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Buffy/Spike

DUST Q&A

Posted on 2012.04.08 at 02:21
Current Mood: determined
Tags: , , , , ,
So, trying to get my brain back into writing DUST, and something I just posted on another site made me think that this might possibly be helpful...

I love getting reviews. Please don't think I don't, but what I really love is discussing ideas and thoughts behind things and "why did you do this instead of that" or whatever. It really gets my brain juices pumping and makes me start thinking.

SO... to that end, I'm opening the floor for questions pertaining to my fic "DUST" (or even to "West of the Moon" if people would like to talk about that, too. It's all applicable). Or even questions about fandom, my thoughts on Buffy/Spike, favorite episodes, moments, whatever. If you ask, I promise to answer.

**Please note that I won't give away spoilers or plot for the rest of DUST. Sorry.

Comments:


jacquieburbank
jacquieburbank at 2012-04-08 08:06 (UTC) (Link)
Question: Do you have a rough idea of how "Dust" is going to progress/how you are going to end it, or are you kind of waiting and seeing where your muse takes you?

Same question about the writing process for "West of the Moon".
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-08 15:31 (UTC) (Link)
I do have a rough outline for the rest of "DUST." My original idea for the story was kind of loose, initially. When I first started writing it I had a general idea of what was going on and where I wanted it to go, and then it grew in ways I hadn't imagined. I'm still sticking to the basic framework of that idea, but letting the characters explore the situation as fully as they need to. That's kind of the beauty of the spell: it will hold until it is broken, and until then they can do all kinds of neat things and get themselves into all sorts of trouble. :) But I have sketched out an outline of the rest of the story.

"West of the Moon" was much more tightly plotted. Obviously I was working with the fairy tale as my framework, and I also had to contend with the events of Season 5 that were not Glory related. I had a very specific timeline of what happened when and what needed to happen in between canon events that had to occur. That changed a little bit in Part III where I wasn't stuck to an established time line any longer, but I had a very specific idea of how the last part was going to play out, with the four winds, the escape, the return, and then the final build up to battle.
Rebcake
rebcake at 2012-04-08 08:08 (UTC) (Link)
Oh! I want to play. I'm not sure I have anything of significance to ask, though. I'm with you in enjoying talking about the ideas behind the story. I'm just...things are pretty satisfying as they are in the story so far.

I'm curious about how Spike actually worked his way into Sunnyhell. I'm interested to know what triggered Buffy's awakening. I'm curious why Spike didn't go back and hang in Oz' room, listening to records for a change of pace. I'm curious about the bugs being asleep. I am just curious to see where it will go, I guess.
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-08 15:41 (UTC) (Link)
:) All things I wish I could talk about without giving stuff away!

Spike working his way into Sunnydale: Someone in a review actually has guessed this, but I won't say who or on what site. Just that they kind of nailed it and how it worked.

Buffy's awakening: :)

Why Spike doesn't go hang in Oz's room: He may actually have done that during Buffy's post-Xmas hibernation period. It just wasn't that important of a scene to show. Since then he's been pretty occupied with keeping a depressed Slayer moving and then shagging her into the concrete. I'm a big believer in writing scenes that are only really important to the development of the story/plot (I don't usually just throw stuff in there because it's fun.) That would have been a just for fun scene, I think. I actually have a scene that I cut from the chapter where Buffy ditches Spike in the high school that turned out to be more of a "for fun" scene, and it interrupted the flow of what I was trying to build. Eventually I may post it and a couple of other cut bits so people can get to read them. I really liked that scene: Spike, bored, stuck in the high school, goes looking for the principal's office and finds Buffy's school records ;)

The bugs are asleep because it wouldn't have made sense to put everything else asleep but leave them out. For one thing, if the birds were asleep, then the bugs would breed and breed and you'd end up with a plague of mosquitoes and cockroaches and stuff in Sunnydale. Which is kind of ick. And if the birds were awake, some of the carrion eaters (they live on the edge of a desert, so I assume there are vultures) might have started eating sleeping people. Easier to just put everything to sleep. :)
Elena
moscow_watcher at 2012-04-08 20:55 (UTC) (Link)
I always suspected that bugs were asleep because of the plot necessities. What would Buffy eat otherwise?
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-09 00:48 (UTC) (Link)
That was a major consideration, from a writing standpoint. It definitely helped me solve the food problem.
singedbylife
singedbylife at 2012-04-08 10:14 (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, lovely idea.

I have been reading another talented writer's dark fic lately (whichclothes) so I will just do a reread of Dust (and West of the Moon which was such a joy to read) and see if I can come up with anything intelligent. Am not a writer, though, so my mind doesn't work very originally. Anyway, will get back to you asap.
kerry_220 at 2012-04-08 13:32 (UTC) (Link)
Here"s an old warhorse for ya. General question...why soulless Spike? Big divide in the fandom.
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-08 15:59 (UTC) (Link)
Why do I write soulless Spike? Because in some ways he's a more interesting character to write. There's major conflict there--he's evil, can Buffy love him? Can he learn to be good? Does he need a soul?

Take a step down from the big stuff though and even every day questions bring conflict. Getting breakfast, for Spike, brings conflict: to bite or not to bite? I love conflict. I think the best stories are the ones where characters struggle against both outside forces and themselves, and Soulless Spike has a LOT to struggle against.

