Gave this to the SV thread a little while back, so I thought I'd post it for you guys, too.
POST STORY QUESTION AND ANSWER:
AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMES D. FAWKES AND THE EDITORS
Q: What would be in story future for Camelot as an organization?
Fawkes: Handling S-Class threats, mainly. Basically, anything that threatened the stability of the world and mankind's place in it. Of course, naturally, should a situation like the Titans in Ward occur, that would also be something they dealt with.
Mecrazyfang: Camelot isn't far off The Guild. Different powerbases, and given their very different relations with the PRT they maintain degrees of separation, but, given Armsmaster's presence, collaboration with The Guild is a near-daily thing on some level. It'd come down to scheduling, whether or not they cross-train, but in terms of motivation the only reason one doesn't incorporate the other is politics.
Romana: I get the impression that it would be a framework for her social life, and a way to work on being more legitimate, as well as a chance to have her 'settled down', to some extent. Camelot always seemed to be a "The adventure continues" ending point, that would probably look a lot like what Mecrazyfang indicated, though it'd probably end up being more of a 'family business'.
Mecrazyfang: Oh great, now I'm picturing Danny as a mob boss. And now I'm hearing all his lines with a Godfather voice.
Fawkes: "You come to me, on this, the eve of my daughter's wedding…"
Q: Would the PRT ever know about Khepri if the Echidna Incident played out differently?
Fawkes: If things had never gotten to such a point of desperation, it's likely that no one except Taylor would ever have known Khepri existed. However, Taylor is just too good at avoiding her problems. In the absence of a therapist who could get her to face them, she would just bottle it all up and keep running away, and the end result of that would have been a far darker and more hopeless timeline than the one we got.
Romana: It's hard to say! I talked to Fawkes a bunch about possible alternative solutions to Echidna, and between a combination of unsureness about how things would go, how much she prefers to keep to the heroes that she knows about, and the fact that the drama of the work was a lot about her and Khepri makes me suspect that at least from a Doylist perspective that there would have been something else that made it happen, but it's hard to say.
Fawkes: The dark timeline! Well, it's not possible to say for sure that nothing would ever have happened to force Taylor to confront Khepri otherwise. As the writer, I'm not sure I had a better place to do it, at the time.
Mecrazyfang:Only in, basically, the winner of a Darkest Timelines Ever award, where Taylor winds up either playing the role of antagonist to humanity out of sheer spite, or in a mental ward.
She's… Not a healthy person. It's arguable that she didn't choose a cape name because she didn't necessarily want to survive. Not that she actively sought death, but that she wasn't working very hard to stay around and see the world get better. But no matter how you grok her behaviors, Canon Taylor was a big bundle of coping mechanisms. Essence is far lighter a story and more hopeful, but that doesn't mean everything is suddenly better.
If she'd dug too far into Medea. If she'd let Siegfried take a hold over her. If she'd picked the wrong Assassin. So many moments where she could have pitched over the edge and become far worse than Skitter The Warlord, or Khepri herself, one step at a time. That's part of her nature, meaning well but doing harm.
If Echidna didn't force her to confront Khepri again, and get her knuckles rapped, if she wasn't in a position where she had to actively try not to become Skitter, and if she knew in the back of her mind that she let Heroes die simply to preserve a secret… Oh they'd find out about Khepri.
They'd see Khepri in a whole new light, some day.
Or perhaps a certain doctor would be discussing could-have-beens with her, after she tried pulling a Weaver and turning herself in.
Fawkes: Truly, Jessica Yamada was the unsung hero of Worm.
Q: If you could change something in the story while planning it initially, what would it be?
Fawkes: I would have had a more solid plan! The third arc of the story was a lot of experimentation, and in hindsight, the fact that I was experimenting rather than working from a set plan weakened it significantly. I think having a more solid plan from the outset would have also helped iron out the difficulties with the sixth arc, because that was the one that gave me the most trouble.
Romana: I'm not the writer here, but one thing that I would have liked would be if the querying system of her power was more clearly limited - there's so many opportunities that I just wanted to scream "Just ask your power, Taylor!"
Fawkes: Yeah, the story as a whole might have benefited from a clearer limitation on Taylor's powers from the get-go.
Mecrazyfang: And if, from the get-go, we'd been able to agree on a final roster available to her, it would have made a lot of planning go smoother. I think we had to discuss EMIYA half a dozen times? Still, it wasn't all bad, the openness of being able to pluck new options up did, once or twice, bring us somewhere better than 'what about Medea again'.
Fawkes: Medea really got quite the workout in this story, huh.
Mecrazyfang: Gee, does that imply something? Heh, but more seriously, she thematically fit so well it couldn't be helped, and she's so damn versatile. It's a genuine challenge to think of situations where she isn't useful. I don't think it's possible to write a story that can use her, and not find situations where she absolutely needs to be used.
