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14 October 2013 @ 02:17 pm
Dear Yuletide Writer, 2013  
Greetings, O Yuletide writer!

I'm so sorry for this being f-locked! I unlocked it but then I edited a typo on Dreamwidth and it relocked itself and I didn't notice until right now. /o\ I hope you were able to find it there, or you happened to see it during the brief period it was unlocked, or you were able to work off my optional details. My deepest apologies.

Anyway, thanks so much for offering to write a story for me! You are clearly a person with impeccable taste in fandoms, and I'm sure I'll love whatever you write. My optional details in the requests over at AO3 give a basic idea of what I'm looking for, but if you'd like a bit more information about my preferences, here it is.

I'm afraid it's rather long, but please don't be intimidated or annoyed. I wax prolix here because I'm naturally long-winded and because my journal is fairly empty so my letter is the main guide to my preferences for an author who wants one, not because I'm picky and hard to please. If you're not someone who likes getting a lot of additional detail, feel free to skip it entirely.

Beneath the cut you will find my squicks and more detailed thoughts on yaoi, the characters, the fandoms, and possible directions you may want to take your story in, if you find yourself in need of inspiration.

All about me:


• Anything combining sex and digestion. Feeding a lover strawberries, licking chocolate or whipped cream off them, force feeding, scat, watersports... please abstain, kind author. I don't mind parts of the digestive tract doing double duty as an erogenous zone- anal sex, cunnilingus and fellatio, tasting or swallowing various bodily fluids- that's all fine. So is using a cucumber for a dildo or sex on the dining room table. But please no sexy games with fondue.
• Mutilation, scarification, knifeplay, needle play. Killing the characters or beating them to a pulp is fine by me, but for some reason it bothers me if you give them a papercut first. Nothing with sharp edges please.

Everything else is a-okay. Violence, character deaths, torture, non-con or dub-con, mind games, twisted power dynamics, and general bleakness are all fine- more than fine! I love dark fics. I love fluffy or uplifing stories too, so please don't feel obligated to write something dark, but if that's the direction your muse takes you then feel free to go for it. Holiday fic is also fine, provided it makes sense for the fandom. (Although actually 'A Very Chanur Christmas' in which the stshto freak out about the tasteless decorations and the kif attack Santa's sleigh and steal all the presents has a certain appeal...)

Things I like in stories:
• Worldbuilding. I like getting the sense that the story is a little window into a larger world where various other people are going about their business and events are happening just offscreen, instead of a window on a few characters interacting inside a bubble surrounded by vacuum. Unless they're in space and they actually are interacting in a bubble surrounded by vacuum. But even then they probably have to think about where they're going to refuel.
• Challenging the text. I'm fond of these fandoms or I wouldn't have requested them, but I'm not... protective of them. If some group is marginalized by the canon, I'd love to see a story from their perspective. If you've noticed a plothole, I'd love for you to latch onto it and rip it to shreds and then think up an explanation to set it right. I'm always interested in the answers to questions like "If Galadriel lives in the shady primeval forest where does she grow the grain for all that lembas?"
• Politics. I'll spare you the tearful Alastair Campbell-esque lecture about my heartfelt belief in the ability of politics to effect change, but let's just say that these four fandoms didn't land on my list by accident.
• Clever characters being clever.
• Clever characters being outsmarted by even cleverer characters.
• Power struggles, hierarchies, how these arrangements are negotiated and balanced and change over time and in response to changing circumstances.
• Culture clashes.
• Women kicking ass.
• Victories for social justice, democracy or tolerance.
• Depressing defeats for social justice, democracy or tolerance that still leave seeds of hope for the future.
• Characters trying to balance competing obligations and loyalties: personal vs. professional, practical vs. ideological, etc.
• Gen fic. Casefic, wacky adventures, character studies- they're all lovely.
• Shipping, as long as shipping is not the only thing in the fic. (Good characterization counts as a second thing.) Het, slash, femmeslash, kif-on-kif... whatever you call that, polyamory, threesomes- they're all wonderful. I'm not protective of my favorite pairings, either, so feel free to pair anyone with anyone.
• Explicit porn, as long as sticking Tab A into Slot B is not the only thing in the fic. (Good characterization counts as a second thing.)
• Humor.
• All the dark stuff from the list above.
• Characters I like being cute and fluffy and happy together.

