Diverting Digressions (a conversation between EK and C.S.Kay)

[A Conversation with EK, an informal interview conducted by C.S. Kay]

Every once in a while, fate brings random people together. Before Creative Wenches, I didn’t know EK. To know someone is an ongoing process, but every meeting has a beginning. This is that beginning.

First order of business, without providing any type of photo or image, give me a detailed physical description of yourself (or your alias). : )

Oh, dear. I’m mesomorphic, a little over Kenshin’s height (I’m 5’4” or 5’5″, I’m not so sure). I have black hair. I tend to keep my hair shoulder-length and ponytailed at the neck level. I have a smattering of Japanese blood, so my skin color and face kinda shows it. I wear glasses.

I’m often found in a collared Tshirt and khaki jeans. ^^;;

What shape are your glasses? Wire rim? Plastic frame?

By collared T-shirt, do you mean like a polo shirt?

:3

(I swear, there’s a method to my madness)

They’re black metal frame if I’m not mistaken, rectangular-ish.

The shirts I wear are more like Lacostes, or Giordanos, that kind of collared shirt.

Gambatte!

So here’s an artist’s rendition of your description. Anything alike?

There’s also you as-drawn-by Suzy. 🙂

Suzy’s take is actually more correct (and cuter!). I’ll probably use it for now as gravatar. ^^v But maybe after you show it yourself first.

Thank you thank you!

Lol, just trying to keep things spicy.

Okay, next. You are in charge of Amazon’s “people who liked _______ may also like “Tales of the Activated” list. What movies/shows/books/comics might you fill that blank with? Feel free to expand your answer.

The concepts for the story are closest to those in Scrapped Princess and Fullmetal Alchemist, if that helps. But I borrow from neither one exactly.

There are also concepts that are similar to those in Tron Legacy and maybe The Matrix series and maybe the .hack series, but my ‘programs’ are not the same (The programs in the movie are the people. In this story they are the spells.), and the notion is not the same.

Also, all those series keep an eye on the people outside the world, the people or the forces of the gods running the show. That is not the intention here. I think I’m maintaining a ground-level view of things, like your typical fantasy where the ultimate forces are accepted and unquestioned, and life goes on at the character’s level, not at the meta-level.

Interesting. 🙂

I attempted a collage of smashing everything together with Activated in the center, but of course, I was defeated by technology. I really miss the days of magazine cutouts. But here are bits that amuse me.

Do you also read fantasy novels? Fantasy might be my favorite genre!

I haven’t read as much fantasy as other people unfortunately. I’m a fan of Artemis Fowl precisely because the language there is more scifi than fantasy, and it’s funny. ^^; I’ve also read some of the Edge Chronicles series and the Redwall series. I loved A Wizard of Earthsea. I’m currently going through Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (which is unabashed Wizard of Oz backstory fanfic, but done really well).

(Btw, Wicked the musical is so much fun…the hype is all true!)

So you see I seem to prefer my fantasy not too heavy-handed but there. ^^v

I guess I’m all about full immersion in a fantasy world that bears no resemblance to the one I currently live in. Makes one wonder what I might be escaping from. XD

What is your Myers-Briggs personality type (the test)? I’m an INFP (Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving) and according to Keirsey’s temperament sorter, a Healer, which occurs in 3 to 7% of the population. Are we compatible and can we be friends? XD

(Results) The test said I was ISFP (composer).

LOL, okay, I’m totally amused by your Myers-Briggs results. We are very similar, but your Sensing (in contrast to my iNtuiton) supposedly makes you more rooted in reality and (I quote) “less fantasy-oriented” than the INFP counterpart. Awesome.

According to the psychobabble folks, our relationship as ISFP and INFP is as Neighbors, which is characterized by our ability to “arrive at the same place by variant processes.” I’ll take that. ^^

In your Activated series, what character do you most admire and why?

Hmmmm.

Admittedly out of those four people Soji is a composite of characters I seem to gravitate to in anime (this will be better understood as the story progresses), so he’s my favorite. But I most appreciate how Lan changes. It will probably not be as drastic as people would like, but from personal experience, sometimes even small changes are hard to make, and I am glad he makes them.

What is it about Soji and characters like him that appeals to you? Why are these traits you tend to gravitate towards?

To discuss Soji in any depth two chapters into the story would be spoiler, unfortunately. (Ask me again when it’s all in the open.)

That said, my favorite characters at the top of my head are Himura Kenshin (RK), Cho Hakkai (Gensomaden Saiyuki), Chichiri (Fushigi Yuugi), Hayashida Heihachi (Samurai 7, the anime not the movie), and Yamamoto Takeshi (Katekyo Hitman Reborn).

They are all similar in the sense that their introductory persona is not necessarily the complete one (I mean, the guy you first meet does not show the whole of himself). This is unlike characters such as, say, Kaoru, who is easy to read on most days and all her cards are on the table. Make of that what you will. ^^v

Why do I gravitate toward characters like this? I’m not sure. I guess they’re interesting to learn about, especially as the series progresses.

