Cascade Library Interview with Arianna

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Cascade Library Interview with Arianna
Interviewer: Cascade Library
Interviewee: Arianna
Date(s): June 28, 2009
Medium: online
Fandom(s): The Sentinel, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
External Links: interview is here; reference link
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In 2009, Arianna was interviewed for Cascade Library.

Some Excerpts

Arianna is my pen name. Back when I first started writing fan fiction for Hercules, the Legendary Journeys, I held a very senior and quite visible position in the Canadian federal public service. Given my day job, I wasn't sure writing fanfic would be accorded good press by the media. I made up the name and only later learned it wasn't all that original. My 'yahoo' and Live Journal name is Caarianna -- Arianna with CA in front because I'm Canadian.

I should say, though, that I told my colleagues and boss that I wrote fanfic, just in case the story broke. Eventually, when I was a guest speaker at conferences as a sort of leadership guru, I admitted it to large gatherings of fellow executives as an example of finding time to balance one's life to pursue a hobby. Given the job I held, if I had time to have a hobby like this, they, too, could make time for their interests or families. It was amazing how well this information was received! True, my Deputy Minister looked at me like I was crazy, as did a few others, but most thought the whole idea of fan fiction and writing was pretty cool. Many asked where they could find my stories and also asked if I'd be a contact for them or others (IE for their kids or nephews, etc) who wanted to be writers but didn't know where to even begin.

I'm retired now, so using a pen name isn't as necessary, but I'm known as Arianna and it might be confusing to simply revert to my real name. [...] I wrote my first story when I was six years old, as soon as I'd learned to print and could make words. I wrote stories for Rawhide and Bonanza when I was nine and ten, long before I ever discovered 'fan fiction'. And I started what I hoped would be the great Canadian novel when I was sixteen ... and gave up not long after starting because I realized I didn't have enough life experience to write anything great at that stage. Life intervened and I didn't write fiction again until I was in my mid thirties, and felt moved to write a couple Hardcastle and McCormick scripts. Unfortunately, when I finally found an agent who would talk to me, I also discovered the series had just been canceled. It was another nearly fifteen years before I discovered The Iolausian Library, an archive for stories about Hercules and his lifelong best friend, Iolaus. So, at the age of fifty, I discovered fan fiction. Talk about a late bloomer!
The friendship dynamic between Jim and Blair, whether that's played out humorously, in case stories or angst and h/c -fests, is irresistible. There are so many ways to explore their relationship, and so many different stages of that relationship to build upon, from the early days, through the fun times, to when the strain begins to show and times get really tough. Also, the creators did us a favour by leaving us with an ending that allows an infinite number of possible 'next steps' scenarios in a post TS by BS universe. LOL, I should know ! has anyone written more post-series 'fixes' than me? TS gives us so many choices in terms of storytelling, from high adventure and action to spiritual themes and the core elements of trust, compassion, and unconditional love, the foundation elements of any significant relationship. Doesn't hurt that these guys are gorgeous, either, so it's fun to think about them, to picture them in their world.
Easier to say what I'm not comfortable in [writing], and that's humour and horror. I like building upon canon, and using it as a touchstone to keep me honest, to keep the characters 'in character'. I enjoy writing AUs, particularly historical fiction because I love history, though it was fun to stretch my imagination to write a series set nearly one hundred years in the future. When I came into the TS fandom, I deliberately wrote case stories to develop my skills in that genre. I like action stories, and try to include action in many of the stories I write. Most of my stories would fit in the drama, angst, hurt/comfort genres because I like to explore the characters' feelings and motivations. Since they are men, so often these emotions can only be deeply expressed in life-threatening or relationship-threatening situations. However, I have to be very careful not to slip into melodrama, and I've tried over the years to learn to resist the lure of h/c -- besides, I was running out of terrible things to do to these guys! I'm not good at really short stories and tend to write long, even novel length stories and, often, series of long stories that build one upon another. Given how long this interview is running, it's clear that I'm incapable of being brief. (Could be one reason I really identify with Blair!)
I create OCs to further the story, but none of those I've created in TS would ever be strong enough to carry a story. I have to work on making OCs more than two dimensional creatures. I doubt whether any of my OCs are particularly memorable by the readers, at least in the TS fandom. I did create a young character once, a homeless street kid, in the HTLJ fandom, in a story that was a writing exercise set by Pythia [1] to write only about Hercules, to get inside his head and heart to make him three dimensional (I'm more of an Iolaus fan). To my everlasting surprise, readers loved the kid I created and wanted to know a whole lot more about him, so he did end up featuring in a series of stories. Oddly enough, when I was trying to decide what to call him (in the original story, we never knew his real name), I was sitting on the steps at Delphi, puzzling over Greek names when, in my mind, I heard, 'My name is Nico.' When I'd consider other names, the 'voice' insisted, 'My name is Nico!' So, that's what I named him, but I still didn't really know who he was -- he was a plot construct, a writer's convenience, he didn't exist! LOL, Pythia then pointed me to the legend of Hercules sleeping with fifty princesses in one night, including Nice, who became the mother of his son, Nicodromus. Nicodromus. Son of Hercules. 'My name is Nico.' You see what I mean about the muses telling the stories, and me just being a conduit?
Oh, I love feedback. It's the fuel that feeds my muses. The more feedback I get, the more energized I feel, and the more stories I write. I know readers don't owe feedback, that it's a gift, but it's one I personally find essential or my energy wanes over time. I love to know what touched a reader, made them angry or made them laugh or cry, but I'm happy just to hear they liked it. Some readers have given me great 'concrit' -- IE 'good story but could have been better if ...' That's what Pythia did with my first story, and she helped me enormously, so much so that I kept going back for more. But I don't have any patience or respect for people who simply want to critique or tear apart an author or their story in the name of 'concrit'. I've seen excellent writers so badly trashed that it has shaken their confidence to the point of considering giving up writing and/or leaving the fandom. Nor do I have respect for people who negatively nitpick another person's work or even make fun of it either by name or not, especially publicly, just to make themselves look or sound or feel superior, because the author usually knows who is being discussed and can be badly hurt. First and foremost, we need to remember that this is volunteer work people contribute for fun -- nobody should be made to feel miserable over it. In the TS fandom, feedback of any kind has pretty much dried up, at least it has in my experience, and I wonder if people are still reading my stories or if I'm sending stories into the ether. Last year, I only wrote two stories in the whole year, when I used to write a story a week, at least. I fear my muse is abandoning me and I don't really know what I'll do if she goes and doesn't come back, because writing has been my principal joy for six years now. I think readers may grow weary of writers over time, of our style or the kind of stories we tell, and perhaps our stories become repetitive, not sufficiently original, and no longer hold their attention. It may be a sign that the time has come to move on to another fandom, to a fresh set of characters and a new scenario because I've maybe told all the stories I can think of in this fandom, as happened in the HTLJ fandom when I came to TS.

References

  1. her beta reader