rachelmanija: (Default)
( Oct. 31st, 2014 10:24 am)
Yuletide assignments have gone out! Without revealing your fandom, how do you feel about yours?

I am very excited about writing for my fandom! But if you are participating in Yuletide and have not yet written a "Dear Yuletide Writer" letter, please write a letter and link it in the link post below. You don't have to get into tons of detail, but a little about what you like about the fandom and maybe a few areas you'd be interested in seeing explored in a story would be nice. Also, if you requested two characters who have an ambiguous relationship in canon, it would be great to know whether you see them as lovers, friends, friends with unresolved sexual tension, etc.

Here's a link to my Dear Yuletide writer letter. Here's a link to the page where you can link to your letters.
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rachelmanija: (Books: old)
( Jan. 1st, 2014 02:57 pm)
I wrote three stories this year, in Scott Lynch’s “Gentleman Bastards” series, C. L. Moore’s Northwest Smith, and Stephen King’s The Stand.

My assignment was in the fandom I had most hoped to be matched on, Scott Lynch’s “Gentleman Bastards,” which I’d recently re-read. It’s about con men in fantasyland, full of lovely worldbuilding details and dialogue straight out of The Sopranos. The gang consists of Locke Lamora, the brains of the outfit with a penchant for over-complicated melodrama; Jean Tannen, previously a soft merchant’s son, who discovers a gift for fighting; and Calo and Galdo Sanza, sidekick twins.

My recipient, Labellementeuse, requested the time period where they’re all teenagers under the mostly-benevolent mentorship of Father Chains, a real priest masquerading as a fake one. She also requested Jean’s POV, a focus on the Locke-Jean relationship, and to see what Jean sees in Locke. I thought that was a great prompt: not too detailed, not too vague.

I wrote The Goddess of Suffering Scam. No canon knowledge needed beyond what I just told you, and it’s not spoilery for the books. The self-flagellating apparatus was Sherwood Smith’s suggestion, and in my opinion it completely makes the story.

Northwest Smith is lush, vivid space opera from the 1930s, featuring Northwest Smith, a tall Earthman with colorless eyes whose stoic exterior conceals some interesting psychological vulnerabilities, and his partner, Yarol the Venusian, a cheerfully amoral young man who looks like an angel and is constantly rescuing Smith from soul-sucking space vampires.

Last year I requested it, and got an amazing story, Ithaka, or, the Moons of Jupiter from Quillori. This year she requested it herself. Her letter was so charming that it ought to be read in full. (One note here about slash - I know Smith/Yarol is a popular reading, if anything can be said to be popular in such a tiny, almost non-existent fandom. And it's not as though I have any objection in theory - Smith does spend an awful lot of time noticing how gorgeous Venusians are in general and Yarol in particular - but I have a hard time reading Smith as anything other than straight, or perhaps not straight exactly - I can imagine him having friendly, casual sex with Yarol on a regular basis - but we spend enough time in his viewpoint that it really does seem to me his type, or what he genuinely believes is his type, is women (women, or possibly eldritch abominations and dark gods - with whom, frankly, he appears to have more success). )

Quillori wanted a story starring Yarol and focusing on worldbuilding, saying that often her favorite part of the story was when they were wandering around alien worlds and the plot hadn’t actually started yet. I thought that was a wonderful prompt, and wrote Strangler’s Veil. No canon knowledge needed beyond what I just told you.

Finally, [personal profile] kore and I co-wrote West, for Stephen King’s The Stand.

The novel is post-apocalyptic, a huge, sprawling, vivid narrative with a memorable ensemble cast. Toward the end, four of the characters— all men— go on a quest to save the world. Maidenjedi’s prompt was, “What if the women went instead?”

Cut for length and spoilers for both our story and The Stand. If you’re thinking of reading our story, please do so before reading the author notes. If you haven’t read The Stand, I don’t think our story will be comprehensible.

Read more... )
And I even like it, which has not been the case every year.

[Poll #1949071]
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Cut for those who don't care about Yuletide. Regarding the polar bear question, that should read "The polar bear from Lost." Apparently putting in quotes erased the word Lost.

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rachelmanija: (Default)
( Sep. 8th, 2013 11:52 am)
'Tis the time to start contemplating your Yuletide randoms! See schedule at the bottom of the post.

I'm not sure how many nominations we'll get, as some of the rules still seem in flux. But here's what I'm preliminarily thinking of. Click on author's names to see my posts on the originals.

