Good news, everyone!
It's time for a new episode of The Scoop, which the executive producers (mxpw and myself) have decided to make a weekly event rather than, like, every other day as you've seen before. Today, I'd like to introduce a guest that's very close to my heart...with a scalpel...I should probably worry about this...oh well, this joke started sucking before it started being funny. Moving on now.
Yep! Justin aka Liam2 aka one of the sweetest guys on earth (even if he does have a disturbing propensity to call the blog audience "ferrets")! You may remember him from such brilliant stories as Chuck and Sarah vs. Huey Lewis, my personal favorite Sarah the Vampire Slayer, and of course, the much-lauded and Awesome Award winning Chuck Vs. the Road to Innocence. mxpw caught up with him last week, and this is what happened:
mxpw: Okay, Justin, I suppose the first thing I'll ask is where have you been all these months?
Justin: Well, all these months I've been on sabbatical in the mountains of Peru, getting in touch with my inner writer.
Justin: My guru, a lovely fellow named Walter, has been helping me achieve enlightenment
mxpw: Of course. I hear there's some pretty good Peruvian wines. Any recommendations?
mxpw: What kind of enlightenment?
Justin: Well, this guy named Juan made a really good grape wine using the engine of a '67 Buick
Justin: Well, my enlightenment pertains to what direction I want to go with my writing. And that is to say, away from fanfic.
mxpw: Why is that?
mxpw: I mean, for some reason I don't quite understand, people like your fic. Why leave a potentially adoring public?
Justin: Wow. People like my stuff? Eh, you know, it strikes me I'm never gonna make money off it. And really, that is my goal, to make a living creating new work.
mxpw: Okay. I can understand that.
mxpw: I have the same goal.
mxpw: So with that in mind, what kind of original writing are you hoping to explore?
Justin: Screenwriting, mostly. Though recently I've been dabbling in short stories. But I hope to launch into movies, with an ultimate aim of maybe my own TV series.
mxpw: What kind of TV are we talking about here?
Justin: Well, certainly not legal dramas or third tier network genre shows (pointed look). I've got a sitcom idea I'm really excited about. Plus a few hour long dramas that I think might have potential. You and I dabbled with one for a while.
mxpw: I'm still dabbling. It hasn't disappeared, just on the back burner at the moment.
mxpw: But actually, this brings up a topic that should be covered.
mxpw: So you're a pretty opinionated guy, clearly, as anybody who reads your blog entries can see.
mxpw: I guess what I'm getting at is, where do you stand on the Chuck fandom these days? I know you say you want to move away from fic, but is there any hope you might come back to it?
Justin: I still love the fandom, though damned if I know why. You and I have discussed it at times, and I think we share a similar sentiment. We love what Chuck COULD be, more than what it is.
Justin: As for a comeback? Yes. I can say with certainty that I will return to the Chuck fic world this year.
mxpw: Really? Does this mean RTI will be updated?
mxpw: I'm still waiting for that Chuck/Rachel conclusion.
Justin: Possibly. I'm still on the fence about that. To be honest, when I first started mapping out and writing RTI (in mid '98), that was a tough time in my life. And RTI was very therapeutic for me. But now, since I'm mostly beyond those issues, going back to RTI seems like...opening old wounds.
mxpw: Mid '98? When you were like 14?
Justin: Shit, sorry. I mean '08. My dumbass.
mxpw: Haha. It's okay, we all know you make mistakes.
Justin: Hey now.
mxpw: Alright, well, we don't want you to re-open old wounds.
Justin: But you know, family life was hell for most of 2009 and a good chunk of this year.
mxpw: You clearly drink enough already.
mxpw: But any chance you could just do a concluding chapter that would tie up loose ends?
Justin: Possibly. I've considered simply posting what would have occurred with the rest of RTI. And if I don't update by year's end, I might do that. But don't give up hope on it yet. I know crystal wants me to finish.
mxpw: Though I think I'll ultimately be disappointed as I wanted Chuck to end up with Rachel in the story.
