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Dear Yule Writer
SSar's Beast
Dear Yule Writer,

This is my third Yuletide; my previous two were lovely. I am really looking forward to the gift you will write for me. I hope you have a great time writing it. This letter is a bit long, because I enjoy the chance to talk about a canon when someone else has also read or watched it: please take from it what interests you, and ignore the rest.

Squicks and squees: I don't like graphic harm to hands, or narratives about drug use, incapacitation through drugs, and painful withdrawal from drugs. I don't like stories in which characters choose or are forced to forego their memories, and this is seen as an uplifting thing. Mentioning any of these things is fine - I just hope you will not focus on them.

I am happy with any rating from pure gen to explicit sex, without bias towards the gender, sex, number, or kinks of participants. With explicit scenes, I care more about the emotions of the people involved than the sensations. If you can write plot, I'll be impressed, because I can't, but other things impress me too! Wit and snark are fun; so are quiet insights and dramatic actions. I like fairy tale narratives, especially when subverted. I like competence and imperfect heroes/heroines. I like friendships in their myriad forms. I like humour, sometimes cracky humour. I don't like pure sweetness or pure suffering - moderate it with a spoonful of something else, please. I am totally okay with crossovers and there are (optional!) suggestions at the bottom of the letter.

If you have any questions, anonymous comments are enabled and I will not be checking ISPs or anything. Or go through Elyn or a hippo - I'm on Yulechat a lot, as Morbane or sometimes Mwr. I'm Morbane on AO3 too.

The Changeover - Margaret Mahy - Any

I would love slices of life from any of the characters in this novel, especially a few years on from the events of the book. I like Sorry and Laura's relationship, but if you want to foreground their romance, I would prefer you didn't write explicit sex - in this case, I'm more fascinated by the way the emotional dynamics between all the characters play out in ordinary, public settings. I love Jacko - what is he like as a teenager? To me, he seems to have a 'magician's name'; what might his future interactions with the supernatural be like? I love Kate. I love Miryam and Winter, whom we get such little, interesting glimpses of. If you would like to write about Carmody Braque, what I'd particularly enjoy is a story set well before the book's events: mildly historical NZ fiction pretty please? Or, does Carmody Braque perhaps change with each person he consumes? If so, how?

This book is very dear to me. I love the clarity with which Mahy writes her worlds - usually only a hair's breadth from our own. It's as if you're looking at a mercury thermometer and if you tilt it at the right angle you see silver - there's the magic, on an angle, part of things the whole time. I love how realistic Laura and Sorry are in their supernatural doings, and how mystical and difficult and strange the human heart is shown to be, in comparison.

I like the dynamic between Sorry and Laura a lot. I like it that Sorry has the choice to stay alienated, and has reasons to, and this has the potential to make him a kind of wicked witch - and yet Laura, who is much more emotionally grounded, also has the potential for spitefulness and human frailty. On the other hand, they're pretty young in the book; if you want to pair them with other people as part of working things out about themselves, that's OK.

We know Sorry and Laura so intimately, and yet we could stand to learn learn so much more about them (and Jacko too). What does Laura want to do with her life? She's 14: all we can use to predict her future is that she liked the last year she had and she's not bad at accounting. And Jacko's only three when we meet him! What a strange and interesting family he'll grow up in.

I love this book, and anything you write me about any of its characters will be delightful.

It is a short YA novel, probably out of print, but likely to be available second hand. There is brief, but sensible and respectful, mention of rape and child abuse.

Black Jewels - Anne Bishop - Any

I would really like worldbuilding. The books focus on very high-powered characters, and I'd be delighted if you would instead explore life for Landens or lighter-jewelled Blood. The books cover a lot of mythical realms, a lot of major political shifts, and dramatic events - ways of life and changes to ways of life that affect everyone. Tell me some of these stories. Original characters very welcome! But if you have favourites among the nominated characters, take your favourite and write me an interaction with an obscure corner of canon.

I requested "any", and I realise you may have signed up to specifically write about Lucivar, or Surreal, or Wilhelmina, and OCs may not be your cup of tea at all. So I have optional thoughts on each of the nominated characters.

Don't write about any of these characters if you don't want to. Oh boy, there are twelve of them. That's why this is long. I may change small bits of this because I'm currently re-reading the whole canon.