What I liked about Hakkai, Chichiri, and Heihachi (and yes, Kenshin, although he is not my favorite) is their outward kindness and courtesy that masks a deep and scarring darkness. I might have liked them in their “happy” personas, but true appreciation of their characters didn’t come until the suspicion of a hidden darkness crept in and was cemented when that suspicion was actualized in a worthwhile backstory.

In my case, though, I gravitate towards deep emotion and darkness, which I sense is not the case with you. You seem to place more value on peeling back the layers and taking a look inside.

And yes, it’s a nasty habit of mine to try and crawl inside other people’s heads. XD

It’s different from my own, so it’s a lot like going to a strange and exotic new place. I get to look around and ask, “Wow, you live here?” XD XD XD

Wow, you watched Samurai 7! (hugs) I don’t seem to find a lot of people who appreciate that thing, you see, especially in my country. It was better liked by the US, and even then it was not a breakout hit. I also like Shichiroji and Katsushiro. I liked Heihachi since he was introduced, but when he drew out his sword on people I was invested for good. ^^ So I’m one of the many to whom the ending was quite devastating.

It’s been a few years since I’ve seen Samurai 7, so the details are fuzzy now, but Heihachi was definitely my favorite (whoo, the reluctant but noble fighter…) and yes, the ending was major suck for me, too. T___T

Shichiroji was my second favorite! ^.^ (lol, I sense the budding of a chick romance…)

LOL! SgL can tell you that was my problem last week.

Changing tracks, how did you conceive of Tales of the Activated? Did it come to you in a single moment of clarity? Did characters pop into your head first? Was it bits of dialogue? Or did the world reveal itself to you and you decided, “hm…I should put some characters in there”?

Activated has a weird backstory to it.

In early 2009 there was a submission call for genre short stories in my country. So the ‘programs’ concept within a fantasy setting was built for that, then Beika and Lan put in for the story. Lan was thought up first, then Beika as the counterpoint. Unfortunately the story would not settle, and the deadline passed without me finishing a story to my satisfaction.

I thought the novella-length form (15K words) would be better for it (as well as let me dare attempt Writers for the Future), so in came Soji and Marceau. Still the story would not settle nicely. And Marceau, the demanding girl she is, demanded space of herself (LOL!). Always there was that feeling that something wasn’t right about it.

So finally, I gave up and made it the NaNoWriMo project for 2009, telling myself, fine, let them have free rein across 50K words. A short story I made for a charity anthology (around October 2009) then cemented their backstory.

There was an attempt made in February-April 2010 to make it a complete story and even to sell it. (An interview of that attempt is here) It was okay. ^^;

But when I managed to get a 30-day Scrivener and re-checked the draft around June, I still found myself removing material and adding others. People like K also encouraged me to improve on the setting and to force myself to see the cities better in my head. The story was only completely finished in a state I was finally happy about in late August 2010.

Finally you guys came into my life December 2010, in the midst of frustration about a short story based on two characters. And that’s that.

The site is called ‘Tales of the Activated’ because there is the core story (Activated), several stand-alone backstory stories, several standalone sequel stories, and there is that long sequel WIP I’m currently fixing and fussing over, Harmonics.

(Sorry long reply is long.)

Finally, chapter 2 is already out, which should explain why it’s called ‘activated’ at all. ^^;; I hope you like.

…oh wow. I had no idea Activated had such a long and involved history. That’s awesome. I know what it’s like to have something stewing for years and years. Great that you’re continuing on with it. (Lol, I was quite confused about the title. I was pretty sure it was just “Activated” but I second-guess myself too much and convinced myself it had to be the same as the title of the website — well, we’ll see how [the interview] holds up once it’s been cut and edited XD XD )

Sorry about the confusion, I’m glad it’s all settled now.

It was just annoying to have something stewing for THAT long, especially when the writers I hang out with tend to be awesome in the short-story format.

Btw, do you mean the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest?? I’m almost positive I submitted to that! I remember addressing and putting postage on an envelope and telling myself I couldn’t very well waste the postage, so I might as well send something in. I’m not sure I remember what story it was…it must not have been very good. LOL.

Yes, that one. I heard about it online and once in a while some of the earlier anthologies reach my country, so I’ve read several. I haven’t actually submitted to it, what with postage requirements and being in this country, and being unsure of what I can do. ^^;;

All right…we are nearing the end of this strange, meandering interview, so thank you for bearing with me in all my strangeness.

No problem! It was fun!

We all have our set of neuroses, quirks, habits, and vices that make us who we are (or try to make us something else). What would you say are yours?

– My brain seems to work properly only after lunch. ^^;; It works until a little past midnight.

– I like Mythbusters, and I like Grant among all of them.

(I’m a fan of Jamie’s walrus mustache. And Adam Savage’s stand-up. His stories about his sons are soooo hilarious. I recommend his appearance on The Nerdist podcast where his sons are in a constant state of “in trouble”)

– I don’t have a phobia for needles stuck into me, I developed a panic attack of being made the one to stick needles into other people. (It’s one of the things that has stopped me from making a little more of myself, sigh…)

– I’m the weird person who watched the Harry Potter series (and did like it) but did not read it. Instead the fantasy series that got me was Artemis Fowl, elementary-school-kid-level pulpy writing notwithstanding. (Eventually I’ll get to read the Lord of the Rings series, I did like the movies.)

