Terrouge E-zine Archives
Scribo, Ergo Sum.
By: Linny and Fidget
Linny: I'm Linny, she's Fidge, and this is our new column-- Scribo, Ergo Sum.
Fidget: Which is Latin for "I write, therefore I am."
Linny: We're going to be interviewing writers that had their start on the ROC-there's plenty of them, sure, but these ones are special. They're also a part of the Terrouge community!
Fidget: This time around we'll be interviewing Miss Vitora: Questor's Bold III competitor, journalist, novelist, and fantasy-writer extraordinaire.
So, Vitora, how'd you get started in the ROC?
Vitora: I believe it started after I had read six or seven of the Redwall books, and went online to Redwall.org. It was there that I found a link to (now dearly departed) Starfire's Redwall Abbey site. After signing up on the forums, I eagerly delved into RPing, which I found quite entertaining simply because the members were mostly insane people like me. After that, I made my own site-Willow's Den and from there went to Terrouge and finally created Yn Nor.
Linny: Wow, that's totally unlike me-I know I did a lot of this club-hopping from one place to the next. Nothing like that, then?
Vitora: No, not really... I club-lurked for a while, trying to decide if I wanted to commit, as a lot of them had heavy-handed rule lists you had to follow if you joined. I decided in the end that open RPing, like at Starfire's and Terrouge, was more my style.
Fidget: And QB-style, of course. Sorta.
Vitora: But of course. That came later, though... I totally remember every detail of the day I found out that was going on.
Linny: I think that RP experience is actually very beneficial to young writers, in a way-it teaches them to work in a flexible way with other people. The Survivor-style experience is like that to the nth degree. Would you agree?
Vitora: Definitely. I would even go as far as to say that the Survivor experience is almost a taste of the workplace environment: you have to learn to cooperate, but at the same time you're working to meet your own goals (winning, in this case).
Fidget: So, in your own non-fanfiction writing, have you been influenced by Brian Jacques or Redwall at all?
Vitora: Well, let's put it this way: besides some stories about "Little Seal" and "Jimmy the bullfrog" I wrote when I was seven, my first finished tales were Redwall fan-fiction. Or not specifically Redwall... I created my own, suspiciously similar world featuring otter warriors. The leader was named Willow, and she became my alter-ego for a while there, before Vitora came along. Those stories made it to Starfire's library, as I recall. So yes, I was definitely influenced simply because I tried to emulate BJ's style. Not sure how successful I was, though. Heh.
Today, though, I've tried to steer away from a Redwall style, because I feel like even though BJ has a lot to offer for people writing for a younger audience, I don't want that to leak into what I feel is (sometimes) more mature writing. But I do give him a lot of credit for getting me started.
Linny: Working off of that, are there any other authors you think have made a definite mark on your work?
Vitora: Of course! I adore the work of Clare Bell, who wrote the Ratha series--books about a civilization of prehistoric cats. Her work is what I wish mine was in almost every aspect: she writes convicingly about animals, making them seem almost human to the reader, yet maintains their felinity; and her style is beautiful and poignant. If I could only ever read and write like one author, it would be Bell. C.S. Lewis was a childhood favorite, and his works inspired me to start creating my own worlds. That's where I get my roots in fantasy writing, I think--loving Narnia and wishing I could be a part of it. Since I couldn't exactly enter Lewis's fantastic world, I would create my own.
I also think that other books I read when I was younger, like the Boxcar Children series, helped me in character development. I was frequently frustrated by the static nature of the characters in those books, and would always have imaginary adventures (played out and everything) where I would interact with much more complex versions. Today, I take my fertile imagination and irritation with cardboard cutout characters and try to apply it to my own work.
Fidget: Creating believable characters is definitely one of your strengths, from what I've seen. Are there any other particular strengths or weaknesses in your own writing, from what you see? ...and I phrased that as a yes or no question but please do elaborate.
