Happy timezones! It is time once again to pay homage to a wonderful writer and discuss her techniques! I had the fortune of interviewing Louise (Not Just a Book Sims) this time around, and let me tell you, her stories are amazing!
Louise has a way of bringing you right into the lives of her characters and making you care about them and what happens. She is incredibly gifted at the craft of writing and her photos are impeccable.
On with the show!
How long have you been playing The Sims and what got you into it?
I’ve been playing since the first game. I was probably 11 or 12, so this is well over a decade ago. I first played the game at my cousin’s, and I got absolutely obsessed with it. Sadly, at the time we didn’t have a computer that could run it, but as soon as we got a new one, my parents bought me the game. I played it absolutely non-stop; I’d get up at 6 am to play until the rest of my family got up, and it didn’t change much when I got The Sims 2. It took me longer to warm up to 3, but once I did, I was sold. The Sims 4, so far, just isn’t for me, so for now I’m sticking with 3. With all the hours I’ve put into the series during the past 13-15 years, I am so glad we didn’t have something like Origin back then to remind me how many hours I’ve logged on the series, it’s got to be said!
Why did you begin blogging your sims story?
In 2013 or thereabouts, I had bought the Sims 3 and played it for a little bit when I came across the Ink Legacy by Ink Wisteria. It’s a really nice story with lots of characters, great looking Sims and tons of drama thrown in. I binged it all in a short amount of time and as soon as I could get back to my computer, I started my own story. To begin with, I didn’t have a blog, but I frequented a forum where I posted my story. As time went by, though, I found the forum a little too restrictive – it doesn’t allow blood, violence, swearing and so on, and that’s when I got my own blog. Not that I’m a totally violent fiend or anything, but I just like to have the possibility of adding those elements. I’ve had several side blogs for stories since then, but right now I’m sticking to the one with separate pages for my ongoing stories.
What’s more important: characters or plot?
In my opinion, characters. I’m sure there are as many opinions on this as there are writers, but for me, you can easily pull off a subpar plot if you’ve got brilliant characters. You can have a brilliant, intricate, mysterious plot, but if I don’t care about your characters, there’s nothing to carry me through it. I just get way more into a story if there are strong characters who live, breathe, and grow as I read.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I’ve tried pandering, and I find that it kills all creativity. I wrote a lot in my teen years and while it wasn’t very good, at least I finished some stories. Actually, I finished a good chunk – some even as long as a hundred A4-pages. As I read more and more about tropes and readers, I started trying to mold and bend into the kind of writer that is “Good”, but there are so many, many opinions on what a Good Writer is. It resulted in my not writing much for many years until I started writing for the Sims. I never treated my Sims stories as something that was supposed to be amazing, until I did – and once again, my creativity just absolutely died.
These days, I do my best to not pander. I try and write what I like (which, to be honest, is mostly fantasy and romance) and if people come across it and like it – awesome! If they don’t, that is awesome as well.
That said, I think it’s only fair to say that I try not to be offensive to readers, I try and make characters appealing, and sometimes, readers have even fed me comments with good ideas for moving forward. I won’t pander or do mindless fanservice, but I don’t want to alienate readers, either. Rather than trying to live up to some abstract ideal of a “good” writer, though, I write for a reader that looks a lot like me.
Which character is your favorite and why?
Right now, that would be Nadir from the Champion of Moonlight. I started writing the story because I wanted to write a romance where the guy was tall, dark, handsome, and mysterious. As I wrote him, he just became so much more than that, and I’ve absolutely loved writing about him and seeing what he’s become. He started out a stereotype in my head, but he’s gotten a lot more personality. That’s how I often start writing, come to think of it – find some stereotype and subvert it. That’s how new stuff’s created, I believe.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
For me it is to stay fresh and to come up with plots. I love writing character moments, dialogue, and thoughtful conversations, but that does not a story make. It’s hard work to come up with conflicts and to put my characters through truly awful things, as well as letting them make grave mistakes. I’m not actually sure that I’ve managed to do that with either of my current stories because it’s just that hard. Another hard part for me is sticking with the story I’m currently on. Especially A Monte Vista story. It’s not that I don’t want to write and finish the current generation, but I already have ideas for the next generation of that and I’m so excited for it, I sometimes get carried away daydreaming about that rather than writing on the current story. Oops. Another thing I struggle with is remembering to appeal to all of the senses in my writing. I often get stuck on dialogue and what characters are doing with their hands and so on – I tend to forget what their clothing feels like, the temperature of the room, the seat they’re on, the warmth from the fireplace… I’m trying to do better at that.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Coming up with characters and names. They just walk right into my brain. They’re often formed through the creation of the story or, as I said, when I want to subvert common character archetypes. Whatever it is, it’s not hard for me. Names as well come to me easily. Getting new ideas is also really, really easy for me. The amount of ideas, characters, magic systems, and potential plots that are swirling in my head at any given time is insane and I really, really should get better at writing them down. Ideas are a dime a dozen for me. As for actually sticking to one and finishing it… well, see the above question.
