Origins of In the Company of Shadows
This is a way to explain how the story came about. But in order to do that, we need to first explain the characters...
Hsin Liu Vega, aka "Sin"
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 Kadin Beaulieu
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...
In the Company of Shadows Origin
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.