Romana: That being said, a lot of the reason why she ended up being used was simply "Why not?" She's a well-established canon character, and even if she could use a different Caster for any of the jobs she did, she had already done the benchmarking and syncing with her that made her comfortable using her - and there probably wouldn't have been that much of a return going there, too. Plus, we had to do something to prevent the Heroic Spirit creation tangents from getting too out of hand, :p
Fawkes: It gave me a good handle on her, at any rate. I think I'd like to play around with Medea's character again in future projects.
Q: How do you go about writing a story, from conception to posting it? An Essence of Silver and Steel was a multi-year dedicated project, how did you tackle it?
Fawkes: Admittedly, the early days of An Essence of Silver and Steel were fraught with vague plans. I started with an idea, that of Taylor with access to Heroic Spirits, and kind of worked upwards from there. I wasn't exactly writing by the seat of my pants, but very little was concrete in the beginning. Even her limitations changed a little between the first two arcs.
As a result, certain problems developed. I don't quite remember exactly when I landed on the idea of Khepri being something Taylor was running away from, but the story had already started by that point. However, I very much liked the idea of mirroring the self vs self conflict of the Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/Stay Night, and the theme of acceptance of self got carried through the rest of the story afterwards.
Going forwards, I want to have a more concrete plan before setting out. That's why I'm not just jumping head first into my next major project.
Mecrazyfang: You say vague, but I've seen other writers' plans. You're fairly clear on what scenes you want to put out. It's easy to start a project, I'd wager a good third of SV has a few ideas in GDocs or a flashdrive, but completing them? That takes a certain mindset. It takes a clear vision of the end, at the very least.
It's not a mindset you're just, born with. You have to cultivate that, grit down and put pen to paper even when you're discouraged.
Romana: Between the stations of canon and the narrative arc that she ended up going on, there was quite a bit of structure, but a lot of the time it just kind of ended up being poking at the timeline, seeing what she could reasonably do, and asking what she thinks. There's definitely a lot that you can do from "Okay, what do you do next?", but it can be hard to sustain that, especially when there is so many things already fixed in place.
Fawkes: It felt a bit freewheeling, though. I suppose that could be a matter of my own perspective, but when so many other writers talk about having rigid outlines that they try to follow, my own methods feel like madness.
Q: Nasuverse has also developed from the point when the story had started. What do you like/dislike about these changes? What would be changes that you would have liked to know about during planning of the story?
Fawkes: I think Grand Servants might have changed how I did the story. Quantum Time Locks are also a thing that might have changed how I wrote things out if we'd known more about them earlier on, but time shenanigans are always frustrating and confusing. There are things we still don't know that I've had to ignore even the implications of, for the sake of keeping everything at least relatively coherent.
Mecrazyfang: Ehh...There's already a pretty big cast to draw from. We missed a few opportunities with Extra characters, I feel, so drowning in even more stuff wouldn't have necessarily been healthy for Fawkes' muse.
Fawkes: I kinda wish I'd had more chance to use Gawain or Lancelot. Alas, there just wasn't much place for them, when it came down to it, and the story is already plenty long. Stuffing more would have bloated it, I think.
Q: Did Dennis and Taylor get married?
Fawkes: Who knows!
I could answer with some romantic thing about soulmates and how they live a long, happy life together, but they're still young at the end of the story, and by today's standards, 21 is an incredibly youthful age to be making such long, life-changing decisions. However, if I had to put my own shipping goggles on and be a hopeless romantic, I'd like to think they had some rough patches and split up for a while, but inevitably gravitated back together and managed some semblance of happiness and contentment. Well, as much as that's possible on Earth Bet.
Mecrazyfang: Tay/Eidolon OTP.
But more seriously, I can't see Dennis buying a ring while he's still in his 20s. He's a nice guy, but the two of them both needed space to grow into their own, and get a firm idea of what they want in life. He was paralyzed for months over whether or not to ask Panacea to help his father, so I can't see him popping the question without some real help from a close friend…
Now that I think about it, no matter who she ends up with, Taylor's gonna have to be the one proposing. She's a bit too imposing now, and has entire lifetimes of romance to draw on.
Fawkes: It's tough being in a relationship with the strongest woman in the world.
Mecrazyfang: Tougher when she tops that chart on multiple Earths. Give the boy some credit, he'd probably try...And choke on his words for the eleventh time. I sure would.
Fawkes: Dennis is Wormverse Peter Parker, confirmed.
Q: What was Glenn's reaction to Tagg pushing out Taylor and then Armsmaster together with Vista and Clockblocker out of the Protectorate?
Fawkes: Apoplectic fury! Perhaps Glenn even Triggered with the power to literally make heads roll whenever he got angry? It's like Jack Slash, only there's no blood and the heads can be reattached later on.
Mecrazyfang: "I hear Camelot is in need of Public Relations staff…"
Fawkes: Ouch. Just how many people did James Tagg wind up pushing out of the PRT and Protectorate? Well, without an unmasking of Cauldron in this story, I suppose someone had to be holding that particular bag.
