Rosann’s Writing Room
I am so excited to introduce you to Cara, or @ItsMotivatingC on Twitter and ItsMotivatingCara Ao3. Cara writes some of the best crime drama and supernatural Larry fics out there, and I know I’m not the only one who salivates while waiting for her to drop new things.
This is the second installment of this feature, so if you’re excited about authors and peeking behind the curtain in their brains, I encourage you to look at the March issue of No Stunts Magazine for my profile of BananaHeathen.
Without further ado, I introduce you to Cara–aka ItsMotivatingCara
Twitter Handle: ItsmotivatingC
AO3 Handle: ItsMotivatingCara
Works: House of the Rising Sun, Beautiful War, Where you’d rather be, Shadow Dances, Halfway Home, The Rose of Whitechapel, Drops of Jupiter
Rosann: Hello, my friend, and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. What do you like people to call you?
Cara: Cara, please.
Rosann: Can you share why you decided to get started writing fanfic for the 1D/Larry fandom?
Cara: Backstory? I’ve always been an avid reader, used to write now and again – nothing worthy of eyes beyond my own. During quarantine I stumbled across a rec-page on TikTok and picked up a few fics. I felt so inspired by the community, the love and the respect people seemed to have for one another. It felt like a safe space to take a swing at publishing. The rest is history.
Rosann: I love that. Mirrors my own discovery of fics as well. How long did you write before you published for the fandom?
Cara: I posted the first chapter of House of the Rising Sun as soon as it was completed – there was no posting schedule/ etiquette. I was green and nervous as hell. I wasn’t on socials yet (Twitter), but the response was instantaneous, so I kept going.
As for writing in general…Since I was but a wee lass, when every short story started with ‘Once upon a time, there was a princess who was slaughtered and the brave knight had to investigate their murder’.
Rosann: House of the Rising Sun is great, by the way (if anyone hasn’t read it, it’s a great AU with supernatural creatures and lots of drama). Do you write in any other fandoms?If so, which?
Cara: My heart belongs to the Larry fandom, I doubt it would ever sway.
Rosann: (Mine, too). What’s your favorite fic that you’ve written and where did the idea come from? How long did it take you from first idea to publication?
Cara: Oof. That’s a tough one…The one I most enjoyed writing was Shadow Dances, it took me two and a half weeks to write – It flowed so naturally, practically wrote itself – and was inspired by my own experiences with ghosts/ spirits, my night terrors and seizures. The one I’m most proud of…I think, purely because of the work and research and dedicated time it took, would have to be The Rose of Whitechapel. It’s not a crowd favorite, but it’s the love-child of sleepless nights and talking to librarians and searching for 1800’s maps of London – as well as in-depth research into JTR.
Rosann: As a fellow writer, I’m fascinated by the speed with which you write. I’m a painfully slow writer and I’m super jealous. Also, I love both of these fics mentioned. What’s your favorite trope (if any) to write?
Cara: Hmm, enemies to lovers. There’s something so poetic about seeing the ugly side of someone first, knowing that’s their very worst they have to give, and then learning about the hidden sweetness, the softness when the defenses are breached. To know that someone can fall in love with your darkness, the inner-turmoil that sparks, the self-doubt. Yum!
Rosann: LOVE enemies to lovers. So good. How do you handle writer’s block (if you experience it)?
Cara: I think it’s incredibly important to step away from the screen – the keyboard. I don’t…always…force myself to write when I suffer “The Block.” However, I’ll listen to music, or watch Pride and Prejudice (I’m not being pretentious, I really love it). A line of dialogue or a lyric will form a picture in my head, as soon as I’ve grasped it, I need to put pen to paper – or fingers to keys, as it were.
Rosann: Good advice. I call that ‘filling the bucket’ when I go off and immerse myself elsewhere. Do you read other things while you’re writing? Why or why not?
Cara: No. I absolutely cannot read books or fics while I’m writing, I try to be strict with myself. I’m terrified of outside influence if it’s not strictly inspired by other media. Writing styles are far too absorbent, I don’t want to pick it up, I don’t want my world influenced in that way. But also, if I’m reading, and I get caught up, I simply don’t write.
It’s the writer’s curse – imposter syndrome. When you view brilliant media, you’re either inspired (good for you!) or you’re like me, you spiral, you question, you wonder how you managed to fool people into thinking you have even a morsel of talent. I can’t let that doubt work its way into my works, my readers deserve my best.
Rosann: Imposter Syndrome, yes. I may have made their acquaintance myself once or twice. A lot of times, the “real world” frowns on fanfic in general. Have you had this experience? Do your friends and family know what you write, and how do you deal with questions about it?
Cara: My friends and family are brilliant. My mother is ridiculously supportive, and I read rude comments to my father just to see him spit fire. My friends are constantly asking me about my writing, my clients too. I’m not the least bit ashamed, I see every kudo and kind comment as an accomplishment – that I’ve at least resonated with one person, that my words brought them comfort.
Rosann: I respect that so much. I still haven’t figured out a way to announce my fanfic writing life to friends/family IRL. You’re inspiring me to do just that. Do you plot/outline before you write or do you just fly by the seat of your pants?
