FanFic Ask Game

I found this online and thought it would be fun to answer some fan fiction questions. I’ve chosen A Game of Hearts, which is kind of cheating since it’s actually a collection of seven stories, but I also think it’s my best-known and most ambitious fic. It’s the one people are most likely to ask about, I think? Anyway, buckle up because this may take a while.

How did you come up with the title to A Game of Hearts?

I don’t know off the top of my head. I think I came up with the series title after writing the first couple stories, and it had to do with that line Jim says in “The Great Game” about “burning the heart out of” Sherlock. Since the first story establishes John as Sherlock’s “heart”… I guess it went from there.

Any of your stories inspired by personal experience?

I’d say that some of my stories, or the themes explored in them, work as therapy for me in dealing with a few personal experiences.

What character do you identify with most?

Sherlock, hands down.

Is there a song or playlist to associate with A Game of Hearts?

At the time it was written (c. 2010 or ’11), I listened to a lot of Maroon 5, The Script, and Gin Blossoms (especially the No Chocolate Cake album), and a bit of Neon Trees and Lifehouse. Yes, go ahead and judge my music preferences, but music is massively inspirational for me.

If you wrote a sequel to A Game of Hearts, what would it be about?

I actually started but never finished a sequel titled “The Hanged Man.” It was about Sherlock and John having to look after Mycroft’s illegitimate daughter while trying to find out who had tried to kill Mycroft (and might also be trying to kill them).

Do you write your story from start to finish, or do you write the scenes out of order?

I write linearly, all my scenes in order.

How would you describe your style?

I’m not sure I have a distinctive style? I think you’d have to ask someone objective about it. I do use a lot of metaphors, though, I think. Is metaphorical a style?

Do you have a guilty pleasure in fic (reading or writing)?

I used to feel guilty and shy about writing it. Well, actually, at first I didn’t know enough to feel ashamed. Then I did. And now I’ve come out the other side and no longer feel bad about it.

Write or describe an alternative ending to A Game of Hearts.

Uh… I can’t imagine it ending any differently than it did, honestly. It felt like a natural conclusion. That might be why I never finished the sequel story.

How many times do you usually revise your fic/chapter before posting?

Probably not as much as I should. I write it in Word, go over it once there, then cut and paste it to the online site and go over it one more time before publishing.

Got any premises on the back burner that you’d care to share?

Well, I’ve already explained about “The Hanged Man.” I don’t have any plans for more Sherlock fic. I do need to finish this Simon/Baz fic, but the next book is about to come out, and that will make my story obsolete, so I don’t see the point now.

Is there a fic you wish someone else would write (or finish) for you?

See above. Though, really, I’d probably get anxious over how this other writer finished the stories.

How do you begin a story—with the plot, or the characters?

Usually a scene. And then I spin the story out from that. So, in A Game of Hearts, it was that first scene of Sherlock looking at his phone and realizing John had been kidnapped. In one of my favorite fics that I’ve written, “Setting Love Free,” it was the scene of Methos asleep in the chair at Duncan’s flat.

Are you what GRRM would call an “architect” or a “gardener”? (How much do you plan in advance versus letting the story unfold as you go?)

I do very little planning. I generally have an idea of the endpoint, but getting there is always an adventure. I still marvel at how much A Game of Hearts ties together given that most of it was not planned ahead of time. It was more like I realized that something I planted two stories before could suddenly be used. Like my subconscious was planning even though I wasn’t consciously doing that at all.

How do you feel about collaborations?

I’ve tried on a couple occasions to collaborate. This was decades ago. It never worked out, but I wouldn’t say it couldn’t, with the right person. I’d still love to find an artist to collaborate with on manga ideas.

Are there any writers (fanfic or otherwise) you consider an influence?

Well, when writing fic based on television, I’d have to say the television writers, I suppose. I pick up the characters and their speech patterns and mannerisms from them. Same for book-based fics; I’m influenced by the authors who created the characters. I strive to stay true to that tone.

Any fandom tropes you can’t resist?

Probably? Nothing immediately leaps to mind. I guess yearning. Is that a trope? I like angst. I like when a character is uncertain. I like playing with dynamics between characters. Those aren’t tropes, maybe, but that’s the stuff I dig into.

Any fandom tropes you can’t stand?

As far as fic goes, my only real peeve is when characters don’t act or speak like themselves. If I’m reading a fic and thinking, “So-and-So would never do that, they’d never say that,” then I can’t keep reading. No matter how much the writer has tried to give an excuse for the character to behave a certain way, the characters still need to be true to themselves as created. I guess that might be why I don’t read AU fics that often. I feel like the characters get blurred once they’re removed from their home environments.

A character you enjoy making suffer.

All of them.

A character you want to protect.

John Watson is probably the one I most try to protect. I don’t always do a very good job of it, though.

Major character death: do you ever write/read it? Is there a character whose death you can’t tolerate?

I’ve definitely come close a few times, though I can’t think of an instance where I wrote a major character’s death and they stayed dead… I’m not against it in theory. I feel like there need to be stakes, and sometimes that results in someone dying. But is there a character whose death I couldn’t tolerate? Methos, maybe. He’s the genesis of my nickname, after all, so I feel specially tied to him.