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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2016 8:38 pm 
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Joined: Sep 22, 2013
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Location: Inside my own head
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Since it first appeared, the plane of Jakkard has captured the imagination of many, and the characters that inhabit it even moreso. The Wastes invariably call back any who visit, a place of big ideas and even bigger names.



As Jakkard grew, it became obvious some of its ghost stories and legends would end up meeting. The ghost of Ol' Smokey himself, Fisco Vane, and the legend of young Red-Eyes Jackie DeCoeur transformed the very face of Jakkard, but the wastes always want something in return. What will it decide to take when these two legends collide?



Get the feature release of the M:EM's third ebook below, and continue down for a full interview with the authors.



Wanted: Legends of the Wastes

A fanfiction anthology featuring the legends of the Jakkard Wastes








Can I have a standard introduction? (Who are you, what do you do, etc.)

OrcishLibrarian (OL): Well, sir, there are two schools of thought on that.



One possibility is that I am Robert Wagner, beloved star of stage and screen. You might remember me from my Golden-Globe-nominated performance as glamorous amateur sleuth Jonathan Hart in TV's Hart to Hart, or from my delightful cameo as myself in the 1991 cinematic farce Delirious.



The evidence to support this claim, however, is somewhat dicey, and relies mainly on my stated admiration for legendary actress Jill St. John, who may or may not be my wife.



The second possibility is that I'm just your average, bumbling orc, who, thanks to some fluctuation in the aether which has never been satisfactorily explained, found himself growing up in that mana-starved region of the Blind Eternities known to savvy planeswalkers as the American Midwest. I was raised by a kind, good-hearted human family -- qualities for which the inhabitants of this corner of the Eternities are rightfully known -- who tried to teach me decency and table manners, but generally left me to my own devices, which, in my case, meant that I spent most of my time rolling around in the snow, trying to memorize every Calvin and Hobbes strip I could get my hands on, and eating copious amounts of string cheese.



Years later, I set out to make my way in the world, with nothing but a song in my heart, and a voracious appetite for books. Thanks to a series of comic misadventures and poorly-informed choices, I found myself residing in Boston, a large human city. Once there, I attempted to seek gainful employment in a curatorial position at one of this city's many fine libraries, only to be summarily dismissed after it was discovered that I was slowly eating my way though the collections. (If you've ever wondered why the "A" through "C" sections of the catalog at the Boston Public Library are so much slimmer than all the other letters, then I have to confess that I'm the reason. That's my bad.) After it became clear that my bibliovoric tendencies were going to preclude me from gainful employment as the proverbial Orcish Librarian, I somehow stumbled my way into a job in software, which is where I've been ensconced ever since.



I continue to struggle to understand and to adapt to the behaviors of my human friends and colleagues, but they are all lovely people. and I haven't yet given up hope that, with a sufficient amount of practice and effort, I'll one day be considered a decent, productive member of human society.



The evidence to support this line of thought is, frankly, pretty convincing.




RuwinReborn (Ruwin): I'm RuwinReborn, though I suppose that's obvious, and mostly I don't do a whole lot! Some people tell me I, in fact, DO A LOT, and occasionally it feels like this is the case, but sometimes I don't think I do. I've been around in the M:EM for a while now and I get plenty of compliments for my writing. More than I ever thought I would get, to be honest! It's very flattering, and I suppose I would be pretty self-satisfied if that's why I wrote.



Really, I just like doing it, but I need structure. When I saw the M:EM those years ago, and thought to myself "Hey, I could really get into writing Magic fanfiction", I decided that the structure of the game and the rules set by the M:EM were just the structure I needed to write some really good fiction. Apparently, this was the case!



Outside of the internet, though, I mostly work, go to class, and play video games. I'm majoring in English and am currently playing Bloodborne for... some reason. I'm not really sure how that happened - I'm more interested in games for the fun than the challenge, generally. But, I digress.



What brought you to the M:EM originally?

OL: Well, sir, I am embarrassed to admit that the excellent RavenoftheBlack asked me this question recently, and, as I was trying to reconstruct an accurate history of how I first found my way to these gracious shores, I was having a hard time keeping precise events and dates straight inside my overly-thick orcish skull.



So, in an effort to avoid creating continuity errors within my own origin story -- which, I know, is a sore point around these partseditor's note -- I consulted the most complete annals of my own history that I have access to, in order to source the following reply:



I honestly don't remember why I first wound up browsing the old WotC boards, where the ur-M:EM once lived.editor's note I certainly wasn't a member on said forums, or active in said community, or anything like that. And I can't remember why I went there in the first place -- which is pretty bad, even by the standards of my leaky memory.



If I had to guess, then I'd bet I was probably having some problem or other with Magic Online (because I can't remember a time when I was playing Magic Online and not having some problem or other with it...), and I was looking for the technical support forums. That seems like the highest-probability explanation.



And then I just stumbled across the Expanded Multiverse portion of the forums completely by accident. (Which, if memory serves, was like this weird subspace that was on the forums, but wasn't an actual forum itself.)editor's note



And this would have been in the summer of 2013, maybe just a month or two before the White Blight, because I remember that there was a stickied thread at the top of the forum warning people that anything that got posted within a specified time period might disappear when the software "upgrade" happened.editor's note



Anyway, pretty much the first thing I ran across was the invitation to submit stories for the Innistrad anthology. And seeing that felt like this moment of providential serendipity, because, at the time, I was going through one of my periodic, abortive attempts to get myself to Write Something. Which was more or less a cycle of ambition, procrastination, and creative misery that I'd been repeating over and over again for as long as I care to remember.



Because I had always -- always! -- wanted to Write Something. Always.



But, man, was I good at not actually doing it.



