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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Not a fic – just followup for a fic. **spoilers for Easy Tickets**
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1969 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Hello, confused and unsatisfied readers! I am a stinker, aren’t I? :p
Such intersting feedback on the last two chapters! I feel I’ve done something right if I’ve started a debate over the storyline and the way I’ve used the characters. Much fun!
OK, on with the commentary! The following spiel is kind of a history of how Easy Tickets came about. I really enjoy going back over the thought process; I like it when other people do it, and I enjoy seeing how it worked with me even more – so thanks in advance for letting me blab!
Before I dive in, one very important thing: LEEH and VERA2529 have been indepensible and heroic in the time they’ve spent on this. They’ve gone beyond being human spelling and grammer checkers. As I explain below, this story involved some personal things for me, and often it took a lot of discussion to figure out where I meant to be going with these characters and how to get there. My beta readers were very generous with their time and energy, and this story wouldn’t be half what it is without them!!
OK, here we go…
Easy Tickets, not surprisingly, started with a Mal/Inara scene. Of yes – the basic structure of Chapter 24 (M/I love baby love as I call it) was written while I was still posting The Fish Job. It was obvious to me that Mal had a favor to return to Inara, and, as The Writer, I can make that happen. :)
After I finished posting FJ, I decided that I wanted a little more than a sex scene for a sequel. I’m just like that. So, I worked out a storyline for our poor damaged Captain and his motley crew. But I couldn’t dive right in – it required setup. So much setup that it soon became clear that this needed to be a three part series, (FJ and ET being the first two parts) The second story needed to involve the crew in ‘outside’ events, to the point that the outside events were the main plotline. The crew’s subplots would take over in the end and lead into part three.
So, ET exists for one reason – to provide a bridge to the next story. In fact, at one point I thought it would be a short little ditty, 6-12 brief chapters, and on we go. Silly me.
OK… I needed an outside storyline that allowed me to set things up… What to do? On my list of plot bunnies (and I’m excluding or not admitting to sequel related things; at this point some are obvious, some aren’t. I’ll get to the sequel later.)
- Inara trauma (so Mal could comfort her in the love baby love chapter) - more active roles for Simon and Kaylee, since I didn’t get into their heads at all in FJ. - River bouncing around the cargo bay with no gravity.
That last one… it just sounded fun. I’m a lot like River, and if I were her, I’d want to do that! In fact, you may not have realized that it was really me in that flying scene in ET Ch 11, diving over the catwalk and doing a plié on the bulkhead. It was really me in the water with Jayne in Ch 1 too. I really do that backfloating thing. Did it last weekend on Cape Cod (floaty salt water, so nice!). I don’t tend to have a naked Jayne with me though. :(
Anyway, flying River would be funner with someone watching her, which would be funner if that someone was a love interest. But I can’t hook River up with any of the BDH’s. I just can’t do it – she’s too young and inexperienced for them! She was a rich genius girl who can’t have spent much time with kids her age until she went to the Academy, and I’m thinking that there wasn’t much dating or even hanging out with peers there. Kind of hard to hang out when your head’s cut open. I’d think. Never tried it myself. *shudder*
So I needed a new character, and I wanted him to be her age. Someone who would see her as remarkable, as something more than a broken messed up crazy girl. So it needed to be someone who’d been, to some extent, broken himself.
I was thinking about this while watching one of those cheesy old Western shows on TVland (not Gunsmoke – but something like) and the good guys were held hostage in a house by a bunch of bad guys, and someone had been shot. I think he was a bad guy who ended up trying to help the good ones (I wasn’t paying a lot of attention.) That little bunny put together the hijacking story for me and set up Jase’s role. It also gave me a perfect opportunity for the good doctor to be involved.
And then there’s Ray. Ahh, Ray. Here’s the story behind him, and get comfy, it’s rather long…
There is a Real Life Ray, who is not a nice man. I have only seen him a few times in my life, mostly from a distance (thank goodness!) but from what I’ve seen and heard, he’s much worse than fictional Ray. Much, much worse.
I first met Ray when I was a little girl, and my family went to his wedding. He was tall and handsome and he was marrying a woman who I swear looked like Pricess Diana, and I thought they were fantastic.
As of last summer, he was in his fifties, long ago divorced, no children, and most of his family wouldn’t speak to him. He was in extremely bad shape after years of drug abuse and motorcyle and car accidents. Overweight, greasy, drool-y, limping, and had to carry around various bags of medical fluids or oxygen or things like that. He’d been thrown out of nearly every nursing home in his home town because he was abusive to the nurses, and he nearly killed the only creature who would come near him - his dog - out of neglect (I got these details from the people who adopted the dog and nursed it back to health.) He was apparently doing his best to run some computer scam to support himself, because he certainly couldn’t hold a job.
