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For ICoS fans, this is a TREAT! I’ve just finished reading the post-Fade anthology “1/27” and holy shit…it did NOT disappoint! And because I had tons of questions for the authors, I wrangled up Santino and Ais to give us some answers…(plus, scroll to the end for a giveaway!)
BioB: Welcome back to BioB, Santino & Ais!!!!!!
Thank you for having us again, Susan! We really appreciate the opportunity to be here!
BioB: Ok…let’s talk. WHAT inspired the desire to write the 1/27 anthology? I mean, you guys talked about it and stuff…but what MADE IT HAPPEN?
Ais: It was that time of the year when suddenly everyone was talking about holiday stories. I realized we’d never done one and many readers were curious about what had happened after Fade. So I asked Santino what he thought about us doing an anthology with holiday-themed stories to give a glimpse into some of the characters’ lives after ICoS. It was supposed to be something short and maybe sweet and not hugely impactful. We kind of failed on at least 2 of the 3 parts, I think :D Oh yeah, and it ended up having nothing to do with the holidays…
Santino: When we were discussing all of the different characters we realized they wouldn’t really be focused on the holidays at this point in their lives. None of them have been able to settle down on a gorgeous beach somewhere. They’re all unsettled, maladjusted or running for their lives while living beneath a cloud of paranoia. There was no way we could do a cute Christmas or New Year’s story without it seeming out of character or hokey.
BioB: OMG…I’m trying to imagine Hsin and Boyd singing Christmas carols and kissing under a mistletoe. *dies laughing*…yeah…I see what you mean…
BioB: Did you take into consideration stuff the readers said after the end of Fade…to influence some of the stories in 1/27?
Santino: Kind of. We wanted to tell a story that we knew readers would want to read. Where did the characters end up? How have they adjusted? Are they happy or safe? And most importantly, what choice did Boyd and Hsin make about the Chairman’s offer? We knew we had to give an answer to those questions. Especially the last. And while writing and editing, we asked ourselves “what would readers be expecting/craving from this point of view or scene?” For example, a couple of the characters have never had a point of view before, or have rarely had a point of view, so we wanted to give some insight into their schema.
Ais: Also, for Boyd and Hsin I really wanted to show readers that they were still partners after Fade, because the epilogue didn’t convey whether Boyd could still defend himself. So, to me, I wanted both a fight scene and an intimate scene to show how they have become really symbiotic and stable, as opposed to earlier in their story when they were more codependent and unbalanced.
BioB: Ain’t no eye-patch gonna hold our Boyd back…hell to the no! :)
BioB: Now honestly, which part was the most fun to write? Which was the most surprising to you? Which are you most excited about for the…dun dun duuuuun…future? (<-that’s me projecting more than anything! Ha!)
Ais: I had fun in each of them, to be honest. I enjoyed playing with other POVs. Owen is always super fun to write and I like writing the Archers and Viviennes of the world because they’re like “yeah dude, idgaf.” I actually have always really liked Vivienne, even though I know she’s on the top of many a reader’s hit list. LOL. But particularly with her, Owen, and Jeffrey, I really liked being able to give a shout out to the people who tend to do all their machinations in the background, hidden by their lack of POV. In ICoS, it was probably rarely clear what exactly was going on with any of them because their thoughts never made it to the page.
Speaking of, there was one aspect of the Viv/Bree story that was kind of surprising to realize could actually happen given the right circumstances. I don’t want to give spoilers so I won’t say exactly what it was, but hopefully anyone who’s read the story will know what I mean. (BioB: yeah…that had my jaw on the ground! ha!)
Santino: For me, the most fun was writing Doug. That guy is a rarely seen side character but writing his dialogue is a trip. It’s a toss-up between he and Emilio, to be honest. I really enjoy writing Emilio as well.
I was most surprised by the Ryan and Kassian story. I knew what I was going to write when I set out, but it ended up packing more of a punch than I anticipated. I didn’t expect it to be quite so gritty and bleak, and for Kassian to have regressed to almost taking on his Konstantin persona again. (BioB: That Ryan/Kassian story TOTALLY threw me for a loop! Gah!!!! (I want more of that…MORE!!!)
And I am definitely excited about the idea of all of the VR technology and how it can be utilized, as well as our surprise guests at the end of the anthology.
Ais: Oh yeah! I’m also totally excited about being able to do the VR/tech stuff. <– Vague, I know…
Santino: Two words: Dark side.
Ais: STOP. Too exciting!
BioB: I have one, tiny, only-kind-of-a-spoiler bone to pick with you two. Where’s the NEKKID LOVIN’ between Boyd & Hsin????? *gives stank eye*
Ais: Oh man, we went back and forth so many times on that. It had a sex scene, then we removed it, then we replaced it but cut it in half, then we removed it again… In the end, it just didn’t feel right to us so when we did the final editing we took it out. We felt that for them, the most important part of their story was showing how stable they are as partners, and how they can rely on each other and still love each other as much as they did in ICoS. They’re one of those couples where it could have gone either way but ultimately we felt that in that particular circumstance, making themselves more vulnerable by having sex wasn’t as important in the scene as it was to simply show intimacy.
