SPOILERS PAST EVENFALL BELOW!!! BEWARE!! Read with caution! There could be spoilers as far as the end of Fade!
This is the second section of the Q&A Santino and I did on our S&A GR group in September 2014. This is the section with all the spoilers past Evenfall. ONCE AGAIN – BEWARE SPOILERS!!
Question: If Emilio and Carhart were to get accidentally modded or I guess entered into a mpreg universe, which one do u think would carry the child and why lol (also who would the kid take after?)
Santino: Er, neither. But Carhart would be the most paternal of the two in terms of caring for a small child.
Question: In the sequel I remember you guys stating that you’ll have several different POVs and I was wondering if there could be like a ‘behind the enemy lines’ POV from maybe Bex or anyone else still at the agency or the other organization(so sorry forgot its name) that started to gain power in 1/27?
Santino & Ais: There will be 🙂 Bex and/or Cade will have some POVs. And Jeffrey will have some POV chapters from the Knights’ perspective most likely.
Question: Any chance of a side or alt-views of the time that went between Boyd’s extended and the beginning of Fade?
Santino: At some point, I plan to write the development of Ryan and Kassian’s friendship during that period. It won’t be a full novel or anything, but it will either be a novella or a series of shorts.
Ais: I’ve thought about, and even started, a novella of Boyd on his extended which would include pieces from his return, prior to the beginning of Fade. But I don’t think it will ever come to be because there just isn’t a good way to write that story.
Question: If the field agents can be modded would it then follow that our Boyd could be given a modified eye? Something on the order of say…idk, Major Steve Austin for example?
Ais: It’s definitely possible that could come up at some point. The biggest question would be what level of tech is available for it, is he able to access it, and does he actually want to do it. I have an idea for how I would want it to go in the beginning if we ever did that–and of course, being me, I don’t think it should be easy. But as for if it’s certain? It isn’t. It’ll come down to a number of things but one of them is I don’t want it to seem like he has to get that to become “whole” again. I specifically wanted the attack to have permanent damage to show how someone doesn’t become something less or other than who they are as a person just because of something that affects them physically. Actually, that’s the theme with a lot of what happens with Boyd, and the same theme could be said for Hsin both mentally and physically.
Question: Will there be another installment of the Julian files? And, out of curiosity, would you describe the relationship between Owen and Jeffrey to be purely platonic? I love their dynamic, and how much they both drastically changed, particularly when we saw them in 1/27. Can we expect to see their weird rivals-turned-comrades relationship develop even further in the possible sequel?
Ais: Aww thanks for your interest! ❤ There will be more Julian Files. I haven’t written more yet because I’ve been distracted with the DCs. Also, I have to finalize a lot of dates that pertain to Cedrick in order to write about Julian. I just haven’t finished that yet.
As for Owen and Jeffrey, I’m glad to hear it 🙂 By the way, you aren’t the only one who is curious about them. There will very likely be some exploration of their interaction if we ever write the sequel because there’s a pretty good chance one of the POVs will be Jeffrey’s. As for describing the relationship, I’m not even sure how to lol I’m not trying to dismiss the question—but I think the way they both see it is not only different between each other, but also fluid within their own minds. And until I get the chance to write everything down in their POVs I don’t want to tell you something that later changes a bit. But if we write the sequel, this will likely be explored.
Regardless, since the first moment someone said they liked O/J (which was years ago) I always thought it was really cool to see what was essentially the idea of fandom shipping of something that was ambiguous in canon, because usually I’m on the other side of that as the reader shipping someone else’s work lol.
Question: After over two years of somewhat happy relationship are Emilio and Zachary more tender towards each other? I’m just trying to picture them together when alone and I’m wondering how would they express their love, is Emilio finally ready for a hug or *gasp of shock* maybe even an embrace from now and then? In one chapter you say that Zachary won’t be able to stop touching him now that he can and I can’t help thinking he doesn’t mean it in only sexual way. They are both hardened men but have they finally learned how to soften a little?
