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Issue 11; September 15, 2000

Dragon's Library News


New and Updated Stories
Interview with FernWithy
Feed the Dragon ...



  Finally there is another interview with an fan fiction author - FernWithy. The current update includes seven of her Star Wars stories and you should check out her works in progress at the Jedi Council Forums, especially "By the Grace of Lady Vader".


New and Updated Stories

"The Nexus" by Anya (Lledrith RavenWolf) - finished
A Dark Elf story:
  "Monsters always live in this sort of place," Rae snorted, "At least, that's what they say in books. If I were a monster, I'd live somewhere nice, airy, and along a major trade route at least. And not wet."
  "That's where dragons live," Zak said drily. 
  "Sensible creatures," Rae noted. Zak gave her an incredulous look, then coughed, but turned away when Rae raised an eyebrow at him.

"The Hunters" by Anya (Lledrith RavenWolf) - finished
A Dark Elf crossover:
  "Not you," Tulan groaned, "I don't believe it. I don't believe you are the Anti-Christ. Not in a million years..."
  "You'd live longer than a million, uncle." The speaker was a small dark elf girl, probably not older than eight, holding a large teddy bear that was nearly as large as she was. She wore an elaborate frock, and she looked both serious and childishly pleased as she leaped at Tulan. Tulan caught her reflexively, but still looked horrified.
  "At least, Rist said I was the Anti-Christ." The girl admitted. "Am I?"
  There was general consternation in the room. 
  "She is," Max said finally. "Oh dear."

Star Wars stories by FernWithy:

"Going Nowhere"
  Luke's eyes widened. There had been other farmhands over the years - not a lot, but a few here and there - who had come quietly from Ben's place, done their work, and left, never to be seen again. Had they all been Rebels?

"Last Encounter"
  "Be strong and still, little one. You have your father's heart and your mother's love. Don't be afraid."

"First Encounters"
  But Ani -- Ani who had brought this misery on all of them -- Ani's death had come into her mind and soul with the shattering power of being torn in two.

"Extreme Action"
  The Empire regrets that it was forced to take extreme action against the rebellious world of Alderaan.

  (they say he used to be a knight; he still thinks he is.)

"Hidden Home"
  Kerea burst into tears for the first time in the six months she'd been running. "I want to go home!"

"Outer Rim"
  "Well done," the Jedi told him. "I programmed the coordinates we're seeking into your naviputer -- "
  "You want to let me do the flying, old man?"
  " -- to save time. Our destination is Tatooine."

WoT Alternate Reality:
"Door to Chaos" by various authors

Read them!


Interview with FernWithy

E-mail:   FernWithy@aol.com
Homepage: Vader's Mask

This interview was conducted per e-mail.

Tell us a bit about yourself outside of your work as a writer. Who are you in Real Life? What are your hobbies?

  In Real Life, I'm a young adult librarian.  It's a job I'm very fond of, as I get to spend a lot of time with books and teenagers.

  Hobbies... hmm, I think of fanfic as my hobby!  I've also been trying to learn to draw for about ten years, with no noticeable success.  Other than that, I like taking long, meandering walks around the city, just to discover places I never suspected were there.

When and why did you begin writing? At which point did you first consider yourself a writer? And when did you start writing SW fanfic?

  That's a lot of different questions, and they have a long answer.

  I always wrote to some extent -- I was very focused on the written word, and in second or third grade, I remember a teacher commenting favorably on my writing.  But I didn't really think of myself as a writer,particularly.  My storytelling was something I thought of as play for myself and my friends.  I almost never wrote down the stories we made up together.

  The first time I thought of myself as a writer actually coincides with the first time I wrote Star Wars fanfic, though I had no idea at the time that such a thing as fanfic existed, or that anyone else did it.  My friends and I were wild over "Return of the Jedi," and watched the trilogy over and over together.  We were all girls, we couldn't very well all be Leia, and we hadn't quite made the mental leap to believing we could be literally anyone in make-believe.  The answer?  We went ahead a generation, and created five female characters -- Luke's daughter, Han and Leia's daughter, Han's much-younger sister, Biggs' niece, and Palpatine's granddaughter.  These were mainly for play, but I started writing the story we were making up down (it was called "Images of Darkness," and it is, mercifully, long lost in dusty years).  We contacted Lucasfilm because we'd seen "Splinter of the Mind's Eye" and thought, hey, why not write one of those?  The response was kind, but firmly negative.

