lying at all "these were different times and Methos is totes different now" (well, yes, but a) doesn't mean Cassandra is obliged to forgive him, and b), that's not what you said when it wasn't your buddy but Kirin/Kage, an Immortal whom you only knew via the chronicles, Joe. Back then, you declared Duncan crazy and naive for giving Kirin/Kage the benefit of the doubt and allowing for the possibility that even an evil warlord might change and become a good person.) In conclusion, what Joe was showing in the Horsemen eps wasn't greater appreciation of shades of grey, it was buddy loyalty. Which is a very human trait, and it means he's a good friend to have, but it's really not the same thing as greater unterstanding of moral dilemmas. Meanwhile, Duncan starts by NOT declaring Cassandra a crazy lying bitch but hearing her out, then hearing Methos out, and spends the rest of both episodes despite his shock clinging to the hope Methos has changed, at least enough not to aid and abet mass killing anymore, looking for clues that this is so, and making a massive leap of faith based on that. While trying to keep both Cassandra and Methos alive. Yep, that's truly a man of black and white morality unable to see outside of his own narrow pov.

There is an earlier episode in the same season, Valkyrie, which also comes to mind here. Duncan's old friend Ingrid, due to guilt of having had the chance to kill Hitler and having been unable to go through with it, is currently assassinating wannabe dictators, demagogues and up and rising scum left, right and center, which often involves killing several or even alot of bystanders as well. Whenever I see this episode quoted as an example of Duncan having a black-and-white world view and Methos evidencing his superior understanding of the shades of grey in morality, I'm similarly boggled. What Methos evidences is his pragmatism. (Not the same thing.) He has an opinion from the get go, which is that Duncan should just kill Ingrid, never mind understanding her reasons. He doesn't budge from this opinion for the rest of the episode. It's Duncan who changes his opinion on what he should to several times depending on his state of information, who because he understands where Ingrid is coming from but also can't do nothing once he knows doing nothing means letting her kill both people for what they might or might not do, and people who happen to be in their vicinity tries just about everything to find another solution, including various attempts to talk to Ingrid and one, via cooperating with a mortal policeman, to get her arrested which would mean her imprisonment but not death. It's this mortal policeman (one of HL's great minor characters) who has the episodes most famous lines about seeing things in black and white as a child and now finding there were only shades of grey. He, too, understands Ingrid's reasons. But you know what he doesn't do? Letting her continue to do her thing and look away because of that.

Which brings me my next point. Acknowledging moral dilemmas, trying to understand where the other side is coming from, to compromise instead of pushing for a "my way or nothing at all" solution, that's not something I've seen the majority of villains do in genre tv (and cinema) during the last twenty years or so. Au contraire. It's what I keep seeing the heroes do. Take the earlier quoted Once Upon A Time examples. If anyone has a narrow black and white world view from which she only very recently is starting to move away, it's Regina. Regina actually trying to understand someone else's pov instead of always insisting she's the wronged party (even if the wrongers in question are, say, two children she kidnapped, sent in lethal danger and who strangely don't want to live with her afterwards) is breathtakingly new (and good to see). It also puts her ahead of such other fannish favourite villains as Loki (MCU edition) or Morgana (BBCs Merlin edition), who kept the "everything bad that ever happened to me is always someone else's fault and never my own, my point of view is the only one worth having, everything bad I did was something the other people had coming, and/or was someone else's fault as well, and/or who are these insects anyway and why should I care?" attitude till the very end, in Morgana's case, or till the most recent point in canon, in Loki's. But it took Regina a really long time to get there, and we still don't know whether it will keep, or whether she'll be able to show empathy for anyone she's not either related to or used to be friends with.

Meanwhile, also in Once Upon A Time, you had Snow understanding where Regina was coming from when Regina was making her first attempt on Snow's life (via the Huntsman), rescueing Regina's life (for the first, not the last time) when already an outlaw whom Regina had put a price on, expressing fervent belief in Regina's redeemability and longing for her company that stopped only when presented with the dead bodies of an entire village Regina had ordered slaughtered, saving Regina from execution (again) after her own victory and giving her the chance to live another life (again), only to have that thrown back in her face. You have Snow, the two times she has wronged Regina (once as a child, with that fatal breach of confidence which however was the result of manipulation by an adult), once as an adult, this time very intentionally and with deliberation (that spoilery thing at the end of The Miller's Daughter), doing that bemusing thing: accepting responsiblity (both times), and, following her own conviction that deeds count more than words, act on it. (Both in self punishing ways - which are spoilery ) - and in more constructive ways (also spoilery )). OuaT canon offers a lot of examples of Snow not only trying to understand Regina but actually showing she does understand Regina rather well. (Some of my favourites are spoilery )) Yup, truly a narrow-minded person unable to see anyone else's point of view, that Snow White.