Santino: Emilio isn’t a mush, but he is a very tactile person. Very sensory-seeking in every way, and part of that is being in constant physical contact with others. ESPECIALLY with Zach, now that he is able to do so without Zachary shoving him away. Because of that, and because of what happened at the end of Fade, there are quiet moments in the late or early morning hours when he will get close to Zachary just to feel his warmth and listen to his heartbeat, just to remind himself that Zachary is there and he is really alive.
For Zachary, he is definitely more affectionate with Emilio now. The key thing is that their brand of affection is very different than what one may expect. They are rough with each other more often than not, but touching Emilio has also become an addiction for him, and no, not just in a sexual way.
Question: When will we know what happened to Hsin and Boyd and the other after the end of 1/27?
Santino & Ais: Unfortunately, we don’t have a timeline set right now. But we do have the general story plotted out, so theoretically we will write it out at some point. And, barring that, having it plotted at least means that if nothing else, in the future we could tell people what we’d planned.
Question: I guess I’m curious what does it feel like when writing characters with no chemistry and then you decide that it’s there? I’m not sure I’m making sense, but I guess I want to know when/how you two decided that Boyd & Hsin were going to become a couple. I can see writing as a singular writer, but even then I’m sure characters change. Is it the way the writing of scenes develop? The way the dialogue comes out? Do you look at pictures for inspiration and you decide you want to write the chemistry there? The same goes for Ryan & Kassian and Emilio and Zach…how do you know characters belong together in that way and does sometimes it not work out and you scrap pairings?
Santino: For E/Z, I always knew there had been something there, but I didn’t expect the power dynamics and explosive chemistry that would come out of the page until I started writing them. It was plotted in their history, but I didn’t know it would be so desperate and intense instead of just being a former puppy love. It happened pretty organically once they were in a scene together.
R/K is a little different. I had NO plans for that to happen until I started thinking about their experiences while the world fell apart around them, and how they would come to rely on each other during that time. It was completely unexpected until I started picturing those scenes and scripting them in my mind.
Ais: I think a lot of it is pretty organic, and then we just follow the lead of the characters and see where it goes.
For example, we didn’t expect any chemistry between Boyd and Hsin, but it really only took about two scenes writing them together before we both stopped and went, “…I think they would fall for each other.” That realization was in seeing the way their personalities interacted, the way they responded to each other, and so on.
For other characters, some of them we knew would be interested in each other, and others we didn’t suspect until something happened—a build up of their character progression over time, or a specific scene that went a certain way, or whatever other reason.
At times it would be a surprise comment from one of us to the other of, “I think _X_ would want to do _Y_ with _Z_” and then together we would figure out whether to include that in the story, and if so, how. I don’t think we ever said no to those realizations; we went with them because it was what made sense for the character.
At that point, if it was a lasting thing we went for it, or if it was short-lived that was fine too. Whatever felt right. It’s mostly in the personality.
Question: Hopefully my question hasn’t already been answered somewhere where in a side story I missed it or something, making me look completely moronic, but in the gift shop, you have “Kassian’s to do list” and Gordon is crossed off, implying they have slept together. When did that happen and if it hasn’t been written yet, any plans to do so?
Santino: Ahhh, that is like a little Easter egg! I’m glad you caught it. :] The only clues as to Kassian and Gordon hooking up is the conversation Kassian has with Harriet in The Interludes about his frequenting Jake & Janet’s, and Carla teasing Gordon in After Midnight about all the men he has had sex with down in the basement of J&J, including one “tall tattooed guy”. I think only one person ever picked up on it and asked me if it was Kassian.
It’s never been written out and I might one day if I have time, but it was just an anonymous one-off in the dark and they never saw each other outside the club.
Another common hookup is the bartender in Killian’s pub—Kassian, Gordon, AND Emilio have had a piece of that guy, but the references are very subtle and scattered throughout the books.
Question: Why hasn’t Boyd caught any STDs? Like seriously he slept with Emilio lol he should be so happy he can’t get pregnant. He should have a to do list too.
