Monday, June 29, 2015

Author of the Month: Seavanna

Due to scheduling, we shall be posting the next interview two days early for July!

It is time to feature the next author!

Introducing Seavanna; your local horseback rider, speedboater, jetskiier, wake-boarder, SCUBA diver mermaid from Arlington, Texas (whew!) On top of keeping herself busy, she also love to craft and write fanfictions! Scroll down below for the interview.

SSML: How long have you been writing for?

Seavanna: I started writing when I was about twelve, though I have been an avid reader my entire life--I was that third grader walking in line down the hall with my nose in a book. I discovered Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Highlander fanfiction back in the days when a page of text took a half hour to load, and I started writing fanfic, mostly slash fanfic (romances between gay men). I have continued to write fanfic over the years, and the stuff I have archived on my journal now is primarily Supernatural, Glee, and White Collar. I used to have Harry Potter fic I wrote in highschool, but one day I went back and read it and found it too embarrassing to leave online, LOL! I have written several novel-length fanfiction stories, and I also have another Young Adult original novel in the works besides my mermaid story, Tanked. The other YA novel I am not posting online, but it is a non-slashy, PG-13 version of my original adult slave fiction, Mid Tier Slave. I love to write, and I wish I had more time to do it.

SSML: Which stories are your favourite ones to work with? 

SV: My favorite stories to work on are a fandom genre called "slavefic". It may seem that these are just kinky stories, but I always write them in a manner that challenges people's perceptions of right versus wrong, bringing into light just how much the society you live in effects your views and how good people can be okay with bad things if they are raised thinking those bad things are moral. For example, I almost always make one of the protagonists someone who isn't hardcore pro-slavery, but is not against it, either. This usually makes some readers really angry because slavery is "obviously evil", but then I remind then that slavery isn't obviously evil if you grew up around it. I like to point out that it is an issue no one really sits down and weighs the pros and cons of then makes an educated decision as to whether it is right or wrong--we just "know" it's wrong because our society says so, and the opposite is true in the alternative universes I write in. I also like to remind people that there are more slaves on earth now than ever before and that just because it's "out of sight, out of mind" doesn't mean that it isn't there--someone is making your cheap big-box store shoes.

SSML: What kind of story are you working on now?

SV: I am currently working on two stories. The first is Tanked, which is a Young Adult tale of a mermaid, Rayla, who is taken from the water and put up for show while simultaneously being groomed as a candidate for a mermaid breeding program, much to her anger. (She's pretty sassy, not to mention a self-declared bully.) It is in an alternate universe where supernatural creatures are known to exist but are not considered human. The story revolves around her relationship with Camshel, a wimpy ocean-born merlad who LIKES being on display for the humans; Riptide, a handsome merlad who was beached as a baby, raised in a lab, then released into the ocean for scientific research; and Flipper, a failed attempt at breeding a merman with a human female--the failure being that he has legs and not a tail. He can, however, speak psychically, like the merpeople do.

My other story is much darker. It is called Mid Tier Slave and is based off of this concept: "The battle against the slave trade has finally been won--after years of inequality, the Supreme Court has just declared that everyone has the right to own slaves." It is set in an alternate universe where rather than going forward with the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln declared that no one would move out westward and that the Southerners would be allowed to keep their slaves, though slavery would be illegal up North. Any slaves who deserted the South and joined the Union army, however, were freed and given citizenship. Fast forward to today: the North and South are strongly divided, and there is talk of war now that Eddison v. Kentucky has declared slavery legal for everyone, not just Southerners. The story follows two girls, Annabeth and Franci. Annabeth is the daughter of Senator Sweeney, the richest plantation owner in the South, and is famous for nothing, much like a Kardashian. Franci is the biracial daughter of an NAACP lawyer and a prison inmate who was part of a pro-union, anti-slavery terrorist group and blew up a government building on the belief that slavery destroys the American Dream by taking jobs away from citizens. Both girls are in difficult situations: Annabeth finds herself lured into a dangerous partnership with the Underground Rail-road after her father sells the slave she fell in love with, while Franci winds up in an intern-ship where her job is to market slaves to a new niche: the middle class, much like mid-tier handbags. No one in this story is the "good guy"--not the anti-slavery people, not the pro-slavery people... Everyone has own agenda, and no one's intentions are pure. Eventually the paths of the two girls come together in a very dramatic way. This story is the one I am really drawn to tell, but as I've said--I just don't have that much time to write! I wish it would just appear like magic!

Sorry, that got a little long!

SSML: No that's really descriptive. What inspired the stories?

