I am so excited to introduce you to @Jacaranda_Bloom this month. She is one of the most prolific authors in the fandom right now almost 70 fics to her credit.
This is a regular installment of No Stunts Magazine, so if you’re excited about authors and peeking behind the curtain in their brains, I encourage you to look at the last few issues for profiles of BananaHeathen, ItsMotivatingCara, CuckooTrooke, _LilyBlue28, Green_Feelings, BoosBabyCakes, and KingsOfEverything.
If you like this feature, want to chat, or give me suggestions for future profiles, please hit me up on Twitter. @Rosann_1986 (formally @FlyWishing).
Without further ado, I introduce you to Dee.
Handle: @Jacaranda_Bloom on Twitter, Instagram, AO3, Wattpad, and Ko-Fi.
Jacaranda-Bloom on Tumblr.
Works: 69 (by the time this interview is published in November)
Rosann: What do you like people to call you?
Dee: I go by Dee, but some readers call me Jacaranda, which is kind of sweet too. “Hey you!” or “Oi!” usually work as well.
Rosann: How did you decide to get started writing fanfic for the 1D/Larry fandom?
Dee: I only joined the 1D fandom in mid 2015, so I was definitely late to the party! I’d been existing in a very intense ‘work bubble’ for many years and my outside interests were pretty limited. After implementing a massive project at work, I needed some serious downtime, so I took a bit of a break. I just sort of fell into the 1D fandom mainly due to the prevalence of traffic on social media related to the boys, their music, their lives, and the fanfic written about them.
Fanfic was such a revelation to me. Having access to all of these amazing stories, for free, was mind blowing. The quality of the writing was wonderful too and I started practically inhaling everything I could. I would read for hours and hours every day and found so much joy in these stories. I’d never really done any creative writing, but the idea of being able to craft worlds and tell my own stories within the 1D universe was incredibly appealing.
Unsure of what ‘direction’ to take, I actually wrote the beginning of four different stories. I posted the first chapters (or thereabouts) of each of the four fics and waited to see if anyone would even be interested in reading them. To my complete surprise, people were. I decided to finish The Prince of Light first and the feedback was so encouraging. It was such a wild ride to see people, strangers, reading my words and enjoying the story so much. I published the rest of this fic on Christmas Day 2018 and then went into a bit of a spiral. I was spending Christmas essentially alone for the first time in my life and I was pretty miserable, so I sat down and wrote an entire 10k fic in a single day, The Clock Strikes Christmas. The response to that story was amazing and gave me the drive to finish the second of those initial fics, this time Whisper The Wind, which was set in Australia and was, I guess, the start of a love affair with writing stories set in my own country.
It was around this time that I started to slide into the writing community and joined a few fests and that’s when things really changed for me. Being able to meet other people online that shared the same hobby as me was life altering. I actually met my best friend through one of these fests and I honestly can’t imagine what my life would be like without her in it. Writing has become part of me, part of who I am, part of what makes me, me, and I am so grateful for it every single day.
I eventually finished the third of those initial fics, Soup Of The Day, but never have managed to finish the fourth one, Clouds On Curtis. I always say I will one day, and I probably will, but when is anyone’s guess.
Rosann: I love that origin story. Discovering the fandom and your love for writing along with it is so cool. 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?
Dee: Ugh. This is so hard. I’m often asked which of my fics is my favorite and it can honestly change from one day to the next. I’ve written quite a lot and technically I have 69 fics published on AO3, but one is a WIP and there are three series in there as well, so really there are 59 stories in total.
I’ve delved into many different tropes, different lengths of fics, and different themes, so pitting a little 10k one-shot against a 100k emotional rollercoaster is quite challenging. Some have taken me years to publish, whether due to time constraints or just not feeling it at the time and some I’ve written in a single day.
And What If I Were You took me several years from inception to completion, If You’re Out There (I’ll Find You Somehow) was a steep mountain to climb and took much longer than I thought, and The Pirate and The Piper nearly was nearly sunk by crippling writers block (or world building block – word to the wise, adapting stories that are not just fantastical but have have zero foundation in logic from a backstory perspective can be super frustrating – I’m glaring at you, Peter Pan), but regardless I adore all of them.
