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Dear Yuletide Writer,

Thank you so, so much for offering one of my offbeat little fandoms! I'll tell you right off the bat that if you already have an idea you're excited about, then don't worry about reading this -- just run with it! As long as you're having fun writing, I know I'm going to adore reading whatever you come up with.

But if you would like some more data about my preferences, well, here are my recs, though they're just a tiny subset of the stories I've read and enjoyed. As for more general thoughts, here are a few paragraphs cannibalized from my Yuletide letters from previous years:

In general, the very most important thing to me in fic is character interaction. I often like world building and plot and atmosphere, but in the end, the key is almost always how the characters relate to each other. And what I really like to see is how relationships (of all types -- romantic, platonic, antagonistic, something else entirely, it's all good) develop. Established relationship fics can be wonderful, but the thing that really moves me is the getting there. I like it when things change, and the characters have to deal with that change, to interact with it, to drive it, to adjust to it. I also like stories about change and transformation more generally, not just as applied to relationships. Gen, het, slash, femslash, fluid sexuality, monogamy, polyamory, other types of non-monogamy and less traditional relationship configurations, I am open to any and all of these things and more.

Beyond that, I like a wide range of story types, characters, character interactions, plot points, narrative moods, settings, and kinks. I have a special fondness for UST, steadfast attachment, desperate sex, sincere sweetness and charm, affectionate snark with an edge, absurd and/or clever humor, comfortable banter, dysfunctional-but-hot co-dependency, complex motives, possibly reformed bad boys/girls, power games and bondage and D/s dynamics, fighting as foreplay, morally grey characters, fumbling first times, and unexpected discovery (among others -- these are just the ones springing to mind at the moment). Obviously these don't usually all fit in the same fic, though I have to admit that I'm a sucker for any fic that somehow manages a good combination of hot and adorable. I do like angst and conflict, but usually I'm happiest when it eventually resolves in some satisfying way. I am generally more of a hopeful ending sort of person -- not the kind wrapped all tight with a bow, necessarily, but also not completely bleak. On the other hand, I have been known to appreciate wistfulness and sadness, there are some stories that really just need tragic endings, or at least less-than-optimistic ones. I can be a big fan of ambiguity if it's done well, and often like matter-of-fact realism... though I also like dreamy surrealism and sharp stylization and really a lot of different moods and styles. A wonderfully foreshadowed first kiss can make me just as happy as scorching hot explicit porn, as can any sort of well-drawn and vivid character interaction.

I am relatively hard to squick, I believe, but I admit to not being particularly fond of mpreg or some of the more extreme kinks. One thing I will say is that though I'm usually a fan of AUs, part of what I love about all of these requests is the setting/world-building, so I'd rather have something more related to canon than not, though it also doesn't have to be super closely tied -- AUs that are more of the "what if this one thing were different" type would almost certainly be enjoyed, and creative, speculative future fic is totally encouraged, as is probably obvious from the prompts. And, as always, these are all vague guidelines rather than rules -- if a dramatic AU strikes you and it works with the character interactions, feel free to go with it! I just might love it.

Okay! Onto the specific requests (and I would be equally happy with any of them!):

Lost Coastlines (Song)
No characters specified
A journey of uncertain duration, to unknown, unmapped lands, away from the familiar, towards such unpredictable things as melee escapes and foreign lords and faraway stars. Lost, but every night still "rocking and rolling on waves wild and wide." Feel free to go as literal or as metaphorical as you like, as long as that spirit of adventure is there. (This song is wonderful -- if you haven't heard it before, I highly recommend that you hop over to my letter and give it a listen!)

There are so many different directions you could go with this! You could focus on just one lyric or part of the song, or you could concentrate more on the general gist of the thing. You could make up characters entirely, or somehow connect them to Will Sheff and Jonathan Meiburg and the rest of the band (possibly even relating to the real life context of Meiburg leaving Okkervil River (amicably) to concentrate on Shearwater -- this was, essentially, his farewell song), whatever makes you happy. (Is Meiburg/Sheff a thing I would read? Hell yes! But that is just one possibility out of a whole pile of amazing stories you could tell.) You could bring in concepts from the rest of the The Stand Ins and The Stage Names, or build a world of one ship and the sea based on the details of the song, extrapolated. Free rein, anything goes. Just have fun with it, and I'm sure I will love whatever you come up with!

If you haven't heard the song before, it is a delight and one of my favorite Okkervil River songs. It was a KEXP Song of the Day and was featured on Stereogum -- download available at either link -- or you could watch the the official video (which features a somewhat shortened version of the track, but none of the lyrics are missing, just la-la-las).

