It gives me great pleasure to present; TexanLady.
"Something I can never have" picture by kitrose ~ Deviant Art
"The Boss of Fangtasia" picture by Bohemian Weasel ~ Deviant Art
The Arrangement originally started life on fanfiction.net and quickly polarised opinion, you either love it or hate it, just like Marmite.
There doesn't seem to be any middle ground. After trouble with hairy toed trolls and a bunch of kiddie winklets way past their nap time, the authors removed TA from fanfic.net and uploaded it to LJ and it has been here ever since.
If you haven't read 'The Arrangement' you can read it here: The arrangement Don't blame me if you start reading it and no-one sees you for a week or two! Fair warning, it is rated MA/NC-17, adults only, delicate little flowers need not apply and you'll have to friend the comm and send your date of birth.
So, on to the interview, texanlady and NYCsnowbird, in their own words..
Please give us a little background information about you and Texanlady, as much or as little as you want to provide.
TexanLady is a farmgirl, born and raised. She is a horse trainer, breeder and accomplished rider who performs in county rodeos barrel racing, roping and reining horses. She enjoys writing as something that reduces stress in her life and is working on a full length novel (non SVM/TB) along with ARRANGEMENT and her other online fics.
nycsnowbird is a New Yorker, as the name implies, and the closest I get to horses is passing a cop on one in Central Park. I wear a bunch of hats: I’m a graphic artist specializing in desktop publishing. Full time, I write PR for several companies in NYC and up till a short time ago was writing articles on animal husbandry for a website now defunct. Over the last couple of months, I’ve begun work with a European ebook company starting up in the erotica market. My work involves creating the cover art to appeal to a female audience as well as layering in erotic detail written by others. I also repair and maintain client Macintosh computers in the tri-state area.
Give us some background information about how TA came about, how the characters developed and what was the inspiration behind writing it?
TexanLady: THE ARRANGEMENT came about one afternoon as I was out riding. We check the fences once a week to make sure they are in working order to make sure none of our horses or cows get out. It’s an all day job since we literally have hundreds and hundreds of acres fenced in. That’s a lot of time in the saddle to think. That particular day was very fruitful for me. So I was riding one afternoon and was thinking about how sad I was with the direction Ball has taken True Blood. I don’t blame him too much, as I consider him to be a fanfiction writer much like myself. He really is if you think about it. He took Southern Vampires and took it in his own direction much like I’ve taken True Blood, which is why I try not to judge him too harshly. He’s allowed his story just as I am mine, but that doesn’t mean I like it.
So I was riding and thinking about how I would develop the story line between Eric and Sookie if it were left up to me. I had just finished re-reading American Gods for about the fourth time, and the story just sort of popped up into my mind. The first time I read American Gods I wasn’t all that impressed with it. Gaiman has a very stark writing style in my opinion, and it was only at the urging of a friend of mine that I read it again with a more open mind, and I have to admit I’m grateful for his continued insistence.
The story has become one of my all time favorites. There are so many hidden depths to the story, and so many belief systems, cultures, and touchy subjects are incorporated. Not many books are written with such intense subject matter anymore, and American Gods is an iconic novel for me now. From it I came up with the idea of using Sookie and Eric to return all the old gods to the world. There have been a few additions and changes along the way as the story took on a life of its own, but for the most part everything is still as I imagined it that day two years ago.
First, I knew I wanted to transform Eric and Sookie’s characters completely. I wanted to take Sookie from the whiney, immature, self-absorbed, completely dependent woman she had somehow become throughout season 2 of True Blood, to a mature woman who understood that life is not fair, the end hardly leaves both sides even, and sometimes bad things happen forcing us to make difficult choices. I wanted to take Eric from the arrogant, conceited, self-absorbed prick he was, to a true individual. A man that understood it is WHO we are, not WHAT we are that makes us great. I also wanted it to be a believable change, so I knew it was going to be a long tale because I’m thoroughly aware of how hard it is for people to change.
I also knew I wanted to address as many of the topics in today’s world that are important to me as possible: sexuality, tolerance, education, internet abuse, child abuse, religion, personal growth, environmentalism, etc. I wanted to use fiction to try and get people to think about the many problems in our world that we are so used to seeing we don’t even really think about anymore. Things we tend to turn a blind eye to simply because they are so prevalent. I don’t expect or want everyone to agree with me and my own personal views on these subjects, but I do want people to THINK about them. The more we think about them, the more people who THINK about them, the more solutions and progress that can be made. So I used fiction to reach out to people.
nycsnowbird: We’ve had problems with her interpretation and mine throughout the story that have been amusing in context. I see Sookie’s bedroom at the bottom floor. TL sees it upstairs. We made it upstairs. I saw the kitchen at the end of the hall visible from the front door. Beyond the kitchen, a door leading to her backyard. The placement of that back door had to be fixed in both our minds. She sees Sookie with brown eyes, I see blue. I’ve written in passages regarding Eric looking at Sookie as ‘blue on blue’ and amended some of her wording to keep it consistent.
