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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Julian Files, Chapter 1

Julian Files is a series set in the past for In the Company of Shadows. It contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Fade, so do not read until you have finished Fade!


Julian Files, by Ais

One

Thursday May 12, 2005
Lexington, PA

Even on the far end of Crandall Park’s sprawling playground, shrieking kids disrupted the otherwise calm morning. Julian’s fingers twitched and he resisted for the third time reaching for his pack of Winstons. He’d have gone for it anyway if the adulterating mom across the way didn’t give him the evil eye every time he touched his pocket.

Jennifer Groves, twenty-seven years old. Whitebread America mistressing it up with a certain Latino charmer named Joaquin Padilla. Julian doubted she knew he was the PI who had given her husband the racy photos of the two of them going at it like horny teenagers against a window of the White Oaks, but being as she recently stopped smoking she knew a fellow nicotine addict when she saw one. Not that her attempt to go clean living was liable to last long, once good ole Chris Groves was done raking her through the divorce proceedings.

It never ceased to amaze Julian how stupid so many people were. What made them think being in a mid-range hotel made the windows any less transparent when they decided to play out their little fantasies? And so many of them had the receiving partner facing the window, too. Made his job a whole hell of a lot easier to get the money shot.

He considered whipping out a smoke anyway just to fuck with her, when he noticed Cedrick approaching.

The man was a conundrum. He wasn’t bad looking by any stretch, but he easily could have been forgettable. Stocky build, average height, brown eyes, brown hair… Nothing stood out at a glance. In a photo, he would have been the guy in the background no one thought to look at twice.

The gift of anonymity.

Julian wished he had the same, at times.

But in motion, that was when all the little bits came together and made Cedrick recognizable. His easy, loping gait. The smile that seemed ever ready on the edges of his lips, and that goddamned infectious grin that popped up at the least expected moments. Made his whole face light up like a Christmas tree, and at times even made Julian fight a grin in return.

The trademark Beaulieu not-yet-smile was in place as Cedrick strode toward him slower than normal, and when all the trees and kidlets were out of the way Julian saw why.

He raised his eyebrows and flicked a glance down at Cedrick’s side.

“Brought the kid, huh?”

“Couldn’t get a babysitter.” Cedrick rested his hand around Boyd’s skinny little shoulders, pulling him against his thigh like some sort of tall dog. The fond smile aimed down at him probably wouldn’t have looked out of place in those circumstances, either. “Can’t say I’m sad about it, though. I don’t get enough time with him as it is.”

Cedrick dropped easily onto the park bench next to Julian, and soon it was the both of them who stared at Boyd.

Truth be told, the kid creeped Julian out. Like Cedrick, his photo op impression was different than his video. He was a cute kid by looks alone: fine blond hair, huge eyes an unusual amber; a skinny little thing with pouty lips. He hovered in that childlike androgynous zone of not seeming resigned to any gender entirely.

Maybe if he smiled once in a dinosaur’s age it’d be fine but he was like a little alien. He stared at people like he was dissecting their motivations, filing it away in some five-year-old version of Enemy vs Friend, or maybe he was just trying to figure out what the fuck was going on around him. Julian might have thought he was slow but he’d seen the kid write and draw well beyond his nephew who was four years older. And when the kid talked, which wasn’t often, there were times his sentence structure and astute observations were like he was twice his age.

Julian sometimes wondered if the kid was going to turn into a serial killer someday. If so, he should probably make sure he wasn’t on the kid’s hit list. Continue reading

That moment in the rubble, Lou/Boyd backstory from ICoS

Ok, I originally wrote this (IMO terribly embarrassing) story back in 2011 for The Slash Pile’s Anthology in the winter; it was called Presents and had to be holiday-themed in some way. You can still find the anthology nowadays but apparently  it’s a bit more difficult now. Some readers had found this old story and mentioned how difficult it was to find. Since some people may want to read this, I thought it was only fair to share it.

It’s not terrible, really. I don’t know why I’m so embarrassed by it uggghhh but I ammmmmm ugggggggghhhhhhh OTL

But I make it a point to share even things that embarrass because it’s true that I wrote it and it’s part of my progression as a writer so pretending it didn’t happen doesn’t make it not have happened. Also, lbr. I think everything I write sucks so, by my measure, I would never share anything and some people may find that problematic lol

So here you go. Below is what I sent them back then, in its entirety.

Welcome to a Lou and Boyd backstory for In the Company of Shadows. Have fun and happy reading! (?)


Title: That moment in the rubble
Author: Ais
Rating: R for swearing
Warnings: Swearing. Fluff? And light kissing-type scenes. Also, this is a Lou/Boyd back story for In the Company of Shadows. You don’t need to have read ICoS or know anything about it to read this.

That moment in the rubble

In the Company of Shadows back story by Ais

“You’re gonna fall in that water one day and I ain’t gonna do a thing to stop it,” Lou called up to Boyd. It was a lie, of course. He knew he’d end up jumping in the filthy water in some ridiculous and unnecessary rescue attempt but he figured he’d keep that part to himself. “Get your ass down here, man. It’s gettin’ cold.”

“You’re such a wuss,” Boyd said from atop his favorite pile of rubble. Crater Lake spread before him; stagnant water that filled a massive hole one of the bombs had created just off center of the city.

When he looked down at Lou, the sky silhouetted him. The sun was setting behind the clouds, turning the ever-present grey to deeper silver. The half-crumbled buildings lining the street framed him perfectly as he balanced on a looser chunk of concrete, one hand held out as counterweight.

It was that teasing grin Boyd gave him that had probably done Lou in all those months ago– the way it stretched Boyd’s full lips and made his golden brown eyes spark. Boyd’s blond hair swirled in a stirring of wind that Lou couldn’t feel down here on the ground, and with it Boyd tilted his head to look out at the water once again.

“I’m waiting until I can’t see the color anymore.”

Lou made a face at Boyd and kicked a rock into the water. Crater Lake was nothing but foul-smelling water that slowly killed the scavengers and Ferals, as far as he was concerned. They were the only ones stupid and desperate enough to drink and bathe in it. But Boyd loved the browns and greens of it; the way it stained a near-red at just the right moment of sunset and looked nearly black afterwards.

He wanted to be irritated with Boyd but he couldn’t be, not entirely. Not when he looked at Lou like that.

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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.

*    *    *    *    *

*    *    *    *    *

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

Please reference this post for a full explanation of this. This is regarding ICoS.

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!!

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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.

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