Traveling Characters: Did It Ever Happen to You?

Now that I have explored how my horde (or inner zoo, however you want to call it) can travel from one universe to the other(s), I would like to know about your experience.

Has it ever happened to you? If so, how did you react? How did you rearrange your character(s), plot(s) and universe(s)?

If it has never happened to you, how do you feel about it happening to you someday?

I’m looking forward to hear about your experiences!

Previous installments:

  • Traveling Characters: From One Universe to the Other(s)
  • Traveling Characters: The Recurring Names
  • Traveling Characters: Multiple Versions
  • Traveling Characters: Packing Up For a Different Universe
Background by Ivory Mix.
Background by Ivory Mix.

Life News: Moving to the US and Starting a Ph.D.

I am taking a break from packing (and working on book marketing and assorted note-taking because a writer’s job is never done) to make an announcement.

This Spring I was accepted in a Doctoral program in Arts and Humanities at University of Texas at Dallas. To say I am honored and excited would be an understatement. Being able to do a Ph.D. in the US has been an old dream of mine. Thanks to a Teaching Assistant position, I am able to fund this project.

I am moving there end of July and this is all a whirlwind but a very promising one! I am looking forward continuing my education and learning much about topics and crafts that interest me.

While I plan to come up with new blog post ideas, the blog won’t go (too) quiet:

  • Traveling Characters: series conclusion will be posted this week.
  • The Digital Quill’s Writing Tips: series will run from early August until end of September.
  • Sci-Fi Women Interviews: all guests confirmed until December.

Besides marketing related to my novella Dream Crusher, which will be released in November, stay tuned for free Kindle days for a few titles, this Fall.

As always, if you have any comment, suggestions, questions about the blog, my projects, you’re welcome to speak here or contact me via social media/email!

Are we connected yet elsewhere? Check out the side bar or the Contact page to see! I share links on interest on Twitter and Pinterest (almost) every day.

I hope everyone has a good summer!

Life News - Natacha Guyot
Background by Black Ivory Mix.

 

Traveling Characters: Packing Up For a Different Universe

Some characters simply refuse to stay in the sand box you built for them. It can be frustrating but it is part of a writer’s life. Given the amount of universes I have in mind (and in notes on my computer and/or paper), I shouldn’t have been surprised when some of my characters felt like they should move to another universe. And so far, every time they decided to do that, the result was positive. Characters know better, right?

When I started toying with taking my roleplaying characters into brand new directions, I was expecting most if not all of them to go to the same playground that I was developing with a longtime friend and creative collaborator. To this day, I am still planning to have a large number of them (prior to the move to my new roleplaying home, I had written a little over fifty characters since 2008) to this universe.

Of course, a few wild ones decided they didn’t want that. It started with one of my few male characters for whom I built a brand new world. He was soon followed there by a female Cyborg character, but they didn’t end in the same story (yet). When I finished both the novella (my upcoming Dream Crusher to be released end of 2016) and the short story, I knew that I would write more in that universe.

What I didn’t see coming was that at least one other former roleplaying character decided that they would love to move there the day I give them an original story. In a way, this makes me happy because it gives me more food for thought and material to work with as I expand this universe. Right now, I am brainstorming a name for the universe, because it won’t be a book series as much as several stories, more or less related to one another, that takes place in the same universe. Normally, I’m pretty good with titles of all kinds, but this one has proven difficult.

One of my characters who were supposed to be in the original new playground for former roleplaying characters also decided she wanted her own settings. This one is still slightly up for debate as I am not planning to work on her trilogy before a few years, but knowing how stubborn she is, I am not expecting her to change her mind.

Background by Ivory Mix.
Background by Ivory Mix.

Traveling Characters: Multiple Versions

In the past months, I have transitioned to a new roleplaying board to be my online home, and had to recreate characters there to adjust to the settings and embrace the new opportunities. Some characters kept their names, background but even them who stayed as close to their first version as possible, have had difference experiences to a degree, beside the new adventures they have at the new board. It was a daunting experience at first but I realized that after two to eight years of writing them, the chance of new beginning has rejuvenated my muses a great deal.

I enjoy being able to have my characters live one life at a time, and rarely if ever write multiple versions at once on different boards. When it comes to write in original universes and a roleplaying one, I can do both at once, because the characters are different enough due to the universe being my own. And sometimes writing one version makes me want to develop the other even more. When I picked up my vampire roleplaying character Gabrielle (the only one I write outside of the Star Wars universe), she was adamant about me working more on her original version, which will be my Vampiric Versailles series, for which I have solid notes and an outline of the first book.

