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Fifteen Questions for a Fanfic Author:
Ayende Rahien (Barid Bel Medar)
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"The Shadow Warrior - Chapter 3" by the Darkness
The Tarelle did understand the power of the forest, it was not of the power of the shadows or of steel that he knew.
It was enchanting and beautiful and something totally the opposite of himself.
"Mara Jade - Emperor's Hand" by Commander Antilles
"Mara Jade - Jedi Knight" by Commander Antilles
"Mara Jade - Jedi Master" by Commander Antilles
Star Wars fan fiction: Mara Jade's way from Emperor's Hand to Jedi Master.
It had begun fourteen months ago. Vague, intermittent reports of strange ships being sighted had started filtering in from systems along the Outer Rim. At first these were dismissed as simply exaggerated stories of odd or unusual ships. The reports rapidly increased both in numbers and details, though, and it soon became clear, from the quantity of similar descriptions, that there was indeed a type of previously unknown alien starship being sighted.
Then the real trouble had started.
"Child of Faerun" by Lledrith RavenWolf
A Dark Elf story:
Kiel’aeya usually listened with utmost attention to his protests as if they were the wisest words she had ever known, then with a cheerful indulgence ignored them. When he commented about this she smiled her devastating smile and he gave up. You can’t argue with a goddess, even a young one.
WoT Alternate Reality:
"A Treatise Upon The Eccentric Power" by Sundara & Kiriath
"Interlude" by various authors
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with Author Tom Holt.
Fifteen Questions for a Fanfic Author: Ayende Rahien (Barid Bel Medar)
Homepage: The Soulless' Home
This Q&A was conducted per e-mail.
First, please give us a bit background information about you. Who are you in real life?
My real name is Oren Eini. Which can be translate to English
as Oren = 'Pine' (the tree, not the emotion) and Eini = 'my eye', or 'my
very dear eye'. (Also a term of affection in Hebrew, though not one I've
I live in Israel, in a small town that lack cinema/clubs/pubs
(it has like three, with access limited to 21 and above. And it's all smoky
and usually dirty and unpleasant.) The closest town is in much better condition,
and most my friends are living there. But it has absolutely no nightlife
after 18:00 at Friday, so if I want to go anywhere beside
a movie in friday's night I've to go to Tel Aviv, two hours drive each
I really like to read, and destroy computers I can destroy
most computers in matter of minutes, without even trying. Computers have
special hate for me, I guess. I can never understand why, it's not like
I'm some techno phobist or something. I really like pop, especially ABBA,
Ace of Base and similar. But I would listen to almost anything as long
as it has words that make sense (I HATE trans) and a good rhythm. I don't
like action movies very much, they are way to illogical for me to have
fun with. I mean, this guy is standing with a gun and EVERYONE is shooting
him and NOT ONE bullet hits him. Come on!
I work at a computer lab that is run by a friend of my uncle,
I can fix 99% of the software problems. (Format C:/s/q, and then reinstallation
DOES work, but don't try it if you don't know what you're doing. And that
is about it, I think.
You changed recently your author name from Barid Bel Medar to
Ayende Rahien. Why did you choose these name at first and why the change?
I was with Barid Bel Medar for the last... two or three years,
I thought it's time for us to get a little apart, and for me to try some
new nicks, I didn't want to get too attached to a nick. I'm afraid of commitment.
Seriously, my email at nettaxi.com broke down for a long
time, and so when I went to find a new email, I just came up with
the idea of a new nick name for a new address.
BTW, now both emails are functional.
Has the Wheel of Time series many fans in Israel? Or do you stand
rather alone with your interest?
WoT does have many fans in Israel, but... I don't get much
with them. I think that is because I'm much better writing than speaking.
Especially when we all need to use English terms very often. (Until you
haven't heard me murder English, you've not heard a tortured language.)
Besides, most of the people here doesn't read in English. (It's VERY hard
to understand WoT in English, for me at least, and many just don't bother.)
So I got to book seven and eight before they were in Hebrew, so I made
friends and arguments through the net so I could speak of my theories,
rather than wait the couple of years that it takes to translate all Jordan's
work into Hebrew and THEN discuss it. Ever since, I just didn't find
the time/energy/willpower to try to talk sense into people. (Last month
I'd a very heated debate with a guy that claimed that the *'gars are Ishmael
and Lanfear. I left disgustfully after several hours, without managing
to convince him. It's easier to disagree when you can't shout at each other.)
What was your inspiration to start writing Wheel of Time fanfiction?