It's fun to write a character that's evil, too. It's a nice way to contrast Buffy who is, basically, a good person. That's not to say that they both don't have their shades of gray. "DUST" really became a way for me to find all those gray areas between them. But Evil!Spike is a hoot. He's such fun to write because you CAN write him dark. He SHOULD be dark. It makes his journey toward the light so much more poignant and important if he comes from the darkest place imaginable. He's a vampire who wasn't forced into the light, he clawed his way there with his fingernails, kicking and screaming the whole time against himself, his own nature, and the situation that made him turn that direction. He fought his way into the light and then when he finally got there, when he suffered his way through the soul and the First's torture, and came out on the other side, he was able to stand there firmly and say "this is who I am, who I CHOOSE to be, take it or leave it." and give a two fingered salute to any who insisted otherwise.

I LOVE that about him. And I like to write stories that explore Spike at that turning point from dark to light. How I chose to resolve that journey sometimes changes: in "West" I took the "Buffy becomes his soul" route, because of the way I'd initially set him up as still having some metaphorical humanity clinging to him. It was playing a bit with canon, but it worked for that story.

In "DUST" I decided he was, simply, a vampire. There's no magical clinging humanity, or shreds of soul, or prophecies that make him anything but Spike. The only thing that is special about Spike is who he is and what we all know he's capable of becoming.

Something else that I don't think most people have noticed, but which I decided I needed to be careful about... in "West" Spike's humanity and his "demon" were in essence separate entities that shared a physical form, and which waged a constant struggle with each other. I've seen that done in fan fic a lot, and I thought it was an interesting concept, so I tried to explore it in "West".

In "DUST" I went the opposite route. At no point in canon that I could find does Spike or any other vampire refer to their "demon" as anything separate from themselves or their soul (should they have one)--(caveat: I haven't watched most of Angel and if Angel has ever made such a claim I will chalk it up to him loving to blame everything but himself). But as far as I was concerned with Spike, he is a single creature that is capable of great evil because he is soulless, is a demon, has spent over a century in bloodshed. BUT that demon was born of William, who was underneath a good man. That's the conflict. I'm very, very careful never to refer to Spike's demon as separate from himself.

How's "DUST" going to end when Spike is clearly soulless? I can't say yet. :) However, part of his character arc is always going to be that journey to the light and how he manages to come to live in it.
[Đ.α.ŕ.ĸ...ġ.ø.đ.đ.ē.ŝ.ŝ...Ð.ε.׀]
goddessdel at 2012-04-15 08:28 (UTC) (Link)
I don't have any great questions to ask that haven't been asked already or are simply requests for spoilers...

But, I will say that I've definitely noticed the difference with the Spike human/demon conundrum that you mentioned here. Since so many writers play with both sides of that (are the human and demon separate entities, did the demon erase the human, is Spike the demon that came from the human), I pretty much figured that you'd purposefully played this Spike more cohesive.

It seemed more important for West of the Moon to have Spike's humanity and demon to be more separate, so I figured that was why you ran that way.

For me, the most important part is that Spike is still recognizable as the character we know and love, whether his battle between good and evil is a tidge bit schizophrenic or not... And, while I loved West of the Moon beyond all measure... I think DUST is my favorite so far. I do so enjoy soulless, chipless Spike as a demon. But then that's probably because I never thought his demon status precluded humanity, and I never put much creed into souls overall.

This was long and rambling. Sorry. What I get for posting late at night. Bottom line: I love this story, I follow it religiously, and I like both your split-decision and cohesive Spikes. The differences are noticeable, perfectly in character and pulled off brilliantly.
suprememugwump1
suprememugwump1 at 2012-04-17 23:03 (UTC) (Link)
Coming out of lurkerdom a bit, here, but I love both your fics beyond measure. And I think it is a really interesting idea that the vamping process basically set all Spike's basic instincts free, but I think that comes very close to a "Lord of the Flies" style argument where all humans are basically evil, and only kept in line by some kind of inhibition. Because otherwise, wouldn't there be at least a few fledges who woke up without the bloodlust? I'm really curious how you might handle the old "Buffy gets turned" trope, if you think that demonic traits are completely a product of human traits, because so much of Buffy's personality is bound up in fighting the good fight.

"At no point in canon that I could find does Spike or any other vampire refer to their "demon" as anything separate from themselves or their soul (should they have one)--(caveat: I haven't watched most of Angel and if Angel has ever made such a claim I will chalk it up to him loving to blame everything but himself)."

There is an attempt to take this idea on in the three-part finale of S2 AtS. They travel to an alternate dimension where shifting into vamp face means that the demon is fully visible, rather than just reflected in a few forehead bumpies. It's a weird plot point, mostly because the special effects on "fully demonic Angel" are not that convincing. But it does make it clear that Joss sees the demon as a separate entity, something Angel struggles against. Actually, I think one of the main jobs any fanfic writer has to do is to explain the way the "soulless demon" rules are different for Angelus/Angel as opposed to Spike. It's a frustrating plot hole that Joss never properly explored, and the two different takes you've done - Spike was sired differently in "West," or Angel just uses the demon thing as an excuse in "DUST," both make a lot of sense.
ginar369
ginar369 at 2012-04-17 23:29 (UTC) (Link)
I think it's more of Angel trying to hide behind the soul. We saw brief flashes of what he was like as a human and I think most of us can admit that he was no prince. He was a drunkard, whoring waste of a human body. Turning him just let out even more of his baser instincts with even less repercussions than when he was human. He never lost his human personality or human traits he just took them even farther. The gypsy's wanted him to suffer when they cursed him. I think they added the guilt, because Liam never felt an ounce of guilt. That is why Angel refers to Angelus as a separate person. Angel feels guilt, for his actions as a human and as a vamp but only because of the curse. Jenny Calendar said it, her people needed him to suffer for eternity for his crimes against her clan. They caused the guilt. (Which makes me wonder if it was actually his original human soul they cursed him with?) He can't handle it so he lays the blame on his soulless state.