The multiplicity of versions of characters when they move from one universe to another, or live in several ones, is how they can evolve on their own, or become mosaics of several characters. I have seen some of my characters become mash-ups of previous ones when I least expected it. Sometimes the old characters disappear and don’t show up again in their original shape, and sometimes they do.

I have also seen a character give life to multiple ones close to them. I can’t deny that my novel’s protagonist Aruna led to my roleplaying “main” Satkia, and in a way it isn’t surprising that both of them had their names become online aliases for me.

At this point, I have less multiple versions of characters running between roleplaying and original writing, except for Anjali and Gabrielle. It isn’t for a lack of inspiration but because the projects I am focusing on don’t involve that many characters who also have roleplaying iterations. What is amusing though is to work on my first novel’s translation from French to English. Beside the heavy revision needed, many roleplaying characters’ names come from this novel, but the characters are often extremely different from the original one. It can make my head spin a bit but makes for an interesting experience.

Background by Ivory Mix.
Background by Ivory Mix.

Traveling Characters: The Recurring Names

The “lightest” version of characters moving from one universe to the other(s) is the case of a recurring name that follows you around. While it might sound like a detail, I have given this more thought over the years and found it interesting to see how it could influence not only my writing but other aspects of my life.

Several characters’ names have impacted my life in online communities, because of how I relied on these names for my own person as aliases. The first would be Aruna, which was the name of my first novel’s protagonist. I chose this and made it Aruna7 for the ten years I spent creating fan videos and several of my friends I met during that time would still call me Aruna even now. And I would respond.

In the past eight years, I have been writing on Star Wars roleplaying boards. While the character has known multiple versions, my main, a Jedi Master from Nar Shaddaa, Satkia, has been the name people recognized me with. So I still answer to Satkia too. Ironically, even her last name (Beltrak) is an echo from my first novella, as it also was part of the protagonist’s last name in the story.

Beside these two examples, I have seen a lot of names moving back and forth between three creative circles in the past years: my original fiction, my roleplaying characters and my SWTOR characters.

I try to avoid using the same name in multiple original fiction books, though I’m fairly sure that a couple of examples will eventually be found, but I like using the same names across multiple platforms. Sometimes the looks and personality of the character who first wore the name find resonance in other versions. My first novella’s protagonist, Ranooki, who was a young woman attending military academy eventually became a New Republic Navy mechanics on a Star Wars board, and was a commando DPS on the Republic side of SWTOR for years. My video game Ranooki is the character I have played longest (roughly since December 2011 or January 2012, shortly after the game’s release).

My Anjalis have probably been the most alike in all their iterations. The original Anjali was a Nightsister in a Star Wars setting. She briefly wandered to another board in pretty much the same version, save for her looks. She inspired me to write a short story starring her in a brand new Fantasy universe I had created where she was some kind of witch in tune with nature and animals. The short story eventually gave life to a novella with multiple characters. And my SWTOR Anjali is a Sith Sorcerer, one of my healers on the imperial side.

Of course, names can show up on several occasions without their different bearers having many similarities. In Clairvoyance Chronicles, Mairi is a former Renegade Fae, while her SWTOR counterpart is a Chiss imperial sniper. It is common that I choose from my roleplaying and original fiction characters when I name my video game characters, so there isn’t always room for similarities.

Background by Ivory Mix.
Background by Ivory Mix.

#Scifi Women Interview: Philippa Ballantine

I am very happy to present June 2016 guest for Sci-Fi Women Interviews: Philippa Ballantine. I discovered her writing a few years ago with her Books of the Order series, which is one of my all-time favorite. I also made my mother read them and by now she has read more of Ballantine’s titles than me (one day I’ll catch up!) I am delighted that Ballantine accepted to participate to this monthly feature celebrating women who writes, creates, enjoys Science Fiction.

Philippa Ballantine.
Philippa Ballantine.

New Zealand born writer and podcaster Philippa (Pip) Ballantine is the author of the Books of the Order and the Shifted World series. She is also the co-author with her husband Tee Morris of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels as well as Social Media for Writers. Her awards include an Airship, a Parsec, the Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice, the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for steampunk, and a Sir Julius Vogel. She currently resides in Manassas, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and a furry clowder of cats. You can find more about her on her website and the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences one.


NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?

