'Heat 9' interview: Tempe O'kun
Isiah had the chance to interview most of the contributors to annual adult anthology Heat 9, published by Sofawolf; some could not be reached. Related interviews: Whyte Yote & Alastair Wildfire – Camron & Vantid – Alopex – Huskyteer – Kandrel & Scappo – Kyell Gold & Nimrais
Isiah Jacobs: Hello again, Tempo! Welcome back to the show! It's been too long!
Tempo: Happy to be back. :)
Isiah Jacobs: So, you have a story in this year's publication of Heat. And you were actually able to get it illustrated by Blotch!
Tempo: Yep! The story behind that story starts a couple years back when Blotch and I were talking about what we liked in each other's work. I liked that Blotch's pics often felt like they had a world behind them, like there were stories behind them. They ended up asking if I wanted to write one of those stories and we paged through their prints until we found "The Prisoner". (NSFW)
Isiah Jacobs: That's the one with Drust tied to a tree or something, right?
Tempo: Yep. The conversation went basically like this:
"Hey, he's a Pict. Cool."
:O "You know what a Pict is?"
"Well yeah--we just talked about them in History of the English Language. Plus, he's got a bunch of woad bodypaint."
"You know what woad is?!"
"Yeah. Also, this must take place during the Roman colonization of the British Isle, maybe 300 CE, since I'm pretty sure Picts didn't have cinching belts; I think they used those double-trumpeted clasps--"
"You do know you totally have to write this now."
Isiah Jacobs: How long ago was this conversation?
Tempo: It was probably at AC 2010.
Isiah Jacobs: And in this conversation you had with Blotch, you mention Picts and woad. What are those?
Tempo: The Picts were an ancient collection of tribes that lived on the British Isles. They were famous for wearing woad paint, which was a plant-based blue dye.
Isiah Jacobs: So sort of like the paint they wear in that one movie with Mel Gibson? Braveheart?
Tempo: Sort of. More like the King Arthur movie from a few years ago. The one where characters were running around half-naked in blue paint and Romans were marching around.
Isiah Jacobs: Now, unfortunately, Blotch could not join us tonight, so some questions may go unanswered. Did they ever explain their inspiration for this picture?
Tempo: Sexy wolves, as I understand. I think it just got started on a lark. X) Also, Kenket is from the UK.
Isiah Jacobs: Alright, that explains some of it! So, how long after this did you write the complementary story?
Tempo: Well, I had taken classes on the history of the English language not long before that, so I started talking to professors about the story and going to the library to do research, as well as spending hours on the Net looking up more info on the Picts and their language. After a few months, during which I wrote other stories, I started working on the story itself. As an added challenge, I made sure not to use any Latin-rooted words in the story, except for concepts like "steel" which the Romans would introduced to the area. Even though I'd taken a few years of Latin and linguistics, this still meant I had to look up the etymology of every single word in the story as I wrote it. Ergo, the story took about a month to write, as opposed to a week or so.
Isiah Jacobs: Yeah, I bet that had to have been especially difficult since so much of our language has roots in Latin! What initially made you want to take classes on English language history?
Tempo: Avoiding more Latin! Also, I was in the creative writing program at UND, so I knew I wanted to be a writer. Knowing about language is handy when you're an author.
Also, Sofawolf immediately deemed the story "linguistics porn."
Isiah Jacobs: Oh, absolutely! You have this very beautiful form with your story. It's very purple, if you will. There's a heavy example of this with a few repeating aspects of the story where it will be [adjective] Drust. Like "Shrewd Drust", "Clever Drust", Shocked Drust", and so on.
Tempo: I did that with the intention of making the story feel like it was being recited by some ancient bard.
Isiah Jacobs: When you sat down to write this story, did you have every intention of submitting it to Heat?
Tempo: At first, the story was just an experiment. I didn't know if it would turn out well enough for Heat or if it would even be a fun read by the end. Once I finished, though, I shared it with several friends and a number of my college professors, all of whom gave some feedback and seemed to like it, so I submitted it.
Isiah Jacobs: Did you work with Blotch on the illustrations? Or did Sofawolf take over from there?
Tempo: Well, the usual process is for Sofawolf to work with the illustrators, so that's what happened here. Blotch got to read the story as it developed and give input, though so they were probably more closely involved than illustrators often are.
Isiah Jacobs: And what did they think of your story?
Tempo: They liked it. :) When they did the painting, I don't think they imagined it would turn into a full Heat story.
Isiah Jacobs: Now, forgive me for sounding like an ass, but glossing over Blotch's history, they don't really delve into straight porn that often. Why didn't you write a gay story to complement their common theme?
Tempo: Well, first of all, I specialize in straight stories and they said they'd be open to having the story be male-female. Second, I knew that Sofawolf gets far more male-male stories than anything else, and we already knew at least one of the characters wasn't female. ;D
Isiah Jacobs: In your story, you introduce some really interesting themes. As you said, that main character is a wolf, as is the rest of his Pict tribe. Drust isn't really the noblest of characters. He prefers to be stealthy and work his way around conflict. Because of these traits, he's accused of behaving like a fox.
Is this sort of a reference to the fandom itself where foxes are seen as lower than wolves?
Tempo: I don't think that's what the fandom means by "foxes are always on the bottom." She calls him a fox because he values being sneaky and clever over being strong and courageous.
Isiah Jacobs: And why did you decide on this theme for the story? To be honest, when I first heard you were writing a story based on Blotch's picture, I thought one of the Roman's would capture Drust and have his way with him.
Tempo: Well, Blotch has said more than once that they like how I write women as complete, competent characters, so we knew we wanted one in the story. Having a bunch of Roman dudes having sex with Drust didn't really seem like it would offer much of a chance for that.
Isiah Jacobs: And the theme for Drust? About how sneaky and stealthy and fox-like he is? Why did you decide on this?
Tempo: He's pretty sneaky, as you can see in the previews. Perhaps not as sly as he thinks, though...
We thought it would be a unique angle to take the story.
Isiah Jacobs: No real purpose, then? Just because?
Tempo: Because foxes aren't the only ones who can be clever. ;)
Isiah Jacobs: Alright, fair enough. Another thing I notice is how you take the opportunity to vaguely reference a corgi, which seems to be your favorite species. What's your fascination with corgis?
Tempo: They are funny, especially in the position of ruling an empire. 2011 was very much the year of the corgi. I think 2010 was the year of the faerret or something.
Isiah Jacobs: What did you think of the other stories and illustrations?
Tempo: For Heat 9? I think they're really great. :) Alopex did a particularly awesome job matching up artists and authors this time, making each one feel different.
Isiah Jacobs: Do you have a story in Sofa Wolf's new anthology, Hot Dish?
Tempo: Actually, no. Sofawolf had a good supply of stories submitted to Heat that were too long. That was the origin of the publication, I believe.
Isiah Jacobs: Well thank you so much for your time, Tempo! It was so nice to have you back on the show again! I look forward to the next time you come on!
Tempo: Thanks! It's been great to answer some of these questions for people. :)