Ais: LOL If that’s the criteria, then there are a lot of other people who would be in much more danger than him 😉
Joking aside, to go in detail would make it too long of an answer but the short of it is: before the Agency he’d only ever been with Lou, at the Agency they regularly screen/check their agents and most people are careful about their health so they use protection in appropriate places, and on the long mission they were even more strict than the Agency in their rules and regulations. In some ways he was lucky because there were scenarios where something could have happened, but in other ways it’s because in his personal life he’s only ever with people he trusts, and on missions everything is very regulated. (If you want a longer answer, go here.
A list would be funny but it would just be filled with Hsin at this point lol
Santino: Ha, I’m surprised you didn’t ask this about Kassian!
Question: We’ve seen Sin x Boyd x Kass in Interludes. But will there be a Vega Sandwich soon? Or maybe Zach x Emilio x Kass?
Santino: Sin will never share Boyd! (not in canon anyway) Also, I think post-Fade, Emilio has grown out of that idea. It didn’t make him feel the way he thought it would when he had sex with Boyd. He was ashamed of himself, and that had never happened before.
The tension between Kassian and Emilio will go in a totally different direction in the sequel … and not one that leads to sex. :]
Question: Did you struggle writing any specific scenes? If so, why were they difficult? Also, is there anything in particular that you find difficult to write, say if one of your characters gets hurt, sex scenes, fighting scenes, or emotionally charged scenes like when Boyd had to deal with Hsin’s death or when Emilio saw Zach get shot?
Ais: This probably says something bad about me, but I don’t struggle with writing most topics, even if they’re scenes of the character in pain; actually, I love writing dark topics. I think because it helps me explore the psychology of the event objectively. Writing that part with Boyd was mostly difficult just to make sure that it was coming across right in his initial reaction, but the rest of it felt very natural to me because that’s how I would react.
Actually, years ago while I was in the middle of a class at work I learned that a very beloved pet had been killed by a car almost right in front of my parents. The news was devastating but I didn’t want to upset my parents by seeming upset (even though they lived in another state and told me over the phone) and I didn’t want people at work to see how vulnerable I was. So I stayed there for hours, hyperfocusing on the task at hand because when I didn’t I felt my eyes pricking, and the entire ride on public transportation home I remained composed. I walked calmly up to my apartment, calmly checked to see if my roommates were home, calmly locked the door and then shut myself in my room, and once I was all alone I completely broke apart.
I knew that was what Boyd would do, too, so it felt simple to model it on that experience.
I think maybe the hardest thing to write is fight scenes (because I get bored of them quickly) and sex scenes (for the same reason + to make sure we don’t become repetitive in wording or positions)
Santino: Writing the scene with Emilio and Zach was very difficult for me. I said so in another answer, but I tried to consider how I would feel in that position, how I have felt in the past after losing a close friend or my ex-boyfriend, and I tried to put those feelings into Emilio’s reaction to seeing Zach gunned down.
Other scenes that I found difficult were the breakup scenes with Sin and Boyd in Afterimage. Trying to convey Sin’s frustration and confusion and self-loathing was a challenge. The scene in Hong Kong when Sin goes back to the brothel where he was raised and freaks out after finding out about Kassian and Boyd was pretty tough.
Question: Just saw where you are going to be working together on a new series…YAYYYYY!!! Can you give us any hints about it? Hopefully it will have a bi MC… or is that just wishful thinking on my part? And please give Boyd his eye back… Ha!!! That was the only reason I wanted them to go back to the agency… 🙂 Luv your work & Thanks.
Ais: We haven’t discussed the sexual orientation of any of the new characters but it isn’t impossible that someone could be bi 🙂
As for Boyd, he might not have to go back to the Agency for that. It’s possible that could be made available outside of them. It hasn’t been decided yet whether he’ll get a new eye. Given the technology, it isn’t impossible that he could get one, but at the moment it isn’t specifically planned. But we also only have a rough draft of the plot.
Question: My question comes from a dream after reading icos few months ago – Sin was going through a dark building under firefight looking for an escape route and came upon small child (about 5yr old) with an uncanny resemblance to himself – it was a pretty scary dream at the time, later I thought that the building was the new agency base and the kid was a clone of Sin, makes sense to me that the agency lab would have done this as well as the genetic engineering. It’s stayed in my mind all this time and this q&a has given me the opportunity to rec this.
