I'm here today with mrstrentreznor! One of the most talented writers in the Twilight fandom. Her stories won multiple awards and fans love her work. Without any further introduction here's all about MTR...
Q: You have many, many stories posted in the fandom. As the saying says: 'a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step', what was your first step? How did you start writing fanfiction?
A: I looked up some other sites and ended up joining a Vin Diesel fansite called vinexpereince.
They held a writing competition with a picture prompt. I wrote an original entry and WON. I was completely blown away. Bolstered by that, I started writing Twilight fanfic and by June of 2010 I had posted my first story, What was she doing?
Every story I read started with ‘what if Jake had kissed her in the truck/kitchen?’ and I thought that was boring!
Paul intrigued me and there were very few stories for him. He was un-imprinted and therefore, to my mind, free to roam! So I made him a sexy womaniser who knew what to do with a girl. I wondered if he tried to deny an imprint, would it make him super angry? Was that why he shouted at Bella? And there was my story line. I also made him a child of domestic violence - a backstory that was fan-canon for him for a long time, until SM published the Illustrated Guide and Paul actually got a surname.
I was so nervous that I wrote the whole story before I posted a word.
I kept writing original stuff the whole time, too.
Q: You have written so many stories. How do you come up with your story lines?
A: I like picture prompts. I have a file of images that inspire me. I call them my yoghurt starters; things grow from those.
Often, when I am writing something, I will notice some detail or thing that makes me think. For Twilight, I was rereading New Moon and I noticed that when Sam finds Bella, she goes on for pages about how safe she feels with him, how she does not want him to pass her to her father, how she likes listening to his voice through his chest… and I am thinking… wtf? You just had your heart broken! Edward just literally dumped your ass! And you are rabbiting on about Sam? Then she dreams about him and the black wolf before she reconnects with Jake. What the heck was that about? That idea turned into Hurt.
I have a terrible habit of extending one-shots. I cannot tell you how often people wail ‘You can’t leave it there!’ and demand that I extend it.
Q: When writing do you plan an outline or do you start writing as it comes to you?
A: I write, and then when I hit a certain amount of words (if it looks like it has legs to run with) I will plan it out a bit more. I have learnt to do that. Too many of the stories I wrote with no plan, have not been finished, because I have got stuck at some point and stopped.
I have started at the last chapter and written backwards. I have written a scene from the middle and then written the start and the end.
I think if you have an idea what your endpoint is - where you are going - then like a GPS it will tell you when you are offroute and you can get back to the right path after a detour. If you keep detouring without a plan, you will end up lost.
Q: Did you ever have Writer's block? If so, how do you find inspiration when the ideas just won't flow?
A: My problem is too many ideas. I don’t get writer’s block. Last year, I wrote nearly half a million words (487,374 to be exact). Yes, I count. My daily target is 2k, so I missed that by a mile.
Q: Give me a second to recover from that! *laughs* I think that by now, we all know that you write! Now, what advice would you give to anyone wanting to start writing?
A: Read a lot. Read different things. Take notice of language, punctuation and tense in books. Think about them critically. Does the world work? Are the characters’s actions believable? Did the main character have a personality transplant? Is the ending awful (like BD) and if so, why?
Try to write every day but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do that.
Q: I think I already know the answer to this question, but I'll ask anyways... Are you working on anything right now?
A: Unbelievably, I am writing a Jake/Bella longer fic. I usually only write Jake in one shots. I blame GG; it was one of her banners that inspired me. I swear it will NOT be a 200k word epic.
I am still trying to write prompts for the anon-twi photo prompt set from 2012. I have written 20 stories from a set of 45 photo prompts. What is that about? I don’t even know.
Q: Which of your stories are you most proud of?
A: I love them all. But I am most proud of Best Friends share everything. I was trying to write slash and pwp and somehow, the story crept in and before I knew it, I had a 200k word polyamorous epic that stretched over ten years of their lives. I wrote a sexy Quil, a smart Bella and a beautifully sensitive Embry.
Solve all the love triangles with threesomes, I say!
