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Dear Yuletide Writer 2015

Welcome! I'm evelyn_b on AO3, same as on Livejournal.

First, thank you so much for writing for me! Yuletide has been my favorite time of the year since 2011. I've gotten amazing stories every year so far, and I am more than prepared to love whatever comes my way this time.

There are a lot of words in this letter, because long letters are helpful to me as a writer, but please don't hesitate to skip to the end if you would prefer not to wade through them. What I want most of all is for you to have fun writing a story you like in a fandom we both love. All other details are optional.

I like: gen, het, and femslash. Gen is my first love and official favorite, but I also enjoy romance, especially if it's character-driven (funny is also a plus). I like all POVs – first, second, and third person – and all writing styles, and will be happy with stories of any length. I'm not interested in porn for any of these fandoms, but I don't have any strong "ratings" preferences otherwise.

Other things I like: character exploration, humor, angst, humorous angst, slices of life, best-laid plans going awry, fake engagement/fake dating (whether or not it leads to real dating), back-story and futurefic, friendships of all kinds, ordinary people whose ordinariness isn't a vice, complicated emotions, loyalty both advisable and in-, good people doing their best, and deeply flawed characters who manage to be lovable (or at least enjoyably awful) anyway.

I enjoy reading about unhealthy relationships that are also rewarding in some way.

I especially love epistolary and documentary fiction and would be happy to see it for any of these canons: career retrospectives, official or private correspondences, accurate or inaccurate memoirs, or anything that fits.

I love the sense of place in all these canons, and I love social and material history and will eat up any period or setting details you give me. I'm also not terribly picky, so feel free to make up details you don't feel like researching. Canon divergence is fine! Other kinds of AUs are also fine, with one exception: please don't turn any of these characters into Americans. Original characters are welcome (though by no means expected) in all of these fandoms.

I do not want: incest, rape, or torture.

Fandom-Specific Prompts

The following walls of text are for your reference only -- if you already know what you want to write, go ahead and write it! As long as you don't mix me up a giant DNW salad with extra DNW sauce, I will have a happy Yuletide.

Black Books
Bernard Black

I love Bernard's aggressive indifference to customer service (and human) norms and his lyrically rampant scorn-fugues. Any story about Bernard being Bernard, with or without Fran and Manny, would make my Yuletide.

Any deceptively simple or convoluted plan to improve the shop, make money, impress potential partners, or score free booze would be great. A Staff Picks series for the shop might be promising. Or adventures in online dating? A book-themed dating site?

I also love literary hoaxes, and would be delighted to see Fran, Manny and Bernard get mixed up in one. Maybe they collaborate on a "Love and Consequences"-style phony memoir, maybe Bernard impersonates a poet (a good way to get free wine), maybe some forged lost manuscripts are just the thing to get profits up without having to go through the excruciatingly boring ordeal that is calling the book suppliers again.

Or more of Bernard's literary adventures – unexpected success and its disasters, being cruelly and arbitrarily rejected, writing book reviews (of real or imaginary books), feuding with Jonathan Franzen or Alain de Botton?

Crossovers and fusions are welcome. A surprise all-expenses paid retreat to P. G. Wodehouse's Honeysuckle Cottage (story begins at page 272 of this document) might have interesting results. I'd be interested to see Bernard and co. in any classic crime-fiction scenario (Agatha Christie, ACD Holmes, Bleak House, Crime and Punishment, Wilkie Collins, whatever you like) with or without crossover characters.

The bookstore setting provides an opportunity for all kinds of literary and/or Borgesian adventures, and I don't need to know the other canon to have a good time. Something holiday-themed would be fun, if you want to go that route: Bernard seems like the ideal target for an (unsuccessful) Christmas Carol story or (reverse) It's a Wonderful Life scenario. I'd love a heartwarming tale in which supernatural forces teach Bernard that the true meaning of the season really is cheap wine and misanthropy -- or even something other than cheap wine and misanthropy; I'm not particular.

What made me decide to request Black Books this year: seeing pictures of this probably-charming floating bookstore and imagining Bernard's outraged reaction.

I like the canon setting (London in the early years of the cell phone) but have no non-TV-based knowledge of it. So period/location details would be appreciated, but if you slip up, I probably won't even notice. Feel free to research, invent and embroider, draw on experience, or just go with what's on screen -- whatever works best for you.

