Dear Yuletide Author

Saturday, October 1st, 2016 03:05 pm
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In which I discuss my requests and some other notes for the following fandoms: The Young Visiters (a book by Daisy Ashford), The Librarians (TV show), Constellations (Anthropomorfic), and Tower Prep (TV show)

Thank you for writing for me! I really enjoy doing Yuletide, and seeing the amazing wonderful stories that come out of it. I'm pretty sure I'll love whatever you come up with for whichever of my requests you write for!

This is a bit lengthy, but I hope it's the helpful sort of lengthy, and you can just focus on the bits of particular interest to you.

Most of my journal is locked, and I realise that makes it a little tricky to get a sense of me and what I like, but you can get an idea from my Yuletide tag which has public comments on things I have gotten as gifts, things I read, and past Dear Author letters. In general, things from previous years still apply this year (in terms of general comments), unless I mention otherwise.

General notes

Things I like a lot

- Worldbuilding. Especially worldbuilding that illuminates something in the canon.

- Geekery. About magical theory, about folklore and literature, about cooking, about ... yeah, geekery is good.

- Competent people being really competent.

- People being good to each other. I mean, not all the time, and not everyone in the story, because then you get no plot, but I like stories that are about some of the people looking out for each other, and that helping.

- Complicated choices. It's a complicated world out there, and people make all kinds of choices, and some of them work, and some of them don't, and some of them go unexpected places. If you want to pick a plot trope I will love most, this is probably it.

Things I am not so thrilled about:

- Explicit sex (or kind of sex), graphic violence, language choice, etc. that go beyond where canon goes. (Not really an issue for these canons, but it's nice to be clear.)

- Non-canon relationships, AUs, and crossovers all depend a lot on the set-up for me, and that generally takes more words than is reasonable to expect in a Yuletide story. I have suggested a couple of AUs below, but outside of those, please check through a mod if you have a brilliant plot bunny that won't let you go.

- I have a thing about not liking narratives which rely on teachers or mentors being stupid, entirely inobservant, etc. (Some are, but it's when every teacher in the narrative is that I go grr a lot.)

The Librarians (TV 2014)

Characters: Any
(Characters nominated this year: Amy Meyer, Cassandra Cillian, Eve Baird, Ezekiel Jones Jake Stone, Jenkins | Galahad, Morgan le Fay (The Librarians))

I requested this last year, and got a lovely story, but! There are more stories possible! A bunch of my basic interests are still the same as last year.

I requested Any here, because honestly, there are lots of different stories I'd be fascinated by. I am in this fandom for the geekery and the competence and the unconventional applications of knowledge and learning, much more than the shipping (and thus, while I'm happy with stories where romance is happening along with plot, I'd prefer it not be the major or only focus.)

This is a show I keep up with, and you can assume that I am caught up to anything referenced in canon through the opening of the Yuletide archive. (i.e. all three movies, season one, season two, and however many episodes into season 3 we are.) It's also fine with me if you aren't, or want to focus on an earlier season, or go somewhere totally different.

Things I love about this series

The sheer pulpy delight of it. The look on *everyone's* face when they first see the library.

The way minor bits of random knowledge add up and matter. The sheer joy of knowledge you see, the way that's treated, where it's "Hey, I get to share this Cool Thing" rather than putting people down for not knowing it. (I particularly love Stone for this.) The way they take stories and twist them, slightly, and you end up going down paths you didn't expect.

One of the things I love is how reliably good this show is with stuff they reference, and that kind of attention to detail really makes it work even better for me.

In terms of particular episodes: The meeting of the various powers in "And the Apple of Discord." The inner core of the Library we see in "And the Hollow Men". All the assumptions about what power is and how it works that the series deliberately plays with and often subverts. I found "And the Heart of Darkness" very hard to watch because horror is so not my genre in moving media, but I am fascinated by the houses mentioned in that episode. "And the Cost of Education" hit a lot of my setting sweet points.

Story seeds that fascinate me in this world:

More of what Amy Meyer and Lucy Lion get up to after their episodes. Backstory of Jenkins and Morgana, at some time between now and back then. We've seen stories set in libraries, or where libraries matter a couple of times: I'd love one of those. Eve's transition from working with a team of other people who are competent the ways she's competent to working with people who are competent in other ways (but often very incompetent in her realm). Stone's background and him developing his academic reputation while being outside academia. The Librarians hitting a problem where research and knowledge in books doesn't actually help.

There are so many things I love about Cassandra, but her owning her own experience is probably one of my favourites: more about how she got so solid in doing that would be great. Ezekiel is the character that it's taken the longest to grow on me, but ""And the Point of Salvation" was a big turning point for me in being actively interested in what's going on in his head, and what he's learning from being a Librarian. And finally, I love Jenkins for being his cantankerous self, and for being so set on doing the right thing, thoroughly, and his continuing curiousity about the world and research. I also really adore him and Morgana, and am dying for more backstory.

Also, worldbuilding in general from other points in the Library's history. Social media posts from the candidates when Flynn applied, who didn't get hired, and what they did later. The story of a former librarian collecting an item we see in the library but which has not (yet, anyway) been explained.

The Young Visiters

Characters: Any
(Nominated were: Alfred Salteena | Lord Hyssops, Ambrose Fudge, Bernard Clark (Young Visiters), Edward Procurio, Ethel Monticue, Francis Minnit, Ignatius Bernard, Lady Gay Finchling, Lord Clincham (Young Visiters), Mary Ann Fudge, Minnie Pilato, Rosalind (Young Visiters))

The Young Visiters or Mister Salteena's Plan, if you're not familiar with it, is a novella-length work written by Daisy Ashford in 1890 when she was 9. It was not published until nearly 30 years later, in 1919. It is very much the work of an observant and clever nine year old trying to figure out adult Victorian culture who doesn't understand at least half of what she's seeing, and it is often hilarious but also a really interesting commentary on society and human nature.