As you can see, I like a wide variety of things! If you want to write plotty gen, I will be delighted. If you want to write fluffy shippy fic where the characters go and buy curtains together while they snark about politics, I will love it. If you want to write grim, explicit kif rape fic, I will be frightened but intrigued. Write something that makes you happy, and I will almost certainly be happy too.

A few things I dislike:
• Crackiness to no obvious purpose. I don't mind an AU where all the characters are living room furniture, but if you're going to write one the choice of furniture should be telling us something about the characters.
• Idiot plots. If characters have to suffer a major drop in IQ for a story to make sense, it needs a different plot. Stupid romantic comedy misunderstandings that could be cleared up in five minutes fall into this category.
• Healing cock, instantaneous peace after the crowning of a king or the birth of some biracial baby, and other forms of magical recovery from personal or national traumas. Good stories are like real life: events have consequences and people have to live with them.

On to the fandoms! I'll give a brief overview of what each one is and where to find it, so if you want to switch and learn about a new fandom you'll know what you're getting into.

Silk (TV)

Characters: Martha Costello, Clive Reader

A drama about a London law chambers and the struggles of the members to get silk, in the case of the barristers, get hired, in the case of the pupils, keep the chambers in business, in the case of the clerks, and win cases, in the case of everybody. (And get laid, in the sad case of Clive.) Our heroine is up and coming barrister Martha Costello, who kicks ass and takes names in the courtroom but is slightly less agile at negotiating the plots and counter-plots going on in Chambers. Sharing Martha's spotlight are shady head clerk Billy, friendly rival Clive Reader, and the ever-present wigs.

The first season is out on DVD and available through Netflix, and the second is out in Britain but not, alas, in the United States. Also available through illegal filesharing.

What I like about it:
Martha is a great protagonist. She's dedicated and clever with a strong sense of morals, but still cynical enough to be believable. In an almost unprecedented move for a show with a female lead, her current love life features in exactly none of the plotlines. The cases are interesting, and to American eyes fascinatingly foreign with their ribbons and wigs and the division of labor between barristers and solicitors. And the inner politics of the chambers and the interplay between the barristers and the clerks are engrossing. The show is pretty deft at getting you to root for all the main characters even when they're working against each other, and Clive and Billy are likeable and realistically awful people.

Optional details:

Anything with Martha and Clive in which she gets to boss him around. Clive is quite pleasant as a subordinate and completely insufferable when he thinks he's in the ascendant, so clearly the best solution for everyone concerned is for Martha to firmly take charge. If you ship them and want to write about their relationship or explore their antics in the bedroom, that would be dandy. (I'd be absolutely delighted to get some D/s for this pairing, if that's the sort of thing that appeals to you.) If you'd prefer for Martha to remain gloriously single or date Caroline Warwick and rub Clive's nose in it, that's excellent too! I'd love gen case fic for one of those Clive-as-Martha's-junior-counsel cases, or a story about chambers politics, or one in which Clive pulls his usual crap and gets his usual comeuppance.

I can't be the only one who's noticed that Clive is tolerable in direct proportion to how recently someone has kicked his ass. When he's had a recent knee injury from Billy or he's begging Martha for advice on how to keep from getting disbarred, he's actually quite pleasant to have around- sweet, helpful, competent, putting others before himself. When he thinks he's on the ascendent, he's an insufferable, sleazy, privileged, egotistical little creep. Maybe it's just my fondness for D/s, but it seems to me that Clive is a problem with an obvious solution: they just need to find someone to kick his ass on a regular basis so he never gets above himself.

Martha probably has better things to do with her time than be that someone, and I absolutely don't want to shoehorn her into the role of nursemaid for the manchild. It's more that I think with a bit of training Clive could evolve from "manchild" to "useful bag carrier for Martha", and if so it seems a shame to waste him on the sort of idiocy he gets up to when he's left to his own devices. Martha is a classy lady who deserves to have someone to carry her bag, and Clive is fundamentally well-meaning and deserves the external guidance he clearly requires to become a decent human being. So that's the prompt, really- give Martha a chance to boss Clive around until he's less obnoxious.