Top Chef Masters. Invent a fun challenge or do a reunion or set the whole thing on Pern or Perelandra; I would just like to read luscious descriptions of food plus amusing interaction featuring one or more of my favorite chefs. If I can nominate four, I'd nominate Susan Feniger, Anita Lo, Susur Lee, and Sang Yoon. (I now am desperate to go to Sang Yoon's Lukshon; has anyone been to it?)

The Rifter, by Ginn Hale. God only knows if anyone doing Yuletide would have actually read this, but I would enjoy a story featuring John, Kyle, Rousma, and/or Pesha. If you don't remember the latter, she was the teenage lesbian teleporter. I liked her and would have enjoyed an entire book about her teleporting around and awkwardly flirting with girls.

Flight of the Heron, by D. K. Broster. I really liked Keith and Ewen and would like to see them interacting more, with angst and hurt-comfort. And possibly swordfighting. Obviously, the structure of the book would make this challenging. (They are fated to meet exactly five times, and we see all five meetings.) I think it would have to either be a post-novel AU (like, Ewen hauls Keith on to the boat, and there is angst and hurt-comfort. And possibly swordfighting) or, as cyphomandra suggested, a space AU. ;)

Pern. There can never be enough Mirrim-and-Menolly fic.

What are you all contemplating?

YULETIDE 2013 SCHEDULE
Nominations: September 16th to September 23rd
Cleanup and Public Eligibility Review: September 23rd to October 7th
Signups: October 7th to October 14th
Assignments: around October 21st
Assignments Due: December 22nd
Collection Opens: December 25th
Author Reveals: January 1st
rachelmanija: (Naruto: Super-energized!)
( Jan. 1st, 2013 10:30 am)
I wrote three stories this year. Given all the other stuff that was going on, I’m amazed that I could even manage one.

If you want to read the stories before you read my notes, they are Queen of Berries (J. R. R. Tolkien’s “Smith of Wootton Major”), The Derelict (C. L. Moore’s Northwest Smith), and Kushiel’s Fall (Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel novels). They’re all more or less “don’t need to know canon.”

My assignment was Queen of Berries, for Tolkien’s little-known novella, “Smith of Wootton Major.” It’s a perfect little story about an English village on the outskirts of Faery, their unusual tradition of the Twenty-Four Feast, and a boy named Smith who gets the ability to travel into Faery. He marries Nell, who knows about his journeys but cannot accompany him. My challenge here was writing anything that could even begin to live up to the original. Eeek!

My recipient, Amyfortuna, suggested a number of possible paths for my story to take. Of those, the ones I picked up were “more about Smith in Faery,” “more about Nell and Smith’s marriage,” and “something from Nell’s POV.” This suggested to me a story with dual POVs, Nell in Wootton Major and Smith in Faery; that in turn suggested a story about how there are major parts of their lives which they don’t and can’t share, and how they do their best to share them anyway. Since English foods and festivals are such a crucial part of the original, I invented a tradition to play a key role in mine.

You probably don’t need to have read Tolkien’s story to read mine… but you should read Tolkien’s story. FYI, the first comment to my story includes a major spoiler for the original.

This is my second Yuletide story to garner comments about craving pudding after reading.

I also wrote a Treat for one of my own request fandoms. Someone else had also requested Northwest Smith and there was nothing in the archive for it by the 23rd, so I hastily wrote a story. To my surprise and delight, apparently someone else had the same thought, because a Northwest Smith fic appeared on Christmas Eve for me!

C. L. Moore’s Northwest Smith stories are classic pulp sf from the 1930s, of the lush, romantic, space opera variety. She was notable for taking emotion, psychology, and sexuality as real forces that drove her stories; the best ones turn on some distinctly bittersweet revelation of character. Smith is a hardbitten space gunslinger who is constantly running into aliens who exploit his psychological vulnerabilities; Yarol the Venusian, his partner, is sweet and charming and amoral, and spends a lot of time dragging a reluctant Smith away from alien succubuses and ineffable visions of beauty that fry men’s minds.