I tend to get REALLY excited when I read books, very often
I stop for a hour or so I can just walk around and digest what I read (if
the book is very fascinating and good, of course.) In WoT's case, I got
instantly hooked, and for a period that lasted about four to five months,
I read WoT, end to end, almost constantly, and you're talking with a guy
that spend at least four to six hour per day reading. (I know it's crazy,
but I love reading.) So, after the tenth time or so, I began wondering
what I would've done if I were RJ.
And that is the way it started, because I was very unhappy
with some things he did. (Cadsuane, for example, I can't STAND her.) And
because the books run out after the CoS, I just began imagining how I would
take different turns at the plot. I often do it, with books I read or things
I make up. One day I just wrote it all, the first REAL stories I've ever
written were Stone Portal Traveler’s Diary. I believe that Aviendha's Pregnancy
was the first one. Something R. A. Heinlein said really apply to my condition.
"When you begin to be a writer, it's just too painful inside not to let
the characters and the plot go out to the paper (or the screen, in my case)."
And I really just can't stop.
Did you ever before write any fiction? Or is WoT your 'first love'?
I wrote several stories before (the longest one was three
pages long.) in Hebrew, but only after I got to know WoT I seriously began
writing. For some reason, even after couple of dozens of stories I still
can't write a good story in Hebrew. I can't even picture myself a story
in my mind unless it's in English. Hebrew is too familiar for me to write
in. That is the best explanation I've for my condition.
Are there any other fandoms you are interested in?
No. I don't think so, WoT is the only one I'm dedicated to.
I never found anything else that can leave such an impression on me as
WoT did. Or, to be exact, never such a POSITIVE impression. Several books
have left such a mark on me before, but never for the good. 'It' by Stephen
King, 'Sparrow' (DON'T READ!) by someone whose name I can't remember, but
it tells about monks sending a spaceship to Alpha Centauri to convert aliens.
I classify them both as horror books, even though 'Sparrow' is SF book.
They both gave me nightmares. WoT made me loose sleep, but not because
of nightmares. All those book are very well written, but 'It', and especially
'Sparrow', are using this talent for the worse. RJ does it for the best.
Besides a number of stories your 'Next Book Project: Towers of
Midnight' is the most notable of your works. How started it? Did you imagine
that it would become so epic in its dimensions?
Towers of Midnight started about three weeks after I finished
PoD (Good book, but VERY disappointing. Couldn't he have given us a TINY
bit of Mat?)About a year before PoD was out, I've written
two separated version about what I thought PoD prologue would be like.
To my surprise, I was right with some little details, but dead wrong in
the big ones (no surprise here, though.) I stop writing both version
after it became clear to me that I can't hold up such a huge story. (It
seemed huge then, over eighty pages, in seventeen parts, but 'Gaidar' alone
was twice as much, and came in one part.)
After I finished PoD, it seemed obvious to me that I would
write a continuation to PoD as well. The name was taken from a WoT rumor
I knew was false, but still liked the sound of it. I never DREAMED it would reach that size.
Try to read 'ToM: Dragonmount', and 'ToM: Gaidar'. You'll
see the big difference, I got carried away, just a bit. :-) I think that
I originally meant ToM to be around the size my PoD prologue was. But even
Dragonmount alone is half the size my entire PoD Prologue was. And then
Leana Sedai sent me Leana's PoV about what I wrote, and Lanfir also was
there to help me. And it just seemed natural to keep on writing.
Meanwhile you have several parts co-written with other authors.
Was it a conscious decision to make ToM a joint effort or was it rather
I never thought about writing TOM all by myself. After Lanfir's
help in "The War of Power" I was determined to have her help writing female
I can never be sure that I'm doing well in that part.
And after Leana offered her help, I began to beg people
to help me, after "Wounds of Madness", I already had about five or six
people who were willing to help me. It kept growing until Gaidar was finished,
and then I was totally drained. The next part (which I will publish the
moment I'll have the time to re-do my site and proof the story from all
the spelling and grammar mistake) was done by only five or four people.
And it took so long to finish because I felt like I couldn't write another
word at the end of Gaidar. But, sadly, the addiction was too strong for
me to resist.
ToM: Gaidar was written by 12(!) authors. How did you handle
the coordination of so many people?
I didn't. Mostly, I ask people to submit their parts before
I write anything down. I usually know where I want to go, and just follow
the path there. Ask some others to assist, and hope for the better.
In Gaidar, I tried to follow this same pattern, but it didn't
work so much. Because I needed lot of parts we the same theme. Basically
I begged a lot of people to write me, surprisingly, most of them did
extremely well. Most of the changes I'd to do in the parts I'd were in
order to get them into the story in logical order. I think that I build
the story more around the stuff other people send me than the other way
around. I find it easier that way.
