Author Interviews

Catlin O'Connor


Is writing something that you always wanted to do?
Ever since I was old enough to realize that if people weren't writing the stories I wanted to read, I'd have to do it myself (well, there was that minor flirtation with becoming a brain surgeon, but sadly, it didn't work out too squeamish). Of course, I wasn't necessarily thinking of fanfiction, but it really is much easier to write than original fiction, because the characters are ready-made and, unless you're seriously deviating from canon, very few explanations as to who they are and how they came to be where they are, are needed.


Why are you still writing Logan/Rogue when the chance of them being together in movie canon is slim...what attracts you to them?
The very fact that they probably never will be put together, romantically, is what keeps me writing them; I feel the need to make sure that they *do* get together, even if only in fandom, and the more other people say it'll never happen canonically, the more determined I am to write them as being together (I'm contrary like that). As to the second part of the question.. I love the vulnerability that both characters share and that as distrustful as they are, they trust one another enough to reveal that side of themselves that they (Logan, in particular) would ordinarily keep hidden.


I know we don't have all your stories archived yet. About how many Logan/Rogue stories have you written? What other fandoms do you write in?
Not all that many, as I'm not as prolific a writer as some, but.. without counting, I'd have to say about fifty, though not all of them are posted and may never be, if I don't send them off to be beta-d. The other fandoms I'm involved in though not nearly as intensely as Logan/Rogue - are Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel: the Series, The West Wing, Mutant X, and Roar, though I do dabble in a few others as well. It's mainly the need to see my pairing of choice actually pair off that sucks me into writing, and while I may leave that fandom for one reason or another, I generally 'ship for well, not for life as I'm, you know, not dead yet, but for a good, long while. So L/R may not be safe from me for another few years *g*.


Do you personally have a special Logan/Rogue story that stands out from the rest? If so, which one and why?
There are a few I like more than the others, but if I had to pick just one.. I would say The Simple Things, because it turned out precisely as I'd imagined it would, and it has an easy, uncomplicated flow to it, as well as romance, a sudden revelation of love, conversation, and of course, a little twist a compact version of the fics I love, and every time I read it, it makes me smile.


You've written stories with some pretty interesting premise--i.e. a role reversal in "Your Life Has Just Begun," a Rogue/Mystique twist in "Breathing Life Away," a corruption of their souls in "The Way of the Pale," etc. I'm interested to hear how you get started. Where do the ideas for stories come from?
Usually from some sort of media a song whose lyrics or perhaps even rhythm catches my ear, a piece of dialogue in a movie, a line from a poem or book; sometimes I'll get a specific idea from it, but largely, it's the mood the music/movie/book left me in that I try to capture in the fic. Intensity is an example of the latter though I can't quite remember what inspired it and I felt the need to write about the rollercoaster of emotion and how destructive the intensity of it can be. Breathing Life Away, on the other hand, was written (over a year ago, actually) based on the rumor that there was to be a temptation scene in X2 involving Logan and Mystique/Rogue. My brain took that information, contorted it, then conjured up an image of Logan sitting alone in a motel room with a bottle of bourbon, put the two together, and fed me the concoction till writing the fic was all I could think of. De-vi-ous.


"19 Hours," with its many flashback scenes, is quite an intricate story. When starting a new story do you generally make an outline first, jump right on the computer and start typing, or does it vary from story to story?
Outline? People actually do that? *g* No, that's far too organized for me; when an idea comes to me, I usually start typing and try to get it out all in one sitting (which is probably why most of my fics are so short) before I lose the impetus. There are times, however, when that simply isn't possible, and in those cases I try to continue, and complete, the fic within a day or so of starting it (Fate Takes A Hand would be an example of me taking a little too long between chapters to continue writing, and thus, it still isn't finished. But it will be. Some day).


