Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stephie rides the Gondolier (not really)

The Tong Master 4theluvofMary helps us get to know Gondolier author of the completely and totallyNOT WUSSPERV safe epically popular "Hydrolic Level 5"

questions for Gondolier:
from 4theluvofmary:
4tlom: Can you tell us all a little bit about yourself? A/S/L? Ok, so not really but how about just some basic info: where you're from, what you do, if you can take some time off to write more chapters of HL5...
Sure! I'm twenty-nine, born and raised in Iowa. I'm a writer by profession--I finished up my MA in Creative Writing in May, and now I'm working on building a freelance writing business. Before that, I was a PR bitch for a Fortune 500 company and hated corporate ladder climbing but did it anyway (sounds like a fanfic plot, doesn't it?). Then I decided I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life so I chucked it. Best feeling ever. Fortunately, hubby was and is very supportive of my career change. And I already devote WAY too much time to writing HL5 without burning myself out, sorry :)

4tlom: LOL. Maybe you can work that plotline in some future fic, hm? And damn. I mean, I don't want you to burn yourself out...I gotta stop being so selfish in my fangirl ways.

gondolier: Meh, I'm selfish and fangirly too. If I got to chat with AdorableCullens, I'd probably turn into a pile of mush and rattle on about how horribly angsty I was over Balticward's fate.

4tlom: When did you first read Twilight? And did you know right away that you may have a slightly unhealthy fixation on the book and/or characters, or did that come later?

I read Twilight around Halloween of last year, around the time the movie came out. I was dead-set on not reading them until I had several women whose opinions I respected tell me to give them a chance, despite my biases. So glad I did. I know the books aren't works of art, but I love exploring the characters (aka mooning over the Twilight boys) and what ifs.

4tlom: I put off reading it for quite awhile (though not nearly as long as you bro's wife's story of reading Twilight is very similar to yours). It's amazing what being 7 months pregnant and not having the desire to do much of anything in 100 degree heat will inspire you to do.
gondolier: something for me to look forward to in the next few years, woohoo

4tlom: What made you decide to take up writing fanfiction? Where did the idea for your story come from? The idea of, essentially, a story within a story is so fantastic, and I imagine hard to write.

I've been writing fanfic off and on for about five years. I do it because other than writers workshops and area groups, where else can I get instantaneous reader feedback? I LOVE that aspect of fanfiction--audience interaction, though it's gotten a lot harder for me to respond to everyone.
The idea for HL5... I was cleaning out some old mementos and ran across a series of letters that me and my first love wrote to each other over a summer just after high school. He was several years older than me, and we were attending college across country from each other. I started thinking how fun it would be to write a book together using those letters--tell a nostalgic story that so many women can probably relate to. Thus, the basis for HL5 was born. Of course, he's happily married now and so am I, and I'm still a little too chicken to ask his permission to use his letters for a book. But if I ever get the guts to do it, you can bet that will be my next non-fanfiction project.

4tlom: First of all, I think it is super sweet of you to take time out each update to thank everyone that rec'd out your story. It's nice knowing you still want to give back to your readers, when all we (I) want to do is take, take, take...hence my question about you just writing overtime. lol. Second of all, the letters, wow. That would be a fantastic read for sure; very consuming and interesting. I hope you ask him. Maybe he'll feel...flattered? honored? that you want to use them as inspiration for a writing project.

gondolier: we'll see. Maybe I'll pull an HL5ward and claim that "such and such is entirely and utterly fictional...sort of" :)

4tlom: Did you ever think HL5 would blow up to this epic proportion when you first started writing it?
I wasn't sure what would happen with HL5--I'm still not sure how big my audience is in comparison to other stories, because I don't get around too much in the fandom

4tlom: Believe me, you're story is pretty huge. Fangirls 'round the world weep like babies whenever you update. I know it's weird to have people breathing down your neck about your own story. I won't lie, my status is sometimes about HL5. There are so many theories that scare the ever living piss outta me.
It's really kind of embarrassing, how little I know about the fandom. When I had dinner with Smellyia in Nashville, she was rattling off authors and fics that I really didn't have any clue about. I need to get skooled, bigtime, on the in-progress fics.