BioB: *cough*…might I suggest a “deleted scenes” excerpt to share? :)
BioB: I have to admit, moreso than even in the books themselves, I loved ALL the characters in 1/27. I mean, I liked them all (well, maybe not Viv) in the series…but these little bits into their current lives were EXCELLENT! I’m actually hard-pressed to find 1 favorite (though the E&Z one was HOT and all-things Boyd & Hsin will always have my heart)…but I was most surprised at how much I enjoyed the Archer/Harriet/Doug one and I’m intrigued by the Kassian/Ryan one. So…I guess I should turn this into a question…um…What do you expect the reactions from your die-hard fans will be?
Santino: I hope everyone is happy with the direction we went in, and pleased with how everything panned out. I’m HOPING for some excitement about the end… :) (and hoping there aren’t any gasps of horror at the Harriet, Doug and Archer story) Also, I’m ecstatic that you liked it so much! We really wanted every story to be satisfying and engaging.
Ais: I agree with everything Santino said! I’m especially happy to hear how you loved all the characters! For this anthology, mostly I hope it’s interesting, fun, or meaningful to readers in some way, whether big or small. And for the people who really love ICoS, I hope it can show them how character development didn’t end at the last page of Fade and maybe give them some fun ideas in the process.
BioB: Hey…where’s Luke Gerant? :)
Ais: LOL I knew you’d ask that!
Santino: He got a fat wad of money from Emilio (which is partially why Emilio and Zach are broke between having to pay both Luke and Chance…although Luke tried to refuse) and is in hiding. He’s alive and well, though! Just living with an intense sense of paranoia, and trying to blend. (BioB: He’s living w/ me in my safehouse in the mountains. ha!)
Ais: After ICoS, dude’s probably glad he didn’t get a feature in the anthology. His life never boded well for the foreseeable future when one of the MC’s showed up at his door, haha…
Santino: Yeah, Gerant was their homeboy a little too frequently, haha.
Ais: Poor guy :(
BioB: What’s the status on the Evenfall Director’s Cut release?
Santino: I think we are 90% through our FIRST round of self-editing. Our goal is to post the free version of the Director’s Cut by Memorial Day (May 26). Because the novel is still such a beast, we want to post the most updated/revised copy as soon as possible even though it still won’t be professionally edited. However, we’re already lining up ideas to one day polish it professionally to self publish so we can get some paperbacks of the Director’s Cut out there for distribution.
Ais: Oh and for those of you lovely people who have wanted my terrible art to be included as an extra at some point, I’m sure we’ll figure something out with that in future editions. We also plan to add other extras in anything that we charge for. By the way: as we plan it, there will always be a free version of ICoS, even when we also self-publish.
BioB: I may just be pulling this out of my ass…but honestly? You could REALLY tell that you two were having fun writing this. How has the time off been since you finished the series? And how has it been writing together again?
Santino: I would say this was our most successful and well-organized collaboration to date, so you’re definitely not imagining things. Somehow, everything from the planning to the editing was enjoyable and smooth. Yeah, it took a little long but we managed to develop some really awesome ideas in a totally organic way. It was the first time things came together so seamlessly. Also, we kept having weird hive-mind ideas that worked perfectly together even though we developed them separately. (apparently Mark Zuckerberg as well)
Ais: Yeah, what the heck. Psychic! You can start calling us that, if you want. We can be the psychic not-twins. Joking aside, I think working on anything ICoS-related has become much more streamlined because all the hardest parts of establishing the characters and setting is over with by now, and having most of a decade’s-worth of experience co-writing together means new ideas are easier and more fun to develop.
BioB: I was loving the artwork at the end of the book. Was that your doing, Ais? :)
Ais: Aww thank you! haha, yeah it was. My mad Paint skillz, back at work ;) When we were discussing things related to the author’s note at the end, I was like, “hold on, I need a visual.” So I drew it just to keep track of things in my mind, and then I finished it and got really excited. Actually Sonny and I both ended up geeking out right afterward on tumblr all mysteriously but we couldn’t tell anyone why, haha
Sad story: I had the hardest time figuring out what to do for tLDs and when I settled on an idea I tried to record myself drawing it from start to finish. Apparently the program I have for this hates me, though, because it failed and I have nothing to show for it. I was really sad about that! I was looking forward to having that as an extra. (Speaking of, if anyone has any recommendations for good, free software they’ve used to record what’s on screen when drawing/etc, I’d love ideas so I can try something like this in the future for other terrible art.)
BioB: I CAN’T SPOILER the HUGE REVEAL for everyone. But, it’s MASSIVE and I’M DYING to SCREAM with everyone. But, can I just ask you this…will you guys come back and talk to us again in the coming months to discuss…you know…THE BIG MASSIVE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM? :)
Ais: Of course! We’d love to come back! Thank you for thinking of us :)
Santino: Definitely! I’m looking forward to it.
BioB: Thanks again for stopping by. Always awesome to have you guys here!
Ais: Thank you for your support! It’s always awesome to be here. And a huge thank you to everyone who has read ICoS or its affiliates, whether or not you ever contacted either of us. I can’t say enough how appreciative we are of all of you. These characters and the world really grew on us but without you readers, it’s just a story we wrote for the hell of it. The way it affects others is what makes it meaningful. So, thank you for giving it a chance! You are awesome!
Santino: Thank you for doing this Q&A and giveaway. :) You guys are the best!
“1/27” is FREE and available for download along with the entire “In the Company of Shadows” series HERE