I felt nothing but disgust for RL Ray, and when I heard that he’d died last summer, I was actually relieved. He brought nothing good to anyone, and he caused a lot of pain that I’m not going to go into detail about. He really hurt at least one person I know.
Right about the time I was putting together my crew of rough hands to take over Serenity, I discussed RL Ray with a friend. I told her that Ray’s family didn’t make public how he died, but I figure he most likely killed himself. My friend said that if he hadn’t outright killed himself last summer, his death could still be considered a suicide because he’d been trying to kill himself for years. (drugs+motorcycles+complete lack of taking care of himself) And she wondered what had happened to make him hate himself so much.
I had never even thought of him that way. And here’s the thing – he must have been just an innocent boy once, one of those skinny kids in the late 1950s/early 1960s with buzzed short hair, all elbows and ears and buck teeth, wearing a white Tshirt and faded jeans (I picture the bad boy in the movie Stand By Me – young River Pheonix, who had a tragic end as well.) Knowing some details about Ray’s family, I can only guess at what might have happened to turn an innocent boy / good looking young groom into the barely human monster he was when he died.
I’ll never know what happened to RL Ray, but in fiction I am the Grand Master, and I can know all the details about my characters. So, fictional Ray was my attempt to, I guess, vent about RL Ray. Fictional Ray, unlike Mal, didn’t have the strength of character to survive the ordeals life brought him. He nearly destroyed the life of an innocent (Jase) out of nothing but pride and stubbornness. His plan to make up for it by getting Jase to a boarding school was misguided, because he would have hurt or killed other innocents (such as Inara) to achieve that end. Jase would have miserable in that school anyway; it was a bad plan in so many ways.
Fictional Ray deliberately hurt people, made all the wrong choices, and died without redeeming himself. But, though his downfall was his own fault – another person would have handled the disasters in his life much better – I feel for Ray. I don’t forgive him; he didn’t deserve that. River told Ray: “You’re a bad man, but I understand why.” That’s pretty much Ray’s theme, and it’s what I wish I could say to RL Ray. (Maybe I was Summer’s stand-in for that scene too, and RL Ray was the one she was talking to.)
Somehow, making this character has put my thoughts about RL Ray at peace. So there – therapy by fanfic. :)
Told you it was a long story!
To get back on track… my goals with Ray and Jase were both met when I put them in a messed up father/son-ish relationship, and having Jase’s mother be Chinese made it easier to show Jase’s lost identity and Ray’s love/hate feelings toward him. Ray couldn’t abandon the boy because Jase reminded him of Mei, but he hated him because Jase was the result of Mei’s infidelity.
The song Jase was always singing I randomly found online, and it was perfect! I got lucky there. I downloaded a recording of it, and the first part is nice, but then it goes all pop ballad. Bummer. By I love the lyrics – “Sand leaves marks that can not be erased by anyone.” Very fitting for Niflheim, for Ray, and for Jase, although let’s hope Jase’s marks are diminished in time.
BTW, RL Ray really had a brother named Bucky. What a great name! I’ve never met RL Bucky, so I improvised. Fictional Bucky was a bullied little brother who always lost out because he was gentle and, well, wimpy, but those very traits helped him get through the hard times (bending is better than breaking) and will make him a better father to Jase then Ray could ever have been. I think they’ll settle down just fine in the settlement on New Borjomi. Maybe Bucky will even meet a good woman and finally have a wife of his own. :)
The short-lived Hank served a few purposes. First, I liked taking the time to introduce a character in some detail just to have Mal blow him away. That tickled me. He also gave a first hand introduction to Niflheim, showing it as a failed planet and hard place with some major class economic-type issues. He also represented what Ray would have been if he hadn’t had Jase to keep him on the straight and narrow: a total frickin’ loon. Except Ray would have died in the alley that Hank walked out of with his nice gun. Which Jayne has now. Hmm. ;)
Ginger I meant to do more with, but I really didn’t need any more OC (original character). She’s a little flatter than I wanted at this point. I have a story for her which I’ll get to, although the sequel won’t have nearly the OC presence that this one did. She’ll stay on the side.
