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Dear DJ
SSar's Beast
[aka: my 'letter' to the person assigned to create a gift for me in the Jukebox exchange, or anyone considering creating a treat for me. If you don't know what I'm talking about, consider investigating Jukebox! It's kind of a gateway drug to original fic if you're in fandom, or a gateway drug to fandom & fanworks if you write original stuff. And it's open to visual & podfic artists this year.]

Generally: I love gen and worldbuilding. I like romances and mentorships and friendships and family relationships and colleague relationships. I also like complex relationships where both sides are a bit right and a bit wrong. I'm happy with any rating and any configuration of gender or sexuality. (There are some songs where I have a stronger 'default' understanding of the gender of the participants, but don't feel limited by that.)

I like fantasy and sci fi and magic realism and also realism. I like all moods except pure fluff or pure misery porn. I like a bit of truth in my fiction: little practical details or bits of history or deconstructed 'how would that really work' tropes. And if the 'truth' relates to how real people behave and how they construct their worlds, that's excellent. I like competence and loyalty. I like trains. I like vampires and dragons and gargoyles and wings. I like fairy tales. I like a lot of things. I'm open to what you come up with.

I don't like: plots involving addiction or thrill-seeking with mind-altering substances; amnesia plots; injury to hands.

I hope to give you something to work with, rather than something that ties you down.

I haven't asked for art before in an exchange, so I'm not sure what general tips to give. I like abstract designs and geometric/floral/decorative patterns worked into things. I like line drawings and subtly shaded colours. I like skylines and a sense of distance. I'm less keen on exaggeratedly cartoonish styles, with large, solid blocks of colour, disproportionate bodies, and crude faces - does that make any sense? I hope so. I hope my individual requests are more helpful.

The Stranger Song - Leonard Cohen
Youtube, lyrics
It's hard to hold the hand of anyone / who is reaching for the sky just to surrender...

I asked for fic last year, but this year, what I'd really like is art. There are so many gorgeous images in this song! I would absolutely love something that works with: you notice there's a highway that is curling up like smoke above his shoulder, or you try the handle of the road, it opens, or beneath the bridge that they are building on some endless river. Or, in a less abstract/magical way, I'd be interested in a character study of the 'you' or the 'he' (golden/rusted arm or not!), or of one of them looking at the other (with suspicion? love? entreaty? so many emotions). I like trains, so if you feel like illustrating a platform arriving/departing scene, that could be neat. I'm less interested in a realistic poker game scene, but if you want to do something symbolic or abstract with the motif of playing cards, that could be cool.

On balance, I'd prefer the "you" character to be female and the "he" character to stay male, but if you are strongly inspired by a different idea, so be it.

Running Through the Garden - Fleetwood Mac
Fanfiction, Art
Youtube, lyrics
Until she herself / Understood her garden / Leaving her heart broken / No future at all...

I want to know everything about this song. There's so much at stake, and the implied history is so painful. I mostly interpret the 'garden' as having some magical or mythic power.

One way I see it is as as some kind of Rapunzel story, in which the "witch" has complicated motivations, and the "Rapunzel" figure is also in danger of becoming a "witch". Or you could run with an Edenic theme. Or perhaps you can find a way to relate this a real garden? (good luck).

I interpret this as having two characters, both female, but there's scope for more or fewer, and other genders.

For fic: I don't require a happy story here, exactly, but I'd like the characters to have some agency in their survival or success or downfall.

For art: I'd like to see the garden! I'd also be interested in seeing a character's relationship illustrated with it (the conflict! the revelations!) - either someone eponymously 'running through' this garden, or maybe trying to cut parts of it down... Is one of the characters magically or spiritually connected to plants? That could be cool to illustrate. And of course the way the characters relate to each other could be fascinating to explore visually.

No Fandom

If it suits you, I'd prefer something with a fantastic, mythic or science-fictional angle, and possibly towards the shorter end of the scale (i.e. under 4k). I have a couple of suggestions: I think El Staplador's Do Not Tap on the Glass would be great to record, because of its use of second person and its enthralling atmosphere. I also more recently enjoyed marginaliana's But I must gather knots of flowers and buds, and garlands gay - I like the understated way it unfolded, and the lovely descriptions, and there's potential for some fun nuance when recording the character interactions. (Both of these writers have appropriate permission statements.) Or, if you're considering recording one of my own stories to give back to me, I would be most excited to receive The Zoo at the End of the Universe or accustom me to joy. And any eligible story previously gifted to me might be neat to hear reinterpreted as a podfic.

If those don't work for you, then some more guidelines: I'd prefer clear, straightforward prose to opaque and highly-styled prose with dense and ornate metaphors. I'd prefer not to receive a story whose overall message is that humans suck, and I'd prefer you avoid gore and graphic violence. I can find all of those interesting and entertaining in written work, but it's harder to skim, or distance myself, from confusing writing or unpleasant themes when I'm listening to them.

This is my first time asking for podfic (exciting!!), so I apologise if this request is styled oddly.

Instinct - Crowded House
Youtube, lyrics
Do you recognize the nervous twitch / That exposes the weakness of the myth?

Basically, just spin a story for me out of this imagery, and I'll be happy. I get an oddly hopeful vibe from it (although that has basis in "laughing at the stony face of gloom"). One possible interpretation is some kind of monster hunter. If you go that route, I'd prefer it to be in a world that resembles ours rather than pure fantasy. And I'd prefer the viewpoint character not to be merely deluded. But the "monsters" don't have to be literal at all. Just the line and you feel your attraction to him has the potential to complicate the rest of the story a whole lot.

I have a weakness for stories about stories, and the lines Separate the fiction from the fact / Been a little slow to react intrigue me. Yes, where are the lines drawn for our character or characters?

I have no preference regarding character genders here.

King of the World - Steely Dan
Youtube, lyrics
No marigolds in the promised land /There's a hole in the ground where they used to grow...

I have a lot of favourite songs whose lyrics are really depressing, but from which I somehow got an uplifting or hopeful sense. It's a thing. This is one of those songs. It's a story about a nuclear apocalypse, but it's also about connection: the singer is trying to make contact with people he knew from before the disaster, and I get the sense that he succeeds.

Some of the things I might like to see: empty cities, skylines; signs of man's abandonment but also signs of the world that exists after man. I'd like to see our hero "driving in their car" or speaking into their radio. (Maybe contrasted with someone listening to their own radio?) Or: maybe a scene of (urban?) destruction in which hints of continued human existence can be seen.

I know it's kind of hard to depict what ISN'T there, but marigolds are my favourite flower - if you want to work them in, maybe a contrasting before/after scene? Like, someone looking at a scene and imagining what was there before contrasted with what's there now, and the 'before' scene involving marigolds? :P Please don't feel constrained by that - it's just one of many, many things I'd be interested in. But since they are my favourite flower, I thought I might as well throw that out there.

A three-panel or similar comic might work really well here, if you like creating in that format.

I know that apocalypses require death, but I'd prefer not to see a lot of corpses. Thanks.

By default, I imagine the narrator as male, speaking with a particular other male person in mind, but please use whatever genders you like.

I may add other songs to this letter.

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