I have recently been interviewed by ThePlumbob about Discovery! The interview took place in the thread for celebrating completed stories over at the sims forums. Check it out! But for those of you who missed it I am posting the questions and answers here!
Warning: Beware of spoilers if you haven’t read all of Discovery yet.
1) Did you have the whole story planned out from the start?
When I started the story, I set it up as a room challenge and didn’t yet have a specific plot in mind. After I think 2 chapters I had the idea for the plot rumbling in my head and it all just went from there! Though once I had the idea, I pretty much had the ending in mind already. Some of the subplots came to me later, like the text message, but most of all I knew what was going to happen
2) Did the story you made up inspire you to start a room challenge, or was it the other way around (i.e. did the challenge inspire the story)?
It was the challenge that inspired the story! As I said above for the first two or three chapters I had no idea what to do with the plot. But then I thought “When will this story end? Where is it heading?”. As you can probably see I did think of having some plot even in the first two chapters (e.g. when she thinks about her family) but I didn’t yet know how to resolve this. I thought of “What could be the explanation for someone to be trapped in a tiny house?”
3) The pacing of the story is on point; how did you decide what/how much to reveal when?
For the first few chapters, I felt like the story went very slowly and things were getting repetitive, that’s when I decided to reveal more each chapter. I know mystery stories that have a lot of build up but take their time in revealing things and I didn’t want it to be like that. I had multiple facts that the reader didn’t know and decided to reveal one of them in each chapter or give hints, e.g. “My world is not real”, “There is someone watching me”, “Why are the scientists there” etc. That’s also why it’s fairly short because I didn’t want to drag things out and get repetitive with my clues ^^
1) Let’s start with the controversial one, Ballinger. He’s the story’s villain, but it’s made clear that he’s not exactly evil. His story is quite the cautionary tale of pursuits of “greater good” gone wrong. How did you come up with his character, and how did you balance it?
The model for Ballinger was the actual professor from Wayward Pines, I always forget his real name 😄 .. David Pilcher! While David Pilcher is a lot older I made Tony a rather young way too ambitious man who doesn’t yet have the life experience of age but wanted to create a world which needs that – thus he makes some questionable decisions. I wanted him to have a different name too. I don’t know why but when I thought about the scientists plot the line “Tony, this was not supposed to happen” caught in my head. The name Ballinger also popped up though I later noticed that this is also a name from Wayward. I swear I didn’t realise beforehand xD
So while the story of him creating the future world is taken from Wayward Pines, other aspects I made up or twisted. I wanted him to seem nice at first but then later he kind of “goes mad” when he loses control over the situation and doesn’t seem so likable anymore. Also why his enthusiasm for his project is something that might seem likable about him, at the same time I wanted the reader to get that Ballinger is going too far. That’s why there were the chapters from Helen’s perspective.
2) I always wondered what Jennifer’s childhood would have been like, what kind of relationship did she have with her parents before suspension?
Hm, I always assumed that she had an intimate relationship with her mother who cared for her while her father was always working. I think that’s the reason why she remembers Francesca but not Tony. I guess her father was always in a working frenzy and she also didn’t have the typical childhood since her father was also a public figure, so she grew up secluded and mostly in the company of her mother.
3) Helen is an understated heroine in the story. We only get glimpses of her, but she seems to be the easiest to identify with thanks to her relatable moral values. Can you tell us more about why you decided to include her in the story?
Helen is a character I made up all myself. When presenting the scientists side of the story I wanted to include a counterpoint to Ballinger to give a different perspective on his questionable values. I also didn’t want to write the story from Ballinger’s perspective since he’s kind of a fanatic and I can’t write that very well.
4) We only get to see a surface level of all of these characters, but you must have known so much about their background. How did you decide what to include in the story?
Hm, that’s a tough one ^^ I think I already explained a lot of it above. I didn’t want to go in too much detail about their background to keep their story mysterious ^^ Ballinger and Helen are sort of opposites character wise so I wanted to make sure we knew about Helen’s values and Ballinger. I just included enough of their characters to let readers know what they are like and spray in bits and bats of their background but not too much to not stretch out the story. Most of the background included refers to the future-past situation and why that happened.
The Ending And Beyond
1) Did you play around with multiple endings in the early days, or were you always set on this one? (I guess you partially answered that already!)
Partially I did know that Jennifer would finally be able to walk out of the house and create a parallel reality but I wasn’t yet sold on the details of Ballinger’s, Helen’s and Francesca’s fate. That’s a reason why I created the epilog. I liked the ending so much and it HAD to be the ending, but there were still a lot of unanswered questions. I decided to unravel a few of them, like what happens to Helen and Francesca but leave some things unsolved like Jennifer’s new life or if she would ever meet her mother again.
2) What do you imagine Jennifer’s life in her new reality to be like after the events of Discovery?
Well since it is a parallel reality, things would be mostly normal – no apocalypse, no monsters, no fence. Just a normal world. Basically, Jennifer’s mind created the world she lives in now so her surroundings are subject to her imagination – subconsciously. And thus it looks like what she is used to. Except there are not the same people living there. A reunion with her mother is not possible since they live in different worlds now (how text messages transfer through that, don’t ask me! I just liked the detail there).
3) What about the world seen in the story; are the people Ballinger rescued completely free of the threat of turning into monsters?
This is probably a question that is already answered if you have seen the show Wayward Pines because the monster background is taken from there – I’ll try to explain. The story takes place almost 2000 years in the future, over A LOT of generations, human genome has mutated and gradually turned humans into the monsters they are now. It’s not like a zombie movie where you get bitten and turn into a zombie too. Since the people who live in the town were taken for the “project” after the first mutations were discovered by Ballinger, they will not turn into monsters themselves, but their children’s children’s children… (you catch my drift) will. The people who live in the town are only at the threat of being killed by the monsters if the fence fails – which doesn’t happen during my story but who knows, it’s a dangerous world they live in.
4) Was Jennifer the only one whose body didn’t survive suspension or were there more incidents like this?
Jennifer is a special case. Her body didn’t survive suspension, but her mind did. Her mental training (the house) went perfectly normal it was just clear that she would never wake up. I think in some conversation Helen (or Ballinger) mentions that there were others that didn’t survive, but neither their body nor their minds did – or their body did but not their mind. Jennifer’s case is unique in its constellation, that’s why Ballinger was so fascinated by it in the first place.
If you have any more questions feel free to ask