I mean, I scrubbed out of NaNoWriMo three times. I made God knows how many attempts to write a (terrible) crime novel. I made God knows how many attempts to write a (terrible) fantasy story.



Lather, rinse, repeat.



Anyway, when I came across the M:EM, I was in the process of failing at my latest attempt to Write Something. (In this case, Something was a series of short stories about life in a post-industrial West Michigan lumber town -- about which, the less said, the better.) And it was just so insanely cool to me to discover this community of people who were all just Writing Something for the simple pleasure of it, and were supporting each other, and were creating something truly remarkable in the process. Because that was exactly what I wanted to be doing!



It was like, in that one moment, the universe just presented the brass ring right to me, because I immediately knew that, if I gave myself the goal of trying to create something that could go into the M:EM -- specifically, into the Innistrad anthology -- then, maybe, just maybe, that would be the impetus that I needed to get over the hump, and to tell my inner critic to shut up for just long enough for me to be able to actually Write Something.



...Which was when I realized that the Innistrad anthology was already full.



...And then, pretty much right after that, the WotC boards got "upgraded" into the White Blight.



And, with that, I came pretty close to just dropping the whole idea, and just going back to not writing anything.



Except I just couldn't shake the notion of how cool the M:EM was. And I couldn't shake the feeling that I knew I wanted to be a part of it.



I wanted to be part of the M:EM. I wanted it basically as much as I've wanted anything in a long, long time.



So I made a deal with myself. I would give myself one month, and I would Write Something. Something that I thought could possibly belong in the M:EM. I would make an account on this new website that people had apparently wandered off to, after leaving a trail of breadcrumbs leading back to the mothership, and then I would post that Something -- whatever it turned out to be.editor's note



And, if people hated it, then I could just vanish back into the aether, and that would be the end of that. No one other than myself would ever have to know.



Which was how I wrote "Small Magic," my first ever piece for the M:EM.



So I made an NGA account. And, after what I think was about a day and a half of trying to push the "Submit" button and failing to do so, I managed to get my finger to press the left mouse all the way down, and I posted "Small Magic" on the M:EM forum.



And that, as they say, was that.



Anyway, thank God you guys didn't hate it. :)




Ruwin: Blatant misrepresentation of the Orzhov guild on Ravnica.



No, really. Everywhere I looked - even the cards themselves! - it seemed to me that everything about Orzhov was about the Black aspect. Murder, Punishment, Servitude, Greed - these motifs appear over and over. As I've often read, it's easier to display the contentious side of people and organizations on cards... but I kept thinking to myself. Where's White's sense of charity? Faith? Unity? Protection?



So, I wrote the Good Pontiff, it got accepted into the archives, and everything else is history.



In fact, if I remember correctly, it was in the comments of the Good Pontiff that I started up a conversation with Keeper(ofManyNames) and showed an interest in making one of the minor characters from the story a planeswalker. They advised me that it was not necessary to use a pre-existing character - The Multiverse was infinite! I could create whatever I wanted.



That's when it really clicked for me, that I could just... make. And within this weird, interconnected canon we've created, it would make sense. No matter what it was.



So, I jokingly said that an interplanar loan shark would be amusing. Keeper said it had merit, and here we see the genesis of Fisco Vane, the Shark. All because I thought it was a shame that the Orzhov had such a bad rap. (Ironically, Fisco ended up heavily disliking the Orzhov because of how difficult they made it for him to set up shop on Ravnica!)



Fisco's evolved a lot since then - and he's been joined by Aloise, Jinsen, Kimberley, Sava, Pendulum, Clade, and many other characters that I've written stories for. But Fisco... Well, people really seem to like him! And he's very successful, and he generates interest, and a lot of other things that are very fulfilling, and I'm glad that he does.



But, I've had Fisco around the longest, and I've gotten attached to him over the years, the old coot. I've written more about Fisco Vane and his ridiculous shenanigans than I've probably written about anything else. I can only hope I continue to have the opportunity to do so! He doesn't plan on quitting - even when things get hard - and neither do I.



What motivated or enticed you to write a story set in Jakkard in the first place?

OL: I grew up with romantic notions about trains.



In my corner of the Blind Eternities, there were no passenger trains. Just the big freight trains, that would pass by on the outskirts of town, pulling what seemed to be an infinite series of boxcars behind them, loaded to overflowing with corn, sugar beets, and fertilizer. So the only images I had of passenger trains were the ones that I absorbed from books and the movies, and, good God, did books and the movies make travel by train look elegant!



I will never forget Cary Grant and Eva Saint Marie meeting in the dining car of the 20th Century Limited in North By Northwest, to share some cocktails and engage in some sexually-charged banter. I will never forget Hercule Poirot, impeccably-dressed in his dinner jacket, and with his moustache perfectly waxed, as he interviewed suspects in the wood-paneled, gas-lit interior of the Orient Express.



For a young orc, those images of train travel just seemed impossibly romantic to me, like postcards from a more glamorous age.



So, imagine my disappointment when I grew up to big a big orc, and I moved to the Northeast, and I got my first taste of travelling on the Amtrak Northeast Corridor. As I drank my Pepsi and ate my microwaved hot dog while sitting sandwiched between laptop-clicking commuters in the woefully-misnamed "café car," I remember having the sad realization that Cary Grant and Eva Saint Marie were not about to come walking through that door.



But, here's the funny thing. No amount of exposure to reality has managed to cure my romantic notions about trains. I still have romantic notions about trains.



Which was why I knew that I wanted to tell Jakkard stories. Because Jakkard had trains, and I wanted to write something about trains. :)



It also helped that the whole design for Jakkard was just so flavorful, and so fresh. It felt so different from everything else in the M:EM, and it was so full of open spaces, and possibility.



