Here we are guys, the last thing I'll update to this story! It was pretty awesome for me to finally mark this story as "complete" before I updated, but hey, after four years of typing away, it's a 'pat on the back' moment for me. So here's the order of what's going on in this chapter: The Q&A and then the sappy goodbye note you've all been waiting for, I'm sure.
Now, I condensed the questions and reworded some so that I could answer more than one in….well, one. It's just so I don't have a string of questions asking similar stuff. But hopefully you can catch your question somewhere in here. Oh, and thanks for the questions in the reviews and the PMs everyone!
So…here we go!
~What was your inspiration for the story and when did you first come up with the idea?
To be honest, I didn't have a seriously epic inspirational moment for this story. For the most part, I piece mailed the plot together, and it all—thankfully—ended up fitting into a 69 chapter story.
I suppose for the sake of the question, I can say that I was simply a fangirl wondering what would happen after the TV show was said and done. But I actually thought of the general (first) plotline and the title for the show back in 2006, before the show had even ended. I told myself to wait until the end of the TV show, though, so I could make it as realistic as possible to the real ending. My original idea for this story changed so much since it first popped into my head six years ago, though. (wow, six years ago…I feel kind of old now).
~Where did the title "Fire War Renaissance" come from?
Well pretty much, the title was one of the first things I thought of. It was an easy pick for me since people usually consider the time periods after a war ends and knowledge and enlightenment occur as a "renaissance". I figured after a 100 year war and everyone's in the dark about anything but war and renaissance is bound to happen, and this was the central focus of the story.
~Did you expect the story to become as long and read as it did?
To be honest, I only hoped it would, but I never really expected it to be. Everyone who signs onto this site to be a writer always hopes they'll one day be one of those writers with the super long story with tons of reviewers, so even if this is the only story I ever write for this site that becomes this big, I enjoyed every second of writing this story, and ultimately having so many others love it as well!
As for the as long part, I originally—and wistfully—planned for this story to be 100 chapters, obviously I didn't make it there, but I got closer than I thought I would.
~What was your original concept for this story?
The original concept I had for this story way back in 2006 (before I even had an account on this site) differs so heavily from what it actually turned into. I never planned to have such an elaborate Azula plotline, or have all this new technology. Surprisingly I always planned to have a spiritual conflict of some sorts, but it was more along the lines of a spiritual war than just a natural disaster conflict.
But to get to the point, the original concept was really just a bunch of fluff. I had Aang and Katara traveling alone and helping out random towns, Zuko and Mai were in the palace city, Sokka and Suki were visiting home, Toph was reconciling with her parents, and I didn't have much planned for Azula other than her angrily being locked away. As you can read in my early author notes in the beginning chapters, I claimed that the story would be a whole bunch of side plots and arcs but no real plotline…so you can see there was a definite change. You can see a glimpse into what the original set up was like in this old oneshot a wrote a while ago called "Markets and Dreamguys" it kind of shows where I was originally going with the story when it first popped into my head. I for one, though, am glad I took the later route.
~When did the re-planning of the story happen?
Most of the re-planning happened while the story was already being written. But it happened after writing the second chapter, and then during the hiatus after chapter 12.
~Where did Yuexi's character come from?
The first thing I changed about the story was the adding in of Yuexi. I noticed in my original concept for the story that nothing happened to Toph on an emotional level, and that also in the show Toph didn't really mature that much. She came into the show, her abilities grew, and she had some parental drama, but emotionally not much was going on with Toph. So, I figured adding a romantic aspect was a good way to test Toph's emotional levels. The choice to add Yuexi came right after writing chapter two and before going into the Toph/Zuko field trip plotline.
I wanted Yuexi to be a non-bender because I just can't picture anyone with Toph who is a bender and I wanted him to be her opposite. Toph had the controlling, over bearing, and 'the one who wears the pants' roll down pretty well, so having a person who challenges that wouldn't work. I went with having Yuexi be more shy, introverted, and patient. He puts up with Toph, loves her unconditionally, and isn't afraid to express his feelings towards her even though she does. But, there are times where I wanted to have Yuexi step up, so I made his character pretty dynamic and over all, I think he's a good match for Toph.
What I didn't expect was for so many people to like a non-canon ship, but hey, Toexi 4ever!