These are very roughly in order of how interested I would be in them, but I am still cool with the people at the bottom of the list.

Wilhelmina Benedict - Her story is overshadowed by her sister's, but I really like that they find a reconciliation later. There is a lot of time between those two meetings, and despite the dangerous, oppressive household Wilhelmina grew up in, she retains courage and self-determination. How did that come to be? Who were her allies? What does she do after?

Lord Magstrom - He is a minor character in Heir to the Shadows, and I nominated him because I found the bridge he made between the characters of SaDiablo Hall, and the Dark Council, very interesting. He's allied with fairly evil bureaucrats, but he shows how they haven't all, always, been evil. Also, his ending made me sad, especially since he has a granddaughter (Arnora) Jaenelle's age, so more about his life and family would be fine.

Karla - Tough but very human, probabably non-heterosexual in a world that is ALL ABOUT the gender roles - I have a soft spot for her. Perhaps she has a solo mission of some kind; perhaps she's just relaxing; perhaps she has a girlfriend or an asexual romance?

Gabrielle - Another mysterious Queen. IIRC, she's part of the mysterious Dea al Mon race, who seem to get described as wood elves and not much else. Detail please! And of Jaenelle's coterie, we don't often get to see the Queens being Queens - Sabrina, in the Shadow Queen books, is about the exception. Daily queenship would be interesting.

Jillian - I can't actually remember who she is, apart from clearly Eyrien! I'm sorry if you're the person who nominated her. But from the perspective of telling me a story, that's actually pretty good, because I am interested in minor characters (or characters that feel minor to me). Tell me why she's awesome! Also, I will have re-read all the books by the time Yuletide gifts are delivered.

Cassidy and Jared - What I like about them is a thing they have in common: their enjoyment of domestic tasks. They are so purposeful and content when doing small but important things around their gardens and homes. Maybe they cook something together? Or, either of them being hearth-ish on their own would be OK.

Jaenelle - I'd enjoy a story from the time early in her childhood when she went wandering. Normally I'm not drawn to kid-fic, but she was an interesting kid, and maybe there were other adults who appreciated her. Especially, it would be nice if she interacted with landens or lighter-jewelled blood during this time - even if it was just a day at the market, or sharing a walk along a long road. Or, give me a scene about her being a Queen in a way that doesn't determine the fate of multiple realms.

Lucivar - He's always had to fight, and that seems to define him. Tell me more about the things that made him a fighter, or defining interactions where he both won and lost. I'm not so keen on very-small-kid!fic, so I'd prefer to read fic set before he and Marian begin to raise a family. I like the side of him that's a teacher; a scene of either learning, or teaching, would be another neat option.

Daemon - His anger is such a huge threat, yet he knows this, and he often holds back out of awareness of the danger of unleashing it. I wish something good would come out of this instead of just angst! Maybe give me something from the first 1,700 years of his life that gave him reason for hope and optimism. The storyline in Invisible Ring was good in that way; it gave us a glimpse of friends Daemon valued, and helped, during the long wait for Jaenelle. Daemon protecting people is nifty.

Surreal - We meet Surreal, mostly, when she's got things figured out about Terreille. But she's a long-lived person too, and she's had a while to figure it out. Moments from her earlier years would be neat (maybe in the period before that huge fight with Daemon?). Scenes from when she and Daemon lived together in more or less platonic harmony would be fine.

Saetan - Again, since I'm interested in some of the periods of history that get brushed over, his life when Cassandra was around would be interesting. Or, I feel as though we missed so much in the relationship he has with Sylvia - especially, all the happiest bits! Sylvia and Saetan simply enjoying each other's company would be heartwarming.

In general, what I love about this universe is how not-quite-human the Blood feel, and how careful their protocols are. I love narratives of loyalty, too, and loyalty and honour are big things in this world. And I like romance, and I like how they always seem to be eating delicious things (especially, fighting over nutcakes)! I don't enjoy how sexual the violence can be - rape occurs, and is not always handled well - and I don't like how one-up-man-ish the angst can be. "I'm allowed to do or say X thing because my personal trauma is so much deeper than yours!" is an unpleasant vibe I sometimes get from the books.

