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Dear Yuletide Author

Dear Yuletide Author:

As always, you are the best person ever and I love you already. I am very sorry for this letter being late. Here are some things about general preferences and this year's fandoms.

I like gen, het, and femslash. I don't care one way or the other about dudeslash, but am open to conversion through the magic of Yuletide. All POVs are welcome. Humor, angst, slice of life, backstory, friendship, and recovery narratives are all things of beauty that are consequently a joy forever.

I like complicated emotions, difficult relationships, loyalty, jobs well done, imperfect solutions, and bad women who don't die. I especially like period details – random, illuminating, gratuitous, and especially unexpected – and marginalized or non-mainstream social groups, especially if the story is about something other than how marginalized they are. Please feel free to fill up the fandoms below with characters of color, sexual minorities, artist's models, Theosophists, and anyone else you feel is missing from (or implied in but under-served by) the original.

I do not like incest*, rape or attempted rape, dubcon, torture, or abuse of any kind. Sometimes these things are story elements, because the world is large and complicated. But please don't introduce them deliberately because you think you can make me like them (you won't) and please, keep them in the background. There is only one thing that can actually ruin Yuletide for me and that is having to read a scene of any of the above.

Apart from that, I am really easy to please. There are some prompts below, but please only use them if you want them! If you have a better idea, go with it! Don’t stress; write something you’ll enjoy writing. I want you to have a happy Yuletide, too.

*I guess since half my fandoms this year prominently feature potential First Cousin Marriages, I should note that these don't squick me particularly, so you don't have to tiptoe around canon or anything. Immediate family or anything between older/younger generation family members is an Automatic No for me, but cousins of the same generation -- *shrug*. That said, I still wouldn’t necessarily want a story that leaned heavily on, e.g., how Nikolai/Sonya is superior to Nikolai/Marya specifically because the former spent so much time growing up in the same house -- if that makes sense.

Here are some fandoms, accompanied by minor and major walls of text:

Anything Could Happen (song)

Stripped to the waist, we fell into the river
Cover your eyes so you don't know the secret
I’ve been trying to hide
We held our breath to see our names were written
On the wreck of 86
That was the year we knew the panic was over
Since we found out
Since we found out
That anything could happen

This song by Ellie Goulding is like the year's best YA dystopia in song form. I love the weird allusive details that aren't explained at all. Ellie Goulding's vocals are vulnerable, determined, and just a touch post-human. But what's the book about?

Who are these diving-into-the-river people? What's their relationship? What wrecked in '86 and why are their names on it? Is that 1886 or 2686 – or both, somehow? Has all this happened before? Is it likely to happen again?

Give me the whole story, or an elusive cross-section. Pull out some of that eerie speculative fiction goodness and make me a story out of it. Or if you hate speculative fiction, any kind of story will do.

I assume there's a video. I haven't seen it and I doubt I'll get around to it anytime soon, so if you're feeling lazy or frazzled this year you can probably just narrate the video to me and I won't know the difference. But an original story about what the heck is going on here would make me the happiest girl in Mars Dome.

You can hear the song for free on Youtube And it’s actually called “Anything Could Happen,” not "Anything Can Happen" which I should definitely have taken the time to learn before I nominated it under the wrong name in my last-minute nomination panic. Well, darn. That wasn’t the right foot at all.

Vonya I mir / War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

Ok, so.

So I assume you wouldn't have nominated/offered to write for this fandom if you didn't already know and love War and Peace, right? I don't have to feel bad for asking, right? In case you were matched on another request and don't know, War and Peace is very large for a book.

It's also one of my favorite things ever written.

What do I love about War and Peace? Almost everything? I love that the narrator doesn't bother to hide his sympathies and how wryly observant and patient and impatient and tender he is by turns. I love the ENDLESS making fun of the alleged greatness of Napoleon. I love the Rostovs. I LOVE ALL OF THEM, even Vera. I love how there's time for characters to grow and change and backtrack and wander off into ditches and have glorious revelations that later turn out to be completely useless – how patient the narrative is with the endless depth and confusion of being a person in the world. And seriously, as long as you give me more, it doesn't matter what you choose to write about.

