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FFF Interview - Harpalyce, author of The Book of Primal Illusion

Fruipit July 30, 2012 User blog:Fruipit
Sokka as therapist This blog is an official interview of the Fanon Fact Finders. We hope you enjoy it!

This week, I am interviewing Harpalyce, and her fanon, The Book of Primal Illusion. Now, out of all the fanons I have ever read, this one is... amazing. For those of you who are Zutarans, I strongly recommend this fanon. Subtle, but you know it's going to happen. For Kataangs, no matter how much you love canon shipping, the was this piece is written is fantastic. The way it connects all the aspects, and really ties in to the show is just superb. I recommend this for every person out there. And now, something from the author. Ready? Here we go!


Now, I always start out with a question about why, and this interview is no different. Why, and when, did you decide to write your own fanon?

I tend to simply get ideas stuck in my craw and have to end up doing something with them. Believe me, I really tried to resist writing it, and I expect readers of my other stories to come lynch me any day now! But in this case I drew a picture, did a little paragraph of what I was thinking of while drawing it, and then that paragraph became a page, and, well…

Ha! That's how many of my fanons begin, too. But, how did you plan this story, if you did any planning? Is much of it the same as how you pictured it?

Honestly I am fairly bad at doing much planning at all - I tend to just let my stories grow organically. At the very start Zuko simply died in an angsty one-shot, the opposition was just a group of regular dudes, it was all fairly bland. Now Guifu and Yinmi have popped up along with most of the cast from ATLA, and I’m pretty pleased.

Why did you want to feature a story with Zuko’s child? And, you’re obviously a Zutaran; why do you ship those characters?

Simply put, I knew I needed practice writing and drawing children, and I like the stress that puts on the relationship dynamics. And Zuko being a loving dad is a major weakness. Major, major weakness! As for why I ship Zutara… well, I was never fully on board of the ‘love at first sight’ between Kataang. I generally am not really on board with childhood sweethearts to begin with. But with the pleasant friction between Zutara in the series - vaguely reminiscent of, say, Han Solo and Princess Leia - I really like the idea of an older and more mature Zuko and Katara getting together.

I cannot comment, I just love the relationchip dynamics of all characters. What inspired you to write a backstory about a characters future?

I’m not sure it would be a backstory as much as an alternate universe. To be honest I haven’t really considered it like this before. It’s a cool idea! Really I was just chasing a plot bunny and this was the rabbit hole it led me down.

What are you most proud of in this fanon?

The fact that I’m still keeping on going with both the illustrations and the chapters.

Did you have any problems writing this?

Everyone encounters those chapters where you just have to slog through it. I tried writing a fic without those and it ended up being a scatterbrained mess with way too many awkward paragraphs of backstory that broke the flow. So now I’m trying to focus on letting things build slowly.

Where do you want this story to go? And where do you see it going?

I know where it’s going to eventually end up now that I’ve hashed it out. But I’m hoping that the ending will be a happy one that will leave even non-Zutarians satisfied - and if I’m lucky, they’ll say “I don’t ship Zutara except in this fic”!


Mei Lien. What can you tell me about the Fire Lord’s daughter? What does her name mean? Was the point of her just to explain Mai’s death, or do you have something else in store for her?

Mei Lien apparently means “beautiful lotus”, but honestly, it was chosen because it was close to the name Mai but not quite. She’s in there because of my weakness for Zuko being an awesome father. I originally thought that she was going to only appear a few times in the story but she’s grown to be one of my favourite characters to write.

Are the antagonists (who are frustratingly unnamed) based off the Dai Li? And the Prophet is sounding surprisingly similar to Korra’s arch nemesis…

They are based somewhat off the Dai Li. They’re, if anything, more shrouded in secrecy than the Dai Li. The Prophet is all about a ‘survival of the fittest’ philosophy - but he’s far from the one ultimately pulling the strings!

What happened with Azula? It was told that she escaped from the Fire Nation Palace, but nothing else has really been spoken of her. Are you going to talk about what happened before the story takes place and is she going to make an appearance?