You don’t need to know the originals to read The Derelict, and it’s not spoilery. My recipient really liked the Moore story “Shambleau,” so I gave “The Derelict” a similar emotional arc, though in a quite different setting. I threw in two of my favorite pulp sf tropes, the spooky derelict spaceship (complete with note of DOOM clutched in a dead man’s hand) and the idea that hyperspace is ineffably wonderful/ineffably horrifying/addictive/drives you insane/kills you/all of the above. The end sequence was inspired by Odysseus and the sirens, though Yarol’s solution is slightly more drastic than Odysseus’. The other NW Smith writer was also inspired by the Odyssey, oddly enough. Possibly so was Moore, and that transmitted to both of us.

My third story was Kushiel’s Fall, for Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series. Irascible clothing designer meets silver-tongued disabled diplomat; banter, clothing porn, and emotional healing ensues. You don’t need to know the fandom to read my story. (Just so you know: there’s no BDSM. Sorry.)

In canon, beauty and physical perfection are a cultural obsession, and prostitution (the Night Court) is both a business and a sacred calling. Favrielle, an adept of the Night Court, was kicked out when her face was scarred in a mysterious accident which was widely rumored to have been no such thing. She later became a successful clothing designer, but remained understandably bitter.

My recipient said she was rooting for Favrielle to find some kind of emotional healing, she wanted to know what was up with that supposed accident, and she loved reading descriptions of Favrielle’s gorgeous designs. I read that prompt, thought that Favrielle needed to meet someone else with scars of their own, and the idea of the costume she ends up designing for her client popped into my head. The rest of the story practically wrote itself.

It is definitely the creature from Rachel’s id, even without any actual sex. I assume this is how Swan Tower guessed that it was mine – congratulations, you were correct! My original character, Julien de Somerville, was particularly fun to write. I was amused by how many commenters were particularly taken with his costume. Maybe someone will do fan art for it. ;)

Spoiler for “Kushiel’s Fall.”

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I didn’t realize this till all three stories were posted, but in a bizarre coincidence, of my three stories, two have a protagonist named Smith and the third involves a smith!
rachelmanija: (Naruto: Super-energized!)
( Dec. 23rd, 2012 12:15 pm)
Not that I encourage present-shaking, but if you go here, you can see what fandoms have already been written and posted for Yuletide. And if you click on specific fandoms, and then click on the "characters" side bar, you can see what characters are in them, if the writers tagged the characters.

Speaking of which, though there's no rule barring crossovers with Yuletide-ineligible fandoms (and a good thing too, or I would not have been able to send Anthony Bourdain to Narnia), I am boggled at the number of times Clint Barton (Hawkeye) has unexpectedly popped up in character lists for Yuletide stories, often in company with Phil Coulson.

Though assigned stories are long since due, Treats can still be uploaded to the archive until it closes at some time on Christmas Eve. I spent yesterday writing a Treat, and am quite pleased with it. Almost all the writing I've done this year has been professional in some way, so it has been lovely to get a chance to write for the sheer joy of it.

If you want to write a Treat, all requests are viewable here. You can sort by fandom, but not search; it's a bit cumbersome. I am still hoping someone will write Modesty Blaise. (Not me. Cockney defeats me.)

Cut to avoid spoiling what fandoms have already been written. Great anticipation below cut.

Read more... )
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Click if you care about Yuletide.

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rachelmanija: (Default)
( Nov. 2nd, 2012 05:38 pm)
Without revealing your recipient or fandom, tell me how you feel about your assignment!

I am very excited about mine, though a bit intimidated by the source material, which will be very hard to live up to. Also, there is no way in hell this one is going to inspire me to write something insanely structurally complex. This Yuletide, there will be no "two interwoven stories of exactly 17 scenes each" or "thirteen duels and an orgy."
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It's my favorite time of the year, and not sleet nor snow nor out-of-season heat nor grad school nor traineeship angst nor book contract can prevent me!

I already know all about this: Fandom nominations are open.

What is Yuletide and why should I care?: Yuletide is the annual fanfic gift exchange for very small fandoms. It is notable for a large number of participants, a generally high quality of stories, and an atmosphere of communal glee broken by occasional scattered wankstorms.

If you participate, you offer certain fandoms in which you feel confident that you can write a story, and make requests for stories which you would like someone else to write for you. For example, "I'd be willing to write a story set in the world of Njal's Saga, the Mahabharata, Cyteen, Max Headroom, Venetia, "Me and Julio Down at the Schoolyard," or Mushishi. I would like to receive a story in any one of the following fandoms: Enid Blyton's St. Clare's series, featuring Bill and Clarissa. Femmeslash would be great, but friendship would be fine too. Vienna Teng's "My Medea." Any story inspired by the song." Etc. You can offer multiple fandoms, but can request only four.