Don’t feel bad! I, too, have only seen the Potter movies…it’ll take me many years before I’m anywhere near ready to play catch-up. I just have too many other books to get to first!

– I get FSTs not primarily because of the theme, but because it makes me listen to music I don’t hear on the radio (Regina Spektor, for example, is almost never heard on the radio or on MTV and Channel V here.)

At least that’s a few of the many. ^^;;

Haha, well, nothing too crippling it seems, so that’s good. But I wish you luck with the needle thing. I don’t handle getting stuck very well and have no desire to stick others. I can imagine trying to overcome it. : (

I’ll let Suzy ask the next (and last?) question. [you may answer as yourself or one of your characters]

Suzy, what would you like to ask EK?

[Suzy’s question is in the attachment] :3


Hmmmm.

I think it’s one reason I prefer science fiction over fantasy, and prefer non-heavy-handed fantasy. When you’ve had a childhood and education like I’ve had, you’re hard-wired to be cautious about powers and spells (such as those that Harry Potter has in general) and otherworldly things. The rest of me that isn’t hard-wired likes science, and of things being explainable instead of shrugged away. Much of it is tricks of the mind or the imagination, and the rest that is real is part of an otherworldly struggle we’re better off leaving alone, I think. ^^;;

Tee hee. That’s the Sensing in your ISFP talking. Very concrete data and direct observation. The iNtuition in my INFP makes me more susceptible to abstract concepts with very grey areas (so, it might be why I’m intrigued by fantasy and what may be referred to as the paranormal).

Suzy would like to know if you believe there might be something to be afraid of in what we don’t know and don’t understand.

Of course. But if we don’t at least learn more about what we are afraid of, there will be no progress in life, I think. After you learn a little more, at least you’ll be a little more objective when you say you don’t like something or can appreciate something.

Which is a weird way to think, given my background. But I guess it keeps me from being bigoted or prejudiced either. It keeps me quiet when people say things I don’t agree with, but I’m also not one of those to pick a fight about it. ^^;

I’m not trying to pick a fight in asking this, mostly just curious and have to keep poking you for information…XD…but do you think we should really leave the “otherworldly struggle” alone or do you think it’s something worth investigating and learning more about?

(thinking)

I guess there is some merit in finding out if something is just illusion or mindtricks, and what is just science we don’t know about and should be finding out. But when those are cleared out, there is indeed an otherworldly struggle, good and evil in its purest forms. Once you know it for what it is, but know that you’re not skilled enough to deal with it, my opinion that it’s better left alone for people who know what to do, lest you get into something and get it too deep.

Yeah, I guess that’s it. ^^;;

I like that even with your fact-oriented and direct-observation mindset, you still acknowledge there might be forces at work that science has not yet explained and does not make them any less real. I don’t mind skeptics, but I tend to have conflicts with people who are staunch “nonexistent until proven otherwise” types. By that reasoning, no danger is really a danger until it is upon you and it’s too late.

I feel I’ve learned a bit more about you and how your mind works and I hope readers will feel the same way.

Everyone, please jump on over to [ACTIVATED] and get inside EK’s brain by analyzing her story and the elements that drive it.  Now that we know she harbors a soft spot for Soji, pay special attention to him and make note of how she tortures him and rewards him, and what that might mean about EK herself. ^o^

Your friendly neighborhood wench,

C. S. Kay

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sgL
    Feb 05, 2011 @ 01:36:12

    That was a really long and hard interview! Very interesting… and EK is a good sport :p

    Reply

    • EK
      Feb 07, 2011 @ 01:43:51

      @SgL ehehe, but it was an interesting set of questions. Some of them did make me stop and think, though. ^^ Also, she did warn that there WAS a point to the questioning, so I didn’t keep asking. ^^;;

      Silliness: by my poking around the main Myers-Briggs website I sorta-kinda determined that Lan is ISTP (crafter) and Soji is INFJ (counselor). The aspects that the personality names give, I find that they show up more on Harmonics (the WIP I’m dealing with) rather than Activated, though. Probably because things have settled down in that sequel story. Bei is ENFP (champion) and Marcie is ESTJ (supervisor).

      Writers are usually introverts, which does make them good writers, I understand. Most artists are.

      Reply

  2. T. E. Waters
    Feb 05, 2011 @ 01:42:45

    I’m amused but not surprised that we’re all introverts (I’m an INTP XD)… You two did a really entertaining interview!

    Reply

  3. C. S. Kay
    Feb 05, 2011 @ 02:19:48

    It did end up being a bit of a long obstacle course. XD Not once did EK stop and go, “uh…is there a point to this?” She definitely gets the award for best sport. 😀

    Ah, an unlikely gathering of introverts. The internet is truly a powerful thing.

    Reply

  4. EK
    Feb 07, 2011 @ 03:16:51

    More like, how much poor Lan gets tortured. ^^; Don’t you all worry about Soji-kun too much, okay? Just keep an eye on the chap.

    Reply

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