Vitora: Hey, I wouldn't be a writer without them. I consider description one of my strengths-not because I can paint a scene in explicit yet realistic detail, but because I don't overload the reader with a paragraph of description that they tend to skim. I prefer to drop hints about a character's appearance as the action progresses, which is what I would much rather read myself. Weaknesses? I would say that I'm not very good at dialogue. I used to be absolutely horrid at the stuff, but writing a novel with my good friend Windsong-who is a master at believable conversations-has really helped me to develop my own dialogue. I'm also not the greatest at planning things out; thus, my work tends to jump all over the place and scream "SHE DIDN'T USE AN OUTLINE" very apparently.
Linny: What's the experience of co-writing like? Would you recommend it to others?
Vitora: Co-writing is awesome. If you can find someone you like to work with, and whose style works well with yours, I say snap up the opportunity while you can. My best friend and I have always written stuff together--back to the time when we both wrote Redwall(ish) fan-fiction, we had our own otter characters that we would role play over email. But our biggest and most ambitious project consisting of a 425-page novel that is currently in the editing stage, was a blast. We started out each with a character in mind and with a vague idea of where we would go, and before we knew it, it became a much-too-elaborate novel that was fun both to write and to read over again.
The best part about co-writing is that you have a built-in motivation tool to keep going. Without Windsong's prompting, and my poking of her, we would never have gotten anywhere with the book. But the fact that we had limited time in which to write (we don't exactly live next door) and a goal in mind kept us going. So yes, if you can find a willing writing partner, I would definitely recommend it to anyone. It's a unique experience, not at all like role playing, because you're right there with the other person. Oh, and I would also say that you should find someone whose strengths match your weaknesses and vice versa. That way you can learn from each other and both grow in your writing.
Linny: So-I just have to ask-is there any kind of weird viewpoint you're particularly fond of?
Vitora: Hmm. Not really, although I can say that compared to a lot of modern literature, I'm much more strict about my viewpoints. For example, I despise third-person omniscient... it's too easy for a writer. I like third-person limited, and when I say limited I mean it; no thought or emotion that the character whose point of view I'm in can't sense gets mentioned. Period.
Fidget: Are there any current projects you're working on that you'd like to tell us about, or are they top-secret?
Vitora: Projects... I always have projects going on. At the moment, I've got way too many novel ideas for my own good floating around in my head, but... I've got two that are actually in progress. One is set in a fantasy world (and everyone was amazed) and deals with race relations-something I've always been interested in writing about. The other is probably going to be more of a collection of short stories, and will feature the characters that I draw-like my fursona, Izzi, and countless other cat characters. It would be set in Seattle. Other than that, I've gotten into poetry lately, and want to write a collection of sports poetry. And, of course, there's my journalism degree that I'm going to be working towards when I head off to college in the fall.
Linny: Journalism. You are pretty hardcore. So do you enjoy writing fiction or nonfiction more?
Vitora: It honestly depends on my mood. I like writing non-fiction mostly because I like to both teach and learn; when I write something to teach, I feel like I learn a lot from it. But at the same time, fiction is always going to be dear to my heart since that's how I started. I have this awful tendency to make non-creative non-fiction (you know, research essays and the like) really, really dry. My creative non-fiction, however, I enjoy writing. And of course there's journalism. But that has more to do with combining my obsession with sports with my talents.
Linny: Do you have any projects in the works with nonfiction? I mean, I'm the sort that'll gladly dive right into a nice, thick, entertaining nonfiction book-Stiff and Spook by Mary Roach, for example.
Vitora: I don't really have anything planned at the moment, although I would enjoy writing a book of writing exercises someday, simply because there aren't enough good ones on the market and it's something I would use myself. I don't have an interesting-enough life to write any sort of "life story", and at this point I'm not an expert in any field to write a how-to or something like that. So no, not really.
Fidget: Is there anything in particular that inspires you?
Vitora: I get inspiration from a variety of sources. I would say that emotion is the biggest one-when I'm really angry, or really sad, or hyper, I'm a good writer. I can really channel my emotion onto the page in those situations. Sports also inspires me (I'm such a geek)-sometimes I draw on athletes' personalities to form my characters. And when I'm in the middle of a writing session, I'll turn on some inspiring music. Other than that, I find inspiration in random spots-a lot of times I'll get a great idea when I'm vacuuming. Or showering. Or sweeping. Mindless duties tend to give me inspiration.