4tlom: I think it's impossible to keep up. There are so many new authors coming out, and then there are the older more prolific ones you feel the need to catch up on
OH yes--it's pretty overwhelming. Mainly I focus on posting and chatting with my readers, because I want to make myself available for them. Then if I have time for other stories, I give them a read. When other authors read my story, I bump up their work on my "to-read" list to give them the same courtesy. And then there's my work with TLYDF--I love writing for that blog because I geek over creative writing.

4tlom: Speaking of TLYDF...ok, so this has nothing to do with TLYDF, but it made me think of other projects you are involved in. Can you tell us a little bit more about A Different Forest?
I'm not sure how much I can reveal at this time--and I don't know too much about it, other than a lot of hard work and collaborative effort has gone into it and it's going to be a great resource for Twi-fans. You can bet I'll be playing there, and I'm told I'll be put to work, heh.

4tlom: You gotta stop with these ambiguous answers, really. Can't I get a straight answer from you? I just wonder what will be it similar to a LJ group? Or some kind of blog? A whole new way to experience things doesn't clear things up. Though the video was really good. Maybe you can talk to the peeps for me?

Oh no, it's a website. It combines blogs, forums, all sorts of media from what I understand. And it should have launched by the time this interview goes up, so I guess people can go check it out for themselves.

4tlom: K, back to your writing. Can you walk me through a normal writing sesh? What kind of things do you have to do physically and mentally prepare?
I reread the last chapter so I can keep up the continuity. Then I pull my already-created chappy summary from my story map and decide how to tweek it. I outline. Then I shower and listen to my playlist to get all sorts of fresh ideas or nuances. I write for a couple of days straight (in between RL stuff), usually getting the dialogue and action down. I fill in thoughts, descriptions and background around that. Finally, I give the chapter "sparkle" rewrites to liven it up, and send it off for beta. And I'm always researching.

4tlom: And after the chapter is done, do you find yourself pretty emotionally attached? I mean, obviously some degree will be because it's your story. But do you find yourself suffering like Bella and/or Edward?
I try to separate fiction from reality. When I write, I have to get into all of the characters' heads--not just the narrator's. And sometimes that can be a rough place to be--especially for characters like Charlotte or Edward. So once I finish a chappy, I usually read someone else's fanfic or published fiction to make a break from my characters. It keeps me from getting burnt out, and also gives me a breather so I'm ready to dive in with the next chappy.

4tlom: Do you feel the need to decompress or anything after writing? With such an emotionally charged story, I can imagine the need is pretty strong.
Well, I make a point to balance the heavy stuff with humor. I think that's where a lot of the heartfail comes from for readers, actually--if HL5 was just straight angst and sadness, it would be desensitizing and frankly, kind of unrealistic. But life is typically a balance of joy, sadness, confusion, humor. I try to bring that to HL5.
4tlom: I do really enjoy that aspect of your story. There is a lot of angst, but there are those parts where I am laughing and smiling that pull me through. It does mirror RL. And I appreciate that.

4tlom: Is there a specific chapter/moment in HL5 that holds an extra special place in your heart?
I love the scene where Bella is remembering her wedding day to Edward--she doesn't think about the actual ceremony, but rather, him thanking her for allowing him to touch her dress. It's such a naive, innocent, happy time for the both of them. I also love the skydiving scene because, even though they are at odds, they still instinctively find joy in each other.

4tlom: Music and writing...I know you include specific songs for each chapter. How influential is your song selection in writing? And vice versa?
My best thinking time comes when I put on my playlist and either hop in the shower, take a jog, or grab a kayak and head out to the lake near our home. I have certain songs reserved for specific chapters, far in advance because they reflect what I'm wanting to convey. Other songs I pull at the last minute, simply because I enjoy them or they fit a scene. But it's no secret that I love music. I've been a pianist since I was four (one of the things that draws me to Edward), and am a classically-trained soprano. I love almost all genres, from opera to classic rock, to jazz, to indie. If a song has amazing lyrics, I'll loop it over and over. I must have listened to Hey Marseilles' Calabasas sixty times in the last few months because it's just all-around awesomeness (that's a song I'm saving for the Bumbershoot chapter). I'm also a HUGE fan of a song by Glasvegas called "Geraldine (I'm Your Social Worker)." But dammitall, I can't find a way to make it fit with a chapter.

