Story Spotlight: Back and Forth

Hey lovelies…so this story spotlight is slightly different. A while back…as in Sept 2013 back…I thought of trying to make story spotlights more in depth. At least for longer stories…? Maybe? I dunno. And I did this with CaliforniaKat’s story Back and ForthNeedless to say, it was NOT a success. I could never find the time to come up with questions…hence the reboot of the spotlights that you see now. However, I still think this deserves it’s time in the spotlight since she was kind enough to actually do it. So here it is. :)

Okay, so Back and Forth is the first story in the series. Was it just an idea that popped into your head, disappointed fangirl therapy…basically, how did you come up with the idea?
In the beginning, it was disappointed fan-girl therapy.  I’d just gotten done watching the scene in Season 4 when Sookie tells Eric that she loves Bill too.  That scene elicited the WRONG kind of chills in me.  And I couldn’t fathom how DUMB Sookie was in that moment not to realize Bill’s blood had affected her (and not to question where the bullet that shot her had come from either).  As a huge Eric/Sookie fan in the books, I was also upset that the first time they said they loved one another, Bill’s name had to be added to the mix.  After that, I was seething.  I decided that no grandchild of Gran’s would be that “dumb.”  And then, I realized that no TELEPATH would be that dumb.  Sookie had to grow up fast because of her gift/curse, and I think she would be self-aware enough to do something to take her own life back if she doubted that she was in control of it (that’s why the first major happening in B&F is Sookie breaking all blood ties/bonds with vampires.  In effect, I didn’t want to hate Sookie, so I had to write the Sookie I wanted to see. The first line I wrote of Back & Forth was this:  “Sookie was a smart girl.”  (That ended up being the first line of chapter 32.)  That line ruminated in my head for a while before I started to write in earnest, and then the story just spilled out from there.

Did you know when you started writing it that it would be quite as epic as it turned out?
No.  I had never written anything as long as B&F, and then when Come Back to Me was longer, I was sort of amazed that it was coming out of my brain.  But the characters really did “come to life”—as cliché as that sounds.  It’s funny, but in my academic writing, I’m known for my conciseness, but in these pieces, I let myself go inside the characters and really analyze.  And that experience was extremely rewarding—even therapeutic at times.

When you were doing the casting for Back and Forth, could you visualize these people before you started writing or did you search them out and then fit them into your vision?
A bit of both—really.  I didn’t “add” a lot of new characters to the mix when I was writing B&F.  Most of my “new” people came into the story in CBTM, but from the start, I was picturing certain people filling certain roles.  I’d just watched a movie called Pathfinder with Karl Urban, for instance, and when I wrote my first Tray scenes, that’s who I pictured.  Other times, I didn’t “cast” someone until I’d written him/her for a while.  Invariably, however, “casting” someone helped that character to come to life for me.  I certainly picture Alexander Skarsgard and Anna Paquin when I write Eric and Sookie, so it made sense to have someone to visualize when I wrote others.  By the time I was doing CBTM, my usual practice was to begin writing the character until I got the urge to “cast” him/her.  After I found someone, I would read over what I’d written so far and revise so that the character came more to life.  Probably the biggest change that happened to the story came after I began to picture Helen Mirren as the A.P. and Gary Oldman as Niall.  The A.P.’s role started to grow and evolve radically in my head, and Niall’s characterization altered quite a bit as well.

It’s funny.  I’m working on a new story, Uninvited, and I have “cast” Liam Neeson as Niall in that one.  As I started writing the character in that story, I saw that I was creating a darker version of Niall than in the B&F series.  That’s why I chose Liam.  As I continued writing, the edge that Liam could bring to the role made the character go even darker in a way.  I probably think much too long about these things, but I’m a huge fan of good acting, and I “think” in pictures, so it really helps my writing.

What made you choose the people that you did?
All of the people I “cast” are actors, actresses, or singers that I admire.  As I said above, sometimes I had someone in mind as I began writing the character.  For instance, Summer Glau was always Thalia in my head.  Other times, it took me much longer to find someone.  Amelia is an example of that.  It wasn’t until I came across random pictures of Rachel McAdams as a brunette that I said—“That’s it.”  For a long time, Kate Beckinsale was who I was seeing in my head, but she wasn’t “right” for where I wanted to go.  When I found the “right” one, the character “talked to me” better.