SV: The idea for Tanked came about after I finished watching the TV series H2O. It, like most YA works, focused on the magical wonder of being a mermaid, something that gets a little old in my opinion. On the other hand, many of the adult versions tend to focus on a mermaid's inherent sexiness and "siren" abilities, developing into romances. I wanted to write about a mermaid who was just a regular person. Not exotic, not magical, just your plain old teen-aged mermaid facing the same stuff any teenager would face: teachers they hate, parents who won't let them do crazy things, kids that annoy them, boys they crush on... From there it just sort of bloomed into a story, and it continues to unfold in my mind, the specifics changing every day. Unlike Mid Tier Slave, I do not have this story totally plotted out and am "pant-sing it", as writers like to say. After a few more chapters to get a feel for the characters, I will sit down and write out a specific plot line to follow--otherwise my stories tend to get windy and you don't get any of those crazy cool "oh my gosh, why didn't I see that coming?" moments.

Mid Tier Slave was inspired by my love for writing the unexpected. I adore taking ideas and twisting them around and around to the point that it leaves people thinking, "Wait... what the heck?" So I came up with the idea that there could be a world where certain people are allowed to be slave owners and others are not--which is, in itself, a form of inequality. And people could be fighting for equality, but not for slaves to be equal to citizens--for all citizens be allowed to own slaves. Then I decided to apply it to modern day America and got that tingly feeling I get when I'm onto something good! I don't believe in re-writing the same old stories: That's too easy. It's so much more fun to think of something that really twists people's brains. And boy howdy, if you could read the plot line... It is a CRAZY twisty book! Every time you think you're back on solid ground, the rug gets pulled out again. Plotting is not my strong point (I am better at character study than the constant, moving plots publishers like), so I am proud of how well I plotted this book.

SSML: How long does it usually take for you to come up with the plot? It sounds incredibly detailed.

SV: It takes quite awhile. I first start constructing it in my head using the "how can I make this worse?" technique supported by agent and plot specialist Donald Maas. Basically every time something happens you think "what if--insert something worse--happens?", making the plot more and more exciting. After all, the higher the stakes the better the book. For example, in Mid Tier slave Annabeth is coerced into having sex with the much adored Reverend who runs the Underground Rail-road, then slut-shamed into not telling anyone because it is "her fault." At the very end it seems like everything had turned out for the best. After being held by terrorists, Annabeth is hurt but okay and she is finally with the slaveboy she loves. Then in walks the Reverend who raped her and her boyfriend turns around and says, "Annabeth, I'd like you to meet my father." They step outside and the nurse comes in to inform her she is pregnant--and the Reverend is the only man she has ever been with. It don't get much worse than that! The book ends there, setting up for a sequel.

For the plotting on paper, that usually takes me a good twenty-thirty hours of fumbling around before I manage to transcribe what's in my head into a lineal timeline with no plot holes. I use the writers program Scrivener for this. I find plotting very difficult, but once you come up with a good one there is nothing more satisfying. When I am floundering, I simply remind myself that whatever they claim, EVERYONE finds plotting a truly good story difficult. Otherwise Dan Browns and Michael Chritons would be a dime a dozen! Even the big guys like Stephen King spend a ton of time coming up with their plots and making sure they're not just fluff. It would be easier if I liked, say, romances, which center on relationships (a type of writing that comes easily to me) but a book's not a great book in my mind unless there is a moment that makes your mouth hang open and you have to stop reading for a second because it's just so intense, be it from an unexpected but perfectly built up bomb being dropped or a deep sociological revelation. That is why I am a huge Hunger Games fan and just think Harry Potter is okay. The world building in Harry Potter is exquisite but the plots are highly predictable and the world is clearly defined as Good versus Bad--if you read carefully you will notice that all of the "bad" people actually have a physically deformity, from being fat to a nasally voice. I probably would have liked the books better if Harry had died at the end, if we had found of there was never any way to stop Voldemort without Harry dying, because what a betrayal that would have been, with Dumbledore knowing all along that Harry must die. It also would have explained why this powerful wizard even let young Harry get in some of those situations. Hunger Games, on the other hand, reveals the real truth about war: there are no good sides. Evil done in the name of good is still evil, a lesson Katniss learns the hard way. I also enjoy the fact that Katniss has no interest in being some great hero, unlike Harry. All she wants is to protect the people she loves. She is forced into the roll of the "Mockingjay" by outside sources just looking for good propaganda and, in the end, her actual efforts have nothing to do with winning the war--Gale's bombs are much more efficient than her arrows. In the end the only real thing she did was making sure that the Hunger Games would not continue in new Panem.

So that is my diatribe on plotting, extended edition, LOL!

SSML: Awesome! Thanks so much for answering my questions so thoroughly!

To read the first chapter of "Tanked" visit Seavanna's Livejournal and read here:

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