You can learn more about the background in Wikipedia, and the text itself is available on several sources, including Project Gutenberg.

I was introduced to it when I was about the age Daisy was when she wrote it, but it's also the way I ended up meeting one of my very best friends (who proposed reading it aloud at a convention. It is excellent for that.) This past summer, I ended up reading it aloud again (with that same friend and a couple of people who didn't know it yet) and we decided it was a thing that definitely should have some Yuletide love.

I should note clearly I don't expect anyone to match the actual writing style of this canon - if you want to, go for it! But I'd be just as happy with stories in other writing styles.

What I like

There are a lot of works that try to do this thing that end up coming across in a way that can be either mean-spirited (especially when read later) or treat the younger author viewpoint oddly (by valorising the innocence of the author). I think one of the charms about The Young Visiters for me is that it doesn't do either of these: it's much more "These things happened" and some honest curiousity, and yet, a lot of spaces where you wonder what else was going on.

Some seeds for stories in this setting

I'm honestly open to just about anything here - just because I don't mention a character doesn't mean I'm not interested! We came up with a bunch of questions when we reread it this summer! Some of my favourites include:

  • Why is Bernard so concerned about his ancestors? And what are their stories?

  • Where did this son come from in a 6 week honeymoon? Did they fall into a portal universe? What happened there?

  • What is Ignatius like, anyway?

  • What happens when Ethel's parents send the calf? (And why did they let her go off and stay with Alfred Salteena in the first place?)

  • What's up with Rosalind the housemaid? (And in general, we don't see a lot of the 'below stairs' class here, and I'm curious about their lives and interests and takes on things.)

  • Why is the Earl giving lessons in how to be a gentleman (the easy answer, of course, would be money, but surely there's a more interesting explanation!)

  • What happens when Salteena meets the real Lord Hyssops?

  • How do Alfred and Bernard know each other? They're clearly of enough different ages not to have gone to school together or the other obvious connections.

  • What's the deal with the top hats and the colours of them? Why do you send your friend a top hat? (Proposition? Magical coercion?)

However, I also think this is ripe for a treatment in an AU or fusion setting. What would Daisy make of the Potterverse? Or Narnia? Or an earlier time in the Rivers of London world? Running into Sherlock Holmes? Or, alternately, what would the characters (or any given character) make of any of the above? (You may want to check about other crossover canons, but besides the above, a lot of British children's lit is totally fair game for me.)

Constellations (Anthropomorfic)

Characters: Any
Nominated: Andromeda (Constellation), Cassiopea (Constellation), Pleiades (Constellation), Ursa Major (Constellation)

I nominated this because I got to thinking about the differences between human pattern seeking and what's really there.

The stars in a given constellation may not be remotely connected at all (Some are! A bunch in Ursa Major were created at about the same time, relatively speaking, and are moving together on the same basic trajectory! But a lot aren't.)

And yet, as humans, we seem to have this longstanding impulse - across many cultures and time periods - to tell stories about groups of stars. Even though those groups are only really because those happen to be stars that are brighter from our place in the universe, and they show up in the same bit of our sky. (And fascinatingly enough, sometimes they're the same basic types of stories, even widely separated in location)

So, in making this nomination, I'm curious about two kinds of stories. One is the one about the stories about the constellations (I chose Andromeda and Cassiopea, because they fit together story-wise) but I'm also sort of intrigued by a more meta approach.

Namely, given that we humans have named and grouped these constellations, how would the stars within them interact, do they have larger desires or goals or interests? I think Ursa Major and the Pleiades both have particularly interesting astronomical histories, and characteristics, but they're all constellations of very long-standing interest to observers and scientists and lovers of the night sky.

What happened when humans started to group those stars? Did the individual stars fight that? Embrace it? Some of both? How do the stories we tell about the stars influence the groupings? (Or do they?) What about groupings that have changed over time?

(If you're trying to pick names for individual stars, I have a general preference for the Arabic or Latin names over the scientific ones. I know the scientific ones are more precise, but for purposes of story, rather less clear about personality. I don't have strong preferences about which variant of names you pick, other than noting that I reliably do Mizar and Alcor for reasons of my own.)

ETA: Also might be useful, this roundup of links about different names and constellations of stars in different cultures.

Tower Prep (TV)

Characters: Any
Characters nominated: C.J. Ward, Gabe Forrest, Ian Archer, Suki Sato

What I liked

I loved Tower Prep for the one season it existed: it hit a lot of my school story tropism desires just right. (It also has the single best episode based on the Odyssey I've seen anywhere.)

I loved that it was a bunch of smart people, making sometimes stupid choices (and often because they were working with flawed information.) I loved that it didn't shy away from divided loyalties, or the question of going along to avoid trouble versus doing the right thing (if you can figure out what the right thing is.) On the idea of intelligence and ego overreaching common sense.

And yet, it ended on a complete cliffhanger. And was not renewed.

Story seeds

The obvious one, of course, is your take on what happens next - to the characters, to the school, to other students.

But I'd be equally intrigued by other stories: what was it like for C.J. growing up? Or Suki, for that matter? Ian intrigues me because he's clearly used to being popular and well-liked and athletic, but he's also right there being supportive of Gabe (minus a few bobbles). And Gabe is quirky, sure, but he's really very settled with it, and his sense of self, and I'm curious about how he got to that place.

I'd also be great with worldbuilding or earlier eras of the school - we see hints of this, through the one season we have, but not nearly enough. What got it started? What was it like to be in the first round of students? Were there students who washed out and got sent home, or sent somewhere else?
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