BALLANTINE: My Dad was the first one to show me the beauty of imagined worlds. He read to me when I was about eight years old as a bedtime story, first the Hobbit and then the Lord of the Rings. He is a huge fan of science and fantasy in all its forms, and I was let loose on his collection of books as at an early age. It was undoubtedly one of the greatest gifts I ever been given.

NG: How did you start writing in this genre?

BALLANTINE: I have always been a very fast reader, just like my father, and so when I got to the end of his collection I had no choice but to write my own stories. I started when I was about thirteen, and recently when I connected with old school friends, they recalled me carting around this green hardback journal. I was constantly scribbling in the thing, and the habit has stayed with me for decades.

NG: Which Science Fiction authors have been most inspiring to you?

BALLANTINE: One writer that I was instantly drawn to is CJ Cherryh. I love many things about her writing, but her ability to create mesmerizing characters with strengths and vulnerabilities is something that just hooked me in. I also admire the length and variety of her career. She writes with such diversity, and does so many different things even in the space of one book. I can only hope to emulate that sort of writing career as I move forward in my own.

NG: What do you think of Science Fiction’s versatility and its ties to other genres such as Speculative Fiction and Fantasy?

BALLANTINE: When I first started reading I feel like the delineation between science fiction and fantasy was more clearly defined. As time has gone along, those lines have blurred. Someone like Anne McCaffrey brought dragons and space travel together, and when I read her books, the fact that it was ‘allowed’ was quite eye opening. I write steampunk with my husband, Tee Morris, and that is technically a subgenre of science fiction, however it is also incredibly diverse. You can have steampunk set on distant planets, steampunk chugging through the Wild West, but also steampunk that deals with the occult and magic.

The speculative fiction genre and science fiction are all about flights of the imagination, and the imagination knows no boundaries of genre, which is a box we writers and readers put the creation into afterwards. I see all those varieties of imaginative writing as a continuum, and that’s why I enjoy working in as many different spots on that continuum as possible.

NG: What are some recurring themes and patterns in your Science Fiction stories?

BALLANTINE: Looking back, I think I can find a continuous thread of examination of otherness in my stories. Most of my protagonists are definitely ‘other’ in the communities to they find themselves in. Some of them because they are powerful, and society is wary of them, and sometimes because they themselves are afraid of society.

How they deal with that otherness, how they come to accept who they are and even use it, fascinates me.

Also, I like to look at power, and how people handle it when they get it. The changes it can wreck on people, both good and bad, are fascinating. Even when we are having fun writing steampunk, it doesn’t hurt to delve a little deeper now and then.

NG: What difference is there between any written formats and audio ones such as podcasting, for you as a storyteller?

BALLANTINE: I don’t write audio dramas, which are where there is only dialogue, and action is implied with sound effects and background music. I simply read my stories aloud and record them, however doing so has given me a great grasp about how to write dialog. Often now, even when I am not podcasting, I read what I do aloud.

One day I would like to try writing audiodramas though.

NG: What is Science Fiction’s responsibility in diverse and inclusive representation?

BALLANTINE: I don’t think that science fiction should be limited by the bubble we may find ourselves writing in. Science fiction of all genres should not be confined like that.

We owe it to our readers and ourselves to reflect the wider world. When we talk about diversity, we are completely ignoring the fact that even on our little planet earth white men do not make up the majority. Perhaps they make up the majority of what we think science fiction readers are, but that isn’t the reality.

Our responsibility as far as writers is to show the differences, and explore what they mean. We need to reflect the beauty and complexity of our world in others.

Books that are not diverse do a disservice to the reader and the craft. Limiting writing, hobbling it ignorant perceptions of the world is not what science fiction has ever been about.

NG: Do you think Science Fiction is a genre welcoming to women creators and female characters?

BALLANTINE: Thinking back to my early reading experience with Norton, McCaffrey, Cherryh, it never occurred to me as a writer that it wasn’t a place for women. I think there are still sub-genres of science fiction—particularly the ‘hard’ science fiction—where women are considered less likely to write. However, since there are plenty of women who work in science, I don’t see why that perception continues.

NG: What advice would you have for an aspiring Science Fiction writer?

BALLANTINE: Read. Read a lot. Go back and discover writers from earlier times, not necessarily to copy them, but to understand the foundations of the genre. They may not have done things we enjoy now, but that understanding will make you a better writer working in the present.

It is also gives you great ideas for subverting what has come before. Find our what has already been done and do it differently. That is where the excitement of science fiction lies.

