Hey everyone! Thank you all so much for sending in your questions. I really appreciate the opportunity to interact with my readers in this way--and I hope to answer all your questions to the best of my ability!
Because I received so many questions Im going to separate them into three categories. The first category will be related to plot questions, the second will deal with questions related to the characters themselves, and the last will involve the writing process.
Please note that Im writing these under the assumption that you are familiar with the whole plot of the first Storm Clouds. So if you havent finished the fic dont read ahead or you WILL get spoilered to death. Lets get started!
Q: Is Missys son the main hero?
A: Ivan, Missy and Dans son, is going to play a big part in Storm Clouds II, but I wouldnt be entirely comfortable calling him the main hero. While the first fic had a definite main character (Missy, though I did enjoy psyching you into thinking it was Dan for the early couple of chapters! ) Storm Clouds II has a much larger cast. The upside of so many characters is that I can hopefully expand the scope of the story--the downside is that there isnt really anyone who I would definitely say is the main hero. Nevertheless, I think hes one of the top contenders for the title.
Q: Where is Fox Creek located?
A: In the rural United States; I dont want to get any more specific than that. Suffice it to say that the area surrounding it is forested, and that the town typically experiences heavy rainfall in the late summer and through the fall. There is a river that begins near a mountain a few dozen miles off that runs through town. (Two guesses as to the rivers name.) From that information, Ill leave you to deduce the more specific aspects of its location yourself.
Q: What happened to all the pokemon Masque owned?
A: Masque brought over twenty pokemon with him in his bid to slaughter the citizens of Fox Creek. A handful were killed; the Dragonair that Missy fought was struck by lightning, and the Aerodactyl and Scyther were killed in battles against Artemis and Ruby, respectively. The Alakazam Armor battled against drowned in the river, and two more were shot dead by police. The remaining pokemon mostly comprised of brainwashed servants of Masque, and were rounded up by Dan after the events were over. Their poke balls were sent back to the pokemon world using Lukes machine. There, the poke balls were discovered and they were eventually put up for adoption, given away to trainers who wanted them.
Q: Will the old arena under Saffron have any significance in the sequel? Aside from hosting pokemon battles, that is.
A: Actually, there arent any battles held underneath Saffron; the arena is cordoned off, and has been for a long time, due to historical significance. (That, and Saffron City would like to forget that it exists. Not the best memories of that place.) I may or may not have the protagonists visit it, but Im certainly going to refer to it a few times.
Q: Will there be more of a focus on the differences between the real world's culture and technology and the Pokemon world's? (Such as Guns vs. Pokemon, or to be more mundane/specific, the cars of the Pokemon world versus the cars of our world.)
A: Actually, no. You see, since the first Storm Clouds is set during more or less the modern time, that meaning right now, that means the sequel will take place almost two decades in the future. You may not have realized it, but technology and culture have changed quite a bit since 1991, and will likely change a great deal more in the next nineteen years. Im not going to go into those types of comparisons simply because I dont want to focus on the This is THE FUTURE!! aspect of the story.
Q: Has anyone ever unknowingly sold anything from the Pokemon world to Dan's pawn shop? Like an old Poke ball or something they thought was just a toy/knick-knack? If so, does Dan collect them instead of reselling?
A: Masque didnt bring along a lot of memorabilia with him, and the pokemon themselves were returned to their home world. Dan collects some memorabilia from the pokemon franchise made in this world, though thats simply for nostalgias sake. Missy still hangs on to the two pieces of Masques mask, however, as a reminder of the trials she went through during that time.
Q: Did the government ever find out about Dan/Missy's pokemon?
A: Despite the citizens best efforts, word did get out about strange creatures in town. However, when it reached the government, they treated the rumors as a sort of Bigfoot or Mothman type story. They only sent one scientist, and he spent less than half a day investigating; Dans pokemon hid themselves in the forest, and the scientist came to the conclusion that the official story was the true one: that the rumors were simply exaggerated stories of wild animals being driven into town by the intense flooding.
Q: If Dan was able to discover the arch and go through it, then Masque, what's to stop others from doing the same?
A: Absolutely nothing
except lack of knowledge. (Whod think to try setting a stone arch on fire?)
Q: Is Melissa and Daniel's son able to speak with their, well, "pets"?
A: Yes, indeed. Ivan inherited a lot of things from his mother. Among them are the ability to understand pokemon, as well as potentially inhuman senses.
Q: Does Nightshade (and/or Artemis) have a bond of sorts with Missy and Dan's son? I mean, considering Nightshade's past, it seems plausible.
A: Ivan is very close to all of the pokemon, thanks in no small part to his ability to understand them. Hes closest, however, to Artemis and Nemo, as his happy-go-lucky and reckless personality is very similar to their own. Nightshade regarded Gerald as a brother, and will likely never find a true replacement for him, though he has moved on from Geralds death.
