Terrouge E-zine Archives
The Erin Interview: Part 2
By: Lauren S./Brya
When last we saw our intrepid heroes, they were dining in the local Applebee's, feasting upon noodles and oriental chicken. Not only that, but they were reminiscing about various events at Terrouge, and recalling old acquaintances and friendships. If you need a refresher, find Part 1 and take another look – or read on:
Me (Lauren): Are there any other friendships you've made through the Redwall Online Community that…
Me: Yeah, that works.
Erin: Definitely. Some not as healthily as I'd like, but Sean Rubin and I still keep in touch. I was really happy to see your interview with him. I still read several people's LiveJournals – Sean A., Rystan, Kathryn, one of our first reporters; Griever. I've been reading her chronicles of life in the East for so long that I actually forgot where we originally met. Oh, and I just remembered: I also keep in touch with Tsarmina.
Me: I'd wondered, since you said you played WoW.
Erin: Well, I don't actually keep in touch with her in the game at all, it's still a LiveJournal thing. And Amberdulen.
Me: Yeah, she's the one who ran Redwall Online. I just stumbled across some of the archives a couple of weeks ago, actually. It was cool. Just knowing how many other webzines there were in the community.
Erin: There was that one, and I can think of one or two others, one of which was purely a an art-zine type thing. I wish I could remember the name but they tried to run – not stories, so much – I think it was mostly poetry and artwork.
Me: I did massive digging on Google and I think I found references to thirteen or fourteen, actually.
Erin: Actually, when you got in contact with me, I'd just heard the other day that my younger sister – she's much younger than me, she's 12 now – she started reading the Redwall series. She was asking me what book she should start with. I had a copy of Loamhedge sitting on my shelf for the past five years that I've never read, and I've been reading that, and actually enjoying it. I think after being a Redwall fan for as long as I was I got really saturated with the series, but after the long break that I've had I'm really enjoying it again.
Me: For me it was Rakkety Tam that brought me back. I ran away from the ROC for a couple of years, and then I read Rakkety Tam on a whim and I realized that there were parts of it that I still really loved – parts of the universe, and Brian Jacques' way of outlining a story. Even if a lot of them have big similarities, which is a major complaint, then there are still a lot of parts about it that are really fun.
Erin: I think one thing that I really respect him for is – obviously, good writer, etc. – but one thing he really does that not a lot of people necessarily do, is he's always seemed to have a commitment towards including lesser-able characters. In Loamhedge you've got Martha with the wheelchair, and there've been deaf characters, there've been blind characters, and they've all been fairly not-limited by their disabilities. And I think that's got to be a really positive thing for kids, whether they're disabled or not, because I think that there's a lot of things in society that do look down on the disabled. Books, media, just people in general. And unless you know a lot of people who are disabled in real life, it can be difficult to really recognize that a disability doesn't have to be a major facet of who you are.
Me: Now, have you finished Loamhedge?
Erin: No. I started reading it just last weekend.
Me: Have you heard much about the new books – I guess, just the books after Loamhedge, basically.
Erin: No, not really. Has there been a shift, or…?
Me: You know, actually, I haven't read the newest one. Not the newest one, not Doomwyte, and I haven't read the one before that, which is the Salamandastron warcry which I don't know how to say properly. That would be Eulalia!, which I've said 'YOO-luh-LEE-uhhhhh!' for nine years now, but from Salamandastron, I have my suspicions that it's actually said 'Ay-ooh-LAY-lee-ahhhh!' Perhaps someone who's heard Brian Jacques himself say the title can correct me. Though … remember when we first heard about "Racatetan"? (Rakkety Tam)
Erin: You'd better catch up!
Me: I know! My roommate has the Salamandastron warcry right now. And I'm actually really nervous, because next issue there are supposed to be reviews of both of those two books, so I might have to encode them to put them up on the website but I don't want to read them if they're spoilers, you know? But Rubin – you probably read this in the interview – Rubin's doing the illustrations for The Sable Quean.
Erin: I heard that!
Me: That's just so cool!
Erin: I can't believe I didn't get an email from him! He's got to be over the moon! Well, I'll definitely be buying like five copies of that. Actually, I'll have him buy one, and I'll pay him back, and he can sign it for me. I thought he did a fantastic job on the audiobooks for all those years. Better from my perspective than a lot of the interior art we've seen. And the fact that he was a fan, for so long, has to make it better. I'm very excited to see that.
Erin: Does the Shorey icon still work on the forums?
Me: Honestly, I don't know, because I kind of already see it in my head all the time anyway. And I can't really say because I haven't seen a thread that you've posted in for a very long time.
Erin: No, I haven't logged in for a very long time. I've forgotten my new password… But there've been a lot of things keeping me from coming back often. Like, obviously, over the past year – I got married in August, and things are just beginning to calm down from that. But the previous year and a half, I was getting married – planning the wedding – and trying to graduate. And then in my first couple years of college, I was on the fencing team, which is more or less fall and spring, so the entire school year, almost. That took up a lot of time, which is why I ended up dropping it, but that is where I met my husband.