Spike on the other hand was a sweet shy retiring human. When he was turned he found a physical strength he never had that was why he reveled in his new state. He got back at the people who had taunted him and hurt him either physically or emotionally. He did retain his human personality and his human traits. He loved Dru and as sick as she was (mentally) he stayed with her and cared for her just like his mother when he was human. Even trying to turn his mother to heal her was a very human thing to do. He loved her and hated to see her suffer and die. He wanted to cure her.

Buffy went down almost the same path when Joyce was sick. She was convinced magic was responsible or at least could cure her. She would have kept trying if the others hadn't stopped her.

You do anything for someone you love. Liam and Angelus loved no one but themselves.

Plus the weight they put on souls on the show was tremendous! A soul doesn't tell you right from wrong otherwise children would be born knowing the difference, it would make parenting easier that's for sure! But it isn't the truth. A soul in my opinion is you. Just you, your thoughts, feelings, experiences. That is what goes to heaven or hell (or wherever your beliefs say you go). But according to the show a soul gives you this knowledge and righteousness and without it you are evil. So how would they explain Hilter, Pol Pot, Jeffrey Dalmer? Soulled humans committing some of the worst evils humanity has ever seen.
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-17 23:38 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for delurking. :)

I think, in "DUST" anyway, it's not quite "Lord of the Flies." I think that who the person was does inform what they become. And maybe (and I'm just trying explaining this thought out right now, to see how it sits with me) what we think of as a soul isn't necessarily a moral compass. I think Spike demonstrates several times throughout the show that he's capable of choosing good. He's just not very good at it, mostly because he sees little point (in the beginning), and I think it's hard for him to grasp human morality.

Maybe what we think of as a soul, in the DUST-verse, anyway, is fear. Fear of being ostracized, of punishment, of embarrassment, of injury, of being disliked... these are all things that keep us, on a daily basis, from doing whatever we want. Remove that fear, though, make someone immortal and powerful and no longer subjected to the same kinds of rules and fear that we experience daily, and what won't they do?

Compound that with the need for blood ... Maybe fledges are in that first headrush of power. They've just sprung from their grave, figured out that they're stronger and faster and all of their senses are sharper -- designed to hunt prey. But there's no fear anymore.

Until they figure out what a Slayer is, and does, anyway. Until they find a vampire or demon that's bigger and stronger... and THEN they toe the line.

Or until they find a reason to fear again.

Just a thought, since fear is one of the major themes in DUST, and I've been poking around at this with Spike for some time.

I think what sets Spike apart, in DUST, is that he remembers being a good man. Vaguely, true. It was a very long time ago for him. And he's capable of deep and self-less love... something not even most humans are capable of. That's what sets him apart, what makes him different from Angel, and ultimately, what I think drives him toward some form of redemption.

drknit
drknit at 2012-04-08 19:06 (UTC) (Link)
I'm loving "Dust." I love that there are so many things we don't know the answers to yet. The pace is fantastic. Really looking forward to how things develop and eventually end.

I suppose a question I have would be what kinds of research, if any, have you done (or are doing) for the story? I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that you may have read some of the show's transcripts or re-watched certain scenes to help with characterization (which seems flawless, btw). So I just wonder if there are other kinds of background work you've done for the story that might not be obvious to the reader. Same for "West of the Moon," actually. Any hidden labor that would be interesting for us to learn about?
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-09 01:01 (UTC) (Link)
I love research. The former librarian in me gets all geeky about it.

When I started writing DUST I did a lot of research on people who are trapped in small locations for extended periods of time. Astronauts stuck on space stations, for instance, or people working in science labs in the antarctic. There was also some research into random things, like hospital structures, punk bands through the decades, and behavior modification (for reasons which will eventually become clear). I did some extensive rewatching of certain episodes to get the details of various locations and things they talk about correct: The Espresso Pump, the house from "Helpless", the Master's lair, etc.

I did probably triple that amount of research when writing "West"--everything from rewatching episodes to the details of Victorian England, to the way New York city subways would have smelled on the night of the Blackout of '77, to the effects of hypothermia and various methods of avoiding it.

I love details and atmospherics. I love trying to make a place or time tangible.

One of the more fun things I researched for DUST was the footage of the 2000 Times Square New Years Eve ball drop. If you watch it, it's frame for frame what Buffy and Spike see.
drknit
drknit at 2012-04-09 11:04 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much for your reply (and for all the work and writing you do)! I find all of this background work incredibly interesting -- and it definitely pays off. Now I want to dig up that NYE footage!
Elena
moscow_watcher at 2012-04-08 21:01 (UTC) (Link)
I always meant to ask: did you have a single overall conceptual idea behind "Dust"? Like, a seasonal rewrite? An accelerated Spuffy journey - several weeks instead of several seasons? A clash of fairy tale set-up and realistic character development? Or all these ideas combined?

Or it was something else?
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-09 01:14 (UTC) (Link)
I think it was a bit of all of that, though I think the overall guiding principle was this: when I wrote "West" it was always meant to be a fairy tale. But as I wrote it, I grew a little ... Dissatisfied, I suppose, with that aspect of it. I felt like one of the beautiful things about the Buffy/Spike relationship is how Real it is. It is messy and complicated and the opposite of predestined and fairy tale soulmate crap.

When I started writing DUST ( which was partway into the time when I was writing "West", incidentally) it was initially so I could take a break form the first person mode (I don't typically write first person POV and it was somewhat limiting in terms of what I could do storytelling wise) and partially so I could write something messy and real and complicated.

