In celebration of the 12th UMY fic and crossing the 100,000 word mark in my series, and a year of writing and participating in fandom, have some more info about “here lies the water, here stands the man”.
cw: mentions abuse, injury. (also, spoilers for the fic itself).
questions from here. (I can’t seem to find one that was similar, that had questions about symbolism and stuff. that one’s good too.)
If you’d like to see the answers to any other fic I’ve written, let me know! ^^
1: What inspired you to write the fic this way?
I’m not sure what my end goal was the first time I started planning this fic in March of 2015. I don’t think I had an end goal in mind- not like I did for damned guilty deeds and to be or not to be.
Dragestil’s fic what what got me thinking about Trott’s past. (Which was in turn inspired by Bee’s art, which I also really like). There were a lot of ideas about why Trott left, but not a lot of fic of it. There are definitely similarities between my fic and others, because I think so highly of the people who came before me in this AU, and the people who have written Trott’s backstory before I did. But I wanted to tell my version, and I think it retains just the right amount of similarity while also being completely my own.
I wanted to know how Smith and Trott met, and what brought them together. The early works (within the hollow crown, my black and deep desires, boundless as the sea) are where I started developing this long relationship they’ve had.
I remember wanting to finish this after boundless as the sea…but a lot has happened since then. I really do think that letting it sit was the best option for this. I think it’s turned out better in the end.
2: What scene did you first put down?
Chapter 4, the scene in the throne room. The first lines I wrote are some of the most heartwrenching in this fic. I also think it’s one of the best written parts, because it hasn’t changed much since I wrote it back in March of 2015. The words cut deep every time I read them.
Ah, my poor selkie…my heart has long been ash because of your troubles. I think, in a way, he’s gotten it worse than Smith, sometimes. Self destruction is a cold knife to wield…
3: What’s your favorite line of narration? and 4: What’s your favorite line of dialogue?
I can’t pick just one piece. The scene in chapter 2 when Smith and Trott kiss for the first time is a favorite.
I really do love this bit in chapter 3, before the grotto:
You mean more to me than the kingdom beneath. Trott thinks, threading a hand through Smith’s hair. The kelpie tastes of the river, and in his arms Trott has never been warmer.
And in the grotto, the very almost-sappy romantic lines here:
“Lie back.” Trott whispers, breaking the kiss.
Smith reclines backwards onto Trott’s selkie skin. The velvety, leather-like fabric is soft and impossibly, comfortably warm. Smith stares up at Trott in the ethereal blue light of the grotto, and at the look in Trott’s eyes. The depth’s of the ocean are in his irises, and in that moment Smith realizes all of this is something treasured. He’s given a glimpse, for a brief second, of Trott, open and baring all. Willingly vulnerable, and completely his.
I love the entirety of chapter 4. It’s so sad, and it hurts so much, but it’s so good. There are a lot of painful lines and descriptions. I’d quote some, but I’ll save you the heartache.
I like these bits from chapter 5, as well:
“Stay awake for me, Trott.” The kelpie chides softly.
Trott blinks his eyes open, conflicted.
Every aching cell in his body wants him to give up, to give in to an undertow of darkness he’ll never break from.
Trott counts the specks of gold in Smith’s eyes between every labored blink. The kelpie doesn’t look at him in pity, just with implicit concern, like he had on the last night they’d spent on shore together.
There’s no outlet for this; no escaping the choice he made.
It’s his price to pay, for what he’s done.
5: What part was hardest to write?
Ugh, Trott meeting Smith for the first time, and the love scene in the grotto. Honestly, that’s the main reason it took so long, because I knew I had to do it right, and what I tried didn’t fit. I held off on writing the grotto scene for the longest time.
Additionally, I wasn’t satisfied with the scenes with Trott’s siblings, especially after I started working on the fic again this February. At first I thought changing the scenes from being very physical to being vague would help. Maybe it’d be more powerful to show the aftermath than the acts themselves.
But then I switched my perspective on the fic as a whole.
Every time I’m working on something, and I’m stuck, I ask myself very plainly:
“What’s the story about?”
It doesn’t mean the story has to have a “message” or “moral”, it’s just me trying to describe the plot in a sentence.
For here lies the water…, my gut reaction to this question was immediately, “it’s about Smith and Trott’s relationship”.
Which was the opposite of what I’d been working on. The whole time I was writing, I was trying to focus on Trott’s life in the sea, when that’s not the point, really. The point is meeting Smith, because the rest of his life is a life with Smith, and that’s where it begins. It’s exactly what I use as the last chapter title: “what’s past is prologue.”