You can watch Black Books in its entirety on YouTube, beginning with S1E01, "Cooking the Books"

Emily of New Moon - L. M. Montgomery
(Janet Royal, Elizabeth Murray, Emily Byrd Starr, Ilse Burnley, Jimmy Murray, Juliet Murray, Laura Murray, Teddy Kent)

That's a lot of characters! Please feel free to pick one, or to write about them in any combination you like.

The Emily series is my perennial Yuletide request, not because I haven't gotten amazing stories in the past (I have), but because I never get tired of it. If you love these books as much as I do, I am guaranteed to love anything you write. If you have an adversarial relationship with these books, I will also love anything you write. These are only a few possibilities.

Anything about Emily dealing with a later stage of her career would be amazing: meeting other authors, dealing with publishers, being interviewed by awkward interns, being interviewed by The Paris Review (she'll be her mid-to-late 60s by the time the Art of Fiction/Art of Poetry interview series gets going – just the right age for a Paris Review interview, if anyone has the good taste to remember her) – discouraging obscurity, stifling fame, thorny persistence – whatever time has in store for her. Will she ever try to write A Seller of Dreams again?

Ilse in Montreal or Teddy in Paris would be terrific (and a great opportunity for epistolary fic, if that appeals to you). A Teddy/Ilse story set before or during their engagement could be great, with or without fraught conversations about Emily. Their childhood unhappinesses are interestingly complimentary: Teddy crushed by his possessive mother, Ilse resented and neglected and then desperately spoiled. Ilse/Emily, one-sided or mutual, is always appreciated -- but I'd also love something about Ilse on her own, or with friends other than Emily.

Janet Royal appeals to me because she provides a rare glimpse of a career path that was in some respects more typical than Emily's (and Montgomery's), but which is barely visible in the Emily books. She's also an unmarried career woman who isn't romantic or picturesque, doesn't regret or resent or angst about her lot, and seems to be having a pretty good time with her awesome dog. I'd love to see her correspondence with Emily, or a story about them working together, or just Janet's adventures among the Yankees. I also think Janet/Ilse could work (or be a disaster, but you know, an interesting disaster), if you can figure out a way to get them together.

I'd also really enjoy seeing how Teddy, Ilse, and/or Emily respond to the war and the cultural shifts that follow and precede the war – whether and how much time and experience changes their ideas about art and writing and elocution/acting, whether it brings them closer together or drives them apart, whether they make new connections with other artists or become more isolated. Their paths could end up diverging quite a lot. Emily is a bit of a curmudgeon in her youth – pledging to never write un-rhymed poetry, for example, and identifying with Mr. Carpenter's skepticism about “modern fiction” Does she change her mind as she gets older, or dig in her heels? Do she and Teddy argue about new developments in painting?

I'd love to see a Juliet story, pre- or post-elopement, or for you to figure out some way for Emily and Juliet to meet – a visit from the dead wouldn't be completely out of place in this canon. I'd be interested to know what the relationship between Juliet and Jimmy was like -- did she have the same kind of rapport with him that Emily does, or not? The Murray family is such a seething graveyard of ghosts -- it feels like everyone in Elizabeth's generation has their own dark secret or smothered fire. Or is that just "everyone, everywhere"? Elizabeth's relationship with Jimmy -- taking him in out of guilt and duty -- is always worth exploring, but there are others. Jimmy's POV might be an interesting challenge. Letters to Emily? An attempt to record his poetry?

Any pre-canon Murray backstory would be great: the hints that we get about their upbringing are so stark. Maybe a story about Laura or Elizabeth's courting days, and any friendships they may have had or lost, because of their father or family obligations or their own pride/fear/whatever. Renewed or persistent friendships would be great, too! (Is Janet Royal old enough to have had an affair with Laura Murray? Arguably? She's twenty years older than Emily -- it could totally fit!)

Or maybe none of that interests you? That's ok! Absolutely anything about any of these characters (DNWs excepted) would make me extremely happy! Ghost stories, writing stories, love stories, solitude stories: these books are enormous and contain multitudes.

Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, and Emily's Quest are all available on Project Gutenberg for free, and in cheap paperback editions at an Amazon near you.

Pat of Silver Bush series - L. M. Montgomery
Pat Gardiner, Rachel Gardiner, May Binnie, Hilary Gordon

Any (not necessarily all) of these characters, alone or together.

