Frequently Asked Questions Pt 1
“Which Purity is your favorite?”
I always laugh when I read this question. I mean, it’s so subjective, isn’t it? I know, I know, everyone has their favorites, right? And it’s funny because my answer is invariably the same every time: they all are.
That totally sounds like a cop-out, doesn’t it? Seriously, it does. I know it, and you know it. It sounds so … superficial. (You know: “Oh, here’s the perfect answer!”)
I am being serious, though—serious as a heart attack, for lack of a better phrase. (I’m pretty sure that one is a fairly mid-western thing to say. Ah, well. I won’t worry about it too much until I start chewing tobacco and spitting farther than my husband can. ‘Course, that would also mean that he’d have to start chewing, too, and I think that’s kinda nasty … ewwww …)
It’s an odd thing, but I’m pretty sure that there are some folks who have read the stories more often than I have. As horrible as it is to admit this, I guess I can. I … actually haven’t ever re-read any of my stories. Not one. I guess it’s as simple as I know what’s in there (or at least, I did) and I don’t have any desire to re-tell a story—probably the real reason I hate editing. Oh, I’ve re-read chapters here and there. I’ve even set out to re-read them all at different points. Then I see something shiny, and, well, I guess you can tell the rest.
But I’m still serious about them all being my favorites. I guess I should explain myself? It’s the characters. I’ll let you in on a pretty big secret: I have to love a character in order to devote that much time and attention to writing a story about him or her (both). I mean, I have to really adore them. It’s an odd thing, but in many ways, it’s like having children. Each of the characters, starting with InuYasha and Kagome, are characters that I adore, but as much as I love them, I also want to see them grow. I mean, my favorite characters are the ones who have to overcome a lot of issues in order to flourish, in order for them to achieve their happy ending. Look at InuYasha, for example. I mean, who had it worse than that poor boy?
Purity is my favorite for one very important reason: it was the first fanfiction I ever wrote. That’s right, the first. The idea was conceived after I’d found a lot of very bad InuYasha fanfic. I won’t name names—to be honest, I can’t remember much from any of them. I just kept thinking that InuYasha would just not act like that; not ever. I couldn’t wrap my head around most of the characterizations I found, which is not to say that the stories were bad. If they were wholly original characters then they would’ve been great. They just weren’t InuYasha …
So I figured I’d write a story that I wanted to read. I thought that would be the best way to go about it. So I wrote the first chapter, and I posted it. It was easy to write, and it was such a free feeling, a beautiful feeling. For the first time ever, I was writing not only because I loved the story (I love all the stories I’ve written) but also there is a certain level of total freedom when one is writing fanfiction. You’re not bound by the nagging thought in the back of your head that you cannot go too over the top or publishers won’t like it. It’s not a huge thought, but it is there. Freedom …
And to my amazement, I got a review within … minutes …? Something like that. Here is the key: I honestly didn’t expect anyone to read my ramblings. I just wanted to envision a story that I felt ‘worked’. In my mind, Purity was that story. Yes, Chronicles worked, and yes, Metamorphosis did, too (though I daresay that Metamorphosis was more about Kagome than InuYasha, IMO). Purity, however, was exactly what it was supposed to be: a pure, untainted love story about losing something precious but learning to achieve something even greater, and when I started writing it, I knew two things: I knew where I was starting, and I knew where I would end it.
The one thing about Purity that I didn’t anticipate was one adorable little youkai child with black hair and a tai-youkai’s attitude: Toga.
Now the thing is, I never wanted to write a continuation. I thought that those were worse than bad!fic. I’d started to read a couple of those, too, and ended up putting them aside because, well, the characters were just not nearly as interesting as they should have been. Here’s something that I’ve wanted to say a million times but never did because I was afraid I’d offend someone (though not on purpose): just because you’ve started with a known character, whether you use that character as a jump-off point or as a main character, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to flesh that character out. Now, let’s not chew it to death, but … if any of the characters were exactly like their parents, what’s the point? As any person in real life if their children are exactly like them, and you’ll have someone laughing right in your face. They’re not. Characters are shaped by other characters, yes, whether directly or indirectly, and whether it is for the good or ill. Toga learned from watching his parents and the polar opposites, InuYasha and Kagome, and he decided for himself what he wanted from life, and Sierra? She was just the girl next door—a good girl who didn’t mind moments of badness, sweet enough to land Toga while brassy enough to stand up to Sesshoumaru, too.
Toga. *happy sigh* Then the twins.
The twins were something else. They started out bad: hair pulling, etc … Then they got worse.
Ryomaru was so much like his father that it was just interesting to me. Just what might InuYasha have been like had he been raised in a time and in a place where he didn’t have to fight and in an era when he wasn’t looked upon as an outcast? Well, he might well have ended up like Ryomaru. That he did things backward when it came to claiming his mate? It was just too funny to pass up, and Nezumi is a girl that I can identify with. I may not be exactly like her, but there were times when I felt like she did, absolutely.