When you read your own work, what goes through your mind? What
are common comments and critiques you make to yourself? Do you re-write
Often enough, "What the HELL was I thinking?"
But I think I like to read my stories, especially the old
ones (a year or two backward.) I find myself correcting the stuff I did
wrong, or don't match the way I think now. It's like watching an old picture
of yourself, and comparing it to what you are now. That is what stories
are, a part of the author's mind, frozen in time.
And about rewriting, I do it very often, mainly because
I can't really stand what I have written. I'm not my harshest criticizer,far
from that. But I mainly find a lot of stuff I could've done better.Or could
Reading a story I wrote a year ago, and reading a story
I wrote now, I can see the difference. At least in the way I can express
myself,if not in the way ideas are shaped.
How do you write? What is your way from an idea to a whole story?
What do you do when you experience writer's block? What are the greatest
obstacles for your writing?
I usually have the middle of a story very strongly in my
mind. The entire scene, voices, emotions, characters, everything. And then
I think the first paragraph of a story, and let it flow. Usually I managed
to make it work. Sometimes it's harder, and I've to seat and THINK the
beginning. Very often, the scene I worked so hard to reach to (the entire
"Gaidar" is just the opening for the Rand + Logain + Halima in the bar
scene. And it's 140+ pages.) and it's very short and disappointing,
because I worked so hard to get to it, and there is nothing really THERE.
If you know what I mean. It's not like when somebody else read it, he will
understand that THIS is the most important part as far as I'm concerned.
After I got to the scene I wanted, I usually try to wrap it up ASAP and
end the story, it doesn't always work. It took me a LONG time in order
to finish "Gaidar", for example.
About writer blocks...
Yes I do get those, of three kinds, one is on
the occasions that I get a large quantity of new books I really love. Example,
Terry Pratchett's "Feet of Clay" + "Jingo" + "Men at Arms", I couldn't
leave them. The second is being too full of ideas to sort one of them out
in order to write it in a way that would make any kind of sense. The third
is when I've an idea, and don't have the strength to write it down.
I don't think I've ever been out of ideas of things to write.
But the greatest obstacle I've is lack of interest, when I'm too concentrated
on something, sometimes I just lose interest and focus and can't seem to
gather my mind enough in order to write. The ideas are THERE, but it's
too boring to let them get out.
How do you think about feedback from readers? What is the most
positive comment you have ever gotten about your stories? What is the most
The most negative one was someone who sent me an email ten
pages long, explaining what everything I do is wrong. It started from all
the faults of fanfic, to the style I'm using (not RJ, and not "not RJ")
and to the way I've trouble in understanding English. I still have that
email somewhere, I keep it up in case I ever get too depressed, and
I look at it and remember that there are people in the world who sit down
to write something like this when they don't have too. And that as long
as I've not sunk that deep, I still have hope.
But I don't get many bad comments, most of the people that
don't value my stories read one, and never come back again, without a word.
The same goes for those who DOES enjoy my stories, THEY do come back, but
it takes a really impressed one in order to send me a congratulation email
or through ICQ.
It's really warming. To know that someone CARES! I have
all those emails as well. And when ever I'm down I read them, just to remember
that there are people better than I am out there. And that some of them
took the time to congratulate me for what I'm doing. All the work I've
put up in writing those stories is worth those rare emails. Not from those
I ask for critique, but from those I don't. Those who doesn't HAVE to tell
me what they think, but STILL do.
Do you have any particular favorite scenes or characters out
of everything you've written so far?
- Halima + Rand + Logain in the bar ("Gaidar")
- Halima in general (ToM)
- Selar and Dal, my almost only original characters who have a story
build all around them ("Selar")
- Marith, Alyen & Gilli ("The Nemesis Project". A story (non WoT)
I wrote and haven't published yet)
Can we expect more stories from you coming soon?
Yes, "Mistrusted Guardians", TOM's next should be ready as
soon as I find the strength to proof it. Or someone good enough to
proof it for me, native English speaker preferred.
What kind of advice can you give starting writers or who wants
If you think what you've in mind is too absurd to write,
make what you do into a comedy. I did it in "Rand's Wedding" and "Rand's
Perfect Woman", and I think they went pretty well.
Never try to write a story you won't like to read yourself.
Never make the mistake in thinking that the reader can read
your mind, they can't, so while you don't have to explain everything, make
sure you won't change the rules the world you build is working around without
prior notice or very good explanations. Make sure everything is logical,
even if the logic is very twisted.
That is about it, I guess. I'm not very good at giving
advises. Even less so in getting them :-)
Thank you, Ayende.
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