4tlom: Can you give us an example playlist for writing? What about just a typical day to day playlist?
Sure! I'll just copy/paste a sample from my HL5 playlist--the one I use for writing. I'm really into the local music scene, both here and Denver (and now Seattle's), so I dig up a lot of obscure stuff, too, for my day-to-day playlist.

Bay Springs Road/ Charlie Mars
Bedroom and a Wall / The Wheel
Better Than Love / Griffin House
Blue and Gold Print / Mates of State
The Box / Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit
Burning Love / Elvis Presley
Calabasas / Hey Marseilles
Divide Me / Kalai
Eyes / Rogue Wave
Geraldine / Glasvegas
The Lark Ascending / Hilary Hahn, London Symphony Orchestra
Love You 'Till the End / The Pogues
More Than Life / Whitley
Opportunity to Cry / Priscilla Ahn
Perpetuum Mobile / Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Rio / Hey Marseilles
Rise / Eddie Vedder
The Road / Matt Costa
Say It Isn't So / The Outfield
She Drives Me Crazy / Fine Young Cannibals
Simple Man (Live) / Lynyrd Skynyrd
Sometime Around Midnight / The Airborne Toxic Event
Sweet Illusions / Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
Sweet Sweet Heart Killer / Say Hi To Your Mom
The Swimming Song / Vetiver
Tangerine / Led Zeppelin
White Winter Hymnal / Fleet Foxes
Wore Me Down / Rachel Yamagata
World Spins Madly On / The Weepies
5 Years Time / Noah and the Whale

4tlom: I'm definitely copying this list so I can go music hunting later.

from the readers:
What's her stance on HEAs?
I love them if they're right for the story. I think having a sad ending simply to make an audience emo is contrived and bad form. But the same goes for a happy ending, if it's contrived. I'm not afraid to write an unhappy ending if the story calls for it. I've also written happy endings, too. But honestly, if a story mimics real life, nothing is ever completely tied up with a big, red, Disney-ending bow.

Is Edward going to die?
Can't say, sorry. Someday? Unless Carlisle decides to change him, heh. A little AH humor.

Is Charlotte a paid whore?
It depends on how you look at what she does for a living :D

How many chapters are left in HL5?
I'm estimating there will be 35-40 chapters total. We're about halfway right now, so I think I'm on pace.

What does she plan to do next?
Hopefully I can get some of my books, short stories, anything published. I really need to devote more time to that. I'd like to go to Bumbershoot in Seattle next year. And I'm kicking around an idea for another Twilight fanfic, possibly vamping it up. I'm also considering maybe actually writing an original fiction similar to HL5 Edward's SCV series (minus the vamps). We'll see. So many possibilities.

I care, very much.

Why does she make me cry on a regular basis?
It makes my heart hurt when I have reviewers tell me I made them cry, or struck a chord with them. It's both flattering readers feel comfortable enough sharing their stories with me. It's also sad to know what some people have struggled with. But I try to tell an honest story.

When will Bella and Edward bone?
Gah, I can already tell you gals are going to hate my ambiguous non-answers.

Does she have any other Twilight ff planned after HL5 is done?
See above.

Has she or will she ever write any original fic set for publishing? 'Cause I would read that.
I have. My memoir novel about my time in Israel/Palestine is published through my university. I have my writing portfolio full of short stories and poetry that I'd like to publish. I also have an original fiction novel that I'm working on called Golden Ivy. I was initially writing it as a fanfic called "Golden Day", but it's too complex to publish chapter by chapter. It utilizes the onion structure that HL5 does, but it's set in the 1920s and requires lots of additional research. So that one's staying offline while I write it.

4tlom: Will you let us know when it is published? Then we can fangirl over you in RL too!
If I can get it published, sure! My sister works for a printing company that's launching a new print-on-demand diversification, and she's trying to talk me into using it. I suppose if I self-publish something, I can still shop my story around. It's a tough bitch, the publishing industry.

Can she ship out some Xanax or hard liquor with her next chapter? I'm always depressed but can't stop reading!
Sure, but don't use them simultaneously, please ;)

Does she think that people ever completly forgive? Or, do they just try to forget in order to move on?
Ooh, good question. Yes, I believe they do--I'm optimistic in that sense. There are things that are difficult to forget, sure. But really, forgiveness is as much for yourself as it is for the person who's wronged you. Forgiveness means letting go of that weighty hatred and bitterness, which only hurts you in the long run to carry around. Tougher to say than do, certainly. But I think it's possible.