Then there are shorter stories that for whatever reason just hold a special place in my heart like Man Deconstructed, which was so much fun to write, With Words Unspoken which was my first foray into older Larry, and The Baby Whisperer that was written as a back-up fic for a fest and has become one of my most popular stories.
But I guess if I had to pick one, and only one as my fave, it would be In A Twinkling. It’s my second longest fic at 89k and I basically wrote it in four (very hectic) weeks. I’d always been interested in writing an Advent Fic (which is where you write and publish a story in 25 parts from December 1 to December 25, posting one chapter a day), but had never had the time. I had an idea for a little one-shot Christmas fic that I thought would run at around 10k-15k, but then as I got further into the story, the characters decided they had other ideas, so I decided to take the plunge. I used a ‘one day = one chapter’ approach and ended up creating one of my favorite worlds and overall plot.
I guess the reason I’ve picked this fic as my fave though, is about more than just the story. For me, it was the experience and interactions with the readers as each chapter posted that made it special. The admin across AO3, Wattpad, Twitter, and Tumblr was a lot, and I was often replying to hundreds of messages each day, but it was well worth it. I had ‘finished’ writing the whole story before December 1, because I couldn’t conceive of posting a story that I wasn’t able to go back and edit if I discovered something when writing Chapter 23 that was critical to the plot but contradicted something in the already published Chapter 2! I say ‘finished’ as I actually rewrote the entirety of the final chapter in 1 day and expanded it from 2.5k to around 10k after realizing that the readers weren’t going to be satisfied unless the stories for all of the side characters were wrapped up in a great big red bow. It’s not that I felt pressure from the readers to do it, it was more that the side characters just deserved complete story arcs too. My absolutely wonderful beta did the edit for me on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day so I could post in time and I will be forever grateful for her generosity and dedication to this story xx
Rosann: I love that story and I love the concept of an Advent fic. Kudos on creating such a fan favorite! Do you read other things while you’re writing? Why or why not?
Dee: I read every night before I go to sleep, even if it’s only a few pages. No exceptions. It’s my wind-down routine and I honestly don’t know if I could go to sleep without it anymore. I only ever read fanfic at night, but what particular story I read depends on where I’m at with whatever I’m writing and how I’m feeling in general. I have a series of go-to fics for comfort that I’ve read multiple times; some funny, some quick, some longer. It’s a bit of an eclectic mix of styles and tropes too, and they’re mostly not the ‘classics’ either (with the exception of Escapade and Wild and Unruly, both of which I read on average once per year).
I do find that if I’m in the early stages of writing a new fic of my own, then I can’t read a new story from another writer as it can take me out of my head a bit, especially if it’s well-written.
I also go through phases of re-reading my old stories, which might be prompted by someone leaving a specific comment about a scene or chapter or asking me a character-based question. Interestingly, even though I listed In A Twinkling as my favorite fic, it’s also the only story I’ve never re-read. I think perhaps the reason is simply that I lived and breathed that story so intensely for those couple of months as I was writing it, then releasing the chapters each day and interacting with the readers, that I don’t want to go back and tarnish that memory in any way. It was a moment in time and maybe it’s best to leave it be, but who knows, I might change my mind one day!
Rosann: You sound like me. I read every night as well and have a number of comfort fics.
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?
Dee: My friends and family do know that I write. Some know I write fanfic, but for most, I’m just a writer in my spare time in the same way that I like to play the piano. It’s just another hobby and I’ve never felt the need to elaborate or share anything I’ve written with anyone in that part of my life, but then I don’t invite people around for piano recitals either because that’s just for me. I also feel that my writing life is online, within the community I’ve become a part of, so it would feel super weird for me to move that to an in-person situation.
Rosann: If you write a serialized fic, do you plot/outline before you write or do you just fly by the seat of your pants?
Dee: Ahhhh fic planning. What a fickle beast. The short answer is yes, I do plot out my fics. The longer answer is yes, I do plot out my fics… most of the time.
