Hello Avatar Wikians, today I have an interview with AvatarRokusGhost, author of Dragons, Sieges and Volcanoes - the Wiki's answer to Homer and the Illiad. I interviewed him via email.
1. When did you make the connection between the 'enemy general's son' whom Jinora mentioned and Lu Ten? What prompted it?
It pretty much came to me right when I was watching The Spirit of Competition and heard Jinora talk about her book while giving love advice to Korra. Well, maybe not all of it. After all, one of the first ideas I got when coming up with ideas for potential Avatar fanon was a forbidden love for Lu Ten across enemy lines with a woman on the Earth Kingdom side. That was a long time before The Legend of Korra was released, but by the time it was the idea was still fresh in my mind. Everything seemed to match up with the Siege of Ba Sing Se as a center of conflict, the enemy general being Iroh, his son Lu Ten and dragons having already been part of at least Iroh's past. All that was leftover was to find a way to bring a volcano in somehow, and when everything else lined up, how hard can that be?
2. How did you come up with the concept of Ratana?
I pictured a romance along the lines of that of Oma and Shu taking place during the Siege of Ba Sing Se. It would take place with her on one side, and Lu Ten on the other. Naturally, with such a position in the story, it didn't seem appropriate for her to be on the sidelines most of the time. So, she turned into a strong earthbender, patrioticand devoted in her service to the Earth Kingdom, and a member of the Terra Team since she was near Ba Sing Se - and perhaps they were more formidable in the past than they were as seen in A:TLA, given how General Sung talked them up in the canon show. Lastly, she has to have a bit of a temper on the surface, and somewhat of a darkness within her, if she's going to play the part that Jinora has laid out for her.
3. How do you manage to persevere with a fanfiction after having written 92 chaptersin 2 years? I certainly would have given up long ago.
For the most part, I keep reminding myself that I'm in this project for the long-term. Until I finished Energy Saga, I never really finished much of anything, but when I get invested in something, nowadays I stick it through to the end. The fact that I've written so much of it now is a motivator in and of itself, and it would seem lame to throw in the towel now, even if it still takes a while for me to finish.
4. What are Tooru's exact feelings for Ratana and how will they play out? Will he actively pursue her or just let her fall into the General's son's hands?
As I've tried to allude to recently - and to some degree, earlier on - he is indeed romantically interested in Ratana. I don't really make it a secret in the premise that Ratana and Lu Ten are the "official ship" of Dragons, Sieges and Volcanoes so that doesn't spell to well for his chances with her. They had first met when they were "partnered up" upon joining the Terra Team. Tooru might have been a little attracted to her early on, but ultimately as their relationship and friendship grew his feelings for her otherwise did also. He's kept it bottled up for awhile, but he most definitely won't like the idea of her falling for the son of the enemy general. He'll probably try to do something about that.
5. It must be difficult to portray Iroh as somewhat of an antagonist, how did you manage that?
Interesting that you say that, because I've actually not really seen him as an antagonist per se most of the time. Ratana hasn't really fought against him directly so far, even in the midst of fighting the siege. Prince Iroh was always one of my favorite characters on the show from when I first started watching it. Rather than an antagonist, I see him as sort of a protagonist of his own, smaller arc. One of my goals in DSV is to show Iroh turning from the soldier-prince he was into the man we know from A:TLA, so I stick close to what my vision of that journey would reflect.
6. I notice many sub-plots throughout it, Ba Sing Se siege, Ratana's romance and Heidze with the Sun Warriors. Are they going to cross over again or simply give an explanation for what happens to Heidze?
Heidze is most definitely still relevant to the story. If he just kind of went off after Book 1 and that was it for him, I would never include more content for him the way I have. Maybe a companion one-shot on his fate's resolution afterwards, but nothing more. So yeas, he will be crossing back into the rest of the story again, even if its not really clear at the moment how he's still relevant. Indeed there are a lot of sub-plots to balance. I still need to bring June back into the fold soon.
7. Please remind me, what does Heidze's name mean and can you give me an indication of how it is pronounced?
His name means "child" in Chinese. Actually, the pinyin spelling is "Heize" with no d, but "z" can be pronounced "dz" in Mandarin, and I included the extra letter for clarification. The pronunciation is "high" - "d" - "zuh".
8. DSV is now not only longer but also more popular than your Energy Saga in terms of subscribers. How do you feel about that?
Well, DSV has more chapters than Energy Saga had now, but the wordcount is still overall less than Energy Saga. By the time all three books of DSV are written to completion, however, it will be much longer than the former was. Firstly, I write for inspiration, and don't really dwell on readership during the process of it. It is nice to know that it has been enjoyed by those who have taken a look at it, of course. Generally, one wants to improve upon what they've done when writing new things, so I do want DSV to be better than Energy Saga. Likewise, if I were to write something in the future I would want it to have a higher quality than DSV had.
9. I know you had one of your Energy Saga characters in Vortex and you supported Ratana for the Colosseum. Are you planning anymore collaborative efforts to further promote your story?
Collaboration efforts in writing and in fanon are tough to hold together in the long run. In addition to those two that you've pointed out, I've also contributed to Our Story, the attempt to make Clash of Worlds 4 and The Blood Bath of Fanons. I don't really have plans at the moment to dive into anything of the nature, partially also due to my own personal time constraints. If I were, it would have to be something shorter, fixed and defined in nature for what everyone was supposed to do.
10. When do you suppose you will finish this epic saga?
You know, I would love to say I will finish Book 2 sometime this year and then start Book 3, and finish that sometime next year. But I can't really set a date, cause things have a nasty habit of coming up. However long it takes me, though, I will finish it.
11. Will Ratana just admit her feelings already? Every time I think it will happen, it doesn't.
The thing is, doing so for her now would be pretty much signing her own death sentence, and if it were found out, it would likely make things worse for Lu Ten, too. It's so forbidden, she doesn't even want to express it to herself in private. I do realize that it may seem like I'm beating around the bush, but I'm trying to keep it as realistic as possible character-wise. Unlike the first book where they were able to go on their separate ways, though, they are now in close proximity at the pivotal battle between their respective nations. Such a state of affairs is obviously unstable, and can't last indefinitely.
12. Please tell me Lu Ten somehow survives this. Does he run off with the Terra Team captain and start a family while leaving his father to believe him dead? If so, will he bump into Iroh again? Please tell me he survives this.
Quite the bold plot twist that would be. As a general rule, I don't give off any spoilers for what is ultimately to come in DSV, as the premise of the story alone already reveals more than one would know in most stories. I will say that I for the most part follow what will become canon in my series.
13. Thank you for your time, sir. Is there anything else you would like to say?
Thanks for doing this interview, Duke! And thanks to the readers and subscribers for the feedback, and for sticking with it so far. I hope you'll stay tuned, as I have a few more chapters I hope to get out in the upcoming weeks, plus some more surprises to come.
That's all for now. Thank you for reading this interview, if you haven't read DSV, I would highly recommend it. Take your time, this is not something you can read quickly and easily. Until the next time, goodbye.