Lyn Gala

One writer's journal through one version of reality


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Submissives, fanfic, and an Apology to Jayne

code4Well, I finally updated my webpage, and I have to give up on Firefly.

No, don’t get your panties bunched. I still love the show. I still love the fanfic I have done with the show, but I just don’t write that much fanfic with it, so my fourth slot on my main page switched from Firefly to Stargate.

You see, the only thing I miss in Firefly is a sexual relationship between the characters. I started with Thoughts Colored Ugly where River’s telepathic powers allows her to see Jayne’s submissive nature, but she accidentally drives him away before she can step up and claim her man.

I then did Old War Horses, which I loved. Jim (The Sentinel) had been a Purple Belly government officer who had been turned into a government experiment. While fleeing from arrest, he runs into Mal and the Serenity, who have very strong Browncoat feelings. I loved watching these two try to continue a war when both of them had lost the war so long ago, and it let me play with my favorite dynamic—the strong submissive.

I love kick-ass submissives. I love the idea of someone having power and choosing to lay it at the feet of the person they love. I think you can see that in Liam and Tom and Ferro, and so many of my submissive characters.

Jayne is the ultimate strong submissive. When I see how, in canon, he was willing to accept his death if it came at Mal’s hands, when I saw him follow Mal into certain death with the Reavers when he couldn’t follow any other captain through a simple trade… I knew him. He was my strong submissive.

I thought I would be able to play with Jayne forever.

So I started Big Damn Dog, and I realized I had run out of fuel in the tank.

You see, there’s really nothing else I can change or fix in the series. Once I have my beautiful submissive Jayne settled, I’m happy with Joss’ world. I’m done. I don’t feel the call of any more epic stories—I can just go watch the series and be sated.

But Stargate? Oh, yeah. That’s just a hot mess.

The Not in Kansas series lets me totally stick my fingers in both SG1 (to poke Jack’s all symbiotes are evil button) and in Atlantis (to poke the let’s run this like a base and not the colony it is button). Face it, both ideas are pretty dumb. No species is evil as a whole—there’s just some other definition of right and wrong going on in that alien head. In my universe, the goa’uld are what happens when a perfectly sane symbiote has the bad luck to join with a psychotic/sociopathic ancient race and learn all about power and pain. And when Gibbs and Tony move to Atlantis in not one but two 100K epics, that poor city never saw it coming!

The Magical Cage let me poke at the Wraith/vampire connection by pulling Buffy in. The Shadows Universe let me use The Sentinel and their fear of government as well as La Femme Nikita to point out that the SGC is a scary covert ops world, we just see the friendly face of all the scary. We see that again in Dr. Sandburg Finds a Sentinel.

Dark Still Water gives Teal’c the voice he never got in canon, and lets the SG1 folk torture Jim (The Sentinel) for his most assholish season 4 behavior.  Airman Harris lets me poke at all the psychological damage these people take that rarely gets addressed in canon.

Yep, the Stargate universe feels more flawed. It ignores the very ideas I want to explore. It’s more interesting because it’s more flawed, so Stargate has now officially bumped Firefly off the main page.

I’m sorry, Jayne. I still love you!

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Explore the world

Diverse books!

That’s the latest call out for authors… that they should write diverse books. Hell yes! Writers should write using a wider range of characters. Now I could talk about how it reflects society and starts to break down stereotypes. I could talk about the unfairness when some people can’t find books that reflect themselves. I could talk about a lot of stuff, but other people have done that better than I could.

So I say do it for selfish reasons.

Yep, be diverse for selfishness. See, diverse characters are more fun. I know me. I know my own cultural baggage and religious background. If I write about that I’m going to get really bored, really fast.

But if I write about someone who’s different, then I have to go out and explore the world.

I loved writing Urban Shaman. I did all this research on Judaism. I asked around on LJ and found an LJ friend had been raised Jewish, and in an ironic twist of fate, had been declared not Jewish enough for the exact same reason Nicholai got the boot—the converted Jewish ancestor on the mother’s side had a flawed conversion. I learned all about that when researching. I discovered parts of my world I didn’t know about.

I grew up reading Westerns, so I knew that certain Native tribes counted “coup.” However, it was when doing research for Drift that I discovered that the belief is that you dishearten the person by showing them their weakness. I read about how a tribe all got together and had a protest by counting coup against a liquor store. They all walked up to it and touched it so the owner would understand how much they all hated having that poison on their reservation. I like that.

 

So don’t go out there with the dragging of the feet feeling like you’re obligated to write using a diverse cast of characters… throw yourself into it. It’s a great excuse to spend hours on the Internet learning interesting facts about the real world.

 

For Fettered, I looked at a lot of research on dysfunctional families and the ways that other family members are affected by one person with serious mental issues. I also spent time researching Miss Dolphinia, who is a gay man and a drag queen. It was fun reading stories of these people who were at the Stonewall and how the mob was happy to make money off them while the cops harassed them. I did a lot of reading on that. I also love twisting the history a bit because Miss Dolphinia sees that history through rose colored glasses.