EJSantry/Beth Sabatino
The emotions & histories of her characters are so complex. Does she believe there's a HEA for them, or just EA?
Hmmm, how to answer this. I'll give HL5 a fitting ending. Is that ambiguous enough?
4tlom: It is ambiguous. Ugh.
I warned you, woman.

questions for everyone:
Do you have any tattoos?
4tlom: yup, 2: have one on my bum and one on my ribcage. I want more. In fact, I'm currently planning my next one out. I'm slightly addicted to ink.
gondolier: yes. I have one on my foot (okay I know HL5 Bella has one on her foot, too. But honestly, that's not intended to be Mary Sueish. I tried to decide where this Bella would get her first tat, and it just made sense to have it on her foot--she wasn't exactly keen on getting it at first, but did it for a client). I'd like to get more, but I forced myself to quit after one.

Quick question to those who enjoy/write m/m slash...when did you first realize it was something that was a turn on? And did you ever feel the need to hide that it turned you on? -
4tlom: I do enjoy slash. A lot of it started thanks to BDB (black dagger brotherhood). In the series there is some reference to m/m lovin between two of my favorite characters(ok, so maybe not between them, but definitely concerning them). I'd never really read much m/m lovin before then. I don't want to go into it if you haven't read the series (but srsly, if you haven't, what's the deal?). Just know that it's hot and I found myself really really hoping something would happen. It didn't, damn it, but there's still a chance for others.
My husband thinks it's, to put it mildly, gross. He's slightly homophobic as is often the case with the jock type that he is. That's not to say he hates on anybody for who they love, he's just not at all turned on by m/m. It would be hard for him to understand the attraction when he thinks jizz is disgusting. But he does have his "gay" moments from time to time. And he would totally kill me right now if he knew I was sharing this. Now his take on g/g, that's another story...

gondolier: I've read some slash and if it's done well, is very moving, like any story. It's well-written, imo, if a writer delves into characterizations and helps a reader feel empathy, no matter their sexual preferences.

What is your favorite sexual position?
4tlom: There are so many to choose from. And contrary to what some may think, at least those who read PT, it's not Tongs. Use your imaginations here. I'm willing to try anything at least once. Though I'll say this: Piledriver is not for me. I'll leave that particular posish for certain people who shall remain nameless..ahem...

gondolier: Heh. I'm a bit of a control freak and very much dislike feeling trapped--it makes me hyperventilate. So I really love being on top :)

Favorite ff ever?
4tlom: Would it sound horribly fangirlish to admit HL5 is one of them? Bc it is. The angst, it kills me, but I love it so. Also, BEL is up there on the list (so I fangirl over AC's stuff too). I have a fond love for Only Human which was one of the first I read. Damn it, this question is too hard. I love so many.

gondolier: I love Rite of Passage and The Way Back. Behind Enemy Lines is another I could read over and over. Sanctuary, of course, and Changing Sides. And I have a soft spot for IEWIS for the friendship factor--so sweet. What You Thought You Knew. Abbracciare il Cantante.

4tlom: Oh, I forgot IEWIS. That was another one of my first fanfics read. I do love that story. AiC is also very good. As for the others...I am adding them to my list of "to read"

Hardest part about writing ff?
4tlom: Do I have to limit this to just one answer? I am an eternal procrastinator. That never helps. Plus I find myself distracted by the peeps on my gchat list, and now the newest "cool" thing to do: tweet all the live long day. The hardest is juggling the RL demands with the ff ones. My family will always take top priority. And seeing how I have a mini approaching the terrible twos, she pretty much demands ALL of my attention. Plus the hubs is almost as bad as a toddler, so...Work is another obstacle for writing. As much as I wish I could work on my stories while there, I would hate to give someone Cialis instead of Celexa because I was distracted...though if he was male maybe that would help him more than the antidepressant. I digresss. I hate to admit this, but negative reviews also greatly hinder my writing. I know it's just ff and that it's not really important in the grand scheme of things, but *news flash* I'm (not so) secretly a big softie. Constructive criticism is always welcome, trust me I need that, but there's a difference between helping and hurting. Just sayin.

gondolier: One of the hardest things has been getting these heartbreaking reviews and PMs from readers begging me to tell them if HL5 has a happy ending or not. I get where they are coming from--I'm the type that will skip to the end of a book to know where a story is going so I can be prepared for it. But I'm really trying to not give much away with HL5 to keep the mystery and suspense of the story alive.