Then I read Ruwin's magisterial "Two Bullets," and, after reading that story, I knew that Jakkard was the place to be, and that I wanted to be there.



The Waste was open, and it virtually demanded to be explored. So I decided to give it my best shot, just as soon as the right story came along.



Which was the mindset that I was in when Jackie DeCoeur came along and kicked down the door to my imagination.




Ruwin: Mostly, it was that Fisco was just... the PERFECT fit for this plane. Man. Jakkard just screamed Fisco's name. When someone (probably Keeper) asked if anyone would be willing to write a story set on Jakkard to help flesh it out, I leapt at the idea. I pulled as many ridiculous old western tropes as I could think of, mashed them together with some good old 20's mafia drama, and put a magical spin on it.



The mood was dusty and noir at the same time. There was showdowns and vendettas, eyepatches and gunfights, demons and blood money... It was so great to write, it was so great to just WATCH this legend of Jakkard come to life right beneath my fingers. Ol' Smokey, who turned North Verkell into a graveyard, who became a household boogeyman overnight, who scared even the hardiest of minotaurs into avoiding smoke-ridden streets.



I didn't know, at the time, how important Two Bullets and a Pocketful of Hate was going to be to Jakkard. More seriously, I didn't know how important Two Bullets and a Pocketful of hate was going to be to me, or Fisco.



And it all came full circle again, in Rest for the Wicked. Jakkard, with the same problem, upwards of thirty years later, and Fisco still caught up in the middle of it. Now, maybe, he can stay clean of it...



Maybe.



But, you know. You take the 'walker out of the waste, but you can't take the waste out of the 'walker.



The next two questions I'd like to address only to Ruwin. First, would you like to talk some about how Fisco as a character came about?

Haha, oh man. Fisco Vane. I don't think I'd be wrong claiming that Fisco is the Expanded Multiverse's most infamous character. When I wrote Fisco Vane: The Shark (that little story blurb that's part of his dossier) I just wanted to establish a few things. First, that he likes to talk. I feel like I've stayed pretty true to that. Second, he almost always gets what he wants. Third, fear is his best and most reliable tool. And fourth, underneath all of that, he's got a soft spot for a good cause.



I honestly didn't expect much from Fisco when I first dreamed him up. My first stab at fanfiction and specifically Magic fanfiction had been "Zachari Lavar, the Good Pontiff". My second was "Two Bullets and a Pocketful of Hate". I probably should not have set such high standard for myself right off the bat, but I really like the idea of Fisco on Jakkard, and I really wanted to get Jakkard to work. Once it was established that guns were going to be an integral part of the identity of the plane, well, everything just sort of slotted into place. A pistol is exactly Fisco's sort of weapon. Small, elegant, simple to use, and terribly frightening to have point at your face. I wanted him to have one - I needed him to have one. But for that, he needed to go to Jakkard, and, well... I'm not sorry to say that it hasn't really worked out for him.



Fisco became quite a staple of Jakkard and the M:EM at large. Do you feel it grew with each appearance, or did you have a nebulous plan for where his story arc would take him?

Fisco is inexplicably tied to Jakkard the same way other characters are inexplicably tied to their home planes. In a way, Jakkard is more of a home to Fisco Vane than any other plane in the multiverse. He calls it "his kind of place" at the beginning of Two Bullets, because he loves and hates everything about it. Much like he loves and hates everything about himself. Despite his long and storied history with Jakkard, despite Cosette, and the Duchess, and everything that has happened to him and because of him - it's still his kind of place. That's why he can't resist hassling Jackie into partnership - even if it's under duress. He can't resist coming back, talking to Mal and Lucy, striking deals, looking for fortune. The dark, gritty struggle beneath a thin veneer of hospitality and comfort? Jakkard is a reflection of Fisco's soul.



I doubt he'll leave the Duchess and the Shifter to do what they want with the plane. Not for long. Now, with everything that's come about in his life, and his new outlook, he may even try to stop them for the right reasons. Jakkard, after all, is a plane about freedom. And if there is one thing Fisco always wanted to be, it was free.



I never planned all of this out, of course. It took form over a few years. But it was always headed towards this sort of end. Every time I think Fisco is done with Jakkard, he ends up back there anyway. I've become increasingly convinced that he is going to die there. Somehow, someway. I guess it just remains to be seen where the Wastes take him next.



And now for some questions specifically for Mr. OL. You've talked many a time about the formation of Jackie DeCoeur, but why don't you go ahead and explain again how she came about for those who may not know.

Jackie's arrival in my life was just one of those serendipitous events. I'm sure I've used this phrase elsewhere in this context, but stumbling across Jackie just felt like catching lightning in a bottle. Who knows how many times that will happen, so I have just tried to be as thankful as I can be for the fact that I got very, very lucky.



Back in late January/early February of 2014, I was really feeling like I was at a creative low point. I had written a bunch of Beryl stories in pretty quick succession, and I realized that I needed to give Beryl some time and space to breathe before I could come back to her again. So I was desperate for something else to write about, and I was getting nowhere. And, as that went on, I was starting to hear this awful little voice in the back of my head saying: "You're out of ideas. Beryl was a fluke. You don't have anything else." And that voice was starting to sound awfully convincing.



Then, a series of events just happened to collide with each other.



Now, it all starts with a song: "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts," by Bob Dylan. Which is a fairly deep cut as Dylan songs go -- I would assume that people who haven't wasted way too much of their lives thinking about Bob Dylan (*sheepishly raises own hand*) won't be familiar with it. But it has always been one of my favorite songs, in large part because I just love how each verse ends with the same phrase -- "the Jack of Hearts," who is the protagonist (if you will) of the story in the song -- and yet that phrase takes on different meanings over the course of the song. Sometimes it refers to the character, whereas at other times it refers to a the playing card, and in some cases it can be read either way.



