About Sonny/Santino

I have spent the past week and a half trying to compile some sort of response to everything that has come out recently with Sonny/Santino Hassell. Trying to understand what to say or how to say it has consumed me and still, nothing seems right. I’m exhausted.

I know people have a lot of questions but unfortunately, I don’t know that I have the answers anyone needs. I was blindsided by all of this. I met Sonny when I was 19 years old and in college, and at this point we’ve both known each other almost half our lives. I truly believed he existed, because I had no reason to believe otherwise. Having to rewrite that history in my own mind has been, to say the least, a feat.

I have a much longer post which talks more at length about various aspects, but I know a lot of people don’t want to read anything that’s too long or involved. So if you only wonder about what I think regarding the three main questions:

Unfortunately yes, Sonny/Santino does not seem to exist, although who exactly was talking/writing all those years I have no idea. I don’t know if it was one or both of them. I suspect only they know. They (or someone) did write the series with me, though, and we did spend a ton of hours on it. That, at least, I can verify is not a lie.

As for whether anyone actually has liver cancer or other health concerns, I honestly have no idea. All the information I was given was under the auspices of believing Sonny existed, and was always framed as Sonny’s story. At this point, I can’t say what I’ve been told was true or not, or maybe even somewhere in between.

Regarding bullying/abusive behavior, the only thing I’ve read myself is the confessions posted on the #SHConfessions thread on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sweetsakuradoll). If you scroll down, the screenshots are of the confessions themselves. I didn’t know about any of this happening, and to know it was occurring horrifies me. But if you ask me if I think you should believe those confessions, yes, I do. I’m very sorry to have to say that, because that means so much pain has been happening for so long, but despite not having had any knowledge of those situations occurring, I have many reasons to believe what they’re saying is true. The biggest reason is because when I ran across it, I was startled to see that parts of their stories were like reading something I had written myself.

If you want more information on any of this, you can read my much longer post. You can find it to read online or download in pdf at http://aisylum.com/statement_2018_Ais.pdf. Some friends recommended I pdf it instead of putting it as a blog post for ease of reading.

Part of the reason I couldn’t seem to get anything coherent out faster than a week and a half is I have nearly 16 years of knowledge I’ve had to undo in the course of a few days. It’s been surreal and so confusing and it brought up all sorts of things from the past I hadn’t thought about in years. Frankly, things I didn’t really want to have to think about again. I found old journal entries that reminded me of how unstable I was at different times, how unhappy I was, how often I doubted myself in big and small ways. There were so many things I never planned to talk about publicly, simply because I didn’t want to hurt anyone, and I thought that if I talked about all those difficult times, that was exactly what I would be doing.

Additionally, it’s extremely stressful to me to talk about anything I hadn’t planned to share publicly. Writing this, and especially posting it, is difficult. The way I cope is through humor and avoidance. Avoidance won out for years, and right now it’s fighting a hard battle once again. If I disappear for a bit or suddenly start talking excitedly about things I love, I’m not trying to be rude and it isn’t because none of this affects me or I don’t care. It’s quite the opposite. It’s simply me maintaining my internal balance through the coping mechanisms I’ve developed over the years.

Please know the reason I’m saying any of this isn’t to make any of this about me, it’s simply that I feel like I need to apologize for being unable to get something out sooner, and the only way I know how to do that fairly is to explain why it took so long.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who supported me both publicly and privately since this all came out. I greatly appreciate it; you are the reason I could get anything out even this soon, because you told me it was okay to take my time. Thank you so much for your understanding. I can’t tell you enough how much it meant and continues to means to me.