There is another example that comes to mind, though more complicated, because the comics versions are written so contradictory, depending on the writers and the editor du jour and the retconned continuity du jour, and the film versions, too, have by now their somewhat internally contradictory canon, with more to come, but still: Erik "Magneto" Lehnsherr and Charles Xavier often are also quoted as examples of the sophisticated villain/morally ambiguous character able to see the shades of grey and the rigid good two shoes who can't see how much more complicated life really is than his narrow point of view. Leaving aside Xavier's own capacity for morally shady stuff in either canon and acknowledging Magneto really has the world's best backstory reason for believing everyone is out to get him and anyone close to him: I still think that estimation is having it backwards, too. Magneto in most incarnations I've seen him in has as rigid and black and white a pov as you're likely to get. He's right, everyone else who disagrees with him is wrong. Mutants are superior, non-mutants are envious little wannabe genocide committers or at best necessary historical debris. Certainly not people with an identical right to live. Compromise? Is the first step to annihilation. This isn't "seeing the shades of grey", this is a sterling black and white.

I'm not saying that all the hero characters I've named can't also be (or act) naive, or occasionally inflexible and unwilling to budge from their pov. With the longer lived ones, like Duncan, it also depends on which point of their lives you catch them. But by and large, their "narrowness" or lack of maturity seems to express itself in not being able to to look away or walk away when someone, no matter how sympathetic a someone, is actively damaging other people. And again, I point to that policeman in the Highlander episode Valkyrie. Who, as he told Duncan, is well aware that it's entirely possible the demagogic politician they've just saved from getting assassinated by Ingrid will become someone who inflicts great damage. And then he, too, would be responsible for the man's continued existence. But he still couldn't not act. The fact that there was no "good" solution, that there were shades of grey, all this didn't mean to him that he shouldn't have done anything at all or should have looked away.

I'd say that makes this character, and others like him, a mature character, able to see the shades of grey in morality, able to see other view points. And a hero. As opposed to a great many villains, with their emotionally childlike nature that tends to see things entirely in black and white, for-me-or-against-me, and their utter inability to acknowledge any shades of grey.
selenak: (Gold by TheSilverdoe)
And in other news: some very tentative looking at Once Upon A Time communities and at the fanfiction sent me back in a hurry with renewed resolution to only read reviews/comments from people I know. It's the phenomenon I first encountered during ye olde Highlander days with Methos and since then kept running into in fandom after fandom over the decades. You know, same old: canon delivers fascinating shades of grey or layered villain character. Hooray! Only... hang on. Why do so many people decide nothing is ever this character's fault and he's misunderstood and why are those MEEAAAAAN people not forgiving already, not that there is anything to forgive because he didn't seriously do anything wrong, and anyway, he's cool, and so forth, and so on. Only this time, said phenomanon comes two editions, one for Rumplestilskin and one for Regina, and for God's sake, did I really just read someone saying Snow & Charming ought to be ever so grateful to Rumpel because of everything he did for them and their family and how he "kept them safe"? SERIOUSLY?

(Also, one would think it to be self evident that blaming a seven years old child is evidence of a warped perspective, but apparantly not.)

*Deep breath* All of this has happened before. And all of this will happen again.

Incidentally, for all my renewed growling about Bill Adama, rewatching some BSG has reminded me that BSG generally atually was good about this. Both the canon and the fandom, by and large, at least to the extent that I recall (and I was admittedly never completely emersed, since the two main ships - Kara/Lee and Adama/Roslin - were ships I actively disliked). The show gave you the Cylon perspective from late s2 onwards in addition to the human one, but it never ignored or downplayed the genocide that started the saga. Most of the characters were enormously flawed, but (in varying degrees) understandable nonetheless, and there were moments of sympathy for everyone, but I never felt that if character X didn't want to forgive character Y, we were asked to see X ans Meaaaaan. There is this moment in Faith (season 4) where spoilery stuff involving Jean Barolay, a Six, Natalie and Sam Anders happens ). BSG was a flawed and at times very bleak show, but it also kept having this presentation of humans (and Cylons, so maybe I should say "sentient beings") as complicated and trying, though not always succeeding, to cope with life; as people capable of doing both horrible and wonderful things to each other. I guess that's why for all my frustrations with individual storylines and some overall decisions, I keep coming back to it, and do get a lot of narrative satisfaction from it.
selenak: (Black Widow by Endlessdeep)
Thank you for all the gloriously crazy prompts! Okay, here's the list:

1.) Natasha Romanoff (MCU)

2.) Gaius Baltar (BSG)

3.) Skyler White (Breaking Bad)

4.) Quark (DS9)

5.) Alfred Bester (Babylon 5)

6.) Joan Watson (Elementary)

7.) Emma Swan (Once Upon A Time)

8.) Caleb Temple (American Gothic)

9.) Amanda Darieux (Highlander)

10.) Arvin Sloane (Alias)

11.) Kima Greggs (The Wire)

12.) Birgitte Nyborg (Borgen)

13.) Gwen Cooper (Torchwood)

14.) Arthur Pendragon (Merlin)

15.) David Fisher (Six Feet Under)

And now behold the results! )
selenak: (Guinevere by Reroutedreams)
Day 15 - Favorite female character

This is far more difficult to answer than the previous question, not because of fewer candidates, but because of more! Also, I am a bit more fickle with my female loves, in that I’ve always have had more than one favourite. And sometimes my affection lessens a bit over the years. For example, Laura Roslin of Battlestar Galactica was certainly one of my all time favourites for a few years – there are a lot of female warriors and tomboys around, but Roslin was a rare example of that other archetype, a queen, with moral ambiguity and political shrewdness and ruthlessness, and all this being middle aged. Unfortunately, the last half season basically consisted of missing scenes as far as her personal arc was concerned and also I’d come to extremely dislike her love interest (and she evidently did not), and thus while I still liked her (and wrote my last BSG story about her), she was no longer a favourite.