What is your editing process like? Do you do it yourself, use beta readers, or both?
Generally, my editing process goes as follows: When the fic is finished (and spell-checked, of course), I'll send it to one of my betas for a preliminary opinion and, if the fic gets a thumbs up, I'll (breathe a sigh of relief) sit on it for a few days before looking at it again. Then, in the hopes that I'll have a clearer perspective after having distanced myself from it a little, I'll go over it several times, correcting first minor, then major, errors and altering wording that's perhaps a little clumsy. When that's done, I'll once again hold the fic to me for a (couple of months) while, smoothing and soothing and perhaps rocking it a little, before sending it off to be beta-d. That's usually pretty quick, and when I receive my beta's suggestions back, I'll further edit the fic according to the suggestions I agree with. Later which can be a month, or two, or even a year, or more I'll post. It's quite a lengthy process, though that's due more to my need to coddle my fics than anything else *g*


Have you ever begun a story only to get mid-way through and feel like it just was't working? If so, how have you dealt with that?
It doesn't happen very often, because as I said in one of the above questions, I tend to write my fics in one sitting, and that doesn't leave much time for hesitation. On the rare occasions that it *has* happened, however, I either scrap the fic entirely (which I hate doing, and usually end up scavenging some of the material for another fic), or rewrite it. The rewriting can be done in two ways: the hard way, and the very hard way. They both begin with me trying to pin-point what made my wrong-o-meter ping, then veer off onto different paths. The first involves me simply stopping where I am and concentrating on revising everything I've written up till that point, then completing the fic (all of which is like walking for a mile on a sunbaked gravel road with bare feet); the latter involves me trying to ignore the problem and stubbornly struggling on with the fic till the bitter end, then sitting back, crying a little, and attempting to rewrite the entire thing (which is nothing at all like the gravel road, unfortunately. It's akin to crossing a shark-infested ocean with the aid of nothing more than a handful of soggy crackers and a perforated umbrella. Not fun, but sometimes I have to get the entire idea out onto the page before I can even *think* of adjusting it, which is very rare, thank God. An example of me choosing this particular option would be 'Blue Light Reflections', which may explain why I dislike that fic so much).


What kind of fic do you tend to write the most (humor, romance, vignettes, angst, etc.) and why?
I'd say... angsty vignettes, and romance, because they're the genres I'm most comfortable writing in. Humor, real, honest-to-God, laugh-out-loud humor is incredibly hard to write, largely because it has to seem utterly natural and fresh, without revealing anything of the tears and blood sacrifices to the readers. Angst is easier to translate into words, and is therefore easier to write. Of course, all genres are similarly difficult to write in one area, at least: getting the reader to see past the words and careful phrases to the emotions lying beneath them and having those emotions be... understandable, and the characters human enough to make the reader empathize and ache (or smile) right along with them.


Who's POV do you prefer writing from, Logan or Rogue's?
Generally Rogue's, as I relate to her on several levels, and am intrigued by who she is, and the many ways there are to portray her. Not only is she still fairly young and trying to form her own identity, which makes her wonderfully malleable, her personality, her level of *sanity*, can also vary from story to story, depending on the qualities of the people she's absorbed and whether or not the writer decides to incorporate them into the story, into her. Logan is harder for me to write, in part because, aside from being Logan, which in and of itself makes him a difficult character to write, he's first and foremost a man, and how many women can say they fully understand the male mind? *g*


Would you mind explaining a bit about what exactly was going on in "Better Than This?" I wasn't quite sure who was telling the story about whom.
I knew one day this fic would come back to haunt me. It was inspired by the many fics in which Logan calls out another name while in bed with a woman, and I thought, "What if the name of the woman he's imagining is similar to that of the woman he's in bed with?" Which of course lead to Rogue and Ororo, and as I couldn't have him fantasizing about another woman while in bed with Rogue, I decided to write the fic from Ororo's POV. The fic ended up being about Ororo losing her sense of self to keep a man (Logan) who would never be hers. I still like the idea of it, but the characterization wasn't as clear as it should have been and could have been more skillfully executed.


I noticed you've included song lyrics at the beginning or end of several stories, such as "In the Dark" and "Let's Pretend, Happy End." What part does music play in your story writing?
Quite a large part, actually, as music inspires me either by affecting my mood, or causing an idea to leap out at me from the lyrics; often, listening to a particular song (usually on repeat *g*) helps me to finish a fic by maintaining the frame of mind I was in when I began it. And though I've always got some form of music playing (in my waking hours, at least), sometimes you can hear a song over and over again and appreciate it, but not have it touch you until a particular day, when it strikes a chord of such emotional resonance that you can't *not* write what you're feeling.


