Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Short Q&A With DiNovia


1. Why did you start writing?
When I was 8 or 9, I remember watching “Buck Rogers” on TV with Gil Gerard and Erin Gray.  I was crushed every time Buck and Wilma came close to expressing their feelings for each other and yet failed to do so. I didn’t understand that Unresolved Sexual Tension was a trope for shows like “Buck Rogers” that helped keep audiences interested and returning to watch. So I decided to write extended endings to some of my favorite episodes. I didn’t know that what I was writing was fan fiction or that it even had any value outside of my own satisfaction. It wasn’t until I had graduated college and was writing Star Trek: TNG fan fiction that I discovered fanzines and, later, internet archives of stories. I wrote to see the stories I wanted to see with characters I already loved.

2. If you had to do it all over again would you still write?
Absolutely. Sharing my writing has given me a large extended family that spans over 20 countries. These people have been a support to me for over a decade and have been present for some very large life changes. I would never change that.

3. Once you’ve written a story do you ever sit down and read it for enjoyment?
Yes. I enjoy rediscovering stories I forgot I wrote, for instance. Reading my own stories, especially much later, gives me a buffer of time in which I can see the work differently. I try to read them as a fan of the show or characters would read them, to see how certain situations or lines of dialogue work or don’t work. Sometimes I surprise myself. I have, more than once, caught myself thinking “I wrote this? Me? This is good!”

4. How did you start writing Xena fan fiction?
I discovered Missy Good’s XWP stories before I knew XWP was a television show. I was on the internet looking for Star Trek femslash in the early 90s and followed a link that came highly recommended. I fell into her work thinking it was original! Imagine my surprise when I found the television show and saw fan fiction coming alive on my screen. Missy’s stories always faded away and left much of the intimacy to the imagination. The television show, as far as I was concerned, did the same thing. I honestly thought it was the first television show about an established lesbian couple saving the world. My innocence still makes me laugh.

Once I figured out the whole dynamic and discovered the sheer numbers of writers posting XWP fanfiction, a friend of mine, a gay man who had always loved my writing, suggested I throw my hat into the ring. He provided the computer and the internet connection and I wrote and wrote and wrote.

5. Is your muse a constant companion, or does it abandon you for long periods of time?
Ugh. Tanked Muse (think Lori Petty as Tank Girl but surlier) abandons me for long, long periods of time. Particularly if I am in a happy, healthy, loving relationship. I sometimes wonder if all that creative energy is subsumed in the daily give and take of a happy relationship or if Tanked Muse gets lonely and skulks away.

6. How do you feel about sequels?
I’m known for attempting arcs of stories around a theme (that I never quite finish) so I am okay with sequels if done well.

7. Is writing a quiet thing for you, where there can't be any noise or conversation going on?
I cannot write in the same room with a television going. I find it too distracting. However, I absolutely require music, particularly music that reflects the emotional tone of whatever scene or section I am working on. Thank G-d for the invention of Pandora. I have 15 channels ready to go just for my writing alone.

8. Do you prefer to write/read romance, angst, horror etc, etc?
Romance with a side of hurt/comfort (provided the hurt portion does not include sexual assault). If the genre is law/crime drama, I enjoy a good procedural mixed in. If the genre is science fiction, I enjoy a good plot in which the romance is a natural component. I do not like PWP as a general rule. I loathe angst or major character death.

9. What usually sparks a story idea for you?
It is usually a combination of a scene on the actual show and how I would have written the aftermath of it if I were “in charge.”

10. Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere. I have used patches of my own experiences, of others’, pure imagination, my love of language, of history, of  philosophy and religion, and of science to fuel my writing. Everything gets used eventually.

11. What advice can you give to future writers?
Write what you want to see and have it proofread or Beta-read. Twice. Three times if you can. But do it.

12. What has the show Xena meant to you?
Xena was very important to me as a writer and as a lesbian. I sincerely felt that the relationship was canon and it was the first time I saw my own desires, my own emotional foundation reflected in a television show. It helped me become confident enough in my writing to share it with strangers and it garnered me real life friends who have been with me for years.

13. How do you feel about the way it ended?
I never made it that far, unfortunately. I left the show after “In Sickness and In Hell” which was so offensive to me as to be unwatchable. I was sincerely disturbed by the Hope arc, by Solon’s death (“Maternal Instincts” is an episode I will never be able to watch again, ever), by the Rift and by the physical abuse Gabrielle suffered in the opening scenes of “Bitter Suite.” It killed the joy for me. I couldn’t see past what was, essentially, a rape that gave rise to an evil child and tore apart the OTP. That wasn’t what I had signed up for and I didn’t see the need for it.

I heard later about the ending, but for me the show had jumped the shark long before that. What happened in the last few episodes was, to me, as far removed from my understanding of XWP as it possibly could be and still claim to be the show.

