Q: If you could talk to any author from the past, who would it be? Why? Who would you NOT want to talk to?
A: My answer depends on a couple of things. Do I sound like an intelligent person from their era or are there going to be dialect and accent issues? What about language issues or social issues (i.e., be silent, woman!)? I’d really love to be friends with John Keats, but I’d probably blush all through a first conversation with him and I wouldn’t be all that intelligible. I’d like to talk to Lord Dunsany, too. I bet he was fun; that he’d appreciate storytelling games, and I’m all about those. Can’t think of anybody I wouldn’t want to talk to! Maybe Hemingway. Oh! Wait, I know — I’d hate to have to talk to Jack Kerouac, because the entire time I’d be wanting to beat him up for magnificent jerkitude, and that would get distracting.
Q: And would you use a character to speak to that author, or yourself?
Jess: That depends, again. Is it me pretending to be that character, or is that character alive and in-the-flesh? If we’re talking Option A, definitely not. That would be too strange with somebody I didn’t know very well! But if we’re talking Option B —
Jack Fox: Heh, heh. Don’t worry. I’d keep a sharp, black eye out. Seems like fun. Keats, you say? Did he write about foxes? I think not. No respect! We could teach it to him — poor boy, I’d help him out with his ‘oh, boo hoo, I love her, but I’m dying’ and his ‘oh, I’m the nice poet in these here parts’ piffle. I think we’d get on rather well, John Keats and I —
Jess: — erm. Decision made. I’d just speak to the author as myself. I have some very intelligent, eloquent characters — but they wouldn’t necessarily care to have the sort’ve conversation I’d care to have.
Jack Fox: Boo. We could both —
Jess: Maybe Jack Kerouac.
Jack Fox: World? Take note. Authors are pestiferous, and they want you to give them grief.
Q: If you got to borrow a character [or several], who would you choose?
Jess: There are so many characters I’d just like to hang out with. But borrow? That’s a tough one. I’d like to steal — er, borrow — a few of Alex Dally MacFarlane’s characters. I’d love to be able to reference other author’s characters in a short story of mine, just as if the universe of my book was shared with theirs. I just can’t think of who those would be right now. Honestly, I’d much rather borrow worlds — and I don’t even want to use the word ‘borrow.’ I’d rather say ‘share.’
Jack Fox: Now, now, my little chicken tartlet, let’s not be too hasty. I have a few suggestions —
Jess: Which we’ll not be sharing.
Q: Do your characters talk to you? Do you see the stories as images? Do you ever argue with characters you hadn’t planned?
Jessica: Well —
Jack Fox: Ahem. I’ve got this one. We do. We’re all about rending the veil, etc. I tell her and tell her that as long as she keeps makin’ me look good, I won’t include her in any of my pranks. It’s just not fair to blame me for that time with the bus, even if she did see a fox-tail — any authoress deluded enough to speak to her fictional creations is deluded enough to imagine the flick of a very handsome if-I-do-say-so-myself tail nearby.
Jessica: There is often a lot of argument. With the characters I’ve planned, since they don’t always behave themselves —
Jack Fox: Ooh, a goose.
Jessica: — but also with those who just decide that they need to come into existence. The unplanned characters are usually very insistent, and then all former bets about where the story is going are totally off. I’ve woe-me’d to Amal El-Mohtar quite often about this sort of thing.
Q: What piece of writerly advice do you wish someone had given you?
I’m honestly without wishes here. The advice I would give to anyone who was looking to it, however, is this: Find other artists. They’ve saved me, time and time again; without people who also take joy in making stories I think I’d be a little lost and a lot sad. I find we share things, like advice, and also support. Great things happen when creative people are mixed together and are given a free pass to be as eldritch, distracted, silly and wild as they want. Or not.
Q: What kind of advice do you wish characters listened to? Or offered?
Jess and Jack Fox and Every Other Character She’s Ever Written: HAAAAA. Ha, ha.
Jess: I don’t find characters listen to advice at all. And I know I don’t listen to what I know they’d like. They’d live much happier, easier lives if I did that. I often have pangs of guilt when I’m writing something that I know is really actually quite cruel, but that often seems to just be the way the story wants to go.