Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Short Q&A With Kamouraskan


1. Why did you start writing?
I read a lot when I was a child, I think the word was 'voracious' and when you read a lot, you start having stories of your own in your mind.

2. If you had to do it all over again would you still write?
Has anyone ever said no to this question? No, my writing did not cause any deaths that I know of, or the collapse of the banking system, though it might have furthered the corruption of western society.

3. Once you’ve written a story do you ever sit down and read it for enjoyment?
Of course I do! I write stories that are like the ones I loved, so when I get parts of them right on occasion, I will reread them as I would some of the greats.

4. How did you start writing Xena fan fiction?
Here we go…Single parent, raising a daughter that I thought needed a few strong female role models so we started watching Xena together. I bought her first computer about the same time, and for our first online search we tried Xena and found Lunacy’s fanfiction reviews site. There was a recommendation for Merwolf, and I devoured everything she’d written and then started working my way alphabetically through all the rest. Was stunned at some of the quality and love in the pages. Then while staying in our television free family home in Kamouraska, Quebec, my daughter and her best friend wanted Xena bedtime stories. They picked the character names, chose some of the plot directions, and after they fell asleep, I started writing it down. I got a beta reader from Lunacy, the amazing MyWarrior who thrilled me when she wrote back and told me she would be happy to help me. She bullied me into posting some of the homework exercises she assigned and the main piece, a clear Mary Sue, was posted as The Joining months later. By that time several of the authors I admired had given me help and advice and I was hooked. It was the most fun I’d ever had clothed, and I have continued betaing for several hundred authors because of that debt owed to the people who first got me started.

5. Is your muse a constant companion, or does it abandon you for long periods of time?
Muse, and inspiration is almost always present, but discipline and incentive… not so much.

6. How do you feel about sequels?
I have written a few, and as a reader I love that there’s more after the first story is finished. But as a beta and a writer, I discourage them as much as possible. I see fanfiction as a place to learn, to take risks, to try to write the things you have trouble with. Not to settle into a comfortable groove and simply type because you have an audience. Bad enough that the majors publish only series’ and force writers to repeat themselves. Don’t do it when you’re free to choose.

7. Is writing a quiet thing for you, where there can't be any noise or conversation going on?
No idea. If I could figure out why and when is the best to write, or for that matter how anyone does it, there’d be a lot more writing.

8. Do you prefer to write/read romance, angst, horror etc, etc?
I like good writing, whatever genre. As I am a huge big soppy moo, and my partner calls me, I will tolerate mediocre writing with heart or a great plot.

9. What usually sparks a story idea for you?

10. Where do your ideas come from?
Well, clearly from incredible archetypes like Xena and Gabrielle, but usually by something that upsets me, or something I want to believe in, things that I want to say. I’ve written Xena and uber stories ‘inspired’  by the Montreal Massacre, (Judgement) Columbine, (Schools Out) trips around the world (When In Rome, City of Ghosts) including Potidaia ( And It’s Only Love) but I always hope that the next will be the best and different from the ones before.

11. What advice can you give to future writers?
Write, of course. Write the stuff that means something to you, read dialogue out loud or to a trusted friend. Send it to a beta that is also a writer you admire. But Write First, Then  Edit. Get it on the page and worry about the right word afterwards. Or there won’t be words on the page to edit.

12. What has the show Xena meant to you?
Aside from the small fact that it completely changed my life? After the 4th season, I became more a fan of the fanfic community, which is its own danger. You can become too involved, too obsessed with hits and reviews. It should be about the writing, first and last.

13. How do you feel about the way it ended?
I own a copy of FIN. I know how it goes in detail. I have betad several award winning fictions on it and I have written a few of them myself. But I have never watched the episodes.

14. How real are your characters to you?
Read my stories, that should give you an idea.

15. Do your characters speak to you?
Long endless conversations in my head, fortunately, only a tiny percentage have been printed.

16. Are you in control of your story, or do the characters run the show?
Depends on the story. Sometimes it’s a scene I try to build up to, sometimes it’s a conversation I start with and build around, but generally after a starting point (which could be the beginning, middle or end) they go where they want to.

17. Have you created a character that you would like to meet?
My version of Gabrielle and Xena (often cribbed from Missy, DJWP, Gin and others?) Of course.