She wanted a kick-ass alpha vampire. I prefer Eric the lover. Together, we write both but there’s no denying ARRANGEMENT’s Eric is True Blood’s.
NYC and I do disagree from time to time. She is very much a “Bookie” and I tend to be more of a True Blood fan. She’s also a hopeless romantic, and has such a caring personality, whereas I’m a bit more rough and tumble. Hard I guess you would say. Our styles do clash from time to time, but I like to think that we find a nice balance as we work through everything.
Please give us some insight into Eric’s character. Is he written more how Tex visualises a vampire ‘should’ be?
TexanLady: Definitely. I am not fond of Harris’ writing at all. Not only do I not enjoy such a limited view on her writing, telling everything from Sookie’s POV and leaving us all guessing what everyone else is thinking and the reasons behind their actions, but I don’t like what she did with Eric. I love Ball’s version of Eric. To me, vampires are vampires and humans are humans. What’s the point of having this great mythological creature, a creature that by very definition is supposed to be a supreme predator, and robbing him of his primal nature? I just don’t get it. I wanted Eric to be nearly all predator at the beginning of the story, and I wanted Sookie to be the one to return the man inside him to life. However, first and foremost, he would always be VAMPIRE. He was always going to fight and kill because it was in his nature as a predator to do so.
Believe it or not, but I also identify most with Eric. His change throughout TA is somewhat like my own evolution in life. In high school and much of college I was not the person I am now. I was a lot like Eric. The experiences in my past had completely warped my personality and turned me into a monster. I was completely self-absorbed, and did a lot of bad things to my family and friends. I hurt the people closest to me, much as I’ve had Eric do to Sookie. Luckily, the reality of my situation hit me, much as I’ve had it starting to beat into Eric in TA. I was able to step back and view my actions, the people I was hurting, and the long term consequences of the self-destructive life I was leading, and I realized I needed to change. It was a long and painful road for me to become the woman I am now. I had to overcome drug addiction, and make peace with my painful past, but I did it. I’m an entirely different person than I started out as, and that is what I wanted to do with Eric in this story. Perhaps even more so than Sookie. I very much wanted to show that people CAN change, but that it’s not easy to do.
nycsnowbird: Eric needed a strong character arc. He had to be an intractable, devious, manipulative, self serving, lust driven vampire in the beginning in order to give believability to the full swing of that arc of what he will become by the end because of Sookie’s love for him.
Same question for Sookie’s character? Is she how Tex imagines a woman with unusual powers would be in that scenario?
TexanLady: Sookie’s character is actually a mix of myself, my sisters, and my Mom. I wanted her to have my determination and unwillingness to run from things that make her afraid. Charging in with guns blazing no matter the odds. I wanted her to have my older sister’s sense of responsibility. My older sister, who sadly is no longer with us, always took the weight of the world on her shoulders. She felt it was her responsibility to take care of everyone and everything, and was basically a mother hen to anyone and everyone she ever met. I wanted Sookie to have my younger sister’s sense of humor, her drive to laugh and make others laugh. And most importantly I wanted her to have my Mom’s ability to adapt and learn. I wanted Sookie to be the woman we all hope to be by the end of our roads. A strong pillar. The foundation for our family and friends, and a caring individual that tries to hear all sides before judging. Obviously no woman is like this, but in fiction she can exist, and I’m trying to make my Sookie that way. The Sookie I have written now is the woman I hope to one day be. She’s comprised of the best in all of us.
I felt it important that Sookie have an inferiority complex for several reasons. First, any woman that has ever suffered sexual abuse has this issue to some degree. As child abuse was an issue I wanted to bring up, I felt it necessary to add this dimension to Sookie’s psyche so I could appropriately address the issue of child sexual abuse and the life long repercussions of this heinous crime. Second, in my mind if Sookie didn’t have such an inferiority complex then she might be tempted to use her abilities to hurt other people. Thinking she had the right to simply because she was born with the ability and others weren’t. I wanted to show that part of the reason she never used her powers (in the beginning of the story) is because not only did she think her telepathy was not a good thing and therefore should not be used unless necessary, but that she only used her powers to help people to try and get them to like her or think better of her. I’ve obviously evolved her character far beyond that point, but in the beginning I wanted Sookie to start at the bottom. I felt that the only way she could truly appreciate her powers, and more importantly respect them, was to have to climb to the top through experience and hard work. This ensures my Sookie will never abuse her powers. I wanted to take her from a victim to a survivor.
Where are you going from here and what are your future story plans?