Possible avenues of ficcage:

• Casefic! Casefic is always nice.
• Martha/Clive. I love the flexibility that the show gives us to not ship it- there's not even any overt UST- and if it doesn't appeal to you I'm more than happy to get a a platonic interaction fic. But if you want to write me some filthy porn or the tale of their disastrous first date or a retrospective look at their lives together, I'd be very excited.
• I think they'd lend themselves rather well to D/s, too.
• Speaking of filthy porn, Martha/Caroline/Clive. You know it makes sense.
• Martha spanking Clive. It could be in the context of a romantic relationship. It could be a novel office management technique. There could be no context for it at all. I'm not proud.
• Suppose Martha doesn't miscarry and they wind up raising the baby together?
• Clive finally gets silk. How does this change the dynamic between them? Will it ever be possible for him to grow into a decent person now, or has his head swollen to critical mass and collapsed into a black hole of douchery?

Chanur Series - C. J. Cherryh

Characters: Hilfy Chanur, Vikktakkht, Tahy Mahn

A series of science fiction novels about an alien trading federation called the Compact (think the EU, but containing giant alien cats with guns instead of the French and not currently in a financial crisis) and the political shenanigans that ensue therein when an eighth alien species- humanity- is discovered on the borders. Told from the perspective of merchant captain Pyanfar Chanur and eventually her niece Hilfy who are inadvertently drawn into the fray, the books contain a lot of interspecies diplomacy, a lot of space battles and frantic fleeing from space battles, a lot of shootouts on space stations, and incredibly good worldbuilding. And lulz.

The books can be found on Amazon, and sometimes in used bookstores or your local library. Or through illegal filesharing.

What I like about it:
The alien species are all plausible and unique and fascinating and convincingly alien, the physics is unusually good for a space opera, and the characters are awesome. If you're going to start reading Cherryh's science fiction I strongly recommend starting here; it has all the virtues of the great Alliance/Union books (good worldbuilding, good politics, exciting plots, a refusal to romanticize violence, kickass female characters, immersive tight 3rd person POV narration that doesn't talk down to the reader) and none of the vices (inaccessibility, demented structuring choices, being thousands of pages long).

I love the distribution of virtues among the alien species: the hani are warm-hearted, cozily mammalian, and refreshingly devoid of imperialist ambitions, but they're also conservative, xenophobic, sexist jerks, the kif are sadistic, sociopathic assholes, but they're far more cosmopolitan in their outlook and they're willing to engage other cultures on their own terms, and the stsho are politically and physically feeble but they're also the ones providing the legal and financial infrastructure holding the whole system together. And I love how everyone in the Compact is like "We are here to trade. We may not like everything about each other, but we are going to share the same space stations, follow the same laws, and not kill each other, because it's more lucrative that way. Now sit the fuck down and DEAL WITH IT." *sunglasses descend* I love how Pyanfar winds up choosing not to murder an armada of people who were trying to kill her five minutes before because she doesn't want to be That Guy, because that's not how they solve their problems in the Compact and she doesn't want it to be. The triumph of commerce over twattery is a common theme throughout Alliance/Union, but nowhere is it stronger than here.

Optional details:

It would be an interesting challenge to get Hilfy, Vikktakkht and Tahy into the same story. You're more than welcome to try, but this is one of those cases where your requester is trying to use the AND as an OR.

I would be thrilled with a fic about any of them, or about some combination of them. I love all three of them and I love the Compact, so anything from introspective character studies to fics about their relationships to fics that delve into the worldbuilding and only feature the character in a cameo role would be awesome.

Hilfy is my favorite Chanur. I love how unlike her aunt she's by preference a diplomat rather than a fighter. Pyanfar became a negotiator by necessity because she couldn't outgun the kif, but for Hilfy getting into the heads of her customers and her enemies is a way of life. Pyanfar takes what she wants and damn the consequences, which is admirable in its way, but Hilfy thinks: what will it mean for society if we start taking men into space? What does this new arrangement with the kif mean for the balance of power in the Compact? Anything with her being her brainy little self would be great- her growing bond with her crew, her interactions with her aunt or her family back on Anuurn or Tahy Mahn or Vikktakkht or her new stsho buddies.

