This site is...

Based on an original story and alternate future by Sonny & Ais called In the Company of Shadows.

The story contains..

Slash (M/M), het (M/F) and graphic language, violence and sexual situations. Not intended for anyone under 18!

FAQ pages

FAQ home page

Editing FAQ


Our AFFN profile

Site hosted by 1&1

Want to support Sonny & Ais?

Frequently Asked Questions

for Sonny & Ais, In the Company of Shadows, and their world

last updated 1/1/11

Check the sections/questions below for Frequently Asked Questions. If you have additional questions not answered here, please contact us; we will add more FAQ topics as we receive feedback.

FAQ about the story

FAQ about the writing process

FAQ about Sonny & Ais

FAQ about the fandom

General FAQ

FAQ about the story

How did you come up with the idea for this story?

It started innocently enough. We were both bored one day on AIM and the idea of rping some random story to pass the time came up. At first we didn't really have any criteria except that we wanted it to be sort of dark and gritty, maybe post-apocalyptic, and that it should just be fun to write.

Because we didn't want to spend too much time on the background or characters and lose the inspiration or time to write, we decided to use characters we already had. As we had both been in Glimmer of Perdition, and Neulan City: District 9, we chose from those sets of characters. Sonny decided to use Sin because he was an interesting character that he hadn't had the chance to fully play with yet.

Initially, Ais was going to use one of her two main characters from Glimmer of Perdition as well. She loved both of them; a little bastard punk named Cypress and his intelligent, quieter brother named Hunter. She almost chose Hunter but then, completely as a joke, she mentioned Boyd from d9, because a scrawny little girly boy next to psychotic and muscular Sin would be pretty funny. But once the idea was out there it stuck. Besides, Ais had loved Boyd but felt she didn't get the full chance to utilize him and Hunter wouldn't be as interesting without Cypress as his counter-balance.

With the characters chosen, we started to write. It came as an incredible surprise that Boyd and Sin worked so well together. They had been created absolutely separately in completely different worlds; there was no reason whatsoever they should have been so compatible. In fact, Boyd had been chosen for the express purpose that he probably would be a challenge to Sin. Ais knew from his personality, that had never quite made it out in Neulan, that he was the type to be quietly sarcastic and not take crap. Sin, meanwhile, we figured would be a very intense, possibly frightening person. We needed someone who would be unaffected by that, who would not run away, who could complement his personality in an amusing or interesting way.

What was even more astounding was that as we wrote it seemed like they should be a couple as well as just partners as we'd initially intended. What initially was going to be a gritty story about two mismatched somewhat-friends was starting to become... well. Probably that still, in its own way, but something more. We didn't really know what we were doing at the time still, so we just let it go where it wanted and made sure to have fun as we went.

We quickly ran into a problem. Because we saw each other inconsistently on AIM, and weren't always in the mood to rp, we often started new scenes and wrote as far as we could before we had to stop. The next time we were both on, we started something new or randomly jumped into the midst of an old plot. This resulted in several short stories that were all over the place. It could have been doable, but Boyd was impossible to work with in such a setting. Given the nature of his extremely reserved personality and the fact that he was supposed to be slowly warming to Sin, it was too hard to know what emotional state he should be in at which point when there wasn't a clear chronological storyline. So, Ais asked about starting over from the beginning and this time only going in order.

It was a little difficult sometimes; we'd think of a future storyline and really want to get there, so we'd have a hard time staying in the present. We also needed to figure out the setting of this world now that we were dealing with it more seriously. In the beginning, we didn't put a lot of thought into everything because we just wanted to write. Even now, there are little inconsistencies and plot holes dotted especially throughout the early chapters because we were also developing the world and characters as we went.

The story was fun to write but it's possible it wouldn't have become what it was today if Ais had not also been trying to do the National Novel Writing Month during November 2006. She was trying to write in her own novel world but kept getting distracted with the collaboration instead. Eventually, she suggested that the collab be written as a NaNo story large enough for both to enter. We didn't think it would actually work; that would equate to 100,000 words that needed to be written in one month, and we didn't start until at least a week into it. But we both had four days off around Thanksgiving and we wrote so hardcore during that time that we blew through about 90,000 words there alone.

By the time December 2006 rolled around we were both loving writing the story and had developed better practices for how to roleplay it out. Sonny really wanted to share the story with the public but Ais was convinced no one would care but that if he wanted to he could go for it. He started researching places to post slash original stories and decided to go with AFFN.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Who writes which character?

The main difference is the main characters; Sonny writes Sin, Ais writes Boyd. The other characters are split between us.