  At any rate, at some point during this, one of my friends found a notices for a young writers' contest, and three of the five of us got serious about writing an original novel together.  It was also quite awful, but by the time we finished it, I definitely considered myself a writer.  After that, I did a lot of original stories (some halfway decent, none publishable), and got into science fiction, horror, and fantasy at college.

  This was deep in the inter-trilogy years, and I wasn't thinking Star Wars much anymore.

When I look at your stories those in the "Father's Heart" universe take a prominent place. And you wrote: "It was "Father's Heart" that got me back into SW fanfic after about fifteen years. I realized I just had to know this story." Sounds like a story itself.

  After college, I discovered that fan fiction existed (a pro editor actually clued me in to it), and I've been writing it ever since -- a lot of Quantum Leap for awhile, then Tolkien.  But when "The Phantom Menace" came out, all the sudden, I felt like I was back to my roots, except that I had much better command of my craft.  I could tell the stories I wanted to tell, and be all the characters I wanted to be.

  I knew right away that I wanted to write about Anakin; he had been my obsession all along -- my character in my first fanfic (Luke's teenage daughter) was basically my first attempt to write Anakin.  I thought about bringing him back from the dead (eventually this became "The Penitent"), but something else was trying to make a connection.  Finally, I saw the scene where he dives the pod in fairly close proximity to a viewing of RotJ, where Leia dives her speeder bike, and I made the connection.  It started slowly -- at first, it was just "Behind the Mask," and Leia was her usual pure little self... but as I wrote it, I started to feel places where the story could go further, where I could test Leia's character and as well as Anakin's, and really focus on their kinship in a way the movies couldn't because they were focused on Luke (and rightly so).  Once I really got going, all the old fun of playing at Star Wars came back -- which is a great thing to be able to say at 30! -- and I've kept on going ever since.

Came it naturally to you when you expanded your universe with the "Sith Uprising" and "Strange Angels: The Secret History of the Sith" stories? Or had you planned it beforehand?

  I got into "Sith Order" on a lark when Lord Sith proposed the idea on theforce.net, and Zemai was a character that had been in an early draft of "The Penitent" -- she never made it into the current form, because that story went in a radically different direction.  She'd been meant as the daughter of a murdered religious leader, who befriended Anakin in his new life. Obviously, that wasn't going to work, but she was still kicking around in my head, so I offered her up to "Sith Order" as a young padawan, and then tossed off the idea that she would be the first apprentice after the uprising... completely unrelated to anything else I was doing.  But Zem's a character that just got under my skin, and once I started writing her, I wanted to keep doing so.  As to "Strange Angels: The Secret History of the Sith," the title for that got into my head first. I wanted to tell the story of Zemai's death, then just sort of give a place for the other Sith Order writers to tell stories of the next thousand years.

What kind of work went into fleshing out the background? What were your sources of inspiration?

  A lot of things find their way into the background of my stories -- the weather often matches what I see out my window, or I might notice a pecular climate outside and have it show up in a scene.  I lived out in the desert for two and a half years, and that finds its way into Tatooine scenes.  Also, I read a lot.  Stephen King is a big influence on me, and Orson Scott Card. J.R.R. Tolkien shows up thematically, I think, and Chaim Potok can be blamed for my tendency to get extremely wordy.

You seem to have no difficulties to write together with other authors.  The results in "Strange Angels" and "The Penitent" are outstanding. Are all your experiences with co-writing so good?

  I've always enjoyed writing with other people; it's a very different experience than writing alone, because the energy just builds as you go, and other people can send the story off in wild new directions.  Unfortunately, it can work the other way, too... when you're writing alone and you hit a dull spot, you just push through it and go back to fix it later, but when you're writing with other people and they lose interest, the apathy can be catching.  That's the down side, and it's happened at one point or another with all the fics I've worked on (and I don't mean to sound like it's always other people initiating it; I've been the one who's tripped on more than one story).

When you read your own stories, do you have any particular favorite scenes or characters?

  I've really gotten to like the kids at Sanctuary, but my favorite scene?  Hmm... I think it has to be the scene on the landing platform in "Father's Heart: Imperial Entanglements," where Vader asks Leia to be loyal the Empire so that they won't have to come into conflict.  I also like the scene in "First Encounters" where Amidala first speaks to Anakin's ghost.

What are you working on? Do you intend to continue in the "Father's Heart" universe? If so, do you already know the direction your stories will take?

