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Ask the characters - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Ask the characters
Since I want to get into the next story pretty soon, I'll just do an Ask the Characters for a few days, instead of a whole challenge call thing. Ask any of them anything!
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Comments
vesta_aurelia From: vesta_aurelia Date: December 17th, 2013 12:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Any or OC only?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2013 12:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Anyone you want.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 17th, 2013 01:03 am (UTC) (Link)
For Johanna:

How did you tell Gale you were pregnant?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2013 01:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I said, "I'm pregnant." Seriously, that was about it. It wasn't a big surprise. We hadn't been trying, exactly, but we'd decided to stop trying not to. Then we had a big argument about whether or not to get married (he wants to; I think we're good enough as it is), and then we made up and called the family over for a party.
vesta_aurelia From: vesta_aurelia Date: December 17th, 2013 01:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Madge:

Why and how: your aunt's old pin--Were you expecting to get Reaped
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2013 01:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, we were all taking tesserae, so there was a good chance. And as the mayor's daughter, there was also a pretty good chance of ending up on television anyway. I knew the pin was back in the shop. Mom showed it to me once, on one of her good days, the first year I was in the Reaping. She told me all about how Aunt Maysilee had wanted everyone to work together, and... everything. I didn't take tesserae until this year. I thought they might take notice of it. They didn't. But I wanted that mockingjay back in the Capitol. It was important. So I gave it to Katniss.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 17th, 2013 01:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Haymitch

Haymitch - what did you think when Katniss turned up with the pin?

If this infringes on a story you're planning on eventually writing then - Glenn did you ever have any doubt about Prim being yours?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2013 01:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Haymitch

[Glen]
If I'm going to be totally honest with you... sure. Yeah. What the hell did I have in the world? A beat-down house on the Seam, with no frills? And Danny was miserable in his marriage, and Ruthie had been over checking on him the whole time he was separated from Mir.

I kept saying to everyone else that I was sure, but come on... what did I have that could compare to what Ruth had back in town? So I finally asked her.

If she'd gotten mad, or yelled, or threatened to run off, I probably would have kept wondering. But she just sat down and started crying like I'd broken her heart by wondering, and I knew... I knew. I never needed to ask again.
redlily From: redlily Date: December 17th, 2013 02:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Danny, how did you end up married to Mir? Was it ever good? If so, how and when did it go south?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2013 02:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, most of it was in the story -- she was always the one who was there. And I know it sounds weird, but I always liked that kind of coldness in her. I felt like I needed it to keep me from going off the deep end sometimes.

Then there was just a confusing time. I didn't know what I was doing. I was drinking too much. A lot too much, after my dad died when I was twenty. I hadn't really been seeing Mir very much. I dated a few people, but I wasn't really settling on anyone. I kept watching Ruth get closer to Glen, and I kept thinking about how I'd screwed everything up. And I drank. Then Mir showed up and started pulling me out of the bar. We didn't really, well, talk much. Never did. But I was glad to have her there, telling me that I was overreacting, that I had to look out for myself. You know.

Then she got pregnant, and we got married. Most of the beginning was getting ready for Jonadab. And it was good. Mir came in and started keeping the books for the bakery, like Dad did, and Mom was glad for the help, because she was sick by then. We were like anyone else. Only Mir had given up the drama scholarship in order to have the baby. And she always kind of resented that. And, I guess she always thought she was supposed to have more. That I was supposed to be more. And I never was.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: December 17th, 2013 05:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Mir -- did you ever think about trying to contact your father again, or that perhaps the letter from him wasn't legitimate? And why on earth didn't you take the tea if a scholarship was on the line?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2013 05:20 am (UTC) (Link)
He clearly didn't want me around. I mean, he couldn't have been any more clear, could he? I can't think why even Cray would fake that. What difference would it make to him what I thought? I hadn't caused any trouble. So I have no reason to doubt it. It figures. Someone fooled my mother. She's a romantic idiot.

As to the tea, and the baby... that's hard to answer. I applied for the scholarship, but I hadn't heard anything for a year. I figured they were ignoring it, after everything that those idiots in District Twelve did after Haymitch came back. I figured they'd just never open a file that was attached to Twelve. But they did. I got the letter right around the same time I found out I was pregnant.

