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Interview with a Warcraft fan fiction novelist

Liuceijya of the Silver Hand realm and I share a common insanity, a folie-a-deux if you will. Both of us are participating in something called NaNoWriMo. When I ran into her during the kick-off party for this crazy project, she turned out not only to be a reader, but a reader with fan fiction on the brain. We started talking simply because she was wearing a The Forsaken Metal t-shirt, and I recognized a fellow WoW fan in the group of stodgy half-crazed authors. The more we spoke, the more I realized that her fascinating story should be shared with you readers, as I know there are more than a few fan fiction writers out there.

WoW Insider: Can you explain NaNoWriMo a bit for those that don't know what it is?
Liuceijya: NaNoWriMo-- National Novel Writing Month-- is a balls-to-the-wall, kamikaze approach to writing that by its very nature emphasizes quantity over quality. The aim is to get something, anything down on paper (or computer screen or papyrus scroll) because after all, you can always tweak it later. Participants start on November 1st and the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel (or approximately 175 pages) by the end of November 30th.

How long have you participated in NaNoWriMo? Which years did you finish?
This will be my fourth year of NaNoWriMo; I started in 2004 and have participated every year since. Unfortunately, 2004 was the only year I actually finished because I was not yet playing WoW at that point. I made it to about 12k in 2005 and 20k in 2006; this year, however, I have decided to give in to the demon that is WoW and write some fan fiction. Perhaps it'll keep me off the game itself long enough to actually finish. *grin*

Have you written World of Warcraft related fan fiction before? Any of novel length?

I have written a good number of WoW-related vignettes, mostly relating to storylines I was involved with at the time, but nothing of actual novel length. Unfortunately I did not think to save most of them to my computer and the Silver Hand forums ate them a long time ago. Ah, well, that's one lesson learned.

What particular challenges are added to your endeavor because you are writing fan fiction?
Avoiding the scourge (pun fully intended) that is WoWWiki. I don't want to get so distracted researching this or that little detail that I neglect to work on the actual novel... it's quite a well-known phenomenon to us WriMos; Wikipedia probably triples its daily traffic in November thanks to the likes of us. (It's like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, only worse!)

There is also, of course, the challenge of making the story fit in with the established universe-- and making sense of already sketchy timelines. I might have to take a few small liberties with it to make sense of it all, but that's par for the course. There is the Blizzard timeline given between the original release and Burning Crusade-- a year-- and then there is the Silver Hand 'canon' that covers a bit longer of a period than that because it was a launch server. When in doubt I angle more towards the server timeline, as it keeps me from having to pack an impossible amount of story into a relatively short amount of time.
Either that or I blame the Bronze Dragonflight. Damn you, Nozdormu! *shakes fist*

I know you prefer the roleplay style of gameplay. Do you think this better prepared you to write fan fiction? Why or why not?
Oh, it definitely has. Roleplay is by far the biggest draw World of Warcraft has for me; if not for the friends I'd made roleplaying, I'd probably be bored stiff if I didn't have an instance or a raid to go to. (And don't get me started on PvP... it's a welcome diversion at times, but by no means the end-all and be-all of my gameplay.) Much of my recent writing has been WoW-centric anyway, so it only makes sense to take it to the next level.

What is the inspiration for your novel this year?
The World of Warcraft universe itself, of course-- especially the Scarlet Crusade. The Crusade has what I consider to be one of the most interesting (and tragic!) storylines in the game, and I would definitely like to see Blizzard do more with them in Wrath of the Lich King. For instance, what happened to the Scarlet Fleet that was sent up there? I'm going to try and come up with some of my own answers to those questions and flesh out a few bits that were merely hinted at. (Those statues in Herod's room in the Monastery...) I also draw a great deal of inspiration from my faith-- I won't get into any specifics on that, but suffice to say I don't shy away from exploring those particular themes.

Most important is the role playing I have been doing for the past couple of years, particularly recent developments. The novel itself will be tied quite heavily in with the story arc I am currently running. Although it is hard to represent such things in a relatively static game world, I figure a former Scarlet who has had others under her command and spurred them to commit atrocities in the name of the Crusade would have to answer for her crimes eventually... and this provides the basic framework for the novel.

Can you explain a bit about your main character? How long have you been playing her, and how her story became so very convoluted.
Ahhh, yes... Liuceijya, my dear, unspellably-named ex-Scarlet Paladin. (You should listen to people try to pronounce it in Vent, it's hilarious.) I've been playing her since about March of 2005 and I started out just RPing her and letting her story organically come together-- she's really one of those characters who just writes herself. In one of the roleplaying scenes I did, she ended up just out of the blue admitting that she had been a member of the Scarlet Crusade, and it surprised the heck out of me... but it made so much sense. Then things just snowballed from there, other player characters became involved (one in particular, a Scarlet herself, ended up becoming a key part of Liu's history as her best friend from the Crusade) and we really had a grand old time with it.

Now, some people might shoot me for the fact that she also ended up half-Elven, but I would have conscientiously avoided it had it not made the most sense for her character. So essentially, the bulk of her character-building came about by picking her brain and figuring out how she got the way she is.
She is something of a departure from the previous generation of Paladins, such as Uther, Turalyon and Highlord Mograine; she could very easily have followed Arthas's way of thinking to its logical conclusion (hello, rerolling as a Death Knight, anyone?) but because of her history she's made a conscientious effort not to. Unfortunately, she does have a great deal to answer for, and she can't escape that judgment forever.

Are you planning on publishing the novel once you are finished?
I might consider it, yes, but probably not to Fanfiction.net. No disrespect to people active over there-- and I was myself, several years back-- but it's rather easy for decent fan fiction to get lost in the mountains of dreck that infest the place. I may try publishing it someplace more tightly focused on Warcraft fan fiction.

Would you consider giving us an excerpt later on so that we can share your writing with our readers?
I most certainly would-- but not before I edited it first, of course. I may end up veering off into very R-rated territory, so I would need to excise bits of it to make it more appropriate to a wider audience. (Yes, I see you middle schoolers sneaking past the internet filters at school! Naughty, naughty!) And secondly... well, the more literary-minded might recall what Ernest Hemingway had to say on the subject of first drafts. Suffice to say, I would have to clean things up a good deal first before I considered it readable.

Are any of you writing fan fiction that you would like WoW Insider readers to know about? Send us an email to amanda [dot] rivera [at] weblogsinc [dot] com and tell us about it. Also, if any of you readers out there are participating in NaNoWriMo, send me an email with your username, and I'll add you to my writing buddies. We need all the support we can get if we are going to survive November in one piece.


Filed under: Fan stuff, Interviews, Fan art

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