There are several books in this series. Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, and Queen of the Darkness are the main trilogy, with Invisible Ring falling a little before. Then there are two story collections, Dreams Made Flesh and Twilight's Dawn. Then there are two books set later in the history of the Invisible Ring realm - The Shadow Queen and Shalador's Lady. If you want to pick up one book to get an idea of the world, The Invisible Ring is fine. Note the triggery bits - sexual violence and child abuse feature. I'm just working through Twilight's Dawn myself.

Die unendliche Geschichte | The Neverending Story - Michael Ende - Atreyu; The Childlike Empress

I would really like worldbuilding - specifically in the canon of the book, not the movies. Go nuts with any theme based in the telling of stories. I have included Atreyu as an optional part of this request because of his final quest to follow up on the stories that remain unfinished - that would be a lovely thing for you to explore. I have also optionally included the Childlike Empress because she's at the centre of Fantastica in a mysterious and interesting way. How do you see her? Or, tell any of the book's specific 'stories that must be told another time' in any way you like. I like the idea that Fantastica is a permeable universe to other writers and storytellers - and in that spirit, you are VERY welcome to write me a crossover in this universe.

The philosophical implications of "Do as you wish" and "But that is another story, and shall be told another time," resonated with me for years. I kind of want to typeset and print the discussion Bastian and Grograman have together about Auryn and frame it on the wall: the idea that you owe something to your dreams and your ideas is such a rich one.

I am afraid that when it comes to movie canon, I am wilfully ignorant. If you know both, please try to avoid reference to things that are only in movie canon, or I will be confused. That's also one reason I have not requested Bastian; his story is cool, but to me, it feels complete.

I am curious about what Fantastica would look like to a writer whose work is not so much fantastical, but in the medium of historical fiction, or folk tales, or steampunk. I am curious about two writers being in the regular Fantastica at the same time, and how their views of fiction would compete. I have listed a non-comprehensive list of fandoms I love at the bottom of this letter in case you are keen for a crossover, but it is so very optional.

One particular crossover that would amuse me here is #Yuletide RPF. If you don't know what I mean, this is fic that loosely refers to the participants in the Yuletide chatroom. We haven't had an opt-in post this year, so if you do choose this angle, please be very respectful of not using details that identify anyone or reflect poorly on them. But if generic Yule-writers go to Fantastica and deal with bears and goats and bunnies, my heart will be warmed.

But basically: Fantastica. Worldbuilding or Atreyu or The Childlike Empress or crossovers or some combination thereof. The book is probably out of print, and a little long, but it is a stand-alone.

The Cabin in the Woods (2011) - Hadley, Sitterson, Wendy Lin

I am really interested in the world and workdays of those In the Know: show me 'behind the scenes', please. You could give me an earlier 'big weekend', maybe. Or friendly rivalry between Japan and Sweden and America (what accounts for America's excellent strike rate?). If you want, change the ending so that things are able to continue according to the status quo - and show how it all went down. I've requested Hadley, Sitterson, and Lin because I'd like a story focused on their jobs and job environments, but you're welcome to pick and choose among those three.

I really enjoyed this film, and saw it twice in the movie theatre. I don't think it's quite as insightful as it thinks it is, but it's quite clever enough, and much fun. Although Marty, Dana, and their friends were sympathetic, my final sympathies were with the organisational folks, simply because there's so much to explore about that world, and they've all gone through complex processes to justify to themselves what they're doing.

Hadley and Sitterson were charming not-really-bastards; competent, geeky, a fun bromantic team. Lin seemed on that interesting edge between affected and cynical; her view of things didn't seem consistent, but in a way that suggested she was uncomfortable with her own actions. I liked the hints of technical detail and mundane wiring problems. I liked the mock office atmosphere. I found the military integration a bit weird - that military character whom Hadley and Sitterson explain things to, who's new and confused, doesn't seem to have a real purpose. Why would you station someone in the control room if he didn't know the general purpose and meaning of the place? But maybe you have a clever explanation for me. And oh, there is gore I don't like, but this was very joyous gore. The unicorn! Eeeeeeeee, the unicorn. I haven't requested the unicorn specifically, or any other monsters, but humorous or creepy reference to any of them would be fun, if you want to do that. The needle-mouthed ballet girl was particularly creepy for me.

