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September 26, 2011

Writer Wrangler with Patricia Laffoon and Aaron Speca


This episode of Writer Wrangler is with Tears of a Mermaid writers,
Aaron Speca and Patricia Laffoon. Tears of a Mermaid is the 10th of 12 stories
Evernight Romance in a World of Darkness hosted by Allison Cassata
published by XoXo.

Talk Supe: Mermaids are often related to Disney's Ariel, was this a grown up nod to the Little Mermaid?
Aaron:  I'm going to let Patricia answer that question, since Trish is her character.
Patricia:  No, not really, I created this character with the help of a close friend Brandon Yeung, and the memories of the original Hans Christian Andersen novel, when I joined a role play (RP) group and she has grown from there.

TS: On a more serious note, why write a story about a sailor and a Mermaid? (I was actually imagining Philip and Syrena in the latest Pirates movie)
Philip and Syrena
Aaron:  To me, mermaids were the dream, the ideal for sailors that lived in that time.  They represented beauty and mystery, and the unobtainable answer to the loneliness of the men who spent so much time at sea.  Actually meeting and falling in love with one ... I can only imagine the intensity of it.  It's funny you mention Philip and Syrena, there is a scene from another part of Rudy and Trish's story ... when they first meet ... that is very reminiscent of their story.  And to tell you the truth, I think they were actually my favorite part of the last Pirates movie. 
The reason we even wrote in this time period, is that a friend and member of our RP group created an online page and challenged us to step out of what we normally wrote (present-day paranormal) and write in the Golden Age of Pirates ... so we started our characters again from scratch and took them there.
Patricia:  Well I am more than a little embarrassed to say I have not seen the movie as much as I love the Pirates movies.  But as Aaron mentioned a close friend of ours built a group page giving all the role players something to do during our down time this summer. It caught on like wildfire and it was the most natural thing for “Rudy and Trish” to do this story line.

TS: So I'm assuming the characters Trish, Aaron and Rudy are you guys, talk about heat! Who wrote the love scene?
Aaron: *Looks at Patricia and smiles.*  Well, we work together on every scene of every story we write.  These characters have their origin in RP, and we basically write off of each other.  Sometimes we know how things will go, sometimes we don't.  We go where the characters go.  But we never script the love scenes in advance.  To answer your assumption, yeah pretty much Rudy is my character and Trish is hers, and the way we collaborate in role play works because you get both characters' unique points of view.  Aaron was actually Patricia’s character she created as an antagonist for Trish's backstory, and the funny thing is she created and named him before we ever met.  She often asks me if I want her to change the name, and I always answer absolutely not.  I actually get a kick out of it.

TS: What is Aaron exactly? Is he a merman or part of Davey Jones' crew?
Patricia:  Well as Aaron (the writer) has so kindly put it, I had Aaron as a character way before we even met; the name thing, yeah, I asked many times if he wanted me to change it but he insisted on keeping it. But yes he is a Merman...and not a very nice one at that.
Aaron:  I can't stand the guy *chuckles*

TS: Is this your first published work?
Aaron:  Yes it is for both of us.  It's an incredible blessing as this is also our first attempt to get published and to have it actually happen, it's just an amazing feeling.  Our RP characters have a small but devoted following, and it feels great to have an opportunity to share these characters that we love with a larger audience.
Patricia:  Yes, and was a shock to say the least, when Aaron told me he had submitted one of our stories. Of course I was pleased that he would even consider sending in one of ours but never dreamed it would be accepted; hoped mind you but never dreamed it would be accepted.
We both enjoy our RP group and finding the time between our busy lives to fit in writing as much as we can. It has been a great experience writing; when I started this I warned Aaron I was no writer and that he would be ever cleaning up after me but the more I write the stronger I become and finding Trish’s voice has been a dream come true for me.

TS: How did the idea of participating in an anthology came about
Aaron: It was really sort of spur of the moment -- it happened so fast.  I had just recently become Facebook friends with Allison Cassatta, and I noticed she was doing a call for short stories for a paranormal romance anthology.  There were only a couple of days left before the deadline, so I took one of the pirate/mermaid stories we had built through RP, cleaned it up, and submitted it.  Just a few days later I got the word.  I didn't even tell Patricia I was doing it until it was already done.  *Laughs*  I'm not sure if she was excited or shocked or angry at first.  Funny thing is - I stayed home sick the day that I saw the post from Allison ... had a nasty cold.  If I hadn't had stayed home that day, and been able to spend the day working on cleaning the story up ... this probably never would have happened.  Life is just funny.

 

TS: Are you working on something new right now? Is it another collaboration?
Aaron:  Everything's been happening so fast, but we do have tons of material, notes, etc, to build from.  I just finished editing a novel by another first-time writer, Dawn Treadway, and we are hoping that will catch on with a publisher very soon.  It's another paranormal romance that basically pairs up a former demonic resident of a hell-like realm and a human woman with empathic abilities.  As far as future projects, first thing is, Patricia and I need to decide how to continue this story.  There will be a Volume 2 to this anthology, I understand, so we could easily do a prequel or sequel short story with Rudy and Trish in the age of pirates.  But I'm also wondering if we shouldn't just go for it and expand it into a novel.  I also have a very rough collaborative story with another hopeful writer, Jammie Yeung, involving a demon/demon romance.  These are two "bad guys", but sometimes it becomes fun to root for the bad guy, and judging by reactions from people who have read parts of it, these characters could be a big hit.  It will need some work, so it might be a while away.  There's also a "labor of love" that I'm working on that will probably never get published as anything more than fan fiction because it involves characters and situations from another writer's series, but it's been nagging at me to get written.  My wife, Wendy, has even been working with Jammie on their own paranormal romance involving a world alternate to ours.  Our biggest challenge is time ... I do have a full-time job and we have three school-age kids, so things often get kind of crazy.


TS: They say two heads are better than one but I know that creative writing has its challenges even on your most inspired days. You mentioned about making decisions, do you often find yourselves being at odds about how the direction of the story will go and all the other details? Especially for you Aaron since you're working on another collaboration, how much of your vision do you have to "sacrifice" in cases when you have different ideas on how you want the story to be? 
Aaron: Well, amazingly Patricia and I have been writing incredibly well together for the past year. Very rarely have we had any conflicts about where the story or characters would be going. That's why we are able to do a lot without scripting it in advance... we both enjoy "setting up" the other character and the excitement of seeing where the other writer will take it, and then getting the satisfaction of saying "I hoped that was where you were going to go!!!" And even when we don't, it's the ad lib aspect of the way we write that makes it a lot of fun. At least to me. The other collaboration I've been working on, as I said is still very rough, but we also write well together and had similar ideas of where we wantd the story to go. I guess it's just a willingness to be flexible, open to the other person's ideas... and above all, since we each "own" the characters that are part of the story... NEVER tell the other person how THEIR character should react to a given situation.
Patricia: *Smiling* At odds No. Surprised by each other almost daily, absolutely. Aaron has made writing together a great adventure. I find that we work well together. If I get stuck he says a word or a phrase that will inspire me, at just the right time. If we reach a point where neither of us are comfortable we stop look at the situation and work it out. That has been our game plan from the start and has worked for us both so far.

There you have it folks, a very insightful and candid interview with these noveau writers. For more information about Evernight, please visit

Til your next story guys, best of wishes and keep the words flowing!

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