Interview with BSD-IES

Conducted by Redsrock

Idea by BabaORiley54

Posted by Brian S

 For this week's interview I had the extreme pleasure of talking with our very own writer, BSD-IES. BSD is a wonderful fan-fic writer, but he is also a Global Moderator at the widely known Forums. In this interview, I ask BSD about his writing and also how it has been running one of the largest TES fan-forum in the community.

1. So, you're a Global Moderator at the Chorrol forums. Who offered you this position and why?

Stargelman and Alexander offered me the role, though I’d been recommended to them by a fellow moderator called Darkwing (who sadly isn’t active anymore.) As to why they offered me the role, you’d really have to ask them. It will have been a combination of the fact we got on well, and that the fan fiction section was starting to grow rapidly. Treydog had been the previous mod there, but due to time constraints, he stepped down. I guess they wanted another writer to fill the gap. I never asked to be honest.

2. How long were you a regular member before being offered the Global Moderator position? How big a difference was it transition from a regular to a Mod? Were there any differences that you didn't originally anticipate?

Oh boy, about a week I believe. If it was longer than that, it wasn’t by much. The transition was non-existent. This was back in March 2005, and the forums were populated primarily by Morrowind fans. I barely had to act as a mod until the hype for Oblivion kicked in - by which time I’d been doing the role for 4-5 months. For the six months after that, leading up to Oblivion’s release, things got much more hectic. The only thing I didn’t expect was how personally some people took criticism. We don’t like to ban or warn people, and we always try an informal private message first, asking them to calm down. Some of the responses I got to those messages were just insane, especially around April 2006. You’d have thought I’d asked them to castrate themselves without anaesthetic the way they went on. A prospect that grew steadily more appealing…

3. Despite being around for quite some time, why do you think Chorrol is still around, rather than dying out like so many other fan-forums have?

It comes down to the members. We’ve had a lot of people joining the forums at times, due to new games getting released or for the competition, but the basic core of those members have been with us for years. We have periods, like now to be honest, when things are very quiet but we’ve all grown attached to the people there. Even when their circumstances change – they go to University, start a relationship, get a new job – we don’t lose them. They’ll disappear for a while, but they keep checking in. A lot of other fan forums have had a lot of members, and a lot of posts, very quickly. They were always based around the games though or the excitement of it being new, and when another game came along, they left. Build it around the people and they stay. The other key seems to be about finding a niche. Chorrol put a lot of effort, back in 2005, in aiming to build a really good fan fiction section. That’s one of the things we’re known for, and it's still one of the main reason new people join.

4. What is the best thing about your job as Global Moderator and why? What is the worst thing about your job as Moderator and why?

The best thing is having grown really close to the people. Alex, Stargelman, Epy, Minque et al, have become much more than just people I talk to online. These people have become genuine friends. Alex and Stargelman both visited me here in England recently, and we had an awesome time. I’m not sure that would have happened if I hadn’t been a mod. The worst thing is dealing with…well; I answer that in the next question.

5. What is your greatest pet peeve as a Moderator? Basically, what do members do that really get under your skin sometimes?

In all honesty, it takes quite a lot to really get me annoyed. Rude people, people who flame and insult other members, people who think that their opinion is far more important than anyone else’s and tells everyone so. Your basic everyday things like that can get a little irritating, but you kind of accept it as par for the course. What does annoy me (and the other moderators and admins) is when you quietly take the time to explain to them via pm what hasn’t been acceptable, and they ignore you completely. And in one case recently then publicly brag about how they’ve done that, and aren’t they clever. That was particularly irritating.

6. Other than Moderating it is also known that you write fan-fics in your down time. One of the best aspects of your writing is that every piece seems to be very original. How do make sure that your stories are something special, rather than a story-line that's been beaten to death a thousand times?

That’s actually a very difficult question to answer. It depends on how much you’ve read in the genre you’re writing for a start. A writer may come up with a great idea, which they believe to be totally original, only to find someone else did it fifty years ago. Knowing the genre means you know what to avoid. One thing I’ve noticed from running writing workshops, is that too many people write their own work, but don’t read other people’s. There’s an old cliché, that the more you write the better you get. I’d add to that the more you read, the better you’ll get. Especially when you learn to read like a writer, and start spotting the techniques they use. When I teach a course, I give all the participants a recommended reading list, depending on what kind of fiction they’re interested in writing. I’m coming to the conclusion that we should do the same for TES fan fiction. A recommended reading list of the best the community has to offer. Food for thought…

7. How old were you when you first started writing stories for the Elder Scrolls series and what made you start writing? What makes TES so much more unique than other gaming series?

It was about four years ago, which would have made me thirty at the time. What made me start writing TES fan fiction? That’s a complicated answer. My agent had managed to sell a thriller I’d written to a publisher, who paid me an advance for it. At the same time, my girlfriend and I broke up, after thirteen years. Thinking that my writing was going to really take off, and wanting to focus on that, I quit my job teaching. It then all went wrong. The publisher, who now owned the book, had a restructure. My book, along with many others, was put on hold. This meant no more money coming in. My agent’s advice was to immediately start on another novel, which I tried without success to do. Therefore, I was unemployed, living alone, close to broke and suffering from writer’s block. I started playing Morrowind a lot, to try to fill the days, and found it compelling. As an experiment, I started writing a fan fiction set in that universe and the words just flowed. My writer’s block cured. I found a new job as a recycling advisor, got engaged and moved in with a new partner. It almost seemed that Morrowind had been my good luck charm. That’s remained the pattern ever since. Whenever I start to hit a brick wall in my writing, I go back to Tamriel and continue with my fan fictions. Which is why they take so long to write, it can be months in between me going back to them.

As for what makes TES so unique, that’s a good question. I don’t know. It’s one of those indefinable questions. I’m sure gaming companies all over the world have studied those games, trying to find that very same quality. Some combination of this far removed fantasy world, full of myth and legend, torn apart through political and religious turmoil, that not only looks like a fantasy but seems very close to our own world. It seems believable, which makes it prime material to write about.

8. What is your inspiration for writing? Are there any fellow writers who you look up to?

I force myself to sit at my desk to write every day. For those few hours, it doesn’t matter if I write anything or not, but I’m not allowed to do anything else. No music on, no television, no Internet. If I don’t write, I just sit there bored. When I’m bored, my imagination kicks in and hey presto. Today’s inspiration.

Fan fiction authors I look up to? All of them. Anybody that takes the time and effort to write a story, just for their own personal satisfaction, and post it up for public consumption deserves respect. I admire those who ask for advice, and then listen to it without feeling threatened even more. If they take that advice on board, even better. I have my favourite fan fiction writers of course, like everyone else, but they’re not always the one’s I admire the most. Those who work at it, and improve, are the ones who really impress me. Chances are, in a few years time, they might well be on my favourite authors list.

9. Other than the forums and writing, what do you do for fun?

I’m taking cooking classes with Dawn at the minute, which is great fun, though I’m a truly abysmal cook. I read a lot, obviously, and have been studying a lot of esoteric texts recently in preparation for a new novel. I studied Thai boxing for twelve years, quitting when I was in my late twenties, which I’ve just started again. We go to a lot of concerts, see a lot of plays, go to the pub a lot. Oh, and I’m a huge football fan (soccer for those in the USA.) All sorts really.

10. If you could make one wish somehow related to the forums or your own writing, what would it be and why?

Easy. As much as I love my job, my wish would be that I was making enough money through my writing to be able to quit, and write full time.