TexanLady: I let NYC answer that. I don’t know why people fail to give her the respect she is due as my CO-AUTHOR !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So many people PM me asking questions that she is perfectly capable of answering because they somehow feel my response is more legitimate than hers. Rubbish. NYC has been completely “in the know” basically from the second day she came aboard. She was just so worried about stepping on my toes (guess she doesn’t realize she ain’t nothing compared to a 1200 pound Quarter horse coming down on my toes!) she kept me from announcing her as my CO-AUTHOR for way too long! She was so worried about people giving her credit, and I was like, “Huh? You deserve credit, girl!” NYC is an integral part of this story. It may be my ideas, but she does a hell of a lot more than edit. She’s not afraid to tell me when I repeat myself over and over, when I use words too much, when I’m not flushing out a scene enough, or when I need to slow the drama down and lighten up a bit. She’s the perfect critic!
nycsnowbird: The saga has a good 40 chapters yet to go. I know, enormous. There’s a battle both sides are gearing up for. Eric, consummate chessman, is positioning his people and the supernatural world is falling in behind him in support. There are still friendships to forge, betrayals to come, alliances to be made. TexanLady has created a very ambitious universe where mythological creatures are real and are being used to bolster Eric’s army. There’s a lot more story to be told.
Would you ever consider publishing ‘The Arrangement’ in some form as some Twilight authors have done, or perhaps an original piece?
TexanLady: NO! TA is a fanfiction and it will remain that. It is free and will stay up on the web for anyone and everyone to read. I am currently working on my own original fiction piece that will hopefully have 8-10 books. A nice series that will hopefully be published, but TA will always be what it is now. A free fanfiction for anyone and everyone who wants to read it. They are above all Charlaine Harris’s characters and my trying to take this story beyond the realm of fanfiction would be an insult to her and her achievements.
nycsnowbird: Agreed. Not to mention, with chapters coming in at 40+ pages, it would need a tremendous amount of editing to fill the requirements of any publishing house. No. Enjoy it in its full length with all its story offshoots.
How has your relationship with Tex developed over time, do you agree all the time? Do you both make suggestions and do you bounce ideas off each other?
TexanLady: What a question! Well, NYC first offered to beta for me quite early on in the story. I misplaced her message or something, so I had to make a public announcement to get her to respond again. She messaged me quickly and I sent her the next chapter I was working on. That first chapter she didn’t do near as much as she does now. Again, she was afraid of stepping on my toes. Then she asked me if I minded if she tried a few additions here and there. I told her to bring it on! I’m all about improving and evolving my writing. She started small at first, again, because I think she was so worried about upsetting me, took her awhile to realize I have real tough skin! Soon it went from her just changing words and striking out some paragraphs when I begin to ramble and repeat myself, to her actually adding paragraphs of her own, reshaping very vague ideas into clear, concise ones that truly convey what I was going for. She still fixes commas and stuff, but that’s small potatoes compared to the work she puts in now.
I bounce ideas off her all the time! She’s a great sounding board! I have some ideas for Pam and Jason, and I’ll pop her a little message of “What do you think about this?” and we’ll go back and forth for awhile. I checked the other day and we have literally messaged each other over 3,000 times! I was brainstorming of ways to have Eric trying to earn forgiveness from Sookie for making her kneel and ran out of ideas. Asked her and wouldn’t you know it she had some awesome ones!
nycsnowbird: I’d been doing beta work for a few writers and often found myself making suggestions or writing in comments reacting to dialog or a plot point. I’d added moments into the stories for a number of them without credit because that’s not what my help was about. The end goal is always the story, giving everything it needs, giving lift to getting that story airborne on its own momentum. Initially, I emailed TL to ask to be her beta. I liked the story but thought she needed someone to come in and fix punctuation and some repetitive words that I noted as I read the story for myself. I promised her all I wanted to do was make her a strong read and make necessary corrections but immediately I made suggestions. I couldn’t help becoming very involved in her story and helping her to execute her vision. ‘Try it this way’ or ‘This would sound better by saying ….’ Some writers might take issue with a suggestion. It is, after all, their child. TL was amazingly open to not only my suggestions but interpretations as well. I’d send her back a chapter saying, ‘Use it if you’d like, I am suggesting you ramp up the mood here.’ I began to “feel” my way through the story finding ways to convey the emotion and make it a much more immersive experience for the reader. I started writing a lot more with her encouragement/prodding so it became a two-person process.
Initially we argued over beta credit. I didn’t even want that. I was happy enough just to help. She insisted. And were it not for several rather nasty PMs she received concerning my response to reader feedback after a particular chapter got posted, I would have stayed that way. That particular bit of nastiness accused me of taking too much credit, of usurping TL’s position and talking for her. She took umbrage, I cowed. She had wanted me to share writing credit for months and I finally agreed just to end the petty PMs.