Justin: I know, and I've told you, if I do finish, that outcome might still occur.
mxpw: Which I have to give you props for, as it's the only story I can think of where I wasn't supporting Chuck/Sarah.
mxpw: Why do you think so many people like Chuck/Rachel so much?
Justin: I think somehow I managed to create a good character in Rachel. Someone who could appreciate Chuck and wasn't so afraid that she couldn't admit it. The design of Rachel was also that she was the woman that Sarah could be with a little experience and seasoning
mxpw: Right. She's like Sarah 2.0.
mxpw: But then I guess the question becomes, why does Sarah 1.0 kinda suck?
Justin: Lack of development, man. We've never gotten that development on the show. We've never seen Sarah the person, just Sarah the agent. And what glimpses we have seen often leave me, and possibly others, frustrated with her.
mxpw: What do you mean specifically? I know you have some pretty unique views on Sarah. Care to go into a little more depth?
Justin: You know me. My mind tends to be a little...darker. My Sarah is more fit for HBO. She's gotta be a girl with demons. She can't be well adjusted. I mean, on the show it seems that she isn't, but I like to go deeper with it. I mean, the girl was raised a con artist. That isn't conducive for healthy development.
mxpw: Certainly not, but I think a darker journey is precisely why so many people had problems with Season 3. What would you do to subvert that, even with your darker tone?
Justin: I mean, there comes a point where you gotta get something real out of her. Some measure of admission that Chuck means something to her. The whole angle with Shaw was what did it. I mean, I think people would accept Sarah with an edge so long as she wasn't so emotionally cut off from Chuck.
mxpw: So as long as there's a connection to Chuck, a darker path is fine?
Justin: I think so. At least with me it would be. “Chuck, I'm a bit screwed up, but will you bear with me?” That's all I need from any woman, fictional or real.
mxpw: Okay, so what are some of the things you'd like to see explored with Sarah's character? Like if you were writing Season 4?
Justin: Gimme some history. Show me she can relate to other people. Really, I think the best thing for her development would be to institute another female agent in a recurring role. Give her a girl to relate to.
mxpw: Some are hoping that Ellie will be that person. What do you think about that?
Justin: I think that's a more realistic option now. Especially since she's in on the secret. And there needs to be some development if the Chuck/Sarah relationship will continue. But really, there's only so far that Ellie can relate with her.
mxpw: I think there's only so far any female agent would be able to relate to her as well.
mxpw: So far, the show has presented a very skewed spy dynamic, in that it's unlikely any other female agent would be able to understand where Sarah was coming from because of the simple fact that she's a woman in an actual relationship.
Justin: True. But to hearken to my own story, I think Rachel is a character that could bridge those worlds. It's precisely why I created her instead of using Carina.
Justin: I think an agent, if done properly, can be that woman.
mxpw: Which, I have to give you credit for. I think I've told you this in the past, but I actually based part of Carina's characterization in DA off of Rachel in RTI.
mxpw: She was probably the most dynamic OC I'd read in a fic in quite some time.
Justin: Wow...that's shiny.
Justin: Thank you.
Justin: And I know I've told you, you're the first author to ever make me like Carina. And I consider DA my favorite Chuck fic.
mxpw: Yeah. I think Frea's head just reduced in size a tiny little bit at that.
Justin: Sorry, sweetie. But I really heart DA. Not to say Frea isn't all that and a bag of chips.
mxpw: So, moving away from RTI for a bit, if not it, what are you planning to post by the end of the year for us?
Justin: Well, there's a story called “Requiem in D Minor.” I actually wrote most of it last year, hoping to finish it by Christmas. I didn't, so I'll post it this December. It's a mini-serial detailing Sarah's origins in the CIA. Completely AU now, since the show horribly botched it.
mxpw: Well, how is your version different?
Justin: In my story, Sarah was sent into field work at 19 or 20, even before completing her training. This fic is inspired by a chapter of RTI, actually. Stranger Things, Part II.
mxpw: Right, that is AU. What happens?