One favourite which remained through ups and downs and many years past:
Amanda of Highlander (and its spin-off): a case where my affection only deepened with the years. Amanda was my favourite cat burglar before I ever “met” Selina Kyle; she has a great sense of humor, her pragmatism can tip over to the wrong side of cutting your losses, but otoh, when it does sink in she did something wrong she faces up to it and tries her best to remedy the situation. If you’re her friend, you’re her friend for life (which, considering she’s immortal, is really saying something). And her relationship with the show’s hero is still one of the most unusual m/f ones I’ve encountered in genre tv, because it’s never played as star-crossed romance or hate sex or whatever else you’d expect given he disapproves of her usual sources of income; they’re lovers when neither of them is with anyone else and friends throughout the centuries they’ve known each other, and it’s amazingly angst free. (Special situations like season finales involving a possible outing of all Immortals excempted.) The scene where she dares him to dance on the banisters (or is the right English word railing?) on top of the Eiffel Tower with her and he actually does it still captures the spirit of Amanda (and her relationship with Duncan) in a few amazing minutes.

And a most recent favourite:

Gwen (Guinevere) of Merlin: her canon didn’t always do right by her, but in terms of her overall series journey and where it lead her to, how we leave her, it did. It’s no coincidence that my first Merlin story was about her, as well as the most recent one I wrote (and I’m still planning on another one, though God knows when I’ll find the time for the necessary rewatchs to write it). Gwen’s development from servant to Queen, her quiet strength, her intelligence and observance, her affection for her friends and loved ones were lovely to watch. Again (as with Laura Roslin who memorably uses a gun only once, starts the show being told she has cancer and would not last in a hands to hands combat scene), I appreciated that while we see Gwen with a sword in her hands perhaps only three or so times in the five seasons of the show, and then only in dire emergency situations, she was a strong character anyway. (Because in the last decade or so this idea that the only way a female character can be strong is if she also is a superior martial artist seems to have taken hold both in fandom(s) and in production bureaus.) When I’d have to list “most impressive Gwen scenes” they would entail her talking to other characters. Because how she connects and confronts, if necessary: that’s one main reason why Gwen is my current favourite.

The rest of the days )
selenak: (Alice by Letmypidgeonsgo)
1. Leave a comment to this post.
2. If requested, I will give you a letter (feel free to comment if you've already had a letter from elsewhere or don't want one).
3. Post the names of five fictional characters whose names begin with that letter, and your thoughts on each. The characters can be from books, movies, or TV shows

[personal profile] legionseagle gave me the letter A.

A is for.... )
selenak: (Henry and Eleanor by Poisoninjest)
From various people on my flist, most lately ruuger:

First TV show fandom I had self-insertion fantasies about: Probably Karl May's novels, which were the first ones I read as a child. I was totally up for adventuring with Winnetou, chief of the Apaches. Now, by the time I saw Lawrence of Arabia on tv, I was twelve and hormones were kicking in, so my self insertion fantasy there definitely included romance. Undeterred by the lack of female characters and the lack of knowledge about slash, my twelve years old self simply gifted Ali (Omar Sharif's character) with a sister who promptly married Lawrence. (Thankfully I never wrote any of this down.) (I didn't have to have self insertion fantasies about Star Trek which was my biggest fandom from my childhood and teenage years because movie canon gave me Saavik, whom teenage me decided to identify with completely. Spock's protegé! Half Romulan, half Vulcan! Doesn't fall for Kirk! Why, we were practically twins.)

First fandom in which I interacted (online and in person) with other fans: In person, Star Trek. I went to conventions, bought the zines, had the debates, volunteered for quizzes, etc. Online, Highlander.

Pairing in the first slash fanfiction I read: Either Garak/Bashir or Picard/Q, I honestly don't remember which one I read first (in one of those zines I had bought at FedCon), but one of these two.

First fanfiction I read that made me think, 'YES, this is exactly the kind of fanfiction I'd like to write...': Hmmmm. None of those early ST (any ST) tales struck me that way, but I remember by the time I got online and was majorly into HL, McGeorge's post season 5 finale epic impressed the hell out of me. It had plot (a more impressive one than the s6 canon resolution, so that was my first experience with the fanfic-did-it-better phenomenon, too), great characterisation for everyone (and used Joe and Amanda in addition to Duncan and Methos, as opposed to being solely D/M), and a well integrated OC. It was the first time fanfic really impressed me instead of just being a fun addition to fannish life, but I'm not sure it was in the "I wish I could write like that" way. Kat Allison's stories a bit later definitely had that effect, though. Last Set Before Closing was just so mercilessly good and unafraid to go up against beloved fanon assumptions while being entirely plausible characterisation that it had the "YES" effect in addition to the "damn, that's good!" effect.