I think it was at this time that Barinellos and I were discussing playing cards in the context of Alessa, and so I re-read "All In" by RuwinReborn so that I could make a note of the suits and ranks of the playing cards in that story. So I had playing cards on the brain. And I had also recently read "Showdown" by RavenoftheBlack, which was a retelling (if you will) of a Beatles song,editor's note so I had retelling songs on the brain. And both of those stories were set on Jakkard, so I had Jakkard on the brain, too.



And, at some point, while all those things were rattling around inside my brain, "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts" popped-up on my music player. And, after the dust settled, I had the idea to try to retell the story from that song on Jakkard.



Now, this idea made me really nervous, for a couple of reasons. First off, I had never tried to adapt an existing story before, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to retain the things that made the story interesting while still making it distinct and different. I was worried that I would end up either with a carbon copy or a pale imitation of the original. Second, I had never written anything even vaguely Western-y before. And, third, I didn't actually know that much about Jakkard.



But the idea seemed strangely compelling, so I decided to take a shot at it. And I made four important decisions right off the bat, two-and-a-half of which would turn out to be dead wrong.



First, I decided to flip the genders of the four main characters in the story. I did this mainly because I felt like, as much as I love the original version, the characters in it -- the suave outlaw, the crooked tycoon, his trophy wife, and the hooker with a heart of gold -- have been written about so many times already that I didn't really have anything new to say about them. Swapping their genders gave me a slightly different angle to attack from, and that was critical for making me feel like I wasn't just retelling the same story which people had heard a dozen times before. So Big Jim became Diamond Jane (horrible inside joke rationale: the character of Big Jim may have been roughly based on Diamond Jim Brady, and the song claims that Jim "owned the town's only diamond mine" -- which, again, could be both literal and/or a reference to cheating at cards), Lily became Trotter (just because I loved having a fox named "Trotter"), and Rosemary became Saxifrage (which, unlike Rosemary, isn't even an herb -- it's just a decorative plant).



As for the main character, I decided that the Jack of Hearts would become Jacqueline DeCoeur (because French is the only other language I know even a tiny bit of), that she would be half-human/half-angel, and that she would have a tattoo of a heart next to her eye, which she would cover up with dark sunglasses.



Trouble was, that plan didn't last long. Because, when I actually sat down and tried to write... well, nothing came out.



I started work on the story late one night, and -- at first -- it was a brutal slog. I must have spent hours writing and re-writing just the first three or four grafs, and, when I gave up for the night, Jackie -- who, at the time, was still going by Jacqueline -- hadn't even made it inside Diamond Jane's cabaret yet. She was stuck outside, where she was endlessly adjusting her hat, and squinting her eyes, and shaking the trail dust from her serape, and baking beneath the hot, Jakkard sun.



Something was wrong. I had the characters wrong. I just didn't know how, and I went to bed that night thinking that maybe the whole idea had been a mistake.



Instead, I woke up that next morning, and -- suddenly -- I knew what I had to do. Because, in my mind's eye, I saw Jackie take off her sunglasses for the first time. And, when she did, I saw that her eyes were red. "The color of fresh blood," as Trotter always puts it.



And it was like all the pieces just fell into place.



Jackie wasn't Jacqueline -- she was Jackie. And she wasn't a half-angel -- she was a half-demon. Which was what it suddenly seemed like she had wanted to be all along. And she wore the dark glasses to hide those tell-tale eyes of hers.



And, once I knew all that -- once I knew who Jackie really was -- the whole story just came pouring out.



Jackie stopped cooling her heels out on the street. Jackie stepped inside Diamond Jane's, and "Love and Theft" just happened.



It just emerged, fully-formed, like Athena.



I already had the main plot beats and characters, thanks to the song. I just had to watch them hit their marks. And I couldn't believe how well they performed. Maybe more than with any other story I've ever written, I just had a sense as I was working on that one that it could turn out to be something special.



I mean, most of my stories get written, and then re-written, and then re-re-written. I think that "A Name in a Book" probably holds the record, with something close to 20 drafts.



"Love and Theft" just got written. I think that, between the first draft, and the final one, I changed fewer than five lines.



It just came out correct. It was like I didn't write it. It was like, for one strange, surreal, amazing week, the story Gods were sending out this wonderful signal, and I just happened to be the antenna that was receiving on the right frequency.



I feel like that's the way writing works, sometimes. I feel like the Gods just throw us thunderbolts, and we do our level best to catch them. And I think that, over the course of your life, if you get lucky -- if you get very, very lucky -- maybe you catch one or two of those bolts.



I think that, maybe, if you get very, very lucky, you catch one of those bolts, and, for a brief, beautiful moment, you get to write with lightning coming out of your pen.



That's why I say that I almost feel like I didn't write this story. I almost feel like, this one time, I just got very, very lucky, and lightning came out of my pen.



Now, even with all that being said, I still had trepidations when I posted "Love and Theft." I worried: Would people want to read a song story? Would they want to read a story that had basically no magic in it? Would they feel like it was clichéd, like they'd heard it before? Would people think there was something wrong about the love story between Jackie and Trotter?



And, through another quirk of timing, that story just landed on the boards during a kind of slow period around the M:EM. I think it sat there for three weeks or more without anyone having read it. And I got more and more terrified that I had been totally wrong, that the story was a flop, and that people wouldn't connect with it.