Santino: You just jumpstarted all kinds of amazing plot bunnies in my brain. This is not in our plans for the potential sequel, but it is a logical step the Agency would take. Something about Sin is unique enough to be compatible with all of their experiments in a way that no other subject has been, and they would want to preserve that. Cloning would allow them to do so.
Question: Santino, will “Breathe” be your next published work or are other projects taking a priority, like the paranormal one set in Louisiana? So glad you changed from romance to contemporary since that was not making you happy… 🙂
Santino: I’m not sure what I will publish next! I am working on three novels at the moment and have a number of projects planned for the future. “Breathe” is the most complete as of now in terms of final edits before I decide what to do with it, and the southern gothic novel (which was originally a novella) is next on my to-do list.
Question: I love Emilio and Zach. When you wrote their scenes after they became intimate did you find it hard to find a balance between their tough personas versus their affectionate sides with each other?
Santino: Writing Emilio and Zach was interesting in that they often reacted to each other in ways I didn’t expect. They have a very interesting chemistry and part of that is because they are both very aggressive. They both so desperately want control of the situation while not wanting to show any weaknesses. When they finally came together, it worked perfectly in that Zach knows exactly what to expect from Emilio, and Emilio makes it quite clear what he wants from Zach, and they both are very open about how much they love each other now, but there are still these little trigger moments that cause things to go awry, and that happens in the writing sometimes when I don’t expect it. They are very possessive of each other and that is when that roughness and domineering aggression comes out the most.
Question: Boyd came back a druggie from his one year absence and according to the dialog, he was sexually abused. When he returned, did he receive some kind of modification to heal?
Ais: Mostly no, but possibly a little yes (as far as meds). The reason for that answer is two-pronged: 1) the ICoS world has advanced medical techniques compared to our current reality, and 2) to an extent what is already available in our timeline would have been sufficient even without modding being needed.
Human trafficking, sexual and physical abuse, and drug addiction are all such heavy topics that it’s difficult to do it justice in one answer. I don’t want to overwhelm anyone with information, but I also don’t want to discount the seriousness of these topics. So I’m going to try to focus on the initial rehab/detox part, but keep in mind that everything Boyd went through resulted in long-term issues due to both the physical and psychological damage.
Below are some more specifics on pieces of his recovery.
He actually had access to medical aid throughout his time on the mission, and the quality of that care was greatly increased once he moved to Aleixo’s. Although Cyclone treated the slaves like pieces of meat, they also did see them as tools they’d invested in, so minimal maintenance was required. The slaves weren’t allowed to be permanently injured as far as physical attacks went, but he did suffer multiple injuries.
The injuries or medical concerns were treated at the time, so he definitely would have scars and other long-lasting damage, but with the exception of one or two major events once he got to Aleixo’s, most of the egregious injuries he sustained during the course of sexual and physical abuse happened months before he returned to Lexington. And the one particularly damaging, major event that occurred at Aleixo’s was followed up with almost as good of treatment as if he’d been back at the Agency.
I do want to be clear: none of this was done out of concern for Boyd or the slaves. It was purely utilitarian, the way one would eventually get around to fixing issues in a car so they could continue to drive it. Boyd had access to better treatment at Aleixo’s because Aleixo is a rich and powerful man who only uses the best, but he was also severely injured because Aleixo was making sure he stayed in his place.
In general, it’s a story for another time, but his body was EXTREMELY stressed out during the course of the mission. This was largely due to Slide, which was so hard on the body at such long time periods that it could potentially induce life-threatening seizures. Also, overdosing was a concern because sometimes clients gave slaves multiple drugs at once even when they were already high on Slide.
You can think of Slide ROUGHLY as sort of an advanced hybrid of bremelanotide/PT-141 and crystal meth, at least insofar as the way those drugs work.
Slide is highly addictive so in rehab, apart from the detoxification, he also received medical treatment, and psychological support, all tailored specifically to him.
