2014 DC Evenfall Q&A – EVENFALL SPOILERS ONLY, post 1 of 2

Back in September 2014, in honor of our release of the Director’s Cut of Evenfall (volumes I and II), Santino and I decided to do a massive Q&A on our Santino & Ais Goodreads group. You can find the thread here, but you have to be a member of the group to access the page.

Recently on tumblr, I was asked if there was a way to share Q&A material somewhere that was accessible to people who didn’t have Goodreads accounts and therefore could not join that group. I have split the Q&A into two posts to stay in line with the way the Q&A was split up on that thread: the first section, this post you are reading, contains only spoilers for Evenfall. The second section, this linked post, contains spoilers past Evenfall so you should proceed with caution if you are not finished with the series.

There are two places in this section where there is a reference to something in Fade, and although it does not give specifics I still put it between **SPOILER** notes in case anyone wants to be very careful and skip those parts.

MAJOR THANKS to everyone who participated in the Q&A in 2014, and an especially huge thanks to Lenore, who took a lot of her own time and energy to compile all the questions that were asked and get them to Santino and me, and then she also organized the questions and posted it on our S&A group. Lenore, you are a legend. Thank you!

All the questions and answers are below a cut for length and so that anyone who has not even finished Evenfall will not see spoilers.

For anyone who may stumble upon this post and be very confused: All of this is regarding the series Santino and I wrote, called In the Company of Shadows.


 

Santino & Ais Q&A for Evenfall DC, originally posted September 21, 2014 on Santino & Ais Goodreads group

SECTION 1

Question: Has the editing process been more difficult than you thought?

Santino: The editing process is difficult because we are doing it alone. I feel as though I’ve learned a lot over the past year or two in terms of writing and editing, but you will never see all of the errors in your own work. My process is to edit the doc, step away, read and edit again, and then re-read on an e-reader, and I still find a ton to change and tweak. There is nothing better than having a professional editor and/or proofer, and I hope we one day have that with this series.

Ais: What Santino said 😉

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Question: Has there been anything about the original version that has made you cringe?

Ais: A lot of it lol Especially the Harry Arc… that was so bad. There were other parts I’d always wanted to improve, like the Jessica chapters. But even beyond that, once we got it cleaned up I realized more and more how horribly awkward a lot of it was phrased.

Santino: There were various scenes that were overwritten to a degree that caused intense mortification when I reread. So much was described in terms of what the characters thought, felt, and wanted to do but did instead, that the entire story was bogged down by these unnecessary details.

One of the biggest examples of this was the narration in the Harry arc, and the final mission at Hale’s mansion in Laguna de Sánchez. That mission was originally… something like 80 pages? Now, it’s about 20.

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Question: Has there been any scenes that you loved, but have had to remove?

Santino: We removed their first recon mission in Spain, and I was kind of regretful about that, but it was so easy to shift that information to other chapters and scenes that I could not justify us keeping it.

Ais: There was one sex scene I had always liked and I REALLY wanted to keep it, but the placement was always a bit awkward. In the rewrite, it just didn’t fit no matter how I wanted it to. I asked about if we could reuse it elsewhere but that probably wasn’t going to work, either. So we incorporated one aspect of it into another scene, and we might incorporate other aspects of it in future extras or scenes.

———

Question: In which situation do you love to write? At home or in a particular place, at night or on the couch, with the TV on or listening to music, etc.

Ais: It depends. I usually prefer silence and when it’s kind of dusk, with enough ambient light that my eyes aren’t strained but there’s enough darkness that I’m not super distracted by everything. But sometimes, if I know I have a lot to write or I want to get myself pumped up for it, then my preferred time is to wake up right away on the weekend, turn on the ICoS fan soundtrack list (or sometimes a shuffle of all my Pandora channels), and at those times I like it when it’s bright out. I’m basically always sitting at the computer at home, though. Occasionally I try to write outside but I only have a 6 year old netbook that’s compact in size and relatively light, but the screen is so small and the battery gets so hot that it becomes a problem.