You will then be matched with someone who requested a fandom and characters you offered to write, and vice versa. You know who you're writing for, but not who's writing for you. You write your stories, without revealing to anyone but your betas what you're writing or who you're writing for. On December 25, the stories are unveiled with authors' names removed. Everyone happily reads and recommends. On January 1, the names magically appear. Everyone congratulates each other on their stories.

Last year's Yuletide I wrote a story with 2 parallel stories of 17 scenes (plus prologue and epilogue) each, for Steve Brust's Dragaera, plus several treat stories. The year before that, I sent gonzo food writer Anthony Bourdain to Narnia. No Reservations: Narnia.

This year, I am requesting C. L. Moore's Northwest Smith, Vonda N. McIntyre's Dreamsnake, and George R. R. Martin's "Thousand Worlds" (his early space opera stories.) For my last request, I am hesitating between my perennial request for Diane Duane's "Tale of Five" ("Door" series) and Patricia Wrede's Lyra (a story about the Sisterhood of the Stars from Caught in Crystal).

Who's playing this year, and what are you requesting? Who's thinking of trying it for the first time?
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rachelmanija: (Autumn: small leaves)
( Jan. 1st, 2012 09:22 am)
I wrote four stories this year, all in book fandoms, for Dragaera, Dragonriders of Pern, Jirel of Joiry, and Zoo City.

1. My assigned story was The Sword and the Dagger, for Steve Brust’s Dragaera. The prompt was for a story about Cawti and Norathar, a team of female assassins who go by “the Sword and Dagger of the Jhereg.” I decided to write their origin story. It isn’t spoilery for anything past Yendi (book two). The Book of Jhereg

The Dragaera books are extremely intricate and complex, each named after and thematically exemplifying one of the 17 Great Houses to which the Dragaeran characters all belong. Each House has representative characteristics and a symbolic animal.

I echoed this by telling two stories in 17 alternating scenes, plus a prologue and epilogue framing the stories, each named after one of the 17 Houses, in their canonical order. One is the origin story of Cawti and Norathar, in which each scene features a key quality of the House it’s named after and/or a key quality of the book that House is named after. The other is a fairytale Cawti tells, in which each scene contains the animal the House is named for and/or a key quality of the House and/or its eponymous book.

Both stories contain a literal sword and dagger, and multiple parallels to each other, plus assorted other references and in-jokes, because that is very Brustian. If anyone’s interested, I can elaborate in comments. (Read the story first.)

In other words, after driving myself nearly mad with the “13 psychic duels and an orgy” story, I decided to write two related stories of 17 scenes each. NEVER AGAIN. However, giving oneself pre-set rules, such as “Scene 13 in the fairytale must contain an orca, and Scene 13 in the origin story must involve the qualities of brutality and/or mercantilism,” is helpful rather than maddening under those circumstances. Mostly.

Norathar’s characterization is based on a line of Cawti’s in which she says that Norathar used to hate everything. By the time we meet her in the books, she’s mellowed quite a bit.

I went not only to extreme lengths to write this, but to extreme lengths to conceal my identity from the recipient, with whom I chat about my assignments and who I would have normally gotten to beta this. Hopefully it was worthwhile.

2. Animal City, for Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City. The premise is that when someone is responsible for or possibly just feels guilty over another person's death, they get a companion animal and a psychic talent. If their animal is killed, they are swept to their death into an Undertow of nothingness.

The novel had a bunch of excerpts from newspaper articles, movie reviews, etc, dealing with this phenomenon, and this story is a collection of the same sort of thing. (The prompt was to explore the world and the premise.) The other (excellent) story for this fandom had the same structure, but was more about sociological implications, while mine was more about individual people. For people who like that sort of thing, mine contains both a parody of a pretentious academic paper (“Healing the Fat-Her Wound, Emb(race)ing the Anima-l…”) and a YA problem novel.

3. The Lord of Joiry, for C. L. Moore’s “Jirel of Joiry,” 1930s pulp fantasy about a swordswoman having adventures in spooky otherworlds which echo her inner landscape. The prompt suggested “Jirel as a teenager.” I imitated Moore’s baroque pulp sensibility for the prose, mood, and theme. You don’t have to know the canon to read this – it’s a prequel – but some elements will have more impact if you do. I especially enjoyed writing this story since the recipient is a huge, huge C. L. Moore fan, and I have never seen any fic for any of Moore’s works.

