This time on the Meet the Authors series, we talk with Rosa Acicularis. She wrote her first piece of fanfiction for the West Wing fandom, but now spends her time on Doctor Who. And even though she cites many complex and wonderful characters in the series, read further to discover why she always returns to Rose Tyler.
Gosh. Since second grade, I suppose. I dictated a short story to my mother about the black snake that lived in our backyard and his many adventures. (It was rather noir-ish, actually. A lady squirrel with a heart of gold loses her store of nuts, and a black snake with a dark past is the only animal in the neighborhood who can set things right…)
I only started to think seriously about writing when I was in high school and realized that though I loved theatre, as an actress I kind of sucked. So I took to playwriting, then to poetry, then to short stories, and then…
Aaron Sorkin. Sophomore year of high school I was completely, hopelessly obsessed with The West Wing. That winter I was ill, and had to be sent home from boarding school for a few months while I recuperated. Miserable, lonely, and bored out of my mind, I wrote my first piece of fanfiction. And then I wrote a lot more.
My strength as a writer has always been dialogue, which is logical given my origins in theatre. But Sorkin writes dialogue as no one writes dialogue, and I desperately wanted to do that – to write speech as if it were music, to put as much thought into sound and rhythm as into meaning. Later I realized that Sorkin has his own particular flaws as a storyteller, and I tried to learn from those as well as from his brilliance.
The first writers who come to mind are Ryo Sen and Jo March, who wrote some brilliant Josh/Donna fic back in the day. Some fanfiction you love because it complements and enhances the show you watch each week; other stories take a small part of that show and create something entirely their own. Ryo and Jo did both, brilliantly. And though it’s been years since I read West Wing fic, but Pixelvixen’s truly epic Crash Into Me series lives as clearly and vibrantly in my memory as the show itself.
As for Doctor Who, there are far too many to list. Jlrpuck has been my beta reader since my early days writing in the fandom, and there’s little doubt in my mind that she’s had a considerable influence on me. She’s a fantastic writer and beta, and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her. Other writers I am horribly jealous of have enormous respect for are eponymous_rose, orange_crushed, earlgreytea68, and Asano. And that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.
These days, Doctor Who is the only show I’d even consider writing for – I only have the energy for one ridiculous obsession at a time. Doctor Who, I would argue, is the perfect show for fanfiction. It seems sometimes as if the possibilities are simply endless – any kind of story you want to tell, the Whoverse can accommodate you. The show itself is drama and farce and romance and adventure and tragedy and satire and my god the characters you have to choose from. Barbara Wright and Jo Grant and Ace McShane and Rose Tyler, Zoe and Sarah Jane and Romana and Martha. The sheer number of brilliant female protagonists is staggering, and each is brilliant in her own particular way. And then there’s the Doctor himself, of course. What writer in her right mind wouldn’t want to try her hand at that mystery of man?
Do I Twist, Do I Fold is remarkable to me in that the finished product is exactly what I originally imagined it being. Most stories fail to live up to your initial moment of inspiration, and you sort of grow to expect that. But that fic – it’s almost exactly what it should be. In that way, it’s probably my most successful story.
But my personal favorite will probably always be Incurable. Because nothing at all actually happens, and I like that in a story.
I couldn’t for the life of me tell you why I love writing Rose Tyler so much. Writing the Tenth Doctor is endlessly fascinating, and the Master…well. Talk about the disturbing things you learn about yourself through the creative process. Mickey is my forever love, and I adore Pete Tyler completely. But in the end, the best answer to this question is still Rose.
It’s a bit weird to write a character who shares your name. ‘Rose’ is old-fashioned enough that I don’t encounter it that often (though lately it’s been happening more and more, and it Freaks Me Out) and I’ve never grown used to that strange combination of resistance and over-identification that fictional characters with my name inspire in me. Rose Tyler and I have more than a first name in common, but I wouldn’t say that I really identify with her – that is, not any more than any other character I write.
Maybe part of the fascination lies in the challenge of it. Rose is a difficult character to write – her characterization on the show is far more subtle and nuanced than most seem to realize. You’ll meet all sorts of Roses in fandom – uber-feminine, constantly shopping Rose; action star Rose; hyper-articulate Rose; desperately-in-need-of-a-dictionary Rose. And the trouble is, there’s truth in each of these portrayals. Rose is a tomboy who can really layer on the makeup, an immensely clever girl with an excellent memory who helps along the exposition with constant, “And what does that mean, Doctor?”
The most important thing about Rose to me is her curiosity. It is the root of her two most consistent traits: her compassion, and her love of adventure. She wants to know because she cares; she wants to travel because in the distance there is the horizon, and she has yet to see what lies beyond it.
Anything I can get my grubby little hands on – though despite my love of sci fi television, I don’t read much sci fi/fantasy. Some of my favorite authors are Louisa May Alcott, Margaret Atwood, Jane Austen, J.M. Barrie, Ray Bradbury, Christopher Buckley, Michael Chabon, Geoffrey Chaucer, Roald Dahl, Don DeLillo, Dr. Seuss, Jasper Fforde, Neil Gaiman, Alice Hoffman, Laurie R. King, Harper Lee, Christopher Moore, Terry Prachett, Shel Silverstein, and Virginia Woolf.
Okay. I just did that in alphabetical order. That’s sort of terrifying.
I have, any number of times. As for aspirations, I hope to someday be able to support myself by writing fiction. Someday.
Sadly, no. Someday!
I start a different story. I’m always writing, but for some reason I never seem to finish anything.
Do research. Lots and lots of it. Not for accuracy’s sake (who the heck cares about accuracy?) but because it’s how you’ll find ideas that make the ideas you already have even better. The most random bit of information, a piece of music, a scene from an old movie – stuff your head full of stuff, shake it around a bit, and see what sticks to what.
Harry Houdini. He knows why.
Zombies scare the ever-living crap out of me, and I’ve never been particularly interested in ninjas, so I’m afraid it’s pirates by default. Pirates are very mainstream these days – if there actually were any still around, this would probably piss them off.