Here are a couple of suggestions anyway.

Toward the end, Natasha makes some guesses about her cousin Sonya.

'To him that hath shall be given, and to him that hath not shall be taken even that that he hath,' do you remember? She is the one that hath not;, why, I don't know; perhaps she has no egoism. I don't know; but from her is taken away, and everything has been taken away. I am sometimes awfully sorry for her. I used in the old days to want Nikolai to marry her but I always had a sort of presentiment that it would not happen. She is a barren flower, you know, like what one finds among the strawberry flowers. Sometimes I am sorry for her, and sometimes I think she does not feel it as we should have felt it.

Is Natasha right about her cousin, or is she full of it -- or a little bit of both? Give me a Sonya story-- happy, sad, or in-between, from any point in the book, before, or after. Does she have a role to play – direct, unintentional, hidden or otherwise -- in the Decembrist revolt that we know is coming? What kind of relationship will develop between her and the younger generation, especially N. Bolkonsky? What does she feel, and choose to remember, and not choose?

Or you can tell me something about one of the “fallen” or “bad” women – the unseen actresses whose only function is to tempt and distract, awful or misused or inchoate Ellen, Pierre's mother, Anatole's abandoned wife.

Or just have Marya Dmitriyevna show up and yell at some people who need yelling at; that would be fine, too.

But look, if you don't like any of that and you wanted to write a different story about War and Peace, just go ahead and do that. I love just about every single thing about this book, so it would be really, really hard to go wrong. Teenage Pierre Goes to France! Prince Vasily and his Children Are Obviously Twilight Vampires! Not All the Serfs Actually Love Nikolai: An Expose! Vera and Berg's Social Climbing Adventures! As long as it isn't just a giant stack of rape scenes and character assassinations, I will probably love it.

War and Peace is available for free on Project Gutenberg and for money wherever giant books are sold.

(NB: I would actually love to read a stack of novels called Vera and Berg's Social Climbing Adventures).

Suzanne – song (Leonard Cohen)

There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
and they will lean that way forever
while Suzanne holds the mirror

Look! It's the most elegiac Manic Pixie Dream Girl ever!

I couldn’t find my very favorite version by Nina Simone on Youtube, but here is another one.

This is a song that makes me think of an imaginary San Francisco and the Beats, and also real San Francisco on a rainy day, but it could also be any Navy base or any town on the Eastern seaboard, or Lisbon with its giant Jesus hanging in the air over the Tagus, or Philadelphia, who knows? It turns out that the narrator doesn't actually give us much evidence that we “know” Suzanne is “half-crazy;” what would she say to that?

A while ago I came across one of the Beats explaining why there seemed to be so few women in the Beat movement: there were lots of young women who came into Beat social circles, wrote poetry and hung out in jazz clubs, but these women were very often hospitalized for mental illness (usually by parents) while the young men were more likely to be left alone. Sometimes the wall you walk into is fog, and sometimes granite. Maybe this song is about that. Maybe not.

Who is Suzanne? Does she have parents somewhere in the midwest, giving her now hopelessly outdated photo to police? Or is she older than that? Or does it matter? (She thought they'd stop worrying when she turned forty, but it turns out not to work that way).

You don't have to write about that, though. You can write about anything in this song, or anything this song reminds you of. “She” is a non-binding pronoun. Narrator / “you” is not necessarily Leonard Cohen in a flimsy Leonard Cohen mask.

Original flavor Leonard Cohen version is here.

Emily of New Moon (L. M. Montgomery)

Here, I present to you a scenario, straight from L. M. Montgomery's Journals. Maud is at college and comes down with the measles at the same time as a girl she dislikes:

By the time I had rallied my scattered wits Miss C. had scrutinized my neck, found rash, and decreed my doom. I was ordered at once to Perry's room and went, with no very pleasant emotions over the prospect of being shut up for an indefinite period-- and with Rita Perry at that-- a girl whom I dislike extremely. . . I dislike Perry and she must dislike me quite as bitterly, for there is something in our very natures that is antagonistic to each other. She is one of the people on whom my soul declares war at sight. But we have always been civil to each other on the surface and now as we were companions in misfortune, we made the best of things, buried the undeclared hatchet and got on excellently well, talking freely of cabbages and kings – and men!

