Dear Yuletide Writer
Hello, Yulemouse! Before we get to anything else, I want to thank you. It’s always a delight to have somebody write a gift fic for me, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with.
The optional details below are optional; they are also, shall we say, a bit long. Please do not be put off by this. It’s mostly me babbling about why I like the sources, and then offering a variety of tidbits that I hope will be useful to you. Basically, I’m just trying to feed the plotbunnies. (There are also more general notes about my tastes at the bottom.) (Also, way too many parenthetical asides.)
My username on AO3 is russian_blue, if you’re the sort who likes to data-mine your recipient’s tastes. 🙂
Fandom: Gabriel Knight
Characters: Gabriel Knight, Grace Nakimura
Ah, my perennial request. It just isn’t Yuletide if I’m not making puppy-dog eyes for a Gabriel Knight fic. 🙂
If you didn’t match with me on this fandom, you probably aren’t going to write it, but juuuuust in case, I should mention that you can now buy all three games on GOG.com. If you like the old Sierra point-and-click style adventure games, this one is really fun. (And not as horror-ish as the descriptions would have you believe, though that’s definitely in there to some extent.)
What I love about the source: These days, with companies like Bioware around, the notion of a computer game with character development and a genuinely dramatic plot isn’t such a big deal. But back when I first played these, it was mind-blowing! There’s still a lot of humour (because Sierra’s like that), but it’s used as leavening for some weightier stuff. I also loved the way Jensen made use of real-world history and folklore, and the sense that Gabriel was a flawed guy who was, step by step, becoming a better person.
What I’d love to get: Closure. Pleeeeeeeeease.
This is the downside to having actual character development: when the arc gets cut short, it leaves the audience hanging. The relationship between Gabe and Grace built up over three games, until they slept together in Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned, but then they never really talked about it, and then Grace bailed out and we didn’t even get to read her note and auuuuuuuggggggggggggggh.
I’d like to see that hanging thread tied up. The closure could take whatever form you like, and be from whichever point of view you like, or both. Grace, presumably, was going to talk to that guy in India she’d been e-mailing, about how she could fight supernatural evil in her own right. Maybe Gabe goes after her. Maybe he doesn’t (I can see him not having the confidence to do so), and she shows up again a few years later, after becoming some kind of full-blown Schattenjäger equivalent herself. Maybe they run into each other without warning when they both go after the same supernatural beastie. I’d love to see Grace treated as Gabe’s professional equal (I think she’s always been his equal in personal terms), rather than a sidekick, and for him to accept her as such — which is not to say he should have a personality transplant and suddenly be without flaws or blind spots, but I feel like he’s been struggling with a lot of issues there, and it would nice to see him continue to grow.
I’d like there to be a happy ending eventually — get your mind out of the gutter! I mean happy emotions! — but I don’t mind angst along the way. (Where “happy endings” are concerned, wink wink nudge nudge — eh, I really care more about the emotional resolution. They can sleep together or not, as you like, but I’m not looking for smut.) If you have the time and energy, I would ADORE something plotty, with a supernatural threat they have to take care of. (Flavor of threat is entirely up to you. Rumour has it the fourth game would have taken place in Scotland and dealt with ghosts; run with that if you want, or grab any cool bits of folklore and history that you know and want to play with.)
If, on the other hand, you detest that entire relationship and can’t bring yourself to give it a HEA, then I would also be delighted with a story that is just about Grace doing something cool, post-canon, with or without Gabriel appearing in the story. You don’t have to be a Ritter and the Schattenjäger to do that kind of thing, after all, and Grace is awesome.
Edited to add: Apparently they’re doing an HD remake! Dare I hope this means there will be a fourth game someday?
A repeat request, because this is a fandom I adore so much, I don’t think I could ever get tired of it.
What I love about the source: Oh god, where do I start? This was, for many years, the only comic book I had ever read. It’s still one of the deep foundational stories in my mind. I love how well-realized the characters are, and the capacity for the narrative to be about the ensemble and subsets thereof, rather than being just Cutter’s story with everybody else playing bit parts. I love the way conflict is handled, never being casually dismissed, or treated as if violence is a get-out-of-jail-free card for everything. I love the consequences, and the fact that the characters experience both real losses and real victories.
What I’d love to get: Anything expanding the setting, whether geographically or historically. I’ve read possibly everything there is — certainly I’ve read most of it, including the far-future Jink stuff — though nothing after Kings of the Broken Wheel quite hit me the same way, as the world started being farmed out to other writers. But there’s so much richness there, and also so much open space to develop new things. Possible angles include:
1) A tribe of your own devising, either meeting one of the canonical groups or off doing their own thing. This could explore an environment not already covered (in a previous year I got subterranean volcanic elves!), or be your own take on something the canon already touched on. (I love the idea of sea elves, for example, but the actual canonical Wavedancers didn’t really do it for me.) My academic background is in anthropology, so elves adapting socially and physically to different environments is really interesting to me — which sounds high-falutin’, but really what I mean is make cool shit up!
2) History for any of the canonical groups. Life under a past Wolfrider chief, early days of the Sun Village, Go-Backs vs. trolls, the Gliders before they fell into decadence and apathy — a story about any of those would be cool. The High Ones right after the fall. Etc. Whatever strikes your fancy.