Then I had to travel for business, and I didn't have internet access for about a day or so. And, when I logged back in, suddenly there were all these comments on the story, and people really seemed to have liked it. And that was, maybe, one of the happiest moments I've had in my creative life. It just felt so, so good to feel like people were getting even a fraction of the happiness from these characters that I was.



Like I said before, I just feel so lucky that I ended up where I did.



At the time that I posted "Love and Theft," I didn't have any plans to write about Jackie again. But she just took up residence in my mind. And, in my quiet moments, I would see her red eyes staring at me from the corner of my mind's eye. And I would look over, and I'd see her there, grinning her gold-toothed grin, and giving me a look that said: "Want to go cause some trouble?"



And the answer to that was yes. When it comes to Jackie, the answer has always been yes. :)




How did Jackie's first arc grow from her first appearance through Stare Down the Basilisk? Did you plan any of it out beforehand, or did it just come about naturally?

I really didn't plan any of it. Like I mentioned before, it all just sort of happened.



After sharing "Love and Theft," I didn't have any concrete plans to write for Jackie again. Instead, the next Jackie story -- which turned out to be "Red Eyes" -- basically grew out of a single line of dialog.



A lot of my stories begin that way, actually. I'll just hear a character say something inside my head, and, even though I may have literally no idea who they're talking to, or what they're talking about, something about that stray scrap of dialog will just stick inside my brain, and I'll feel like I just have to know what was happening in that moment. And so the act of writing basically becomes the task of trying to answer all those questions, to somehow start from this strange, disembodied middle, and work backwards to determine what the beginning of the story was, and what the end could possibly be.



In the case of "Red Eyes," what happened was that -- basically out of nowhere -- I heard Jackie say: "I make so much money off of you, we're basically partners."



And, from the moment I heard that, I was hooked. I had to know who Jackie was talking to, and why.



The rest of the story basically shook out from there, albeit in a very limited form. Brax emerged first as the villain of the piece, and the fact that Jackie was blindfolded sort of came about because I could hear Brax, and I could even smell his cologne, but I didn't have a clear picture of him in my mind's eye. And the rest of the plot basically emerged to explain why Jackie was victimizing Brax in particular, and why she had wound up blindfolded and tied to a chair in the first place.



With that being said, basically everything else that happened in "Red Eyes" was a pure Maguffin at the time. I didn't know why Jackie was hoarding crystal. I didn't know what was inside Brax's safe. I knew that I was dangling these various loose ends, and that they might be interesting to tug on in the future. But, at the time, I was really just interested in getting to know Jackie a little better, and I wasn't even worried about what she might do next.



I think that's mainly what "Red Eyes" accomplished, actually. It gave me a much better window into Jackie's morality and way of doing business than "Love and Theft" had. Because there was just a lot more going on in "Love and Theft," whereas "Red Eyes" was all about watching Jackie at work, and seeing the way that she could keep one step ahead of everyone who was out to get her.



The other thing that "Red Eyes" did was that it convinced me that Jackie had a bigger story to tell, and that I wanted to tell it. Which was how "Stare Down the Basilisk" came slowly into being.



At this point, I knew that I needed to people-out Jackie's crew a little bit more. Because I knew that she was planning something big, and that she wouldn't be able to do this job on her own. And that's when Presto, Dazie, Hush-Hush, and Shakes suddenly appeared on the scene, joining Sharps, who I'd already met in "Red Eyes." And, again, I can't explain how this happened, but every single one of those characters basically just stepped onto the page as though they had been waiting in the wings my entire life, and I loved them all from basically the moment they introduced themselves.



Again, I feel like I got lucky. I feel like I got very, very lucky.



I also knew that Trotter would be returning to make an encore appearance, because he was just an absolute delight to have around. And seeing him and Jackie together again basically helped me to realize that Jackie's larger story wasn't just an adventure story. At it's core, it was a love story, too.



From there, I started picking up the loose ends from "Red Eyes," and I started extending them forward into the new story. From the question of what was in Brax's safe came the iron cartel, and Jackie's plan to dismantle it. (It will probably surprise no one to know that I was also thinking a lot about the American financial crisis at the time, and Brax and his ilk became stand-ins for the bankers of the 21st century as much as for the robber barons of the 19th century.) Similarly, when I started trying to figure out how Jackie was going to pull off this impossible robbery, I remembered all the crystal that she'd been stealing from Brax, and The Machine and The Device both basically emerged from there.



The Machine and The Device also solved a major problem I'd created for myself -- namely, if Brax and his co-conspirators had actually horded this massive stockpile of iron, how could Jackie possibly steal it all? Originally, I had envisioned that Brax would be so spooked by Jackie that he would decide to move the stockpile, and that this would turn out to have been Jackie's game all along, since she could then rob the trains carrying the iron instead of having to rob the secure facility. This was another idea that sort of sprung from a stray line of dialog -- I heard Jackie saying something along the lines of: "I don't know much about robbing fortresses. But I know a lot about robbing trains."



The problem I ran into was that I couldn't figure out a way to make that work. Given how big I wanted the stockpile to be, it would have taken a long time and a lot of trains to move it. (As Sharps himself points out.) I couldn't think of a way that Jackie could plausibly rob all those trains, either en route or at their destinations, without it being discovered before she could finish the job.



Now, she could totally have robbed some of the trains, but I think the essence of this story is that, as much as she tries to project that she is a smart bandit who is only motivated by the money -- and, in most cases, that's true -- this is one moment where she gives in to her own ego and sense of destiny. So I couldn't see her being happy just robbing some of Brax's iron. She needed to steal all of it.



That was where The Machine and The Device came in. And, fortunately, I knew that Jackie already had the crystal she needed to make them work.