Santino: I prefer to write at home, but I have also gotten a lot of work done at a library or coffee shop when I am removed from all distractions. To be honest, I get the most work done when I have no Internet access. As far as music, sometimes I listen to the story playlists on my grooveshark, and sometimes I like to be in complete silence. I have no single method apparently!

———

Question: What do you do when (if) you run out of inspiration? Do you have any “rituals” to get it back?

Santino: I do a lot of different things to get my mojo back, but the methods I almost always fall back on are reading my favorite books by authors I respect and admire (this is usually when my writing is not coming out the way I want), trolling Pinterest and pinning to my story boards, or just sleeping on it. Some of my best inspiration comes to me when I’m in that hypnagogic state where things are not quite real and I’m not quite awake anymore, but my mind is still spinning. The downfall is that I also forget half the things I come up with during that time. Although, there are other ways to get in that kind of mellow, free-falling mindset…ahem…

Ais: I usually either do research on a related topic to try to inspire myself (by watching movies, reading articles, looking up Google maps, or whatever else) or–if I don’t even have an idea for research or don’t want to do it–I try to remove myself from the story completely so I can come back at it with fresh eyes. At those times, I tend to binge on tv shows and anime because it’s entertaining and doesn’t take a lot of thought but it can get me passionate about something again and inspiration pops up in the most unexpected of scenes. When even that fails, or to supplement that, when I’m going to sleep at night I think of whatever storyline or scene I want to write and I let my subconscious run wild by making a story that becomes my dream. Sometimes I get very vivid images for scenes that way which can at times inspire a whole new plot line.

———

Question: I think that if you guys have been working together for so long is because you feel comfortable with each other and think more or less the same way, and are able to work out any differences in views you may have about your books. Has the editing process been difficult for you as a pair of editors/writers? Have there been differences in opinion on what should stay and what should go?

Santino: There will always be some debates about what should stay or go, and moments when we envision a scene differently, but for the most part we can resolve things easily enough, or at least know when to stop pushing for something if it isn’t going to happen.

One thing that we have gotten better at over the years is coming up with alternative ideas if one of us really doesn’t like a proposal instead of just shooting it down.

**SPOILER**For example, at the end of Fade, Boyd was originally going to have a very different experience with Janus, and we had to volley ideas back and forth for a LONG time before deciding the best way to go with that arc.**SPOILER**

Ais: I think most of the difficulty has been in how exhausting editing is, and how many times we have to go over everything. Our conflicting schedules also slow things down.

We really haven’t had that many differences of opinion on what should stay or go… Most of the time, if one person starts out with an opinion on something, we eventually end up of the same opinion. And if not, we compromise.

I do think that working together for so long has helped our ability to communicate and compromise.

———

Question: I believe that gestures outside the global capitalism rules are not easy to find. The system forces you to pay for those kind of decisions. So for me, that you keep on giving us the possibility of getting ICoS for free is humongous. And I´ll be grateful to you both forever. Did you ever regret the cost of having to hold the decision to keep the massive access to the books, instead of prioritizing commercial gain?

Ais: Nope 🙂 We’ve both been really committed to the idea of access since the start. We know that a lot of readers are international and don’t have near the same consistency of access as readers do closer to our home, or with exchange rates and shipping and handling it could become really expensive really fast for them. We’ve been lucky enough to have awesome people interested in reading our story from the start and I consider that to be way more payment than any money could be.

That being said, we do both eventually want to be authors full time so it would be nice to eventually make some small amount of money off ICoS. But I’ll definitely never regret any time it’s been free. I would never see it as a bad thing; to me it’s a good thing. It’s brought me even more friends and valued interactions around the world than I ever would have had the opportunity to have otherwise 🙂

Santino: In addition to what Ais said, if we do someday publish ICoS, we would keep a free version online the way Manna Francis and Aleksandr Voinov do with The Administration series and Special Forces.