Q: If Ruby evolved wouldnt her back heal?
A: I actually had to think for a good little bit about this one. I finally decided that since shiny pokemon stay shiny when they evolve, and in the anime and manga pokemon with special markings tend to keep them upon evolution, Rubys back will stay scarred and damaged if she evolved.
Q: Does Dan's team still spar occasionally? I mean, they want to be good fighters just in case, right?
A: Of course! However, since there are only five of them to practice with, and theyve been gone for nineteen years, theyre a little out of practice. Nevertheless, their skills have far from vanished.
Q: How did their lives progress after Masques attempted takeover? I know that Missy and Dan have a child, but what else happens in this nineteen year period that is of importance?
A: Missy and Dan both finished high school, Missy graduating about two years after the events of the first Storm Clouds. They dated but despite a mutual attraction Dan still felt odd about having traveled with Missy as a pokemon, and the relationship never went anywhere as a result. Missy left town to go to a university in a big city far away, and though she got stellar grades she left after a mere two years; her changed physique made her uncomfortable around other people and she was constantly under threat of discovery. She had to work even harder to hide her true self than in Fox Creek, and this upset her.
In the meantime, Dan never left Fox Creek due to the responsibilities of caring for his pokemon, and began working at his fathers pawn shop. Upon Missys return she began doing volunteer work at the hospital that saved her life, as well as spearheading several cleanup projects around town, eventually earning a place in city government despite her young age. About a year after her return from university Dan and Missy rekindled their relationship--neither was able to hold stable relationships with anybody else, due largely in part because their shared experiences in the pokemon world made it difficult for anybody else to really understand them. Dan was still uncomfortable, but he worked out his issues early on and three years later he and Missy got married.
Shortly after their two-year anniversary, Missy discovered she was pregnant. She carried the baby to term with no major problems and when he was born, they named him Ivan after Missys great-grandfather. During Missys pregnancy Dans father passed away, and Dan began running the pawn shop by himself. During Ivans toddlerhood it became apparent that he could understand the pokemon and that his senses were on par with his mothers. Missy felt uncomfortable about this--her own abilities had made it difficult to live a life outside of Fox Creek--but she nevertheless loved her son very much.
Around the time Ivan was four and she herself thirty, Missy ran for a seat on the city council. Her reputation as the unofficial town hero, as well as her popularity from being in charge of many successful cleanup efforts, led to her being elected in a landslide victory. She served dynamically for two years and was re-elected even more decisively. In the meantime, Ivan discovered an astonishing secret about himself at the age of seven, something he has not yet told his parents or the pokemon he lives with
Q: Since apparently they are going back to the pokemon world will Missy turn back into a pokemon or will she stay in her half human half pokemon form, and will the various stones affect her at all (i.e. fire, water, thunder... basically will she change if she comes into contact with one?)
A: I do not plan on having Missy change back into her Eevee form when she returns to the pokemon world, as itd be too close to a rehash of the first Storm Clouds. As for the stones, I had actually forgotten about them. I was tempted to say Yes, they totally give her temporary weird powers! but Im so far along in the plot already and theres no room for something like that so
no, they wont affect her now that shes not an Eevee.
Q: Does Missy dream about the pokemon world every now and again?
A: All the time. She didnt know it then, but her time as an Eevee became more or less the defining moments of her life. Because of her hybrid body, Missy will be unable to live a life outside of Fox Creek without having to hide a great deal about herself all the time, as she discovered when she went to the university. Because of this shes actually become a tiny bit bitter, feeling caged in, and she sometimes secretly wishes that she could go back to the pokemon world, if only because she thinks theyd be more likely to accept her there.
Q: What do you base your portrayal of the Pokemon world off of the most? (i.e. Anime, games, manga, other fanfics, etc.)
A: While I mostly focused on the games in terms of plot and world-building, my biggest influence was actually the Pokemon Special manga, which I was a pretty big fan of a few years back. Its much darker than the anime or games, and pokemon battles can be brutal and life-threatening. More than a few characters have died. When I started writing Storm Clouds I quickly found myself settling into the same sort of niche; I always did like the dark, mature side of the pokemon world that the manga brought out.
Q: Will there be references and/or cameos from other notable fanfiction works?
A: I havent planned any, unfortunately. Since Im based on deviantART and most people stick to fanfiction.net, it hasnt given me a lot of opportunity to interact with the fanfiction community.
Q: Are you looking forward to writing more battle scenes?
aw, man. You had to remind me.
Q: How much of the story do you have planned out?
A: Pretty much all of it. Roughly two thirds or so of the story has been categorized in chapters, and the last third is the events I want without the chapters they need to be organized into. I know how I want it to end, I know the motivations of the various antagonists, I know the big plot points and where they happen. Im not going to run through this thing blind.
Q: How do you plot out your stories? If you do it before starting, how much detail do you go into? Do you simply list the progression on events, or lay it out by chapters?