4tlom: I used to do that...skip to the last page and read it. I've learned to be patient. So as much as it kills me...I'm going to "patienty" wait for the ending. That's the hardest part of reading fanfiction.

Do people in RL know you do it?
4tlom: NO. No. No. I'd like to say it doesn't embarrass me that I essentially write word porn based off a teen book series written by a mormon SAHM (at least I think she's a SAHM for the most part), but that would be a lie. My friends/coworkers know I like Twilight just a *little* too much, but they don't know the full extent. I'd like to keep it that way, TYVM.

gondolier: Yes. Hubby does, as well as my mother and sister. I also have a couple of close friends who know--two of which I actually met while writing my first fanfic, who became RL friends. It's kind of hard not to say anything when I run into an acquaintance who might be reading HL5--I discovered that a Facebook friend is a new fan of Hey Marseilles. I asked her how she found the band and she was very ambiguous about it, so it made me wonder. That's why we need a secret handshake or something, dammit!

4tlom: Secret handshake? Hmm...interesting...

If I looked under your bed right now what would I find?
4theluvofmary: Hmm. Too much shit that's for sure. Stray socks, notebooks filled with stories/random musing by me, some of mini's toys, and a kitty bed that my fat cat doesn't use (he uses my pillow instead)

gondolier: socks, a box filled with winter mittens, hats, and scares, and a crate of old photos.

4tlom: I went and peeked under my bed for more investigating. I found a HS yearbook, from my freshman year. WTF? How did it get under there?

For those of you that use "toys," which is your favorite?
4tlom: Again with the limiting...Idk. I like my rabbit. I also finally got a Hitachi thanks to some PPers rants and raves. That thing *is* magical. I totally missed the Barney boat when Beks got that discount. FML.
gondolier: I can't reveal this until you at least buy me a couple of drinks, and maybe dinner. Let's get the first date out of the way, shall we? :D

4tlom: If I buy you dinner and drinks will you tell me the ending of HL5? Because I'd rather know that info anyway.
If you get some liquor into me, you might find out a lot of things.
4tlom: *runs to liquor store*

If they could be in a relationship...would it be the same characters that you'd want to bone, or is there someone else they find more relationship worthy?
4tlom: mean in ff or just Twilight in general? I'm gonna go for ff characters...hmmmm to bone? it would be Balticward. Idk if I could handle a relationship with him bc He's just a little too hot headed for me. But he is very, very sexy and also very, very boneable. The character I'd want to be in a relationship with would be...huh...can't I just bone them all instead? I'll leave the relationship for the hubs. I just want my cake and eat it too. Nothing wrong with that, right?
gondolier: gonna have to echo everything that 4theluvofmary said, and add Priestward to the mix. That man...

4tlom: Priestward? Ooh. That's Sanctuary right? I hope...I'm a bit fictarded sometimes. I'm bumping that up towards the top then.
Yes, that's Sanctuary. Interesting story there--JFly wanted some assistance betaing for plot points, and so did I. So Emibella hooked us up. I made an offer to JFly that she couldn't refuse--if she betaed for me, she'd know how HL5 ended. And of course, I really wanted to know how Sanc ended. So now she's stuck, meeheehee.

Do you currently have more than 1 sex partner?
4tlom: Nope. Just the one. Hubs is more than enough for me.
gondolier: Hubby is mah man. And let me tell you, you think R-Patz has sexy hair? Hubby has the same look--messy/polished/bouffantish--going, except his hair is strawberry blonde. Gah, so shiny and thick and handsome. *swoon*

4tlom: You shouldn't tease. Now I want to see a picture! Is he constantly running his hands through it too?
gondolier: He's so damn protective of his hair. I'm always trying to mess it up and he swats my hand away, the jerk :(


Melba said...

i loved reading this interview. i'm prolly gonna read again. :-)

i am an HL5 fan, and also a Jfly stalker. interesting bit there about her knowing the HL5 ending.

<<<---diabolically rubbing hands together. very, very interesting. heh. lucky for the entire fandom, i am the most patient person in the world.


Love=EDWARD said...

Ahem, come I have yet to see pics of the boobs- er, the tats?