And then there's Vikktakkht! He's smart, he's adaptable, and he basically spent all of Legacy trolling Hilfy for the lulz while simultaneously preventing an international incident. I fell in love with Vikktakkht when he casually strolled up to the crew of the Pride in the midst of a group of kif who were about to gun them down and shot the other kif from behind- I felt he handled that incident with a certain flair- and I love how he's grown in Legacy. I love how he's been picking up hani concepts like medical care and trying to get the kif to adopt them. What was his relationship with Sikkukkut? How did he wind up on the Pride's dock in the first place? What does he think of Pyanfar, or Hilfy, or the future direction of the Compact? When and how did he change his name? Is he even a 'he'- how does kif reproduction work? Does he endure the stsho's crazy aesthetic requirements with the same long-suffering patience Hilfy does? How contingent is his loyalty to Pyanfar, and what is he planning to do when she eventually dies?

And finally Tahy. I have always liked Tahy, ever since she politely bowed to her parents and fucked off in the middle of her takeover attempt when she heard there was an international emergency going on and Pyanfar didn't have time to deal with local politics right then. She must be seriously pissed off that the Han handed Chanur Holding back to the Chanurs by fiat after Kara won it fair and square. What was her childhood like? What's her relationship like with her cousin Hilfy, who seems to have always gotten more of her mother's attention? Does it suck being the daughter of a poor, planet-bound clan when wealthy, space-faring Chanur is your next-door neighbor and your mother's priority? Would Tahy have liked to go into space herself if Mahn had ships, or does she prefer life on the farm? How does she feel about her father being alive, but faffing about in space with a bunch of loose women?

One thing I would like to avoid is more Pyanfar POV. I love Py, but I feel like we've had her take on everything, and she's... quite opinionated, so it may have been slightly biased. I want to see through someone else's eyes for a bit. I love the Compact worldbuilding, so if you don't want to concentrate on any of these characters worldbuilding-y fics would be awesome too.

Alternately, I would quite enjoy a crossover where one of the asshole species from another Alliance/Union book- the iduve, the mri, etc- show up and the Compact teams up to kick the shit out of them. Or hell, go wild, have the Klingons invade, or the Daleks, or the Wraith, or whoever. Space battles are always fun, the kif are always fun, and I kind of assume the tc'a gave them spaceflight so the Compact would have a militia on hand to deal with precisely this emergency.

Political RPF - UK 20th-21st c. (or as we call it elsewhere on the interwebs, Lolitics)

Characters: Walter Harrison, Bernard "Jack" Weatherill

What it says on the tin: RPF about the people who have been running Britain for the past hundred years or so. The cast is obviously immense, but this year I've opted for the two Deputy Chief Whips in the 1974-1979 Parliament. If you've seen James Graham's play This House you already know exactly who these people are and why I requested them. If you haven't you're probably completely lost right now, so let me try to explain.

In the late 1970s, the ruling Labour Party were just short of a majority in the House of Commons, which meant they could be thrown out of power by a vote of no confidence. To prevent this they had to madly scramble around to get votes by making deals with the minor parties, getting all their own MPs to show up to vote, and keeping the opposing Tory MPs from voting whenever possible. It was quite important that the government survive, because they were keeping Margaret Thatcher out of power and as soon as she got in she was going to either save Britain (the rightwing view) or make a huge mess that would lead to all of Britain's current social and eocnomic woes (the leftwing view), but by any standard do a lot of harm to the sort of people who voted Labour.

The man in charge of the day-to-day operations to make sure this didn't happen was Labour's Deputy Chief Whip Walter Harrison, who came up with some ingenious and dubiously legal tricks to win every vote. (These included issuing MPs with disguises so they could vote twice, letting sick MPs live in the House of Commons so they could vote from their beds, and once jamming part of his body through the closing door of the voting lobby and saying it should count as a fractional vote since he was halfway in the room.) Opposing him was the ridiculously nice and honorable Tory Deputy Chief Whip Jack Weatherill. Jack was as clever as Walter and knew a few tricks of his own, but his outstanding feature was his decency.

