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Hello fellow Avatards! It'shere with my first official interview for the Fanon Fact Finders! For my first interview, I had an intriguing chat with for her fanon ! It's a modern day AU focusing on Team Avatar watching movies, but turns into something much more...Tokka-y. Let's see what Frui had to say about her work...
1. How are you?
I'm really good :) Busy with uni, but having fun. How are you?
2. I'm doing good myself. Let's face it; Drive-ins is much more than Team Avatar in an AU watching movies. How did you turn a fanon that started out to be that way into something much darker?
Umm... I honestly had no idea. I think it was one of those moments when suddenly, you're not the one writing anymore—the characters are. This happened in chapter three with Katara and Toph's first actual conversation, and I think that was when it really became so much bigger than I had first expected. It's strange, but when I first started, I wanted it to be a one-shot. And then limit it to five chapters, and then twelve, and now... well, we've only just passed the climax ^^"
3. How hard is it to write a fanon based on our beloved A:TLA characters in an alternate universe?
I don't really think it's hard at all. Perhaps keeping them 'in character'—but then again, I always seem to have difficulty with that. I think it might be easier in some regards because you're only constrained by one thing (in this case, the characters). I can make the world whatever I want, give them things that doesn't exist in Avatar (like a foster-carer system and electronics).
4. You based the characters on their personality from the show. Since the fanon is about movies, did you also try to mix their personality with a movie character?
Aha well, I tried to base their personalities on the show, but I'm not sure how well I did that xD I didn't try and mix them with a movie character, mostly because I had a set idea of what I wanted these characters to be. THe difficult part was developing them enough from the characters from the show that I could get away with it. That's part of the reason why the initial chapters are so mild when compared to the later ones.
5. Is there a character you wish you could rewrite?
Like, go back and change their personality? Hmm... probably go back and give Smellerbee and Longshot a bit more dialogue. I may do that in revisions. I feel like I ignore important minor characters sometimes. But as for a complete rewrite? Not at all. I'm really happy with the way I've personalised them at this stage. Oh, perhaps Suki a little. I can't seem to find a good balance for her between who she is in the show, and who I need her to be for this story.
6. Why did you choose for the characters (especially Toph) to swear?
Because it's a real-world setting. People swear. Actually, especially for Toph, it's a character thing. She doesn't swear quite as much in the middle of the story as she did in the beginning, and she'll be doing a lot more of it from here on out. She swears the most, then Sokka, and Katara and Aang after that. I can imagine Aang having—and keeping—strong morals even in the foster system, whereas Toph kind of just loses herself.
7. Was it weird to write about the Gaang without them having their bending?
Not really. I mean, there are no action scenes that would need it. I think it would be weirder if Toph could see, or if I made Aang a kid with two parents. Them not having bending fits with the story, and it doesn't define who they are in this, or in the series, whereas Aang not having anyone left to him, and Toph's blindness do affect who they are.
8. Speaking of Aang, will we learn a little more about his background?
I hadn't planned on it, but it's definitely something that I could mention—perhaps as a direct comparison to Toph? I don't know. I haven't even really figured out much about him, to be honest—all I know is that he's in the system with Toph, and is someone she's just always remembered.
9. What made you decide to turn Avatar Kyoshi into Toph's carer?
Well, this story originally came from another author on FFN requesting a Kyoshi/Toph story, and I thought that this kind of relationship would be interesting. And then I realised I was focussing too much on Sokka, and she's not even a Tokkaneer, so I couldn't really use it. I ended up writinginstead, but I couldn't get the idea of a Kyoshi/Toph foster-carer relationship out of my head.
10. While we're on the subject of Kyoshi, what do you think about the relationship between Sokka and Kyoshi?
Ahh, hmmm.... well, it's changed, hasn't it? I think, at first, Kyoshi was just a person. A scary person. But as Sokka got to know Toph, he kind of had to know Kyoshi. At the moment, they have a sort of... non-relationship. Even though Kyoshi scares him a little, he wants to be around Toph. This will have consequences between him and Kyoshi, and I've actually got a scene planned for an upcoming chapter where Sokka and Kyoshi actually sit down and just talk. 'Kyoshi trusts Sokka. Or, she did. She thought he was one of the good kids, like Aang, but more relatable to Toph. Like he could help steer Toph onto the right path, because it was obvious to her that he respected Toph, and Toph respected him. That trust has been shaken, and now he needs to get it back.
11. I think it was very interesting to make Toph have a smoking habit. Why did you choose for her to smoke?
I chose smoking mostly because, despite the laws against it, it's still something that's easily accessible for young people. I also think she needed something to 'comfort' her. She can't rely on other people, and she doesn't think she can comfort herself, so she turns to cigarettes. They will always be associated with what happened at the park, and so to her, it's very much a comfort thing. She feels scared, or stressed, or she's got a lot of adrenaline in her system, she has a smoke. It's a way of calming herself when she doesn't need anything more, and also when she's on her own.
12. It is revealed in Sin City that Toph is not only a smoker and drinker, but also suicidal. Was she cutting herself because she was ashamed of herself or because of the dose of drugs/alcohol that were taking over her system? Or is it both?
