Monday, October 28, 2013

A Short Q&A With Vivian Darkbloom


1. Why did you start writing?
I’ve been writing since I was very young. I love language, words, and telling stories. So it’s as habitual to me as reading.

2. If you had to do it all over again would you still write?
Yes. In fact, I still write!

3. Once you’ve written a story do you ever sit down and read it for enjoyment?
I will reread it in its entirety to see how it holds together as a story. Then I start seeing mistakes and typos and sentences I don’t like—but sometimes I find something to appreciate. Sometimes not!

4. How did you start writing Xena fan fiction?
I had discovered Xena fic online, and started reading it. Fanfic encompassed such a diverse spectrum in terms of quality, genres, themes, length, and so forth that I thought there was a place for me as a writer, so I decided to try my hand at writing a story.

5. Is your muse a constant companion, or does it abandon you for long periods of time?
I don’t really think of myself as having a muse. But like so many writers I have my blocks, my dry spells.

6. How do you feel about sequels?
I think they are fine as long as the writers holds herself/himself to the standards of the first story, that there’s a conscious attempt to match or exceed the overall quality and tone of it, and if there’s a good, compelling reason for it—to develop the characters, to follow them on a different path or journey.

7. Is writing a quiet thing for you, where there can't be any noise or conversation going on?
Yes. I like listening to music while writing, but aside from that I can’t concentrate around noisy people. I find it very difficult sometimes to write in a public space—if I have to listen to stupid conversations or bad music, it’s impossible.

8. Do you prefer to write/read romance, angst, horror etc, etc?
I like to read and write most genres, although I’m not much of a sci-fi/fantasy person (to the frustration of my partner). But I can appreciate a story in any genre as long as it’s well written and interesting to me.

9. What usually sparks a story idea for you?
Thinking in hypotheticals, questioning myself: “What if x happened to y, and z was involved?”

10. Where do your ideas come from?
Books and movies and that most dangerous and unpredictable of places: my mind.

11. What advice can you give to future writers?
Be open to feedback, both positive and critical. Don’t assume that people are criticizing you just to be hurtful. Unfortunately sometimes that happens—if someone writes you and just says “your story sucks,” well, there’s nothing beneficial to that and you’re within your rights to ignore it or tell them to fuck off. But I find that many times when a reader takes the time to offer any kind of criticism, even if it seems negative or nitpicky to you (and those nitpicks are important—the devil is in the details), it means they care, they are invested enough in the story that they want it to be even better than it is already. Feedback is essential tool in seeing how others view your work, and learning/growing as a writer.

12. What has the show Xena meant to you?
A lot. I’ve met some really wonderful people through the fandom, and it really helped me creatively as well; as a writer I became better (I think).

13. How do you feel about the way it ended?
Shitty ending, to put it mildly. But I have to respect that it was not “my” show to end—I wasn’t the creator.

14. How real are your characters to you?
After all these years they are still astonishingly vivid to me. If they seemed real to me, though, I fear I would need medication.

15. Do your characters speak to you?
Not really.

16. Are you in control of your story, or do the characters run the show?
I like to think I’m in control of the story, but when the story doesn’t work then I know I’m not being true to the characters.

17. Have you created a character that you would like to meet?
Given that the relationship between Victor Frankenstein and his creation did not pan out so well, I think I’ll take a pass.

18. How would you feel about another writer giving one of your characters a cameo in their story?
As long as they seek my permission first and give proper credit, it’s fine. It’s very flattering, actually.

19. Has online writing changed your life in any way?
Yes. Because Vivian Darkbloom has been my best creation, my beautiful online monster.

20. Have you ever been stalked on the internet by an overzealous fan?
Not that I’m aware of.

21. Which one of your online stories is your favorite?
“Coup de Grace.” A lot of work and love went into that one.

22. Do you have to do a lot of rewrites?
Who doesn’t? Rewriting is an essential part of the process. “Writing is rewriting,” someone once said—God, I hope it wasn’t Hemingway, but still, that’s the truth of my process.

23. Is there ever a point in your writing where you get stuck each and every time? How do you get out of it?
The beginnings—just getting enough material on the paper to work with it and build upon it. Once I get rolling, I’m much better.

24. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy the most and why?
The rewriting. Every time I rewrite something I feel I get closer and closer to what I want to say, and how I want to say it.

25. When you're working on a story are you obsessed with it until it's done?
Pretty much. I don’t like to leave things unfinished, and I don’t like to start new things until I’m done with something or, at the very least, I have it all plotted out and finished in my mind.

26. Who are your favorite top five writers? Online or published.
Published, in terms of influence: Vladimir Nabokov, Virginia Woolf, Sybille Bedford, Elizabeth Bishop.

Online favorites: There are a lot of excellent writers online, so it’s really hard to whittle it down to only a few. Most of these are old-timey XWP writers; I don’t know what the kids are up to these days: Baermer, Ella Quince, Mary Morgan, Fewthistle (not an XWP writer, but Old Like Me), Osito-Panda (who writes original fic and in a variety of fandoms as well) and KG MacGregor (who actually made me care about a story with golf in it, no small feat).

27. The song says "Who rules the world? Girls." If that were true would the world be a better place?
I’d like to think so. But eventually power corrupts anyone who has it for long. I think it’s our turn to rule the world for a bit and see what we can do, though.

28. Do you write a story straight through, or do you write in pieces, then put it all together.
I write in pieces. (Written to the tune of “I Fall to Pieces.”)

29. Do you read books for pleasure while you are writing?
Always. Sometimes I will avoid fiction while I’m deeply immersed in writing something, but I’m always reading something.

30. Do you have a favorite Greek God?
I like Hermes, because he has a cool hat and a staff. Also, my partner says I’m a trickster, and he’s the trickster god.

31. Do you have a pet peeve?
Rudeness. People who wear clothing with wording on their butts. People with a sense of entitlement. Bad coffee. White people with dreadlocks. Republicans. Trust me, I could go on.

32. What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Going to the bathroom.

33. What is your favorite word?
In trying to answer this, I have been wracking my brain for days, and—too many words!

34. What is your least favorite word?
Liverwurst. Bratwurst. Wurst is da wurst, ya know?

35. What turns you on?
A good sense of humor.

36. What turns you off?

37. What sound or noise do you love?
Trees rustling in the wind, rain softly falling.

38. What sound or noise do you hate?
Construction noises—power drills, saws, jackhammers. The screech of a smoke detector. Any time a member of the Tea Party speaks.

39. What is your favorite curse word?
Fuck in all its fucktacious glory. Also, “Sweet Fancy Moses!”

40. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
A chef or a musician. Sadly, the talent is not there!

41. What profession would you absolutely not like to participate in?
Corporate finance. Well, anything corporate, really.

42. If Heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
“Yeah, about that—actually I meant that pizza and ice cream would be good for you, but this is what happens when you outsource to cherubim. Sorry.”

Here is Vivian's favorite story:

Coup de Grace by Vivian Darkbloom - 355 pages
This story is number 3 in a trilogy. The other stories are The Secret Histories and Venezia
The fabulously ill-tempered archaeologist Janice Covington and Southern-Belle-in-Exile Melinda Pappas gradually discover the real truth at the heart of the Xena Scrolls, in a story that darkly plays with time and memory, loss and desire, and the nature of what is real and what is not. While the story references characters and incidents in earlier stories ("Venezia" and "The Secret Histories") it is possible to read this as a stand-alone piece, particularly if one is drinking heavily.

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