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FFF Interview - Air, by Wordbender

Fruipit May 16, 2013 User blog:Fruipit

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Sokka as therapist This blog is an official interview of the Fanon Fact Finders. We hope you enjoy it!

Fruipit here, with another extraordinarily late interview! Being sick and having to read a 67 chapter fanon tends to throw off your schedule.

Today, I'm interviewing Wordbender on her phenomenal story, Air. Beginning during NaNoWriMo in 2009, Air has progressed into one of the most outstanding "after-the-war" stories I've ever read. The language is just immaculate, the story is planned to perfection (no plot holes, hooray!!) and Wordbender has the unique ability to ensure all the elements required for her story are there, without being directly obvious. As the reader, there were a couple of times where I went, "I so should have seen that coming!" And the trick? You never do.

Obviously though, you don't want to hear me prattle on. You want a little more information on what I consider to be one of the greatest stories I've ever read.

Conception
First off, the typical boring questions - where did you get the initial idea?
Like so many fanon writers, this idea evolved from some of the questions left unanswered and the journeys not yet taken when the original show ended. It started with three major questions: What happened to Zuko's mother? What happened to Longshot and Smellerbee? Did Toph ever make up with her parents and how?

Did you plan for it to go on as long as is has?
Ha! No, not really. Since I began the project it's probably doubled in size, and it didn't start out small (200k).

Are you still developing the idea, even as you write, or is the story planned out already?
Actually, a little of both. I have the first draft all written out, so I know how most of the major events and several of the smaller ones finish off. But through revisions for my own taste and from feedback, I've been adding in a lot of new elements as I go. Now at the finale, I'm practically rewriting each chapter from scratch to tie up all the loose ends, which is part of the reason it sometimes takes two weeks for a new chapter now.

How many chapters did you initially expect to write? How many do you think there will be now?
Originally there were 20 chapters. On average, these chapters were 25-30 pages long and so I decided to cut them down to a more convenient size. If my outline stays true (ha!) I will finish off at 71 chapters + epilogue but, uh, don't hold your breath, people. Last month I was supposed to finish off with 65 and wound up breaking a single chapter into five. Go figure.

What stories (fanfic or otherwise) have inspired this series?
As with everything I write, little bits of inspiration are pulled from everything I read and watch.

Content
How do you find all the proverbs for Ursa to use?
Funny you should ask. When I decided that Ursa was going to profuse proverbs like her Uncle, I was really worried about where I would find them all. It turned out, in the moment, I was always able to think up something. As far as I recall, none of the proverbs I use are real proverbs. They might be similar to proverbs, but I basically make them up on the spot. Even I didn't know I could do that! I think there was one exception based on the LotR line about 'all that is gold does not glitter'.

Is her character based on anyone you know?
Hmm. Originally, I think she was based a lot on me. Apparently, when I was young, I was the goody-two shoes on the playground trying to make sure all the kids played by the rules. That was how Ursa started out, but I think she kind of morphed into the child I wished I had been: a goody-two shoes who can still be cool.

I noticed several running jokes (Ursa's map being one of the most obvious). Did you do this purposely, or did it just develop with the story?
I love running jokes almost as much as corny jokes, so when I see the opportunity to bring one back, I'll take it. Other than the obligatory Cabbage Man jokes and the Actor Formerly Known As Prince Zuko, they developed with the story. Heh, I am really happy with Ursa's horrible drawing skills though. That part was definitely based off me.

How many plots and subplots did this story originally have?
Oh, gosh. Let me think (don't worry; not really spoilers) -Traversing the Earth Kingdom and Mai in the Fire Nation were dueling plot lines; Ba Sing Se; the Guild, of course; Toph; the ending we're seeing now. The major ones I added in was the entire Emerald Serpent subplot, Longshot and Smellerbee's adventures, Aang's Spirit World troubles, and expanding on Madame Gung Ho and Stache Man.

The events that occur have been mentioned in other fics I have read (although never in as much detail); however the way you write it is completely original and refreshing. Are these events ever based on news or books you have become infatuated with, or do you think of them on the fly, so to speak?
Wow, thanks! That's really nice to hear. I think most of it comes on the fly. It's really hard to tell, sometimes. Separating your own inventions from whatever influence some of your favorites might have on you can be tricky. I leave intentional references to some of my favorite books/movies, which I point out in my notes, but as far as story goes, the characters usually tell me where they need to go.