TexanLady: That’s putting it lightly. I practically had to threaten her to take the title of Co-Author. NYC really wanted to stay in the shadows, but I just couldn’t stand it. When people see “Beta”, they think someone fixing a few grammar mistakes here and there, but NYC does so much more than that. I always felt uncomfortable with her taking that title after the first chapter. I felt like I was taking far more credit than I was due, and I began to feel like I was plagiarizing. The story might be mine, but she adds so much to it that to say I was the only author, and she was simply a beta was an outright lie in my opinion, and I just couldn’t tolerate it. It took awhile, but I finally dragged her out into the open with me.
nycsnowbird: We don’t always agree but it is safe to say we almost always do. We are very much on the same wavelength with the story. I will argue semantics with her. I am mindful that words have enormous power, not only to convey but to move, to seduce, to touch, their flame can sear images into the mind. I argued for the inclusion of the word ‘cheeks’ in a recent one-shot because it was the right image for the moment and I convinced her to allow it.
TexanLady: NYC is really good with words and how they affect the public as a whole while I tend to personalize them. Certain words are just horrible to me and strike such a negative chord with me that I can’t read them without wincing. NYC is helping me to get over that. She’s never afraid to tell me that I’ve used a certain word too much or things like that.
nycsnowbird: I am always cognizant it is her story, always and irrevocably hers, but I will fight to make it the best it can be in my mind. So when she will disapprove a word or cross out a thematic device I’ve added, I’ll ask why. Sometimes her decision is merely to save the theme for a different chapter. We remain communicative and share equally the desire of to make the story an intense read. I have tremendous regard for her, I’m one of the few who know how much she’s lost last year and that she continues writing through all that pain awes me.
How does the co-authoring process work for you both?
TexanLady: Basically I write a chapter, and thanks to NYC, my writing has gotten so much better! So much more evolved!, and then I hand it off to her. She makes all her additions and corrections, ships it back to me where I go over all of them. At this point I approve probably 9 out of 10 of her changes, and the ones I don’t approve aren’t because I don’t think they won’t make the story better, but because, like I said, I have a real strange relationship with words. Real strange. We got into this really funny debate recently about my abhorrence of the word “cheeks” to describe Sookie’s butt. Some words just really rub me the wrong way, but she’s helping me to think of the bigger picture. Again, she really is a great friend.
So yeah, I write the rough chapter, she sends me back a cleaner, better, more eloquent chapter, I might add some more, she corrects it, and eventually we get it up there. What’s so great about working with NYC is that she’s not afraid to be like, “Tex, this isn’t working. I get what you’re trying to do, but it’s not working out. Why don’t you try ….” She’s not afraid of pointing out when I’m getting ahead of myself, rushing, or when I just plain forget about the story timeline. Like a few chapters back she asked, “Did you mean to have Sookie in shorts and a t-shirt? It is December now.” I told her that December in Texas is mid 70’s to 80’s, but I forget that in most parts of the world you guys are buried in snow! It wasn’t really a problem in the story, but she does catch hundreds of other little problems like that I forget. That’s just one example.
nycsnowbird: TL’s strength is in dialog and concept. She’s got tremendous creativity coupled with a strong background in history and mythologies she draws upon. I provide the window dressing. I will take her completed chapter and read it several times, putting in notes for myself as I go along, moments I intend to add when I get there. The characters are all hers. It takes me a long time to layer in everything. I will drop in randomly at first, maybe start at the end of a chapter or even its middle. When I have enough additions, I will start in at the top and make it all flow together. Readers have asked constantly where is the division between she and I and I am flattered that if they don’t see it, that’s fine by me. What I give is texture, descriptives. I’m big into delving into the character heads, conveying their emotion. My background is in classic literature, hence my wordiness. It’s only been in the last two years I’ve started reading erotica and urban fantasy and trying my hand in it as well.
How has your relationship with your commentators and reviewers developed over time on LiveJournal?
TexanLady: In the beginning I tried to reply to as many reviews as possible, but that quickly became an impossible task. People need to remember that NYC and I are only 2 people. Two people against thousands. Each chapter tends to get between 30 and 60 reviews. Then there are all the PM’s NYC and I get. Even if we only spent a few minutes replying to each review, that still adds up to more than an hour, and we DO have lives outside of Fanfiction. I love positive feedback, I really do, but at this point I simply don’t have the time to respond like I tried to do in the beginning.
I feel horrible saying this, but I don’t have time to read reviews as often as I should. NYC keeps me up-to-date. I will say that I am continually blown away by how many people have stuck with this story despite the long times between updates. Blown away and humbled. I’m sure NYC feels the same. In fact I know she does. She’s so gracious.
nycsnowbird: We have a wonderful bunch of readers who followed us faithfully from FanFiction.net when a woman with an axe to grind aligned herself with a group of hoodlums on the site whose aim was to disrupt every fandom forcing their own values and interpretations of the TOS of the site. This woman began reporting fiction she personally had issue with and TL lost a number of her stories that day and other authors followed. It instigated the shift of many authors to other blog sites such as this to avoid a similar experience.