~Where did the concept of the Black Jade Rebellion come from?
It came up after the "great hiatus" after chapter 12 happened, and that's when I completely re-branded the story. I realized there were too many fluffy continuation stories and that I wasn't really capturing the point that a world had just come out of a 100 year war. I figured the first logical step would be to add a rebellion, but I knew there'd also be a lot of rebellion fictions out there, so I wondered how I could make my rebellion as original as possible.
Well, first of all, I couldn't have it being lead by the obvious Ozai or Azula…so I had to think of someone who was not only capable to organizing a rebellion, but who also had a reason to.
But, the true concept behind the Black Jade stemmed from another fanfic I eventually wrote called "This Conspiracy". My original plan for that story was to have a shifting plot between Aang and Katara hiding out in Ba Sing Si after the season two finale but also having a plotline that explored Joo Dee's origins of being Long Feng's wife who was brained washed by him. I eventually shelved the idea to write that story but I also loved that Joo Dee plotline I made up, and I wondered if I could incorporate it into FWR. And I was able to! After deciding to add that plotline everything else fell into place…so Long Feng would lead it! And all the brainwashing fit in perfectly with the Azula plotline I had added.
I eventually did write a oneshot called "This Conspiracy", but it simply covered the Aang/Katara plotline and not the Joo Dee one.
The rebellion itself mostly served the purpose of tying off lose ends with Long Feng and what happened to him, adding an initial and logical first conflict, and creating a backdrop to fuel Azula's storyline and a lot of other storylines which fed off of the character conflicts presented within that plot.
~How did you come to the decision to make Azula into a protagonist?
This decision wasn't made lightly, of course, but I really wanted to do something different with Azula than simply having her sitting angrily in prison only to have her break out with plans of avenging her father's defeat.
After re-watching the finale, I started to see just how complex a person Azula was. She has so much more emotion than people give her credit for, and with her being one of my favorite Avatar characters I wanted to find a way to explore Azula's emotional side while still making it believable.
My first impulse was to have Azula have a serious illness with a limited amount of time to live, so it would force her to look at the more important things in life and try and change herself. But, I found that the way that plot was going, Azula would've gone through this whole emotional journey only to die. It was tastefully dramatic, but not entirely satisfying. So, then I decided to take the route I took with Toph, that romance would eventually add an emotional depth whether the character wanted to go through it or not. I figured what would happen if someone was crazy enough to fall for Azula? How would she handle it?
So really, the final thing I did for Azula's plotline was merge the two ideas together. I had her have a romance with Tin Ri, but also I had her 'illness' changed to something a lot more satisfying, a split personality that came to be known as 'nice Azula'. Nice Azula would right her old self's wrongs and bear the weight of her mistakes, while the old Azula focused on finding meaning in living…which she found by finally accepting being in love with Tin Ri.
Having the two communicate so openly in the story was always going to be a temporary thing, and I always knew there would eventually be a time where they'd split. I feel that having the old Azula kind of 'die' in ways and going to the spirit world to be with Tin Ri and the new Azula would stay on earth and fix her life by finding spiritual enlightenment. It seemed like a fitting ending. Plus, come on, how many stories are you going to find with Azula ending up in air nomad clothing? Haha.
~Did you always intend to have Katara get her fertility back, or was it because people demanded it?
My adding the 'Katara's infertility' plotline was really to have some depth in Aang and Katara's relationship in an original way. They have the kind of relationship that can easily be all fluff, but after reading a story called "The Avatar and the Fire Lord" by DJNS, I noticed that the Kataang relationship was still just a 13-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl in love. They're teenagers, they have swaying feelings, internal conflicts, sexual impulses, and they can be silly in how they handle some things.
So, to answer the question, yes, I always intended to have Katara get her fertility so I always found it funny how so many people freaked out and said I was horrible for doing that. It was really just for the depth it would add to the relationship, and for the sake of originality to the plotline.
~How do you feel about Zutara?
I'm not a ship basher…people can love what they want. In some ways, I can see Katara and Zuko working in a romantic situation, but I don't think its true love like Kataang is.
~You seem to like to tease the Aang/Azula relationship. Why?
