KD: When did you start writing fanfic? What motivated you to start writing?
NC: I began my first story, Alterations, in April of 2012. In fact, that was the very first piece of fiction I had ever written. I was in a very precarious psychological place at the time, just emotionally drained. I discovered that I could write fanfiction and it literally - and I'm not exaggerating much here - saved my life.
I never knew there were entire communities devoted to continuing the stories of beloved characters and giving them new experiences, of extending their lives in perpetuity! I loved it! I had never written fiction before, the very thought was daunting. Building characters, stories, settings, plots, putting them out there for people to critique? No way. But as I read and commented and studied these amazing pieces of art from people who sounded a whole lot like me, I started to rethink the possibilities.
I had fallen in love with the Brian/Justin relationship when I (late in the game) found Queer as Folk snippets on YouTube. I pulled together enough to buy the DVD set and found out that there was a whole lot more to the story than just their relationship. The immediate inspiration for Alterations was the psychological similarities I felt between Brian's story and my own backstory. Writing it was, to say the least, cathartic and therapeutic.
KD: Have you written for other fandoms? If so, which ones?
NC: The only fandom I have written for at all is QaF. Although the Twilight fandom was the first one I fell upon as a reader, I was never really inspired to write for it. QaF was special. There was an emotional connection with the characters that I've never found in any other work/show/book. And I'm a firm believer that Brian Kinney is the single most psychologically complex and interesting character anywhere, anytime, anyhow. LOL. He is the closest depiction of a true and classic tragic hero that has come around in many decades.
KD: What do you do when you are not writing or reading fics?
NC: Hmmm... To be honest, I'm addicted at the moment to the political arena. This is a particularly stressful one, to be sure, so I spend a lot of time reading, researching and volunteering in that capacity. I've even taken the initial steps to begin my own political blog. Since I live in Florida, I love the beach and the water - even the sometimes oppressive heat! For health reasons I opted to retire early last year and enjoy having more time for the local indie music scene in our area, especially acoustic and bluegrass. Honestly, though, I'm one of those introverts who actually enjoys their own company, so I spend a lot of time alone reading and working on graphic art.
KD: What is your favorite QAF fanfic story?
NC: Damn! That's difficult to narrow down. I'd have to go with one of the most angst-filled works I've ever read, Valediction by q_dicted. Jesus, that's a hard one to read, but it gets me in the gut and the heart every single time I read it, and I read it often. It is such a tribute to real, gut-wrenching love and loss! And it's long, which I love. On the other end of the length scale, one of the most well-crafted pieces of fanfiction I've ever run across is a drabble entitled Reliquary, by Flashfly. In the space of 100 words it has angst, pathos, humor, death, redemption, love... It tells a complete life story with nary a wasted comma. Amazing. Absolutely amazing wordsmithing.
KD: What is your favorite story that you have written?
NC: Because it was my first, I'll always be partial to Alterations. My writing has improved greatly since I wrote that, I hope, but it will always hold the first place in my heart. It allowed me to process a lot of my own issues as well as giving me the opportunity to push my limits and risk rejection and total humiliation. Like I say of Brian in the epilogue, I not only survived but thrived! LOL
KD: Do you remember the first QAF fanfic that you read?
NC: I do, actually. It was a Twilight/QaF crossover, Club Babylon by dtav. It was never finished, but it introduced me to Brian Kinney and QaF. I had actually never seen or heard of the show before that, and went searching for clips on YouTube. Boy... what a life changer that story was!
KD: Who is your favorite character to write about? Who is your least favorite character to write about?
NC: If I'm writing introspectively, I prefer to write Brian, but if I'm writing dialogue or action, I prefer to write Justin. That's a cheat on my part, actually. I just find it easier to keep Brian somewhat more in character if I'm writing from inside his head. Justin was simply... externally wordier, if that makes sense.