Me: Oh, really? Ah, that's cool. I've looked into fencing; I don't know what keeps stopping me, probably just general inertia.
Erin: You should try it out. What year are you?
Erin: Even so.
Me: I think I've got an extra year, though, because I picked up a Math major, so I've got so many extra hours to get in.
Erin: Computer Science and Math. Where're you going with that?
Me: I don't really know. Grad school. Professorship? Perhaps. If not then I think I could be fine just working in the industry, as long as I found somewhere pretty nice. And even though my first love was language and writing, I figured if I made that my major I'd probably ruin it for myself, you know?
Erin: That was a lot of my thought as well. Personally, I didn't go the Engineering/Computer Science route because, while I like that stuff, I can't do it all the time. I love programming, I really do; I think it's a ton of fun. But I don't think I'd be happy at a job that was entirely hard sciences and I don't think I'd be happy at a job that was entirely soft stuff. Which is kind of why I went the route that I did. Web design is kind of nice, because you deal with the technical issues, and you have to do stuff that requires a little bit of thought and expertise, but then you also have the softer, more people-oriented part of it, which is "Let's get people to come here and get them to stay here after they've come."
Me: That's really cool how your experience at the magazine and promoting it and stuff sort of… fit right in there. I'm amazed still.
Erin: One of the things that you said in your last issue – about there being this older audience, but is the younger audience out there… My sister, independent of any urging from me or anything, decided to get into the series. So I think that there definitely is an audience out there, a younger audience, if you can reach them.
Me: Yeah, the trouble is finding out where they are. As far as the Facebook group, we've only been able to pull people in who have a sort of nostalgia for the books, you know, they might come over and read what we have and they might not.
Erin: I don't think he does signings anymore, does he? If he does, that was a great way to reach out to people, just show up at the signings and hand things out. Other things that we did: we put up flyers in libraries, and something that we should have done is ask our readers to do the same. I mean, they have those bulletin boards, where you can put up pretty much anything. We also had those bookmarks, that you could print out and leave them in books.
Me: I remember Calantorntain had some of those on her site, her Print-Ups and Down-Loads site. I wonder if that's still up.
Erin: I think that those would still be valid strategies for reaching out. Especially if you pull the current audience in. Ask them not only to do it, but to submit a story or picture of what they did, and then you can do an article about it. Like, "Here's our outreach", and have a little photo montage, of bookmarks sticking out and your fans waving at the camera. People would do it for the notoriety, and then you get more content, and fun content.
Me: Since I got onto the online community – I've been hearing that the ROC is dying since I got onto it, basically …
Erin: Yeah, it's been 'dying' since 1998.
Me: So what would you consider the golden age, basically?
Erin: Maybe it is dying now, maybe it isn't, but people have always been saying it's dying. I think there have been times where it's been more or less healthy, I mean in terms of the number and quality of sites that are available. I'd say, from my own personal perspective, and I'd have to think what year this was, probably from 2001 to 2002 , when we were running our Questors Bold contest, and still getting the links from Redwall.org, and the Redwall survivor contests were going for the first time, I think there was a lot of interest, a lot of community stuff. I myself was having a blast.
Did you know I got to compete in the second ROCS? I came in third, eventually.
Me: Who did you write?
Erin: Macala. It came down to me, and … Fwirl was writing in that, too. She was writing this rat, this kind of half-insane rat. Wasn't a bad guy. The harmless sort of insane. Mannerisms-wise, he should've been a hare. Who else was there … Misha, I think. Tsarmina was writing in it. The winner … I don't remember. I have the whole story printed out and in a binder somewhere.
Me: You know, Lady Tara Starblade is starting up a Redwall survivor game compendium. So she's looking at all the old survivor games, trying to get as much information as possible, to try to connect character names, see who's been where.
Erin: I was running anonymously for a while, in that contest, even to the fellow competitors. But then somebody tied my posting IP to my IP somewhere else, which actually got me in trouble because I told my mom that I was in the contest, and apparently without my knowledge she'd signed on and wrote some stuff on the boards about how my character was awesome. Which then looked suspicious. I think they've all come to the point where they believe me about it but that was kind of awkward.
I didn't realize you guys had a Facebook presence. Do you have a fan page, or a group, or what?
Me: We have a group. There've been two groups that I know of in the history of the website. The first one was actually a reaction group to Firebird. The second one is…
Erin: Oh, what was the first one called? You've gotta tell me.
Me: It was called the People's Republic of Terrouge. I think somebody had a nudge from Les Miserables or something. They formed the group to discuss what they thought about what was going on and to try to present something coherent to the leadership, but Jason and Philip found it before they could get anything organized and a lot of bad feeling came out of that group.
But the second one is just called Terrouge, and I roped back a couple of people who used to read, and gotten a couple of good comments on it, and Lucy keeps updating, you know, 'We have an issue coming up', 'Here's our latest issue.' And there's a LiveJournal community…
Erin: I followed that. I'm sad I missed all this Facebook controversy.