4. Dragonsearch, for Anne McCaffrey’s Pern. Mirrim gets tired of being the only woman to ride a fighting dragon and goes on Search for female candidates to Impress green dragons. Things don’t go exactly as planned.

The prompt, which I spotted on the pinch hit list, asked for a story about Mirrim and added that she also loved Menolly and female characters in general. This was completely up my alley – I too had requested Mirrim, and received a lovely story about her - so I tried to snag the pinch hit. But someone else got in ahead of me and claimed it… and re-purposed a pre-existing story about two original male characters, in which Mirrim makes a brief cameo appearance. As I suggested in the yuletide comm, the FAQ should probably clarify that unless the recipient states otherwise, requested characters should be the story’s protagonist, not merely be included. Luckily, since I’d gotten an idea when I saw the prompt, I wrote this story anyway as a treat.

The plot was inspired by the concept of categorizing people a la Divergent (society organized by personality quizzes), the Sorting Hat, and Dragaeran Houses, and the similar issues that go with trying to match individuals to occupations and to each other. In case that sounds preachy, I don’t think categorizing and matching is evil, but rather interestingly complicated.

The candidates are all original characters. Lanner was very loosely inspired by a woman I knew from the dojo. D’wer and Trebeth are in Dragonquest for about two pages. I’m often more interested in the rank and file than in the leaders, so I enjoyed the opportunity to showcase the blue and green riders.

Menolly’s song is sung to the tune of “Watch-WherFroggy Went A-Courting, aka “Old Bangum.” While I’m at it, check out this unusual version of Old Bangum, which gives it the gravitas I remember from the version my father sang me when I was a child

This is my third story about Mirrim, Path, and Menolly. My others are The Marvels We Have Seen, which is femmeslash, and The Ballad of Mirrim and Menolly’s Ride, which is an epic gen adventure in which Mirrim, Menolly, and Path travel to various alternate timelines trying to undo an apocalypse. The former could work as a prequel to “Dragonsearch,” but the latter isn’t in quite the same continuity.

Feel free to discuss, spoil, or ask questions in comments.
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rachelmanija: (Autumn: small leaves)
( Dec. 23rd, 2011 11:36 am)
You can see the fandoms people have written stories for, though not the individual stories, here: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2011/fandoms

I am excited to read stories set in Akkadian Empire RPF and Heian RPF (real people fic - in this case, historical fiction, which is the only sort of RPF I read, with exceptions for stuff like sending Anthony Bourdain to report on Narnia), American Gods (a reliable source of good Yuletide stories), Saiyuki Gaiden, Wild Adapter, Vorkosigan series (16 stories!), "Total Eclipse of the Heart" music video, Red Cliff, These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer (4 stories), Pat Barker's Regeneration, and Galaxy Quest. To name but a few.

And of my old and current requests, I see 3 stories in Onmyoji, 1 in Modesty Blaise, 1 in Samurai Champloo, 1 in Barbara Hambly's Windrose Chronicles, and 5 in Dragonriders of Pern!

What are you looking forward to reading?
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rachelmanija: (Autumn: small leaves)
( Dec. 21st, 2011 12:34 pm)
I just saw, via the pinch-hit list, that my recipient has defaulted. This happened last year as well, and the result was that I got FOUR stories. So I'm not worried.

Also, my story is done. It was an epic struggle, though perhaps not as epic as the Your 12000-word story feels rushed and too short; add another 6000 words year or the Thirteen psychic duels and an orgy year. But I'm happy with it.

[Poll #1804874]
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Yuletide deadline: Thu 22 Dec 2011 08:00PM EST

[Poll #1804249]
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rachelmanija: (Autumn: small leaves)
( Nov. 21st, 2011 07:36 pm)
HA HA I got my assignment and it is awesome. ;) My week has monumentally sucked, but I suddenly feel so much better now. I only hope I can do it justice.

Who else has gotten their assignment? Without revealing what it is or who it's for, how do you feel about it?
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It's my favorite time of the year, and not sleet nor snow nor grad school can prevent me!

I already know all about this: Yuletide nominations are open! See Swan Tower's post for details. Nominations run through Monday, 9:30 PM, USA Eastern Time.