The serendipity was that TL and I were already exploring LJ as a secondary home and that incident became the catalyst for making it our primary. All that remains on FFNet is a single chapter with info. to seek the full story on LJ.
LJ allows much more interaction with the readers, as you know, and we have had lots of ongoing dialog regarding such topics as recommendations of good fanfic, good published erotica, what books stimulated TL growing up, and even what to feed a healthy pet bird. I have used the interaction, too, to keep readers updated on TL’s ongoing travails.
As you are probably aware, last year her sister and brother-in-law were in a fatal head-on collision with a 17 yr old driver who was texting instead of paying attention to the road. Their 9 year old daughter, in the back seat, survived with multiple injuries and was in a coma for weeks. Upon waking, she needed to be told her parents died. I can’t even imagine how painful that had to be.
Long story short, the niece went through months of speech and physical rehabilitation and is doing better. TL has now adopted her and is raising her in a home she shares with her mother. Her life has changed inexorably. Her dreams of leaving the farm and pursuing a writing career are on hold while she runs the farm her sister and brother-in-law were managing. The farm is shorthanded and TL has lost much of her free time she used to devote to writing.
This has been hard on the readers, some of whom have abandoned the story but not before leaving word they’re doing so. I’ve things on the tip of my tongue I’d say about that callous disregard but I’m not going to. This isn’t a paying gig and TL has had more than her share of bad breaks and there’s no apology forthcoming for any of it. Life happens. Deal with it.
Ultimately, TL writes for herself. She’s not on a deadline and she writes when she has the time to do so. She’s rising at 4:30am to muck stalls, feed horses and tend to the other animals on her farm. Then she gets her daughter up and out to school. Comes back to 6-7 hours of time she spends in the saddle training horses. That’s her job. By the time that’s complete, she’s gone to get her daughter and take her to after school lessons and help her with her homework, cook dinner and get her in bed by 9pm. That leaves a very small envelope of time for writing. It makes me exhausted just hearing that schedule.
There are women online who have become very dear, PMing me, exchanging holiday greetings, asking for news. It is truly a community on LJ and I enjoy the ambiance more so than I had on FFNet.
TexanLady: Also, I don’t think people realize that NYC and I have put out nearly three books worth of material. All of TA’s chapters are very long, some topping 50 pages. If you take into account the sheer number of pages (word count) that we’ve put out already, and we have basically given readers three books in two years. That’s not bad. Not bad at all.
Do you take into account their suggestions?
TexanLady: ABSOLUTELY! Anytime a reader/reviewer gives me criticism, I investigate. I don’t always agree, but I certainly look into it. One reviewer told me I used the term “Eric smirked” too much. She was totally right, and NYC is helping me with that. One reviewer in the beginning pointed out how I was focusing way too much on Eric’s thoughts and not enough on Sookie’s, and she was also right, and I have tried to even it out. Not only do I make sure to investigate criticism, but I try to always thank the people who are kind enough to point out problems in my writing to me. I enjoy compliments, but I appreciate help a whole lot more. Which is why I’m so in love with NYC! She’s my greatest critic! At this point I think there are fewer critiques just because NYC is so good at catching those things. Lately she barely misses a coma, but she goes over chapters so closely—and I mean CLOSELY!—that she tends to catch those flaws for me.
I always try to be open-minded about criticism. As long as someone is genuinely critiquing me, not just bashing me to make themselves feel better, I try not to take anything personally. Writers are very close to their work, and just like parents tend to miss flaws in their children because they love them so much, so do writers miss flaws in their stories. Without people stepping up and saying, “Hey, love the story, but there’s a problem right here”, how are we supposed to fix these problems or grow as writers? So yes, absolutely, without a doubt, I take criticism into account. Again, I might not always agree, but I definitely look into it.
nycsnowbird: We don’t have comments that try to direct the story in a specific direction (except for a recent plea to give Sookie a bird as part of her pet entourage! Heh). As of late, I am so involved in the writing I don’t catch all the errors. It happens. You see what isn’t there. Our readers are wonderful to PM me so I can quickly correct an error so the reading experience is good for everyone.
The first Cabin Adventure offshoot came about as a response to a reader bemoaning the fact that we had not written the shock being in sunlight should have been to Eric after a thousand years. TL spun an entire winter wonderland experience for Sookie and Eric and we were able to go back and have Eric comment on what the moment means to him as it happens, as he looks across sun glinted snow and sees details in trees and variations of green he barely remembers. He remarks how intoxicating it is to simply stand and be warmed by the sun. He’s forgotten colors and looks into a blue sky with wonder. All that because of a reader’s remark.