DUST is my anti-fairy tale. It has all the trappings of one (Sleeping Beauty creeps me out), but then I turned it on its head and tried to work though the reality of that kind of situation. The frustration, the despair, the resentment, and conflict and depression... All things we saw on the show but explored with out diluting them with other characters or subplot.

One other guiding principle behind DUST: location is often tied to emotion and/or character arc. when Buffy is lost, she goes to Giles and Willow. Loneliness sends her to Xander. The depths of her depression take her to the worst places in Sunnydale: the Hellmouth, the Master's lair (over the Hellmouth). I have always felt that the third character in DUST, is the town itself.
Elena
moscow_watcher at 2012-04-09 09:30 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for your detailed reply. I hope your muse will be kind to you and us, your audience. I think I know what caused the town fall asleep - but I'm looking forward to finding out if I'm right. :)
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-10 00:01 (UTC) (Link)
Someone in a comment a little further down may have wiggled a hint out of me... maybe.

Or maybe I'm just messing with people's heads. :D

In any case, there's going to be some fairly big hints in one of the next few chapters. Maybe not the next one, but the one after that.
coquinespike
coquinespike at 2012-04-08 22:46 (UTC) (Link)
Why is DUST called DUST? And why is it in caps? I've noticed several mentions of the actual physical dust that coats everything in the story, and I've wondered more than once if there's more to it than that, but then I also think I'm probably overanalyzing. Unless you can't answer due to spoilers, in which case I'm probably not ;-)
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-09 01:23 (UTC) (Link)
I knew the title before I even knew what the story was about. The all caps thing is mostly just aesthetics, like how LOST the television show was usually all caps. Though I didn't start watching that show until recently and the similarities in the title amuse me.

Part of the title idea came from the idea that with everything asleep and still, dust just naturally settles on things. Then there is vampire dust.

Eventually it became symbolic, more than anything else. For me, dust represents fear, and whenever I'm writing a scene where one or both characters are afraid of something, you'll see the word crop up. It is Buffy's fear of the spell never breaking, of time marching on without her. It is Spike's fear of being ended before he's done, of dancing too close to the sun.

Does it have any other meaning beyond that, in the plot sense? ... I'd say wait and see.
norwie2010
norwie2010 at 2012-04-09 01:05 (UTC) (Link)
I get that, wanting to discuss ideas and thoughts behind a fic - but i just can't stop drooling at the prospect of more DUST. ;-)

When you do another installment, i promise to come out of my lethargy and actually put my thoughts into words and onto your site.

As it is, i'm oddly curious about the spell which put this all into motion and, of course, and much more so, the journey(s) your heroes are on. (I mention this because while "plot" interests me, it is not one of my main concerns: That's why i can live happily with all the plot holes in Whedon's BtVS: As long as there is enough stuff to resonate i'm fine. Of course, it helps that i read a lot of "western" myths, Greek sagas, Elisabethan drama, German fairy tales that a lot of stuff resonates one way or the other regardless. :-))
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-10 00:00 (UTC) (Link)
Your question about the spell and singedbylife's question, after yours, were fairly similar. I ended up answering to the other comment, but to you I want to say thank you for continuing to read and support.

And this story actually has such an odd plot that sometimes it's hard for me to figure out where it'll end up next. Sometimes I feel like I'm playing the Sims and I've trapped two characters in a house and taken away the doors and I'm just waiting to see what they'll do next. :)
singedbylife
singedbylife at 2012-04-09 13:39 (UTC) (Link)
For me in order to fully enjoy a story I need the characters to be canon - sure they go off canon during the fic - but it just won't do if they do it too soon.

In DUST the characters most certainly stick to canon in a believable way and they ring absolutely true whick is a joy to read! In fact they are so true to the series' characters that - as I have stated in a review - I fail to see how Buffy will ever let herself become emotionally and romantically envolved with Spike besides the sex. I look forward to reading how you make her take that turn. Spike is getting there of course but we knew he would. He is Spike after all!

The plot is excellent and I wonder who or what is behind the spell and whether any actual time has gone by when the spell is finally broken or whether they have been in an alternate reality all the time.

I am quite intrigued about Tara being some kind of spiritual guide - and hope we will get more of that. I don't think Buffy will be able to change her ways without guidance.
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-09 23:55 (UTC) (Link)
I am really glad you think the characters are true to canon. I'm a big believer in trying to stick as close to canon as possible. I hate reading stories where Buffy just .. isn't Buffy. It's funny but I think for most people she's much harder to write than Spike, which, considering the majority of fan fic authors are women either means that Spike is much closer to us, mentally, and it's easier for us to get into his head, or we just would prefer to be there. :) But I struggle with Buffy, and trying to keep her true to herself without pushing her to be either too bitchy, or too wibbly and falling in love with Spike.

This story is so much about THEM, about exploring them as characters and fleshing them out into real people... I don't want to short change either of them, and I really don't want to short change their relationship. As I stated to someone else's question above, I LOVE how messy and complicated and full of emotion their relationship is. I love that in canon they had to jump through flaming hoops and crawl through the pain and the mud and the mess of real life to even get to a place where they COULD be together. I knew I was going to be playing with the canon storyline, but I wanted to give them that, at least.

As to the rest of your comment, I can't really talk about what's behind the spell, although I will say there's some fairly big hints coming up in a few more chapters. Things will either start to make more, or less, sense soon.