Back to the top

How did you decide on Sin and Boyd or this story?

Sin started out as a character in an entirely different original universe. He was one of Sonny's characters in an original RPG called Glimmer of Perdition which was developed by several Gundam Wing ficwriters. It was an amazing futuristic world that was half sci-fi, half fantasy where the characters all had unique powers and abilities. Sin was one of those characters with powers. He didn't have a full name and was simply known as Sin. He was a deranged serial killer (sound familiar?) but unlike Hsin Liu Vega, he was remorseless, a true sociopath and bloodthirsty. He preyed on women and was quite unstable, which is why he was kept in a collar so that he could be easily controlled (also sound familiar?). One of his powers was the ability to get into peoples sub consciousness and dreams.

However, eventually the RPG died and the character was left abandoned and unused since the RPG ended before Sonny had a chance to truly flesh out Sin's character.

Sin's next appearance was in a spin off of GoP called "Schoolverse" where several of the characters from GoP were normal people and either students or teachers in a high school setting. It didn't last long and once again Sonny didn't have much time to develop his character well although it was known that Sin was antisocial, a troublemaking pothead and rarely went to class.

For several years Sin was left unused once again and it didn't seem like he would see the light of online day ever again until one day when Sonny and Ais were talking on AIM about a possible original collaboration they could write together. More information on that below.

Boyd Beaulieu started as a character for an online RPG Sonny and Ais created that was called 'District 9.' It was a modern day story set in a fictional metropolitan named Neulan. District 9 was a mostly gay district within it. The RPG was actually really fun and filled with some good friends and great roleplayers.

People were allowed to have several characters and Boyd was one of Ais' main characters. Lou Krauszer is actually from d9 as well; he, Boyd and a kid named Eli were all childhood friends. Boyd was a quiet, dark poetry-writing teenager going to high school with Lou and Eli. He was not good at making new friends so he tended to seem stand-offish while at the same time secretly coveting his friendship with Eli and Lou. There was a strange love triangle that was intended to develop over time; Eli liked Lou, Lou liked both of them but was getting interested in Boyd, and Boyd was oblivious but eventually would like Lou. Boyd had some secrets he was keeping from his friends, however, and he was never very good at properly interacting with others. So it made him seem like a gothic angsty boy brooding in the corner. He also liked to quote things and often wandered off to sit alone with a journal, staring into space.

Vivienne and Cedrick originated in d9 as well as, of course, Boyd's parents. In the original incarnation, Vivienne was once a popular supermodel known as Viv Merlot and she had Boyd when she was very young. She had to give up her job as she got into her late twenties because she was "too old" and so she, rather terribly, attempted to get into broadway. Cedrick was as nice as ever and still alive. He wrote murder mystery novels under the penname Andre Bute and had a small cult following; unfortunately, with that came a stalker who later turned his attention on Boyd. Vivienne was not a bitch in the first incarnation so much as she just was not a particularly affectionate mother and could be gone for periods of time. In her own way, though, she loved Boyd and it was that love which made her over-protective. She spoke to Boyd in French whenever she wanted to relay some information she didn't want others nearby to hear; which generally related to the stalker since no one was supposed to know about him. The Vivienne we see now compared to the Vivienne of d9 is more or less the same woman; the Agency's Vivienne is what she became without Cedrick around to balance her.

Somehow things started to fall apart, as they usually do, and Ais disappeared from the game she'd started with Sonny. With that, Boyd went into limbo as well, probably never to be seen again. At least, not until the idea of a collaborative story came about...

Back to the top

Why do you include het in a slash story?

Because "slash" is nothing more than a label and should never dictate what should happen and what should not happen in a story. Why do we mark it slash instead of drama/action on AFFN? Because if we did that, considering the way fandom is on the internet, it would be doubtful that the story would find an audience. The fact that many pairings in the universe are homosexual would undoubtedly drive many people away and so we feel like listing it under slash gave us the chance of reaching a wider variety of people who would actually be interested and read. But that does not mean that every single character has to be a male or has to necessarily be gay or that even the main characters are required to only be interested in men.

If we were to follow those narrow guidelines there would be plenty of cases where character development would be left out, which is a major part of this story. The ICoS universe so far is about individuals who lost themselves after or because of the war and are only now finding out who they truly are. If we cut out half of the world's population simply because it could make for non-slashy situations, we would have a pretty weak story on our hands. Over the past two years of writing, we mostly let the characters take the reins and go in directions we never really expected. It may sound silly to some, but it's how a lot of the plot and its various twists and terms have been decided so far, especially for Book 2 (Afterimage).