  I'm doing a parallel series of stories about Luke, which so far don't have an overarching title.  I've finished "Dragonslayer" and "Going Nowhere" (in which Luke meets Leia's FH mentor, Jaet Bishapi), and will probably do two more, tentatively titled "Beggar's Canyon" and "When Biggs and Tank Left."  Alderaan21, ami-padme, and I just started an alternate universe story called "By the Grace of Lady Vader" over at the JC, and I actually am tossing around an original idea (wonders never cease).  In other words, I live at my computer. ;)

Do you ever read what other fan fiction authors are writing? What are your favorites then?

  I scan a lot over at fanfiction.net, Star Wars as well as some other fandoms (most recently "Harry Potter"), but I'm terrible with names.  It took me months to remember the title/author of Ossian's "A First Time for Everything," and I absolutely loved that story from first reading.  Of course, I like everything I've collected at my site.  I have a sneaking particular fondness their for Arco's "Tamarisk," because it's a heavy action story, of the sort that I have difficulty writing and therefore admire.  As to favorite authors, I'd have to list ami-padme and Belle Bayard (I was very happy to get her on "The Penitent"), as well as my co-writers at "The Penitent" and "Sith Order." My one regret about writing as much as I do is that I don't read as much as I want to.

How do you feel about the EU novels? Do you have any particular favorite authors?

  I've read "Shadows of the Empire" and "Rogue Planet."  I liked RP mildly better, but on the whole, I'm pretty disinterested.  I'm crazy about the "Jedi Apprentice" books, and wish Jude Watson would write a full-length JA for adult readers.  I don't hate the EU, but I was never especially fascinated with the story it chose to tell -- I wanted more Anakin, for one thing.  For another, I wanted to see stories about rejuvenation and renewal... springtime stories.  The EU has always struck me as trying to indefinitely prolong the season of the war, bringing back Imperial and Imperial-style baddies to fight.  It feels like one of those springs where the weather never gets around to warming up.

What are you reading in your spare time? What are your favorite books and authors? Did anyone of them influence your writing?

  I think I got into that earlier.  Lately, I finally got hooked on Harry Potter, much to my delighted surprise.  What a great style!

How important is the feedback you get from your readers? Are you satisfied with the kind of responses?

  It's always good to know when people are reading, and that they are enjoying themselves. That's what I write for.  I like it when people question something in the plot, because that means I've goofed and I need to fix it.  (I of course also like it when someone mentions something specific that s/he liked.)  The only feedback I don't know what to do with is thematic disagreement -- the stories I write are the stories that are inside me.  I can't write the stories that are inside someone else.

Usually I ask finally for advice for beginning writers, but you have the Writer's Toolkit at fanfiction.net for this. Why did you start the columne? Did you always get the same question?

  I get a lot of different questions back from the column, no one thing stands out particularly.

  I started writing it because when I was skimming various fanfics, I noticed that there were a couple of common problems people were having, problems that I had when I was fourteen and just starting to write.  I started to read about writing then, so I figured I'd start writing about writing now.

You mentioned your original stories. Is there a chance to read them somewhere? Have you published any? And could you imagine yourself as a professional writer?

  All my original stuff is under my real name, of course, and I'm not sure if the three stories I put online -- before I found out that doing so is not a good idea -- are still there or not (an obsolete account).  I would urge writers as loudly as possible: Do not put original stories on the web.  It can interfere a lot in trying to sell them, as they will be considered previously published.  If you want to put your stuff up anyway, just to get your name out there, go ahead... money's not everything (and writing just for money is not a very good idea; it's a terribly inefficient way to go about making a living!), but if there's a piece that you think you have any chance of selling to a paying market, keep it unpublished.  Fanfic is different; if you haven't sold something to the licensed publisher -- and they are incredibly swamped, and have a very definite agenda -- you're sunk.  You can't sell it to someone else, because it doesn't entirely belong to you.  But original work?! 
  That's yours.  Be careful with it.  Okay, rant over. ;)

  That said, yes, I have one published novel, in the "Quantum Leap" fandom, which is out of print now (sniff).  It did fairly well.

  Can I see myself as a full-time professional writer?  When it's going well, sure.  When I have writer's block, I'm very, very glad I have day job. ;)

Thank you for your time.


Feed the Dragon ...

... visit again!
... recommend Dragon's Library to a friend!
... give him feedback!
... order your books via Dragon's Library!

I hope you liked this issue. As always I am grateful for feedback. This list is a two-way street... so, let's talk. Tell me what you think.


Ulrike Großmann

Ulrike@dragonlibrary.com maintains
Dragon's Library - the Science Fiction & Fantasy FanFiction Archive
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© Copyright 2000 by Ulrike Großmann, Dragon's Library, all rights reserved.

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