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[personal profile] kainosite
Hi there, mysterious Yuletide writer!

Thanks so much for offering to write a story for me! You are an awesome person, and you clearly have excellent taste in fandoms.

I wax pretty prolix here, because a) that's how I roll, and b) this journal is almost empty so unless we already know each other from Lolitics you won't know anything about me or my preferences unless I say it here. Which can make a writing assignment rather intimidating, and the last thing I want to do is alarm you when you're writing me a lovely story.

If you'd rather not be inundated with tl;dr, my optional details in the requests over at AO3 will give you the general outlines of what I'm after. Under 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:

Triggers:
None

Squicks:
• 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 a-okay, but for some reason it bothers me if you give them a papercut first.

That's it! I have, as the Doorkeeper of Roke once said of Ged, a sense for the black things, so a lot of the things people tend to ask their writers to steer away from are perfectly okay with me. Violence, character deaths, non-con or dub-con, mind games, twisted power dynamics, and general bleakness are all fine- more than fine! I quite like reading about them, actually. 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.

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. Questions like "If Galadriel lives in the shady primeval forest where does she grow the grain for all that lembas?" drive my fannish experience.
• 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.
• Witty dialogue.
• 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. (Not that you can tell from my character selection lists this year. /shame)
• Interesting thoughts about sexuality and gender.
• 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.
• 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 lovely. I'm not protective of my favourite 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.)
• All the dark stuff from the list above.
• Humor.
• 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 crowing 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.

The Sandbaggers

Characters: Neil Burnside, Geoffrey Wellingham, Jeff Ross

A TV series about Neil Burnside, the under-resourced and psychopathic Director of Operations for the SIS in the late 1970s/early 1908s, the spies who work for him, and the various people who screw him over, most notably the KGB, his bosses in Parliament and the civil service (here represented by his mentor and indirect superior Sir Geoffrey Wellingham, the permanent undersecretary at the Foreign Office), the CIA (here represented by Neil's lunch buddy and American liaison officer Jeff Ross), and last but definitely not least himself (here represented by Neil Burnside). It's like the lovechild of Spooks and The West Wing, where most of the espionage work consists of Neil sitting in offices fighting with his superiors for the resources and authorization to actually send the eponymous Sandbaggers to go spy. It's also bleak as hell. A typical episode involves Neil pissing off his bosses by doing something sneaky and illegal in a desperate attempt to block the KGB, and then getting pwned by them anyway. Also notable for Neil's unique sartorial taste, which tends towards waistcoats and massive Seventies ties.

It's out on DVD, or various illegal filesharing services.

What I like about it:
The bleakness, the realism (all the real British spies say it's the most accurate depiction of their work they've ever seen) the strong writing and acting, Neil's well intentioned psychopathy, and the show's ability to convince you that Neil is an incredibly intelligent person making the best decisions he can, who nevertheless spends most his time getting his ass handed to him because his job is really hard. There are no idiot plots here, and the show expects the viewer to be intelligent too: terms are never defined, and sometimes people have conversations in foreign languages without subtitles. It makes for an immersive and refreshingly uncondescending viewing experience. Also Sir Geoffrey Wellingham is a BAMF.

I'd love anything that explores Neil's relationship with either Sir Geoffrey or Jeff: the complex interactions between his well-intentioned psychopathy, their slightly less well-intentioned psychopathy, the fondness they feel for him, the power they have over him, and everyone's competing loyalties. You don't have to include both of them (although the two of them fighting over Neil could be hilarious, albeit a cruel mismatch in terms of ability). Slash is fine but completely optional.

Possible avenues of ficcage include:

When and why did Sir Geoffrey decide Neil should be his Sith apprentice? He seems wearily resigned to the fact that his protégé is something of a Xanatos Speed Chess patzer, like he was hoping for something better but he's stuck with Neil so he's going to make the best of it. But why is he stuck with him? Why can't he find some clever civil servant in the Foreign Office to mentor instead? Why is he even bothering to help Neil in the first place, given that he knows Neil generally uses his powers for evil?

What happens between Sir Geoffrey and Neil after the end of the series? Sir Geoffrey seems to be running out of patience with him, but if Neil was replacable as his apprentice presumably he would have replaced him a long time ago, and over the years he's done Neil an awful lot of 'final' favours.

