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syrena_of_the_lake ([personal profile] syrena_of_the_lake) wrote2015-10-15 05:38 pm

Long-overdue update - NFE & more

So, I have been woefully lax on posting since NFE reveals! I've been traveling a lot and away from my computer even more, so this is probably old news. Nevertheless, here is my NFE recap:

I wrote 3 stories, and I have been stunned and overwhelmed at the incredibly positive response - especially to my main story (a crossover with a little-known fandom, no less). I am thrilled to have participated in such a wonderful exchange, and so thankful for all the support!

Overdue but without further ado, here they are! "Behind the scenes" stuff is behind the cuts.

What I wrote

My main story: The Rule of Threes Raid for Rthstewart: the Rat Patrol's mission is "to attack, harass and wreak havoc on Field Marshal Rommel's vaunted Afrika Korps." Susan's mission is a bit more complicated, as is her relationship with the desert. A story of daring and deception and of loyalties built on shifting sands.

"Raid" is a war story and a tale of espionage, and takes place following Rthstewart's "The Queen Susan in Tashbaan" but before "Rat and Sword Go to War." It is also a crossover with Rat Patrol, a 1960s show I discovered a year or so ago about a group of American and British soldiers operating behind enemy lines in North Africa. Every new episode I see, I find more little details that just fit with Susan-as-spy. The rule of threes itself pops up in an episode, as do bows and arrows (which I saw for the first time just this morning). For months I had been idly pondering a Narnia/Rat Patrol crossover starring Susan; when I drew Rth for NFE, I decided to go for it. I didn't quite know what I was getting myself into, as it turns out, but it all came together in the end! Truth be told, I'm quite proud of the result - but more than anything, I'm so happy that so many people have enjoyed it even without knowing the crossover fandom.

Writing "Raid" was a stop-and-go process akin to driving in rush hour traffic. I immediately started researching the North Africa campaign, and was fortunate enough to stumble across a website outlining the Rats' adventures in terms of actual historical events. In the meantime, even as I was still discovering What Really Happened, I wrote in fits and starts and all out of order. (Fun fact: I initially conceived of this story as a bit of a labyrinth - I had even titled it after "The Garden of Forking Paths" by Borges, until the Rule of Threes idea smacked me upside the head as a far superior - and less confusing - alternative.)

The flashback scenes in Calormen and with Rabadash were always woven in from the very beginning. One of the first pieces I wrote was actually the Minotaur scene. It was also the very last piece to fall into place: I was so attached to it by the end of the story that I couldn't bear cutting it (that, and it established the structure of the whole story early on, and I didn't want to unravel that), but I couldn't find a way of bringing it full circle until the very, very end. Edenfalling helped enormously with her beta feedback, and I still can't thank her enough!

Several people have mentioned that it was brave of me to have Susan "fail" and Dietrich win their game of cat and rat. In my first -- not draft, exactly, but cobbled together bits and pieces -- I had written Dietrich as an actual double agent helping Susan. It felt off: it just didn't ring true to Dietrich's character, and the story was poorer for it. So I scrapped several scenes and bits of dialogue and suddenly Dietrich's POV appeared. I had never planned to have his POV at all, but by golly it worked! Then, of course, it occurred to me that Asim had better have a darned good reason for telling Susan that he had an agent in place if there was no such agent. By then I had already written Susan's dreams, and again - it just fell into place.

The last scene with Susan and Dietrich heading off into the desert was another one of the first bits I wrote, and remains my favorite. I've had conflicting feelings about the two of them throughout the process of writing the story. I never set out to write a romance. I ship Rth's Susan and Tebbitt wholeheartedly! I deliberately set Dietrich up as a parallel to Lambert, even as Susan was afraid he might be another Rabadash. But I have to admit that a tiny corner of my heart wants to throw them together and see what happens. For the sake of the story, I refrained. But if there's a little ambiguity there, well... c'est la vie, no?

In any case, writing "Raid" was an absolute adventure. I pushed myself as a writer and was delighted and fortunate to find that the disparate parts came together so smoothly. Some things I had planned out from the very beginning gave way to serendipitous ideas later on; other parts worked out exactly as I'd planned. It's not seamless - but I'm pretty proud of it nonetheless. And very, very overwhelmed, thrilled and grateful at such the positive response. Thanks for the wonderful ride!

Madness #1: Fit to be tied for Rthstewart: Susan does not like surprises. Tebbitt does not like spiders. Anansi does not care.

This was sheer fun. It was idea I'd had poking around since the 3-Sentence Ficathon, and frankly it was just too good an opportunity to pass up. I admit there was a moment when I thought I couldn't pull off Raid and would wind up expanding this into my main fic - but it all worked out. And in the end, Fit to be Tied is a bit of madness, so that fits! The biggest problem I had was not wanting to stop. There are so many more adventures that could be told! If anyone wants to write Susan and Tebbitt gallivanting around with a trickster spider, please be my guest - I'd love to read more!

Madness #2: Starboard for Starbrow: A storm, a star, and another page in Coriakin's Book of Incantations.

I fell in love with Starbrow's prompt for Voyage of the Dawn Treader fic reflecting "Lewis's love of the sea and the longing for adventure it inspires". I too love the strange adventures, the wild and magical islands, and the wondrous seas of VDT just as I have always loved the sea and atmospheric sea-faring tales, so this was a treat to write for me as well. Before writing this story, I revisited the Anglo-Saxon poem "The Seafarer" as well as "Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

What I received

I received a beautiful, light-filled NFE fic and a rollicking, swashbuckling Madness fic - I wrote about them in a previous post, but if you haven't read them yet, please go do so immediately! They are both awesome, in different senses of the word, and I love them each so much.

chain of pearls (anklets of light) by tungsten_illusionist

The Blue Door Cottage by Rthstewart

What's next

I am working on several projects right now: a much-belated crossover treat, a longer Narnia fic with original characters tentatively called "Song of the Stone Wolf and the Bumble Bear", a Forever/HP crossover for another ficathon, and an original historical fiction novel I've been working on for years. And, of course, the next chapter in my mad, mad Thin Man/Narnia/Jeeves & Wooster crossover "A Good Stiff Drink." It's not dead - just hungover.

So that's what's been keeping me busy! Hope all is well in your worlds.