Why did you include (or mention) almost every single character from the original series - particularly the Freedom Fighters?
Like I said earlier, there were just a lot of things I wanted to know about the original characters, genuine questions about the fates of Longshot and Smellerbee, etc. Did they guard Jet to their deaths? Lake Laogai was destroyed -were they along with it? Where would they go if they survived? Once I decided to answer some of these burning questions I thought 'What the heck?' and started looking for any others I could answer along the way. If I was going to delve into somebody else's world for awhile, I was going to have FUN. That's when I started thinking about ways to work in the likes of Puon-Tim and his horrible plays and everyone's favorite bounty hunter June.

Is it difficult keeping track of your original characters?
Not if it's kept organized. Which I stopped doing about halfway through. *shame* I spent 30 minutes trying to remember the ranks of Wei, Hoo, and Si Yung.

What can we expect for the future?
Of Air? An ending. I absolutely promise that. As for other stories, I'm working on Vortex right now with some amazing authors. I have a few more fanon ideas that I would love to write, but at this point I'm not sure I can swing. We'll see how next NaNo goes. ;)

Ah, now, I need to ask this question. Why did you take almost half the released chapters to introduce Toph?
Ha, I knew this was coming. In the first version, Toph was introduced earlier. In the prologue, actually, explaining exactly where she was heading and why. But there were a couple of story lines that needed to play out before she came in as a major player. I decided it would be more interesting for the story and fun for me to keep readers guessing as to where their favorite blind earthbender was. Turns out I was right.

How did you manage to get each aspect of the story to tie in with the other? From the Guilde of the Granite Gauntlet to the coup d'état, and then now progressing to the Faceless and Aang's own spiritual issues?
Planning. Plotting. Outlining. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of it!

Reception

You have 27 subscribers (easily marking Air as one of the most popular fanons on the wiki). Did you expect it to become so popular?
Whoa, really? I had no idea. That's pretty awesome, actually. Well, as a completely biased author, I must admit I really hoped it would connect so well with readers. Did I expect it to? Once I started posting and the reality sunk in, no, I guess I didn't expect it to happen.

How did you feel when Ursa won the award for the Best Supporting Female in the Fourth Fanon Awards?
Awed, grateful and totally shocked. Like I said, I had no idea Air was popular. I didn't even realize the Awards Council knew about Ursa, aside from ARG.

Is there anything you want to say to your fans out there?
They're amazing. I love them, and not just because they put up with my corny jokes. I've never experienced this kind of writer/reader relationship before and it's completely exhilarating. When this story started, it was all for me, to satisfy myself. But now, every chapter I write, I write for them. When they're happy with it, I'm ecstatic -completely over the moon! That's enough to keep me going right there. So to my fans, I say thank you, and you deserve this. I hope you stick with me as I write, and not just on the Wiki. Oh, and you all rock my socks off. Because I have to say that every time. ;)

You have received an average 9/10 score in two reviews. How are you working to try and develop it to be better, and to fix some of the concerns pointed out by Mageddon and Omashu Rocks?
OR's advice about bringing in something BIG was spot on. Because of this, I decided to expand on what was then only a teaser of what would come in the finale; that is, Aang's 'feeling'. It wasn't nearly as played up in the original version, but I decided to shake things up in a big way and -well, remember what happened in Chapter Thirty-Six? That was because of OR. As for Mage's advice, well, I'm still writing, aren't I? ;)

Technique
How do you find the time to write a massive chapter every week?
For the most part, the bulk of the chapters have already been written, just needing a little tweak here and there. When the added-in subplots came to a head, that was when things got complicated. I pre-wrote the Ba Sing Se chapters, but it caught up with me right after that. That's the main reason my chapters have been getting delayed as of late, because I really don't have the time.

Do you have a beta reader? Why/why not?
I don't. Partly because my chapters are usually ready to go the night before or the day of. No time. Mostly because I never thought of it. Beta readers are a thing here?

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors out there?
Write. Keep writing. And read. Read tons of books. They are the best teachers for writing, I promise you.

How do you combat writers block?
One does not simply combat writers block, my dear. I am beginning to believe that writers block is only an excuse not to write, for whatever reason -bored, don't want to, don't know what to do next. The only way to get through any of these things is simple: Write anyway. It's hard. It hurts. For paragraphs or even pages it feels like you're writing crap, but it actually works.

Do you have anything you just wanna get off your chest about Air?
I love it. But I am so ready to be finished with it. I was not expecting it to take this long, and there are other projects begging for my attention. Sorry, Air; it's just the truth. But we'll always have the Wiki.

Thanks so much for this interview, Fruipit! It's been a wonderful experience. Hear that, fanon authors? Fruipit's interviews are great!

Well, as long as one person enjoyed it :) honestly, if you didn't stop reading this halfway through to go and take a squizz at Air, I'm ashamed to call myself a Fact Finder! This is Fruipit, signing off~

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