In Urban Shaman, Nicholai is from a very insular Jewish community. I’ve already talked about how much I learned there. But the other character also let me go explore. Miguel is Hispanic, and Mexican mythology plays a large part in the storyline. Mexican mythology! Why is it that we learn about Zeus, but we never learn about Hunahpu and Xbalanque (Other than the obvious problem of pronunciation)? It’s a GREAT story.

Shepherd, Slave, and Vow took me to the world of Greece. Sort of. It’s a blend of mythology and history where the gods are real and Athena helped Greece gain dominance over Rome. I had fun digging deeper into the mythology and figuring out how the Roman stealing of Greek gods would work if the gods were alive to protest it.

Turbulence is a frikkin’ rainbow. If humans are at war with an alien race, I have to imagine that everyone goes to war, not just white guys. It really annoys me in American movies how America (and white America) are the only ones fighting the invasion. Our armed forces are very diverse, thank you very much Hollywood. So, I went a little crazy. Oh boy. Zeke and Jacqs are bisexual, and Zeke is an amputee. People with an amputee fetish are… different. I found parts of the Internet that scared me, and I’m an aficionado of pony play. I didn’t think I could get scared. Shank is Native American. Copta is asexual and Arab. Allie is pansexual. Karney and Lendra are black, and Lendra is a lesbian. Benares is French and a raging drunk with PTSD, Becca is so white it’s not funny while Neira Daygik is darker skinned and Honshi Quin is Asian. See? The world is fighting.

Drift is the book where I really explored how much Shank is Sioux. Culturally, religiously, and genetically Sioux. Rather than adapting, the Sioux have found a way to keep their culture and screw the mainstream. I did lots of reading for this and I loved it. And that’s why you also get Cetan, Chetankeah and Anpaytoo.

The one I’m working on right now has Dallin Mekam, a good Mormon boy raised to get married, have kids, and earn his godhood by pursuing the tenants of the Mormon faith. Instead he comes out as gay and walks away from that life. But as much as he isn’t religiously Mormon, he still has a lot of those cultural values. He can’t turn his back on a little brother who needs him, even if that brother is an ass. He feels like he can’t be a man without being able to support himself. He still has a lot of those traits, even if he claims he’s not at all Mormon.

 

All of these are outside my culture and my comfort zone because I’m boring. The rest of the world is interesting.

 

And of course this summer I insist I am going to get the Claimings sequel done if it kills me… and it might. Does it count as diversity that Ondry is eight feet tall and purple?


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A-holes

ImageAssholes.

No, not the anatomical ones we all have, but the metaphorical asshole.  I just submitted Turbulence to my publisher, and the main character truly is an asshole.  Jacqs is gruff, unforgiving, and very likely to assume the worst of others.  I think he also has redeeming qualities, but your miles may vary on that.  He certainly is a little… um… rough around the edges.  Jayne from Firefly inspired him, so he would have to be.

Reading the reviews, I have to wonder why some love watching Jacqs annoy the rest of the crew and others hate him.

God knows that there are real asses on television I love to watch.  I adored Gregory House the first few seasons, and he makes no apologies for his lack of social skills.  I also have an unabashed adoration for Jayne.  Yes, he’s got a crusty outside, but every so often, you see hints of a softer, kinder man underneath.

The Huffington Post even has a whole writeup on TV’s biggest A-holes.

But I think these giant buttfaces need to have some sort of redeeming quality.  With Jacqs, I tried to show right up front that he won’t stand for bullies. He stands up for what he believes, although he often does it in the worst possible way.

Jayne was an even larger ass, but he had this loyalty to Mal that made him follow his captain into Reever space (even while bitterly complaining about it).  House saved people, and every once in a while you got a flash of emotion that made you think maybe he even cared about those people he saved.

Story Addict suggests that assholes need to have some trait that balances out those more negative qualities.  They add Bella and Katniss to that list of annoying characters. However, they claim that “the important thing is that the character doesn’t bore you or have absolutely no redeeming qualities.”

I think Jacqs has that balance, particularly in the longer story.  He is very protective of Zeke and loyal to a fault.  However, looking at some of these links, I have to admit that I have other assholes sitting on my hard drive.

Myles Borodinskii is a former fashion model who now runs his own mega-corporation including magazines, fashion, and appearances on television reality shows.  He also has someone trying to kill him, but his arrogance leaves him refusing to take the threat seriously.  He calls a military-trained bodyguard “sweetheart” and makes fun of how he looks. He uses humiliation as a weapon at virtually every turn.

But he also adores his Russian grandmother who has a sharper tongue than he does, and he viciously protective of those he sees as his own, going so far as to hire a bodyguard for a low-level employee.

But honestly, Asymmetrical is stalled because it’s hard to write Myles. I think one of the reasons this prompt with Jayne appealed to me was because I was struggling with Myles and writing that asshole archetype.

A long-suffering hero like Miguel from Urban Shaman or the classic good guy like Charleston from Gathering Storm or even the bratty hero who hides his strength like Ferro in “Shepherd, Slave and Vow” are all easy to write.

Jacqs wasn’t, although I had Jayne to use as a template.

Myles is even harder.

Maybe I’ll wait a while before I try to dig back into this particular character type.