Justin: She's sent on assignment to Prague by Director Graham. The fact she’s so young and youthful, means she can pose as a student at university. There she's tasked to “seduce” a mark. From there it gets real.
mxpw: Ah. Yeah, that does seem to fit your MO. And heh, it's something I've always been curious about. Your Sarahs are darker, more screwed up emotionally (and that's saying something), like to drink, smoke, and swear like a sailor. Is this just something you do because you can or is it all part of your darker and more dramatic vision?
Justin: A little of the former, a lot of the latter. I think a real agent in her position would be darker, meaner, and a little disturbed. Not to say that she can't be someone Chuck might love, but it wouldn't be all rainbows and puppies either. I'm not one of these other hack fic writers who think she should give up her career and be a housewife.
mxpw: Heh. I'm unsure if I should touch that.
mxpw: Could be a landmine.
Justin: So I shouldn't name names then? I probably could.
mxpw: I'd advise against it, but since when did you ever listen to me?
Justin: Well, there's this guy whose name sounds like an animal I find dead on the roadside on occasion...
mxpw: Yeah, I think we're going to cut this off before it gets any worse.
mxpw: So let's move on, shall we?
Justin: Oh, and because I can, Nirvana12, the story is called “Road to Innocence,” not “Independence.”
Justin: Oh. My bad.
Justin: Tee hee.
mxpw: Alright, alright, enough with the darkness and crap.
mxpw: Besides RTI, you're probably most known in the fandom for your comedy. Anything to look forward to on that front?
Justin: Yeah... Wep and I discussed a really awful fic that he really wants me to finish. You remember an SNL sketch where James Bond goes in for a checkup?
mxpw: I don't know the skit, but I do know what it's about.
mxpw: I mean, I haven't seen it.
Justin: Well, imagine that, only with Sarah.
Justin: Replete with cameos by Carina HANSEN and Rachel Roe.
mxpw: A little explanation for those who aren't as pop culturally literate?
mxpw: Ha! I would just like to point Wepdiggy to this and say, “I told you so about Rachel.”
Justin: Oh, if I must. Basically, Sarah goes to the doctor and finds out she's picked up a few trinkets during her travels. Luckily the CIA has an ointment for it.
mxpw: Ahhh, I think most people should be able to read between the lines there.
Justin: I have one other fic, a one-shot. It'll be a dark fic. Also Sarah centric.
mxpw: What's this one about?
Justin: I wanted to play around with the concept that every agent makes a recording “in the event of their demise.” This one is about Sarah's.
mxpw: As in she's dead?
Justin: As in it's a Liam fic, so don't expect a happy ending.
mxpw: Wow, I bet the fans are all glad you're sticking around.
Justin: I am for now. Though to be honest, once those three are complete (not including RTI), I might bid farewell to the fic fandom, though that's not for certain.
mxpw: And just focus on your burgeoning screenwriting career?
Justin: That's the idea. Now that I've actually got some spare cash, I can actually register some scripts with the WGA. And in September, I'm sending out about 2 dozen query letters in regards to my first script. You remember “Young Dracula,” right?
mxpw: I do. A good script with some really interesting tonal aspects.
Justin: I thank you.
mxpw: Awesome. I wish you luck with that and I'm sure you'll be keeping me updated on how things go.
mxpw: Alright, so I think we can wrap this up. Any last thoughts?
mxpw: Future plans for your contribution to CI?
Justin: Well, beyond “tip your waitress?” I'm kinda surprised we didn't cover my obsession with crystal.
mxpw: Yeah, that was intentional.
Justin: And I hope to contribute more to CI. Maybe a random column devoted to my interest in horror or various literature and movies.
Justin: And thanks for helping me out by not portraying me as creepy as I am.
mxpw: I'm sure there's some readers out there as weird as you who would like that.
mxpw: Oh no problem.
mxpw: I think that's it.
Justin: Well, thanks dude. I appreciate you tolerating me long enough to do this.
mxpw: It was a struggle, but I managed. Heh.
Justin: You're a real pal. Wanna bro hug?
mxpw: How about a fist bump?
Justin: Anywho, remember boys and girl, I love you all, but I love your hot sister more!
Justin: *fist bump*
mxpw: *fist bump*
mxpw: Okay, and we're out.