I'm not sure how far I would go to call her 'suicidal'. She has thought about it before, but never acted on it. I think she did it because she hated herself at that moment. She was coming down from her high, and so she was more susceptible to negative emotions. She regretted being with Jet, and she was ashamed. She was angry with herself because she didn't really want to be with him—she was questioning herself all night—and only afterwards she sort of thought that she didn't have to be with Jet at all. The drugs and alcohol certainly influenced her, and it's quite likely she wouldn't have hurt herself if she hadn't taken them beforehand, however in the long term, she still would have been angry and bitter with herself.
13. The talk between Aang and Sokka in The Sleepover Club is probably my favorite one-on-one conversation in the fanon. It not only shows how much Sokka values Toph as a person, but the kind of person Toph is. What is the most significant part of knowing Toph's background based on the information Aang said?
Really? I've always had a love-hate relationship with that conversation. That conversation was truly meant to reveal that even Aang, who has known Toph for years, doesn't know any more than Sokka. Toph has chosen to let Sokka in a little, so I suppose the most significant aspect is that she doesn't trust people until they prove themselves to be trustworthy. She has to truly want people to know her and accept her (which doesn't happen often), and that the knowledge she gives them is important and secret. I like to think of Toph's trust as a little hatchling. It's delicate and precious, but if you take care of it—if you feed it and nurture it—it will one day grow into a magnificent bird that shines brighter than any other birds who are just given freely.
14. Will we learn more about Gyatso's death?
Maybe. We might learn more about Aang's past, as I said, but specifics, probably not—certainly not with a lit of detail. I do know how Gyatso died (and I can't remember if I put that in already o.o), so I might mention it or explain it a little further. Aang really isn't a central character in this, although he will have a part in Toph's recovery (?)
15. I know he's also not a central character (at all), but where is Zuko?
Aha! HAH! Sorry...'Okay, Zuko and Iroh will both appear, but not in this part of the story. Originally, I didn't have Zuko because this was supposed to just be a small story, and I've never been good at writing large groups, so I thought I could leave him out. I've thought about inserting him in the story somewhere earlier, but I can't just introduce a new character like that at the moment. But, there is a perfect spot for him in the future that he will appear in.
16. In The Breakfast Club, you stated that Toph hadn't been growing much as a person. How so?
Oh, I just felt like she was a rather static character—that she hadn't had any true character development, especially in regards to Katara. I always wanted them to have a sisterly relationship, but that didn't work out earlier in the story. The Breakfast Club gave me a chance to do that. Also, I really hadn't started to justify why she takes certain actions over others. I wanted to give the readers more insight than I had been. To me, her seeking out Katara's help is a pivotal moment for her character. She no longer wanted only to rely on herself. Doesn't men she *will* rely on other people, but she wanted to be more open to it.
17. Would you say that Jet indirectly brought Sokka and Toph together? (referring to the end of Hidden Dragon)
Hmm, I suppose he did. I hadn't actually thought about that, but he did. Toph never would have returned to the park not for him. I like to think that they would have met anyway, with or without Jet, but the idea that a guy like him helps someone find happiness is an appealing one.
18. I like how Sokka was the one who made the moves on Toph; very unexpected. Why did you write for his actions to be so out of nowhere?
That was actually kind of accidental, because I needed them to do something in that chapter, however Toph would never initiate it because she wouldn't be able to handle the rejection, and the fact that Suki is always present on her mind when she's around Sokka stops her from doing something that might hurt her friendship. That left Sokka. I tried to sort of lead into it during the chapter, but it really was, for the both of them, a spur of the moment thing. Sokka was half-asleep, lying on his best friend who he hadn't seen for a while. He wasn't thinking that he had a girlfriend or that this was Toph—he was thinking 'Spirits, she's absolutely gorgeous', and so he acted without thinking.
19. I know you probably won't do this for obvious reasons, but did you ever once think about writing the Gaang in this AU watching The Last Airbender? (Just out of the irony)
Aha I did! It was going to be Aang's film, but the only reason I didn't was because the names sounded really similar and I didn't want to make comments like 'Ong? That sounds kinda like your name, Aang!' I have thought about it as the story has progressed, but obviously it's a lot less focussed on films now and more on the characters. Perhaps a little side-story? *shrugs* :P
20. Will there be a new chapter coming out soon?
Errr, maybe. I've started work on it, but I'm still trying to get used to uni (and finish all my other partially-completed stories). It could take up to a month, but it should be released before June *fingers crossed*
21. And finally, any advice you'd like to give for someone that is planning to write an AU fanon?
Make sure the characters are who you want them to be, but makes you you characterise them properly. If that involves trauma or some such in order to develop them into the person you need, do it. Also, don't write a highschool AU fic ^^" it's just as bad as a poorly-crafted Zutara fic, because the characters almost always aren't written properly/well, and the number of times I've seen someone insert an 'Alice' or a 'Tanya' pains me. If you can write well, do it, but if not, leave it :)'And, oh, one more thing. Probably don't write an AU if you want to be 'famous' or 'popular'. I found that this story is one of the hardest, funnest, and most rewarding that I've ever done, but not if I was writing it for comments and reviews ^^"
Well, I'd say that was a success. Thank you to Fruipit for not only being my first interview, but a very fun person to interview with. As for Drive-ins, I highly recommend it to anyone who has not read it yet. Wonderful fanon series! I think one of the best parts of this fanon is that I don't ship Tokka, but in this AU, I kinda do. With that being said, I will look forward to future chapters for this fanon! Thanks again, Frui! :)