Regarding the physical withdrawal, not to get too far into it but even in our current reality some of this would be the same. Withdrawal is worst right away, and gets a little better over time. The Agency most likely provided him medication to counteract some of the severe withdrawal symptoms (which can include severe depression and fatigue, psychosis, anxiety, sleep changes, and more). The medication would have probably been treatment for depression, psychosis (benzodiazepines or antipsychotics–Hsin takes these too), and then (if needed) the usual pain meds like acetaminophen. That would have been closely monitored and (as I imagine it at the moment) did not continue much, if at all, past his release from detox.
This, if anywhere, is where it would be most likely that something very Agency-specific could have been used to try to speed up his recovery a bit, but there’s really only so much that can be done to a normal human mind and body. But that’s the reason for the “possibly yes” part of my answer.
The Agency would have had to assess him during detox which would include MRIs and/or PET scanning, and monitored him for multiple concerns over time. Rest, exercise, and healthy diet are necessary in recovery–which is one reason he ends up getting much better when he starts taking care of himself more.
Normally, in a perfect world, he would have been in treatment for at least 90 days, if not longer, since withdrawal and other symptoms can persist for months after recovery. But because it’s the Agency, they push too hard, too fast. He was released after 60 days and as you could see in the beginning of Fade, he was still highly unstable. That was one reason Seong gave him a bit of a break, because it wasn’t unexpected. It was also a reason Shapiro insisted that Boyd got a bit more downtime even when Boyd claimed he didn’t care if he got it. Shapiro hadn’t wanted Boyd to be taken out of treatment so soon but it hadn’t been up to him at the time.
He also had ongoing psychological treatment with Shapiro that lasted most of Fade.
Question: What happened to Thierry?
Santino & Ais: He used his money and resources to disappear, but he keeps in contact with Vivienne.
Question: Is there any of your characters that you originally wanted dead and why? Also, what changed your mind?
Santino: Originally, I wanted to kill Ryan because he was so weak from the lung disease (and because I didn’t like him initially), but then I realized it made no sense because he would have access to the miracle drugs that the average citizen coulnd’t get their hands on, and he didn’t have to die (this is not working out for him so well after Fade).
Also, E/Z were supposed to die at the end. My reasoning was that 1) it was part of Zachary’s redemption for never taking a stand in the past, and 2) E would never be able to live knowing that he let Zachary die in front of him, but it wasn’t necessary for the plot so I scrapped it.
Ais: I did ask Santino a few times if I could kill Boyd but he never let me 😉
I don’t have any I wanted dead, but I did almost kill Cade. In the end, I really liked him and was sad if his whole back story didn’t come up so he was spared, and it worked out well because he could play a larger role in the future.
Question: Do you have an anticipated release date for the follow up to 1/27? Do you have outline of events yet?
Ais: We don’t have a release date set. If we write it, my guess is it would be at least a year from now, if not longer (depending on how we decided to release: all at once or bit by bit). However, we do have an outline of events already written.
So we have the book mostly plotted out but I did actually have an idea for a scene the other day that wasn’t yet included in the plot. So I’ve been getting more ideas slowly as time goes, which seems to be the case generally with future ICoS stories.
Question: In your opinion: which character in ICoS deserved more airtime and/or would you have liked to write/explore more?
Santino: I would have liked to write more about Doug. He is a blast to write and he has a very dynamic personality. I have big plans for him in 180 Proof Vega.
Ais: I really want to write more Cade. I enjoyed writing him in Afterimage, and then he kind of fell by the wayside. But I always liked his backstory, and it never really came up in ICoS why he’s such an asshole (he has his reasons) or what he wants in life. It was one of those things where initially I thought we’d have more time to bring him back in story but then with all the other plot happening, we couldn’t. Actually, similar story with Seth. I really want to write him, too.
Oh and now I’m just adding a bajillion people but lastly, I really want to write more Journalist Guild people. And Cedrick. And Jezebel!
UGH. Ok the more I think about it the more I’m like I WANT TO WRITE EVERYONE 😀 so I’ll stop now lol
Question: Is there anything in the series (a scene or a character or something) that you now wish you’d written differently?