The thing is, my writing is really varied. I also write almost exclusively for fests, exchanges, and challenges, which have due dates, word count stipulations, collaborator requirements, and themes. These elements create boundaries within which I have to work.
Then there is my writing process. I’m a procrastinator, a world builder, and someone who is strongly driven by process. By that I mean that things have to make logical sense, both for the characters as functional individuals, and also within the world I’ve created. Suspension of disbelief is totally fine – I’m writing fictional stories after all – but for me it’s important to create believable characters and environments for those characters to exist in. There’s little point in bringing two people together romantically for a happily ever after if they would have no way of practically supporting that future. Plot holes are my nemesis and I’ve ditched entire fics when I couldn’t make them work, as well as rewriting tens of thousands of words because I’d overlooked fundamental issues with the world I’d built.
Most of the time when I start writing I have an idea of the story I’m going to tell, but not necessarily the details. I know where I’m starting and in a more general sense, where I want it to end, but I rarely know how I’m going to get there. The journey tends to reveal itself as I write and learn more about the characters. A common occurrence is that about half way through a story, I’ll suddenly come up with the ending and skip forwards to write that. Once I’m satisfied, I go back and finish the rest and make any adjustments that are required. This is also probably why I’d be pretty crap at WIPs because I wouldn’t be able to go back and fix things.
There are exceptions to this, of course. When a fic is especially complex in terms of the timeline within a story, I do need to plan things out. My last Big Bang – And What If I Were You – is an excellent example of this. The first half of this fic involved a parallel journey by each of the main characters 6 months apart, so I had to carefully plan out the trip and there was a heavy use of flashbacks which were needed to progress the story. I’m also about to start writing another fic which is set over a 20 year period, so obviously that’s going to require a lot of planning. I see a whiteboard and stacks of coloured sticky notes in my not too distant future!
Rosann: I love hearing about your process! So many people are writing WIPS, but I love hearing about how your editing/plotting process works. On that note of process/progress. How do you feel when people ask questions on Twitter about your progress?
Dee: This is an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, it’s nice to know people enjoy your stories and are excited for whatever you’ve got coming up, but on the other hand, it can add a degree of pressure too. I feel very fortunate to have a fantastic readership who are really supportive and so kind with their enthusiastic feedback whenever I release a new story. I guess my situation is a bit different to many other writers because I don’t publish WIPs – with the exception of the 2019 and 2023 Word Play challenges – so when I publish new stories, they’re complete, and no one has to wait for new chapters to be posted, eliminating requests about when I’ll be updating.
That said, I did take a four-month break from writing this year because my work life needed to be prioritized for a while, and I got some very gentle prodding on Twitter, Tumblr, and AO3 about when I’d next be releasing a story. Mostly though, those messages were people hoping I was okay, missing my writing, and excited about whatever I might’ve been working on. It was really touching to know that people – strangers who I’d never met or spoken to – were thinking of me and wishing me well.
Rosann: That’s awesome and must have felt really nice to know you’ve touched people with your writing! 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?
Dee: When I first started writing, I did include real family members in a couple of stories, but I stopped that pretty early on. As I mentioned, I love world-building in my stories and that extends to the people around the central characters. I love writing side characters and I feel that they are such an important part of the stories, but I didn’t want to always be constrained by the existing perceptions that readers had about particular family members or friends.
Funnily enough, I also find family members can often be intrusive and problematic for my plots! For example, if there is a situation where, in real life, you would expect for the person to reach out to their family for help and support, but that doesn’t fit with the plan I have for how my story is developing, it can leave the reader feeling like ‘but why didn’t Harry just ask Gemma or Anne for help with xyz?’ I used to come up with complex reasons why they weren’t around or not in contact, but that always ended up being something shitty like a falling out, and I felt like I was tying myself up in knots to make it believable, so I stopped doing it and just, kind of… disappeared them. If one of my stories culminates in some major life event like a wedding, where family members would be expected to attend, I usually skim over it with a general statement like ‘shared with their nearest and dearest’ and no one has called me out on it… yet, but perhaps by that point nobody cares and they’re just satisfied with the happily-ever-after hahaha!