———

Question: In the Directors Cut, Volume 1, how come you removed the scene where Sin demands that Boyd bring him books?

Santino & Ais: It was just one of those scenes that was chosen to meet the cutting room floor instead of the finished edition (like the mission in Spain and Sin menacing Jeffrey). That whole chapter actually got cut in order to dial back on the filler and word count. Another scene that got cut was the interaction with Jezebel which we’ll have to find a way to reintegrate in future books, edits, or extras.

——-

Question: How did Hsin Liu Vega and Boyd Beaulieu get their names? How do you come up with the (full) names of your characters? Do you try to give them names that fit the image you have of them and/or that’ll evoke emotions in the reader?

Santino: I usually try to pick names that fit the overall image of the character in my mind. The original character of Sin was a psychopathic serial killer and was barely human, and his nickname was simply “Sin” because he was so evil. When ICoS-Sin was created, I took his ethnic background into consideration and went from there. It helped that “Sin” could easily be a bastardized pronunciation of “Hsin”.

Kassian Trovosky is another example of a name i chose because it fit the character, but I then did some research to make sure it fit. Although Kassian is of Russian origin, his family emigrated to to the United States in the 19th century so there are not close cultural ties to Russia anymore, including his family name. The name Trovosky is a bastardization of the Russian name Tarkovsky, and would have been altered from its original form when his ancestors first came to the United States. The name Kassian is similar. The original version of the name is the Slavic name Kas’yan or Kasyan.

Ais: I can’t remember exactly how Boyd got his first name; whether I saw the name first and then saw Boyd Holbrook when looking for a character representation, or whether I first got the idea for the name Boyd from Boyd H. As for Beaulieu, I knew his family was French-Canadian from Quebec. It was too long ago since I first created him so I can’t say for sure how I found his last name, but I do know I really liked the way it flowed.

In general, I vary in how ridiculously meticulous I get. If we’re in a hurry and it’s a side character, sometimes I just choose a name that fits how I envision them, but most of the time a fair amount of thought goes into it.

Usually my process is to choose one name I like and that sounds right for the character, then from there identify the rest of the name. Depending on the situation, I also like to fit the meaning of the name to the person.

Ways I do this vary based on the situation. Some options are:

*search for surnames based on the ancestry or living area of the character until I find a few that fit

*use my massive baby names book from around the world to check for an appropriate name (based on how or where the person would have been named, not necessarily their ethnicity)

*flip through my three-book-set called the New Century Cyclopedia of Names–especially for surnames, and especially when I know I want the name to start with a certain letter and need ideas

*I also often check the etymology to make sure I like the meaning of the name and that I think the sound of the name fits

*For Boyd’s family genealogy, in some places I also looked up the censuses from the cities/states where I knew they’d lived, during the times I knew they’d lived there, and then chose an actual name. I’m always careful to not replicate an entire name from a census

*For names in a country or culture that have specific naming rules, I try to research that first and then identify a name that fits. Liani is the best example of that; her name is Liani Bintang Sujatmi, which went according to the article I had read at the time on Indonesian naming conventions. Although it’s probably a bit unusual that her name is Liani and she doesn’t go by a nickname, but at the same time, we haven’t yet seen her alone with Tayla.

Then, I usually write all the versions the name could be on a separate document, bold the ones I like the most, do any last minute checking for meaning etc., sometimes leave it alone for a day or more to let it germinate, and choose one. In the coming days, if I decide I still don’t like it, I might rename again.

———

Question: From each book, which chapters or what are the scenes that you liked the most or you enjoyed writing the most?