I would love it if you could contrive to have Emily and her high school rival, Evelyn Blake, quarantined together, for good or ill. The school setting isn't ideal for it since Emily never lived in a dormitory or boardinghouse, but you can make something up, right?

When I first read the Emily books as a child, I was all-italics furious with L. M. Montgomery for preventing Emily from going to New York with Janet Royal. I’m more sanguine about it now. Part of me still thinks Emily should have given New York a chance – that leaving the land might have made her love of it sharper and less sentimental, that a fresh new form of loneliness and having a few worldly friends who aren't necessarily Dean Priest might do her at least as much good as harm. But there's no need to transplant our delicate heirloom rose to a flowerpot on Broadway if you don't want to; I'd love any story about Janet, what she thinks of her mother and Shrewsbury, how she lives, what and who she loves. Or just let her and Emily meet up again – at any point in the future, with any kind of water under bridges without number – and finally have that real conversation they were supposed to have.

I like Janet Royal because she provides a rare glimpse of a career path that was in some respects more typical than Emily's (and Maud'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.

N.B.: Evelyn would have gone to New York if she had the chance. They have the latest fashions there, not to mention real literary publications.

If that doesn't suit, I'm still holding out for a hero who will make Laura Murray / Dean Priest work. He can take her on the Grand Tour, just like Laura's annoying OC suitor in the awful/awesome live action Emily! I'd be happy to see Dean paired with anyone but Emily, really. Bonus if he learns some kind of Important Lesson about how not to be horrible to the people he ostensibly loves, and doesn't immediately run away from it in a giant cloud of angst.

I'd also like any story about Emily's friends and their careers / personal lives, such as Ilse Conquers Montreal or Teddy's Parisian Misogyny Quest. More about Emily’s career would also be awesome! Or anything, really; I love the Emily books and would be perfectly happy with more of the same.

All three Emily books are available at Project Gutenberg. Emily Climbs is the one with Evelyn and Janet in it.

Emily of New Moon
Emily Climbs
Emily’s Quest

. . .

Again, please remember these are only suggestions. Don't worry! Write something you like, and I'll like it too! Thanks again for making Yuletide the most wonderful time of the year!


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 19th, 2013 06:23 am (UTC)
I love your letter, haha. :D Especially the Suzanne prompts. But basically the whole thing (and the italics in the EoNM section!) :)
Oct. 20th, 2013 09:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I always stress out about the letter way too much because I am laying my dorkiness bare to the world. But I guess that's what Yuletide is all about.
Oct. 20th, 2013 08:58 am (UTC)
Can I just say that I totally love you for requesting War and Peace? Because this is the fandom of my heart but it is terribly overlooked.
Oct. 20th, 2013 09:16 pm (UTC)
OMG and here I was reading your letter and fearing you would hate me because I love the Rostovs too uncritically. It's not really like that. I do criticize. But I also love. So thank you for stopping by and easing my troubled mind. And for nominating War and Peace, if that was you. Yay for Yuletide!

I love all your prompts, btw.
Oct. 20th, 2013 09:44 pm (UTC)
Yes I'm that annoying person who noms/requests this fandom every year lol.

Oh I can totally understand why someone would like the Rostovs. The only person in that family whom I honestly dislike is Natasha. But I have love Sonya, Petya, Vera and the old count. The Countess and Nikolai I have issues with but nothing character-bashy lol.

I'm sorry if I scared you off :( I just happen to like Tolstoy's antagonists a lot xD
Oct. 20th, 2013 10:01 pm (UTC)
No worries! I totally understand the antagonist love. The thing about Tolstoy is that he draws nearly all his characters SO WELL that even when he starts preaching about them, they just get up and walk away.

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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