There are still ways out of it. I went to the apothecary. There are ways. I was going to take one of them. Only I couldn't. It's insane, but I couldn't. And when I told Danny, he looked at me like I mattered to him. I wanted to keep mattering.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: December 17th, 2013 08:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Feel free to pick and choose among these, if you don't have time for them all (I really didn't mean to have so many!) or they infringe on a story you're planning

Gia: What was it about these games/your tributes, as opposed to all the others, that made you say yes when the rebels brought you in?

Caesar: Tell me a bit about your wife, if you're amenable. Who was she, and how much of your history did you feel comfortable sharing with her?

Maysilee: Did you ever regret allying with Haymitch, especially considering you had romantic feelings you knew wouldn't get reciprocated, and that must've gotten...awkward the closer you two got?

Effy: What was the best present Haymitch ever gave you?

And Haymitch: What in the world did you send to the bright tribute who misinterpreted your parachute to make him think you wanted him to attack the careers?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2013 08:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
[Gia]
There were a lot of things happening that year. I'd been re-assigned to Twelve because I made the mistake of getting too close to my victor in Seven, and judging from the way he avoided me at the Games, I suspect they found ways to punish him as well. The last year I worked for Seven, it was his nephew we lost, and we'd done a lot of workarounds to try and stop that from happening -- he actually stood a chance, until the Gamemakers took more direct action. So I was already angry. Then there was Maysilee Donner, calling me out on exactly what I was doing for a living, and trying everything to get her message out, only to end up dying horribly on that hill. And poor little Gilla... she never had a chance. And Beech. Poor, none-too-bright boy who was just trying to play by the rules. But mostly it was Haymitch, and the way he was just... ignoring the whole set up. He never had a moment's doubt who he was fighting with. He didn't even bother to work up a feud with a single other tribute. And that somehow made it come home to me: I was working for the enemy.

[Caesar]
Minnie was a peach. She knew who I was -- we met when I was still Charlie. She worked backstage on Candria's set, and when I first started appearing in things other than the Games interviews (helping Candria host holiday programs and so on, mostly), she was the one who walked me through all of my marks. She wasn't fond of my idea of "disappearing," but then, if we were going to get married, I needed Capitol citizenship, or she'd need to go to Five with me... a place I did not intend to go. So she played along. We were together for twenty years. Then she started wasting away. She passed during the fifty-third Games, and I wasn't allowed off stage to sit by her bedside. A production assistant had to tell me when she'd gone.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 18th, 2013 02:54 am (UTC) (Link)
[Maysilee]
Regret it? Not much time to regret it. And, no matter how awkward it got, it was still a person to be with. Someone I cared about, who cared about me. In his own way, granted, which is not necessarily a way other people ought to aspire to, but he did. Anything -- anything -- is better than being alone in the arena, knowing you're going to die and not having anyone to share that fear with. I don't regret the alliance at all.

[Effie]
Hmmm. We're not really present people, in any recognizable sense. Haymitch says I'm almost impossible to buy presents for, because when I want something, I just buy it myself. I suppose I could say our daughter, who's a gift we gave each other, but...

Oh, well, there is something. He did write me a little book of poems. It's, well, not something to be shared with other people. But I love it. I don't really understand some of it, but I love it.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: December 18th, 2013 05:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks so much for answering all these!

Gia's I need to remember for the next challenge call; I'd love to see her and Blight working to try and save his nephew.

And Snow, you are so damn lucky Caesar didn't become a rebel, if you did what I think you did to his wife. Though, while he had her, Minnie sounds like she was wonderful!

I forget, sometimes, how very perceptive Maysilee was.

And I love Effy's; I'm so very glad he was finally writing again, even if it wasn't for public consumption.:)
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 17th, 2013 12:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Seeder

Chaff told us something about your past history, and you have my deep condolences on the loss of your husband. I wonder how you've managed to remain such a warm, upbeat, caring person in the face of such unspeakable tragedy; it would have had a different effect on other people.