I also really like the concept of ‘found family’ and it’s a theme I use throughout a lot of my stories with my last two stories (Take Me Home and And What If I Were You) using it as a central theme. Found family is a lot more flexible and less constrained by societal expectations or norms, and also allows me to have the other guys or original characters at the forefront playing key roles within the ‘family’.
Rosann: I love the found family trope! On the subject of tropes, what are the hardest scenes/tropes for you to write?
Dee: It will probably sound really boring and obvious, but the hardest scenes for me to write are multi-participant conversations where there are more than two people. I think this stems from my obsession with the reader knowing exactly who is talking at any given time. As a reader myself, I find it incredibly frustrating when I have to re-read dialogue because on the first read I didn’t know who was speaking. A lot of my readers comment that my stories are like movies, part of which is due to the time I spend describing scenes so they can be more fully visualized, but part of it is also because the person speaking is easily decipherable. This is challenging enough when there are two people conversing, but once a third or fourth is added, this becomes exponentially more complex.
In order to achieve this, there are a number of techniques I deploy. Obviously, there’s the ‘he says’, ‘he murmurs’, ‘he replies’, etc, but that can get a bit repetitive. There’s introductory framing – ‘Louis smiles broadly’ – which identifies who is about to speak. Or there is another tool I use throughout all of my stories for two person conversations (and another reason why I don’t like scenes with more than two people), which is consistent alternation. What I mean by this is that, almost without exception, one person speaks and then the other person speaks, then back to the first person again. This way even if I don’t use any other identifying technique for a few lines, the reader will always know who to expect the next piece of dialogue from.
So yeah, multi-person conversations with three or more people are something that I try to avoid as much as possible!
Rosann: You’ve done a great job giving us a quick writing lesson on avoiding what I call “talking heads” syndrome. Perfect example!
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)?
Dee: From my perspective, I feel like there is a shared responsibility for authors and readers in terms of triggers/warnings/tagging. As a writer, I will always include appropriate tags or add a reference in the Author Notes for anything I think could reasonably be anticipated as a trigger, and if a reader points out something that is an issue for them, then I will do my best to make that adjustment. For example, in And What If I Were You, early in the story Louis suffers from migraines. I hadn’t tagged that as I didn’t see it as significant, but when a reader left a comment asking for it to be tagged, I added it. No problems.
By the same token, readers have a responsibility to equip themselves as best as they can by reading both the tags and the Author Notes/Chapter Notes and if the story develops into something they’re uncomfortable with, then they need to decide for themselves if they want to keep reading.
With respect to leaving kudos/comments, sharing fic posts, recommending fics, and anything else, I don’t believe that readers have a responsibility to do that. As a writer, I put my stories out into the world and while positive feedback is amazing, gives me immense joy, and encourages me to write more, at the end of the day I wouldn’t want people to feel obligated to do that.
Rosann: Can you give other burgeoning writers some writing tips–for writing or publishing?
Dee: This is a hard one as writing is such a personal experience and everyone approaches it from a different perspective. For me, so much of the joy I find is from being part of the writing community so I’ll just focus on that aspect.
When I started out back in 2018, it wasn’t easy to find a pathway into the community. Most of the interactions between writers were in WhatsApp group chats that you had to be invited to join and there wasn’t much of a community on Twitter, so it was hard. Joining fests was definitely the breakthrough moment though, but there wasn’t a central place to find out about fests either. Now things are different. 1dficfests on Tumblr tracks all of the active/upcoming fests/exchanges/challenges and most of these will have Discord servers that you can join when you sign-up to the fest to engage with other writers that are participating. It’s a great way to brainstorm fic ideas, share snippets of your writing, find a beta/cheerleader, chat about writing stuff, participate in writing sprints, and just generally support each other and share your love of writing.
Rosann: That’s great insight into the writing community! I didn’t realize the organized fests had those opportunities for connection. Thank you so much for your comprehensive responses, Dee! It has been a pleasure to have you this month.
If you haven’t followed her yet, please follow Dee @Jacaranda_Bloom on Twitter, Instagram, AO3, Wattpad, and Ko-Fi and Jacaranda-Bloom on Tumblr.