3) Backstory for a canonical character, in case you’d prefer to stick closer to the actual series rather than haring off into the wild blue yonder with your own ideas. I love all of the nominated characters (really, there’s hardly anybody in the first eight volumes I don’t love), so if you have an idea for one of them pre-series, go for it! If “all of them are great!” is too open-ended, then my favorite female and male characters are Clearbrook and Strongbow, respectively. (I adore their interaction with the ghosts in the palace, but don’t take that as a sign that you have to put them in a story together.)
4) Human contact. This one could combine with practically any of the above. Maybe your invented tribe runs into humans, or has even learned to co-exist with them in (non-warped-Glider-style) peace. Or maybe there were other contacts that we haven’t been told about, for the canonical tribes or individual characters therefrom. We’ve already had a few examples of how that could go, but there’s room for a lot more variety.
Really, I just want MOAR ELFQUEST DAMMIT, whether it’s following the existing material into the past or exploring new ground. (It drives me crazy that the new series has apparently stopped updating.)
Fandom: Songs for a New World
Character: King of the World
I heard the song for the first time back in January or February, and immediately put it on my Yuletide list. That’s how awesome it is. 😀
What I love about the source: It’s allllllmost the sort of song you’ve heard before, energetic and determined and hopeful, only the piano sounds ever so slightly off-kilter, and then you start listening to what the guy is saying — and then you start listening to what he isn’t saying . . . .
What I’m looking for: I am dying to know this guy’s backstory — some kind of explanation of who he is and what happened to him. I don’t have a a specific idea as to what form that explanation should take; you’re free to do pretty much whatever you like. The rest of what follows here is me rambling about the things I hear in the song and what they make me think of, in case that helps give you a direction, but don’t feel that you have to treat those thoughts as a straitjacket.
More than anything, the singer strikes me as a deeply unreliable narrator. He says over and over again that he had good intentions, etc, and he talks about how much people loved him, but I can’t help but feel his perception of that doesn’t exactly match reality. Did he take over by force? Or did they welcome him in at first, and then it went sour? He keeps acting like there’s no good reason for him to be locked up, but yeeeeeah, I somehow doubt that. So what went wrong?
Did he actually have supernatural powers? I could see that being the case, but it could also just be poetic exaggeration. I sort of imagine this as a fantasy setting anyway, whether he has powers or not — like he’s the tyrannical ruler the Chosen One has to overthrow. Or maybe he’s the Chosen One, and he took a wrong turn somewhere. Or maybe he’s the Chosen One, and he didn’t really take a wrong turn per se, but there’s a problem with the whole concept of Chosen-ness to begin with. It also makes me think of the French Revolution, and the way that people can take their lofty ideals in absolutely horrible directions.
I keep being struck by the emotion that breaks through when he speaks of his son, his family. Who are they? I get the impression that whoever they are, he really does care about them. (Maybe they’re the only thing he really cares about.) Doesn’t mean they return the sentiment, though, especially depending on what he did to get thrown in prison.
The only firm request I’ll make here is that you not present him as a totally ordinary guy locked up in a mental hospital. I am not at all a fan of the sort of “fantasy” where it’s just the viewpoint character’s delusions, so please don’t take the source in that direction. I believe the singer really did do something; he had genuine power and it went genuinely wrong.
Fandom: Sengoku Avengers
Fandom: Jidaigeki X-Men
I’m combining my notes for these two because they have the same core concept, and what I’m looking for is more or less the same in both instances. Please don’t take that as a sign that I’m less interested in either one, or less interested in this pair than my other fandoms — nothing could be further from the truth!
What I love about the source: How awesome is this? Superheroes reinvented in a historical Japanese context! Okay, okay, I am a very special kind of nerd, and I know it. But I adore the way the artist worked in details of the time periods and the folklore, with things like Kaibutsu’s ofuda or making Onryou an outright ghost.
What I’m looking for: Dude. ANYTHING. Anything at all that plays around with superpowered people in historical Japan. You can put them in any time period you like; if the Sengoku era isn’t your strong point, then by all means make them Tokugawa or Heian or whatever. Ram them up against actual historical events; what if one or more of these people was involved when Nobunaga went to sack Enryaku-ji? Retell your favorite Japanese folktale with these characters, like Kaguya-hime or such. Whatever starting point works as inspiration for you, go for it!
Character-wise, I’m totally cool with you using any of the nominated characters, in any combination you like — including mashing together these two canons, if that floats your boat. (There’s also a Chambara JLA on his site, though I personally find their backstories less effective than those in these sets.) You can also port other suitable characters in, if you have a brilliant idea for how to historical-Japanese-ify someone else. And don’t feel obliged to stick to the precise details of the backstories, either; in general I think they’re cool and would love to see what a writer could do with them, but if you could make an awesome story out of Kaminchu being Ainu or something, go for it. If that’s too open-ended and you need some kind of direction to go in, I think the ladies of the Jidaigeki group are especially nifty, and in the Sengoku group, I think Kaibutsu, Kagami, and Raijin have the best backstories. I really would be happy with any of them, though.