Pairing in the first fanfiction I wrote: Oddly enough, the first fanfiction I wrote was entirely gen and dealt with a messed up family relationship. (That was sarcasm; I'm mainly a gen writer, though I do the occasional slash or het centric tale now and then, and messed up families are my thing.) Genuinenly oddly, it wasn't in any of my main fandoms at the time. It was a Star Wars story, and I was only ever mildly entertained by SW in my teens and didn't really get into it until much later when the prequels came around. But still, the first fanfiction I ever wrote was about Luke transitioning from "Noooooo...." in Empire Strikes Back re: that revelation by Vader to accepting the truth of it in Return of the Jedi. Years later, when [personal profile] bimo created her website for German fanfiction, it came in handy and I sent it to her, and that's how we "met".

First OTP: Garak/Bashir. How do I know it was an OTP? Because I felt very disgruntled when canon stopped giving us Garak/Bashir scenes while continuing to give us Bashir/O'Brien ones, to the degree that sometimes I gave poor Miles the stinky eye when he was on screen with the good doctor. I had yet to develop the maturity of being a multishipper.*g*

First RPS/F OTP: Henry II/Eleanor of Aquitaine. Basically I watched The Lion in Winter as a sixteen years old, was spell bound and started to do research. I guess you could blame my fondness for frenemies who start as friends/allies/lovers/insert appropriate name of close relationship/ and become enemies while still having a deeper understanding of each other than they have of anyone else in their lives on James Goldman and the Plantagenents. Also Katherine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. What else happened in my late teenage years and my early twenties? Why, I started to read Beatles biographies, after having grown up with the music but knowing nothing about the people behind it. So you can probably guess the effect discovering the two main songwriters went from best friends-plus-rivals to having a very public divorce (thus termed by both of them) to having a delicate truce that could include support as well as arguments had on me.

First fannish friend I met in person: Discounting everyone whom I met in person first, it was [personal profile] kathyh. We "met" in Highlander and shared many a fandom ever since. Also she lives in Croydon near London which means I can see her when visiting the British capital.

First character I formally roleplayed: Londo Mollari. Ah, those were the theatrical_muse days....
selenak: (Toby and Andy by Amorfati)
30 – Do you have a favorite fic you've written? What makes it your favorite? And don't forget to give us a link!

Considering I have currently 156 stories listed at the AO3 archive, which don't include the occasional drabble, you'll forgive me if I can't narrow it down to one. However, after a lot of ponderings and narrowing it down etc., here's the short list I came up with:

The Burying Kind: this is a crossover between Angel and Six Feet Under. Well, technically I should say "between Angel, Buffy and Six Feet Under" since some BTVS characters show up as well and the BTVS backstory is important, but it does take place after BTVS has ended, during AtS' fifth season and the fourth one of SFU. It was born out of a remark [personal profile] kangeiko made, that given both shows are set in Los Angeles, it would only make sense if Angel hired Fisher & Sons (who were Fisher & Diaz at that point) to do something spoilery for the fifth season ). This sounded like a fantastic idea to me, and the result was one quite ambitious ensemble story in which I could tackle grief, friendship, sibling relationships, post traumatic stress syndrome and the like, and take full advantage of the quirks of either show, such as SFU's use of "ghosts" (which is why David Fisher doesn't blink when he sees an AtS one, not realising this is the genuine article) and gleefully draw conclusions. (Come on, you just know Olivier would be a client of Wolfram & Hart's artist division, with all the lawsuits he's bound to get!) The greatest challenge for any crossover is to write it in a way that makes it enjoyable to read for people familiar with both canons but also for people who only know one of the canons in question, i.e. you have to give some background information but find ways of doing so that don't feel annoying to people who already know. Also, the character interaction should make sense and be about more than "wouldn't it be cute if X met Y?". And of all the many crossovers I wrote, this one to me feels where I achieved all these goals best.

Runaways: one of the two Heroes stories I'm proudest of and love best, with an actual plot (borrowed from Brian K. Vaughan) and again, what I consider an achieved goal of ensemble use and interaction in a way that works emotionally, providing both humour and angst. Plus I'm still smug about having come up with John Williams tunes as a method of communication. :)

Five in One: sometimes I write stories that are also meant as meta (sometimes on a character or several, sometimes on fandom; sometimes on a source, here it was all of the above). This BtVS one is a case in point, written not sine, but cum irae et studio; it dealt with several issues I had, was a great way to exorcise them (for the time being) and still works imo as a story. Or five. About five of Spike's victims, from their point of view.

City Girls: this, on the other hand, is a labour of love, for both Buffy Summers and the city of Rome. (Some Dawn love also contributed.) Inspired by the AtS episode Damage casually mentioning Buffy and Dawn were living in Rome. Having spent three months near the place myself in the mid-90s, something clicked in me. I still consider this my definite Buffy character portrait.

Quark's Day: inspired originally by [personal profile] altariel's reply to a "describe a story I never wrote" challenge, this is my DS9 ensemble story par excellence, set directly after the Second Occupation arc of season 6 has ended, and of all the many DS9 stories I wrote the one that best declares my love for the entire show, not just one aspect or character. (I also think it's my best Quark character portrait, but then, I would. :)

In Vino Veritas: it's rare that one gets to pioneer a slash pairing. This is by no means one of my best stories (though it has some good dialogue), and definitely not my best Babylon 5 story, but it was the very first Londo/G'Kar slash story, and allow me to bask in my pioneer pride and love it for this.