Ais: In DC Evenfall volume 1, I really like the Portland mission where Boyd is injured, and Sin gets worried and helps him. I love the shower scene because I can visualize it, and I like how that chapter gets at both of their issues: Sin is frustrated with the fact that he cares about someone else, that he sees himself as slipping when really he’s allowing himself to be more human, and it’s one of the first times we see how the past trauma Boyd normally represses pulls the more human part of Boyd out as well; the part of him that emotes (albeit, in this case, in terror/panic), and the part that feels anything. I like the gentleness Sin shows outwardly while inwardly he’s frustrated/confused, and how neither of them really know what the hell they’re doing. That was one of the first new material we wrote when we did our edit in 2011 and I’ve been fond of the chapter since.

In DCv2, honestly I really enjoyed writing the Jorge scenes with Boyd, because it let me do research on the city, get help on language that would reflect the kid, and it let me flesh out a character I always really liked but who faded easily into the background before.

I like writing Boyd interacting with informants because he never sees anything good in himself, so the tone of his pov is typically very biased against himself. Sometimes, his actions tell a different story than the story he’s telling himself of his own life.

Hopefully readers could see why the informants come to trust Boyd, even if he can’t always identify the reason himself. Those interactions are when Boyd is most like Cedrick, and I always think that Cedrick would have been happy to see his son in those scenes. Well, those interactions, and when he’s digging into a case.

Santino: I also really love that shower scene when Sin is tending to Boyd’s wounds for the first time. He is so furious with himself for allowing Boyd to be hurt, and so panicked that Boyd is seriously injured, that he completely ignores protocol and responds emotionally while trying to soothe Boyd, which he has no clue how to do. It was one of the first scenes where Sin truly had to temper his strength and his behavior because he realizes this moment where Boyd is vulnerable is a big deal, and he needs to be not only a real partner, but also a friend.

———

Question: If during the editing there’s a scene that one of you wants to keep and the other doesn’t, how do you decide what to do?

Ais: Most of it comes down to give and take, and explaining why we feel the way we do. A lot of times, the whole scene may not need to stay but aspects of it could be rewritten into a new scene. Most of the time, we were in agreement on what needed to go. If we are diametrically opposed on something, and a conversation doesn’t serve to sway one side or the other, we find a compromise. For example, moving that scene to something that can be included in extras in the future, like as a deleted scene.

Santino: We also ask ourselves whether that scene is truly needed to move the plot or develop the characters, and try to be objective about it from there. We both have a lot of darlings in ICoS and figuring out which ones to kill was not easy.

———

Question: After reading the whole series, I found it really hard to re-enter my real life. It felt like I’d been literally living in ‘your’ world and it all felt very real, as if I was a part of it all. Was writing for you as intense as reading was for me?

Santino: I love that you said that. It’s one of the best things you can say to a writer, I think. I think a lot of writers end up writing because they experienced that kind of powerful connection with a book at one point in their lives, so for a reader to say that to me is amazing. I’ve accomplished that special thing for at least one person, and that is enough.

As for your question, there were moments when writing truly was intense. By the end of the series, I was incredibly attached to the characters.

**SPOILER** I think everyone knows by now that I had intended to kill two of my characters at the end of Fade. However, it wasn’t necessary for anything other than shock value, and the very idea was traumatic. I altered the way that scene played out, but even writing the shooting was very intense. I wanted it to be heart wrenching and I wanted the pain to be real, and I had to really think about how I would feel and act in that moment if the love of my life had been murdered in front of me. **SPOILER**

Ais: Aww, that’s so awesome to hear! Thank you! For me, it can be. I’m kind of ADHD so I tend to hyperfocus on one thing or I get really distracted. I can’t write multiple stories at once because I need to immerse myself in the world and psychology of the characters or I lose a lot of the intuition I have for “this character would do this because it feels right” that I later can put into words for WHY it logically makes sense per their background/the context. I can sit down and write for 15 hours straight no problem, but writing 5 different worlds in 15 minute increments is really hard for me to do.

