Hello! We’re Back!
Thought we’d vanished? No such thing. The Armitage Authors Network is back with a new assistant administrator and contributor: Lillianschild (also known as Lexie171170 in some venues).
Lillianschild has been active in the RA fandom for five years and has rather extensive knowledge of the fan fiction out there. She’s agreed to help Jazzbaby and me introduce our blog readers to stories and writers that make up this fantastically creative fan world.
We hope you’ll welcome Lillianschild to the blog. If you don’t already know her, you’ll enjoy reading about her discovery of Richard and some of how her writing takes form. Links to her stories are found at the end of our interview. Enjoy getting to know our new assistant blog administrator!
Tell us a little about how you discovered Mr. Armitage.
Although I’d seen his first jobs on the screen- including Cats- just like most of Richard’s earliest well-wishers, I truly “discovered” him and started following his career with interest when I saw his portrayal of Mr Thornton in North & South.
Living in South America means I didn’t get to see his breakthrough performance back in 2004 but some five years later. Actually, I stumbled upon it on a now defunct blog written by an anglophile and devoted to shows and films from the UK. It had a special section focusing on programmes inspired on literature and had a great directory of BBC costume dramas, amongst which was North & South.
I was already familiar with Gaskell, whose Milton tale I’d read as part of one of the four British Literature courses I attended to get my English teaching degree. Having a huge soft spot for Victorianism and the Industrial Age and being an incurable romantic, I was pleasantly surprised when I learnt the novel had been adapted by the BBC… and well, the brooding, tall, dark and handsome man on the DVD cover sealed the deal for me.
Mr Armitage grabbed my attention the minute he appeared on the screen for the first time and stood on that platform surveying his “kingdom”. I just knew I was about to witness something really special. And oh, he won my heart over with his “No one loves me – no one cares for me, but you, mother”!
Needless to say, I too am amongst the besotted well-wishers who devoured the show in one sitting and stayed up until the wee small hours of the morning to see John and Margaret’s love story unfold. And that was just the beginning, I binged on it several times in a row- once with my Mum, who insisted on my playing the second DVD when episode II finished even though I had to get up for work four hours later.
I’ve lost count of how many copies of North & South I’ve given away as presents to my friends and my parents’, all of whom have had nothing but words of praise for the production and the wonderful cast, including our lovely Mr Armitage. Of course, I’ve taken pity on the males from time to time and supplied them with copies of Spooks and Strike Back.:)
Oh, my, that was long-winded! I’ve just remembered the phrase ” a little” was part of the original question. 😀
What character was it that first impelled you to write fan fiction?
That’d be Smallville’s Lex Luthor.
I suppose what attracted me to this particular portrayal of Superman’s nemesis is what also won me over when I saw Sir Guy of Gisborne in Dominic Minghella’s Robin Hood. Both are survivors with a tragic childhood, constantly fighting to find their place in the world while struggling with the darkness within them. Both take morally questionable decisions that send them into a downward spiral from which they try to emerge when love unexpectedly comes knocking at their door; a love that becomes a destructive obsession when the only woman capable of seeing beyond their protective armour chooses their nemesis over them.
I loved Lex’s humanity as portrayed by Michael Rosenbaum on that show just as much as Richard’s incarnation of Sir Guy. They’re both very gifted actors, who managed to elevate a cartoonish character off the page and turn him into a fascinating multi-layered creation. Both Lex and Guy are so human in their flaws and therefore, so relatable- they’re perfect embodiments of humankind’s duality.
The reason why I decided to put pen to paper and write my first fanfic was pretty much the same that led me to create my first story for RA’s fandom, the need to set right what I felt the writers had messed up. It was also my way to honour the painstaking and loving labour of two actors whose creations were often maligned with capricious and unbelievable retcons or OoC storylines- a karma for many a character portrayed by Mr Armitage (Lucas North, anyone?).
I wrote fifty-four fanfics with Lex as an inpiration before activity in the fandom started to dwindle when the show went off the air and my Luthor Muse stopped whispering into my ear.
Were you a writer before you found Richard Armitage?
Yes. I’ve always been fond of telling stories- I remember having my mum put them on paper when I was too young to write on my own.
I began writing fanfic almost nine years ago. After having read fanfiction for two years, I told myself it was high time I gave it a try. 2006 was the breaking point for me; I realized I had spent too much time correcting other people’s essays and papers- an English teacher’s karma- and I asked myself: why not put pen to paper and do it for fun?
Although Richard wasn’t the first actor to ignite my creativity, he was the one responsible for reawakening my Muse after almost a year of inactivity.
