Today is the day in which my (late) Fanon Fact Finders interview of is finally released! Yay, go me! Well, no, the real congratulations should go to the author, , for creating this wonderful fanon. The blurb, in the authors own words:
Ba Sing Se is kept balanced by the Dai Li. Any signs of conflict or talk of war are silenced immediately by these elite Earthbenders, under the strict eye of Long Feng. Brainwashing, imprisonment, execution... anything's acceptable to maintain order. Those who disrupt the peace must be eliminated at once.
Yuhan, a highly talented converter of rebels (a.k.a. brainwasher) doesn't really have any issues with the Dai Li's reasoning. He lives to contribute to the balance of the city; he doesn't really have anything else to do, anyway. After an unexpected twist of events, however, a childhood friendship resurfaces - and blooms into love.
It wouldn't have been so bad if the Dai Li hadn't deemed her a disruptor of peace.
Really, this fanon is so much more. Honest to deity, one of the greatest fanon's I have ever read, any user who enjoys OC shipping will love this. And action. And great use of adjectives... Well, If I were a member of the FRS, this would be a 10/10. But, let's learn a little about the fanon itself. Read it, I dare you...
Hey, Minnichi! How are you? Sorry it took so long to send you these questions, but I'm here now! Are you ready?
I’m actually pretty busy…in the most random ways (I’m multitasking even while answering this). Don’t worry about taking long to interview because I honestly didn’t notice it! But yes, I’m very ready ^^
Awesome, now lets get this under way. First question! About the name... How did you think of it? What does it mean/signify/tell the readers about the story?
Glad you asked. Names in this entire fanon all took forever for me to come up with, including the title (I probably think too much). Silent Hero in Emerald…hmmm. “Emerald” was a popular word used to describe Dai Li agents over at fanfiction.net, and I caught onto it as well. First off, I really like the word in general (heh) but it gives a more powerful vibe than just “his uniform’s dark green.” It’s usually viewed as a pretty color, and expensive too due to the association with the gemstone, so this correlates well with the Dai Li’s high position in their society. As for “Silent Hero,” I thought it fit the nature of a good-guy agent perfectly. The Dai Li is a dark and secretive organization, and someone who turns good can’t be a glorious, shining star-type legend because of this. Lastly…“Silent.” I think that word has Dai Li written all over it. With these vibes, the title is supposed to let you feel how it’s really referring to someone in the organization – and that he’s a hero. Yep…I think too much.
Well, that isn't a negative thing. I noticed that you posted a paragraph about your initial inspiration, namely a picture from deviantart. Could you elaborate on that? How did you find the picture, and how did it start you thinking?
Well, I was looking around deviantart for good fanart of everything in general. There comes times I get into more and more random searches within a show, and typing “Dai Li” led to that picture. The pure creativity and sweetness just struck me really bad. (“AWWW, he secretly floated a bouquet to her with his glove!!!”) It just hit me right then that agents can do so much more than just march and shoot gloves at the Gaang. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that an agent’s lifestyle could actually be realllly really interesting. I suddenly wanted to know more about it, whether from fanfiction or canon…and then went to fanfiction.net to find out that no one writes about the Dai Li. Actually, I never ever planned on posting public writing in my life since the idea of countless strangers reading it seemed scary. But I wanted a story about the Dai Li to exist so badly…and no one else was making one…sooooo….
Were you already interested in the Dai Li before you saw that picture?
It’s what led to me searching for fanart of them on deviantart, actually. I’d just discovered the “Escape from the Spirit World” series on youtube, and when it came to the bit about Kyoshi training the agents I suddenly realized how cool they were. Well – I always thought they were cool already from the show, but the background detail was what made me start paying a little too much attention. So yep!
Did the story pan out the way you wanted it to, or have you changed it a lot to achieve the result you have?
I can’t stress enough how many times I’ve revised each chapter. It’s still an ongoing process. I don’t like to leave things that need to be improved for the later chapters. If someone tells me what’s off, I’m going to hunt it down and fix it if I can. My closest author-friend at fanfiction.net still offers his take on my ideas as sort of a mentor before I start every chapter. The quality of my fanon never came easy, and it’s still not perfect. Revisions, revisions…
Again, it pays off in your writing. Why did you decide to move it from Fanfiction.net to this wiki?