I have had so many laughs with readers who have gone ballistic over wanting Tara gone in ARRANGEMENT. We’ve often portrayed her as petulant and entitled and in a fairly recent chapter, her behavior caused great anguish to Sookie when Eric took his ire out on her rather than Tara where it belonged. I’ve had to remind readers to see things from Tara’s POV, that she’s utterly out of her element and terribly frightened by what she’s seeing and by the changes in Sookie as Sookie comes into her own power. The dialog with the readers has been interesting from the perspective of seeing their reactions to what we’re writing and who they choose to side with. As bad as Eric has been in earlier chapters, we’ve had readers rooting for him! I love hearing the feedback that tells me how a chapter affected them. One of my favorite chapters to write was Jason revealing himself to be a vampire. I used a snake motif through much of the descriptives and TL had the most touching, tender scene between Eric and Sookie at the end. Readers cried. I cheered. That was a winning combination for both of us to reach readers at that visceral level.
The Arrangement contains some extraordinary scenes, detailed, dark and very gripping but it seems that commentators always return to the sex scenes. How do you feel about that as a writer? Do you feel ‘obliged’ to write them into the story or is it a natural process?
TexanLady: That’s a hard one to answer. First, I love sex! Not gonna lie, not gonna shirk the question, and not going to play my love of sex down. LOVE IT! God’s greatest gift to mankind after children, women, Texas, horses, and chocolate. Men fit somewhere on that list, but definitely after horses! I enjoy sex and I’m not ashamed of anything sexual I partake in. Everything I’ve had Eric and Sookie doing in both TA and other works I’ve done, and I’ve done a whole lot more. I think sex is an integral part of life, and denying it stunts us as individuals. I’m not very appreciative of the Puritanical approach America has to sexuality, and try to steer clear of it and educate people when I can.
That being said, I don’t think life should be all about sex. To me it should be dessert. That “Um, um!” topping to a healthy hearty meal. It should be our reward for a day of hard work and improvement. Though it doesn’t always have to happen at the end of the day! I eat dessert in the mornings too! Our lives should be important and meaningful. Everyone should try to be the best person they can be. We should work for the betterment of ourselves, our families, our friends, our communities and our world in some way each day. Even a small way. Dropping a few pennies in a donation box. Doing your sister, husband, brother, mother, or whoever’s chore for the day to lighten their load. Picking up litter you see on the street as you’re walking somewhere. Anything. I wanted this story to showcase that. The continual strive to want better, be better, and do better. Again, for ourselves and the world around us. I know a lot of people read the sex scenes over and over, but there are just as many that read it from start to finish over and over, and most catch things they missed the first few times around. Many have read Sookie’s scene reliving the atrocities her Uncle Bartlett carried out upon her over and over, and it helped them heal from their own painful pasts. It drives home how horrible child abuse is and how we need to combat it with everything we’ve got! Many chapters are read over and over, and I’m glad people enjoy the story enough to want to read it more than once.
As for feeling obliged to write? Lately I have started to feel that way. Feeling as though I owe readers to write certain things, but I’ve shaken myself out of that line of thinking. As I’ve said from the beginning, I write for me. I write what I want, what I see in my head, and what I feel in my heart and soul. If you like it, great, if not? Seek fiction elsewhere! I write sex scenes because I like them. I wrote Cabin Adventures 3 because I felt it was needed, and because I felt bad for Eric. No real Sookie-Nookie for him for awhile! I write flashbacks, dreams, and things like Cabin Adventures to help break up the intense drama of the story. So no, I definitely do not write anything for anyone else.
nycsnowbird: We’re largely women looking for fantasy adventure. Life can be one of stress, pain and monotony for many of us who look for a reprieve outside of ourselves. Part of that need is the desire for erotic stimulation. Until two years ago, I didn’t even know erotica existed outside of Barbara Cartland novels I gleefully removed from shelves weekly when I managed a bookstore in the Midwest 20 odd years ago. Hated the stuff. Wasn’t interested, didn’t see the point. IndigoBuni actually opened the field up for me one evening on the Sookieverse thread on FFNet talking about an Angela Knight Mageverse story. She shared a passage that took my breath away. I felt it. The words scorched. I went from monochromatic thinking to full spectrum color in one paragraph and I recognized a pivotal moment in my life. I read everything I could find by her and then I read everything from Robin Schone and Thea Devine and Christine Warren and, a good 400 books later, I have a stable of writers I read the works of, extol and analyze the hell out of. The historical romance (and specifically the Regency, Silhouette and HQ stuff) is formulaic but these women are earning a living writing it. It sure beats 9 to 5 in an office, doesn’t it?