And as for Tara... I adore Tara. I was sad initially that she wasn't even a character in the show when I chose to set this story, but because of the spell I've been able to work her in in a few ways. Actually... there may be a clue in that, too. ;)
Amie
wickedgillie at 2012-04-09 18:09 (UTC) (Link)
A lot of what I wanted to ask has already been asked (and answered to my satisfaction). Now, I don't expect an answer to this, but I've often wondered: is anyone else in town awake?
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-09 23:47 (UTC) (Link)
To the best of my knowledge, at this current time, the answer is no. No one else is awake.

:D
spicy_vanilla91
spicy_vanilla91 at 2012-04-10 00:42 (UTC) (Link)

Questions, questions, questions :)

First of all, I'd like to apologize for being such a poor reviewer. I am a huge fan of your writing (I have read and reread all your Buffy Fanfiction and it is by far my favourite in existence out there), so clearly my liking your writing isn't the issue in me not reviewing more often. Actually, I have a lame reason for that, being that I mostly read fanfiction on my iPhone and typing out lengthy comments on a 2x3 inch screen is a total pain in the bum. Secondly, I'd like to apologize for any mistakes (gramatical or other) in my comment. French is my first language and though I consider myself to be a fluent English speaker and almost perfectly bilingual, I do calc a lot of my written structure on French syntax (often without me noticing it). Thirdly, I'd like to apologize if my questions repeat what others might have asked before, I simply haven't had a chance to read all the comments.


So here goes the actual questions, comments, etc. now that the ''warning'' part - of what could very well become an essay since it's so lengthy already - is done with.

First of all, I was wondering what precisely seems to be a struggle for you in writing the next parts of DUST. It is my favourite Buffy Fanfiction of yours (though I have a huge literary crush on West of the Moon, which I actually reread entirely this weekend because I was suffering a severe case of Buffy fanfiction withdrawal!!). I love how well you have crafted the characters in such a way that everything you make them go through is believable. I also love that you don't rush things as so many authors tend to do (and I do include myself in this, I have learnt your lesson about making characters suffer! It is very true and that much more entertaining when you don't get the goods to fast and it does allow the characters to stand on their own two literary legs instead of being simple copies of the original characters). So my question would be what exactly are you struggling with in the process of continuing DUST? From what I understood, you have a good idea of what you want the story to be like and how you want to end it so I was wondering if you were debatting options on whether Spike and Buffy should undergo X or Y events and situations. In any case, whichever your decisions will be regarding the story, I am sure I will very much enjoy reading it as the start of it is fantastic.

I was also wondering why you chose that specific time period to set DUST as opposed to the latter-installed West of the Moon. I believe I understand perhaps better your choice in West of the Moon - to me at least it seems clear that you wanted Spike and Buffy to be emotionally closer in West of the Moon so that their love would be born from trust, knowledge of the other, etc. DUST however is set basically a season earlier when Buffy still wants to kick Spike's ass out in the sun. I was wondering whether you chose the moment right after Harsh Light of Day for a specific reason (narratively speaking, I mean) or if it was just because you wanted to set up that Buffy hates and does not trust Spike at all. Is it because you want the feelings to develop in a different context than the one you proposed in West of the Moon? Or does it have to do with the spell itself and the future storyline?

I also wondered what that clue you dropped in Chapter 21 was. I keep wondering if perhaps they aren't in a different dimension or something of the sort as being the only two live beings alive in a town might very well be their own personal hell - though each for different reasons! I am guessing that there is a reason Spike was the only one to be able to wake her and the only being with a strong enough will to actually find Sunnydale with the spell hiding it (is it another kind of Don't Look Spell?). I am also guessing that perhaps only Buffy coming to terms with her feelings for Spike might lift the spell or at least show them the right way to lift said spell.

More to come. The limit won't allow me more than this haha!
spicy_vanilla91
spicy_vanilla91 at 2012-04-10 00:43 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Questions, questions, questions :)

I find this story to be overall much darker than West of the Moon even though there haven't been any major character deaths so far. I was curious as to whom could have cast such a spell. My guess would be the PTBs would have something to do with it since the spell isn't entirely evil or good and that is basically the purpose and label of the PTBs. Will we soon get clues as to why, when, where, what regarding the spell? Is it an actual spell or is it something bigger?

I'd also be curious to know if the fact that everyone is pretty much frozen in a ''fairytale'' sleep has any effect on the outside world, on the characters themselves (do the ''sleepers'' age slower?), etc. Regarding the outside world, we of course got a clue through the New Year's Eve dropping of the ball in New York that Buffy and Spike watched on television (so basically i'm guessing everything is normal out there), but then again, wouldn't Angel be worried by now? or family members, friends, colleagues, etc. of the sleepers? Also, are there any effects for Buffy and Spike from not being under the spell? Are they physically affected in any way?

I would also like to ask why (again with the time lines!!) you chose to have a Spike that doesn't have a chip. Is it because you wanted it to be a real danger for Buffy so that they wouldn't really be dependant on the other in any other way because they're pretty much equals? Or is it because you didn't want Riley in the picture? What about Riley, actually? I cannot remember if he is mentioned anywhere and I know that by now Buffy doesn't really know much about him, but will the Initiative play a role in all this? I'm guessing that the time the spell took over cannot be a simple coincidence (roughly 3:14 in the morning is it not? :P). There has to be a link between that and room 314? Or maybe it's just my overactive brain that believes there has to be a reason behind every occurrence.

Random standalone question: is this story inspired or based upon any myth or fairytale? I very much enjoyed that from West of the Moon and am simply curious to see if it is the case here too. I won't ask you to tell me which story or myth it might be (if that is the case) because it would probably give away too much info regarding the ending and we wouldn't want that.