Death and the Maiden: one of the rare stories where you feel you have taken your writing to another level. Not just limited to fanfiction. I had never written anything as dark before, not in a way that still, many years later, makes me feel I did justice to the subject(s) instead of not quite coming through. It's a Highlander story dealing with Cassandra's backstory (and thus also with Methos, rape, brainwashing and the reinvention/discovery of self). Aside from authorial satisfaction, this was the story that made [personal profile] honorh write feedback the second time and thus brought me my second oldest internet friend, so I have an additional reason to treasure it.

[personal profile] aadler suggested two additional questions for this meme a while ago, to wit:

31 – Which fanfic authors and/or stories have had the most influence on your writing?

Back in ye olde Highlander days, when I was just cutting my teeth writing in another language (i.e. English), Mary Galasso a) was one of the few gen writers (HL was somewhat like Merlin today in that it was overwhelmingly a slash fandom, with some het thrown in, and not much gen), b) told me about this new show she was watching called Buffy the Vampire Slayer and c) kind enough to beta my early efforts, so definitely her. (Conversely, MacGeorge wrote fabulous and very hot D/M stories, but they influenced me as a reader in my early stage of slash discovery, not as a writer (seeing as I never wrote D/M).) [personal profile] katallison wrote this absolutely fantastic HL story called Last Set Closing in which Duncan visits an aged Joe partly ravaged by dementia which stll is one of the best things I've read in any fandom and showed me you can tackle such subjects in fanfiction in a non-superficial, non-patronizing way. Without facile solutions, and without feeling like a gratitious angst pile, either. (As I imagine many people do, I had an elderly relation suffering from dementia at the time, so it really hit home.)

32 – Are there any stories you want to write that you’re afraid to tackle? If so, what and why?

One comes immediately to mind. Basically the first idea I had after finishing my West Wing marathon was that I wanted to read, or, since a satisfying version didn't exist, write a story about Toby, incensed that the President dared to pardon him and with a whole lot of other issues besides, drives out to New Hamsphire and gets conveniently snowed in chez Bartlet so that he and Jed can have it out. I still want to read or write that story, and it still scares the hell out of me, because you probably need to be a first rate playwright to do it justice, not least because these are two of the most verbally adroit and intelligent characters in a show full of great talkers, but also because there are so many things they wouldn't say without going ooc. In the end, I backed away, but I did use some muddled ideas about that relationship (which was the most fascinating one on the show to me) for my brief character study Words and the Men.

The rest of the questions )
selenak: (Hiro by lay of luthien)
28 – Have you ever collaborated with anyone else, whether writing together, or having an artist work on a piece about your fic?

Well, for one thing, I've been participating in the Remix ficathon for a few years, and of course that means several fellow fanfic writers were inspired by several stories of mine to write their own. Also, two stories of mine were made into a podfic, which also is a collaboration post facto in that the stories were vocally interpreted by the ladies in question. Oh, and the lovely [personal profile] futuresoon drew fabulous fanart for my Heroes story Runaways!

However, once I collaborated on fanfiction in the sense the word is usually employed. This was in my first internet fandom (though not first fandom altogether), Highlander, where I found myself beta-reading a story for a friend. It sported a German oc villain. Now, blond German villains who are mostly there so your heroine has someone to duel and defeat are really in danger of wandering into a certain clichéd direction, and so, as part of my beta duties, I found myself writing a letter from said villain, Wolfgang, to his student showing most of my friend's story (except for the ending, where he dies) from his pov, which served the triple purpose of trying to make him more into a three dimensional person, to connect him with one of my favourite HL episodes, Valkyrie and the main guest character therein, and to allow me to get a few digs out about poor Duncan's atrocious German in said episode. It wasn't meant as a serious piece of fiction. However, Vi (my friend) felt inspired, wondered what would happen if the student were to meet her heroine, and before we knew it, we were batting plot ideas to and thro together with our mutual friend and beta-reader Parda and then were writing a story. After we had worked out a plot, I wrote the Ludwig (that's the name of the student) pov parts, she wrote the Elena pov parts, and it went surprisingly well. I say surprising because I had never written with someone else before, and I'm usually far too bristly and hedgehog-like during the writing process to do that, being very possessive about my plot and characterisation ideas. But in that case, I was playing on Vi's territory anyway, plus I wanted to try it one time when nothing of mine was at stake.

So we wrote the story, called "Shades of White". It wasn't the most popular of either of our stories, featuring two OCs in the central roles and canon characters Methos, Joe and Duncan only in supporting roles, but it was a fun experience for me, and hey, any time I'm able to contribute three-dimensional German characters instead of the 10045064th snarling Nazi... The story is rather lengthy and depending on the backstory for Vi's OC, Elena, so I won't link it here, but she posted the brief villain's letter that started the whole experiment as a story as well, so here it is: Wolfgang's Tale. This is what happens when you ask your beta to German-pick your villain.

The rest of the questions )
selenak: (River Song by Famira)
Five Fannish Lines in the Sand (i.e., things in fandom you are inflexible about.)