I’m so sorry to anyone who has been hurt in any of this. I wish I had known, I wish I could have helped, I wish I had been capable of somehow stopping anything. I talk more about it in the longer post but I’ve felt guilty since all of this broke, feeling like somehow this has to be my responsibility because I knew Sonny for longest online. Somehow, I need to take on this responsibility, find a way to help, find a way to make up for it to others. But I have to be fair to myself in a way that’s always been incredibly difficult for me. I have to acknowledge that I’m not responsible for the actions of others, especially when I didn’t know about it and never would have condoned it. I tried helping so many times over the years, and I was usually so unsuccessful. I thought I was trying to help a friend who was a victim of bullying and harassment, who was caught in endless self-destructive cycles he couldn’t seem to escape. It turns out a lot of what I was told was at the very least misrepresentative, and in some cases possibly outright lies.

I’m very sorry to everyone who is disappointed by this news, who believed in Sonny like I did and now has to question so much. I can’t speak for him (or, I guess, them); I don’t know what was going on all this time, or why. I don’t hate him/them, because it’s just too much energy for me, because at this point I just feel more tired than anything, because I would rather continue to try to put positive into the world to counteract any negative, but I understand that others will feel differently, and I understand that they may feel so with varying intensity.

I feel incredible sympathy for anyone who has been negatively affected by any of this. I truly hope you have been able to reach out to your support systems, and I hope you have gotten the support you need from them.

As for In the Company of Shadows, if you were someone who loved it and now can’t stand to think of it, as exceedingly sad as it will make me to know that all of this has affected something you loved, I want you to know that I understand. I don’t want anyone to be hurt further than has already happened. Thank you for the time and energy you put into your love of it in the past, and I hope you can find something to balance this heartbreak so you can feel empowered moving forward. If you are someone who can still love the series despite all this in the background, then please know, for whatever it’s worth, I myself continue to love ICoS, I continue to love the world, the characters, the story. Thank you for your kindness and patience, and thank you for continuing to believe in the story despite everything else that has happened. If you continue to have questions about the series, what the characters might think/do, feel free to ask me any time. I’m still happy to discuss the series if anyone needs it, I just might not be able to answer some questions related to characters which are not mine.

I’m very sorry, regardless, that any of this had to be a discussion point at all.

I wish Sonny (whoever it was) had told me the truth from the start, or told me at any point along the way, because maybe some of this could have been avoided. Instead, I truly believed in him right up into Friday March 9, and had to learn the truth when he posted it online. I can’t say I’m sorry I believed in a friend of 15 years, because I don’t think that’s inherently a bad thing. But I am sorry I didn’t know, because maybe, somehow, I could have helped everyone.

If you never read anything else from me, because you’re too raw from all of this, I understand. Please, then, let these be my last words to you: please take care of yourself, and please don’t let the actions of others cause you to stop believing in other people. Or yourself.

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2012 The Slash Pile Q&A for ICoS

tumblr fucked up all my links on the masterlist and it’s been a pain trying to find some of them. For a question someone asked today I wanted to check the September 2012 Q&A we did at The Slash Pile but I had to search separately on livejournal. Just in case that page ever disappears, I decided to try to paste it here. The formatting may be all jacked but hopefully it will be readable.

SOME FOREWARNING FOR BELOW:

  1. I wasn’t able to easily remove anyone’s names/userpics because my computer would only let me select all for copy/paste. If you have an old lj represented on here and you want me to remove your name/userpic from this and replace it with something generic, I will absolutely do so. Please just let me know your preferences and your name/pic to look for.
  2. I didn’t reread any of this. If anything is problematic or different below from what we’ve said since, sorry. It’s from 2012 and some viewpoints may have changed since then, with more time and knowledge.
  3. My lj username is starlite_gone and Sonny’s was cancelsonny, just so you know who’s talking below.
  4. Thank you again to TSP for hosting this Q&A! It was really successful with the number of questions 🙂

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ICoS Master List (Feb 2016 edition)

So, tumblr decided to be an asshole and remove literally over 600 hyperlinks from the master list I had over there. I thought I’d have to redo the ENTIRE thing to which I said no way no how, not right now. That took me a week or longer to make the first time. And Internet Archive and Google cache didn’t save it, and I thought I’d saved an older version but I didn’t apparently.