You've written quite a few PWPs and other NC-17 stories. Do your personal philosophies affect the way you write and/or characterize Rogue or Logan in their pursuit of sex, love and romance?
To some extent yes; I've unwittingly - incorporated parts of myself into both Logan and Rogue, and as I'm an incurable romantic, often one or both of the characters will say or do something unabashedly sappy, or will find themselves in a situation that has more to do with hearts and flowers than powers and guns. The way they react to those situations both romantic and sexual is, however, all them; I claim no responsibility in that regard ;)


How do you write sex scenes? Do you ever get embarrassed by stuff that you write?
I write them pretty much the same way I do the others, only with more grunting (of the characters, people. The *characters*). The need to write a sex scene is usually, for me, generated by my desire to see the couple together and happy, and nothing says happy more than a naked, screaming couple. I can't say I've ever been embarrassed by writing or posting, for that matter sex scenes, because I don't think there's anything to be embarrassed about (unless you're using words like 'womanly flower' and 'scalding cum', cause that's just *wrong*). The intimacy of it, of peeling away the layers, exposing yourself both physically and emotionally is something complex and beautiful, and nothing to be ashamed of (and if you are, perhaps you shouldn't be writing it). Plus, if you've written it right, it's just plain hot.


I particularly liked Logan's sexual fantasy scene in "Looking For a Girl." What's your favorite sex scene that you've written...why and where did the inspiration/idea came from?
Oh, boy. I'd say... the scene from The Lies You Tell Yourself, because a) it's Logan seducing Rogue for a change, b) it takes place in a library, and c) nearly two years after writing it, I still think it's sexy. It was inspired by several things: the way Logan said, "You sure you're on the right side?" in the Logan/Storm lobby scene in X1, a scene in a fic that took place in a library and teased at smut but didn't come through, and a manip of Deejay's (the splash at MutualAdmiration.net) that had Logan standing behind Rogue with his arms around her, and looking... dangerous. It culminated in a fic that has predator Logan, clueless Rogue and... have I mentioned it takes place in a library? Yum.


The Jean in "Drawbacks" is a sympathetic caring person, whereas the Jean in "The Other Woman" is a bit, let us say, self-absorbed. :) What are your feelings about her character and is she the hardest character for you to write? If not, who is?
My early characterization of Jean, particularly in The Other Woman, is the one thing in fandom I'm actually ashamed of, the one thing I'd take back if I could. Honestly, when I first began writing it seemed like a way to both indulge in my dislike of Jean and fit in with the pre-formed cliques, but the more I wrote (and read), the worse the character-bashing became until she'd metamorphosed from a two-dimensional twit to a murderous villain. So I put myself through rehab, went cold turkey on reading bad!Jean fic, and on writing it, and haven't felt the need since. As far as my views on her character: I think she's fairly insecure, has a bit of a temper and attempts to remain in control when she'd really rather let loose, that she loves Scott but sometimes wonders if she's only with him because it's what is expected of her. But she *is* dutiful, and intelligent, so she's not about to go bed-hopping on a whim. On the whole, while I don't dislike her any more, I can't say she's my favorite character, either. All of which actually, believe it or not, makes her easier for me to write, because I can understand her (most of the time, anyway); Scott on the other hand... I'd say he's the hardest character for me to write. I find it difficult to get into his head, and especially difficult to write his own need for control without making him seem robotic and humorless.


Do your characters ever do stuff and say stuff that you never planned them to?
I rarely start a fic with an unshakeable idea of what will happen, because the characters usually dictate the plot, and I've found that trying to get them to do what you'd like them to, regardless, just ends up stalling the fic indefinitely. There are several fics I've started that haven't been completed for exactly that reason (that, or the characters were objecting to the lack of smut *g*), and if I can't find a way to merge my idea and the characterisation, then the fic obviously wasn't that great to begin with. So the answer to that would be... Yes.


