After a several month long dry spell, I am pleased to present you with another addition to the Meet the Authors series here on Lucent Dusk. Today I am pleased to welcome Dansemacabre, writer for the Labyrinth fandom, to the hotseat. Read further to discover how a lifelong interest in writing transformed into excellent Labyrinth fanfics, how it is important to not be afraid to suck, and why meeting Sherlock Holmes in person could be rather creepy. Many thanks to Dansemacabre for participating!

Penname: Dansemacabre

  • How long have you been writing?

    Since I was a kid. I've always been interested in reading and making up stories, mostly just to amuse myself. When I was little, I'd carry around a notebook with me and scribble in it constantly. I don't deceive myself that this was an endearing trait: I was an unpleasant, socially awkward little nerd who preferred stories and escapism to people. So basically: the same as I am now, but shorter.

  • What first got you interested in writing fanfiction?

    Well... it's a long and meandering story. I wrote original stories all through high school and some in college, then just stopped. I didn't know it then, but I had a medical condition and was tired all the time. Focus and concentration were nil, and I had a nonexistent creative life simply because I barely had the energy to get through the day. Eventually, I saw a doctor, was prescribed medication and voilĂ -- it was like seeing the world in color after years of black and white.

    I'd started listening to David Bowie. I'd known of his music before, but this time something in my brain clicked and I wanted to hear and see everything he'd ever done. This included re-watching the movie 'Labyrinth' and again, something in my brain clicked into place. I went poking around online and stumbled across, just wandering around the Labyrinth category and reading whatever grabbed my interest. There were a few gems and, er... I'll be unusually diplomatic and say there was also a lot of fanfic I thought could be improved upon. The gems were inspiring. The duds made me think, "Geez, even I could do better than that."

    That was pretty arrogant of me, because at this point in my life, I had barely written anything longer than a grocery list for ages. But two weeks of lurking, reading and fighting off plot bunnies and I figured... why not give it a go? What do I have to lose? I signed up for an account, typed out the first chapter of what would become a 20+ chapter fanfic, posted it, and never looked back. See, I told you it was a long and meandering story...

  • Are there any fanfic authors that have influenced your own writing? If so, who are they and what do they write?

    Oh, lots. In Labyrinth, KLMorgan and Scatteredlogic were the first writers who showed me that fanfiction could be a damn good story, something to get lost in. Whitemunin showed me that writing could be spare, yet powerful, and how to look at my writing with an editor's eye-- something every writer needs to know. I admire Lady_Rhiyana's gorgeous description and attention to detail when it comes to backstory, and her delicate touch with dramatic moments. Aliasheist's wit and humor and the sheer volume of creativity packed into all her endeavors is always inspiring. Ditto AKAVertigo, whose approach to writing is unpredictable and brilliant, and whose food porn would make you weep.

    Now I feel like I shouldn't have name-dropped, because I've probably forgotten a lot of names in there. They're mostly people who write for Labyrinth, though. I don't read much in other fandoms.

  • What are your favorite shows to write fiction for? What about these shows lend themselves to the creative exercise of fanfiction?

    I don't really write much fanfiction for TV shows, to be honest. My main fandom is Labyrinth, which I like because the canon is limited, so the possibilities are endless. You aren't as hemmed in by new plot developments each season or a constantly-shifting universe. I like books and movies more, because they tend to leave a lot that's unexplored and open to interpretation.

  • Which of your stories is your personal favorite? Why?

    I don't think I have a favorite. I'm fond of The End of Days, simply because it's the first piece of fanfiction I ever wrote and it reminds me of how fun it was to discover a new hobby and new friends. It's a nostalgia thing.

    Out of all of my fanfics, the most fun and easiest to write was probably Merry Christmas (War is Over). I don't usually like rereading my own work, but I enjoy that one.

  • Who is your all time favorite character to write for? Why?

    Definitely Jareth. He's got the best clothes and the best lines-- it is good to be the king! But Harry Dresden (of The Dresden Files series) was an awful lot of fun, too. He's a wizard and a smartass with a self-deprecating sense of humor, which is a wonderful combination. I'd love to write more for him.

  • What do you view as your strengths as a writer? Your weaknesses?

    I think--others might disagree-- I'm fairly good at describing settings and characterization. While I'm better known for more serious work on, I'm not bad at humor, either. I don't feel quite as secure when it comes to dialogue, pacing and maintaining a plot arc over a long period of time. My prose can, on occasion, be slightly purplish, and I'm prone to melodrama. I'm also a terrible procrastinator, which is worst of all.

  • It is an old adage that the best writers are also readers. What types of books do you read, and who are some of your favorite authors?

    I read a lot of fantasy, some sci-fi, mystery and horror. My favorite authors are Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Holly Black, Lois McMaster Bujold, Jim Butcher and Robin Hobb.

    I also read some non-fiction, mostly British and European history. I firmly believe that if you want to be a good writer, you need to read widely-- and not just fanfiction, either. It gives you more material to draw from when you write.

  • Have you tried your hand at original fiction? Do you have any aspirations with regards to original fiction?

    I started out writing original fiction and still do-- mostly short stories. It'd be nice to be a professionally published author, but I'm not sure I have the energy and drive to pursue it. It's hard work, and mentally draining, too. I've seen what published writers have to put into their careers, and it's very, very intimidating.

  • If you have written original fiction, is there anywhere we can go to read it?

    Not at this point in time, sorry! I think I've posted one very short excerpt on my livejournal, but I don't feel quite as comfortable showing my original fiction to anyone yet.

  • How do you conquer the problem of writer's block?

    I'm not sure I really believe in writer's block, per se. Occasionally, I do hit a wall with my writing. It's not so much a problem of not being able to write anything as it is writing things that just aren't very good. Like many other difficult tasks, sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and do it and eventually, you'll get something worth keeping.

    I do not believe in waiting for inspiration to strike. If I only wrote when I felt inspired, I'd hardly ever write at all.

  • Have you discovered any tips or tricks that help with your writing that you would like to share with our readers?

    I'm going to steal a piece of advice I heard from Wil Wheaton: Don't be afraid to suck. It's okay if your writing sucks, because then you can fix it. But if fear of sucking keeps you from writing anything at all... well, that's no good.

    If you want to be a writer, then write. Sure, it helps to read lots of books, travel and accumulate as much life experience as you can, and listen to constructive criticism without throwing a tantrum. But the bottom line is that you still have to practice, because you don't get better by not trying.

  • If you could meet any one person from history or fiction, who would it be and why?

    I... don't know. I'm suddenly overwhelmed by the wealth of choices and possibilities and my brain freezes up. Uh. Sherlock Holmes, 'cause he's awesome? But then again, I'm not sure I'd want to meet someone who could look at me and in a single glance, deduce that I have a childhood injury to my left wrist, that I ate Cool Ranch Doritos for lunch, that my hobby is miniature needlecraft and could perceive that I have recently been in Target.

    That'd be freaky.

  • Which has the greatest coolest factor - Ninjas, pirates, or zombies? Why?

    Pirates, hands down. First, you have the coolest wardrobe-- boots, jackets, swords and guns! All-black or bloodstained rags that reek of decomposing flesh just don't measure up in comparison. Then you have the atmosphere of the open sea, the wind and salt spray in your hair, and the ship tossing beneath your feet.

    Other side benefits: mermaids, kraken battles, gold, talking parrot sidekicks and making tasteless jokes about rum, sodomy and the lash. It's no contest, really.

Have you read Dansemacabre's stories? What did you think of them? Do you have a comment on any of her answers? Let us know!

Category: Author Interviews