It makes it difficult because I just want to sit down and write only that story and not have to break for all this other stuff like work and real life. I can’t tell you how many times I told friends I couldn’t meet because of ICoS. But I also think that’s what makes us keep coming back to ICoS, because we love the world and characters so much. It’s probably ingrained itself on our psyches after all this time 😉

———

Question: I was wondering, since I helped you out some with the translation of Spanish bits, how do you decide how much of the dialogue between characters happens in English and how much of it is in a third language (not necessarily Spanish)?

Ais: I think we look at language the same as we do any other piece of the story: what is most important in this scene, and how do we best show it?

Ideally, we’d write all the dialogue in whatever language is being spoken, but ultimately this is an English-written series so we have to balance it carefully so that anyone who only reads English gets all the important information.

There are two approaches we use, which you can see between Evenfall DCV1 and DCV2. In Vol 1, it was important to the plot for all readers to know exactly what Thierry was saying, and it was important to know when he was speaking English or French in front of Hsin, so we italicized anything in another language. In Vol 2, because it’s set for several months in Mexico, there’s a lot more Spanish infused in the background and dialogue. This is in part to make it more realistic but largely because the language itself becomes part of the character development.

In the beginning, Boyd doesn’t know Spanish so he’s very awkward and Hsin helps teach Boyd Spanish by encouraging him to converse in it. But speaking Spanish, especially slang-ridden Spanish, becomes one of the ways Boyd builds rapport with Jorge over the months, by showing him that he’s reaching out to him and on his same level. Including the actual Spanish helps show the nuances of that; the beginning where Boyd stumbles awkwardly over everything and uses incorrect grammar and tenses, and the end where he’s using the same vernacular as his CI.

For those who don’t speak Spanish or want to know what he said, we included an appendix with translations and cultural notes.

———

Question: Since you’re in an editing process, how do you decide what goes and what stays or changes?

Ais: It’s been a bit of a process, because we have to look at the overall story. The actual decision is very much based on conversations between us and explanations of why this should stay or go. It’s sad to see some scenes go but if it was extraneous to the main plot then a lot of times we had to remove it or else it just added a lot of extra wording. One thing that usually makes me feel better about it is if we change it in a way that is interesting.

For example, I always had some problems with the scene in Monterrey where Boyd’s past is revealed. We redid it a couple times over the years but when doing DC, we redid it completely. We lost one part I wanted to keep in (the actual reveal of under his shirt) but at the same time, the scene now feels much more realistic and meaningful to me because before too much happened at once. Still, I didn’t want to lose that completely so I tried multiple times in the reread to find a place it could go, but there’s just no good place with the current flow. We have plans for how we can incorporate that scene in the future for something fun.

———

Question: I would love to know: Are you planning to make more changes over the next Director’s Cuts or is it a process getting out of your hands? Like Hsin and Boyd doing it on their own. I recognized lately that characters tend to change things and now I’m curious how this work out between two authors.

Santino: The only concrete changes we have planned for Afterimage, The Interludes, and Fade revolve around pacing, language mechanics, and fat trimming. Nothing major will be changed content-wise in the rest of the series except for cutting some scenes and chapters here and there.

Ais: I think there will probably be the same kind of changes in future DCs: mostly making the story flow better and updating scenes that needed some work. It’s hard to say until we sit down and work on them, but I think the amount of things that change will decrease over time because our writing style has improved over the years.

That being said, characters do tend to change things, lol. I think that’s more of a danger in the actual writing of the story than the editing (because at that point things are more set in stone) but for sure, it’s definitely been my experience that in writing the characters just go off and do their own thing and as a writer you have to be willing to go along for the ride. We both are totally for that, so it’s worked out well as two authors because we just tell the other person, “I’m pretty sure __ will happen” and then we figure out together how to integrate it.

———

Question: When you posted ICoS for the first time did you expect this success? How do you feel now that hundreds of thousands of people read your books and ask you questions and make friend requests on both Facebook and Twitter? All this in addition to fanfictions and fanarts and the entire universe that has been created around ICoS.

