The Darker Side of Sunnydale Interview with Yahtzee

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Interviews by Fans
Title: The Darker Side of Sunnydale Interview with Yahtzee
Interviewer:
Interviewee: Yahtzee
Date(s): November 2001
Medium: online
Fandom(s): Angel and Buffy
External Links: full interview is here; reference link
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Yahtzee was interviewed for The Darker Side of Sunnydale, a Buffy site.

Excerpts

Well, I write AU fics as well, but I do find the episodic fics the most challenging, by far. I do try to balance the way-out-there stuff with the very canonical stuff as much as I can.

When you write an AU, you have license to do anything you want. You can justify any act, any relationship, any sequence of events. Who's to say it couldn't happen in an alternate universe? Sometimes this is enjoyable and imaginative, but sometimes I just find myself staring blankly at a story, totally unable to relate the version of Angel or Giles or Cordelia on that page to the Angel or Giles or Cordelia I've seen onscreen. (The worst offender I ever saw was in XF fandom -- someone had written the first part of a story in which Mulder and Scully, instead of being FBI agents, were paired together as a figure-skating duo.) I'm not interested in people who just share names and faces with my favorite characters. I'm interested in the characters themselves, their histories and motivations and individual voices -- all information we get from canon. So even with my AU stories, I try to root the characters very firmly in canon.

Also, trying to write something episodic really requires some discipline -- it makes you stretch. Joss Whedon and Tim Minear and company are truly geniuses at mingling the humor and the horror, the action and the romance, etc. I think trying to create a story that has that same feel to it is both really difficult and really rewarding. The absolute, best feedback you can get, IMHO, is a note that says, "I could imagine this happening on the show."

Finally, I try to write episodic fics because I think they're something pretty much everyone can enjoy. I mean, if we didn't like the framework of ATS or BTVS episodes, we wouldn't be into the shows in the first place, right?
It wasn't so much difficult to write as very intimidating. I'm generally not a huge fan of original characters in fic myself, either to write or to read. If somebody said to me, "Try this story that has more original characters than canonical," I'd be really dubious. And certainly I'm not the only person who feels that way. So I knew I was up against that reaction. Of course, the plot of "Phoenix Burning" demands that the Scooby Gang and the Bat Pack can't be around. So I just tried to make the characters as interesting and individual as possible, and to make sure that Buffy was at the heart of every single scene. In some ways, I think my intimdation worked against me; there were things I figured out about the original characters that I didn't put in the story because I thought nobody would care. But many readers have responded positively to Sumiko, Agatha, etc., and I think I could have fleshed them out a little more without taking focus away from Buffy.
The voices. The wonderful, individual character voices. I was just so amazed, when I first started watching, how distinctly each individual spoke. They were always themselves, always funny, always very true. I just craved to write some dialogue like that. Since then, I've really fallen in love with a lot of the themes, too -- especially on "Angel" -- but it still does come back to the voices, a lot of the time.

I have written for other fandoms; my first stories, under another pseudonym, were in XF fandom back in 1993. I've done a handful of Trek stories (TOS and VOY), as well as a few SW original-trilogy stories. I quit writing for a couple of years, until "The Phantom Menace" came out and introduced me to slash. I dove back in with the Yahtzee name and wrote six stories in that fandom. Then came ATS and BTVS.

You can read those other stories at (gratuitous plug #1) my new archive, www.thechicagoloop.net/yahtzee. I warn you: A fair amount of the early stuff is not very -- what's the word? -- good. But it's there, along with all the rest of my fic.

I definitely want to write in a couple other fandoms; I have some "West Wing" and "I Spy" stories I'd love to try. And, though I have no definite plans for it, I've always thought a "Harry Potter" story would be terrific fun. I would put an abstract painting on the walls at Hogwarts and have it speak only in zen koans --

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