I would also be curious to know if you believe Buffy is mature enough emotionally by then to admit to feeling anything at all towards Spike. I like how very strong-willed you have made her in the sense that she cannot see beyond Spike's ''evilness and general lack of soul'' (even though I believe that the way the original character was made, it was hard to see how much a soul would change him - which it really didn't much iMO - because he is such a peculiar vampire to begin with). Also, regarding the slight changes you have made to the characters, I must say I appreciate them very much (such as Spike's intellect). I always thought whilst watching the show that they never did give enough credit to Spike as being an intelligent being (superiorly smart, in fact) and he was always depicted as being slightly goofy which, however charming it might have been, always struck me as odd because of his background, his life as a vampire, his general capacity to see things in relationships that others cannot see, etc. Therefore, the fact he'd have carefully laid plans but forget about them because he was bored (which is precisely what he tells Angel in one of the Angel episodes, I cannot remember which), surprised me. I know he is a very impulsive being, but he is also paradoxal in the sense that however impulsive his actions might be, they always come from some further thinking - which is something I can clearly see translated in the way you wrote him. All in all, thanks for making him even more bad ass and edgy a character than he ever was in the show (this was a weakness of the show, I thought, and think more and more every time I re-watch episodes).

Damn limit.
spicy_vanilla91
spicy_vanilla91 at 2012-04-10 00:44 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Questions, questions, questions :)

Finally (because let's face it, I cannot go on all night though if I went through the entirety of DUST I probably could!), I'd like to know if you plan on writing any other long fanfiction for the Buffydom after DUST. I would most certainly read anything you wrote about Buffy and Spike or any of the other Buffy characters as I think you have a real talent at it and are a genuine pleasure to read.

If I think of any other questions that might get your ''brain juices pumping'', I'll make sure to post them here :) I truly hope my endless interrogations will have been of some help and am looking forward to discussing this wonderful fanfiction with you. (Oh and I'm totally dying for an update so if I can be of any help at all, please tell me!!)

Take care and may the Muses be with you :)

Voila.
P.S. If you ever need a French Beta for anything you write (you had some french in West of the Moon and it was wonderful!), don't hesitate, I'd love to help.
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-10 07:01 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Questions, questions, questions :)

Finally (because let's face it, I cannot go on all night though if I went through the entirety of DUST I probably could!), I'd like to know if you plan on writing any other long fanfiction for the Buffydom after DUST.

At this point in time, I hesitate to say yes. It entirely depends on my muse and whether or not Real Life lets me. I have some original fiction that I really want to write. I have two lengthy fics for other fandoms that are partial stages of completion (unposted anywhere at the moment, thank god): one for "Labyrinth" and one for "Pirates of the Caribbean." I have an "Alice in Wonderland" fic that is starting to itch at my skull...

but I still have a few ideas for Buffy in Spike, and some things I'd like to write for them. I'd love to tackle a late season Buffy and Spike, either post Soul or post series, I haven't decided which. I really, really want to write a haunted house fic with the two of them in it and maybe the rest of the Scoobies. I also had a vague idea for a Buffy/Spike alternate dimension fic involving a circus from hell... So the well isn't dry. It just will depend a great deal on when the bug bites me and when I have time to write.

Thank you for taking the time to write such a long response to my little Q&A. It's given me a chance to clarify for myself a few things, and I hope it's satisfied a little of your curiosity.
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-10 06:22 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Questions, questions, questions :)

I find this story to be overall much darker than West of the Moon even though there haven't been any major character deaths so far.

This story is much darker than "West of the Moon", I think. Mostly because it tackles, head on, some really serious issues: depression, anger, desperation, frustration. There's a lot of negative stuff going on in "DUST" and I didn't want to sugarcoat it. I wanted this story to be as real as I could make it, and as true to the characters. Both Buffy and Spike have a lot of darkness in them, and I think it's much better for a character to have an arc that takes them through the range of dark to light.

I was curious as to whom could have cast such a spell. ... Will we soon get clues as to why, when, where, what regarding the spell? Is it an actual spell or is it something bigger?

Back to "That Which I Cannot Reveal" but... we will soon get some clues. Possibly not in the next chapter, which will mostly be dealing with the aftermath of the events of Chapter 31 and Spike's Big Revelation. But the one after that definitely has some pretty juicy clue-age going on in it. I wouldn't be surprised if that chapter makes some people able to start figuring things out, though our heroes will likely remain in the dark for a little while to come. Is it an actual spell? -- yes and no. The problem with that sentence is in the singular.

I'd also be curious to know if the fact that everyone is pretty much frozen in a ''fairytale'' sleep has any effect on the outside world, on the characters themselves (do the ''sleepers'' age slower?), etc. Regarding the outside world, we of course got a clue through the New Year's Eve dropping of the ball in New York that Buffy and Spike watched on television (so basically i'm guessing everything is normal out there), but then again, wouldn't Angel be worried by now? or family members, friends, colleagues, etc. of the sleepers? Also, are there any effects for Buffy and Spike from not being under the spell? Are they physically affected in any way?

This is a complicated question, and one that's kind of tied up in Plot Stuff... But it is a very good question and I don't want to leave it alone entirely.

Does the spell affect the outside world? Yes. I think Spike sort of sums that up when he talks about his troubles getting into Sunnydale in the first place. Shouldn't the outside world be getting concerned about the sleepers? Well... that might depend on how concerned they were about them in the first place... Spike was VERY concerned (well, focused) on Buffy. Almost everything outside of Sunnydale is chugging along just as it ought to be--but the spell is changing a few things, making it hard for Sunnydale to be found, nearly impossible to reach, and not really something anyone really needs to concern themselves with for the time being. (And I may have given something away in there...).