There’s a huge market for erotic fiction and I decided I wanted to be part of it. As I said, I’ve begun work with a European ebook firm to create their book covers and contribute to stories much as I’ve done with TexanLady. They’ll be sold once the publisher starts up the website. Small steps, but I am enjoying the hell out of the scenery along the way.
As to ARRANGEMENT being dark, it is a story of contrast and revelation. It wouldn’t be as compelling without a dark to the light. There can’t be a satisfying HEA without believable angst before it. TL and I have been writing very edgy, tumultuous chapters lately and when she handed me Cabin Adventures 3 to work on, I was jazzed. Something light and frothy, something to elevate the mood and remind the readers the underlying theme here is one of love and redemption. If I have any gripe, it’s towards the readers who look at the early chapters as defining the text of all that succeed them. TL has carefully crafted this to show extremes and it frustrates me when people will weigh in from little more than a cursory glance.
LiveJournal seems like the natural home for The Arrangement’ would you agree with that or would you prefer a blog or a WordPress account at some point in the future?
TexanLady: That’s up to NYC. She loads everything so whatever is easiest for her. If she wants to put it up somewhere else she is welcome to.
nycsnowbird: I can thank makesmyheadspin enough for making my work on LJ easier since LJ doesn’t come with a hell of a good manual on usage. I was writing an article for thesookieverse.com blog site about using LJ as an alternative to FFNet and interviewed her for it and found she was doing things I had never even considered. The tenor of my article changed as I talked with her about how she built her own site. I’m happy on LJ right now. We have no censorship provided we keep with an understood moral code. I can embed photos into the story instead of using URLs that go defunct over time. I like the background, the tweaking you can do to aspects of the page and we don’t have to worry about FFNet’s programmer arbitrarily deciding to yank symbols used by many writers to break their scenes up with and suddenly have the story cave in on itself.
Where do you both write? In the kitchen, living room, bedroom, bath!
TexanLady: I tend to write everywhere. Sometimes I work in my office on my desk with my big Mac, but I find if I’m anywhere where people think I’ll be, they bother me and I end up working on their problems (mom, sister, ranch hands, uh! The list goes on and on!), and don’t get any writing done. So I’ll carry my laptop out to the barn and climb up into the haystacks and bunker down. I’ll write at the kitchen table, the dining room table. My bed. I take showers, so sadly it doesn’t go into the bathroom with me!
Texanladys desk ~ note the wonderwoman folder, a gift from a family member
nycsnowbird: No laptop in my long years of computer use. I struggle with track balls and track pads and prefer a mouse. I am more often than not sitting at home working. I freelance so all my work takes place in the front room of my house that I’ve set up my office in. It’s not a glamorous environment. I am stepping over computers and computer parts and my desk is often piled high with backup drives, repair DVDs and a magnifying glass so I am not blindsided by being so farsighted these days.
nycsnowbirds desk ~ note the dracula bust and the screensaver!
Do you write long hand (with a special pen and notebook) and transcribe to a laptop or do you write solely on a laptop?
TexanLady: I carry a small pen and little notebook with me in my back pocket to jot notes and ideas down, but everything else is done on the computer. Faster. And much more legible. Anyone that has ever seen my handwriting would understand. Chicken scratch doesn’t even begin to describe it. Half the time I can’t read my own writing.
nycsnowbird: If I’m out, I use a rolling ball writer or a fine point Uniball pen. Always black ink: I don’t want the distraction of color. (I’m kind of ADD that way: “Oooh! Shiny!”) When I leave the house, I always have a book to read and a spiral notebook with me to jot down ideas. I love to find an unusual passage in a book or a new way to say something old and I will write them down to kind of roll around in my head and examine. I’ve filled a half dozen notebooks that way. I definitely prefer doing this in longhand which is a habit I picked up when I started a journal back in junior high way too many years ago to admit. I know it’s atavistic but then so am I.
Do you start at the middle/beginning or end of a chapter? Odd question I know, but some writers write the middle bit first, or the lemony bits or the dialogue.
TexanLady: I tend to write from beginning to end. Then go through and add a few more lines of dialogue or description here and there, but the bulk of the chapter is written all at once. I jot down ideas for scenes in my notebook, and those ideas are written out when I sit down to type.
nycsnowbird: As I said earlier, my process is different from TL’s since I am not creating. I can enhance but I can’t create from scratch. James Michener said “I’m not a very good writer but I’m an excellent rewriter.” I get that. When I get a chapter from her, I will read it and jot notes, perhaps even sketch in a moment, come up with a word or three that will take me in a direction when I seriously dig in writing. It isn’t till I have lots of it down, interspersed throughout the chapter, that I go back to the beginning and start pulling it all together. Sometimes I think of a chapter in terms of themes. I gave you an example when I mentioned Jason as a vampire. I’ll jot down every word I can think of in describing a snake so when I layer in all the description I have my ideas already sketched out.