Will is definitely coming back. Oh yes, there is unfinished business with him! I must note though – AgentRouka had it right, the Will/Ginger revelation in Ch. 25 was too tidy a tie-up, which is not what I intended! This is one thing I would have handled better if I’d had my betas read the whole thing before I posted. If I’d set it up better, it would be clear that it didn’t do much tying, because the whole hijacking/arresting Beyla thing was already over and done! The key thing is that now you know that Will’s still free, and he has the power of the Alliance behind him. That’s a damned scary thing!
Peter Skuld was mostly a way to get Inara traumatized, although he fit well into the overall storyline and I also liked having the opportunity to show some bad drugs. It was never my goal to say “drugs yay!” with Fish Job, especially as young’uns frequent this site. [Warning: finger shaking lecture ahead] To sum up my theory: Inara’s pill is well researched, non-damaging, and taken sensibly and carefully. Peter’s drops are just stupid self-destructive escapism. Dong ma? [/lecture]
Another things about Peter – I was really grossed out by putting a girl in his bed. I tried to find something else that would upset Inara enough to make her abandon her client and return to Serenity early, but nothing else would do. It was very icky to write that! So maybe this is too much spoiler, but I’d feel better if you all know that I’m not going any further in that direction. I would be bothered by reading a story that I thought was heading toward some history of molestation for Inara, and I don’t want you thinking I have that in the works. If that’s too much spoiler, I don’t care! I had to say it.
So that’s all the major OC’s. I have to blame them for making this fic turn into such a beast and delaying the story I really want to tell. But I’m happy with how it came out! And I must thank every reader who visited my OC ‘verse and didn’t run away. I know you don’t come to a fan site to read fanfic about original characters, so I was deliberately sneaky about sucking you in without telling you that it was going to turn into the Story of Ray.
Other random things:
I must say something about the optical computers – I worked in a physics lab as an undergrad. The only thing I really learned was how to focus the laser, which was cool. It was green and bright and made me happy. (I’m not a very good physicist.) There was a little brown crystal which the prof in charge was measuring for optical bistability, which was related to optical computing in some complicated way. So there – my sciency stuff was based in reality, although I had to do a bit of internet searching to fill out the techie subplot.
The Inara/Will attempted rape scene – I originally didn’t write this out in full, but I’m glad I did in the end. And here I’m treading on sensitive ground, many apologies if I twinge the sore nerves of anyone who’s been through sexual violence, I don’t mean to… I really wish that the popular media would have women react to a threat the way Inara did. I feel like our society (and most others) encourage this assumption amongst potential rapists and potential victims that any woman will be paralyzed with fear and won’t put up much of a fight. I like to think that less rapes would happen if a potential rapist thought that his target would look him in the eye with disgust, not fear, and put up a helluva fight.
For example… Sleeping with the Enemy. It’s totally accepted that this battered woman became completely cowed by this horrible man she was married to, and it took the course of the movie before she stood up to him and shot him. I’d have preferred it if, the first time he hit her, Julia Roberts picked up one of those nice art pieces in his nice house and bashed in his head with it. Okay, it wouldn’t have made much of a movie, and I understand that there were months of him gradually crushing this woman’s spirit that led to where the movie started… But why do movies get made about woman who can be manipulated like this? Why are woman characters in popular movies/TV so unable to stand up for themselves?!? (Reference to Joss’s Equality Now speech…)
OK, rant ended.
I agree that things after Ch 25 lined up with the movie pretty well – but it wasn’t intentional! And, actually, Mal and Inara were all set for the movie, but I have Kaylee, Simon, and River were in very different places. Anyway, it seems that way to me. Maybe it’s because I know where I’m going with them, and it’s so very different than the BDM.
nosadseven and BEB – Mal’s string of f-words to the quill is indeed a Nathan thing! I put it in as a placeholder and meant to replace it with Chinese, but I liked it too much! You know Mal would say that if he was allowed to on TV.
Homespun – of course I’d get back to broken Mal! I do enjoy tormenting him. He’s good at being tormented, poor guy.
Gooduck – comprehensive exams? Yuck! Good luck with that! I’ll try to have the sequel ready for when you’re done! :)
Desertgirl – thanks for the comment! And I do want Mal happiness too, but that’s just not the Jossian way. I’ll give him some breaks eventually…
Katesfriend – thanks for delurking! That’s the best! And the rating… I try not to see ratings as important, but I am a little pouty about getting low ratings on my much beloved last two postings, especially as almost all the feedback is glowing. Makes me think that people gave it really low ratings without posting an explanation as to why, and that sucks. :(
Anyway, the PTSD thing makes so much sense. I’m a little surprised that some readers don’t buy Mal’s memory loss – I’ve read another fic that had Mal finding out that he went through some mind-chopping like River’s in the war aftermath, and that was a story I could believe. The man is clearly really messed up by things that happened to him, and who’s to say he hasn’t blocked other things out? We’ve seen so little of his history.