Do you have advice for any other writers who may just be starting out?
Try and develop a feel for how you write, more than how others do it. Know yourself, know what you like, know how your process works. I think many of the writers who don’t get anywhere end up like that because they don’t stick around long enough to learn. I could be further along in this process if I didn’t have issues with trying to please everyone. The best thing to do is to just write, write, write, and try and find a process that suits you.
And please, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t let anyone tell you to do it a certain way. If I had a cake for every time someone said ‘Do an outline, or else you’re doing it wrong!’, I’d have a lot of cake and be very happy. Alas, I don’t have any cake, I’ve just wasted a lot of time trying to do outlines when I genuinely don’t like it.
The most important thing to do is to find your own rhythm and YOUR process. If that process results in you finishing a novel, short story, sonnet, or whatever that you’re happy with – congrats, you’re doing it right.
What are the challenges of bringing your characters to life?
Writing them consistently and varying the characters I write. Everybody has their way of writing, and that includes me. I naturally tend towards writing quiet, introspective, nerdy, shy, romantically inclined young women. Basically: me.
It just wouldn’t make sense for a character such as Vittoria from a Monte Vista story to be like that. She’s stoic, comes from a very bad upbringing, and you can’t say that you’re really shy if you decide to ask two strangers if you can move in with them.
When writing about her, I’ve had to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. I just cannot get her right the first time. Ever. Initially, I always make her weepy when she should have been angry, stoic when she should be emotional, and so on. I’m still not sure I’ve gotten her character right in some of the chapters I’ve written.
And yet it’s really important for me to challenge myself in this way. If I always wrote characters like myself, I’d get bored, and the stories would get same. It’s always a challenge to write stoic, outgoing, arrogant characters, and it makes it all the more fun.
Would you like to share an excerpt from your story or a summary of your story? Or both?
I certainly would! Here’s a small summary of Champion of Moonlight, my most recent story, and a small excerpt from the beginning of the story:
“Genevieve Thorne is the six time Champion of Moonlight, and one of her generation’s most powerful witches. The 124th Moonlight Tournament is set to be her seventh victory in a row, but when a new face appears to challenge her, everything changes.
Nadir Hazan is the heir to a powerful family, a talented witch, and the only person Genevieve has felt a connection with, ever. But even as they draw closer, connected by their love of magic and theory, weird things start happening, and Nadir might just not be who he seems.”
Excerpt from “Saturday – Tall, Dark, and Brooding”:
Every year, the Council picked someone they thought was most likely to win. They weren’t always right, as had been the case in my first year. I raised an eyebrow at Celeste.
“So, it’s you this year?”
“Goodness, no. That would be Tall, dark, and brooding over there.”
She made a gesture towards a man I hadn’t noticed before. He was, indeed, talk, dark, and looked out the window in a brooding manner. When he noticed my gaze on him, he glanced briefly and nodded, then continued pondering the landscape beyond the window.
Celeste whispered: “He’s from the Hazan family.”
I cocked my head. “As in Murad Hazan?”
Murad Hazan was, if not famous, then at least well-known. He was all-around talented, but most known in alchemical circles. He died some years ago.
“The very same family, but like I said – nobody’s heard of this one. Apparently he’s not after fame and fortune like the rest of them. And now he’s suddenly come to beat you.”
“We’ll see about that.”
So, I wasn’t the Council favourite this year. It wasn’t the first time, though I’d been a consistent favourite for the past five years.
“I think the tides are turning,” Celeste said. “Your dark reign is coming to an end, Thorne. After six years, the people will finally be liberated.”
I put a hand to my chest, gasping.
“Dark reign? I’ll have you know my reign is harsh, but fair.”
That was fantastic! Thank you, Louise, for such an in-depth interview!
Author’s Note: If you are a blog author (it does not have to be The Sims related) and would like to be featured in an interview, please send me an email using my contact form! I would love to interview you, too!