NG: Do you have future Science Fiction projects?

BALLANTINE: At the moment I am working on a galaxy spanning series, with corporations vying for control of planets. Twisted families, intergalactic corporate takeovers, and a messed up religion. The godfather in the outer reaches would be the best way of describing it.

NG: Thank you very much, Philippa! I am sure my readers will be happy to check your books out, if they aren’t already familiar with your writing.

Background by Rose B. Fischer.
Background by Rose B. Fischer.

Traveling Characters: From One Universe to the Other(s)

Over the years, I have witnessed a fair number of my characters decide they wanted to live in a different universe than the one they had first started in. Whether it was to live an alternate life or to fully forsake the original universe I had tried to make them live in, I have seen multiple situations.

It used to be unsettling to me when such things first happened, especially if I thought I had it all organized. But muses know better and forcing a character to do something they don’t want to only means fruitless headaches. I have no problem wrestling to fix a plot or character issue, but when a character blatantly refuse to stay in a universe or a story, letting them go has proven to be the best option.

Sometimes the changes are less dramatic of course, which is a relief, but I thought that this topic would be of interest to fellow readers and writers.

Join me for this blog series that will continue on every Thursday until end of July!

Background by Ivory Mix.
Background by Ivory Mix.

Blog Updates

This week has been heavily writing-focused and it isn’t over. I have been working on translating my first novel from French to English over the past couple of weeks and have done 13 out of 61 chapters so far. The English manuscript is almost at 12K word so far. There is a lot of revision happening, which makes it quite a challenge beside the pure translation aspect.

I have also finished preparing my upcoming blog series about ‘Traveling Characters’ and it will start on Thursday 23, next week. Stay tuned!

This week, I released my new eBook John Winchester’s Orchestrated Fall from Grace in Supernatural and an announcement happened on Chris The Story Reading Ape’s blog.

I also had the lovely surprise to see Sally Cronin add me (blog + amazon links) to her Cafe and Bookstore page.

Thank you very much to both of you!

Background by Ivory Mix.
Background by Ivory Mix.

‘John Winchester’s Orchestrated Fall from Grace in Supernatural’ is Available on Amazon

My second title of the year, media studies essay John Winchester’s Orchestrated Fall from Grace in Supernatural is available.

You can find this Kindle eBook on Amazon (including US, UK, Canada, Australia) and has a Goodreads page.

The importance of family in the TV series Supernatural (created by Eric Kripke in 2005) established a significant supporting character from the beginning: the boys’ father John Winchester.

The pilot opening shows him as the initial anchor by being a true father figure, despite flaws and mistakes, which are essential for realistic character development. Yet, this opening setting undergoes a drastic shift after the first two seasons of Supernatural, and it feels as if John Winchester is framed from a production and narrative standpoint, and becomes a scapegoat for the script writers. A fall from grace quickly grows without almost any pause as the third season begins.

It is worthy of exploring a three part evolution of the character. The first would be how John Winchester is originally a heroic figure, with a path that relates to the one researched by Joseph Campbell in his famous book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The second is the depiction of John Winchester as a paternal failure, which leads to the third aspect of his development in the television series: the collateral damage his narrative causes.

Cover John Winchester - Small Version

‘John Winchester’s Orchestrated Fall from Grace in Supernatural’ is Released in One Week

My second title of the year, media studies essay John Winchester’s Orchestrated Fall from Grace in Supernatural is released in one week, on June 14.

The Kindle eBook is already available for pre-order on Amazon (including US, UK, Canada, Australia) and has a Goodreads page.

The importance of family in the TV series Supernatural (created by Eric Kripke in 2005) established a significant supporting character from the beginning: the boys’ father John Winchester.

The pilot opening shows him as the initial anchor by being a true father figure, despite flaws and mistakes, which are essential for realistic character development. Yet, this opening setting undergoes a drastic shift after the first two seasons of Supernatural, and it feels as if John Winchester is framed from a production and narrative standpoint, and becomes a scapegoat for the script writers. A fall from grace quickly grows without almost any pause as the third season begins.

It is worthy of exploring a three part evolution of the character. The first would be how John Winchester is originally a heroic figure, with a path that relates to the one researched by Joseph Campbell in his famous book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The second is the depiction of John Winchester as a paternal failure, which leads to the third aspect of his development in the television series: the collateral damage his narrative causes.

Cover John Winchester - Small Version