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Many readers have written to ask questions about my stories or me. I don't answer personal questions because I really want the stories to speak for themselves.
But the craft of writing and the nature of MC is just as interesting to me as it is to You. So below you will find my thoughts to a series of questions posed by Trilby Else.
My warmest thanks to him for his time and thoughtfulness. Without Trilby's assist and feedback, this page would never have happened. Trilby Else writes his own brand of erotic stories and I recommend you look at his work in the EMCSA.
Q&A edited from a series of emails
T: Did Corelle come first and the stories form around her, or did you have the idea for "Friendly Takeover" and then find her developing within it?
Eye: Corelle really came first. Her image was strongly visual and she is modeled on another writer's character that doesn't have much to do with Corelle at all.
T: How much of Corelle is based on "life", and how much of her is something you've only imagined? Is there a person (or several) who may to some extent have been the model for her? Is she to some extent, not necessarily a self-portrait but an alter ego?
Eye: She's definitely a bit of both. I have a lot of RPG experience and so I've created many characters for long running stories. I love characters that grow and change as they encounter complexities and demands. Now, normally, I find such characters aren't easily transferred to fictional settings, but if you GM (Game Master, not sure how many readers care about the terms), as I do, then "my own" characters are the incidentals, the folks that are encountered by the Players. And those characters have complex lives that only intersect with the Player Characters. Corelle's complex life is very much like that, only in my fiction, she's the point of revolution, the hinge point. So all my experience in getting an immediate reaction from another person in a live game session is part of Corelle. She is no one person.
She does things that I think we would all love to do. She travels. She deals with new things. She is much more a fictional alter ego than a self-portrait.
T: Corelle has clearly grown more complex as the arcs proceed. Do you characterize her as largely a heroine or villain, or something else?
Eye: Something else. She's very much a villain in the remote sense that she isn't human and doesn't have a bond with the human point of view. But she is also a "noble monster" who has learned how to survive in the human world that destroyed her own past. As a "human" writer, I agree she is a monster but I think she is an understandable monster. She has a great capacity for cruelty. She has a fine sensibility for trust, effort and excellence. She cares very much about what she considers to be her own "turf". In a sense, the people that Corelle "takes" humanize her. In caring for them, she cares about human values. I do think the readers occasionally find the complexity overdone. Simple Monsters are more fun in the MC genre.
T: Actually, I'm not sure I understand your characterization of Corelle as a villain based on her alienation from the human POV. Villainy usually involves conscious malice (or perhaps sincere adherence to an inimical pattern or ethic), while Corelle doesn't always seem intent on hurting. She seemed to fit more into that sort of role in the first and third of the "Friendly" stories, but seemed generally benign in the "Dangerous" arc, and the Sonata clarified her pain and vulnerability. Comment?
Eye: True enough. But villains are also defined by how close they can come to our own POV. For instance, 'Invasion from Mars' stories work because the villains don't care about us. The Martians are villains automatically. Similar to any story told about a war where you never understand the foreign POV.
A villain under this mode is also someone who isn't going to change his or her POV. Dracula needs blood, he's going to get it and he isn't going to 'reform' his need. He will always be a villain because he doesn't have a human POV and won't change.
Without a human POV, casual decisions can result in villainy, which you noted in one of your first emails to me about Corelle. 'Not sure of her reasoning' if I can paraphrase... in punishing Bess Rand. Corelle's code of behavior rubs up against our normal human one in strange places.
But again, I hope I've shown she is a "noble monster". She protects people. She encourages excellence. Quite a few of the characters around her look to her for inspiration of one kind or another.
T: What sort of reaction has Corelle drawn? Did you expect it? How does it feel to have people taking her to heart that way?
Eye: Hmm. No. When I wrote 'Friendly Takeover', I thought it was a one-shot. I don't think I did expect it. The reaction was immediate. Email started right away. At first, a couple of posts to me were a nice way of seeing that I had hit some sort of 'button'. 'Friendly Takeover' was a play on words at several different levels. There are character names, puns, and references to other stories in there. Then I started getting some mail from people who obviously were reading *exactly* the unwritten flavors as well as the words I had put down. That hit me. Excitement. I was taken by the power of the minds I had touched. I started writing 'Friendly Skies' and knew I wanted to do an arc of three. Which became more----.
T: On Writing: Do you plan your plots, especially within the arc format you've followed, or do they lead you along?
Eye: They lead. I think of the first as a single. If it works, then it might become an arc of three. I've had requests to take singles further--- but strangely, if I don't think there is enough there for 3 stories, I don't have an interest in doing the second one.
Just another quirk of mine. I guess that tells the readers that if I've done two stories on a theme, I'm already thinking about the third. .-)
T: There's a great deal of mystery surrounding all your stories. Do you ever feel moved to explain more?
Eye: Yes. And I just don't. .-)
T: Has what you've written subsequently or how you've written it been affected by the feedback, not in terms of pandering to fans but in terms of seeing what themes have resonated?
Eye: Hmm. That's a really good question. Two answers, I guess. The short one is feedback makes it all work. I get energy and the story might get pushed based on that energy. Readers have suggested details or even plots. Details are more likely to be important, although 'Life's Lessons' was someone's plot given to me. The reader wrote back to say that my version was more subtle than what they thought it would be--- but they liked it better.
