It's a new month, and we have new Members of the Month for you to get to know better - jaibhagwan and chemfemme!
What draws you to the Caryl ship?
True love. What can I say that hasn’t been said before? I think we all know why we are here: their chemistry is undeniable. That they love each other is clear. It’s in the smallest details of their actions, the words they don’t speak, the simple way they look at one another. But I think the mutual respect and trust they hold for one another is truly what keeps me tethered to this ship. I am a romantic at heart, so I’m a sucker for the slow burn. And I prefer to champion the underdog. After what they’ve both been through in their lifetimes, they truly deserve one another. It’s only fair.
Who are your writing influences?
My mother, who taught me to read and write. And every English teacher I ever had. Seriously, I dislike this question! I read a lot and have fairly eclectic interests. But I think my style is my own. Some of my favorite authors/poets include Maya Angelou, Octavia Butler, E.E. Cummings, Barbara Kingsolver, Milan Kundera, Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin (that punk!), Mary Oliver, Tom Robbins, Rumi, and Sheri S. Tepper. I’ve also read a lot of trash and poorly written novels that have somehow managed to get published, and I think it’s those that give me the most hope about my own writing. If they can do it, why can’t I? So then I did. And now, I can’t stop the madness.
How do you handle writer’s block?
Netflix and chill? Lol! I spend a lot of time outdoors in nature. A nice hike will often fill my head with ideas. Sometimes I meditate. There’s nothing like trying to empty your mind only to have it fill up again with images of that perfect scene or line of dialog. It’s the wrangling of all the parts into a cohesive narrative that’s often the hardest, for me. As is trusting in the story as it wants to be told. I read, look at art, or listen to music that inspires me and makes me feel the things I want to write about. I seek support from other writers who understand this kind of torture and commiserate. It’s always nice to know that I’m not alone in my suffering. I surrender to the fact that the story comes in it’s own time. I go about my life and try not to sweat it. I mean, I sweat anyway, but I try not to dwell on the fact that I’m sweating. I usually end up writing a lot of things that I’ll simply never, ever publish just to keep at it. You have to be willing to write a lot of crap to get to the gold.
Anything you want to say to your readers?
Bless your hearts! I am filled with gratitude for your support and enthusiasm for our ship. Thank you for nominating me, for reading my work, for reviewing, for favoriting, for following, for shyly lurking, for demanding more—you have made me a better writer. I never expected to be here. I’m sure you didn’t either, but here we are. Sorry that I don’t write faster, but I promise, I will do everything in my power to finish all my fics. Thank you, Nine Lives, for fostering a loving community where we can all be transported into a magical world that is all Caryl, all the time. Stay safe!Love -jb
What draws you to the Caryl ship?
I think I may be somewhat unusual in that I was first drawn to the Caryl ship through the fan stories I read. I became obsessed with the show during the summer hiatus between seasons four and five. The characters were on the cusp of some big changes at that point, and there were so many ways to interpret what had happened – I think that’s a nice way of saying, WTF were they thinking? So after I binged the first four seasons, I fed my obsession with all the characters with the stories I found online. Eventually, I realized I was especially drawn to Caryl stories.
I can’t help rooting for an underdog, and Carol and Daryl were the bottom of that social pile in the early seasons. Over and over, they had to fight to justify their right to be in that group; that’s how I saw it then, anyway. And who doesn’t love the idea that two people who can’t believe much in their own selves might reinvent themselves and find some redemption through love? That’s what I found in the stories. The stories made me re-watch the show through the Caryl lens, so to speak, and I couldn’t ignore what I hadn’t noticed before. I had to appreciate the subtle developments and changes both characters had undergone. I was hooked.
What do you look for in a story to keep reading?
First, know that I am a compulsive reader. I will read the words at the bottom, rather than watch the TV show, if closed-captioning is active. I can’t help myself, I’m like a Labrador retriever: throw a story and I will read it; I’ll probably find something to like about it, every time.
So, forgive my impertinence, but the better question to ask me is, What makes you reread a story? Because I read a lot - and I admit, I’m not very discriminating, I enjoy storytelling as it comes. But, I truly love the stories that compel me to go back and reread. Even if I don’t think I like a story, if it haunts me, I’ll read it over and over again, and eventually, I find I love it. Sometimes, I don’t even know what draws me back to a story. I’ve reread one of my “favorites” at least five times; I still haven’t figured out what I want to say to the author about some of the chapters, but it draws me back.
I have noticed a few things about my reading habits, though. Any story that challenges common assumptions about a character will usually pique my curiosity, especially if it challenges my assumptions, and definitely if it brings me to a new insight about a character. Stories that have an interesting voice or rhythm for a character’s thoughts always fascinate me; stories told from Daryl’s perspective in particular draw me. As a kid, I reread the Little House books until they fell apart; I am a sucker for homesteading in the ZA stories, I revel in the nitty-gritty details of daily life and survival in the new world. If someone ever wrote a story about how to make cheese in the ZA, I would favorite it like my life depended on it! And if you know where that story exists, please PM me.
I don’t exactly look for darker-themed stories, but I am particularly drawn to them when they tap into deeper speculations I have about TWD. I don’t want to get too political, but for me, TWD is about looking obliquely at a society that is engaged in ongoing war. Stories that explore those themes - psychology of battle, loss, collateral damage, breakdown of social structures, futility of hope, erosion of civil conventions, suffering of the innocent at what cost – those just suck me in. On a side-note, I have never enjoyed violent TV or movies - until TWD. In stories, I also find portraying realistic consequences of violence to be more honest and readable than stories that use violence in a back-handed way and gloss over the after-effects. That said, sadism repels me, and honest doesn’t necessarily mean graphic.