1.) When following a fannish source (books, tv show, films) becomes more a chore than a source of joy, then quit. As opposed to stay and endlessly complain. I don't mean "get out at the first sign of trouble/boredom", but at some point it has to become obvious that the fannish source won't provide you anymore with whatever made you watch/read in the first place, and then staying around and posting complaint after complaint is just making everyone unhappy - you and the other people in the fandom, some of whom presumably still enjoy the fannish source. Thankfully, I only reached that point with two ongoing fandoms (Earth: Final Conflict and Heroes), but reach it I did, so I was forced to practice what I preach on those two occasions.

2.) Fictional bashing is of the devil. I get character dislike. *eyes Bill Adama* And the need to express it. But while I do have a few characters - not many, but they do exist - whom I heartily dislike beyond the "eh" level of shrugging - I wouldn't waste my time writing entire stories devoted to inflicting various deadful things on them, or rants by the other characters about their flaws (as opposed to my own rants *g*). Nor would I read these stories. Much more fun to read and write stories focused on characters I'm at least interested in or at best like/love. In fact, if it has to be a story about a character I dislike and I have to read it for some reason, I'd rather read one written by someone who is a fan of said character than bashing fic. They usually are both better written and occasionally make me think.

3.) Beware of Shipping Wars (and demonization of third parties during same). Nothing good ever comes of them. They happen in most fandoms, and I've yet to witness one which didn't produce bad feelings for the participants, the characters in question, or the original fannish source and its writer(s) or all of the above. One of the most annoying traits of them is everyone's insistence that they and their 'ship are the persecuted oppressed (even if their 'ship happens to be one of the largest in the fandom in question), and they behave in a perfectly reasonable manner, whereas the opposition is vile, everywhere and only ever behaves childishly and maliciously. And that's before they start to compare whichever character they see as an obstacle to their 'ship (usually, but not always female) to real life objectionable people and claim oppressed minority status for their own pairing of choice. Staying away from shipping wars, on the other hand, is a life line to sanity and saves me from starting to dislike characters due to their romantically inclined fans.

4.) Beware Fannish Entitlement. I think fans are owed precisely one thing by the writers/actors/composers/whichever type of artists who produce their fannish source, and one thing only. Professional excellence. I.e. writers trying to write as good a book/script as they can, actors delivering as good a performance as they can, etc. Nothing else. They're not owed actors supporting their 'ship of choice, seeing the characters like they do, or actors showing up at conventions at all. They're not owed producers sharing their own story priorities. They're not owed writers approving of fanfiction. Now, obviously, since I write fanfiction, I'm on the pro fanfic side myself. But to act as if it's the duty of any author to be grateful to inspire fanfiction and any other reaction is a horrible betrayal of their fans' devotion is guaranteed to immediately make me roll my eyes and think "oh, please" instead of sympathizing with the indignant fan in question.

5.) Know Your Fannish Material. By which I mean: I have this pet peeve about people writing fanfiction (and to lesser degree, about people making absolute characterisation declarations in debates) based on other people's fanfiction instead of the primary source. Or doing this with extremely limited knowledge of the source. (To use my standard Highlander example: people basing their knowledge of HL and the characters in same other than Methos on having watched only the Methos episodes.) Yes, there are fandoms like Doctor Who, where it's virtually impossible to be familiar with the entirety of canon (thanks, BBC, for burning those Second Doctor episodes!), not least due to the sheer size of canon. (No, I still haven't watched every yet available DW episode, either. Though I am working on it.) And it's entirely possible to write, say, with River Song, or Rose Tyler for that matter as a central focus without any Old Who knowledge. But if you want to write a story about River meeting Sarah Jane Smith or Rose running into the Brigadier, then it really isn't good enough to have read another story featuring SJS or the Brig. (Or, to go back to HL: if a central issue in your post Horseman Methos and Duncan story is that someone lectures Duncan on how he's too inflexible to accept one can be a bloodthirsty warlord in one lifetime and a good guy in another you just prove you haven't watched the Methos-less Blind Faith which makes a rather important point about Duncan in this regard.) In that case, there is no excuse for you not having watched at least some of the episodes featuring them yourself. In other words, do yourself a favour and do your homework. And yes, I always try to do mine, even if it includes rewatching one of the most unpopular DS9 episodes ever. :)
selenak: (AmandaRebecca by Kathyh)
21 – Sequels – Have you ever written a sequel to a fic you wrote, and if so, why, and if not, how do you feel about sequels?

Generally speaking, I don't like sequels; usually you tell the story you wanted to, it has a natural ending, and then there is no reason to add something other than it's popular. But of course there are exceptions to every rule, as I found out both as a reader and a writer. Originally I meant the story Incubus to stand on its own, but then I wondered about two different things - what became of Joe`s daughter Amy after the episode Indiscretions, and what would happen to Andrew Lanart after Incubus? - which led to the semi-sequel/side story
Transferences. While writing it, it occured to me that both stories demanded a follow-up in which Cassandra and Methos would meet again, we'd see Amy in her new job, and various issues raised by the previous two stories needed to come to head, and before I knew it, I wrote Once Out of Nature and had a trilogy.

The rest of the questions )
selenak: (Lochley by Melligator)
20 – Do you ever get bunnied from other people's stories or art in the same fandom?