Part of the answer goes back to my odd take on what I'm writing. 'Shockingly Black' is the best example. I never thought *that* story would be enjoyed. I thought, too weird. No villain. Is it really mind control? How is the flesh being transformed? I wasn't telling the reader everything the genre expects to know, so I thought it was just an image I had to write. 'SB' had a huge reaction. Even though I thought I had told the story. When I wrote the tag line, 'The Beginning' I was only being contrary because I really thought it was *definitely* the end. What other layers were needed without puncturing the mystery? At the moment I wrote it, it seemed that anything added would mellow it by repetition.
The other answer to your question is quality. I've been called prolific by email. But I'm also intimidated by the success of the stories and don't want to add something that isn't as good. Which I know is silly intellectually. No one is really grading me, but me.
T: When you read other MC stories, are there certain things you look for, or are happy to discover? How diverse would you say your tastes are?
Eye: Not very. I like surprises. I like twists. Sometimes I'll even read MM if the title or the blurb by Simon grabs my interest. Simon's site is fantastic. I know there is an alt.sex.stories somewhere but I have no idea how to find it. I'm very much an internet neophyte. I look for wit and style and conventions tugged and prodded.
[note: Tril kindly mailed me additional sites and forums to check out. I'm learning all the time, hence this page you are reading on ASSTR. Please remember them with a donation.]
T: What led you to begin writing MC erotica?
Eye: I don't know the exact thought. Something happened. I had been tuning into EMCSA for week after week for close to two years. I kept looking for more work from certain authors that seemed to hit the mark every time--- and it wasn't there. They were very quiet. Then one night I was typing up 'Friendly Takeover'.
T: When you write, do you ever have a particular reader in mind, or envision your audience in a certain way? Or do you think of an audience at all when you write?
Eye: No, I don't. I only think of them in the sense that they should be entertained by what I'm writing. I do polish my tales by going through them several times, looking for the rhythms I'm using. Reading them to see if *I'm* entertained.
T: You have several major series in work. Do you set out to build that kind of structure, or have the stories grown themselves?
Eye: I have a large sense of canvas. I like tapestry styles. I like the complexity of a world of intersecting vectors of human scale. So I think the structure is deliberate. For instance, in my own mind, nothing I've written contradicts. It could be all happening in the same world, at something like the same time. The obvious exception would be BlankPage's Volupian Takeover. But I haven't ruled that out. .-)
[note: BlankPage has since declined to expand the Volupian saga. As of summer 2000, the Kendra material is officially within the Corelle universe.]
When I started with 'Takeover' I just knew that I wanted to play some word games and re-shape the conventions of Mind Control.
When that story worked, then I knew that I wanted to do trilogies, mostly as a riff on publishing fantasy fiction today. So I found the clichés of 'Friendly Skies' and 'Friendly Advice' and built the stories around those concepts.
A funny side note; I wanted readers to find these little stories easily and quickly, so I knew the title forms should repeat the first word. It just clicked with the way Simon organizes the EMCSA. Since then, I've noticed that the second word in the titles work in reverse alphabetical order. I have no idea how that happened, but I do it on purpose now for Corelle stories.
T: Has MC been a long-term interest of yours? If so, has it developed over time? When did you first become aware of it?
Eye: I think it has been an interest for a while. Fantasies of wide-eyed victims and their public actions that are not under their control cropped up with me in my late teens. My 'appreciation' for MC was inflamed by the discovery of the Grey Archives and then EMCSA. That was about three years ago. Since then I've been a fan and I've realized that some of my prior fantasies have a better focus.
The stories provided a range of experience. As a fan, I suddenly saw I wasn't an audience of one.
T: What led you to it?
Eye: I've always written stories. What's new for me is the focus of being able to bring characters that feel real into a genre that is quite Unreal. The contrast of making a story "grip" when the concepts are so fanciful.
T: Are there specific aspects of MC itself that you're more interested in exploring (or, conversely, eager to avoid)?
Eye: I would avoid offending just to shock. I think humiliation is hard to do well. A cliché quote about comedy is, "Comedy is hard work." I think some kinds of MC story are like that and I don't do them.
I like triumph and tragedy. I like struggle against misfortune and odds.
I like characters with edges and complexities that might be higher and lower than my own. I like to watch characters that give a damn about something and make me believe in their point of view. I think that good and evil live in our myths. I think there are good reasons why we can't actually live up to our own ideals and I think I like to see things like that tested in prose fiction.
So I avoid something that smacks of formula. I try to revisit my own formulas, even as I realize that I can exploit my own rhythms.
I like to be surprised. Thinking about it, I guess I am most drawn to MC that involves intelligent characters in situations that strike visual themes. If I read or write something that draws me in with sensory clues--- I'm predisposed to like it.
Other than that I don't know that I would limit myself.
T: Are there other genres (erotic or otherwise) in which you write or have considered writing?
Eye: I write a lot of sf/fantasy fiction. I do small stories that I share with friends. None of it is published commercially, but some is on the web under other names.
-----------------Q&A end for now.
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