Oh, very much so. She’s going to be a major player as the story picks up. If this story were a video game, she’d be one of the ‘final boss battles’, so to speak! What’s happened before the story starts might not be touched on too much, but Zuko has really tried to make her as comfortable as possible while making sure she’s not a danger to herself and others. He still holds out hope that his sister and father will have the same sort of revelation that he did and they can all be a happy family.

It's nice you want to include a mad lunatic. All storyies should have one. But, there must be aspects of your characters that you would like to change?

Well, there are plenty of things I’d like to just yell at my characters because they’re being frustrating… but they’re meant to grate on the reader, too, and will get resolved in the story. Zuko, for instance, needs to stop moping, and I am looking forward to the chapters where he isn’t anymore! As far as actual writing-related and storycrafting goes, though, I wish Yinmi wasn’t so interesting to me. It feels like she has her own tale I’m still figuring out and is out of her element in here.

Now, you have told me of a new character, Guifu, who has yet to appear. What is her role in this?

A major one.
...That’s all I’m saying for now. Guifu is very dear to my heart and I would rather let her story explain itself! :)

Where do you want the different relationships to go?

Eventually for everyone to be relatively content. Aang hopeful for future relationships, Zuko and Katara realizing how much they love one another - and ready to take that risk.


What kind of person do you think will enjoy it?

I’m hoping that most anyone will enjoy it. Honestly my goal is to not be “that guy”, or rather, “that Zutara shipper”, but to weave a convincing story that is palatable or even enjoyable to very many people. I’d like it to be a story where people say, “I don’t normally read Zutara, but I really enjoyed this”.

Now, I saw the review that OmashuRocks gave you. How do you think this interview has helped? Where you especially happy, sad, disappointed?

Feedback is always amazing to have! I was a little frustrated with his critique, I have to admit. The overall plot crystallized for this story before I realized that I was apparently treading very old ground in the fanfic world. But to be honest most of my fanfics are like that - given that my ‘pride and joy’ fanfic is ‘yet another redeemed Vader bit of Star Wars nonsense’. I figure these common themes are common because they’re places in the story where people want to see something extended or changed. So I might not have a very original idea… but I can at least do that unoriginal idea the best I possibly can!

Do you have anything you want to tell your fans out there?

All two of them? :) I realize that a lot of people likely look at it and go “oh god, a Zutara post-war fic” and think they’re in for a load of badly-written tripe when that’s not my goal at all. So: gimme a chance! And if you don’t like it after a few chapters, THEN feel free to make faces at me, haha!


I noticed on your profile page that you do illustrations, and in the fanon itself. They are… amazing. Did you draw them for the fanon, or write the fanon to draw the pictures?

Both! I tend to pingpong back and forth whenever I’m writing something. This is just the first time I’ve gotten my act together in trying to keep them in pace with each other. Normally I just doodle things from bits of the story I need to work out (usually far in the distant future than what I’m actually writing), which leaves me a little frustrated.

Many people cannot draw that skillfully, where did you learn to do it?

I’ve never really taken formal classes, aside from a few art classes in middle school. Really I’ve just kept at it. I’m not as good as my other family members but it’s a fun hobby. I end up doodling near-constantly which is the only reason I’m halfway decent.

Have you ever considered joining a user group, like the Fanon Illustrator Insignia?

I would love to if I had the time! Unfortunately I don’t, and to be honest I’ve been burned badly by people using me as a drawing machine without considering the fact that I’m, y’know, human over here. So for right now I’m just selfishly focusing on my own work - I’m sorry, everyone.

Ah, understandable. Alas, we have arrived at the final question!! Why did you want this review?

It’s a really cool idea that I’ve never seen before, and I’m shameless and love talking about my own work! Thank YOU for humoring me and giving me the interview!

No problem! Thank you for being a great interviewee, and frankly, one of the most talented authors I have had the pleasure of reading a fanon of. This is Fruipit, signing off~

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