I actually haven’t moved from fanfiction.net to the wiki, and I’m double-posting whenever I update now. Fanfiction.net is a great environment because those who post there usually specialize in writing; that’s the site’s main purpose, after all. The ones who read my writing there are very dedicated and tend to sound like FRS reviewers in their comments half the time, so my fanon owes much of its improvement to them. That’s not to say that this wiki contains amazing writing as well, but there’s something about the intense, critical environment of fanfiction.net that always drives my writing to improve – not to mention I’ve made great friends there, too. But the wiki is still a better hub due to being an actual community. There’s a whole lot more to do in the fanon portal, and it’s just livelier in general, which is why I have so much fun posting here.
What are you most proud of in this fanon?
I’m really proud of how much the quality has grown since the first, simple chapter. It’s just that you might not see it under the massive pile of revisions. Aside from that, there are those times when I get extremely scared and nervous about being unable to create the right mood as I write (I think that paranoia came from fanfiction.net)…and then the reception comes back to show that it worked. When your readers start caring about your characters like real people, it’s like your idea left your head and came to life. One of the greatest feelings.
Did you have any problems writing this?
Eheh…heh…well. There’s a grand scheme, in which I know all the major events that will happen, as well as what’ll happen at the end of the story. What kills me is all the little things that happen between them. Every time some trauma happens to a character, I feel really lost on what to do right after. It’s unbelievably hard to describe that limbo period someone goes through after they experience something drastic, but I know I can’t skip over it, so I just end up getting stuck (one writer’s block lasted three months). Emotions are the hardest thing to write about when you have to imagine something you haven’t experienced yourself.
You do such a fantastic job of it, I thought it must be personal! But, where do you want this story to go? And where do you see it going?
I can’t plan the entire set of chapters like some authors, but I just know that there are certain things that have to happen and when they’ll happen, including how the story ends. Where I see it going is kind of the same as where I want it to go, at least plot-wise. Reception-wise, though, I don’t really have any goals other than to hope that those who read it can understand what I’m trying to show them, and that they can see the story the same way I do.
Why did you decide to make Yuhan and Riya old friends?
Believability is a huge issue for me, whether it’s related to A:TLA’s canon plot or just people in general. Things twisted in all kinds of ways when I was still planning everything just to try fitting into realistic standards. To begin with, Yuhan and Riya had to have met before to have more of a connection, because they find true love over a relatively short span of time. They also had to be extra close as children in order for that connection to be significant enough to make them have feelings for each other later on. Then they had to be separated before meeting again as adults or they’d end up as the equivalent of siblings from being close for that long. Finally, only a friend that Yuhan knew before the Dai Li would be able to affect him later; it’s like a reminder of his connection to life outside the dark organization. So there was a lot of reasoning going on here and I tried to stick with the circumstances that made their relationship most believable.
Wow… Very meta. I like it! Did you think of them all on your own, or are they inspired by people you know?
Much of my characters’ personalities were decided based on believability, once again. Taking Yuhan for example, I had try making an agent with a character who’s likely to turn into a “good guy,” but who still has enough traits to make him well-suited for the organization. A lot of the random quirks that the characters have come from my personal experiences, though. Yuhan's sleep-deprivation fits his situation but it's also convenient because I'm always sleep-deprived... It's one of the easiest things to write about! Also, the way Yuhan and Hiroshu talk to each other when nothing’s serious is pretty similar to how I talk to my best friend…including the death threats. Riya’s passive-aggressive insults also came from a trait I found funny in said best friend. But no character is based directly off any one person. I try to throw in a good mixture of traits and balance them out with enough flaws to make them realistic.
What is Hiroshu's job within the Organization? Does he just bring back rebels to be brainwashed?
All of the agents in the organization have pretty much the same duties. They patrol the city and target anyone who mentions the war, then brainwash the rebels into thinking the war doesn’t exist. I also wrote under the assumption that they’re all highly talented at earthbending and can all brainwash people. That’s what makes them so clone-like in the show, in the fact that they do things so similarly. It’s just that in my fanon, there’ll be agents who are better at doing certain things than others, which I thought was reasonable since talent differences are everywhere in real life too.
Yuhan. The one who is always tired. Is there a reason he is so good at being a Peace Orator?
At some point Long Feng does explain somewhat why Yuhan is talented at brainwashing, with all the talk about empathy and such. This goes back to believability and how it’s possible for Yuhan to be a brainwashing pro and “good guy” material at the same time. He’s very perceptive when it comes to people simply because he cares enough about them to pay attention. On the flip side, understanding people makes it easier for him to mess with their heads. In the end, this makes him able analyze a rebel and predict what kind of strategy would affect their mind the most based on their personality. In return, this makes him more sensitive to his duties since he understands the rebels so well, and it’s not always easy for him to ignore their feelings and brainwash them. Thus, a risk of doubting the Dai Li is made.