Santino: LOL, I don’t know if there are hundreds of thousands, but according to Goodreads, over 5,000 people have downloaded the original Evenfall, and that is amazing. I don’t know how accurate that number is, but even seeing that it has been rated over 2,000 times is tremendous. I never thought I would be able to write a full novel, let alone have readers who consider themselves fans, or have a group of people willing to create art and fanfic for our series. It’s mind-boggling.

Ais: I agree with Santino! I can’t wrap my mind around it. As for the rest—lol, not at all! I thought Santino was crazy when he first suggested we post it online. I didn’t think anyone would read it so I basically told him it would be wasting his time if he posted but he was welcome to do so. I honestly figured we’d get one view, if we were lucky. I’m not sure how many people exactly have read it since then, and generally I don’t think about it because it doesn’t make any sense in my head to think that anyone has read and enjoyed something I contributed to writing, let alone more than one or two people.

I count myself to be incredibly lucky that anyone is awesome enough to read the story, and even more if they do anything like reach out to us in whatever fashion. It’s amazing to see someone make something after being inspired by our story, and it’s also amazing to hear from people who say they’ve never contacted an author before but felt compelled to do so now. Every connection really means a lot to me.

Overall, I’m extremely grateful that Santino suggested we post it back then because I’ve met so many wonderful people indirectly or directly because of ICoS and that is way more than I could have ever hoped for, and is still way more than I can truly comprehend.

———

Question: Can we expect another awesome Sonny & Ais collab in the future? (non ICOS)?

Ais: We don’t have any plans at the moment but if something were to come up, I doubt either of us would be opposed. Right now, when we get together for writing, we both still have ICoS on the brain. But overall, I think our strengths and weaknesses as writers balance each other out pretty well, we know how to plot together and we know how to deal with changing stories, so it’s not an impossibility that someday we’d get an idea for something new.

———

Question: Will Sin and Boyd ever get a baby? I hope so.

Ais: Honestly, at this point I don’t see it happening in canon. There’s too much else going on in their lives and I don’t think either of them ever really wanted a kid. Series tend to do their own thing. I think the most likely scenario, were it to ever occur, would be if they briefly took under their wing some street kid who needed help for a bit but ultimately left.

However, that being said, I also don’t want to dissuade any ideas people have for stories they would find intriguing 🙂 I think that’s the sort of topic that could work very well for a fanfic plot for someone who likes the idea and wants to explore it.

Santino: Honestly? Sin would most likely never want a kid. A quote from Volume 1 sums up his perspective pretty solidly: “Sin shook his head, appalled at the idea of creating something like him. Fucked in the head chemically, violence and murder in his blood.”

———

Question: People are really talking about Sin & Boyd’s child. So… I want to know what you guys think about the child. What is your headcanon regarding this idea?

Ais: I don’t actually have a headcanon for the idea, but I love that it became a collaborative idea that got people excited. So for that, I think it’s a topic that someone out there could have fun writing a fanfic about 🙂 Basically, I think any time someone has an idea they love but that may or may not ever make it canon, they should write fanfic or otherwise explore the idea on their own so they can still have fun with it regardless of whether it makes it into an official plot 🙂 That way, other people who also were intrigued by the same idea can have fun too.

———

Question: When you guys started plotting out the story for ICoS, did you plan all the way up to Fade or was it more of an arc-by-arc/short term kind of thing?

Ais: I really wish I could find the original document! It would be interesting to show everyone but it’s probably lost for good.

We plotted for one book but, during writing it out, we ended up breaking those bullet points up and spreading them out across the series. So, to an extent we had plotted into Fade, but a lot of things changed by the time we got there. And the path was much longer than anticipated because we kept adding things in between as the characters/story progressed.

———

Question: Why is the book called “Evenfall”? Who came up with this name? If there’s a story behind the title of your first book me and everybody else would like to hear it.

Ais: You can find a longer and more detailed answer here. But Evenfall was actually the last book of the series we named. Originally, it was just called In the Company of Shadows (that title was the title of an unrelated poem I wrote and I threw it out as an option when we needed a name). Then ICoS became the series title and eventually we had to give the first book a name.