However, the good news is I DID apparently email myself the entire thing when I first finished it in February. This means I’m missing 2 months worth of information and all of the tagged Santino & Ais convos I had ugggghhh BUT it does mean eventually updating it will take less time. I’m not going to spend the time right now to update it since February 15, 2016, but at least I can share what was available then (and this time, fuck tumblr, I’m going to migrate the list somewhere else — eventually my site but, of course, right now my site isn’t working either):


In the Company of Shadows/ ICoS Master List of Links

Master list last updated: February 15, 2016

On this page you will find a compilation of information from around the internet (mostly tumblr) regarding In the Company of Shadows and/or Santino & Ais. Many of these were questions asked by readers that are answered by one or both of us (Santino & Ais) somewhere online. If you know of information that is not listed here, please let me know so I can add it. This is a work in progress and I will try to keep adding information as it goes.

I tried to note spoilers where possible but I probably missed information. Just assume there will be spoilers.

Note: within the specific categories (like, “Boyd + family” or “writing questions” etc) there is no specific order to the bullet points – you may notice the links jump around between years or books, unless I knew a specific conversation was happening across posts and then I tried to keep them in order.

I also am considering making a second master list, which would list all the questions that are in the Q&A/interviews linked in the #1 group below. I considered putting that at the end of this page, however the length of this page prohibited such an endeavor, when tumblr and/or chrome and/or firefox repeatedly froze in the course of me making this page. If I ever make that separate page with the listed questions, I will link it here. For now, you can just go to the Q&As and read through the questions at your leisure.

Note: Santino used to be known as Sonny, in case you are confused by old links.

Last note: to make it less confusing, in most of the links I tried to say “Ais” instead of “I” – so if you see “I” outside of the Santino & Ais section that should mean the wording is coming from a reader, unless I made a mistake.

Sources for this page include: Santino’s tumblrAis’ tumblr, our Santino & Ais tumblr, our Goodreads blogs (SantinoAis – although I didn’t go through those to be really complete, only did what was linked on tumblr), livejournal (The Slash Pile), and host blogs where we did interviews.

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Please see the below breakdown to better navigate this page.

THIS IS SPLIT INTO GROUPS:

  1. Questions about Santino, Ais, ICoS as a series, the Agency in general
  2. General character information (like birthdays, ages, height)
  3. Detailed questions about relationships
  4. Detailed questions about individual characters
  5. Post-Fade, sequel, and prequel questions
  6. Bonus material and fan-made items (includes fancasts of characters)

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Fade ch 40 spoilers – the Scottish dude

I SWEAR I had posted this somewhere before but now I can’t find it, so I’m posting this here. A quick overview of how I was going to go full Scottish brogue with the character who appears in Fade chapter 40.

SUPER SUPER SUPER IMPORTANT NOTE!! THE BIGGEST SPOILERS EVER ARE BENEATH THIS CUT!! DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THROUGH FADE CHAPTER 41!!!!

 

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ICoS questions, mostly related to sex + ace things – SPOILERS FOR FADE/AFTERIMAGE

On tumblr, boydbaeulieu had some questions about ICoS, mostly related to Afterimage and Fade. The questions/answers are SPOILERS for people who haven’t read at least midway through Fade. So I’m putting everything behind a cut, just in case. Also because, as usual, I wrote THE LONGEST ANSWERS EVER.

If you want to read bae’s whole question post, you can here: http://boydbaeulieu.tumblr.com/post/131304627515/all-right-ais-thanks-for-giving-me-the-green 🙂 For this post, I tried to summarize the questions in order for my answer to make sense to other people, but definitely read her whole post if you want the full context 🙂 Especially in case I accidentally misrepresented anything. I am directly addressing bae in a lot of this when answering so that’s what all the “you”s are for the most part, unless it’s a generic ‘you’ anywhere.