Q: What happened with the EB? Were they killed off in a speed run during the 2 y. time skip? Even then how did Taylor & co. krump' 'em when they change MO & parameters when they're actively hunted & especially the next incoming EB gets streamlined based on their new doctrine & necessity of their strat?
Fawkes: Further Endbringer fights kind of got scrapped. Ah, it wasn't that there was no interest in it, it was that it felt like it might bloat the story to have another major Endbringer fight take place and consume almost the entirety of an arc.
There was actually an Endbringer based upon Tiamat in the works, and I thought it might be fun to have an Endbringer that created extra "cores" over the course of the fight so that it wasn't possible to defeat it with one, decisive blow, but in the end, it was cut.
Insofar as whether there were more fights, there most certainly were. However, it can be surmised that while most of them were far less damaging as a result of Taylor and Eidolon both being there, none of the other Endbringers except maybe Behemoth put themselves in a position where they could conceivably be killed.
Romana: Yeah - that kind of got muddled - there's not a lot of clarity on what more endbringers would look like, and I got the impression that narratively, once she did one, that chapter closed behind her. I could see something like what happened in canon re: skirmishing Endbringers happening, but with the resources she had, who knows if she could stop them from fleeing.
Fawkes: In terms of narrative weight, there really isn't that much difference between killing one Endbringer and killing all of them.
Mecrazyfang: Unless it's at the same time. But the aftermath of a multi-Endbringer kill battle probably results in no longer having a planet.
One can safely assume that with Scion's defeat, any stragglers that didn't get Artoria'd are now twiddling their thumbs on the dark side of the moon.
Fawkes: Moon Cell sequel for Essence — wait, there's no way I'm going to do that!
Mecrazyfang: Legitimately saddening. Disregarding Last Encore, it's a good setting to putz around in.
Fawkes: Stop trying to put ideas in my head!
Mecrazyfang: That's my job! Giving you more ideas, and honing the ones you come up with.
Q: In the upcoming FGO finis Chaldea, will the greatest protagonist Ritsuka Fujimaru be there? If so, do they have the ability to genderbend or will they be only one gender? Will Taylor be a historian nut? What phase of life will Taylor be in there? Will Olga be saved? Will they check in Bet & save Worm?
Fawkes: Ritsuka will definitely be present, for certain. I haven't decided on the gender for sure, yet, and it's entirely possible that I might make "Chaldea's last master" into "Chaldea's last masters" in order to have both versions present. "The Fujimaru twins take on the seven Singularities with their more experienced senior!" …sounds like fun. It's not a definite thing, though.
As for Taylor, it takes place after the Interlude: End chapter of Worm. In other words, after Gold Morning and the nine millimeter lobotomy. I was worried when I started reading Ryuugi's story, but it turns out he had a much different idea than me, even if the basic premise was kind of similar.
Mecrazyfang: Excuse me while I talk Fawkes into a genderbending Taylor.
Fawkes: That sort of nonsense is exactly where I put my foot down! Don't become the next Takeuchi. Next thing you know, I'll have a roster of characters that are nothing but Taylorfaces! Before you know it, we'll have Mysterious Heroine T, there to kill all of the other Taylorfaces to become the one, true Taylor!
Is that what you want to happen!?
Mecrazyfang: And if I say yes?
Fawkes: …Well, it might make for a funny story, even if it wasn't incredibly serious. Joke characters aren't exactly my forte, you know.
Q: What happened to Contessa? Were her powers stripped, or was she basically killed off much like canon Taylor was?
Fawkes: Taylor adopted her. Taking care of an amnesiac ten-year-old girl was the first major test for Dennis and Taylor's relationship.
Speaking seriously, you can imagine a number of different fates for her, if you like. If you prefer for her to have gotten her comeuppance and died, that's entirely fine. If you like to think she got a second chance, that's also a perfectly valid conclusion as well. In the latter case, Taylor would definitely be keeping an eye on her, to watch out for influence from her shard or its attempts to reconnect.
I'll admit, I come down closer on the one side rather than the other, but that's because I like to believe in second chances. Finding redemption can be the hardest of things, and being allowed to chase it the greatest gift you can be given.
Plus, the mental image of twenty-year-old Taylor sending ten-year-old Fortuna off to school in the morning is just unbearably cute.
Romana: Personally, I read that chapter as Taylor talking through her feelings of what would be more merciful and suitable for someone like her, and leaving her a chance to live, if she wants - to take a second chance or to fold, knowing how rigged the game is.
Fawkes: Isn't that the hardest part, though? To keep going, even knowing how hard it's going to be? I think that's the part of Taylor's character I like playing around with most. There's something admirable about that kind of determination.
Of course, like I said, I'm also a sucker for second chances.
Mecrazyfang: There are times in writing where 'leave it to the reader' genuinely adds something. I think this is one of those times. Denied real 'choice' from a tender age, it's fitting that her 'end' is so open. It's a nice bookend to Contessa's legend.
Fawkes: It really is thematically appropriate for her, isn't it?