Me: You can still join the group and read the wall of the group, and there are a couple of old threads in the Feedback forum. Actually, they'd be in the Archives forum, because Amber – another Amber, not Amberdulen, I got them mixed up once and that was fun – our Amber, also known as Dawnfinder now, has rearranged the forums pretty substantially, so really old threads are down in an Archives forum, so it'd be down there.
Yeah, that wasn't really too fun. In fact - I don't know if you remember Bracken, she helped get everybody back together to actually talk about things instead of being angry about them. Now she's disappeared and I wish she'd come back because I really respect what she did for that.
Erin: So what do you do, aside from work on Terrouge and Computer Science homework?
Me: Not much else, actually, right now. I have a lot of homework. But otherwise I read – lots of reading, lots of watching movies. When I had more time I was on the Vulpine Imperium, and I do write articles occasionally for the magazine. Actually, I've been trying to figure out how big the ROC is now, and how disconnected it actually is. When you search Redwall on Google, the first couple pages are the official site and websites on how to use it in classroom curriculum or something like that. Then when you get further on, you get the smaller sites that're like … 'Where've these been?'
Erin: I think another good thing for Terrouge would be something along those lines. It wouldn't have to be an ongoing ting necessarily, but even pulling together a links page to all of those places like 'Here's how to use it in your curriculum,'to have available for students to send their teachers.
Me: That'd be cool. Yeah, I don't know that there is another listing for that that at least comes from within the fandom and not from teaching websites. I'll kick the idea to the staff and see what they think.
What hobbies do you have, then?
Erin: I still read a fair bit. My husband is a big anime fan, so I watch a lot of anime, play video games, and, what else, really? We play a lot of boardgames, as well. If we're talking about things that we do for fun, we play boardgames a lot. Sometimes we paint miniatures. It's all over. We have fun. It's the fun that's important!
Me: Oh, of course. What kind of books do you read? Genre names, author names …
Erin: Well, I'm a big fan of Terry Pratchett.
Me: Awesome! High five for that, seriously.
Erin: Got my husband hooked on them, too. We downloaded some audiobooks from Audible, and we've got a setup so that we can listen to them in the car while we drive. Lot of sci-fi. David Weber.
Me: Yes. David Weber is awesome.
Erin: Still some fantasy. A lot of the same authors I used to read. You know, children's books schmildren's books, if it comes out and it's by an author I like then I'll buy it. Tamora Pierce, who else…
Me: I still grab every Tanith Lee I can.
Erin: I don't know her…
Me: I don't know if she can be strictly classified as YA, because her fantasy is not directed-- Okay, the first book I read of hers was The Black Unicorn.
Erin: Yeah, I read that, actually! I remember, because it was at a library book sale, so I was able to pick it up. It was interesting.
Me: Yeah, she actually writes a lot more sci-fi I think. I think. I don't know. Most of my reading lately has been class-assigned work or re-reading Pratchett books. I re-read them because I already know what happens, so I won't blow off homework because I have to figure out what happens.
Erin: Why are you reading Terry Pratchett books for class?
Me: Oh, no, no, they're not for class – I wish! That would be excellent.
Erin: I was excited!
Me: a lot of those books could be interesting classroom reading. Like, Jingo for politics or something like that.
Erin: I really honestly think that, if you look at the complexity of his storylines, cultural references, and so forth, there are a number of parallels that you can draw between his work and Shakespeare's work.
Me: Really? Shakespeare. And not just the obvious ones like Wyrd Sisters?
Erin: No, not necessary in terms of plot, but in terms of talent of the author… I took a course on Shakespeare and there's this way he keeps these different plotlines going and at the end they all come together. And if you read a Terry Pratchett book, that's what you'll find, is all these disconnected things, or apparently disconnected things, but they really do complement each other incredibly well. I think also one of those other things that Shakespeare's often credited with is making every word count with his extremely talented wordplay, and I don't think I have to tell you that Pratchett has a lot of the same abilities. I really seriously believe he may be the most talented writer since Shakespeare if not as talented as Shakespeare. I'm not a literary scientist, so I guess I can't prove that, but I do have my suspicions.
There ended the interview, as dinner was over and the excitement of Erin's day had begun to make her yawn. We traipsed outside into the northern Indiana winter, sated and satisfied (I had key lime pie; she had something fudge-y with Oreos), where we proceeded to attempt to get a picture of the both of us.
"Perhaps we should face the light."
"Uh, camera, did you take?"
I made poor Erin stand around outside for several minutes while I variously attempted to aim a lens at the two of us (many rejected pictures had half my face or missed Erin's eyebrows), tapped the screen facing away from me hopefully in the general area of the "button", and tried to outwit the delay on the shutter. Here's our best: that's me smiling oddly on the right ("Camera, are you going to cooperate with me this time?") but I love this one of Erin. Hey, she doesn't look like she's freezing!