I am also proud of my pairing Leah with Alcide from True Blood; a real wolf alpha for the she-wolf. They go together so well but I am the only person who writes them as a pairing.
I am proud that a couple of readers have told me that reading about my characters made them rethink how they dealt with homosexuals in real life. Carve that on my headstone.
Q: You mentioned to be critical before. Now, it's your turn with your stories. Which is your least favorite story?
A: Of mine? Hmmm… I don’t like the Paul in Closer to God. He is a complete asshole. He treats her like shit and he remains an ass for pretty much the whole story. I can never understand why people love that story. I know he redeems himself, but still… ass.
Q: On that note, what would you have done differently if you could do any of your stories again?
A: I would get the damn tense right for my Seth story When Clearwater goes cloudy - I switched back and forth all the way through and had to edit it later. And see? Even in the title! Past tense. It should have been when Clearwater WENT cloudy! *rolls eyes at self*
Q: What were your biggest learning experiences or surprises throughout the publishing process?
A: That anyone even liked my stuff or read it.
That anyone would be bothered nominating me for an award. I hadn’t even heard of JBNP before I won prizes in their award competition.
My latest big shock is that my total stats at fanfiction.net are about to click past 6 million hits. Maybe in a week or so; I get about 5k a day and I need 27k more hits.
And if I post another 23k words, I will pass 1.5 million words posted there.
How amazing is that?
Q: Oh wow! That's fantastic! *aplaudes* What’s next for you? Any new fanfic coming soon?
I have two one shots written and ready to post.
And another list of one shots to be extended:
Always - Paul/Bella - she’s addicted to venom and behaves like a junkie
Say my name - Sam/Bella - fluff
Cleanse my soul - Sam/Bella angst
Bought and paid for - Leah/alcide - he booked her as an escort for a wedding and then what happened?
Heartbroken - Embry/Angela - fluff but Em hasn’t phased yet
Kiss me out of desire - Leah/Jasper- never written a vampire MC
Still a hell of a lot of things on my challenge list.
And this one! Deputy Black (Offerings)!
Bella’s initial reaction to Edward was revulsion and nausea. What if she kept that?
Q: Before talking about other things you do in the fandom, I'd like you to tell us about the original work you mentioned at the beginning of the intrview. Are you writing any original work at the moment? Have you thought about self publishing?
A: I have more than a few stories on the go. Maybe … ten or twelve. Ikr? *shakes head*
I posted 48 short stories on my blog in 2013, and I finished nanowrimo. And I wrote a poem.
I already self publish. I have some short stories on Smashwords. They are free, a couple of longer works are 99c.
I do not have an American SSN and cannot use Amazon until I do. It’s complicated.
I have to finish a longer novel and get it out. It is my head that is the issue. I keep getting new ideas and rushing off to write those. Plus, fanfic is more forgiving, at least to my mind, I know people like me there and I am popular, when self publishing is starting at the bottom again and it is terrifying to hold myself out there in thw wider world.
But I can’t sell books if I don’t publish them! I will have to finish something and get it professionally edited and maybe pay for a cover. But it is scary and fanfic is safe.
I have nearly 6,000 downloads from Smashwords and I am registered with Goodreads as an author. I don’t know if that is good or not, as I have no one to compare myself to.
Plus, it seems there is a lot of shame associated with fanfiction. Writers are smacked by both sides, by the ‘real’ book industry who discounts them because they came from fanfic and by ff fans who think they have sold out. It’s nuts, but it happens.
I really hope that attitude changes but I fear EL James did more damage than good to fanfic authors.
I am trying to load stuff at Wattpad, too. It seems to have less shame than fanfic and even runs competions to give away publishing contracts. I have put up some original stuff there as well.
I don’t know how I feel about pull to publish; it feels wrong to me and I have a dozen other ideas of my own, but are my Paul and Quil mine? Or Stephenie’s?
Q: Have you contacted publishing houses?
A: Yes. I won a writing competition from a small press called Bitingduckpress. The prize was to have a manuscript read by them, but they don’t want any sex! No sex? From ME??? I have never sent them anything but it did my confidence some good.