Sir Geoffrey/Neil would be terrifying but intriguing.

Or you could solve what to me is the biggest mystery of the series- why on God's green Earth does Sir Geoffrey want Neil to get back together with Belinda, given that a) he knows what a complete psychopath Neil is, b) Neil's not even a particularly effective psychopath, c) Neil's awful work-life balance that caused the divorce in the first place has not improved, and d) it's not like the divorce has interfered much with Sir Geoffrey's own relationship with Neil?

On the other hand, Jeff! If you wanted to write me the first Neil/Jeff slash fic in existence, you would be my hero. (If you wanted to write a Neil/Jeff slash fic that supports my pet conspiracy theory that Jeff deliberately got Laura killed, or at least failed to look for an alternate solution, because she was cockblocking him by getting in the way of his lunch dates with Neil, you would be my hero for all of time.)

Alternately, they could have more wacky gen adventures where Jeff screws Neil over on behalf of Langley and then bribes his way back into his affections with soda. How does Jeff feel about periodically betraying his friend, especially given that he must know Neil can kill him with his brain? How does Jeff feel about the fact Neil basically spends the show spiraling downward into self-destructive madness and it's partially his fault?

(The) Thick of It (UK)

Characters: Nicola Murray

A comedy about how the toxic relationship between the media and the New Labour spin machine has crippled the British Government. (This turns out to be funnier than it sounds.) In essence the show consists of a bunch of stressed, angry people frantically scrambling around trying to calm storms in teacups before they turn into tea hurricanes that soak everyone and ruin someone's career. The protagonists are the unfortunate denizens of DoSAC, Department for Shit No One Else Wants To Deal With, their equally unfortunate Opposition counterparts, and Director of Communications Malcolm Tucker who periodically shows up to scream obscenities at people and, occasionally, help them out of trouble.

It's out on DVD in Britain, but not, alas, in the United States. Also available through Youtube and illegal filesharing.

What I like about it:
It's basically the funniest television show of all time. If you have any tolerance for swearing at all, you should watch it; I promise you won't regret it. The various gaffes and scandals are hilarious and depressingly realistic, the dialogue is brilliant, and the characters are strangely endearing despite their many, many flaws. I actually found it restored my faith in politics, because it shows what's mainly broken is the system, not the people. In The Thick of It the characters work in the office from hell, but they still get out of bed every morning and show up for work because on some level they care about the future of their country. Plus Malcolm's rage and underlying vulnerability are pretty mesmerizing, and DoSAC minister Nicola Murray is great.

Basically I just want to see the Thick of It characters doing politics, kicking arse and taking names in a slightly incompetent way, as they do. With a focus on Nicola because she is awesome. I've really got a gen focus here, but if you want to slip some shipping in around the edges I won't complain. ;)

My two ships in this fandom are everyone/politics and Nicola/premiership with Malcolm as her director of communications. (The second is one of those really unlikely fantasy pairings that will never happen in canon, I can admit it.). Nicola Murray is amazing. I love her Malcolm-battered idealism, I love her flailyness, I love her deadpan, self-deprecating humor, I love the little glimpses we get of her ambition, I love how she's intimidated by Malcolm but not so much that she doesn't recognize his inherent drama queen-y ridiculousness. I love how over the course of the third series we see her grow as a politician, and I love that when she had the chance to cut and run she chose to stay and fight the election from hell instead. I want her to be Prime Minister when she grows up.

I love Malcolm too (is there anyone in this fandom who doesn't?) but I'm only requesting Nicola because I want to give my writer as much scope as possible, including the option to write something he's not in. What I really want is a story about Nicola navigating through the world of politics, and if Malcolm's going to get in the way of that (or if like me you find his dialogue fiendishly difficult to write), feel free to chuck him under the bus.

(I also love Nick Hanway to bits. I'm not a big enough dick to ask people to write such a minor character, so please, please don't feel under any pressure to include him. But if you have always had a burning desire to write about Nick Hanway and you were desperately seeking a receptive audience, look no further.)