Do you own the X-Men videos/DVDs and if so, do you refer to them for inspiration, characterization, re-establishing canon, etc?
I own both, actually (of X1, anyway), because when I first became obsessed with Logan and Rogue, way back when, we didn't have a DVD player, and when we did finally buy one, 1.5 came out and I just couldn't resist (one good thing I will say about VCRs is the ability to quickly rewind/fast forward, as opposed to the scene selection of DVDs, which doesn't always start at the scene you'd like it to it meant I could easily re-watch the L/R scenes without getting distracted by the *cough* plot of X1) the temptation of Special Features. I do sometimes watch to check my facts (for example, in many fics I've read, the writers have made Magneto German, and as he's in Poland when the movie begins, a friend and I wanted to determine exactly what language he's speaking. It turned out to be, as far as we can tell, Polish. So much for fanon.), but that doesn't always work, unfortunately, as I usually get so involved in the story and characters that I forget my objective.


Do you read the comics? If so, how do you feel about including comic/cartoon elements in a Logan/Rogue movieverse story?
I've tried to read the comics, but when I was younger they weren't imported, and when they were, were far too expensive, and when I became interested in the X-Men again a few years ago and started buying a particular version, the company I bought them from went bankrupt. I've come to the conclusion that comics are a little too costly for me to continue collecting *g* I have, however, done as much online research as possible, and while the X-Men movies deviated quite a bit from comic canon, they did circle back to it (the L/J/S triangle, the Brotherhood against the X-Men, etc.), and I think that using comic/cartoon canon as long as the writer gives some sort of explanation as to how the comic/cartoon elements became integrated into movieverse canon in movieverse is valid, as certain elements (Rogue absorbing Carol Danver's powers, Storm's claustrophobia or mohawk? *g* - and Jean's turn to the dark side) may be introduced in future movies.


What is the weirdest thing you've ever tried to get over writer's block?
Ordinarily I play solo tennis to clear my mind and let new ideas come forward, but once a friend suggested I try a visualization technique she said she found useful: a sort of meditation with incense and humming. I didn't have incense, meditation puts me to sleep, and humming just made me feel like (more of) an idiot, but I did light a few candles, then closed my eyes and tried to relax and picture the characters in my mind. Unfortunately, as my eyes were closed, I wasn't watching the candles and almost set the house on fire. Needless to say, I didn't try that particular trick again.


Do you recall who sent you your first bit of feedback? For what story? How did it make you feel?
Yes, I remember both the feedback and the person very clearly: it was for Your Life Has Just Begun (my first fic) and the feedback was positive, with a little constructive criticism about the POV not being clear enough; it made me feel... ecstatic, and I think I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day. It also made me think about whether or not the characters had been represented accurately, and if not, how I could rectify the problem in future fics. It was positive, thought-provoking, thoughtful, intelligent feedback the very best kind and I'll always be grateful that she and everyone who sent feedback took the time to send it to me.


Have you ever received a piece of feedback that touched you...that turned you and the sender into fast friends?
Sometimes I'll receive feedback from someone who had an emotional response to the fic in question, and that touches off a chord in me (on top of the egotistical response of 'Someone connected emotionally to something *I* wrote!', accompanied by a little dance), and yes, there are occasions when feedback will lead to further correspondence and perhaps friendship I'm still friends, for example, with the first person who ever sent me feedback (though it obviously took a great deal more than a single email to forge the friendship).


Which part of writing do you enjoy most, least and why?
The most would be... The initial excitement, the rush of giving life to words that before that moment had only existed in your mind, and of course, the end, the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment and, again, excitement. The least enjoyable would be the very beginning: that first line, because I feel a sort of self-inflicted pressure to hook the reader from the first line and as I don't respond well to pressure, it can be hard for me to come up with something that's not only interesting, but that the rest of the story can flow from.


When you're not writing fan fiction, what are your other interests, hobbies, work, etc.?
Currently, another fannish activity is vidding (which can take up a great deal of time if you let it), though I haven't created many vids thus far, and outside of all things fandom: reading, writing, shopping, cycling, going out with friends, playing ridiculous DOS games that I can never seem to win, and (at present) attempting to knit teddy bears (and I'm so, so bad at knitting). Work-wise: my two main jobs have been: doing artwork and setting up magazine layouts for an advertising company and, at the opposite end of the scale (and my current job), accountancy for an air-conditioning firm.


What tips/tricks of the trade can you give a new writer just starting out in this fandom?
First of all: don't character bash. No matter your feelings for the character, writing them badly is precisely that: bad writing; get a beta-reader, or at least spell-check your fics before posting them; and lastly, whatever happens in fandom, don't make it personal.


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