Your chapter titles, how did you decide on them?
I sometimes take them from pivotal words from the chapters themselves.  Other times, they come from a song that informed the chapter.  The rest of the titles are based on the theme or the major happening in the chapter.  I like for the chapter titles to say more than one thing too—to hint at what the chapter will be about, while also intimating something underneath the surface.

So, after 94 chapters, you still felt like these characters had more to say. Did you intend to make it a multipart series when you started or was it just going to be Back and Forth?
It was just going to be B&F!  The story seemed finished to me, and I had already started Uninvited.  I was just editing B&F by then and trying to post a chapter or so a day, but all my “new” writing was committed to something else.  And I felt that the ending of B&F left Eric and Sookie where I wanted them to be.  But then my sounding-board Scorp (CDB33) asked me what the kitten’s name was (the one Eric gives to Sookie as a pledging gift), and I realized I hadn’t named him.  Believe it or not, that was the lynchpin for me to begin writing the sequel.  I had thought that CBTM would be even shorter than B&F, but that story just kept flowing.  I have to say that writing it was a wonderful experience for me, so I’m glad Scorp asked about the kitten.

Now, the second story of the series (Come Back to Me), the title is pretty illustrative. Did you intend for it to be that way?
Yes.  Once I began to outline that story, I knew that Claudette’s taking Sookie to Faerie would be one of the major moments of the story.  And that moment would create the main angst.  The title hints at that, but it was fun to hear what people speculated as they read.  A lot of people feared that I would break Sookie and Eric up with another romantic interest, thus creating the angst for the title.  Plus, the title Come Back to Me ended up being as much about the A.P. as it was about Eric/Sookie.

The Inspired page for Come Back to Me was…inspired, for lack of a better word. Was that something you decided to do or did someone request it?
Thanks!  I decided to do it.  Sometimes as I write, a poem or song comes into my head that helps me to create the mood I want for the story.  A few of these pieces eventually got attached to my outline and became driving forces in determining how the characters behaved.  Those pieces were so important to my conceptualization of the story that I wanted to share them in some way.  And I love the fact that WordPress gives me the chance to do little visual renderings like that.

Now chapter 164-166 had alternatives posted alongside them in order to spare some of the violence of the chapters. Why did you choose to do that instead of just giving an overview like some authors?
Even in the most violent of chapters, I tried not to have gratuitous violence.  And I felt that the emotional journeys of the characters continued within those chapters, and I didn’t want readers to lose connection with the characters’ evolution.  However, I did want to provide alternatives because I know that many of my readers are survivors of sexual violence, and I didn’t want them to have to read the more graphic parts.

In a few author’s notes you commented on the fact that people were saying that you were dragging the story out for no reason. (I don’t think that’s the case, by the way.) Do comments like those discourage you?
Negative comments—not to be confused with constructive comments, which I welcome—are designed to hurt.  I have several readers who preferred some sections of the story more than others, but they didn’t feel the need to “attack.”  I have to be honest and confess that comments that are purely designed to hurt DO hurt me.  Intellectually, I know I should ignore them because they often come from people who aren’t even really reading the story—who just want to “instruct” the writer about how to write (which is asinine, by the way).  But sometimes, it’s difficult because my stories include a lot of my heart, so my heart reacts first.  That said, these comments don’t discourage me from writing; they just make me sad for a while.  Usually, however, I end up feeling sorrier for the reviewer than for myself—because if he/she feels the need to attack for no reason, then his/her life must require that.  And that’s sad.

Of course, next there came Sojourn. That’s a side story/interlude during Come Back to Me. Why did you choose that title?
Honestly?  I love the word, “sojourn,” and it was descriptive.  This is a story meant to be a “vacation” for Eric and Sookie; a vacation for me (since I tend to write so much angst); and a vacation for readers, who wanted to enjoy Eric and Sookie’s reunion without the drama.

You have a third installment planned, right?
Yep—It’s tentatively entitled Earned.

Can you give us an overview of that? Eric and Sookie aren’t the main couple anymore, are they?
Earned will focus as much or more on Hunter and Emma as they both mature into adulthood and try to fulfill the promise of love that begins in CBTM and Sojourn.  Eric and Sookie are still major players, but they are firmly in the role of protective parents.  As in CBTM, we will find several enemies trying to screw with the harmony of the ætt land.