Well, I am kind of an unofficial Azulaang shipper. It's a crack ship, I know, but it always interested me. You can even tell in the first story I ever wrote on this site way back in 2007 that I explored the Azula/Aang pairing.
Making Azula into a protagonist opened the door to kind of get my Azulaang fix, but I had to make it so it fit the story. Having Azula in the fragile emotional state she was in, she needed someone to confide in, and I thought, who better than Aang?
In the end, though, I never intended to have them seriously romantically involved. Obviously Azula has an Aang crush, but at this point, they're more like siblings and close friends than any kind of potential romance. I can say that at this point in the story, Katara is Aang's soul mate and best friend, but Azula is his next closest human friend. He really does care a lot for her and vice versa.
~Why did you have such a technology boom in this story?
The technology in the TV show was one of the few things that bugged me. They were advanced enough to have war tanks, the drill, war balloons, but no one thought to invent a car or even a gun? It all didn't add up, to me. My only conclusion on that was that the world was so consumed with making weapons for war they didn't think to make new technology jus for the sake of advancing the world. When the world was over, they had time. Gan Mo was kind of had the "brain of 100 inventors", and honestly, I just got lazy with that one. I didn't want to have to track down 20 different inventors for everyone, so I just made one mega-inventor. And Hazuki, well he was just his partner in crime and investor type guy. Gan Mo invented while Hazuki took care of setting up the financial and publicity matters. Together, they're a classic case of stupid geniuses.
But, the addition of the technology paved the way to building the bridge between the Black Jade Black Jade plot and the Natural Disaster plot. Having so much technology was sure to affect the balance of a virgin world, especially with a radio-like tower smack in the middle of the world messing up the airwaves.
~What was the hardest choice you made writing this story?
That definitely had to be the choice to have Toph and Yuexi consummate in chapter 60. It's one of those things that you always think to add but when you actually get to it, you really wonder if you're going to go there. I decided to take the dive, and it seemed to add exactly what I wanted to the end of the Toexi plotline.
~How do you plan out the story? Do you plan it out thoroughly or just make it up as you go along?
I definitely plan everything out thoroughly. I'd completely be all over the place plot-wise if I didn't. Pretty much how I go about things is that first I do a rough planning draft of what goes on in each arc/plot. Simply putting what I want to happen and sometimes not everything makes it in. Then after that, I make a timeline planning which is the order in which the things I've decided to go in the plot happen. Then, I do the chapter breakdown planning which is just breaking down the chronological order into chapters. I did this for part's 1-7, and I was usually always one part ahead of myself, though I did plan the last two parts together.
When it comes to actually writing the chapter, I usually just to a straight typing without really thinking about the order. Sometimes I'll write out one of the plots going on in the chapter before the other and then write the next one, than chose to break them up later. Then after I write out the chapter, I'll break it apart, re-order it, and read through it to change and re-word stuff (that's what I call editing, so all those times I said I took a week off to edit, that's what I was talking about).
~Anything odd to add about the story?
Well, there's the super weird fact that I always have anime theme songs in mind for each part to this story, so if you're into anime, take a look and YouTube the songs that go along with each 'season', so to speak:
~Season One: Chapters 1-17
Opening theme: ".Hack/Legend of the Twilight" opening 1
Ending theme: "Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu" Ending 1
~Season Two: Chapters 18-35
Opening theme: "Soul Eater" opening 2
Ending theme: "Nabari No Ou" ending 1
~Season Three: Chapters 36-53
Opening theme: "Spice and Wolf" opening 1
Ending theme: "School Rumble Second Term" Ending 1
~Season Four: Chapters 54-69
Opening theme: "Eureka Seven" Opening 4
Ending theme: "Deltora Quest" Opening 3
Weird, yes….interesting….yes! I do realize that Avatar is in no way an anime, so it wouldn't have anime openings. But I don't really expect any of you to take this seriously.
~And, of course, the question you're all wondering…..WILL THERE BE A FRIGGIN SEQUEL!
If you had asked me this question a few months ago I would've straight up said no, but at this point YES…THERE WILL BE A SEQUEL! The working title right now is "Fire War Renaissance: For Tomorrow" and it will take place five-six months after the ending of this story.