14. How real are your characters to you?
They have to be real to you while you are writing in order to make them real to your readers. I get subsumed into the characters as I am writing. However, I am able to come out of that, too. I have to in order to edit. I have to be me, reading with a critical eye, in order to cut what I need to in order to make the story its best.

15. Do your characters speak to you?
Not to me, as such. But I have to be able to hear their voices in my head. If I can’t hear the voice saying the words I am writing, then the dialogue falls short and the story suffers. This is why I do not watch or read interviews with the actors while I am writing. It takes the voice of the character away. I made that mistake with XWP actually. Watching Lucy Lawless on the Rosie O’Donnell Show completely destroyed the voice of Xena in my head. I couldn’t hear Xena’s voice after that and had to stop writing her.

I made the same mistake with Guiding Light more recently, causing yet another work stoppage.

16. Are you in control of your story, or do the characters run the show?
It’s a give and take. Sometimes I get a word in edgewise. My best writing comes in bursts of creativity that flow. When I am stopping/starting or lurching in a scene, I know I have work to do on it. If I sit down and 2 hours later I have 5000 words that seemed to come from nowhere, I know the work is good.

17. Have you created a character that you would like to meet?
I don’t generally work with original characters in my fan fiction. Taren from my XWP story “Something More Than This” was an exception. I’d like to meet her.

I’d also like to meet my interpretations of Casey Novak (Law & Order: SVU) and Natalia Rivera (Guiding Light).

18. How would you feel about another writer giving one of your characters a cameo in their story?
It’s been done, actually.  But not with a character. With me! A friend of mine wrote a character in her story that was based on my online persona of DiNovia, right down to the name. I loved it. It was a great compliment.

19. Has online writing changed your life in any way?
Considering I just married a woman I met 15 years ago through Star Trek: Voyager fan fiction, I would say so! In addition, I co-own (with my wife, Lisa Countryman) an online mailing list called Voq Je Bang (or VJB, for short) and we boast 1500 members from 20+ countries. This group has been active for almost 14 years and has been a large part of our lives. I can’t imagine a day without VJB.

20. Have you ever been stalked on the internet by an overzealous fan?
I have not, however, my wife has been. It is an experience I would not wish upon anyone.

21. Which one of your online stories is your favorite?
It is a tie for me between “Queen of Hearts” (ST:VOY) and “Diamonds and Rust” (L&O:SVU).

22. Do you have to do a lot of rewrites?
No, not many.  If a story isn’t working, I abandon it for a while and come back. If it still doesn’t work, I drop it entirely.

23. Is there ever a point in your writing where you get stuck each and every time? How do you get out of it?
No.  If I get stuck at a point it is because I am either bored (which means the reader will be, too) or because something is wrong with the pacing or the plot.

24. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy the most and why?
I like when it is finally as done as I can make it and it’s ready to post. I love the sharing aspect of it.

25. When you're working on a story are you obsessed with it until it's done?
Generally, yes.

26. Who are your favorite top five writers? Online or published.
Lisa Countryman, Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Lamott, Ryuchan, and Elizabeth Moon

27. The song says "Who rules the world? Girls." If that were true would the world be a better place?
Depends on the girls. Geek girls? Definitely. Writer girls? Nerd girls? Science girls? Smart girls? Yes, absolutely. Mean girls? Not so much.  ;)

28. Do you write a story straight through, or do you write in pieces, then put it all together.
Straight through. I see it as a film in my head.

29. Do you read books for pleasure while you are writing?
I read all the time. If I am not reading, I feel my brain begin to congeal.

30. Do you have a favorite Greek God?
Artemis followed by Persephone and Ceres.

31. Do you have a pet peeve?
GRAMMAR is IMPORTANT. Please use it correctly! Also, I cannot stand when a writer misspells a character’s name consistently. Or the unnecessary truncation of a name for cuteness’ sake. A good example of that are writers who shorten Seven’s name to Sev. Ugh.

32. What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Writing. I will always write. I am also hoping to be involved somehow in cellular biology one day. I don’t know how yet, but one day.

33. What is your favorite word?

34. What is your least favorite word?
Shart or any derivation thereof.

35. What turns you on?
Intelligence and a smart sense of humor. Unusual leaps of insight. A terrific smile. Glasses.

36. What turns you off?
A lack of compassion. Narcissism. Cruelty.

37. What sound or noise do you love?
A rumbling thunderstorm.

38. What sound or noise do you hate?
A screeching alarm clock.

39. What is your favorite curse word?
Jesus Fucking Christ

40. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

41. What profession would you absolutely not like to participate in?
Anything having to do with money or finance, particularly accounting.

42. If Heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
“See, I told you everything was going to be okay.”

Here are DiNovia's favorite stories:
Diamonds and Rust - 32 pages
Alex Cabot returns to New York ten years after the events that took place in "Ghost" only to find that more has changed than she ever thought possible. Can she reconcile her past with a future that seems even more uncertain now that she's come home?

Queen of Hearts
B'Elanna Torres and Seven of Nine
(Star Trek:Voyager)

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