Sunday, July 8, 2012

Interview with VividlyVisceral!

Welcome, Panem!  Today I have the honor of presenting an interview with a lovely and talented author known as VividlyVisceral.  Though best known for writing the longest in-progress Hunger Games fic on, The Capitol Games, she was also named "Best Author" in the 2011 Summer Hunger Games Awards and was the September author of the month here at Nightlock.  Enjoy the interview, everyone!

Welcome, Vivid! Thanks for doing this interview.

No problem, thanks for the opportunity!

So, first of all, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well, I'm nineteen years old and I live on the eastern coast of Australia. I've been writing fanfiction since I was twelve, but I've only been on since about 2005. This is my third account, and I'm planning on sticking with this one.

How did you get into the "Hunger Games" and Fanfiction worlds? What was it that made you love the books?

I can't exactly remember how I got into FanFiction itself, since it was back around 2003 where I first began writing fanfiction on Quizilla, but I do remember when I first started delving into fanfiction of the Hunger Games. I was having a study period and had gone to the local shopping centre with some friends when I first picked up the book. There were little blood splatters over the title that interested me, and I was sold the moment I realised that it was about a game where people killed each other for glory.
I bought the book and brought it back to school. I didn't stop reading until later that night. I remember just sitting there staring at the last page thinking "Wow. That was amazing." No other book had held my attention like the Hunger Games had, and I knew right then and there that I needed so much more. Since I already wrote fanfiction, it was an easy solution. I began working on my own fanfiction, The Trial Games that same week.

What charmed me most about the book was the entire 'fight to the death' situation. I have a bit of a thing for gore in literature, and the Hunger Games offered this wonderful opportunity to write gore, despite the fact that the book itself isn't too explicit in its descriptions of murder/mutilation. Katniss was also a welcome change from all the other YA heroines that were circulating at the time, and I enjoyed reading about her. Although, I wasn't really too invested in the romantic aspect of the books.

Your Fanfiction "The Capitol Games" is the longest in-progress "Hunger Games" story in the archive. Did you always know it would be record-settingly long?

To be completely honest, no. I had no idea it would get to this stage. When I first started out on The Capitol Games, all I was set on was doing the best I could to present each character adequately. Previous stories that used characters created by other users tended to focus on a handful of tributes and gloss over some characters- even ignoring them completely. Seeing that always bothered me. To avoid doing the same, I decided to give every character the same number of perspectives before the games began. It started with twenty-four reaping chapters of 4000 words, and sort of spiraled on from there when I hit the pre-games chapters, with each installment reaching counts of 9000 words apiece.

The numbers just sort of accumulated over time, and to be honest even I'm a little stunned to see how much I've written.

You've won honors such as "Best Author" and "Best SYOC Story" in the seasonal Hunger Games awards, as well as being a Victor in oneshot challenges on Starvation. How do you feel about these awards, do you think they help bring you more readers?

I think awards are great fun and good for bolstering confidence in authors, but I don't think they really brought me more readers.

"The Capitol Games" is enormously popular, with nearly 1400 reviews. What do you make of all the fan response to your writing?

I'm really quite surprised that I have almost 1400 reviews. If I were to make something of the overwhelmingly positive response that I've gotten, I'd say that I must have done something right in my writing that the readers are responding to. It's a nice thing to have happen.

*Note: "The Capitol Games" has now passed 1400 reviews!*

Do you have a favorite pairing or character to read about, or just a favorite type of fic (AU, post-MJ, pre-canon, etc.)?

Personally I love AU fics, and other stories that use submitted characters. However I will dabble in pre-canon stories and the occasional pairing fic. I can't get enough of Katniss/Marvel! Ahaha.

The TVTropes page of "The Capitol Games" notes that it's one of the only SYOTs (Submit Your Own Tribute) with the support of most of the Fandom. Were you concerned about writing this type of story originally, or was it something you always wanted to do?

At first it wasn't something that even crossed my mind. I had been inspired by Chocolatiee's wonderful SYOT, and I knew it was something that I wanted to try for myself. I felt like I had the capability to take the characters I was given and really make a story out of them.