Do the sleepers age? Yes. Slowly. Very, very, very slowly. Someone in a review used the word "stasis" and that's not too far off the mark.

Does the spell still affect Buffy and Spike? (I'm assuming you mean aside from keeping them from leaving town)... I'm not sure I can answer that quite yet. Mostly, no. It's not messing with them mentally or physically. They are moving along at a fairly normal pace (for them). Are there repercussions from not being under the spell? I'm pretty sure they count being stuck alone together as a pretty serious side effect. :)

Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-10 06:56 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Questions, questions, questions :)

I would also like to ask why (again with the time lines!!) you chose to have a Spike that doesn't have a chip. Is it because you wanted it to be a real danger for Buffy so that they wouldn't really be dependant on the other in any other way because they're pretty much equals?

See my earlier response. :)

Or is it because you didn't want Riley in the picture? What about Riley, actually? I cannot remember if he is mentioned anywhere and I know that by now Buffy doesn't really know much about him, but will the Initiative play a role in all this? I'm guessing that the time the spell took over cannot be a simple coincidence...

Buffy has met Riley at this point. She knows him as her TA. But they haven't really had any romantic entanglements (that doesn't happen until "The Initiative" in canon). Right now he's just kind of a big doofy guy who TA's for her Psych class.

We've already tripped over him in "DUST", too. In the graveyard a couple of chapters back, and that's what prompted them to start looking for the commando base in the first place and somehow ended up with them now stuck in the Master's lair. But for Buffy and Spike Riley is just a clue... not a person that means anything important to either of them at this point.

Will the Initiative make an appearance in DUST? You betcha. This is season 4, and I feel like I'd be remiss if we didn't fully explore everything Sunnydale has to offer at this point in time. I don't think I'm giving anything away by saying that the Initiative is part of that... how/when/why they might find it, though... well, you'll have to wait and see.

Is the time significant? Possibly.

Random standalone question: is this story inspired or based upon any myth or fairytale?

I'm not giving anything away by answering this, but yes... and no. "West" as I told someone up there in the questions, was my "fairy tale" fic. I love fairy tales, and I'm a huge geek when it comes to mythology and folklore. But "DUST" is my anti-fairy tale. So I wanted to start with something that seemed familiar, and fairy tale like, and then deconstruct the trope as much as possible. I picked "Sleeping Beauty" because the part where the fairies put everyone to sleep always creeped me out a little. On the surface it's all "oh, this way everyone will be there for the happy ending!" but when you think about it... how does that even work? They sleep for a hundred years! (In some versions, anyway). Imagine being the prince and wandering through this creepy castle covered in cobwebs and overgrown with grass and roses. Sleeping people look like dead bodies, and they're just... everywhere. Dropped in their tracks, in mid-action. Freaky.

Also, very vulnerable. And for a hungry vampire, an exquisite temptation. For a Slayer, a major responsibility.

Whether or not it had any other bearing on the spell will have to remain to be seen.






Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-10 06:56 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Questions, questions, questions :)

I would also be curious to know if you believe Buffy is mature enough emotionally by then to admit to feeling anything at all towards Spike.

I believe that Buffy has a lot of growing up that she accomplishes through the series, sometimes not quite fast enough for viewers tastes. I think the ability to love Spike, and to admit to any of those feelings, comes from their journey together and to her eventual maturation. Part of DUST is about exploring how her character grows and changes over the course of the spell. The Buffy we're seeing now has already changed a great deal from where she was when this all started, and she still has a ways to go.

Spike, also, has a lot of growing up to do. On the surface I'm sure it seems like he's changing faster than Buffy... but I'm not so sure. In some ways he's just transferring his feelings for Dru to Buffy... and some of the changes in him he's not ready to admit to yet. This is as much about his journey as it is hers.

And I've always though Spike was smart. I think they portray him in the series as being very intelligent. Impulsiveness doesn't imply stupidity, though it can come off that way. Spike is incredibly perceptive in the series, very sharp. He intuits very quickly and sees the stupidity in others very clearly. He's very self aware, and doesn't delude himself often. He does, however, get bored easily. He has a lot of energy, and he doesn't always LIKE to choose the smart decision over the FUN decision. He's aware of what the smart decision would be, but sometimes it's just so much more fun to go charging in with fangs bared and fists flying. Part of that may be the fact that he doesn't have a soul. And part of it just might be that Spike really, really, hates authority. Or maybe it's just ADHD. It's part of what makes him fun.

I've always thought Spike was an edgy character. I think the show does try to portray it... but I also think that James Marsters is such a fantastic actor that he's able to give us a lot more depth, and inspire in us a need to sugarcoat Spike so that he's more ... palatable. We want to like Spike, so we overlook the things he does that are sometimes wrong, and sometimes downright horrible. We tend not to remember those moments as clearly as we recall him comforting Buffy, or doing something kind for her. How many people love to point out the scene in "Fool For Love" when he sits on the back porch with her... and never mention or remember the part in "Checkpoint" where a Spike-in-Love taunts her by pointing out her problems with men and blatantly insulting her by insinuating that her boobs are starting to sag?

I say Spike is both. He's both poet and prat, loving heart and missing soul. He loves and hates to the depths of his being, and is capable of both great kindness and great cruelty. He can be incredibly intelligent, and incredibly stupid, perceptive and blind. That's the beauty of Spike, that he is all the extremes and all of the gray area between ... and portraying him as only one or the other is short-changing him. I think the Spike we end up seeing in Season 7 is the one who has nearly found his balancing point, where he can be everything that he is without compromising himself.