It happens. The other inspiration for Lost in Translation (see last entry) was a discussion [personal profile] cremains and [profile] iamsab had in the comments to [personal profile] cremains Londo/G'Kar story, and I also got inspired by [personal profile] andraste's War Stories. Conversely, my Highlander stories featuring Cassandra (and Methos) were inspired, in a backlash way, by the sheer number of Cassandra bashing stories existing at that time in which she turns into a bloodthirsty madwoman so Methos (or Duncan, or whoever) can behead her without being bothered by that pesky backstory between her and Methos anymore. I always believed "do better" to be a useful reaction to such fannish annoyances.

The rest of the questions )
selenak: (Sternennacht - Lefaym)
8 – Do you write OCs? And if so, what do you do to make certain they're not Mary Sues, and if not, explain your thoughts on OCs.

I don't write OCs often, being a canon girl at heart, but sometimes they're simply necessary for the story to work. And then there are the characters who are original characters in all but name, i.e. canon tells us of their existence and sometimes provides a name, but doesn't give us anything further, so you have to make up the personality if you want to use them. Again, usually I need a bit more from canon to intrigue me, but not always.

Going through my work, here are the original characters I found, counting only OCs that take up a sizable portion of the story and have a more important role than to say "ready to order, ma'am?":


Andrew Lanart in the Covenants series, specifically the stories Incubus and Transferences; the later also has an important OC named Mireille Lejeune. Andrew Lanart is Cassandra's Watcher and a minor (but important) character in Incubus and a major supporting character in Transferences, a story that uses the events of Incubus as background but is about Amy Thomas (Joe's daughter) finding her way after the episode Indiscretions and figuring out for herself what it means to be a Watcher. Mireille Lejeune is her supervisor. The Mary Sue question never even presented itself due to Lanart's function in both stories, and if Lejeune can be accused of anything, then of fulfilling the wise mentor stereotype.


The unnamed campaign worker from the Petrelli campaigin in my crack story Campaign Secrets from whose perspective the story is told. This was a story written for comedy effect and the narrator's constant misinterpretations (or are they, she asks sinisterly) of the first season events she observes are the very point of the tale.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:

My childhood story about Kai Winn, Chosen, has two important OCs, a childhood friend of hers named Lerin and a Vedek who has to choose between them both. Considering we know nothing of Winn Adami's childhood, it was necessary to make up both characters in order to show young Adami in development. Again, the Mary Sue question didn't pose itself due to what happens in the story.

Technically not original characters because canon tells us of their existence but doesn't do more than that which I wrote about were:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

Everyone in Five in One, my story about five of Spike's victims. These people existed (I quote the relevant dialogue from the show at the end of each part), but with the exception of Nikki Wood and her son Robin, we don't see them on screen (and the Nikki section is told by her Watcher who later adopted Robin, a character mentioned but not seen on screen). And the crux of the story, the big challenge, was to make each of them real and complex, with their own story, hopes and dreams, that come to an abrupt end when each of them encounters Spike.

Babylon 5:

The four Centauri telepaths from White Lies. We see these women in the episode Coming of Shadows (where they never speak a word), but never again, and one of the reasons why I wrote the story was that I wondered what had become of them and why they weren't around in Cartagia's time anymore. It allowed me some world building while pondering what it would mean for them to be raised the way they were, and how they would cope after Turhan's death. It also allowed me a glimpse on post-show Londo. But I don't imagine any reader would like to be them, and I certainly would not, so - no danger of Sueing.

The rest of the questions )
selenak: (BeastBrand by Stacyx)
3 – For each of the fandoms from day two, what were your favorite characters to write?

I'll limit the fandoms to those I wrote more than five stories in, because less than that don't really cut it for favourites.

Babylon 5: I started with the Centauri - Londo, Vir, Timov, Adira, Mariel, Cartagia - and of course one Narn, G'Kar - and then branched out to the telepaths - Bester, Talia, Lyta, and in a combination of what interested me most, Centauri telepaths, i.e. the four women serving Emperor Turhan - and eventually the humans (Garibaldi, Morden, Sinclair, Anna Sheridan and Lochley). What surprised me was that I found the human characters, who hadn't been my main focus as a watcher, as easy to write as the characters whose dialogue I could have recited at some point, and that I enjoyed writing them a lot instead of feeling I was just doing my duty for various challenges. This being said: I'd lie if I said Londo wasn't my favourite here as well. Closely followed by Timov and Vir. Their voices were just instantly accessible to me; I never hand a ponder for long what they would say or think, whereas I did that for G'Kar. Oddly enough, my favourite G'Kar pov story is one which features Londo only a secondary character, and Mariel as a main character; I had a blast writing Mariel and her affair with G'Kar which is about many different things for both of them, and none of them involves love. Also, this was where I felt I got G'Kar's darker side which isn't much dealt with in fanfiction because his arc is one of enlightnment. Someone I loved writing nearly as much as my Centauri was Bester, both about from someone else's pov and from his own. Not to mention that he's one of those characters born for crossovers because no matter which universe you put him in, the dialogue almost writes itself, conflicts are inevitable, and plot is guaranteed to happen.