Essentially the one big thing that changed along the way was what The Machine was going to be for. Initially, I had the idea that Jackie was going to use all this sangrite to blow up the leyline that accompanied the railroad to Brax's compound, thus cutting off any pursuit. I even asked a not-very-subtly-disguised question to Keeper about whether or not something like that would actually be possible.



The problem was, the more I thought about that idea, the less sense it made to me. First of all, it belatedly occurred to me that Hush-Hush had already boomeranged all the guards off to God-knows-where, so it wasn't actually like there was anyone left to pursue Jackie's gang as they escaped from the facility anyway. Any pursuit would have to start someplace else, so shifting the leyline didn't necessarily accomplish much.



And, frankly, the more I thought about it, it had a kind of dangerous vandalism quality to it that I didn't love. So I dropped the idea. There's something oddly fitting about the fact that it wound up as a red herring.



Anyway, once I sort of had this basic skeleton for "Stare Down the Basilisk" in place, I pretty much hunkered-down over the course of a three-day weekend and just wrote it all out. And, when I was done, I sort of felt like I had brought Jackie to the end of her story arc, and that, while I wasn't exactly ready to send her riding off into the sunset -- which I had actually considered as an ending, but decided not to pull the trigger on -- I figured that I would let her enjoy her hard-won spoils for at least a little while, before I came back to her again.



As ever, though, Jackie turned out to have other ideas. And it soon turned out that Ruwin did, too! :D



Well, then, who approached whom for the collaborative arc between Jackie and Fisco? And what were each of your reactions to the idea initially?

Ruwin: My memory is pretty fuzzy, but I think what happened was that I sent OL the opening portion of "A Moral Compass" and a >:] .



Honestly, as soon as OL had written "Love and Theft", and then moved on into the rest of his stories that culminated in "Stare Down the Basilisk", I knew - I just KNEW - that Fisco and Jackie were going to cross paths. It had to happen. And not because we wanted it to happen, but because on Jakkard, it never could have been any other way. Too small a pond, and the fish were just too big.




OL: On Sunday, July 8th, 2014, at 7:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time, RuwinReborn sent me a PM.



The subject was: "Psssst!"



The first sentence was: "Sorry, not sorry."



The last sentence was: "We'll see where this ends up going."



Sandwiched between those two sentences was the first scene of "A Moral Compass."



And that was that. :D



I mean, it felt like this was something that just had to happen, you know? I think that, in the discussion following pretty much every Jackie story I wrote, someone would immediately make a comment to the effect of: "I wonder what would happen if Fisco and Jackie ever met?" Because that question really did just demand to be answered.



Fisco and Jackie are very similar in some ways. But I think that they both have such distinct voices, too. How could you not have fun trying to imagine what they might say to each other, what they might make of each other? How can you not get excited by the idea of red eyes glimpsed through a haze of cigar smoke?



And the great thing is, when I tried to picture them meeting, I could imagine them becoming instant friends... but I could also imagine them trying to kill each other. And both of those possibilities felt entirely plausible, entirely in-character.



Fisco Vane hates Jakkard. Jackie DeCoeur loves Jakkard. Jakkard has shaped both of them, just as both of them have shaped Jakkard.



Like I said, it just felt like this was a story that had to happen. Ruwin -- bless his heart -- got the ball rolling. And, once that ball was rolling, it just took on a life of its own.



Did either of you have any plans for just where this new arc would take these two characters, or how it would change the face of Jakkard?

OL: I think that we both came into it very much with an attitude of: "Okay, let's just see where this goes!" Because you could just feel in your bones that it was going somewhere, and that -- even if you didn't know where that somewhere was -- it was destined to be exciting.



I mean, literally, the PM I sent to Ruwin with the first few pages of "The Sincerest Form of Flattery" was headlined, "I don't actually have a plan for this...," and it just sprung out of a conversation between Jackie and Lucy, because I could hear those two characters talking, and, holy Hell, the dialog just sizzled when they were in the room together.



And that was pretty much how things moved at first -- these bigger-than-life characters kind of drove the story, almost by the sheer force of their presence.



It wasn't until well into the writing of what ultimately became "Rest for the Wicked" that the subject line of our PM thread changed to: "We actually do kind of have a plan for this at this point!" And I think that Ruwin was the person who sort of first got his head around the larger plot that explained why and how Jakkard had put Old Smokey and the Red-Eyed Woman on a collision course with each other. And, once Ruwin had sort of shone a light on the shadowy forces that were lurking behind everything, things moved pretty fast from there, because I think the two of us were basically just desperate to find out what would happen next. :)



One thing I can say is that I wrote Jackie's portion of "Blood on the Tracks" and "Rest for the Wicked" out-of-order, and that I wrote her post-script first. Because I knew that she, and Trotter, and a lot of other characters who I really cared about were going to suffer as they made their way from the beginning of that arc to the end, and I think I understood that, for me to be able to put them through that wringer, I needed to know what was waiting for them on the other side. I needed to see Trotter getting off of that cart, needed to see him rushing over to Jackie, needed to see her scooping him up in her arms and holding him with his feet dangling a couple inches above the ground.



I needed to see the happy ending first. Then, once I knew it was there, I could let Jackie and Fisco get to work, and to do what they had to do.



In the end, I think the telling thing is that Jackie and Fisco didn't so much change Jakkard, as Jakkard changed them, and they changed each other. And there's something poetic about that, I hope.




Ruwin: All I knew from the get-go was that OL wanted a happy ending for Jackie. I agreed on principle - not really my character to end, after all - and Fisco's story doesn't begin or end with Jakkard. Interestingly, this arc was almost entirely about Jackie, with Fisco playing second fiddle almost the entire time. This surprised me upon review - especially considering how the events would later cascade into Fisco's fortune being lost - but really, it all looped back to Two Bullets. Those who don't learn their history are doomed to repeat it, and Jackie was a hair's breadth from becoming the next Ol' Smokey, almost five decades later.