Sometimes, to get ideas for a title, I take a word that sort of fits and then I start going through synonyms and synonyms of synonyms until I find one I like. That’s what happened for Evenfall. Apparently I’d started with the word ‘flux’ and somehow ended up with a list of words that included Evenfall. We both really liked how it fit in with the theme of light/dark, and the progression from Evenfall (which essentially means dusk/twilight) to Fade.

———

Question: Which character do you each find most difficult to write and what contributes to their difficulty rating?

Santino: Sin used to be very difficult to write because he was so fucked up. He had essentially never had a childhood, an adolescence, or any kind of normal relationship with another person until he met Boyd, so trying to write his progression in a believable way is hard. When you take into consideration the depression, anxiety, and the depersonalization, it just gets more complicated. For him to be a functional person, there were a lot of road blocks, and all of that had to be taken into consideration as he navigated his way through the series.

Ais: Boyd is probably the most difficult to write for me, because I really get into his mindset when writing him.

Don’t get me wrong, I love him. But (as I saw a reviewer say) he’s imprisoned in his own mind.

Especially in the process of writing ICoS over the series, I really had to immerse myself into his thought processes to know how he would react to this or that, what he would think about something, and also remember what he did and didn’t know in the greater context of the Agency and even his own life. He doesn’t know even half of what’s really been going on until the end of Fade, and he also is growing as a person and an agent and a partner besides. The series basically shows him growing into his own independent person who is able to put behind him a lot of the trauma and cruxes that previously held him back.

So I always had to be very cognizant of his status in the greater context of the story. In order to show his progress, I had to balance him making mistakes with him trying really hard; him learning from those mistakes but something else happening… I always had to remember what his previous state of skill was so I made sure he was constantly progressing in that, while trying to keep it realistic. It was important to me that he remain very human throughout the series because he was thrown into this world where people are doing inhumane things and his partner is this superhuman guy who’s naturally incredible at so many things. If Boyd progressed too quickly or too slowly in contrast to the other people around him, I felt that it would throw off the narrative; but that was a fine balance to keep in mind, and required that he still make mistakes through much of the series. So I always had to be very conscious of his previous narrative, the timeline of events, and what was plotted to come.

But he’s also so harsh on himself for everything and suffers from depression a lot, plus he wants so much to be loved but believes so little that he deserves it. All of that together made it emotionally draining to write him. There were times I asked Santino if I could kill Boyd off because I was so exhausted from writing him. I was always joking but it just goes to show how much mental energy little Beaulieu took to write.

But that’s also why I love him; because no matter what life throws at him, he never gives up and he never stops believing in the people around him even when he can’t find a way to believe in himself.

———

Question: How do you organize all of the character/location/related information in a way that works for both of you (…google doc)?

Ais: I’m not sure if we’ve perfected that yet, to be honest lol But we primarily use google docs and share them so we can both edit as needed. You can also make rudimentary maps/drawings and spreadsheets in google docs so we use that option too where needed.

We also have a shared Pinterest board, although that’s more of a recent addition.

Other than that, I think it’s mostly that we each have our own system on our computers and then any time it requires sharing, we usually have it as a gdoc or (particularly in the case of all the editing we’ve been doing) we sent normal word documents back and forth and try to keep track of changes.

On my own computer for my own projects, I really like Scrivener as a great catch-all, but it doesn’t work well as a collaborative option.

———

Question: Have you two met IRL? Do your online personalities match your IRL personalities (haha)?