Pretty much the only thing I don’t want is the usual continuity personalities with a historical Japanese paint job slapped on top. If I want normal Avengers fic, there is an endless ocean of it out there for me to read, and ditto the X-Men. Which is awesome, but the reason I’m asking for these versions is because I find the context fascinating. Whatever bits and pieces (or whole swaths) of setting nerdery you have sitting around in your brain, or want to dig up through research, I will eat it up with a spoon.
(Minor nitpicky note: the romanization of Takajyō’s name annoys me. So please, if you include him, write it as Takajō or Takajou.)
Fandom: The Chronicles of Chrestomanci
Character: Christopher Chant
What I love about the source: I’m fairly certain The Lives of Christopher Chant was the first Diana Wynne Jones book I ever read. It was definitely the first of the Chrestomanci books, which colored the way I read the series; I’m always aware of Chrestomanci as Christopher, and have a deep fondness for him as a result. Plus I love the entire multiverse setup, and the multiple lives, and just the generally Edwardian-ish England With Magic vibe.
What I’m looking for: When I read Conrad’s Fate, I bore it an entirely unjustified grudge for not having more Christopher in it. 🙂 I mean, he’s around quite a lot, but I kept being intrigued by the hints of what had been going on in his life, and then Jones didn’t actually pursue them. But that’s what fanfic is for, right?
I have an intense desire to see more of what happened on Christopher’s end, before he got out to Stallery. Specifically, the throwaway line about him stealing his life out of Gabriel’s safe. I want to read that scene. Or however many scenes it takes to tell the badass story of Christopher breaking in and taking his life back (in more senses than one). By that point he’s pretty highly trained, but of course Gabriel de Witt is no slouch at magic, either, so I can’t imagine the theft was easy. I’d love to see how it happened.
If you’re in a mood to write something a bit longer, I’d love to see you include Millie, and the surrounding events that motivated Christopher to run off like that in the first place. Anything filling in life at the Castle is shiny, whether you follow that prompt or not; we don’t get to see the transition between Gabriel’s dour setup and the more relaxed one Christopher has instituted by the time Cat gets there. How far has that gotten? Is Throgmorton still around? I also love Tacroy . . . okay, truth, I love everybody in these books, so I’ll stop before I list everybody from the tag set and then some. 🙂
Alternatively, if that prompt doesn’t grab you: we know from the short story “Stealer of Souls” that Christopher took over as Chrestomanci and Cat arrived at the castle while Gabriel was still alive, which means that for a while there, you had no less than three nine-lived enchanters running around. How badass would it be if all three of them worked together on something? Especially with the wild differences in their personalities — Cat earnest and young, Christopher sarcastic and adult, and Gabriel strict and old — but all of them throwing around gobsmackingly large amounts of power. I can’t help but think that would be awesome.
A final alternative, if you know the book in question and don’t mind writing a crossover: The Homeward Bounders. A while back I noticed that (according to some minor notes in a few of the stories), Jamie’s multiverse and Christopher’s are the same, or are at least connected. Which means the two of them could theoretically meet.
I got a gift in the Exchange at Fic Corner exploring this possibility, which was fabulous, but if you find the idea as fascinating as I do, I’d love to see your take on it. What would Christopher (as an adult and Chrestomanci, not, I think, as a kid) say to Jamie? How long has Jamie been wandering, by the time the two of them run into each other? It isn’t the sort of encounter that could fix anything, I imagine, though Christopher would probably offer to try; the anchor has to keep moving, and even Chrestomanci can’t change that. But the encounter could be really intense. For all his sarcasm and flaws, I think Christopher would have a deep empathy for what Jamie’s going through, and why. If you have a great idea for an encounter between them, go for it!
More generally: I love stuff with actual plot in, but since I know that can be a lot of work, I would also be very happy with something that really examines the characters or the world — so long as it isn’t just straight-up introspection or nonfiction-style discussion. I prefer stories that stay close to the characters as written, i.e. respecting canon relationships, working with flaws rather than sweeping them under the rug, etc. I love fic that presents itself as something that could fit into the the canon, rather than something that ignores the existing narrative; things like coffee shop AUs don’t interest me at all. Go ahead and include any characters I’ve not listed that might be useful to you, though, or invent OCs to serve your narrative needs.
I adore drama; I also like humour, especially when it’s of the “witty” variety rather than physical comedy or gross-out excess, but I love it best when it’s used as leavening for the more serious stuff, or as the jab to set up the dramatic roundhouse that follows. (The kind of thing Joss Whedon excels at, if you want an example.) I don’t like humiliation, or characters being flat-out stupid — which is not the same thing as their flaws getting in the way of good decisions. 🙂 Not really looking for smut. I don’t mind violence, as long as it doesn’t cross the line into splatterpunk gore, but I don’t like torture. Especially against women: by all means let them fight, even if that means they get hurt, but please don’t victimize them, or refrigerator them, or push canonical women to the sidelines of the story.
As mentioned before, I’m russian_blue on AO3, so feel free to rummage around in the entrails of what I’ve got there if you need more data on what I like. And above all: have fun!