I didn't really catch sight of the comparison until OL reminded me of Trotter. The call back to Two Bullets is part of what makes "Rest for the Wicked" so powerful. Not even Fisco wanted to talk about Cosette again, but he knew it was the only way to get Jackie to see what she was doing. No one wanted to meet Ol' Smokey. They probably never gave thought to what it was like to be him, and Jackie almost lived it.



As for how it changed Jakkard, well... We'll see what the Duchess has in store.



What were your experiences working together? Was it a smoother ride than you anticipated, or were there bumps along the road?

Ruwin: OL is and always will be a genuine pleasure to work with. The only "problem" we ever had was that we both got too excited over each other's work that we spent an absolutely ridiculous amount of time combing over it and exalting it piece by piece. I honestly could not ask for a more patient or enthusiastic person to collaborate with, and if I could, I probably would not.



OL is an indispensable member of this project and I wouldn't trade him for the world.




OL: Working with Ruwin -- not just on this project, but on many others as well -- has been one of the most creatively fulfilling experiences in my life. It is a privilege and an honor to write stories with him.



See, here's the thing: Ruwin is a genuinely great guy, and he's a phenomenal writer to boot. And both of those qualities make him a pleasure to work with. But the other reason that I always feel my pulse quicken just a little when I see Ruwin's name appear in my inbox is that I think that he and I just sort of feed off of each other's enthusiasm in this crazy, awesome way.



Because we're both fans, you know? We're both fans of these characters. And that means that we get each other excited. And I think it means that we trust each other's instincts, too, because we know that those instincts are rooted in a shared love for these characters, and that we're both of us just trying to tell the best stories that we can.



All of which makes working with Ruwin just criminal amounts of fun. And I can't think of anything better than that. :D



Is there any part of this saga either of you would change, if you had the chance to do it all over again?

OL: If I had the chance to do it all over again, I'm honestly not sure if there's anything in particular I would want to change. At the end of the day, I am pretty stupidly happy with how everything turned out.



That said, if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would. Because, God, was working on these stories fun.



I would do it again in a heartbeat.




Ruwin:Oh man, given the chance and enough time, I would have worked on this forever. I would have explored every facet of Jakkard and the impact it has on the narrative. I would have put more of Mal and Lucy in. I would've...



Well, I would have done a lot.



But I'm not a writing machine, and my physical limitations are very real. For the time I did have, and the work OL and I produced?



I wouldn't change a thing.



Anything else either of you would like to add?

OL: Just this: Thank you all so much, every one.



:)




Ruwin: As for adding anything else, well, OL already thanked everyone so I'll just say: You're welcome. ;]






In reference to the multiple changes that Wizards of the Coast has made to multiple canon planewalker's backstories, most notably the changes which came from the release of the Magic Origins set, which was still a new release at the time of the interview.


Back up


The now-defunct Wizards of the Coast forums originally hosted the M:EM, and served as a basic outline for the NGA forums today.


Back up


On the original Wizards of the Coast forums, the M:EM occupied a group, which was an organizational structure of the forums apart from the main board. Due to the byzantine structure of the boards, groups were difficult to find unless linked to.


Back up


In the summer of 2013, Wizards updated their forum software, and had made a global announcement that anything posted between then and the date when the upgrade happened a few weeks in the future would be lost in the transition. Needless to say, chaos ensued. The upgrade itself is referred to as the White Blight, due to the scathing allegorical story Kiss of the Shorecerers, by RavenoftheBlack; which itself is due to the large, empty, white spaces the upgrade introduced to the forums.


Back up


The origninal Wizards of the Coast forums are/were often referred to as "the mothership"; NGA was founded in the aftermath of the summer 2013 forum upgrade, and several hundred users migrated here, leaving links in there posts and signatures for others to find.


Back up


Showdown was, ahem, shot down for acceptence into the M:EM due to reference to the canon planeswalker Gideon and implying a few things about said 'walker. Though the story was left behind, the main character from it, the fox 'walker Antine, went on to become a crucial part of the War of the Wheel novel by RavenoftheBlack.


Back up



Last edited by Lord LunaEquie is me on Sun May 29, 2016 7:44 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2016 9:50 pm 
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Great interview! Thanks, Luna, for putting it together, and thanks Orcish and Ruwin for giving it, and for writing the pieces.

OL is an indispensable member of this project and I wouldn't trade him for the world.

I couldn't agree more!

And, as someone who has had the distinct honor of collaborating with both Orcish and Ruwin, I just want to say that the same is very true for both of you!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2016 10:04 pm 
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OL is an indispensable member of this project and I wouldn't trade him for the world.

I couldn't agree more!

Aww... :)

I appreciate the sentiment, you guys -- I really do! But, you know, the world is pretty great, too!

I mean, the world has a lot of barbeque sauce in it. Like, *a lot*. And, while I can definitely fit a lot of barbeque sauce inside myself, I definitely can't hold as much as the world.

So, if you all did everntually decide to trade me for the world, I would totally get it. You would come out way ahead on barbeque sauce. *Way* ahead.

In the meantime, though, I honestly don't know what I can say besides "thanks," and "I don't really deserve it," and "but thanks again, anyway."