Possible directions for a fic:

• Something about the 2010 election, which we know the former Government lost.
• The subsequent party leadership contest. Whatever happened to Dan Miller? Did Nicola stand? Did Malcolm set her up as a stalking horse and then switch his allegiances to another candidate just before the election?
• Nicola, Glenn and Ollie adjusting to life in Opposition. Ollie possibly growing up a little.
• Nicola and Malcolm renegotiating their relationship in Opposition, now that he's the man who lost the party an election instead of the PM's enforcer and she's... whoever she's become in the new Shadow Cabinet.
• Nicola and Peter Mannion. As a more senior politician, what does he think of her? What happens when they get stuck on Newsnight together? A Hansard excerpt of one of their debates, complete with bitchy interventions and heckling?
• Backstory or the stuff we don't see. Why did Nicola come into politics, what's her constituency like, how's the whole work/life balance working out for her?
• Dipshit DoSAC fuckups, either back when the Party was in Government or now. What happens when it's revealed border control were waving everyone through without checking their passports to shorten Heathrow queues due to the Minister's pilot study?

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

Characters: Peter Mandelson, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair

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 for Yuletide I thought I'd better nominate a few characters that people who haven't been following the daily minutiae of the House of Common with rapt fascination might actually recognize. I chose the three founders of New Labour, Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

People who have been following British politics even loosely will know they have a fascinating history together. They started out as BFFs reforming the Labour Party into something electable, but then Tony stood for the party leadership when Gordon thought he was the heir apparent, Peter sided with Tony, and it all went terribly wrong. Cue fifteen years of melodrama in which Gordon resented Tony for "stealing" his job and made it as hard as possible for him to run the country, and hated Peter for defecting and tried to destroy his career. Tony succeeded in destroying Peter's career, ran Labour's reputation into the ground and then resigned, dumping an unpopular war, a dysfunctional Government and looming global economic crisis in Gordon's lap. And finally Gordon, in despair, resurrected Peter to save his failing Government. It's like a Shakespearean play but with more soundbites.

More details can be found on Wikipedia and on Youtube, which is packed with interviews and documentaries. There are also many books about it- I hear very good things about Andrew Rawnsley's The End of the Party. Tony and Peter have autobiographies out, which are good resources for their perspective on things, and Tony's director of communications Alastair Campbell has also published his very detailed and unintentionally hilarious diaries covering the time period. Fair warning: Tony's autobiography is surprisingly unedited, and the inside of Tony's head is a scary, scary place.

What I like about it:
I love the crazy drama. I'm fascinated by the tensions that arise from working with people you love/hate and wanting to help them/kill them and realize your personal ambitions and do the best thing for the party and do the best thing for the country all at the same time. And I love Peter, who is witty and brilliant and adorable and got completely screwed over by both Gordon and Tony. (He's also gay, if that's the sort of thing that interests you.) His Stockholm syndrome with regard to Tony is both disturbing and intriguing. I also love Gordon, who meant well but was just too angry and jealous to act like an adult and wound up throwing office supplies at everyone instead of governing. I don't love Tony, but I love reading about him, because his narcissism is hilarious.

Basically, anything about the relationship between the three founders of New Labour, with all its tumultuous drama and love and hate and angst and betrayals and shifts in the balance of power.

Possible avenues of ficcage:

• Their first impressions of each other, when they meet in the 80s and Gordon and Tony are up-and-coming middlebenchers and Peter is Neil Kinnock's all-powerful Director of Communications.
• What happens in 1992, when Peter finally gets his own seat in Parliament but is banished to the political wilderness while Gordon and Tony are promoted to shadowing the Great Offices of State?
• Granita Pact fic. How did Tony convince Peter to switch from backing Gordon to backing him? How did Tony convince Gordon to stand aside for him (because we know it wasn't really a deal they made one night in a restaurant)? Massive angst on all sides.
• During Peter's forced resignations, Gordon was the first person he called when the shit hit the fan, even though they officially hated each other and in the case of Peter's first resignation it was Gordon's own press secretary Charlie Whelan who had leaked the story that got him in trouble. Make some sense of this.
• How did Gordon feel, inviting Peter to come back and save his Government in 2008? How did Peter feel?
• Their relationship now, when they're all semi-retired.
• Shameless porn. Hate-sex, love-sex, betrayal-sex, sex-sex, trading-sexual-favors-for-political-loyalty-and/or-a-chance-to-see-the-budget-sex, threesomes, whatever floats your boat.

Neil Kinnock, Philip Gould or Alastair Campbell can come play too if you like.

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.

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 favourite 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 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.
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