Although their jobs were dedicated to thwarting each other at every possible turn, the two men were friends. On the night the government finally fell they had an incredible confrontation: Jack offered to destroy his own career by abstaining from the confidence vote to honor a gentleman's agreement between them, and Walter refused to accept his sacrifice and chose to let the government go down instead. (To give you a sense of the magnitude of this, there was a Labour MP who was on his deathbed and the whips were seriously discussing whether it would be worth killing him by dragging him down to Westminster if it meant they could win this vote. Several people including the dying MP himself were in favor of this plan, although Walter ultimately vetoed it.)

This history is covered magnificently in This House, but unfortunately the play has finished its run and no copies of the film of the production seem to have made their way online. If you really want you can buy the script here, but it's unlikely to be in your library and anyway it seems unfair to ask someone to read a script.

So if you haven't seen it you'll have to make do with the RL versions of Walter and Jack. There's a BBC radio documentary about the final confidence vote featuring interviews with both of them that you can play with RealPlayer here, and their Lolitics wiki pages are here and here. And here is an adorkable C-SPAN interview of Jack in his later incarnation as Speaker of the House of Commons. (There's a particularly entertaining bit of transatlantic comedy at 8:00 where the C-SPAN reporter asks him how much all the state portraits of the speakers could be sold for and Jack is politely aghast.)

I'm equally amenable to This House fanfic or RPF, whichever takes your fancy. (The primary difference of course being theatrical!Jack's fabulous blond quiff, but fans of both may feel there are some characterization differences as well.)

What I like about it:
Walter and Jack have an odd couple charm to them- the bluff, devious Yorkshire electrician vs. the urbane, honorable Savile Row tailor- that makes them an engaging partnership/rivalry, or an appealing slash pairing if you're into that sort of thing. I enjoy watching their high-stakes chess game as they try to maneuver their MPs into the right voting lobbies. And the high stakes lend enormous tension to the interplay between their jobs and their friendship. They're opposing generals in a sort of civilized war and the future of their country is at stake, but in the final choice between friend and country they both choose to stand by their friend.

Optional details:

I'm open to any fic that touches on their relationship. If you ship them I'd be very happy with some slash. If you don't then gen casefic about some of their parliamentary shenanigans or the story of their first encounter or a thoughtful character study looking back over their careers would be lovely too. Or even an AU where they're transplanted to a different setting but retain their friendly rivalry. You'll be the first person to write fic about them (apart from James Graham), so the world is pretty much your oyster here.

Some fic ideas:

• The slash potential is vast. Given the sum total of Harrisill (Weatherson?) fics written to date (0), the field is wide open to you.
• Casefic, which in this case means the two of them running around Parliament trying to whip votes, unwhip the other side's votes, and plotting various shenanigans to that end.
• Jack is a vegetarian and Walter likes plain, hearty meals centering around meat. I sense a rich vein of comedy waiting to be mined.
• The aftermath of the 1979 election. Jack is immediately fired as Deputy Chief Whip by Thatcher and becomes Deputy Speaker, so in essence his offer to abstain was his last act as a whip and as a Tory. During that period the Deputy Speakers were appointed by the agreement of the whips, so Walter would have had some say in this. Jack ends up as Speaker and eventually goes to the House of Lords. Walter ultimately gets shafted by his leadership and denied a peerage, so they don't get to hang out together in the politicians' retirement home. How does it all work out for them?
• The "friendly rivals" dynamic seems like it would translate well to a variety of AUs. Whips in spaaaaaace? The historical AU where Walter is a Viking and Jack is an Angle? I dunno, surprise me.

British Newspapers (Anthropomorphic)

Characters: The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Sun, The Daily Mail

Once upon a time on the Lolitics meme someone wrote some fics in which British newspapers had anthropomorphic personifications not unlike the countries in Hetalia. I enjoyed them, and as I was thinking about what to request for Yuletide this year it occurred to me that this would make a perfect Yuletide fandom. (Please don't feel in any way bound to follow the original author's characterization choices. You're welcome to do so if you wish, but I'm really looking for your own take on the concept.)