It will not be as long as this story, but I can see it having maybe 20 chapters, perhaps more, but it's all up in the air at this point. I don't really want to spoil it since it's still in the heavy pre-planning stages, but I guess I can give you the sort-of-working-summary:
Six months after the end of the original story, our heroes are hard at working to finalize the building of Republic City. But when Gan Mo's latest invention proves to be dividing the world once more, Aang is thrust into the middle of a conflict between not nation against nation, but man against a growing age of technology.
As for when it'll be out, I'm aiming for late summer, but we all know how I am with dates. It'll come sometimes this year, though. That, I can say.
~What is the "Fire War Renaissance: Special Edition" mentioned on your profile?
Well, I think you guys will like this one, and I may just be patting myself on the back way too much, but I'm extremely proud of this story…still, though, I find a million and one things wrong with it. Pacing, inconsistent writing style, and the switch of attitude all bugs me when I go back and read this for myself.
So…I started planning for a re-write of this story in hopes of making it an edit on this site, but while planning I realized how much the story was going to differ from the original. So, I came across the idea that since I was re-editing it to make it read more like a novel, why not just sell it as a special collector's edition?
I don't plan to have this be a big money mill for those of you who are thinking that. Just for the few fans who really love this story to death and want a collector's, item having a re-written and slightly changed version of the story would be a real treat. It'll have bonus chapters, and extended and added plotlines for your reading pleasure.
As to when this will be out, I'm thinking Fall of 2012 at the earliest. And I guess people can send in requests and I'll send it to you. How much it'll be depends on how much it costs me to send them out and get them professionally bound, but by the numbers I've been looking at, It'll probably be around $20-$30. I'll have to split the story into two separate volumes, because If I didn't you'd be getting a huge 700-something paged book, which is good, I guess, but that's simply too expensive for me to make. So it'll be two 350-400 page books instead.
Details are up in the air for right now, but I'll let you guys know more—if you're interested—later.
But, you guys, do gotta let me know if you'll really be willing to purchase this. If you're not, that's cool, but then I'm not going to waste my time sending it out to get bound and stuff. And for ordering if you guys do want it, I'm not about creepily asking for people's addresses. I'm not an internet troll (duh) but I understand people not wanting to give out info like that since none of you know me personally. There are mail boxes at your local post office though, and you can temporarily get one for as little as $5 and just have the book sent there instead. And money orders are you friend XD.
And now that sappy goodbye note you've all been waiting for….Though you probably haven't been but whatever…
But, well, since it's not the end, I guess I really have no need for a goodbye note. I'm actually in a very bad mood today, so I'd rather not go into emotional stuff right now, and since it's not the end I can afford that. So, it's a good thing I wrote all the Q&A stuff before all this crap started happening. I probably should've wrote this note beforehand too, then it would've been…cheerier, but hey, life is life. And life isn't cheery, take it from me and read the note:
I will say thank you to all of you for getting me this far, because honestly if I didn't have as many readers, I probably would've lost interest in the story a long time ago. Encouragement from others is always good, and I seriously need all the encouragement I can get right now.
So, without crying about my own personal problems I will say to all of you to keep on keeping on until this fall, and the sequel will probably be up then, since I'll have nothing else to do around that time anyways. Keep tabs on the bonus story, because I'll be updating that more frequently since this story has met its end. And I'll be writing for other fandoms, so if you see a new story you're interested in, check it out. And…well…that's really it on that matter.
Next matter. Thank you all for your kind words—and for some of you, you're not so kind words. You've really made me a better writer. Whether or not I'm a good writer is up to you, but I'm better than I was when I started, so that's something, I guess. I've grown a lot since the beginning of this story, I was 13 when I started and now I'm 18, but at least I set a goal for this story and actually made it to the end (unlike everything else I try). I've really developed somewhat of a soft spot for all of you readers/reviewers, and I've even managed to make a friend from this story, I think (I really don't know how much of a friend anyone considers me nowadays).
So…I'll see you later. Unless something happens to me, of course. I for one know you definitely can't see the future, but if I make it here, hopefully you all will be here to read the sequel: "Fire War Renaissance: For Tomorrow". It's all very exciting, I'm sure. (And for those of you who can't tell since it's virtually impossible to tell sarcasm over the internet….well, that was sarcasm).