As for the least favorite character? I don't enjoy writing Michael because I just don't like him. I don't want to continually cast him as the bad guy, but I find it disingenuous when I try to write him as a nice guy. I've only written him ‘nicely' once, I think, in Tin for the Firefly, and that was a struggle for me. But he is such an integral part of the dynamic between Brian and Justin that not including him in some way is like forgoing punctuation.
KD: Who are some of your favorite authors?
NC: If you are asking for published authors, my absolutely favorite is Kurt Vonnegut, bar none. But if you're asking for fan fiction authors, there are so, so many! I'm going to take the coward's way out here and say YOU ALL ARE MY FAVORITES! I can't think of a single author who hasn't written something that has moved me to tears, to laughter or to contemplation. (Although right at this minute, I'm simply refreshing constantly waiting for an update on anything by starlight. She is keeping me majorly entertained these days.)
KD: What is your favorite genre to write?
NC: Well, let's see...um... angst, maybe? LOL. That's pretty much all I write, and also my favorite genre to read. I'm not comfortable writing humor or intricately involved mysteries or explicit sexual scenes. I love the death fics or the psychologically and emotionally wrenching breakup/makeup tale. I tend toward poetic phrasing in my writing, perhaps a bit too much, but it's a writing style that doesn't lend itself easily to humor, for example.
KD: Do reviews motivate you? If not, what is your prime motivation to write?
NC: Of course they do. But I don't write for the reviews. I admit that it's wonderful to see that people are moved by my stories, but I write because I write. I also know what it's like to get so caught up in a story that you actually don't even think to review it at the time. There are occasions that I get down when I don't see evidence that someone likes what I've offered, but then I remember the number of times I've absolutely loved a story and completely neglected to review and let the author know that. For me, not writing a review isn't a willful action and it doesn't mean I've disliked something. I try to keep that in mind when I don't see a bunch of feedback on my own. I'm trying to retrain myself to put more reviews out there because I know how much they can mean, especially to the beginning fanfiction author.
KD: Is there anything about your writing you don't like or wish you could do better?
NC: As I said above, I have a very difficult time with humor. Not because I don't like to laugh, but because writing it just doesn't come naturally for me. I'm one of those people who ruin the punchline when telling a joke. You know the type. That comes out, I think, when I try to write humor. I'd like to do better at that. I'd also like to be a more disciplined writer. I struggle with time management.
KD: Any advice to other writers or newer writers out there?
NC: Wow, where to start? I think the first thing is to read... a lot. That's not really something I think fanfiction writers need to be reminded of, however. We do a lot of reading.
Don't get bogged down in editing while writing. Take care of the glaring mistakes and save the rest for the re-read.
Know when it's finished! Don't condemn your work to eternal re-writing hell.
And (the most important for me as a reader), tell the story. Some writers are less adept at the technical aspects of writing, but are magnificent as storytellers. Go with that and get a beta if you need to for the grammar, etc.
Writing should not be a painful chore. It should be liberating and fun! You can struggle over the story, but don't struggle to the point of hating your project. Put it aside and take a breather. It will come.
KD: What's your writing process? i.e. Do you outline an entire series before starting, or just start writing and see where it takes you?
NC: I wish I was an outliner. I'm not, and that has tripped me up a time or two. I tend to have a general concept in mind when I begin, a mental beginning/middle/end, but it wanders and changes with every paragraph at times. As a rule, I let the story write itself, although I have to give it a nudge from time to time. Basically, I know where it starts, I know where I hope it ends up, and the middle is a sometimes surprising journey.
KD: What new stories or projects do you have in the works?
NC: Oh, if you could only see the WIP folder on my computer! LOL. I have at least thirty stories started and stalled. There are two that I'm working on pretty steadily at the moment, one having to do with Ben's steroid use, and of course Justin will be down the well in that one. The other is about Michael's comment at the party and how Justin finding out about it affects the dynamics of his relationship with the gang, with Brian, and especially with himself. Both are, I think, going to be longer one-shots and both are in the middle stages right now. Fingers all crossed that at least one of them will be done sometime this week. I am, unfortunately, a slow writer.