Heroes: Oh, Petrellis. How I used to love you all. Also Bennets. And Hiro. And Molly. And Matt. And unexpectedly, in the second season, Mohinder. And Bob. And Nikki. And... anyway. If I have to narrow it down, my favourite character to write was Nathan (both in the sense of writing about and writing pov), but I had expected that, whereas Nikki, for whom the show writing as shaky for even in season 1, was the character who surprised me most because I had never expected to want to write her, and writing her I did. I first wrote her pov as one of three sections in a post-s1 story. And then when I wrote my Heroes-as-Runaways story which is, depending on my mood, my favourite or second favourite of anything I wrote for Heroes, I need someone other than Peter to talk back to Nathan and (as opposed to Peter) be immune to the big brother treatment, and teenage Nikki was perfect. The last Heroes story I wrote before quitting the fandom was about Bob and Nikki and the curiously affectionate relationship that developed between them (especially in the lights of what Bob did to his own daughter and what Nikki's father did to her), and somehow that fit. I also enjoyed writing Claire a lot, but the memory of one single story - the other one who is either my favourite or second favourite - which was basically my attempt to venture into Gaiman territory, makes Molly my favourite female to write. She was the ideal child heroine to experience the Heroesverse via dreams and fairytales. So: Nathan, Nikki, Molly.

Angel: the Series: Darla and Connor, no ifs, no buts. Most of my AtS stories feature one or the other, and in one instance I'm very fond of, both. Surprise third: Lorne, because I never planned on writing him, but first bimo dared me, which resulted in a Lorne and Wesley tale and then he just had to meet post-Not Fade Away Connor, and then he showed up in my SFU crossover as well, and every time, his lines just flowed to my pen, err, computer.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Quark. Which surprised me as my Quark fondness did, because back in the day like most people I fell for Garak when getting into DS9. And I did and do enjoy writing Garak just as I enjoy watching the character, but somehow Quark snuck up on me and became not only my favourite DS9 character but also commandeered a lot of my stories. Most recently he smuggled himself into a DS9 Yuletide story where the prompter had asked about Worf, Ezri, Jadzia and Julian and stole every scene he was in. I also tend to partially blame him of making me fall for Dax just as he did, and somehow this resulted not only in Jadzia being a key character in several stories but an epic tale about an obscure bit of Curzon (and also Jadzia) backstory, and most recently Ezri. Now I might have written Kira as often as Dax (and Five things that never happened between Kira and Dukat is certainly one of the DS9 tales I'm proudest of), but if we're talking about whom I loved to write more? Dax. And then there was Winn, Winn Adami, Kai Winn, whom I loved writing, too, bless her Renaissance cardinal self. Character whom I didn't expect to love writing but did: Jake Sisko. My two Jake stories came unprompted and unrequested, they simply happened because he talked to me.

Alias: give you three guesses, and the first two don't count. Arvin Sloane. Second favourite: Marshall.

Merlin (TV): I love them all, our regulars (plus Morgause), but I have to choose the hapless Sir William of Deira, because he was such a blast to flesh out, and Kilgarrah, because I have a thing for the wily old beast and could indulge my mythic vein as well as the one for old-and-messed-up when writing the Great Dragon.

Doctor Who: Jooooooooo. I mean, I tried my hand at several incarnations of the Doctor and am told this came across credibly for the regenerations in question, which made me relieved and proud, but writing Jo Grant just was my favourite thing in this fandom ever.

X-Men (Comicverse): Abigail Brand and Hank McCoy. Bet you're surprised. I was a bit frightened to dabble in the comicverse at first because of the decades of backstory, and started with a vignette about Emma Frost, but then basically Brand captured me and never let me go, and Hank is, well, how can you not love (comicverse) Hank? And there was a distinct lack of fanfiction about the former, while the later mostly showed up with Bobby, and not that I begrudge any Iceman/Beast shippers their rich comicverse history, but it wasn't my thing. Hence the call of the muse.

Highlander: The Series: Cassandra. Death and the Maiden is still one of the stories which I think put me on another level as a writer to where I was before, and Cassandra was actually the first case of me falling for a fandom underdog who was hated in wide circles for her attitude towards the fandom favourite. It's a bit like with Quark and Garak - Methos was the character I loved first and certainly expected to love and write about, and he shows up in most of my HL fanfiction, but Cassandra is the one I ended up loving most writing.

Star Wars: Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. Well, he did get me into the fandom to begin with, so this is no surprise, though of my SW stories most are actually of another pov; he's one of those characters that work best for me (in a story) explored from the outside, with one exception; the story about the newly renamed, crippled and rebuild Vader experiencing life in his shell.

Battlestar Galactica (2003): I think most of these were crossovers, but a few weren't, and anyway, the answer is Laura Roslin. She did not stay my favourite character - which she was at the beginning - but she was my favourite to write about, either from her or someone else's pov.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy. Most of my few BTVS pieces were disguised meta, more or less, except for City Girls; I never had the urge to write for BTVS the way I did for AtS despite loving both shows equally.

Torchwood: To my surprise, I find Jack is in all my stories, and several of them deal with someone else's relationship with him (Owen's and Alice's, to be precise, which reminds me: too bad they never met. Not that a meeting would have gone necessarily well, but it would have been interesting.) "Surprise" because he never was my favourite character on either TW or DW. But he's undeniably a good catalyst. This being said, I don't think I have a favourite character to write in my stories. (As opposed to having some on the show itself.) Other than Jack showing up (even if just in the sense of being talked about, as in "Backstage Management"), there is no red thread, and they all cover different aspects of Torchwood.

The rest of the questions )


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