Here are a few spoilers (so don’t read if you don’t want to know them!)

  • At the center of the enemies is Andre Paul.  The readers of the books know him as Sophie-Anne’s creepy child.  He blames Eric for his maker’s death, and he wants the Viking to suffer.  What better way than to go after Eric’s son?

One pawn in his revenge will be Coby Bellefleur, who has been secretly in love with Emma for many years.  More than that, however, he is obsessed with wanting Hunter’s life.

Another pawn will be Remy Savoy.

  • There will be other enemies as well, some I’m making up, and others I’m importing from the books and/or show.
  • Poor Emma and Hunter!  Imagine trying to find privacy in the midst of Britlingen guards, as well as vampire/telepathic/shifter parents.
  • Emma and Hunter must both grow into their supernatural gifts.
  • In order to save Hunter and Emma, more than one member of the clan will sacrifice his/her life.  Who will die?  (I will leave that a mystery.)

 

Any idea when we can read that one? I know you have other projects in the works.
Yes.  I actually have a few projects I’m working on.  Hmmm…maybe next year?

 Thank you very much for taking the time to answer some questions! I love your writing and can’t wait to read more!
Thank you for doing all the interviews you do.  I look forward to them each week!

Here’s a scoop for you and your readers:  I am working on an all human piece right now.  It’s tentatively called Comfortably Numb, it’s set in New York, and it’s probably the most angsty piece I’ve written to date.  I’ve drafted about 400 pages (or 125,000 words), and it’s a bit more than half done—I think.  It will probably be ready to start posting by May.  ;)

 

See? Very in depth. And it was so fun reading her responses (again). And I can tell you she’s one of the most prolific writers in the fandom. She churns out stuff left and right and it’s all awesome. Seriously I can’t even keep up with her. Since this was done she’s done so many new things. So go to her site and check her out. I’m linking the story up above and here is the way to her site. So check her out and leave her some love. :)

Author Spotlight: CaliforniaKat

This is my last banked author spotlight!

Awwwwwww….big sigh. So, this one was done months ago, but is only being posted now. Sorry. :o(

Anyhoo, this gal…wow. I love her stories! Seriously. Her Back and Forth series is absolutely one of the best fanfics I’ve ever read. Probably some of the best writing come to think of it. (Psssst….check out her mini story down below. I definitely needed some alone time after that one. Whew!)

So, tell me a little about yourself.
Well, I’m closer to 40 than 30.  I am considered the “rebel” in my family because I’m a Democrat and “liberal” when it comes to most things.  Then again, most of my “California friends” consider me to be the “conservative” one among them.  So I’m “complicated.”  I teach composition and literature at the college level, and I love it.  I have always read for pleasure, and I have flirted with writing for a while, but I never did it with consistency until about two years ago when I started writing TB FanFiction.  And I think these have been the two happiest years of my life in many ways.  It is like finding a friend who was always there—but who I’d never talked to before.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I am usually working when I’m not writing.  LOL.  I always have a stack of student essays to grade.  The only variable is how high!  I also love to read and try to get in an hour a day.  And I like to watch television that I don’t have to concentrate on—especially “marathons.”  I love sitting down and watching five straight hours of America’s Next Top Model (guilty pleasure) or Chopped, for instance.   In fact, there’s a marathon of Project Runway on even as I type.  This kind of T.V. is perfect for multitasking.

And, of course, I hang out with the husband and cats.

Do you pull experiences from your real life into your writing?
Yes.  I cannot help it.  I most closely identify with Eric, so all of his “daddy” issues are influenced by my own, for example.  Many of my life views about love, religion, politics, etc. find their way into my work too—though I try not to be too preachy.  When I let a little of “me” in, however, the characters feel more real.

How do you come up with your titles?
Well, Back and Forth, literally came from the scene that started the story—as Sookie looks back and forth from Eric to Bill.  Come Back to Me came about because it brings back the word “back” and also hints at the major plot-point.  Inner came to me because the purpose was to look at the “inner” workings of Eric.  And “Offers” was the major subject of that piece.  I tend to like shorter titles that hint at a main theme of the story.