All the best,

Sara Libby

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 18th, 2013 02:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Seeder

I promise, I've got plenty of venom pent up, but I save it all for Snow. Unlike him, I'm not going to start spewing my anger at people who don't deserve it. And nothing would please him more than to see me turn into something like him -- soulless and evil. Nothing would please him more than seeing that happen to all of us. It would prove to him that he's right about humanity, that we're nothing but murderers who need to be controlled. He turned me into a murderer in the arena, but I refuse to remain one. If I feel angry, I make myself reach out and do a kindness for someone. If I feel violent, I make myself do something gentle. If the world looks ugly, I find a way to bring beauty into it. I will not let him control me.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 17th, 2013 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Kay: We hear from Katniss that your daughter, Madge, brings your morphling to Gale to help with the pain from his whipping. She says you said she could have it - what's the story here? Thank you!


- Dina
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 18th, 2013 03:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Luckily, Madge caught me when I'd just taken a dose, and my pain was a low ebb. I could do what was right. If she'd caught me when it was wearing off, I might have forcibly taken it from her. It's been like that for years. I wish the Capitol had kept its "apology" to itself and let Ruth treat my nerve damage our way, but I took their medicine. And now...

Well, let's say, I know how they keep the District Six victors under control. But I won't be sending any more, not just because I can't stand it. I don't want Gale to end up controlled like I am.

I suppose it's better that I am. That the Capitol thinks I'm a tamed little pet to laugh at, just like Haymitch. It leaves Merle free to play his little games with the power to the fence, so people can get out and hunt, or to get the Capitol liaisons off the school staff, or to get Cray to turn a blind eye to the Hob... though now that Cray's gone, I don't know how we'll work with the new one.

But it's not the way young people should fight. It's not the way we need to fight. So that's the last morphling I'll be sending to Gale. I hope it's enough to get him through the worst of it.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 18th, 2013 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes. I have the basket of cards that Caesar brought me. I retrieved it from my cell. Some packs are still bloody.

I build a card house every year on the day he died. And I thank him.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 17th, 2013 09:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Caesar:

I know the Games never really end. But do you ever get a chance to talk about issues of your own (likely self-censored) choosing, issues that may not involve the games at all?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 18th, 2013 03:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, there are very few political topics that anyone is free to talk about, so if you have politics in mind, I'm afraid I don't. And I can't do anything for the districts, because that's always political.

But as long as I stay on Corialanus's good side -- or at least don't deliberately anger him -- I'm free enough to say and do things that are important to me. I've been arguing for years to get a more thorough education for everyone in the Capitol schools. As it is, children as young as twelve are put into empty-headed programs to teach them skills like make-up and fashion, while neglecting history and science. And it's well-known that the kids who do go into the higher level programs are all loyalists that he's specifically grooming for government. Would it really be a threat to him somehow if Effie Trinket had learned about Huck Finn? Well... probably, if we're being honest. The last thing he needs them reading about is someone willing to flout the social order, even though he believes it will send him to hell, in order to help a friend. But you know what I mean. Instead, this woman, who has a decent brain somewhere under the perfume cloud, spent her formative years learning nothing but how to match colors and follow fashion magazines.
jedi_chick From: jedi_chick Date: December 18th, 2013 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Peeta, do you have any favorite treats you bake only during the winter? Any chance you can share the recipe?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 18th, 2013 09:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, no, sharing recipes is strictly against Dad's rules. I can tell Pearl and Charlie, but even Katniss is out of the loop.

That said, there's a cinnamon infused wreath cake that I bake in the winter -- really, a very sweet bread, but the kids call it a cake -- and it kind of tells us that winter is here, and it's not so bad. It was my great-grandmother's recipe.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 19th, 2013 07:04 am (UTC) (Link)

If you're still answering

Caesar, in all your years of hosting the Games, is there any one tribute (victor or not) who really stuck out in your mind for some reason?

Also, did you ever see or hear from your older brother again?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 19th, 2013 07:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: If you're still answering

I assume you mean other than Peeta.

I kept an eye on tributes from my own District Five, of course, and I did rather like Finch. The girl had a good head on her shoulders, but I knew they'd never let her win the Games the way she was playing. There were a few times I wondered if Beetee knew my little secret -- I was still pretty new at it when he became a victor. I know for a fact that Lyme knew. She was the victor the exact year that I changed my name, and she wasn't fooled for a minute. She even told me once that she recognized my "tactics" on stage.