So: Thanks. I don't really deserve it, but thanks again, anyway. :)

I mean, I just mash the keys from time to time, and I try to remind the rest of you how amazing you all are. Neither of those is that hard. I'm basically 50 percent a monkey with a typewriter, and 50 percent a mirror.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 3:25 am 
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Update on the cover:
Attachment:
JakkardAnthologyCoverWIP2a.jpg
JakkardAnthologyCoverWIP2a.jpg [ 100.44 KiB | Viewed 4411 times ]


Just for fun, here's what she looks like without glasses:
Attachment:
JakkardAnthologyCoverWIP2b.jpg
JakkardAnthologyCoverWIP2b.jpg [ 64.2 KiB | Viewed 4411 times ]

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The format of YMtC and the Expanded Multiverse.
YMtC: My Deck of Many Things | NGA Masters | 2 | 3 | Roses of Paliano | Duel Decks: War of the Wheel | Jakkard: Wild Cards | From Maral's Vault | Taramir: The Dark Tide
Solphos: Solphos | Fool's Gold | Planeswalker's Guide | The Guiding Light | The Weight of a Soul
Game design: Pokémon Tales | Fleets of Ossia: War Machines | Hunter Killer | Red Jackie's Run


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:03 pm 
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Funny, I always pictured her with a long braid.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:48 pm 
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I really like her face, particularly the smile, though I don't picture Jackie's eyes as actually glowing. Still, very, very nice.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:33 pm 
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Updated the epub link with the new art.

Incidentally, it may not hurt for people to periodically poke me about the pdf version. It might easily slip my mind.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2016 8:30 pm 
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I just wanted to say that I haven't forgotten about finishing the cover -- it's just that the past two weeks have been hell on my free time and access to Photoshop. I'll get to it eventually.

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The format of YMtC and the Expanded Multiverse.
YMtC: My Deck of Many Things | NGA Masters | 2 | 3 | Roses of Paliano | Duel Decks: War of the Wheel | Jakkard: Wild Cards | From Maral's Vault | Taramir: The Dark Tide
Solphos: Solphos | Fool's Gold | Planeswalker's Guide | The Guiding Light | The Weight of a Soul
Game design: Pokémon Tales | Fleets of Ossia: War Machines | Hunter Killer | Red Jackie's Run


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2016 8:48 pm 
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Nice flesh tones! Great style and textures, and lighting.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2016 9:28 pm 
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I just wanted to say that I haven't forgotten about finishing the cover -- it's just that the past two weeks have been hell on my free time and access to Photoshop. I'll get to it eventually.

Incidentally I'd forgotten about the pdf version, which... I don't actually remember how I did the one for WotW. I'll have to see if there's an easy conversion program or something out there.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2016 9:31 pm 
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Again, Luna and CKY, thank you both so much for the work that you've already done.

I have zero concern about when these last little touches will get done, because I'm just so chuffed with what you have both done already. It's all a freeroll from this point, as far as I'm concerned. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2016 9:36 pm 
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Again, Luna and CKY, thank you both so much for the work that you've already done.

I have zero concern about when these last little touches will get done, because I'm just so chuffed with what you have both done already. It's all a freeroll from this point, as far as I'm concerned. :)

I consider it not quite a point of pride, but not quite a duty -- perhaps somewhere in-between -- to have a pdf version of this for those who prefer that or even just don't have a device that can reliably read epub files.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 3:44 am 
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Almost done here. I'll bang out Jackie's clothes and a simple backdrop soon.

Attachment:
JakkardAnthologyCoverWIP3a.jpg
JakkardAnthologyCoverWIP3a.jpg [ 110.29 KiB | Viewed 4239 times ]


A little Easter egg:
Attachment:
JakkardAnthologyCoverWIP3b.jpg
JakkardAnthologyCoverWIP3b.jpg [ 29.38 KiB | Viewed 4239 times ]

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The format of YMtC and the Expanded Multiverse.
YMtC: My Deck of Many Things | NGA Masters | 2 | 3 | Roses of Paliano | Duel Decks: War of the Wheel | Jakkard: Wild Cards | From Maral's Vault | Taramir: The Dark Tide
Solphos: Solphos | Fool's Gold | Planeswalker's Guide | The Guiding Light | The Weight of a Soul
Game design: Pokémon Tales | Fleets of Ossia: War Machines | Hunter Killer | Red Jackie's Run


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 2:51 pm 
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Very cool, especially that Love/Theft thing. Nice and meta.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 11:12 pm 
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The inscriptions on the guns are basically the Greatest Things Ever. :D

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2016 8:45 am 
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I will remember to update this... Sometime soon. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but soon. And for the rest of our lives.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2016 3:28 am 
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Cover is done:

Attachment:
JakkardAnthologyCoverPreview.jpg
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Download hi-res JPG

Download source PSD

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The format of YMtC and the Expanded Multiverse.
YMtC: My Deck of Many Things | NGA Masters | 2 | 3 | Roses of Paliano | Duel Decks: War of the Wheel | Jakkard: Wild Cards | From Maral's Vault | Taramir: The Dark Tide
Solphos: Solphos | Fool's Gold | Planeswalker's Guide | The Guiding Light | The Weight of a Soul
Game design: Pokémon Tales | Fleets of Ossia: War Machines | Hunter Killer | Red Jackie's Run


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2016 9:27 pm 
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And updated the ebook. I'll try tonight (though with the internet I currently have it's going to be hit-or-miss) to just convert it to a pdf version, but I may have to do it all manually. Bluh. I wish I hadn't convinced myself I had already done that part.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2016 11:41 pm 
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CKY that looks amazing! Very well done! :D

This entire anthology has been great. Maybe I'll print one out and give it to my parents. Hm. Not sure they'll care though, but it would be nice for them to see that I'm writing something.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2016 12:14 am 
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Yes, sorry. I should have said how great that looks. I still should say how great that looks. I'm just still so tired from work and I wanted to check the forums one last time before my head hit the pillow. Sorry.

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