A few stories that I’ve read recently highlight this for me. A Drop of Blood among the Sharks by silversundown began with, for me, a very uncomfortable and frank starting scenario, then dealt with it realistically and unflinchingly. An in-progress story, The Man with the Bat by Viktories, set up a scenario that I found extremely harsh to read at times; yet it falls within a certain realm of plausibility in the world as I know it, and it is exploring some depths of Carol’s character that I haven’t seen plumbed in many stories. I love the fun and fluffy and entertaining stories as much as anyone, but I hope authors don’t shy away from exploring darker human stories that mirror real darkness in our world, especially at this juncture of human civilization. This reader, at least, appreciates your willingness to venture into the darkness to spread some light.
What are your top five favorite stories?
Wow, now I understand why previous reviewers found this hard. To badly paraphrase the first Georgia heroine I ever remember reading, the winnowing is harsh when loved ones are being winnowed. (Has anyone done a Gone with the Wind adaptation of TWD? I know there are all sorts of modern concerns around that book, but I cannot be the first person who’s thought there could be some interesting parallels and contrasts between Scarlett O’Hara and Carol Peletier.)
Here are five stories that had special impact on me. Okay, I cheated and did some pairings…and other weird things…because it’s really hard to decide!
Landslide by Lamport I couldn’t stop reading this one until I finished, then again two days later. I had seen references to Nine Lives challenges on other stories, but I was such a newbie to fan fiction I had no idea what those tags meant when I read the story on another site. (Just imagine my shock when I discovered what E-RPF meant, ha!) So this is the story that brought me to NineLives, because I loved it so much I went searching for more stories by this author, and that brought me here.
Broken Mirrors by ramblinrose I was so new to fan fiction when I read this, I wondered: why would anyone want to put TWD characters in a story that wasn’t, y’know, like TWD? One of the first AU stories I read, it hooked me before I finished the first chapter. I love that it’s a three-way love story about becoming a family, and that the author made Sophia into an OC of the most invisible kind of kid, the unadoptable teen, and she hit all the little things that means so well.
Your Name is Merle vs. The One What Brung Ya, both by Lena Carr. I’m going to let these two duke it out for placement. I know why I love the first story; I can’t even explain to myself why I love the second story, but someday I will figure it out. The first story is part of a series and I sincerely hope there will be more additions. I also loved Marginalia and Harriers and Straight and Narrow – natural history and multi-chapter homesteading on the road, yes!
Other Half by Not Laura / You Are the Sun Gone Down by lilabut I doubt authors like being paired like this, but these two stories have a symmetry in my head that makes them whatever the story-equivalent of a diptych is. They are dark and lovely and encompass soft, squishy, savory truths like the opposite shells of a bivalve. I love them both and when I reread one, I always end up rereading the other.
Looks Good on You by Michelle del Vale This is the kind of story I wish I could write: succinct, fun, flirty. It colors inside all the lines of decorum, yet knocks the needle off the dial on the sexy-meter. Her special talent, I think, the blush-worthy T-rated story.
Anything you want to say to all the Caryl authors out there?
Well, authors, if you’ve read this far, you deserve to know my dirty secret. Deep breath, let it out: As far as the show goes, I have almost no confidence that Daryl will ever be emotionally ready to be more than a comrade-in-arms to Carol, and breaking off pieces of her until she’s equally emotionally stunted will not make them any more ready for each other. They're wonderful characters, and the actors do them justice; but if either were a good friend, I’d lose some sleep if they started going in a romantic direction with each other.
There, I said it.
Before you stone me – or, worst fate of all, block me from reading your stories – please remember what I told you at the beginning: You brought me to the Caryl ship through your stories. Your stories have made me want to believe.
The once-in-a-blue-moon-Caryl moments on the show are sweet, but your stories fuel my Caryl fantasies. You’ve made me laugh out loud and you’ve brought me to tears. Who knew G-rated meant watch-a-character-die or suffer-horribly-depressing-stuff? Seriously: browse it by rating, read 10 random stories, then try to tell me I lied; I thought they’d be funny fluff, ha! I have yelled at characters and I’ve dropped my ipod, stunned, while reading. I’ve spent traffic jams speculating what the heck you were going to do in the next chapter - and by that, I mean talking out loud as if you were in the car with me and had any interest in my opinions about what Carol and Daryl were thinking. I’ve stayed up way too late because I couldn’t stop reading, and too often I’ve woken up way too early to check for updates. You have crafted moments in your stories that helped me rethink loss, and grief, and fights with my mother, and dramas with my students, and if the ongoing construction in my neighbor’s garage at odd hours should be something to worry me. There have been some particularly difficult days over the past few years when the best thing I had to look forward to at the end of the day was one of your stories. And yes, I may have made incoherent squeaking sounds upon receiving your thoughtful responses to my comments.
And regardless of how crazy I probably sound at this point, please remember that I am just a fan and you are all rock stars to me. I thank you all for sharing your time and talent, with an extra dollop of thank you sauce to whoever nominated me; I had fun revisiting stories, despite the agony of decision. And, I forgive you all, one-by-one, for hooking me on the drug that is Caryl.
--subversivegrrl, ikkleosu, fairiesmasquerade on October 01, 2016 10:18am 0 Comments