… I did read that section…. Are there any aspects of your characters that you would like to change? Why?
I’m aware that Yuhan and Hiroshu fall borderline-stereotypical, and that’s something I’m still improving on. Overall I like how everyone’s personalities turned out, though. What I need to change is just their predictability at times. Once again, believability issues.
I didn't find them predictable. Well, maybe a little… The final character question: Why? Why did you decide to add something so depressing in the later chapters? I won't deny, I actually began crying. It was so harsh and blunt. And then you go ahead and tell me that it was planned since the beginning. Can you tell me a little about that?
It makes me happy that readers can relate to the emotions I try to portray…but wow sorry for making you go through that! Anddd…once again, believability is to blame here. The Dai Li, as seen in the show, contain no “good” agents. There’s no reason for them to betray each other either. They’re such an isolated, independent organization that they pretty much work together and make big decisions without any problems. So I had to face the dilemma of coming up with a reason powerful enough for one agent to stray from the rest. With that in mind, well…they say that love is the most powerful force on earth – that’s actually how the fanon even became a romance. Only love would be enough to change someone in the Dai Li, because everything else they do makes life pretty good for the organization. Yuhan is willing to choose his love over the Dai Li, and he’ll fight for it if it’s in danger…but something has to go terribly wrong in order for him to fight for it in the first place. And that something has to be the Dai Li’s fault if he’s going to betray the organization. So in conclusion, the depressing incident is there because it has to be. Yuhan wouldn’t become a hero if not. But trust me, it broke my heart too ;_;
What kind of person do you think will enjoy it?
I usually don’t trust my own opinions since they’re biased, but it’s always been my goal for this fanon to appeal to anyone who likes romance…I mean it’s kind of a major point, after all. Dai Li fans like me may enjoy it too. Even I get tired of too much lovey dovey talk, though, so I tried to make the fanon appeal to those who just want an interesting story as well. There’re action scenes and lots of random, unromantic happenings. So I honestly don’t know what kind of person would enjoy it, but those are just my goals.
You have had a total of three reviews by different members of the Fanon Review Squad. You received amazing reviews, the only faults were minor. Have these constructive criticisms helped shape the fanon at all?
No fault is minor, the way I see it. Anything that sticks out enough for someone to mention it is a red flag (revisions!!!). So yes, those criticisms are the very basis of my fanon’s quality, along with those I mentioned from fanfiction.net. I live off of them, even if they turn me a little crazy sometimes.
Do you have anything you want to tell your fans out there?
There’s really nothing else to say other than THANK YOU SO MUCH. No matter how much support I get, even one person being able to “get” my writing means everything to me. I toil over every chapter, all the time…so those who respond to my efforts have my gratitude forever.
Where did you find the right people to illustrate the Main Page? It is a gorgeous picture.
Yep, arriku is an artist that tends to produce gorgeous pictures. And actually, the right people are kind of easy to find on deviantart – they’re practically celebrities there. The search engine even works so that the most popular pictures appear first, so you’re probably going to see the art of a pro pretty early. While I was Dai Li fanart-browsing, my search somehow expanded to Ba Sing Se in general, including the Earth King. Arriku had done a commission before for Kuei, and when I came across it I suddenly noticed that she was holding a writing competition for free artwork! (She usually costs around $50…) So I jumped on it right away. Seems I was lucky ^^
I noticed you have begun to draw your own pictures. Why is that?
Like I said, great illustrators don’t just hand you free artwork. It takes a lot of time and effort for them, and I’m pretty sure I won’t randomly win another gorgeous picture. My deviantart points are limited too, sooo I began to try drawing my own pictures. I’ve always been much more immersed in the world of art than writing…but my area is sculpting (the commissions are why I’m always busy, actually). Still, I’m expanding my efforts to drawing in hope that the background experience will help somewhat.
I noticed you sculpt, have you ever considered taking photo's of your sculptures?
All of them are on my deviantart account (that's how i get donations xD) :) I did post a random one of an Appa charm on my wiki profile, but the rest are on my deviantart profile.
Thank you for answering, and I'm very sorry it took so long!
You’re very welcome! And seriously, no worries about the late thing. Thanks so much for letting me ramble about my fanon :P
Hey, no problem! One of the greatest fanons out there, it has been of my utmost pleasure to read. Don't stop writing, and we won't stop reading! This is Fruipit, signing off~