Here are the lyrics, as best I can figure (some of them are a bit tricky to decipher):

[Will Sheff]
Packed and all eyes turned in, no one to see on the quay
No one waving for me, just the shoreline receding
Ticket in my hand, I’m thinking, wish I didn't hand it in
‘Cause who said sailing is fine?
Leaving behind all the faces that I might replace if I tried on that long ride
Looking deep inside but I don't want to look so deep inside yet

[Jonathan Meiburg]
Sit down, sit down on the prow to wave bye,
There might not be another stop, further on the line
Look out, look out at each town that glides by
And there's another crowd, to drown in crying eyes

And see how that light you love now just won't shine
For there might just be another star, (but) that's high and far in some other sky
We sing, is that marionette real enough yet to step off of that set
To decide what her dance might be doing
Ruining the play, to in the ensuing melee escape
We packed up all of our bags, (the) ship's deck now sags
From the weight of our tracks as we pace beneath flags, black and battered
Rattling our swords in service of some fêted foreign lord

We sail out on orders from him, but we find
The maps he sent to us don't mention lost coastlines
Where nothing we've actually seen has been mapped or outlined
For we don't recognize the names upon these signs

And every night finds us rocking and rolling on waves wild and wide
Well we have lost our way, nobody's gonna say it outright
We just go la, la, la la la la... [etc]

The Tricksters - Margaret Mahy
Ariadne "Harry" Hamilton
There are so many fascinating directions to go with this and honestly I'm almost certain to be thrilled with any of them! I love Harry as a character and her development through the novel is intense in a way that I really appreciate. I also really love the atmosphere of the book, with its strangeness and shadows and oceanic mystery, and the complexity and tangled emotions of all the character interactions. Any story about Harry will make me happy; if you're looking for more specific suggestions, there are a few stray thoughts in my yuletide letter, but if you already have a direction in mind, please feel free to just go with it! I am sure I will love it.

I was an extremely bookish child growing up, and heroines who were as preoccupied with books and writing as I was naturally appealed to me. Harry was one of my favorites. I think you could write any story about Harry that moves you and I will adore it, but if you're looking for suggestions, perhaps something about Harry's next book? I think that could be really nifty. Or the aftermath of the events of the book? Or maybe Felix returns, or another family vacation or holiday gathering happens? But those are just random thoughts -- seriously, whatever would interest you to write, I am excited to read!

The book is long out of print and doesn't seem to be available as an ebook, either, but there are plenty of cheap copies available online, and I know I first read it because my local library had it, so that's also a potential place to find it.

Sports Night
Kim (Sports Night)
I love Kim and I always, always wanted more of her on the show. Please give me any story about Kim -- in Sports Night style, of course -- you want to tell. As long as she's her awesome self, confident and practical and sexy and witty in that snappy deadpan way the series did so well, I will be happy. Tell me about her job, her background, her family, her love life, her friendships, have her investigate a mystery or solve an in-studio issue or lead a foray into the city or any of these things or none of these things or something completely different, just give me Kim!

Oh, Sports Night. One of the shows of my heart. I love the entire cast, so if you want to include others as well as Kim, I would absolutely welcome that as long as she remains at the center of the story. I'm also equally open to gen or just about any pairings or relationships, so whatever works for you along those lines. Any story you want to write about Kim, I want to read. I would especially love a story that preserves the Sports Night tone, and for this prompt in particular, I'd probably be more inclined towards a positive story than one that ended on a negative note. But honestly, if the story you want to tell is one that goes in a different direction, I have full faith in your ability to make it work -- I will be just as excited to read it, and I have no doubt that I will love it.

There are box sets available used online for under ten bucks, and it's also currently accessible via Netflix Instant and Hulu Plus.

Gosford Park (2001)
Elsie (Gosford Park), Mary MacEachran
One of my favorite subtle things about this movie is the development of Elsie and Mary's relationship -- there's just something really down-to-earth and honest and supportive about it that's wonderful to see, especially given their contrasting personalities. I liked how Elsie took Mary under her wing without being dismissive or condescending, and how over the course of the film they seemed to build up a real, if mostly unspoken, understanding and rapport. I would love to read something post-movie (maybe epistolary, or Mary visiting Elsie in America, or vice versa, or Elsie moving back to Britain, or anything else you can think of, really), but I could see an interstitial story (set during the events of the movie) working brilliantly also, and I love both female friendship stories and femslash, so whichever you prefer works for me. I think both of their perspectives changed a little because they met, and getting to see more of that would be lovely, but in the end, I just want more of them being awesome together.

This movie, oh, this movie. Such an amazing film, full of fascinating characters that clearly each have their own stories and complexities and development, even if we only get to see a fraction of that on screen (definitely feel free to include other characters from the film if you like, as long as the focus remains primarily on Mary and Elsie). Just about every single character in the movie could generate so many stories, just because they manage to feel so real. One of the things I've been wanting to read for a long time is more about Mary and Elsie and their relationship. I'm intrigued by how their friendship developed over the course of the movie, and I think it could be fascinating to watch it continue develop post-movie, however it might occur (such an interesting historical time period!). I'd like to believe they stayed in touch, anyway, and there are so many possibilities for the women they might become, separately as well as together.

The DVD is available very cheap used online, as is the shooting script in paperback form, and it's currently available for streaming on both Netflix Instant and Hulu.

The bottom line is: I like a huge variety of stuff (and am all in favor of experiments, creativity, and unusual things), I'm harder than usual to squick, and I'm willing to try almost anything. Please just enjoy the writing, and I know I'll have fun reading it. :)

much love,
[ profile] athenejen
location: Round the Bend
Music:: Okkervil River, "Lost Coastlines" (in my head)
Mood:: 'cheerful' cheerful
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