I also had a request to add more to a manuscript and before I got around to sending it back, the publishing company was torn apart by siblings competing for control. Probably dodged a bullet there.
I have sent short stories to magazines and competitions. I have sent some other manuscripts in to publishers, but normally no answer is a ‘no’ and I forget to send it on to someone else after the two month wait. Maybe I need an agent.
Q: How long does it take you to come up with the ideas for an original story?
A: I am flooded with them; an issue in itself. I carry a composition book in my bag at all times and I am constantly scribbling down ideas or fragments of conversations I can hear in my head.
The problem is also working out which of your ideas is able to sustain a whole novel. You might have a great idea for a main character but if you don’t have some other characters, or an intriguing plot line, what are you going to write for that neat character?
Q: Keep up with this! Hopefully, we'll buy your books some time soon! :) Okay, so you make it clear that you're a writer. Now, what other hidden talents do you have? Someone told me that you're also a Beta? Any important writing tips you could share?
A: Read your dialogue out loud. Do NOT repeat people’s names in every sentence; nobody talks like that. Don’t search around for another word for ‘said’ - people just don’t see said after a while, but they will notice if you say stated, specified, demanded, insisted etc. A different word in every sentence. No.
PLEASE watch your formatting. I remember one story that everyone told me was fabulous and I just couldn’t read it because it looked like this:
“Oh, my god,”
“Don’t worry about it,”
My beta brain choked me and I could not even read it; I couldn’t see the story for the errors.
Q: Talking about mistakes. Which are the most common mistakes writers make?
A: I guess not finishing stuff - she says with a pointed look at herself.
Do not list things. The reader does not need to know every article of clothing that Bella is wearing, or every ingredient in the meal she is cooking for dinner. Just say ‘she got dressed’ or ‘she cooked dinner’. Unless the items are significant; a guest is allergic to almonds and nearly dies, or her bright yellow shirt attracts a swarm of wasps. If it isn’t necessary, don’t mention it. It’s clutter.
You don’t need dialogue clutter either. So lose this:
How are you?
How’s the pack?
Just say Bella greeted Jake and then asked him about the pack.
Q: Which is your favorite thing about being a Beta? Your least favorite?
A: You get to read the stories first! Mwahaha.
I’m not sure I have a least favourite thing… grammar stuff; like adding commas, I guess… Sigh.
Love brainstorming… playing the what if - game. Feebes is especially good at that. In Best Friends I had no idea how to immobilise a werewolf so that Victoria could torture him. Asked Feebes and she had literally got off the plane from a long haul flight and was exhausted, but she just said, ‘duct tape Bella to Embry’s body’. Whoa… that’s it! He will never phase if it will hurt her.
Q: Are you Betaing for any author now?
A: Feebes86 and Ruadh sidhe.
Blahblahblahinfinity was working on an interesting Quil story and another one about Evil Esme. But she has dropped the ball. I should chase her up. She can’t distract me with icehockey porn. Or maybe she can?
Q: Are you accepting new stories to beta?
A: Not at the moment. Feebes86 and Ruadh sidhe keep me very busy. And they beta my stuff in return. I have a couple of others that I have helped or pushed to start and then let go on their own. But I do love brainstorming. I had five people at one stage and it was too many.
Q: Tell us a little about what you read. What does a story need to grab your attention?
A: I read a lot of recommendations from a friend. Truthfully, she buys them and lends them to me. That makes it too easy.
Good covers grab my attention. I swear if I see another cover with a girl in an inappropriate ballgown with the wind blowing her hair the opposite way to her dress, I will vomit. If another writer recs a novel I will give it a go but I am constrained by budget, so I sometimes have to wait until the price drops.
Q: Favorite fanfic stories? Original books? Anything you could recommend us?
A: Boys with Girlfriends by audreyii-fic. A genderswap Twilight with NA mechanic girl and a HS boy. Makes more sense for Edwardian Edward to be female. People even made her cute fanart.
Persephone and Hades by Kali-red is a dark Riddick story; but he’d be dark, right? It is very good but major trigger warnings.
I really have so little time to read fanfic. *wails*
I read anything by Neil Gaiman, even the Sandman comics. Jim Butcher. Charlaine Harris. Chuck Wendig. Robin McKinley. Meljean Brooks. Ilona Andrews.