I love him just as he is, and I can't write him any other way.
Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-10 06:06 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Questions, questions, questions :)

Whoa. :) Now THAT is a response. Thank you for taking the time to write it. I'm going to try to address as many of your questions as I can, by section:

First of all, I was wondering what precisely seems to be a struggle for you in writing the next parts of DUST? ... From what I understood, you have a good idea of what you want the story to be like and how you want to end it so I was wondering if you were debatting options on whether Spike and Buffy should undergo X or Y events and situations.

Well, mostly it hasn't been a matter of struggle with content so much as finding time to write. Real Life has, for the last few months, demanded nearly all of my time, and what was left over didn't leave me with a lot of energy or brain power for writing.

There was a slight struggle, coming back to it, though, because I'd been away from writing it for so long. It takes a little bit of priming the pump to get my head back in the same place, to remember what it was I was trying to accomplish and what still needs to happen in order to do that. It was a little like putting down a really complicated video game and then several months later picking it up and trying to remember what your next goal was and how all the buttons work. :)

BUT this exercise has really helped immensely, and I managed to actually get a little writing done today and I feel like things are moving in the right direction again.



Knife Edge
knifeedgefic at 2012-04-10 06:06 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Questions, questions, questions :)

I was also wondering why you chose that specific time period to set DUST as opposed to the latter-installed West of the Moon. ... I was wondering whether you chose the moment right after Harsh Light of Day for a specific reason (narratively speaking, I mean) or if it was just because you wanted to set up that Buffy hates and does not trust Spike at all. Is it because you want the feelings to develop in a different context than the one you proposed in West of the Moon? Or does it have to do with the spell itself and the future storyline?

For "West of the Moon" the story kind of sprung up in my mind fully formed. It had to be Season 5, because it just worked so well plot-wise. The more I thought about it and outlined the clearer it became that it was meant to be written during Season 5. It was, actually, VERY easy to lose the Dawn/Glory plotline entirely. Nearly ridiculously so. So many of the other elements of Season 5 just fell into place in the right spots in that story... there really was no question of setting it at another time.

I struggled slightly with when, precisely, I needed to set "DUST." I knew it was going to be Season 4 (or possibly earlier). It had to be pre-chip. The chip, I felt, crippled Spike too much. It was such a major handicap, especially early on, that it would give Buffy too much power over him and I absolutely wanted them to be on equal footing for this. It was essential that he be able to defend himself, and also for her to perceive him as a threat. He needed the internal conflict of whether or not to feed on the sleeping people, and Buffy needed to SEE that conflict and how he responded to it, in order for the plot to work.

Second, it needed to be post Mayor, so I couldn't set it in Season 3. That was just too much extra complication, and I needed the high school to be destroyed, and for all the books to be at Giles', because, again, it causes conflict if Spike cannot enter the place where the knowledge is being kept.

There were a couple of other reasons for setting it in Season 4 (as opposed to 3 or 5, but I can't discuss them without giving things away. :)

So then the question was: WHEN in Season 4? Absolutely before the events of "The Initiative" because of the chip. After "Harsh Light of Day" because I wanted the last thing Buffy remembered of Spike to be his awful words to her in that episode, rather than the events of "Lovers Walk" which was a little more benign. And I needed a gap of time when he wasn't in Sunnydale, so setting it after he went to LA after the Gem of Amara made sense. Initially it was going to be before "Fear Itself" but I needed Oz to be back in town, so instead I chose to set it not long after that, but before "Beer Bad" which gave me the chance to play with the Buffy/Parker conundrum.

In other words, there was a LOT of thought that went into that. Again, there are some other plot considerations that I can't talk about, but this ended up being the best time to set the story. So we have Buffy and Spike absolutely HATING each other at the start, they cannot be any more in hate with each other than they are at this particular moment. It is, canonically, the point in time where getting the two of them together seems the most impossible thing in the world...

and that's why I had to set it then. :) Because I really love trying the impossible.

I also wondered what that clue you dropped in Chapter 21 was...

You've made a lot of guesses there, but I can't answer most of them. Alternate dimension? Personal hell? Reason Spike was able to wake her and get into Sunnydale in the first place? How will the spell lift? ... yeah, that's all under the "Can't speak, spoilers will eat me" heading. :)

But the clue... There was definitely a clue in Chapter 21. There've been several, in fact, already... scattered throughout. I can't point at it precisely, but I'm a big believer in Buffy's dreams.
spicy_vanilla91
spicy_vanilla91 at 2012-04-10 16:54 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Questions, questions, questions :)

Thanks a bunch for taking the time to answer all my questions :) Makes a lot of thigs clearer to me :) as for my Spike-character related question, just wanted to clarify that indeed I do agree with how you pictured him in the show. I guess my interpretation was a but lacking in the sense I always felt they didn't give him enough credit overall, whether he was being a complete and utter jerk or a sweet pie :) I do see though where your interpretation of the characters come from and have to say you have them to a T. Not a lot of writers manage to keep them in canon all the way through and make it believable and it's a huge turn off for me when Buffy isn't Buffy and Spike isn't Spike and all characters are generally lacking in the "shades of grey" department. So i wanted to praise you for making them that much more complex and layered. And i love that there is obviously loads of research and reflexion behind your writing. Do you have any idea when we might get an update? (in days or weeks or months? Soon hopefully? Not asking for a deadline here lol just trying to see how much longer approximately i must go without my DUST fix :D!!!) Wishing you once again a bagillion muses!
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