I had the pleasure of interviewing authors Lyn Thorne-Alder and Chris Childs together. They are the collaborators behind the web series Addergoole. Their work appears in Ergofiction Magazine’s book, Other Sides, an anthology showcasing the work of webfiction authors.
What surprises you the most about writing?
Thorne-Alder: The random places my brain will decide to take things; the moments when characters do something I totally didn’t expect them to do. There’s a scene early on where, in two chapters, two different characters run out of the dance crying; neither of those moments were planned in my original vision of the dance.
Childs: The most surprising thing about writing is the way it consumes the writer. I find myself thinking about writing, planning scenes, developing the world, continually through the day. I hear music and see scenes set to it like a movie trailer. I never expected it to be such a passionate activity.
How did you first start writing?
Thorne-Alder: I’ve never really outgrown make-believe, and I’ve never stopped making up worlds in my head; writing was a way of sharing that once my peers stopped playing. One of my first stories, one I’ve never successfully made into something good, was an attempt to transcribe a make-believe world I made up with a friend when we were four.
Childs: This is a somewhat complicated question, actually. Addergoole is the first actual story for which I’ve been a part of the writing process, but I’ve been a storyteller for many years. As an avid roleplayer, my stories have previously been in more of an oral form as I write and run games. My worldbuilding expertise was certainly a factor in Lyn’s decision to ask me to come on board for Addergoole, and I’m delighted to be a part of it.
What’s your favorite part of collaborating with another writer?
Thorne-Alder: I spend a lot less time “stuck” when I’m collaborating, and the two of us write together a lot more than twice as fast as I’d write on my own. What’s more, writing with Chris helps me understand some of my characters better – he does a lot better with some of them than I’d ever manage – and he pulls less punches than I do, so there’s more genuine, realistic conflict in the story.
Childs: There are a lot of great things I could say about collaborating. Lyn’s a gifted writer, and her characters are vibrant, complete people. Writing opposite them when we banter in character is tremendous fun. The depth of the setting we’ve created together really brings out my own descriptive tendencies, and it’s wonderful to stretch my legs in a format like this that’s newer to me, with someone more experienced to provide support when I need it. In all honesty, though, the thing I enjoy the most is sharing the anticipatory glee as we post a chapter and wait for the responses to start rolling in across various media.
What is the most difficult part of writing (in general)?
Thorne-Alder: Slumps! Hours and days and weeks when I just don’t want to write. That’s been the hardest thing to get over in putting out a serial, but I’ve gotten into a pretty good schedule, so that the slumps are rarer and shorter.
Childs: I’m a very expressive person, and when I write dialogue, I find myself making expressions and gestures as the characters. Trying to describe those from the perspective of an outside party is a continual challenge for me. I have a great deal of difficulty making sure that the characters read the way I intend them to in terms of tone and attitude.
What has changed the most about the world of Addergoole over time?
Thorne-Alder: Well, in the beginning there was just Addergoole, the school, the concept. Now, two years later, there’s the world of Addergoole – there’s history, background characters, a future. We’ve taken the story from a passing idea with a couple characters to a full world, detailed enough to roleplay in, with a magic system, a history going back to Neanderthal man, and a future spreading past an apocalypse.
Give any of our readers who are unfamiliar with Addergoole a little info about your serial.
Childs: Addergoole is a story of discovery and coming-of-age for young people who find themselves suddenly thrust into a new understanding of reality that makes them question everything they thought they knew about the world and themselves. It’s not intended for actual young readers, as there are more than a few moments of eroticism as well as some genuine darkness, but we tell a compelling story that doesn’t pull its punches, and we hope you’ll laugh, love, and cry with us as our students learn and grow.
What do you admire in popular fiction that you’d love to see more of?
Thorne-Alder: Innovative, creative settings with believable characterization: in short, good writing!
Would you compare your story to any other popular work out right now? If yes/no, why or not?
Childs: Well, the story is a modern fantasy about teenagers learning magic in a special school, so the Potter comparisons were inevitable. The resemblance ends there, however, as the story elements and subject matter we’re working with are starkly different. The other comparison I hear the most from readers is X-Men, which surprised me at first, but I see where it’s coming from; Addergoole does resemble Xavier’s School for the Gifted in a few respects. The students are genetically different from normal humans and will develop and grow into unique powers as a result of their differences while learning from others like them who are more experienced. Again, though, the treatment of the material is entirely different.
Without giving away too many spoilers, what can we expect to see in the future from your serial?
Thorne-Alder: The next few weeks of school are going to be interesting ones for our protagonists; they are going to become more aware of what’s going on outside of their relationships, and begin to move to affect that world. Action!
What was the biggest surprise you’ve had while working on this story?
Childs: I’d have to say the biggest surprise has been the way some of the characters run away with the story. At times both Lyn and I have found that the characters start writing their own scenes, and we’ve been surprised by some of the directions they’ve gone. We’ve created some really dynamic people here, and they want to be the masters of their own destiny.
©2010 Lori Titus
You can purchase a copy of Other Sides here: http://tinyurl.com/2eu2pvt .
Addegoole can be found here: http://addergoole.com/