As to your second question, I did see my brother again, but, unlike Lyme, he didn't recognize me. I went to his retirement ceremony in the Capitol. I hoped he'd say, "Charlie! I've been wondering where you disappeared to!" Instead, he said, "It's an honor to meet you, Mr. Flickerman." I was... disappointed. To put it mildly. He retired to District One, and last I knew, he was a successful furrier.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 19th, 2013 06:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Annie

I'm in awe at the way you amanged to hold onto your sanity and self after Finnick's horrific death, just after you had truly started being happy together. How did you do it? Were you ever angry with Katniss for dragging him on a crazy mission that was doomed to fail?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 19th, 2013 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Annie

I don't imagine that Finnick was "dragged" anywhere. We all knew the plan was to kill Snow. So no, I wasn't angry about that. Finnick died on his own terms, not owned by anyone. Of course, I'd have rather he lived on his own terms. But it was war.

As to holding it together? I had to. I had a baby coming, and if I went off the rails again, who would take care of him? I had help. I made sure I kept my appointments and took my medication. But mostly, I just built a stable place for myself and Finny. I helped people who were in the same kind of horrible situation Finnick had been in, and watching them get free and fly was like seeing him be able to do it over and over.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 20th, 2013 03:55 am (UTC) (Link)
As always, thanks so much for the wonderful story, Fern! The consistency and quality of your work over so many years is a small miracle.

We saw what the aftermath of the mine explosion looked like for the Everdeens, but Katniss didn't get to know Gale until a bit later. Hazelle, what was that time like for your family?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 22nd, 2013 06:17 am (UTC) (Link)
It was about what you'd expect. I was about ready to pop with Posy at the time, and I didn't know what we were going to do. I had a pretty good bunch of friends from the mines, though, and my parents and Clay's were still about then to help. And heaven help me, I leaned hard on my thirteen-year-old little boy to keep us eating. I'm not proud of it, but that's the way it was. Gale wanted to do something for the family, and I needed things done.

Poor Ruth -- she only had two children, but she was all alone, and had lost the one person she gave up everything she had for. I guess I was luckier, though it's hard to lose a husband and feel lucky about anything.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 22nd, 2013 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sigh. I'm glad you guys got through it.

Thanks for the answer-fic!
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 22nd, 2013 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)
This isn't an 'ask the character', but I was just looking at how many HG fics you've got. How long, on average, would you say it's taken you to write your novel-length stories? Because your output is very impressive.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 22nd, 2013 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Three months, give or take. The first couple might have been two months, since I was working straight from the books.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 22nd, 2013 08:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, yes, that's very impressive. Any plans to write an original novel any time soon?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 22nd, 2013 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Always plans. They never seem to come to fruition, though -- every time I have an idea, six books on the same theme show up at the library. It's discouraging. :p I've been looking back through some of my old fics to see what themes are working, and what might be a good jump off point into original (I don't want to just do a scrub-off-the-serial-numbers thing), but I'm afraid I've gotten a little addicted to instant feedback...
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 23rd, 2013 12:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Original novel

Can I put in a request for something happy with a *little* angst. You are way too good at characterisation and emotive manipulation to be able to get away with a hyper-violent story. Frankly, reading your hunger games stuff keeps me awake all night. And the next night. And the one after that. So I'd never want to read something that violent without it being poorly written enough for me to put it the hell down. Or in the freezer. Conversely, you could go for an all out creepy horror suspense/action, but please tag it so I don't START reading it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 23rd, 2013 12:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Perhaps you could put out a call for first-draft-readers, and then post in a locked forum as you go? I know there would be plenty of us eager to enjoy and provide feedback as you work your way through.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 23rd, 2013 03:23 am (UTC) (Link)
True that.

Personally, Fern, my favorite thing about your stories is your character development and interaction, and how you manage to write even canonically vile characters as sympathetic when you want to. (Like Peter Pettigrew.) Your banter between friends is great. You can do the angsty romance thing, but in a way that's real and not all instalove like a lot of YA stories. (I'm thinking Remus/Tonks there.)

In my opinion, believable, likeable characters are your strongest suit. You do well with plot development too. I'd love to see something character-focused, but with a fantasy-like plot. I read your QL novel, and it had good character stuff, but it could have used more sci-fi-ness and action, which you have more of in your fanfic. Maybe stick to something in a world that's mostly modern, to make world-building easier. I would think that world-building is one of the things that a fanfic writer gets the least amount of practice at, so making a world that's mostly like our own might be easiest.
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