Cara: Hmm, for the plot-heavier fics it’s important that I outline – especially when it comes to a murder-mystery. I need a basis, a motive and a modus operandi that makes sense. Some fics are plotted chapter by chapter, others I’ve just written. I believe Drops of Jupiter was the first fic where I simply wrote, no notes, no outlines – it was exhilarating.
Rosann: It’s so fun to just write and let the words flow–I struggle with outlining personally, so I always wonder how other people do it. What are your thoughts on writing/consuming smutty smut for people not in that same community and (assuming) they haven’t been in those situations? I.e., Can non-queer authors write smut?
Cara: Absolutely! Sex is a human expression. Some are adverse to it, others not – all are welcome. Why should we question the identity of someone creating media for our enjoyment? Does it matter? If so, how will that change the outcome? What is the gain? There’s safety here, safety in expressing desires in the comfort of your room, it’s your secret and no one can judge you for that. Some women consume m/m smut because it’s safer, it keeps one at arms-length to the act itself in a way. Personally, I’m a survivor of bodily trauma, and finding sensual scenes that I didn’t necessarily need to mentally be a part of was a comfort. It’s built from love and trust, that’s the basis – the rest is simply fun.
Rosann: That’s such a lovely answer, Cara. I love the idea of smut reading/writing as a safety net for people. I’ve noticed that a lot of writers include people from the boys’ real lives/situations. What are your thoughts for including personal things like that or not?
Cara: Some do, some don’t. I can’t have an opinion on what others are comfortable with writing. Personally, I can’t. I might’ve tried once or twice, but using the names of those they’ve lost makes me uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel necessary, it doesn’t change my story, or cause it to lose value – to me, at least!
As for my characters experiencing loss, trauma is poetic, it can be – if handled respectfully.
Rosann: “Trauma is poetic.” Yes, it absolutely can be, especially in the safety of a story and at hands as talented as yours. What are the hardest scenes/tropes for you to write?
Cara: Fluff. I’m sure there’s some deep-rooted psychological reason for it, but it’s tough. I bow down to those who can write fluff seamlessly, I struggle immensely with the idea of overwhelming affection. Why is it there? What is the purpose? Love – obviously – but for me, love comes with disaster, they’re married. And like every marriage, there are trials and tribulations, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Call me a cynic!
Rosann: Cynic, you? No, never. I love the rawness of your writing. Leave the fluff to others! Lately there has been some discussion on stan Twitter about what authors of fanfic “must” do (for example, provide trigger warnings). What do you think a writer has responsibility for to their readers? Conversely, do you think readers have any responsibility to writers (for example, leaving kudos or comments)?
Cara: Trigger warnings are a must. This is a safe space you’re creating, your readers are your babies in a way. You nurture them, you care for them. You protect them. Media can be dangerous if handled improperly, this isn’t published work you can pick up on a shelf, you have a direct link to your readers and it’s completely irresponsible to gain their trust and break it by harming them. God, this topic gets me riled up. If you can write an entire fic, you can sure as hell add some damned triggers – whew!
Anyway, kudos are lovely, comments too. I sometimes go to my comment section to remind myself that my readers are happy, that they’re enjoying themselves. I adore reading them picking up on hints and clues. So yeah, it’s great, I’d never say no to some praise – It feeds my inner narcissist, and drowns out that little imposter.
Rosann: Really great point about adding triggers and the ease with which they can be added. Can you give other burgeoning writers some writing tips–for writing or publishing?
Cara: Start somewhere, don’t think ahead. Don’t overwhelm yourself with wild concepts or large chapters, just write, get inspired and put pen to paper – it’ll all work itself out. This community has so much support to give, they’re bursting with it, you’re safe here.
Rosann: Great advice! Do you have favorite fics that have inspired you?
Cara: Well now, if you’ve run your eyes over my twitter page you’ll know, first and foremost, that I’ll live and die by Stylinsoncity. They inspired me to start, and I’d like to think they’ve become a great ally along the way.
Rosann: Yes! I also love Stylinsoncity! As for your fics, do you do anything to promote your fics? Mood boards or something else?
Cara: I’m not shy about throwing together a little moodboard, I’m an artist at heart – I paint and sketch, digital art as well. I love colors, and sometimes, yeah, a visual can spark some inspo!
That and my true love, music.
Rosann: I love me a moodboard! You often write crime dramas, do you have any background in that field? If not, can you tell us about your research process?
Cara: I plead the fifth. Kidding. I’ve read manifestos and watched crime documentaries, does that count?
I also looked up the schematics for FBI bases around the world, and got blocked from two sites – whoops! I studied online about crime-scene etiquette and read police reports, more for fun than for writing purposes, though.
I love creating my own villains, the backstory, the reasons why. It’s fascinating how their minds work. We’re all capable of darkness, some just dive a little deeper than others.
Rosann: Love that part about research, and yes, watching crime dramas count as far as I’m concerned! I think you can pick up pointers about pacing and tension from those as well!
Thank you, Cara, so much for your time and your candid answers! I loved hearing more about your process and your passions!
If you haven’t followed her yet, please follow Cara on AO3 as ItsMotivatingCara (and @ItsMotivatingC on Twitter) and definitely read all the works she has posted. They are all amazing!
Cara mentioned Stylinsoncity in one of her answers, you can find them on AO3.