Kichiro, though, leaned more toward his mother’s mentality, and for that, we love him, too. The real trouble with Kichiro was finding the perfect woman to compliment him in every way. Unlike Ryomaru, who really wanted a lover who was also his best friend, Kichiro needed to have someone who was confident in her own life, in who she was and who she would be: someone who could stand up to Kichiro’s arrogance and shine: someone who didn’t mind letting him be the larger than life hero while never fading in his shadow. And Bellaniece was born: a gorgeous girl with a heart. She was fantastic from the get-go, and she still is.
Heading into Purity 4, I thought it’d be great to write a father-daughter dynamic that was a stark contrast to InuYasha’s slightly overbearing love for his own daughter, Gin. From the start, I knew that Cain had to be big as a character. He had big shoes to fill, right? For a girl who idolized her father, nothing less would do. (Of course, uchinanchuduckie didn’t help when she first sent me these awesome sketches of a character named Cain … They were intimidating to me … I had to write a character who was good enough to live up to those sketches …) InuYasha had always said that Gin couldn’t date just anyone, didn’t he? So maybe he should be more careful what he wishes for in the future. I mean, who could be better for his baby girl than the North American tai-youkai …?
Cain was both the easiest and the hardest character I’ve ever written. From the start, I knew that Gin was the girl for him: the one woman who wasn’t actually trying to win his heart. He was and is, first and foremost, her friend. If she had come on strong from the start (if she even knew how—she didn’t), he would have run fast and run hard back to his domain in Maine. Somehow, though, he turned out to be a beautiful character despite the things in his past that really could have hardened him completely. To this day, I’m proud of that story, and in many ways, Purity 4 is my favorite because I feel that I could see the largest growth in me as a writer from the first one to that one.
And it was supposed to have been the last, wasn’t it? That’s what I said at the time.
But that baby—Sebastian …
Now I guess I should say now that I’ve always loved shy guys, and Bas really shouldn’t have been shy, right? Big, beautiful Bas was the quintessential all-American boy, but his shyness was just too cute. A lot of people have said that he was the guy Cain should have been if he hadn’t lost his parents and his first wife. I don’t agree. In my mind, Bas is much more like his late grandfather, Keijizen than he was like Cain … and Sydnie? Well, she’s kind of a one-of-a-kind kinda girl, isn’t she?
Jillian and Gavin were just fun. Underline that another time or two. Fun. Their story is one of my favorites because it tends to be lighthearted all the way through. (okay, most of the way through). The best friends. I love that.
Isabelle and Griffin was a return to angst for me, and anyone who has talked to me knows that I adore angst. Actually, I can usually write angst faster than I can write comedy. Comedy tends to get boring to me after a fashion. Angst is more fun for me because I can play with words, because I can use them to convey the fear or heartbreak or anxiety, and who was better at that than angst-muffin Griffin? No one, right? Isabelle is much like her mother, and that was also good for me, too.
Samantha … Samantha and Kurt were very important for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the return to the basics of Sango and Miroku—not the pervy part, of course, but the moments when I saw a more serious side to him in the anime and manga. That was the part of Miroku that really interested me … and there are very important things in this story that will not be entirely evident until much later.
Which brings us to Evan and Valerie and Purity 9, right?
Okay, I’ll admit it. Evan’s so entirely quirky and over the top that I can’t help but adore him, and Valerie? Well, in a lot of ways, she’s more ‘me’ than any of the women in any of the other stories. Sure, there are parts of me in every single character I write, but Valerie … her outlook, her personality, her sense of humor are more like me than anyone else. Their story is just a lot of fun to write, but both of them have a lot of issues to work through.
A lot of times, people ‘criticize’ me, saying that my stories are too long. You know something, though? I would rather write a longer story where the growth of the characters is the focus than to write something with a lick and a promise where you’re left wondering just how someone got from point A to point F without knowing what B through E were. Glossing over things is lazy. After all, would it have really made sense in the end if Cain had decided that Gin was absolutely worth living for in twenty chapters? And even if it were possible to have written any of it ‘shorter’, would the story stand out in anyone’s mind after six months or a year or more? If it’s worth writing, it’s worth writing well. That’s what I try to do: write well. I don’t profess to be the best writer out there. I’m learning and evolving with everything I write. What I do profess is to try to write the best story that *I* can, and as long as I feel that a story is worth telling, then I will tell it. If someone doesn’t want to read it, then I don’t lose sleep over it. If someone thinks, “Oh, another Purity, duh” then that’s their opinion. The bottom line is that I love all my stories for different reasons, and I’m sure that I’ll love the next three just as much, too.
In fact, I can’t wait to write those three. We have ‘cute’, we have ‘angst’, and then we have the ultimate form of comeuppance … and I’m looking forward to them all …