Ultimate girl question: chocolate or vanilla?
Swirl–on a waffle cone, please!

Besides SVM, do you have another series of books that you love or that you’d ever write fanfics for?
I have only written SVM/True Blood storied.  However, I love the Harry Potter books, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Shakespeare’s history plays (which I count as a “series”).  I inhaled The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books about a month ago.

What is the best compliment you’ve received on your writing?
That something I wrote made someone “heal” in some significant way.  That my writing made someone “think.”  That my writing had become a part of someone’s day.  These are the kinds of things that have made me smile and feel proud.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
If you have a story you want to tell, tell it.  Don’t be afraid.  Even if no one else likes what you do, if you need to share your work, share it FOR YOURSELF.

What sort of Starbuck’s concoction would your characters order?
Let me write you a little story:

It was 11:15 on a Tuesday night.  The Starbucks was deserted, and the lone barista was resting her head on the counter. 

Eric Northman strolled up to the counter with a smirk on his beautiful face. 

“Do you have TruBlood?” he asked, his voice low and seductive.

Knowing that her panties had just become useless, the barista bit her lip to keep from moaning.  “I’m sorry,” she stammered, “we don’t carry it.”

“Pity,” Eric said.  “I was,” he paused, “thirsty.”  He turned to walk away.

“Wait,” the young girl said quickly.

Eric turned back around, his eyebrow raised in question.

“I have a break coming up in ten minutes,” she whispered.

“That is very interesting,” Eric said sauntering back to the counter.  “And why would that be information that I need?”

“I—uh,” she stammered, “well—uh—if you’re hungry, I could—uh.”  She stopped as her blush spread over her face. 

Eric inhaled deeply.  “You have A+ blood.”

“Do you like that?” she managed.

“Oh yes.”  Eric smirked.  “Today, it is my favorite.”

She found that she was holding her breath.

“Will I be getting a tall, grande or venti?” he asked as he looked at the labeled sizes of the cups next to the counter.

“Whatever you want,” she said, trying to keep from drooling. 

“I’ll see you outside in my car in,” he paused, looking at the clock, “eight minutes then.”

“How will I know which one is yours?” she asked.

“You’ll know.”  He gave her another panty-moistening smirk. 

Just then, the barista heard her manager coming from the back of the store.

Without taking her eyes off of the vampire, she asked, “Hey, Carla, do you mind if I take my break now?”

“No go ahead,” the manager answered, without looking up from the clipboard she was carrying.  “I’ll look after the register while I’m finishing the schedule.  Don’t worry.”

Eric smiled.  “It looks like you have the drink I want, after all.” 

He turned and walked out of the store.  The barista was following closely—if a bit inelegantly—on his heels.

Tell us something random about yourself.
I once worked as a barista.

What kind of environment do you write in?
Living room, television on mute(usually on a sports channel), laptop on the coffee table, music playing

OR

Composition book, sneaking moments during the work-day to write

Tell the truth. Do you ever write naked?
Yeah—I have many of my best ideas in the shower.  The jumping point for Come Back to Me came while I was showering.  The POV idea for Inner came from the shower too.  Lots of ideas come from there.  Oh—and I sing in the shower too.

Where can you be found online?
FanFiction.net:  http://www.fanfiction.net/u/2559761/California_Kat

WordPress:  http://californiakat1564.wordpress.com/

Anything else you’d like to tell?
I really have to publically thank my “virtual” sounding board Scorp (CDB33 on FF.net).  Early on while I was writing Back and Forth, I started getting reviews from this lovely lady, and soon we were exchanging emails every day.  She was the reason why I wrote Come Back to Me and Inner.  I have made a lot of wonderful “friends” through my stories, but I think that Scorp has become one of my closest friends period.  I don’t have a Beta to thank (because I don’t use one since my writing process is so idiosyncratic), but Scorp is one of the voices in my head when I write, so she’s like an “honorary” Beta.  I count on her, and my stories don’t seem complete until she has told me what she thinks.

Last chance to add anything…
Hmmm…  The only thing that I want to add is a giant thank you to anyone who is reading this AND anyone who has read my work.  It’s an honor.

 

Go read her stuff and comment and let her know how great she is. Because….she is. Like for sure. Uh huh.