Ais: Afterimage. The plot definitely needs to remain the same, but I think some of the key parts of that book were written in a manner that was a bit counterproductive to what was supposed to come across. I don’t think the whole thing needs to be rewritten, but I do think editing would help that book a lot, especially in some important scenes where right now on Boyd’s side, at least, I think it somewhat misrepresents his thought process.
Santino: I think the Emilio-Vivienne-Carhart love triangle could have been fleshed out and explored more. This is part of the problem with posting serial-style. We adhered to an outline, but since we were posting as we wrote, it was very difficult to backtrack and revise once characters reacted in a way we did not expect.
Question: If ever you could trade places with one character from ICoS (you live their life and they live yours), who would you trade with and what would your new realities look like?
Santino: I think I would trade with Ryan. He would have the opportunity to live in a reality where he is not perceived as a tool to be used by others (or someone in need of protecting by friends), and I would have the opportunity to live out my cyberpunk dreams of being an amazing hacker and keyboard cowboy.
Ais: Owen 🙂 I’m setting this 1/27 time. I would LOVE to run with JG, and be fluent in so many languages + cultures. Translator + R&D is basically my dream. And he’d appreciate a life that didn’t have as many life or death responsibilities.
In my place he’d probably be a goofy anthropology professor or something and (if Ryan came over too) they’d probably go to anime cons together. He’d be planning a trip around the world in 6 months, trying to cajole someone into joining him.
If I were in his place, I’d be holed up in some European town researching something for JG, trying not to fall in love with a local coffee shop barista. I’d probably fail and then I’d be faced with the question of whether it’s safe to involve her in my life, and whether or not she would even want to.
Question: Favourite het couple in ICoS?
Santino: I liked the camaraderie between Vivienne and Carhart even if it didn’t ultimately work out romantically. If we ever edit Fade, I would like to flesh it out more because it had an abrupt end.
Ais: I agree with Santino. Also, I like that they get each other in a way others don’t. I feel like they’re in a unique position to truly understand the other, at least regarding work. People expect a lot of both of them and constantly criticize their actions.
Depending on the side, Carhart is criticized for being too soft on Hsin while also not doing enough for him, and Vivienne is criticized as being both inhumanly cold/emotionless and being nepotic with Boyd. Both of them are simultaneously accused of caring too little and too much.
Their relationship was something I didn’t anticipate until we started writing them more one-on-one, but at that point I realized how they could relax around each other without fear of that judgment. Vivienne in particular was unused to being treated like she’s a human being with actual emotions and reasons, so when she realized Carhart was treating her the way only Cedrick ever had before, she let herself lower her guard around him, and when he didn’t use any of that against her she knew he wouldn’t hurt her. This is why he’s the only person she truly trusts.
Question: I loved 1/27, but was kind of sad we didn’t get a chapter of Adam or Gordon. Can you tell us where they are at now? Also, will they be featured in the possible continuation of ICoS?
Santino: They’re in hiding like everyone else. :] I won’t say more in case something changes if I explore their post-Fade story in detail, but there WILL be more Gordon and Adam in the After Midnight sequel, which I plan to start writing by the end of 2015.
Question: Which of the following two phrases best describes Evenfall or ICoS as a whole: “the means justifies the end” or “the end justifies the means”?
Ais: Hmm… I think for the series as a whole, it’s mostly the ends justify the means. But for some of the characters, the means justify the ends.
Santino: I think the ends justify the means is most accurate for the series as a whole. There are no clear cut good guys in ICoS, and I think that is even the case for Sin and Boyd. The Agency is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals, but that is also true for Janus, and even for Sin and Boyd to an extent. Sin and Boyd hate the Agency because of what it did to them personally, and they decided to play a key role in taking it down, but in doing so they also caused most of the staff to be liquidated and (as far as they know) destroyed an organization that DID do some good in the world in terms of counter terrorism. They did what was right for them, but there is still a level of selfishness to their actions.
Question: In the next ICOS series, will there be a character that rivals Vivienne’s bitchiness?
Ais: LOL Probably not, that would be difficult to achieve 😉
END OF Q&A
Thank you to everyone who participated, and everyone who read this today! And another extra special thank you to Lenore for all her hard work on compiling all of this!