Q: What are you reading now? Fanfic? Original?
A: No fanfic right now… oh no, wait… I am trying to find time to read a Game of Thrones fic, ‘the selkie and the hound’ by littlefeather. It is a sansa stark/sandor clegane story based on some fanart from Tumblr.
Original? I am reading Insurgent by Veronica Roth, but it is like pulling teeth; I hate it. I may have missed the popular boat on that one. I don’t like the world building and I want to slap the main character. But Theo James is gorgeous and he plays the male lead in the movie.
I am also reading ‘the King inYellow’ by RW Chambers and ‘Ethan Frome’ by Edith Wharton. I have 128 books in my to-read pile on goodreads… omg.
Q: I'm so glad to read this! I've read Divergent because everyone was talking about it and after reading it I was like: 'Hmm... what's all that excitement about?'. And I have to agree on the Theo James part! He's a sexy man! *starts daydreaming with Theo* Okay, let's focus here! Lol. We've talked about your writing, reading and Betaing. But we are missing the most interesting part. How did you end up in the world of fanfiction?
A: When my daughter was a young teen, she read Twilight. I thought I would have a look at it as well. I read them all very quickly - does everyone say that? But I was a little horrifed that Edward’s behavour was supposed to be romantic. He was just too much of a stalker for my liking and I found the ending just bizarre; all that buildup - and then… nothing. I couldn’t believe how quickly Bella dumped her baby to go off and fuck Edward, too.
I was intrigued by the wolfpack and disappointed that there wasn’t more of their story.
My daughter and I did all the midnight movie sessions up until BD; I just couldn’t do it and she had lost interest by then.
I joined a Twilight website thinking that I must have missed something and they were doing a NM read through and someone posted a link to a fanfic. It was a Jake/Bella fic and I was gone. That was about November 2009.
I thought the concept of ‘write your own ending’ was wonderful and it was the first time that I had even heard of fanfiction as a concept.
Q: Apart from Twilight and Riddick, do you support any other fandoms?
A: I have betaed Twilight, Heroes, Riddick, and other Vin Diesel movie fics for friends. I read a few different things, including: Teen Wolf, Avengers, Game of Thrones, Firefly, X-men, Sookie (True Blood), Sleepy Hollow and Buffy. I have trouble finding time to read fanfic, now.
Q: Are you in the Fandom-closet? Does your family know you write fanfic?
A: I have told them I write. My kids are proud. Kid 2 asks me every day what my stats look like and he told all his friends I write porn. Kid 2 and 3 are good writers themselves.
My friends don’t understand the concept, even though I have explained it more than once. Mostly, they don’t understand why I don’t make any money out of it.
Q: Oh my God! He did not tell his friends! *laughs* Which are you favorite sites to visit? Why?
A: I use fanfiction.net, fictionpad and Ao3 to post my stuff and to read others. I did love JBNP (Sniffs dramatically). I spend more time on Tumblr now than I can probably afford.
Q: Have you met fandom people in real life? If so, are you in touch with them?
A: I met LaPushStarlight and we had lunch together. She loved my stories and made some banners for me. We email occasionally as Australia is pretty big and she lives in another city.
Other than that it is chat in google drive for me! I am tech challenged and skype is beyond me.
Q: Last one, how did you come up with your penname?
A: I was trying to log in and every name I tried was already used. I was playing the Nine Inch Nails and just put in Mrstrentreznor. Trent is the lead singer. Voila. But now my feminist side is annoyed that I made myself dependent upon a man! Too late now… lol
I see them live on Thursday night with the Queens of the Stone Age. Can’t wait!!!
Q: Okay, one more just because I have a feeling you'll tell us something funny! Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
A: Gosh… I don’t know…
I once went to the Parliament House for lunch when the Indonesian Prime Minister visited Australia. I had to sit between the Ambassador for Eritrea and the Ambassador for The Lebanon. Try making small talk there! “So… how are things in Lebanon… ?”
Q: MTR, this was so much fun! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer to all my noisy questions!