I ended up putting this only on my blog instead of tumblr because the answer became SO LONG that it felt like it would just look utterly insane on tumblr XD Plus this way I got to use pretty colors and various sizes 😀

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(Not So Very) Important Conversations: Lexington and PA

lexingtondecision

lol after I saw this I spent…  I’m not sure. On and off over an hour or something, trying to find these old maps I had done where I had sketched out a vaguepossible area where Lexington might be situated based on the roads we used in the story. But I can’t find it, and it was never official anyway; just a general thing for my own curiosity. So maybe it’s better I didn’t find it anyway.

Maybe it was somewhere around Harrisburg or between Harrisburg and Johnstown? I honestly don’t remember. We don’t have a specific place we imagined it so even that general guess could be off.

Neither of us specifically remember why PA was originally chosen, but it was most likely because that’s the area where Neulan was set (from our RPG called District 9 in the early 2000′s; we’d made up a fictitious city named Neulan City for that. That’s the RPG Boyd, Viv, Ced and Lou come from). Since in the beginning we were just writing things for ourselves to pass the time, and we didn’t want to spend a bajillion years figuring out things that weren’t going to matter, we probably went with PA by default.

We might have also chosen that because Sonny would know the general area well enough for us to be able to describe things, because I’ve very rarely been to the Northeast and never for more than several hours so I would’ve been useless. But Northeast seemed like a better place than the Midwest that I would’ve known.

I do think its location and it being a more low-profile state make it a good place. It’s semi-close to DC and other areas like that, so it still is accessible to government organizations, but it would also be far enough away that its secrecy could be more easily kept than if, say, it had been in NYC or some higher profile city/state.

As for why all the names are fictitious— it’s because we wanted people to think that this kind of thing could happen in any city in the country and not be tied to imagining just one specific area with certain landmarks. And because it gave us more latitude in creating the city in a manner that made sense for the Agency and Johnson’s Pharmaceuticals and all that.

Plus, naming things is fun! It was fun naming the neighborhoods, ngl.

As a bonus side note of information: for years and years, the city the Agency was set in actually did not have a name. There was no Lexington as a name. We did that to really reinforce that idea that it could happen anywhere. But as we wrote more of the series, it started to get super awkward not having a name for the city when they were in other cities like Carson or wherever.

So, we decided we had to come up with a name for it.

Want to know how? I pulled out my giant ass atlas of the US, flipped to the back where it listed every single city on the maps, and skimmed the names of real US cities to get inspiration. I wrote down the names I liked the most, and then double-checked that none of those names were already a city in Pennsylvania.

…HA. I just found the email thread where we figured this out. Apparently I looked through my North American Road Atlas on July 13 to July 14, 2010, when I couldn’t sleep one night. One of our concerns was we wanted to make sure the name wouldn’t sound too small town, so it would fit the image of a sizeable city, and we wanted to try to stick with one name if possible to make it easier.

A list of names I had toward the end was “Grays Harbor, Normandy, Northfield, Northampton, Sussex, Winchester, Lexington, Bridgeport, Olympia, Waitsburg (sp?), Brooklyn, Richmond, Winthrop, Queenstown, Hillsborough, Aurora, Edgewater”

Sonny said we shouldn’t use any that were too well-known already. He said his favorite from the list was Lexington.

To which my reply was:

“Grays Harbor and Lexington were my favorites from the list, and Grays Harbor sounded a bit too much like it could be from a soap opera. so yeah Lexington by itself is my favorite too from the list “

And that was the last email in that thread so apparently that’s how we decided on Lexington lol

Q&A: Boyd’s look post-Aleixo

In 2013 on our Santino & Ais Goodreads group, I had gotten a question regarding Boyd and his looks and why he might have chosen to do certain things in Fade. I realized today that it’s too difficult to direct-link to that individual comment, and I didn’t want to forget or lose the more in-depth answer.

The question and answer are both behind a cut below due to major spoilers for Fade.

(By the way, I did answer the Kassian part of her question later too and at first I was going to just leave that alone and potentially put it in another post, but in rereading my initial answer I remembered that on Lorraine’s request I had followed up with a longer answer, mixing in the Kassian part. So I just did both in this post. It makes it really long but if you’re interested in Boyd’s motivations or psychology, you might enjoy this.)

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