Pat, I don't know. I like her because she's hard to love and hard to live with – the most ordinary of Montgomery's heroines and probably the strangest, at least at first glance. Unlike Anne and Emily, she can't get what she wants at last, because what she wants is impossible: to live in her childhood home forever, for everything and everyone to stay the same. She dreams about housekeeping for her brother Sid for the rest of their lives, like the Cuthberts, long after Sid has made it clear he doesn't want any life of the kind. She cries inconsolably when her father shaves off his moustache. It can't be sustained and finally it isn't. The Pat series is relentless in the way it takes away everything Pat has been clinging to until there's nothing left, and only when there's nothing left can she make her peace with time.

I'd love to see some post-canon futures for Pat, and would be equally happy with cheerful optimism or the darkest darkfic. Can she learn to live with change now that Silver Bush is gone? If the answer is yes, what kind of new life does she build? What difficulties does she face along the way? If the answer is no, what becomes of her and Hilary? Will Pat and Hilary have children, and what are they like as parents? Will Hilary overcompensate for his mother's neglect, or does he see that at Pat's job? The ending of Mistress Pat seems so abrupt and ambiguous to me; I worry about them a lot. I'd love something tough and hopeful, or something horribly twisted, or both, if necessary.

Hilary is a character who could go a lot of ways. Is it ominous that the last sound of Mistress Pat is "the low yielding laugh of a girl held prisoner by her lover"? Is it ominous that he's built a replica of Silver Bush by another sea? Or is everything really going to be ok now?

Anything exploring Hilary's character and career would be great -- especially if it involved real or made-up details of post-WWI architectural education and practice. I'd love to see some of the business/day-to-day side of his work. What do Hilary's fellow architecture students think of him? As much as I worry about the ending of Mistress Pat, I love their friendship in Pat of Silver Bush, and Hilary's painful non-relationship with his careless, unhappy mother in the far West. He and Pat share that intense, almost(?) religious closeness to houses and places and growing things, and in Pat of Silver Bush especially they can seem like twin children of the same grief: Jingle with his longing for a home, and Pat with her awful consuming fear of losing hers.

Partly because Hilary is so absent in Mistress Pat, it's a little hard for me to imagine them as grown-ups together. Maybe they stumble along pretty well together. Maybe they're charming eccentrics? Maybe they're a quiet, terrifying maelstrom. I don't know! I don't have any answers. Fluffy, creepy, or anything in between -- I'd love any story about them.

I'd love to know more about Rae, too. She seems so clear-headed and intelligent from an early age, the obvious choice for heroine of her own book. What is it like growing up with Pat as a big sister? Will she ever recover or regret her ambition to become a doctor? Is her decision not to continue her education as simple as she makes it out to be ("We're just domestic girls after all and want a home to potter over") or is there another story behind it?

I can't help liking "slangy, loud-voiced" May Binnie and her family, and the more the Gardiners and Judy despair over their tacky ways, the more I like them. The relentless anti-May campaigning makes me want to take May's side even when she's being genuinely awful, but if you hate May, that's ok, too. I'd love anything from May's perspective, whether she's a misunderstood heroine or even shallower and meaner than the Gardiners can imagine, or something else entirely. How does she really feel about Sid -- or anyone? Can she and Pat (or Rae) ever see eye to eye and be friends -- maybe now that Silver Bush is gone? Do Rae and May ever commiserate about how difficult it can be to live with Pat, the way Rae and Pat do about May? Does May ever show an unexpected side, or come to the rescue in a time of crisis?

Theories about who really set the Silver Bush fire (Sid, Hilary, Pat herself?) are always welcome. Or maybe Pat has been half-right this whole time, and the house really does have a will and a soul -- for good or ill.

Gratuitous crossover opportunity: It's not even in the tagset, but I happened to read Brideshead Revisited and Mistress Pat at the same time this year, and I was struck by some (superficial?) similarities. I don't have any specific prompts, but given the time period and Hilary's architectural interests, it doesn't seem all that unlikely for his path and Charles Ryder's to cross, and if you find yourself following their common threads of nostalgia, childhood-hoarding and house-love, I'd like to see where you end up.

Pat of Silver Bush and Mistress Pat are available on Project Gutenberg, and also in paperback.

Once again, please don't worry if you don't like these prompts or don't feel like reading them. Write something you'll enjoy, and chances are very good that I'll enjoy it, too! Thank you so much again, and I hope your Yuletide is the best ever!


blase ev

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