It's important to keep an open mind about things. And I think slash fans being open to het pairings and female characters in general is a big part of that. If we want the general population to stop being so hard on slash, we should also be open to heterosexuality in slash otherwise we're being just as narrow-minded as the people we condemn for being homophobic.

Back to the top

Does the Agency have an official name?

Yes, but we're not telling. It's so top-secret that it's even secret from the readers!

No, really though, we like the idea of keeping certain aspects of the world completely ambiguous. Just as we stated above about the city, this way it allows the reader's imagination to wander and they can picture whatever they want. It also is a reminder that this could be any government Agency in any city, in any country, and we're not bogging it down to just one specific place and any stereotypes that may go along with it.

Back to the top

What city is In the Company of Shadows set in?

We've set the story in a fictitious city in Pennsylvania, named Lexington. Part of the reason we created a fictitious city is because we want people to think that this kind of thing could happen in any city in the country and not be tied to imagining just one specific area with certain landmarks.

Back to the top

FAQ about the writing process

How do you write the story?

The simplest answer to that is we roleplay the story out. Each of us has main characters we are in control of and there are peripheral characters we share or split between us. When the scene focuses on a character one of us is in charge of, that person will write the majority of that scene until it gets to a place where our characters interact again. At that point, we control our own characters, writing narration and dialogue for them, and share the narration for general scenes. However, during editing we both look over the entirety of the story and will change pretty much anything regardless of who wrote it unless it's direct narration or dialogue of the other person's character; then we leave a note for the other author about our question/etc.

Back to the top

What programs do you use to collaborate?

We started RPing using AIM (which is why the original version of Evenfall was so odd in many places), and then eventually moved to Google Documents, which is a far better way to collaborate. It utilizes folders, comment functions, editing history, and more.

Back to the top

Do you have any advice for writing or finishing a story?

That's pretty tough to answer because it depends on what you're wondering about to ask that question. The basic suggestion would be to just keep writing, even if something seems like it's crap, and to not worry too much about making it perfect or making it all make sense. That's for editing. When writing descriptions, we often try to put something for each of the five senses, or at least hit a few. A few other things to think about with characters are individual quirks or characteristics; like, what sort of clothing do they wear, do they have any particular mannerisms, any varying style of dialogue...? For suggestions on finishing stories, in some ways it's easier when it's a collaboration because as long as there's a good friendship or rapport between both authors, one can always remind the other to write.

An important part of writing is also knowing when to stop and take a break. When writing starts to seem like a chore, you know you've burned yourself out. We were guilty of this a few places and it resulted in a long slowdown of the process. Another tip I'd want to add is, if you're posting an incomplete story on the internet, do not let people's negative feedback change the plot of the story or the personalities of the characters. While we value negative and positive feedback, we both decided in the beginning that we had a set plot and we weren't going to change things around at the last minute unless it was something we truly thought was important to the flow of the story or to fix a plot hole.

When writing a story on your own... We'd like to know any suggestions you may have because we're both horrible about starting but never finishing individual projects. It seems to be a common ailment for many writers. One thing Ais found that sort of helped her was telling other people what she was writing so there was more accountability. At one point she had a friend hold her to a schedule she'd tried to make; it worked for a bit until writer's block hit her. Maybe try joining a writing group, online or in person, to move you along and keep you accountable to goals set. Also, NaNo has worked quite well for Ais in the past and worked very well for Sonny & Ais in ICoS in 2006, when we wrote over 90,000 words for the contest.

A few books Ais recommends (that she has to admit she hasn't fully read but liked what she did see) are:

  • The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman - amazon, bn
  • You Can Write a Novel by James V Smith, Jr - amazon (kit), bn
  • Getting It Published by William Germano - amazon, bn

Back to the top

FAQ about Sonny & Ais

Do you know each other in person?

We've known each other for several years online (6-9??) but have never met in person.

Back to the top

How did you meet?

There's more information about that at About Sonny & Ais

Back to the top

FAQ about the fandom

Can I write fanfics/draw fanart/use your characters, world, or anything else from In the Company of Shadows?

We talk about it more at the fan page page, but we both actually love the idea of fanfics and fanart. It makes us really happy to know we inspired anyone into writing or drawing our characters or world. However, and this is VERY important:

We must be credited any time you use our story/world/characters/etc!

That's for fanfics, fanart, roleplaying games-- it doesn't matter where or how you're using our creations, we still need to be credited. We like to know when our story/characters/etc are being used so you can also always tell us or give us a link. We'd love to see! But we don't want our story/world/characters being plagiarized or used without us being credited.

