Over the years, we’ve been asked a couple of times about how we came up with the titles for the series/what meaning they have. On April 8, 2012, Chaos asked on our forum and I wrote the answer below. There are possible semi-spoilers for the series in the answers, mostly in the themes.
over the years, I made sketches of Boyd for reference. The following drawings 1) aren’t very talented, 2) were meant to be a general idea for myself and Sonny, and 3) are semi-canon, in that they were ways of referencing canon things for myself BUT doesn’t mean anything had to look exactly the way I drew it. The fonts may be different on things, the exact positioning of this or that may change, and if people had a different view of him in their mind, then they aren’t wrong, either.
Below the cut contains spoilers through Fade chapter 7.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it anywhere, but in the process of writing the series we would often run through a chapter multiple times in editing. I’m particularly a waffler on these things, and a bit of a pack rat when it comes to hoarding rather than deleting.
Before we found gdocs as a main way to write stories, we did most of our editing in Word. Boyd is, obviously, very introspective as a character so especially in Evenfall I had a hard time figuring out which bits to keep and which to remove in his narration– so that the thought process was still explained well enough for readers to get where he was coming from, but so that it wasn’t way too much. (That’s one of the things I want to address the most in Evenfall 3.0 edits)
In addition to that, Boyd didn’t always react the way I expected he would when we first plotted out scenes. Sometimes a small thing in the way Hsin said or did something made Boyd react in a way that was counterproductive for what we’d planned for the scene, but was more realistic to him as a person. This meant there were some scenes we wrote, and rewrote, and REWROTE… (And it wasn’t just Boyd doing this; Hsin would, too. Those little bastards didn’t know how to make writing this series easy on us)
I’m not sure if it sounds strange to anyone to refer to Boyd as someone with his own mind but that’s how he always felt to me. I just knew this or that felt right for him, and sometimes it wasn’t until later that I understood why.
I think intuitively I just felt very strongly that he would do or say certain things. I always knew what drove him at the heart of his character, but the reason we’d had to start ICoS over from the original bits we wrote (before it was ICoS) was precisely because I knew if we wrote this story, Boyd would change as a person. Slowly, awkwardly, and not always efficiently, but I knew he would start as very depressed, closed off, suicidal, and with no hope, to eventually become someone with confidence, hope, dreams, and love. It had to be a growth that made sense. He had to have faults along the way, and make mistakes, but he was never malicious in anything he did because that was never who he was. His flaws always drew back to his deep insecurity coupled with what he felt was his hopeless desire to be loved and wanted.
I think I used to drive Sonny nuts on that, because when we’d have hypothetical conversations in planning scenes far in advance he’d say “If Hsin did ___ what would Boyd do?” and my answer so often was, “Well, it depends…”
Anyway, I changed my mind a lot in editing, but rather than delete the scenes I used to put them in separate documents in case we later decided to reincorporate it. I also like the idea of maintaining history for situations exactly like this. In order to remind myself what each doc was I named them things to jog my memory.
Just now, I found one of my folders that was filled with such excerpts and other bits and pieces, and the file names amused me. In case anyone is interested in a glimpse of the weirdly messy-but-organized contradiction that is my mind, see the screenshot below– and click on it to make it larger if the words can’t be read.
I think my favorite file name is “original whut im a killer convo.” I imagine Hsin sitting there with a D: face saying that to Boyd lol
This is the character Henry from the TV show Criminal Minds. Henry is played by Mekhai Andersen.
From the moment I first saw him, he made me think of what Boyd would have looked like as a kid (except Boyd’s eyes are lighter). The way he acts in some of his scenes also seems Boyd-like to me. More than once I thought, “Aww, it’s okay baby Boyd!” This kid is seriously too cute for words, so have some animated gifs instead:
Rock on, baby Boyd.
Q: How do you write Hsin’s name/what is the Chinese character used for Hsin?
A: This question has been asked by various people over the years. Below is a post taken from when this was first answered, on September 10, 2011, at our forum. Read the original post if you’d like.
A few people have asked this question recently on AFFN reviews and possibly elsewhere. I can’t recall whether we ever answered this somewhere else on the forum, so for the moment I’m doing the answer here.
Hsin is Xin in Mandarin. The specific character is this:
or this if it’s drawn a little less pretty:
It’s pronounced roughly like if you combined ‘shin’ and ‘sheen’ in English; originally we were told it was more like ‘shin’ and then some native speakers said it’s more like ‘sheen,’ which does seem to be the case when you listen to it. It’s easiest to hear people pronounce it themselves. Listen to these options: youtube, pronouncenames, and hantrainerpro.
[**full disclosure, I updated the above paragraph in October 2017 after hearing it pronounced more like ‘sheen’ than ‘shin’ over the years. When we first wrote ICoS, the internet wasn’t nearly as global in the amount of specific things you could find, like multiple sources recording themselves pronouncing the name Xin. We had to go based on forums and descriptions, and back then I understood it to sound a little more like ‘shin’ than ‘sheen.’ If you look back at old answers to this question, I did say it was more like ‘shin.’ I wanted to note this so there isn’t any confusion.**]
There are several meanings to it and I’m sure even the ones I list will be debated by native speakers. But the ones I saw were:
letter / true / to believe / sign / evidence
That’s in Mandarin, which is his native language.
A side note from my Japanese kanji dictionary: that same character is used in Japanese, where it means trust, believe. It consists of word (second part) and person (first). “A person’s word is something which can be believed and trusted” is the way to remember it.
For those of you who have read Fade chapter 7, that (信) is the pertinent character.
What seems to be Hsin’s middle name is technically his last name in China. That’s Liu, which is this:
So if you were to write his name out directly the way it’s said in English it would be this:
Hsin Liu Vega
信 刘 Vega
Clicking the images will bring you to the direct link of where we found them.
Also note that I asked a number of native speakers for help with identifying the proper Chinese characters for Hsin’s name. Since neither Sonny nor I are fluent in any dialect of Chinese we obviously can’t easily verify things ourselves, but we had several very nice, very helpful people aid us in the identification of options for the characters. Ultimately, Sonny had the last say in what was used. The funny thing is, he chose the same character for Hsin I would have also chosen from the list I provided him.
This post contains spoilers for Fade chapter 1 and beyond.
Below is a set of notes I sent to Sonny in 2010 while we were writing Fade chapter 9. This is being included here as an example of some of the behind the scenes research we did when we got the chance, to try to make things as accurate as possible for the locations, dates, and times when the various scenes were set.