Ais: We live across the country from each other so we haven’t met in person yet, but we’ve talked on the phone, shared videos, spoken online, and of course emailed, messaged, shared pictures, and more for years. I’d say our IRL personalities are not far from our online lol For example, when we first spoke on the phone it was hilarious. I talked forever and poor Santino barely got a word or two in. Actually, I saved the convo we had right after the first time we talked on the phone so you can see it here:

Santino: well now you know that the repeated “yea. yea. yea.” thing is actually how i have convos
Ais: lol
well now you know i never give people time to say anything more than ‘yeah’ in between my breaths
Santino: LOL
Ais: so when im like BLARGH LOTS OF WORDS its just because im naturally super wordy
Santino: thats funny
Ais: you were like XD
trying to say things
Santino: LOL
Ais: and i had to pause to be like WHAT DID U SAY DIDNT HEAR
TALKING OVER U SRY
although i was trying to go fast too so you could get back to the kids
Santino: dude im just awkward on the phone anyway
i just am silent
Ais: idk you didnt seem awkward to me
like you actually said stuff. my one cousin legit is silent THE WHOLE TIME
Santino: i dont think i talk enough
and then, well, some people i know
theyre like OMG U DONT HAVE MORE COMMENTS?
Ais: lol
i dont think ive ever been that person XD

———

Question: Do you ever get bored or less motivated while writing in the middle of the story. I mean, it’s a long one and took several years to finish. If so, what do you usually do to get back to writing?

Santino: I don’t necessarily get bored, but I do sometimes feel stuck when writing, and I have to take a step back. When that happens, I usually take some time to read or work on something else, or I start writing side or back stories to get back into the groove. The only time I truly ran out of steam was when we were writing Fade.

Ais: I do… Actually, a story I’ve been writing each NaNo since 2012 is like that right now. Sometimes I find that putting the story aside for a few weeks is very helpful, because when I come back to it I might have more ideas. If I can’t do that, then I try to find ways to get myself interested in it again by focusing on a subject or part of the story that is intriguing to me at the time, and then reinvigorating my interest by researching it, or watching movies or something that will keep my mind active on that theme. (For example, when trying to figure out what to do for Boyd’s extended in a later book, I ended up doing a lot of research on Unit 731, and watched movies like Philosophy of a Knife. They were not directly related topics, but the mindset was similar. Of course, I also did research on more directly related themes, but that’s an example of how sometimes I go at things from the side to get myself interested again)

In the case of ICoS, it helped a lot that two of us were writing it together. Because then there was always another person who could contact you and go, “Hey, where’s your reply?” Also, having someone to bounce ideas off is a great way to take a scene or plot point that seems boring at first and then infuse new life into it.

———

Question: I’ve always wondered about what the back story to the team was before Boyd came on board? What was the dynamics of the team? Who were the other partners and how did their missions with Hsin get them eliminated. As far as I’ve read it has never been given voice except in basic, “They were stupid and died”. Will there maybe be a short to explain the behaviors or thoughts of the other partners or a bit more of an insight as to why Hsin has such negative behaviors with Boyd on the beginning missions.

Santino: This is explained a bit more in the Director’s Cut of Evenfall, but Sin never gives any specific details. Two of his partners made the fatal mistake of treating Sin like he was a fighting dog they had the luxury of controlling. They disrespected him verbally and, after realizing that he wasn’t ALWAYS out of control like the rumors said, made the mistake of thinking they could bully him in a more physical way. It didn’t work out so well for them in the end. When Sin defends himself, he goes in for the kill.

The third partner, Laurel, did exactly what Boyd did in the Canada mission—tried to negotiate by going in shooting and being too aggressive. She was not as bad as the previous two partners, but Sin had no attachment to her and did not risk himself to save her life as he did with Boyd. The last partner, Coral, failed to listen to Sin’s advice and planned a horrible storm. Again, Sin didn’t bother to save him. As Sin saw it, if they weren’t willing to listen to him, he had no reason to bail them out.

So, in many ways everything Sin did on his first mission with Boyd was a test, and Boyd failed that test. Sin assumed Boyd would be like the others and dismissed him quickly. Later, he realized Boyd WAS different, but trusting him was difficult because Sin was so used to people attempting to control and manipulate him.

 

 

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