Is fanfic just a hobby for you or do you hope to go further with your writing?
I consider writing the perfect means of escapism. Still, I won’t deny I’d love to go further with it. Starting a story from scratch with characters that you infuse life to and whose backgrounds you invent can be liberating, but I haven’t reached that point yet.
I’ve toyed with the idea of a Guy of Gisborne or North & South-novel. I love their historical periods and both leading men have a very special place in my heart; plus, they’re in the Public Domain.
However, publishing a book in paper or digital format – even independently- would be a venture I can’t afford right now. Writing in English means I’d have to commercialise the novel via the UK or America, and my country has no royalty or tax agrements with either of them. In short, I’d have to pay taxes everywhere and charge an astronomic price to my readers in order to make it worthwhile. And then there’s the nightmare of how to cash in my sales.
It’d take a whole book to explain to you all the intricacies of Argentina’s current economic and copyright/royalty policies, all of which violate rights protected by our Constitution. And I guarantee once finished you’d still be completely at a loss.
In short, I’d love to. But, unless things change dramatically here, it’ll remain just a dream.
What type of environment do you need to write?
I’ve been known to write in the oddest of places – from a bench in the park to the waiting room at my dentist’s. I don’t need to be anywhere in particular to be able to write. I’ve always been a multi-tasking kind of person and can work even with background noise. I’ve got the ability to create my own bubble at will even when I’m not alone, to the point that sometimes I don’t know what’s going on around me.
The best time for me to sit down with paper and pen are the summer holidays. As a teacher/tutor I get a forty-day summer holiday every year, and I try to take as much advantage of it as I can so as to have enough material to post throughout the year. Unfortunately, for my readers, that routine was disturbed the last couple of years when I travelled to the UK. There was just too much to see and absorb for me to be able to focus on my writing.
How do your ideas come to you? Do you always write them or do you let them disappear?
There isn’t a fixed pattern. The germ of a story may be triggered by a line of poetry, a few chords, a photo or a particular scene of either a show or film. More often than not ideas seem to come out of the blue; it’s as if someone were whispering them into my ear.
I always start writing when an idea comes to me. I don’t keep a notebook with notes, though, I begin the story right away.
Do you plan a story from the beginning to end or start with an idea and let the chapters come to you as they do?
I only planned a fic in detail once, and I have to say it was the least satisfying of my works. Considering a large number of the stories I’ve written have an element of mystery in them, I prefer not to know what will happen beforehand. It’s the best approach to surprise readers when the enigma is solved since, in all certainly, I’ll have been the first one to be suprised when writing the twists and turns and the ultimate ending my Muse has come up with.
Do you prefer writing easy, quick stories or long, layered stories?
Long stories used to come easier to me than one-shots when I began writing fanfic. I imagine this is only natural; one can’t expect to run before crawling. The ability to create a scene with a few strokes of the brush comes to a painter after having spent hundreds of hours in front of an easel, and so it is for an amateur or professional writer when writing a brief piece. You can’t paint or write in abstracts without mastering the art of painting or writing with great attention to detail. It’s only after you’ve been through such a descriptive phase that you’ll be able to tell a whole story with a few simple strokes of a brush or a pen.
Writing vignettes or one-shots has been my safe haven during my tutoring months, particularly when the second semester arrives and my workload increases exponentially. Brief pieces allow me to keep my creative juices flowing and my Muse satisfied without keeping my readers hanging. As a matter of fact, that’s how one of my best-received RA-inspired series was born- Guy & Marian’s Acrostic Series.
Quick stories are also the perfect vehicle to delve into the mind and heart of a character. I also find this format the most appropriate to deviate from the typical third person omniscient narrator, and it’s the one I’ve chosen for most of my Guy or Guy & Marian fics, the POV being that of the Black Knight. These works have often been described as my most powerful and lyrical, which I suppose is due to the extra care one has to take when choosing the right words and imagery to convey so much in such a small package.
I love writing long, layered stories as well. However, my very busy teaching and tutoring schedule- my working day sometimes lasts twelve hours- leaves me very little time to work on them. So far, I’ve only completed one multi-chaptered fic for RA’s fandom, an Alternate Series 7 Lucas North story called “A Voice in the Dark”.
At present, I’m writing and posting two long fics, “To be Worthy” (a what-if story which explores what impact an earlier acquaintance with Marian and another mentor might have had on Gisborne’s life and ultimate fate) and “From Russia with Love” (another alternate Season 7 fic; this time focusing on Lucas and Vyeta’s marriage).