The movie is recent, so hopefully isn't too hard to find; there is horror-typical gore, so if you are sensitive to that, it may be worth asking someone who's seen it if it contains your particular squicks.

Crossover ideas
I just thought, if I'm going to tell you I'm happy with crossovers, you're still going to be left confused as to what fandoms I might possibly care about. So here's a non-comprehensive list, mostly from this year's Yuletide. If a bunny appears, feed it! Or, yeah, write a crossover with something I haven't listed - it might introduce a glorious new canon to me. Please don't cross anything over with Avengers, BBC Sherlock, or Dr Who.

A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Shakespeare
A Sudden Wild Magic - Diana Wynne Jones
A Tale of Time City - Diana Wynne Jones
American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Back Home - Michelle Magorian
Better Off Ted
Betty - Brooke Fraser (Music Video)
Brick (2005)
Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Chalion Saga - Lois McMaster Bujold
Changeling - The Lost
Chess - Rice/Ulvaeus/Anderson
Damar series - Robin McKinley
Dark City (1998)
Dark Crystal
Deerskin - Robin McKinley
Derkholm series - Diana Wynne Jones
Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
Dragon Prince series - Melanie Rawn
Easy A (2010)
Elemental Masters - Mercedes Lackey
Emelan - Tamora Pierce
Exeter Book
Fairy Tales & Related Fandoms
Fire and Hemlock - Diana Wynne Jones
Glass Menagerie - Tennessee Williams
Hexwood - Diana Wynne Jones
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Jekyll (TV)
Jonathan Coulton - music
Kick-Ass (2010)
(The) Lost Room
Love Actually (2003)
Lungs (album)
Machete (2010)
Magid Series - Diana Wynne Jones
Megamind (2010)
Monkey Island
Norse Mythology
Obernewtyn Chronicles - Isobelle Carmody
Ombria in Shadow - Patricia McKillip
Pegasus - Robin McKinley
Portal (Video Game)
Push (2009)
Read or Die and Related Fandoms
Romeo x Juliet
Seafort Saga - David Feintuch
Seven Kingdoms Trilogy - Kirstin Cashore
Shoujo Kakumei Utena | Revolutionary Girl Utena
Something in the Water - Brooke Fraser (Music Video)
Stranger Than Fiction (2011)
Sucker Punch (2011)
Sunshine - Robin McKinley
Talents Series - Anne McCaffrey
Tangled (2010)
The Brothers Bloom (2010)
The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson
The Ghost Inside - Broken Bells (Music Video)
The Last Unicorn - Peter S Beagle
The Last Unicorn (1982)
The Middleman (TV)
Tin Man (2007)
Triangle (2009)
Twelfth Night - Shakespeare
Wonderfalls (TV)
Zombieland (2011)

Alphabet of Thorn - Patricia McKillip
Alyzon Whitestarr - Isobel Carmody
Eva Ibbotsen novels (A Countess Below Stairs, Magic Flutes, A Company of Swans)
Kung Fu Panda (movies)
Typography Anthropomorfic
Troilus & Criseyde - Chaucer
Soon I Will Be Invincible - Austin Grossman
The Door in the Air and Other Stories - Margaret Mahy
Police Squad! (TV)
A Night in the Lonesome October - Roger Zelazny
Innkeeper's Song - Peter S. Beagle
Look Around You

Well done. Have some cake and tea. I hope you have a fantastic time following your inspiration: see you on the other side.

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I came over to look at your letter since you betaed for me last year and we semi-collaborated on The Changeover nom. And lo, we have another fandom in common in our letters! I am not convinced you aren't my fandom twin.

Hello, nice to see you here! I just noticed your own letter before I left work for the day, and was thinking about leaving just this kind of note. You beat me to it. ^!^ I remember the manly strawberry milkshake, also the Christmas chocolate, and many fairy tale revisions. Also, East of the Sun, West of the Moon is one of my favourite fairy tales too.

Edited at 2012-10-16 01:13 am (UTC)

If you know both, please try to avoid reference to things that are book canon but not movie canon, or I will be confused.

Did you get this backwards, possibly?

I did! Thank you for catching that. *edits*

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