Ali D – I tried to make a parallel between what Mal felt in the epilogue and in Chapter 12, both of which led to memory loss. There are some differing details, but they are deliberate. I think it’ll make more sense after the sequel gets going a bit.
ManicGiraffe – Actually, Mal was not at all able to separate reality from fantasy in the Fish Job, not while he was under. Without River, he wouldn’t have had a clue, and the reason he fought during the debriefing was because of specific things she’d said to him, and because she managed to get into his head and appear to him there. After that, during his crazy time on the ship, he was healing and shaking it off. But more stuff has happened to him since then… and now I’m in danger of saying too much, so I’ll shut up. :)
Saying that Mal always has his wits about him… that’s like saying a tough enough person can withstand any torture. The mind and body act to defend themselves, and given enough torture or the proper brainf**k, even the strongest will and coolest mind can be beat.
And, really, it’s not that he chose to forget Inara. “Hey, this hurts, so I just won’t think about it.” Not so much. I myself am a strong, tough type of person, but I have experienced denial – in myself, and in others. It’s the strangest thing when you know something, but you don’t know it. Your thoughts just won’t go there, no matter how you try. It has nothing to do with being weak – it’s your mind protecting itself from something that may cause damage.
Can I whine a little to my doubters? I know I’ve only given you two stories, but since you like my other stuff, can you just trust me on the plot twist? Pretty please? A thing I love about Joss are the crazy twists he throws out there. The military guys showing up on a college compus hunting vampires, or Cordy sleeping with Angel’s son (icky ick!) were things I found odd, but they led great places. I’m so not Joss, but try and go with me, okay? I won’t let you down, I promise!
OK, I will now venture to, very carefully, say something of substance about the sequel. First – it will be a while. I said after FJ that I wouldn’t start posting the next one until I was done writing, but then I did it anyway and it was foolish of me. Foolish foolish foolish! I just know vera2529 is shaking a finger at me saying “I told you so!” There are some things that would have done much better if I had let my lovely betas read to the end and advise me before I posted. Shucks.
In my defense, the fun of sharing a tale and getting feedback is the fic-writer’s paycheck, and I needed an advance to help me finish writing this one. Chapters 17-21 were a bear to get sorted out.
Next time, I swear I will not begin until it’s time! Really! So – it’ll be many months. Let’s guess… Novemberish, although this story is pounding the inside of my skull trying to get out, and I’ll get it done sooner if RL lets me. I know the storyline and have outlined or written some of the pivotal scenes (oh, and they are fun!) But there are very tricky character things which must be handled with care, and it’ll take time.
Teasers: the third installment in this series will focus on the crew. I’ll continue to do some messing with Mal (weee!) and look into his relationship with Zoë and their past. Also, you can probably guess that I have my own take on Inara’s troubled history, and of course things between her and Mal aren’t over. Just very… different. And if Mal had some debts to be paid after FJ, Inara is certainly the one in the red now.
Kaylee has her own issue to deal with, and will need help. (I’ll say nothing more.) (No, really, I won’t!) I have plans for Jayne and for Simon, including some backstory for both. But, I’m telling you shippers, my plans don’t all revolve around the lovely Miss Frye. There will be that, of course, but I can’t write these characters as if all they are is half a couple. Um… or a third of a triangle?? Whatever! I need these three to be involved with non-romantic things a good part of the time or I just can’t write them.
River’s newly awakened libido will receive some attention. Wash and Book are always the tough ones as far as getting them deeply involved in the storyline, but since I won’t be OC obsessed, I’ll (hopefully) do a better job of working them in. My plans are forming even now…
As for the crew as a whole: they will return to old turf and find much in the way of action and adventure. I hope. I keep trying to get more lively with the action, and then I get caught up in drama. Angst is just funner for me than fight/battle scenes! But the action is kind of necessary for the next one, so it’s looking likely.
Stopping now. I hope I didn’t say too much already!! I love talking about this, and could go on forever… I’ll probably think of more I wish I'd said.
Thanks again for all the feedback! I’ll be pining away missing it. In the meantime, I can finally catch up on all the other marvelous fic I’ve missed in the past few months, and return the feedback favor!!
One last thing: believe me – there’s nothing I’d like so much as scrapping the day job and getting this next story done, chained to the computer if necessary… Gorram house payments!! :(
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