You can read most of the papers online, and googling or Wikipedia will turn up further information about them. The best summary of them remains this one from Yes, Minister:
Jim Hacker: "Don't tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers: the Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country; the Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country; the Times is read by people who actually do run the country; the Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country; the Financial Times is read by people who own the country; the Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country; and the Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is."

Sir Humphrey: "Prime Minister, what about the people who read the Sun?

Bernard: "Sun readers don't care who runs the country, as long as she's got big tits."
What I like about it:
I like the sense that the papers are independent and alien beings, who perceive time on a different scale, who have their own goals and opinions, whose interests may not be the same as those of the humans who write or read them. I just think it's a really interesting way of thinking and writing about the fevered state of the British press. The potential for satire and humor is obvious, but the framing could be also used for a deeper examination of our relationship with the media and the extent to which the media serves or undermines the public good.

Optional details:

Imagine that all the British newspapers have anthropomorphic personifications, entities who embody the paper's editorial stance and who are living with the issues and conflicts surrounding the papers. These beings have lifespans that can vastly exceed human lifespans and goals and interests and perspectives of their own that coincide to a certain extent, but not perfectly, with the objectives of their owners and editors. They have their own life cycle, and unlike their proprietors they can't walk away from insolvency or a News of the World-level fuckup. They're highly political but at the same time they're not human: they advocate for policies that will never directly affect them. In a way they're like little gods, living or dying by the numbers of their subscribers and raining down moral judgement on everyone's heads.

This is an exciting and scary time for the papers. All of them face huge declines in readership and the fear of going out of business. The
Guardian has its Snowden leaks and is trying to reach out to a global audience. The Daily Mail is having a nervous breakdown over Ralph Miliband. The Murdoch titles are still reeling from the death of their sibling News of the World, and wondering if they might be next. All the papers await the implementation of the Leveson proposals with varying degrees of hysteria.

I'd like a fic dealing with any or all of these issues, or with the relationships the papers have with their editors or with each other. Or really, anything else with this concept: a historical fic about how one of the papers was born, for instance. You don't have to limit yourself to these four papers or include all the papers I listed if you want to focus on just one- this is another case where the 'AND' in the character request is really an 'OR'.

The optional details more or less cover the fic prompts. This one is pretty open-ended: go wild.

Crossposted to Dreamwidth: http://kainosite.dreamwidth.org/4289.html. Comment there or here.
abluestockingabluestocking on October 14th, 2013 07:09 pm (UTC)
Yusssssssssssssss. :D
kainosite: Huuuuhnekainosite on October 14th, 2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
And this year I will actually post my letter, instead of saving it half finished on my computer and leaving my poor writer to dredge up last year's! *facepalm*
abluestockingabluestocking on October 14th, 2013 07:22 pm (UTC)

What are you requesting? *impatient grabby hands*
kainosite: Goveballskainosite on October 14th, 2013 07:28 pm (UTC)
Patience, patience! ;)

Still trying to navigate my bucket list...
abluestockingabluestocking on October 14th, 2013 07:29 pm (UTC)

*shuts up and sits on her hands in the corner so you can focus on your bucket list*
kainositekainosite on October 14th, 2013 07:31 pm (UTC)
If you want you could reread my 2011 letter, because the intro and the Chanur section are identical... :P
kainositekainosite on October 14th, 2013 07:54 pm (UTC)
Tada! Although all the links are still broken. But it's so long I'll probably have them fixed before you get to them...
abluestockingabluestocking on October 14th, 2013 08:36 pm (UTC)
This is the BEST LETTER. I love it. I want to read fic for sooo many of your ideas!
kainositekainosite on October 14th, 2013 08:44 pm (UTC)

Well, you know, you can always write fic for my ideas! ;)

But I think your letter wins because it had a pic of Hilary Clinton and Ruth Bader Ginsberg being fabulous together. That is a hard act to top.

ETA: Er, Ginsburg, rather. Fell into the classic "spelling everyone's name like mine" trap.

Edited at 2013-10-14 08:45 pm (UTC)
abluestockingabluestocking on October 14th, 2013 11:40 pm (UTC)
Well, you know, you can always write fic for my ideas! ;)

*cough* Yes, yes, this may just be possible. ;)

And hee, I'm really glad you liked Hillary and Ruth. :)