Back to the top

How do I credit you?

Just say that the characters/story/world (or whatever you're borrowing) are from Sonny & Ais for In the Company of Shadows. Provide a link to our site here at http://www.aisylum.com/sonnyais. We love it if you also contact us via any of the ways outlined on the contact page and give us a link to your work. We'd love to know if there are fan works out there because we showcase them on our site or forum sometimes. Of course, if you don't want us putting something on our site, we won't. But we'd still like to know you did it.

Back to the top

Where do I submit fanfic/fanart/etc?

If you've written fanfiction/drawn fanart/etc and want to submit it to us, you can do so via the forum at the Fanfic/Fanart, Plot Bunnies topic or by emailing us at sonnyais@gmail.com. Please do write fanfics or draw fanart! We'd love to see it!

Back to the top

Do you actually read any feedback? Should I bother leaving some if it's been awhile?

Absolutely, positively, yes. We read every single comment, email, post in the forum, reply on AFFN... We also try to reply to you where possible, but if you don't get a response from us and did want us just shoot us an email or directly contact us some other way and we'll get back to you.

We LOVE feedback. It makes us extremely happy. It really does. We started writing the story just for ourselves but since others started reading and liking it, we've been more inspired to keep going. Without feedback, the story would have stopped being posted online long ago. Without feedback, it's possible we would have lost interest eventually and stopped writing or switched to another story. Without feedback, it's possible we would not have been as intent on finishing it as soon as we did. Without feedback, In the Company of Shadows and the associated world may not be what it is today.

We're both busy people... We have jobs, school, sometimes second jobs, things happening in real life, Sonny has his kids... There is a hell of a lot going on and as much as we love the story, sometimes things get so crazy busy that it's easy to lose focus or inspiration. Knowing that there are readers out there who are interested in the story means a lot. It means we have one more reason to keep trying to work our schedules around each other, to double-check what we write to make it more accurate or have better wording, to finish what we started so we can post it... In fact, there have been times that we've been especially intent to post something after a period of no writing precisely because we've continued to get reviews and feedback even during that quiet time.

So it's EXTREMELY important to us to receive feedback. We cannot stress enough how important it is. We don't like the idea of begging for feedback every chapter (although that's usually what we do) or demanding certain amounts of feedback before we continue. We write this story and share it for free because we're mostly enjoying ourselves and because we like the idea of sharing the story with others. But especially because of that, feedback is that much more important. We may not charge money for the story but feedback works excellently as payment. Even if we don't respond to you directly (because you left a review on AFFN or the guestbook or shoutbox), we absolutely promise you that we read that feedback. And we appreciated it. Especially if you tell us why you like the story-- We love hearing that.

So should you write us feedback? Yes. Do we care? Yes. Does it matter if it's been awhile? Not at all. Do we love long, involved emails explaining what you liked and why? Absolutely yes. We are not scary people and will not harm you.. although Ais may get really excited and ramble to you for awhile and perhaps overuse emoticons. But we'd like to think that you can live through that.

Back to the top

General FAQ

Why aren't you charging for this story?

When we first decided to post In the Company of Shadows we didn't know how the original fandom works, in that many original authors charge people to read the stories on their sites. We also didn't initially expect the story to be liked enough for people to want to pay for it. We've discussed it and neither of us likes the idea of charging people for stories available online; we both like the idea of keeping it free, so those who don't have much money can still enjoy it. Also, that way people in different countries have better access. It may be something we'd change in the future but as of now, charging for this story does not interest either of us. We started writing it for our own fun and will continue to do so for that same reason as well as because readers like you are out there, are awesome, and are telling us you're interested in what we put out. If all readers and feedback were to disappear, the story would probably disappear as well.

Back to the top

Is In the Company of Shadows available as a printed book?

Not at the moment but it's something we're talking about for the future. It would have to be released book by book. Evenfall was recently (January 2011) mostly re-edited/revised. There are a few chapters that still need to be looked over and after that's done, we will be considering self-publication so readers have the ability to buy if they choose.

Back to the top

How can I help?

If you're interested in somehow helping us out with In the Company of Shadows, one very easy (and extremely appreciated) way is simply to give us feedback (see the question above if you're wondering if that's worth it).

And if you like this story, you can always direct other people our way. We feel very honored and happy to know that this story has been recommended by some readers to their friends or others. That means a lot to us.

If we ever do publish this story, you could help at that point by buying it or telling others about it.

Back to the top

If you have any questions about any of this, email us at sonnyais@gmail.com or check the contact page for more info.

Back to the top