Do you write at night or during the day, is there a best or most productive/creative time for you both?
TexanLady: I use to write at intervals during the day. Due to recent events, my writing time has been much more limited. Things are supposed to get better, and hopefully I’ll be writing more often. I’m working on several projects though, so when I mean intervals I mean I’ll work on one thing, stop to go do some ranch work, and come back to write on a different project. Now, though, I do most of my writing at night.
nycsnowbird: Periodically throughout the day. I don’t do well in the morning; I’m not a morning person and rise around 9am. I’ll use that time to answer email, make phone calls, set appointments, work on a computer that needs repair. Depending on how I schedule my work, I’ll write around it. I normally retire around 2am and will write straight through to then most nights if I have a chapter from her.
What surrounds you both when you write and do certain things inspire you for instance; pictures, music, objects etc?
TexanLady: I totally listen to music. My music player on my laptop certainly gets its money’s worth! I listen to music that fits the scene. Like when I was writing the scene where Sookie goes off on Eric for treating her like a dog, I was listening to KoKo Taylor. I love blues and jazz and tend to listen to a lot of that. I listened to Nina Simone when writing the first chapter at the Cabin, and when I was writing Eric in the panic room at Sookie’s after she kicked him out of her bedroom and he was thinking about whether or not he was wrong, I listened to John Lee Hooker.
Music is very important to my writing process. I listen to music that sets the mood. Soft, smooth, sexy jazz for intimate loving scenes. Fast, boogie woogie blues for funny happy scenes. And of course the deep rich, heartfelt blues for the emotional scenes. New Orleans blues and jazz is also very effective in capturing Sookie’s essence. Blues just really makes me feel Sookie when I’m writing her. I challenge any reader of TA to listen to KoKo Taylor’s “I’m a Woman” while reading the chapter where Sookie takes a stand! You can feel the emotion!
I also find it helps to have one of my cats lying next to me. The warmth against my leg is comforting. I don’t like my dog in the room. She farts, and it’s so bad I have to turn the fan on and open the window to air the place out.
nycsnowbird: What a difference in personalities here! I need silence. I listen to Broadway showtunes and soundtracks as well as some easy listening … but that’s when I am not writing. Writing requires concentration and the music I like compels me to sing along and that takes me out of my words.
My parrot will fly in and visit me on and off throughout the day. She has the run of the house. She’s on my shoulder when she wants pets or to remind me to eat. She eats a lot of human food with me.
I’ll clean my desk a bit and take a photo. My desk contains lots of books, DVD spools, Bose speakers and several pair of reading glasses. My sister, a sculptor, has given me a bunch of her horsehair raku vases and they’re on a shelf above my desk. One of the desk arms contains a vase of parrot feathers I’ve saved from her molts and a Halloween vampire wearing a Christmas hat. I never stored him away 2 yrs. ago after Halloween so he’s become kind of my mascot. A small table below the arm contains a pile of external hard drives I use for my work. A folding door to a closet next to that has been decorated with postcards, some True Blood memorabilia, photos, cartoons, etc. It’s cozy.
How do your family feel about your writing, do they support you and do they read it?
TexanLady: My family encourages my original writing. They feel as soon as I finish my novel I’ll certainly get published by the first agency I send it to. I’m not as optimistic, but I’m hopeful. They were very supportive of my fanfiction writing in the beginning, but as work has piled up since the accident, they think I’m wasting my time with it and should abandon it. They don’t understand that TA is an obsession of mine. I HAVE to see it done. Even though they don’t agree with the fanfiction writing anymore, they still support me.
nycsnowbird: Truth? They don’t. Unlike TL, they never have. If it is not revenue generating, they don’t agree with my involvement. They have, however, enjoyed my True Blood recaps on thesookieverse.com and I assume it’s because they’re so damned snarky and loaded with lots of graphics. It’s more easily digestible. The truth is, I’m surrounded by a family and real-life friends that don’t read, never found the value of fiction and can’t understand my passion for it. I would have no problem having them read ARRANGEMENT as I feel no squeamishness about its carnal moments but they have never shown an interest in reading my articles on animal husbandry I did for another website either. This is my passion, my fascination and I am full in the belief we all need to find out what we love to do and DO it.
Anais Nim once said: "If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write …."
with thanks to: texanlady and nycsnowbird for agreeing to participate. Pamismymaker for the gorgeous banner and of course my partner in crime fairylust.
******Thank you again so much to Ninette Kelly and fairylust for this amazing interview found on their site: fang_readers Community LiveJournal on April 08, 2011. Ninette is also a published writer with a paranormal fantasy novel, A Blood Red Moon (The Chronicles of South Bede) up on Amazon now!