18. How would you feel about another writer giving one of your characters a cameo in their story?
When it has happened, and the author admitted it to me, pretty damned honoured. Though one in particular, told me she’d deny it if asked, but I still have her letter telling me she would refer to a specific story of mine whenever she felt she was losing the 'voice'

19. Has online writing changed your life in any way?
Let’s see. I married my xenaverse writing partner and moved 5,000 miles to be with her, so I guess the answer is yes.

20. Have you ever been stalked on the internet by an overzealous fan?
God, yes. But there are pretty basic rules you learn. First is, never answer an overly enthusiastic fan letter within 24 hours, and take even longer to reply when their response comes seconds later.

21. Which one of your online stories is your favorite?
Quick, which of your children is the cutest? And it depends on what you like. I’ve gotten rave reviews for stuff I thought sucked. I think In the Heart of the Siege and When In Rome worked as well as any, but no one reads them, whereas the shorts, especially the comedies get lots of fanmail and good reviews to this day. First Date and Whose Child are special as they were my first, they get great reviews so what does that say about my learning process? I honestly think my collaborations with Lariel are fine, because they aren’t entirely mine, so I can look at them impartially. I think our Last of the Conquerors is one of the best of the genre and our As Good As It Gets is one of the best parodies of ubers that is out there.

22. Do you have to do a lot of rewrites?
Again, depends on the stories. Short character pieces, usually ones with a first person narrative, are banged out in a few minutes and probably shouldn’t have been changed. Novel size pieces are constantly edited until I know I am making them worse and force myself to stop.

23. Is there ever a point in your writing where you get stuck each and every time? How do you get out of it?
If the scenes ahead are not exciting enough for me to want to write them, then how can they excite the reader? If that’s the case, it’s time to change the direction of the story.

24. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy the most and why?
The plotting and dialogue. But as that’s one of the things I can do, I try to include more descriptive narrative and stuff like fight scenes etc, so that I can improve.

25. When you're working on a story are you obsessed with it until it's done?
Depends on the story. I am hard to talk to, because I am writing in my head on drives, bike rides, walks and not very good company.

26. Who are your favorite top five writers? Online or published.
Impossible question. Too many to mention. Yes, I love Chaim Potok, Dostoevsky, I love the classics, the dinosaur bards and have been lucky to exchange letters, meet  and even have a few stay with me. DJWP, Della Street, Vivian Darkbloom, Lunacy, Advocate and many others were saints to put up with me. About a dozen bards have stayed in our home including Gin, Mary Morgan and Verrath and Lariel is a few yards from me now. Meeting online or off one’s heroes has not been a disappointment for me yet. But I truly love the new online writers, the ones trying something different. Giving them a hand has been the biggest thrill of my life.

27. The song says "Who rules the world? Girls." If that were true would the world be a better place?
Not until the world changes what we want in female leaders. Margaret Thatcher, Ann Coulter, Indira Ghandi, are these the role models we want for our children? Fight at the grass roots to get better representation. We have such massive problems today, that having only white males make the decisions is perverse, eliminating the possible solutions from huge sections of the community.

28. Do you write a story straight through, or do you write in pieces, then put it all together.
Cut and paste the words: Depends on the story. <g>

29. Do you read books for pleasure while you are writing?
Essential. How can you write well if not reading the best? Though, that implies I write well, when it’s just a fervent wish.

30. Do you have a favorite Greek God?
If they make the story work, then they are my favourite at the time.

31. Do you have a pet peeve?
Not getting stuff on the page that sounded so good in my head

32. What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Trying to make a contribution and irritating my wife and daughter at the same time.

33. What is your favorite word?
End. Usually preceded by the word The

34. What is your least favorite word?
Decimate. People use it incorrectly all the time!

35. What turns you on?
My wife.

36. What turns you off?
A small switch at the back of my neck

37. What sound or noise do you love?
My wife talking to our chickens

38. What sound or noise do you hate?
The purring sound our cat makes when preparing to attack our toes in the much to early morning

39. What is your favorite curse word?

40. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I think I’ve already attempted pretty well all of them.

41. What profession would you absolutely not like to participate in?
The job is seldom the problem, it’s the person and/or the bosses’ demands that makes it evil.

42. If Heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
 You realize this is only a trial thing, it will depend entirely on you keeping your mouth shut occasionally.

Here is one of Kamouraskan's favorite stories:
The Last Conqueror by Kamouraskan and Lariel - 115 pages
The Empire is crumbling and a struggle for power is about to begin. Dark forces are converging, and crucial choices have to be made. But which choice is the right one? And what difference can a streetsmart kid from Corinth and an insane prisoner make anyway, against forces which draw their power from the evil of the earth?

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