What is Yuletide and why should I care?: Yuletide is the annual fanfic gift exchange for very small fandoms. It is notable for a large number of participants, a generally high quality of stories, and an atmosphere of communal glee broken by occasional scattered wankstorms.

If you participate, you offer certain fandoms in which you feel confident that you can write a story, and make requests for stories which you would like someone else to write for you. For example, "I'd be willing to write a story set in the world of Njal's Saga, the Mahabharata, Cyteen, Bertie and Jeeves, Max Headroom, Venetia, "Me and Julio Down at the Schoolyard," or Mushishi. I would like to receive a story in any one of the following fandoms: Enid Blyton's St. Clare's series, featuring Bill and Clarissa. Femmeslash would be great, but just friendship would also be fine. Vienna Teng's "My Medea." Any story inspired by the song." Etc. You can offer multiple fandoms, but can request only four.

You will then be matched with someone who requested a fandom and characters you offered to write, and vice versa. You know who you're writing for, but not who's writing for you. You write your stories, without revealing to anyone but your betas what you're writing or who you're writing for. On December 25, the stories are unveiled with authors' names removed. Everyone happily reads and recommends. On January 1, the names magically appear. Everyone congratulates each other on their stories.

Last year's Yuletide I sent gonzo food writer Anthony Bourdain to Narnia. No Reservations: Narnia.

This year I am requesting Anne McCaffrey's Pern series (Mirrim), RPF - Psychologists (Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler), and Vonda McIntyre's Dreamsnake (Snake, Melissa.)

Who's playing this year, and what are you requesting? Who's thinking of trying it for the first time?
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Undoubtedly the most-read story I wrote for Yuletide was No Reservations: Narnia, for [personal profile] innocentsmith – it even hit MeFi.

Anthony Bourdain is a gonzo food journalist and chef whose show No Reservations has him touring the world, eating gourmet and home-cooked food, dropping bleeped-out f-bombs and enjoying the hell out of his job. [profile] nnocentsmith’s inspired prompt was to put him and his show in a fantasy context – to have him report on Ruritania, Elfland, or Narnia.

Several commenters marveled that I got such different canons to work together. I went with the idea that Narnia is a real place, but the Chronicles show it through the glass of Lewis’s particular style, audience, and prejudices. Bourdain too has his own style, audience, and prejudices – he might not be the best choice to send on a quest, but he’d appreciate some cultures that Lewis didn’t. But both writers love food and food culture, so they made a natural match, even if Bourdain’s swearing would have made Lewis’s toes curl. Since Lewis’s protagonists are mostly Earth people marveling at Narnia, having Bourdain marvel at it wasn’t a big stretch.

For those not familiar with one or more of the sources, the structure is typical of the TV show, and Bourdain and his crew are all real. The Narnian cultures all appear in the books, but the individual Narnian characters are original with the exception of Reepicheep and the one who turns up at the very end. I did not invent the peculiar nature of Marsh-wiggle tobacco, but I did invent the table which showcases its properties.

I had enormous fun brainstorming the food for this story with [personal profile] coraa, who came up with the leeches, the name “terravita,” the concept of Dredge-the-Pond, a plausible blood-based alcoholic drink, and much more – a lot of the credit for this story should go to her. Also thanks to [personal profile] ellen_fremedon for Hati Moon-eater’s name.

The style for this story was based on Anthony Bourdain’s book A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines, which I highly recommend.

My main resource for the food served at Digwell and Mouldiscoop’s home was The Cooking of the British Isles (Foods of the World Series) (Time-Life Books) (links go to Amazon), by Adrian Bailey. If you enjoyed that section of my story, you will undoubtedly enjoy his loving tour through British foodways.

Except for the pavenders and the toffee-apple brandy, all the food in that section (and the fried breakfast in the beginning of the next section) is real British food, though some is old-fashioned and would be hard to find nowadays. Rainbow Pavender is based on the French dish Trout au Bleu, which I first read about in the original Joy of Cooking - apparently the vinegar makes the trout skin turn bright blue. I didn’t invent the toffee-apples, but I did invent the brandy.

You can read an account of making Sussex Pond Pudding, which references Laurie Colwin’s wonderful book of cooking essays Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen (Vintage Contemporaries) here; hers comes out better than Colwin’s did: Sussex Pond Pudding. I have never had it, but it sounds great. If anyone tries making it, please let me know.