Linny: So besides that, is there anything that fuels you during a writing session? For us it's witty banter and caffeinated beverages.
Vitora: That figures. Ummm... I'm a snacker, so I'll grab me some rice cakes and cheddar cheese slices. And I like fresh air-if the weather's nice, my window's open. I'm not a coffee drinker, or even a pop drinker, so that's out. Maybe... background noise? In fact, I'll sometimes turn on sports radio just to have something going on behind me.
Fidget: How have you grown as a writer, over the years?
Vitora: As I said before, I think my dialogue has improved immensely, even though that's an area I'm still working on. I'm a lot faster than I used to be... In the past, I could only write a couple of pages on a good day. Now I can write four pages in an hour and a half. (Like last night, in fact.) Also, finishing a first draft of a novel was a big milestone for me. Ever since I started writing finishing a novel was a goal of mine, and after four tries on the same idea I finally managed to do it. Another thing I've grown in is letting my writing do its own thing. I used to try and compress it into a little box of what I thought was "good" writing, but now I just let it flow as it comes. My Muse is a much happier winged cat now.
Linny: MUSE! A muse! Care to elaborate?
Vitora: My Muse? Well... her origins are clouded in the mists of time. She's a little winged cat, and she's rather sarcastic when she feels like it, which is just what I need to get going sometimes. She's the sort that makes fun of you when you're not writing. I think I got her when I was about eight... she just sort of fluttered into a story I wrote and from then on I couldn't escape. Ah well. She's been a good little Muse.
Linny: So what's your favorite word? I enjoy anything with v in it. Such a pleasant little buzzy sound.
Vitora: Then you must love my name. My favorite word, though... I adore the word phoenix, just because of how it looks, with all those weird letters next to each other. And I like patter, too. It's got a nice sound. Looking at that, you'd think 'P' was my favorite letter. It's not. I love the letter J, especially for names.
Linny: What's your favorite death scene? I mean, either something you've written or by someone else. Forgive me. You know I'm a fiend for this kind of thing. Horror writer MUCH?
Vitora: Death scene. Mwahaha. I'm not a big fan of death scenes, but I did write a pretty decent one in my novel-though it was one of those unconventional ones. My dragon character, Karru, who is probably the easiest character I've ever written for, met his demise in a broken portal. It wasn't pretty. I've read some pretty good death scenes, too, and I actually prefer the short and sweet ones instead of the ones that are drawn out with over-used dialogue like, "Oh my gosh I'm gonna miss you" and "I'll never forget you (insert name of loved one here)."
Linny: Hey, Vits?
Vitora: Uhhh... yes?
Linny: If someone put Fidge and I in a pit full of mud...and armed us with toothpicks... and forced us to fight, who would win?
Vitora: Hmm. That's a tough one. (I'm laughing right now, seriously. Wow.) I would have to throw this one Fidge's way, simply because the Linny-ness in you would quickly sap your strength, and since toothpicks are pretty darn flimsy, you'd break yours in half in your drunken anger and then Fidge would just stab you through the heart. Though it might be a draw.
Linny: I'm bigger than her. You never know.
Fidget: She just loves me better. Hah.
Linny: Oh shut up.
Vitora: Well, if you could manage to sit on her head and squish her under the mud, you might win, Linners.
Linny: ... this could work.
Vitora: Or you could assault her with drawings of sea cucumber furries until she surrendered.
Fidget: ... Please no. Fine. Linny wins. Anything but that. Anyway, Vitora, thanks for your time. One last question-for the curious, where might they be able to find some of your writing?
Vitora: I would check the Writing Scraps section of my forums. Just go to Scraps from Seattle. I also write for Yn Nor, which is currently on hiatus due to time issues for all members-there are a few old articles in the archives as well. Oh, and while you're at the Scraps forum, check out the other writers' stuff. There's some good writing in there.
Linny: Sweet sauce, doll. Thanks.
Will our heroes ever find another interviewee? Will interviewee ever cease to be an awkward word? Will you help them in their quest by sending a PM with suggestions? If Linny were a matador and Fidge were a bull, who would win? All these questions will be answered when you join us next month for another exciting installment of Scribo, Ergo Sum!