The issues of SYOTs came only really began a little while after I had started work on the Capitol Games. I couldn't argue that the SYOT format broke guidelines- asking readers to submit characters- however I was one of the few who had collected their tributes before posting the story, thereby rendering it as a collaborative work.

However, that hasn't exempted me from being questioned about my motives for writing an SYOT story rather than creating my own characters, but I stand by my decision. The story has brought me so much closer to the creators of the characters, I've made some wonderful friends and everything has just been so fun. I wouldn't have it any other way.

What's your writing/editing process like? Do you prefer writing your usual longer chapters, or your shorter pieces?

I work from a chapter plan, meaning that I've written a basic run-through of each of my chapters right to the end of the story. Whenever I start to feel like I'm getting off track, I check my plan.

Longer chapters are actually more rewarding, but it's nice to mix it up with a shorter piece now and then. However I prefer to update with longer chapters because I know how upset I am when an author I am watching only does tiny updates. It's much more rewarding knowing that I'm giving my readers a nice big update.

You're often commended on your "gore" scenes – is that your favorite area of writing?

It really is! I know that sounds odd, since the usual 'favorite' areas of writing tend to be action, romance or dialogue- but to be completely honest, nothing makes me happier than writing gorn scenes. It's hard to explain, but there's a great deal of satisfaction in being able to write something that can simultaneously horrify and enthrall readers at the same time. I believe that, if gore is well written, it can be absolutely beautiful. The Hunger Games fanfiction archive has some marvelous proof of that.

Are you excited to reach the second installment of your epic, "The Vicious Games", or will you be sad to leave the first behind?

I'm excited. The Capitol Games will always be very dear to me, and really The Vicious Games is just continuing on what The Capitol Games started. It won't truly be over for a long, long time.

Your writing always flows so well – but has there been a particularly difficult part of Fanfiction-writing for you so far? Any type of scenes you struggle with?

I don't know if there's any particular scene I struggle the most with, but I have a bit of trouble with "dramatic silence", and I constantly feel a need to fill things in with words. Because of that I end up telling a lot more when I should be showing. I also struggle quite a bit with romantic scenes.

There are also a few things I want to fix with my writing, and that's mostly my use of dashes. I'm a bit dash-happy at times.

Do you have plans for other fics you'd like to write or other Fandoms you'd like to explore?

I'd love to explore the Fallout (video game) fandom, because there's a lot of opportunity there to have fun with the little unexplored side-stories that aren't explained in the games, and I'm really getting into the Divergent fandom, so expect a few fanfictions on that front someday.

How do you feel about writing OCs created by your readers? Do you think there's more pressure to write them well, or does it come more naturally?

I do feel pressure to write them well, but that's part of the fun. It makes sure that I don't slack off or misuse the characters, and it guarantees that I must finish what I started. I'm not just writing for me, which is the case with all my other stories. I am writing to do justice to the twenty-four characters I was given, and their creators who read their fates.

Could you tell us about some of your favorite "Hunger Games" fics? Are they similar to what you write?

It's hard to pick my favourite fanfictions, but three that have stuck with me since the beginning are "First" by gethsemane342, "150th Hunger Games: Make Your Own Characters" by Chocolatiee and "A Capitol Experience" by Claratrix LeChatham.

"First" was the first fanfiction that really hit home with me about the reality of the Hunger Games without being preachy or overly emotional. I loved the characters and the chemistry they had. Chocolatiee's story was similar, and was the first SYOC/SYOT I read where the characters meshed well and were respected rather than used up like dirty tissues. "A Capitol Experience" is also special to me because of the love and dedication put into it, and the subtle but lovely action/gore descriptions mixed in.

None of them are as 'explicit' in their use of gore as mine are, but they treat characters expertly which is what I hope to do in my own writing.

What inspires you to keep writing "Hunger Games" Fanfiction – the positive responses to your work or your original love of the series?

I'd say it's a mixture of both. The positive responses are a wonderful incentive, but I really do love the Hunger Games itself. It's the only book I've read more than five times, and the movie blew me away.

Finally, is there anything else you want your readers to know?

Just thank you. Writing is so much fun, and I'm so glad to have been able to cross paths with everyone this way. :)

Thanks for doing this interview!

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