Except for the eel stew, which is mentioned in the Narnia books and exists in many variations worldwide, and the terravita, which is my interpretation of the contents of Puddleglum’s little black bottle, Marsh-wiggle cuisine exists only in my imagination. Thank God.

Wer cuisine was drawn from a number of different real dishes from a number of different cultures. Swiftlets are real birds, though I’m not sure if they’re eaten in real life. The description of eating the roast swiftlet was based on Bourdain’s account of eating an ortolan in Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook. The chopped raw meat mixed with butter was inspired by the Ethiopian dish kitfo, though the Wers use Scandinavian flavorings and include pork cracklings. Mother and child is based on koumiss, a Central Asian fermented milk beverage, which is not actually mixed with blood. The name was inspired by the Japanese chicken-and-egg dish oyako-don, or “parent and child bowl.” I don’t think anyone actually eats leeches.

The Calormene dishes are based on Persian cuisine, with variations inspired by Lewis’s mouthwatering descriptions in The Horse and His Boy. The yogurt drink is called doogh.

I’m glad so many people enjoyed this story, by far the most popular of any fanfic I’ve ever written. I had a great time writing it, and perhaps that shines through.
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I wrote four Yuletide stories that weren’t “No Reservations: Narnia.”

I had a ton of fun writing I Wait For You, for [personal profile] springgreen. You don’t need to know either of the fandoms to read this story, which should stand on its own as a post-apocalyptic love story between a bubble boy and a feral mutant girl. It’s a mash-up between The Bride With White Hair and the Jay Chou music video "Qing Hua Ci."

I saw this on the pinch-hit list, but failed to snag it, and decided to write a Treat anyway. I started vaguely tossing about ideas, and thought “reincarnation story in the far-future – that would work for either of the canons I know – HEY!” As you can probably tell, I had enormous fun writing this, translating wuxia conventions into mutant powers and letting my id run amok.

Thanks to Dusty Asymptote for providing Lieqi’s name.

The Devil and Dayna Jurgens (a play on “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” in case the title sounds vaguely familiar,) was a Treat for [personal profile] kimbari, from Stephen King’s The Stand.

She wanted an original character interacting with one or more of the book characters, post-Captain Trips. I thought that was a great prompt, and immediately wanted to write about Dayna Jurgens, who is the most bad-ass character in the novel and possibly ever, a bisexual jock who tries to kill Satan with a switchblade. She has a small role in the book but makes a disproportionate impression, at least on me.

The songs are all real folk songs, and I too learned “Barnacle Bill the Sailor” at summer camp. When I was twelve. That probably explains a lot. I put them in because folk songs are so much a part of what I think of as Americana, even if they’re not actually American, and I wanted to get some of that into the story as it’s so essential in the book.

The other element I wanted to write about was that there clearly had to be a third faction in addition to the two we see in the book, but we never meet any of those people. Here, we do.

The Two Queens, for [profile] bjeweled, is yet another Pern story! Maybe this will become a Yuletide tradition for me. I was inspired by a request off the Treat list for a story about what happens to Kylara after her dragon dies, along with a plea not to make her an evil caricature. I had never thought of writing a story about that, as in canon, she goes insane and is never heard from again.

Obviously, she had to recover from her madness, or the story would be 1000 words of raving. There was a limit to how much I could do as I only saw this request a couple hours before the deadline, but I tried to write a plausible story that humanizes her without changing her out of all recognition. I was also taken with the chance to tag a story “masturbation, redemption.”

My original assignment was Unbreakable, for [personal profile] sheila_snow. The source is Dick Francis’s Sid Halley series, a series which I love very much. I highly recommend the first book, Odds Against, in which a depressed and disabled ex-jockey lackadaisically collecting a paycheck as an advisor to a detective agency finds a new interest in life after getting shot on the job.

Despite my love of the fandom, I struggled with the plot, I struggled with the voice, and then the Death Cold of Doom provided the coup de grace. I wanted to write some hurt-comfort with character development and role reversal, but I kept getting entangled in an uncooperative plot, which started off with espionage and Soviet defectors and ended up with murder and Ponzi schemes. [profile] etothey, [personal profile] ione, [personal profile] springgreen, [personal profile] sister_coyote all valiantly helped me with brainstorming, and [personal profile] rushthatspeaks provided an excellent beta. Many hands did not spoil the broth, for the recipient and several others liked it! Thank goodness.
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