A: You may or may not recall that my first chapter of Storm Clouds was posted in July of 2008. I actually had the first idea for the story in November of 2007. I mentally worked on the story for a good little bit, not bothering to write anything down until March, when I started organizing events into vaguely defined chapters.
For Storm Clouds II, I followed a similar pattern; I worked on the events mentally for a few months before I had a rough idea of the whole plot. Then I write down the plot, doing my best to organize it into chapters as I went. This stage is actually very important, as it helps me identify pacing issues and allows me to interject little ideas. I try to keep chapter summaries short, only about a paragraph or two; I find that too much description can stifle the creative process later on when you actually try to write. I try to stick to rough plot information only, leaving individual scenes and characters to work themselves out in the writing process.
I usually dont bother plotting specific scenes out (if youre going to do that, just write the whole story already!) but I do make exceptions for especially plot significant scenes. The Ill cut your strings scene from the first Storm Clouds, where Masque kills Giovanni and forcibly disbands Team Rocket, was more or less totally complete months before chapter 16 was posted. I came up with Missys vision journey throughout her various lifetimes almost a year and a half before I uploaded it. And of course I had the image of Dan cradling a wounded and dying Eevee, which transformed into Missy, in my head from the very beginning.
I tend to let characters work themselves out as I write, ususally only getting a rough sketch of what I want out of them before I start. The few characters I do flesh out early on tend to be villains. This is because the villains are the driving force of any plot, and thus its best to work out their motivations and desires beforehand.
Q: When writing, would you rather have something awesome happen, even if it doesn't make that much sense in context, or do you prefer to make sure that everything fits together well?
A: Like I said before, with the exception of specific plot-important scenes, I tend to simply write up a rough paragraph of what I want out of a chapter and improvise the specifics as I go along. Sometimes it works; scenes such as the entirety of Missys battle against the Scyther in the arena underneath Saffron and the starry void beyond the arch were totally made up on the spot, and from the responses I got from you guys you loved em.
At other times this habit bites me in the ass. By the time I had fully fleshed out Nightshades backstory, it was way too late to reasonably stick it in anywhere and I ended up awkwardly implementing it in the third-to-last chapter. And of course, Ill be the first to admit that the first few chapters of Storm Clouds are not up to par with the others--especially the first half of the first chapter, which is a real shame as I wonder how many people I turned off of the story with that horrible opening. Of course, the badness of the early few chapters could just as easily be attributed to my lack of writing experience then compared to how much Id written towards the later chapters.
Q: Is there anything you regret about the first Storm Clouds?
A: Hoo-boy. Tons. My biggest regret is how poorly written the opening chapters are, especially Lukes horrible dialogue that ends up being the first line people read from the story. You know what they say about first impressions
>_< I may actually go back and fix that line, if only to take out all the uses of Dude!
Ive already mentioned my disappointment with how late I implemented Nightshades backstory, though I suppose I could have done it worse. Other issues I had were Artemis, Armors, and Nemos speech patterns.
A hint to prospective writers: be careful when you give major characters unique speech patterns. I ended up relying on their verbal tics as a crutch in the early chapters rather than try to develop their characters. I was able to work around Nemo and Artemis; I had Nemos hesitation go away when he finally decided to become braver in the battle under Saffron, working it into his character development. I had Artemis slow down during significant scenes, implying that she is capable of calming down when she recognizes an important situation. I never really did rid of Armors, though out of the three I think his was the least disruptive so I guess thats not too bad.
Other issues I had were pacing problems. While my initial plan was twenty chapters, I ended up with twenty-four. In the course of writing I combined some chapters and extended others (usually battle scenes--can you believe that the entire battle against Giovanni under Saffron City was originally planned as one chapter? What was I thinking?) In particular I think that the part of the story from after Masque kills Giovanni to where Missy first meets Mr. Shadow--in other words, the entire part of the story where Dan decides to leave for real, he travels to Lavender Town, they hang around town for a few days, and then climb Pokemon Tower--could have been faster paced.
Usually when you slow down the plot its so you can focus on the characters. I didnt really do that; the only real insight we got from that section was more angst from Missy, and lets face it she had more than enough angst even by that point. Oh, and the conversation between Nightshade and Ruby, which was neat and actually highlighted how much Ruby had grown as well as providing some more insight into Nightshades character, but still didnt do much. I tried some ooohhhh spoooookkkkkyyyy stuff in Pokemon Tower which, lets face it, didnt do so well. That whole section was a bit of a step backwards from the battle under Saffron and scene with Masque that preceded it.
Q: When are you releasing the first part again?
A: Next month, January 2011. :3
and those are all the questions! Once again, I really appreciate all my readers who have supported me and made this a story worth tellinga story is nothing without readers to appreciate it. A big thanks to everyone who sent in questions. Ill hopefully see you next month with the first chapter of Storm Clouds II!