Once I got that in my head, that it was about the two of them more than Trott’s past, it really helped in figuring out what I needed to change.
6: What makes this fic special or different from all your other fics?
Well, I hope they’re all different. I aim for them to be. It’s not until after posting that I see similarities, sometimes. My perception of a fic always changes after getting feedback and rereading it for myself.
I do think I’ve succeeded where my UMY fics are concerned, in terms of uniqueness. Each stands on it’s own, and together, they’re even better.
As for what makes this fic different…hm…well, it’s a love story. Sort of an unconventional one, maybe? It’s strange in my eyes, because there’s darkness to the story, too. But, tragedies can be love stories, and love stories, tragedies. Everyone has darkness, so perhaps that still fits the mold of a conventional “love story”.
It’s about falling in love, I suppose. And about the beginning of something from the ending of something else.
The transition from the past to a future unknown.
From sea to land, one could say.
7: Where did the title come from?
Shakespeare! As has most of the works in the series.
The title comes from Hamlet. I think it sort of symbolizes Trott on the shore. There’s the life he’s always known, a life of struggle, dark and cold, under the sea. And then there’s the land he’s only heard of and never seen. Through the fic, Trott is crossing those boundaries. From one place to another, finding himself. We see where he’s come from and how he becomes who he is.
Trott makes the choice to go to land. What happened after wasn’t what he intended, but he knew the consequences of his actions. It’s the one reckless thing he does in his life, to show Smith the grotto, and he gets exiled for it. It costs him dearly, but that’s the choice he makes. A choice between royal obligation and the unknown that could be something better.
The chapter titles are all from The Tempest, and rather self-explanatory. Chapters 2 and 3 can have a few different meanings.
The title for Chapter 2, “something rich and strange”, could be talking about Trott meeting Smith and the developing feelings between the two, or the darkness of the selkie kingdom and Trott’s increasing resilience against them.
The title for Chapter 3, “this thing of darkness I acknowledge mine”, could be talking about Trott’s feelings towards Smith in spite of his clan, or the fact that part of him will always belong to the sea, no matter how much he detests it.
8: Did any real people or events inspire any part of it?
The injuries Trott remembers having, after his siblings’ training, in chapter 1, actually happened to my neighbor’s grandson. He was going too fast on his bicycle, hit a crack in a sidewalk, and flipped over the handlebars. *shudder*. I’m not sure why I added it, but…yeah…
Other than that, I don’t think there’s anything…
Maybe a bit of an old friend’s mum as the selkie queen. I don’t get mad at a lot of things, but parents like this, ignorant, and who treat their children terribly…I don’t even have the words.
This sort of thing probably hits home for some people, and I’m so sorry that’s the case. You are worth more to this world than you may think. There are probably things you cannot change about yourself, and about your situation, because of so many factors. But whether it’s words or fists or ignorance, you are worth more than what they make you think you deserve.
You are not them. You don’t have to be. The things Sips tells Trott in damned guilty deeds… echoes that.
9: Were there any alternate versions of this fic?
A few different changes in each scene, primarily Smith meeting Trott, Trott and his siblings, and the last chapter. Chapter 1 and Chapter 4 changed the least.
10: Why did you choose this pairing for this particular story?
Ah, Troffy…if I had to summarize my feelings about them into one sentence, it would be “they just love each other so much” because they just love each other so much, and I have so many feelings, ahhh. Just bury me in Troffy; I will die happy lol.
The pairing is just…what I headcanoned for Trott’s backstory. At the time I started brainstorming, there were already things about Smith burning down Ross’ church, and I figured Smith would meet Trott first in my universe.
This fic is a love story of sorts.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: every time I write about Smith in this AU, I always write about Trott. Their stories are so intertwined in my head, because they have so many similarities and differences. One is not without the other, and I love their dynamic and the care they have for each other over years of history.
I can’t help but continue to write about these broken water fae and the beauty and darkness in their relationship. It is by no means perfect, and they don’t do right by each other all the time, but I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to any iteration of their characters (UMY or otherwise).
11: What do you like best about this fic?
12: What do you like least about this fic?
I don’t know if it’s up to par with my other work. I feel like it’s cheaper, because it’s been a draft for such a long time and so much has developed in terms of plot-wise and writing-style-wise.
I’m still not sure if the scene where Smith and Trott meet feels right.
I wish there was more of Smith in the fic, but, the fic isn’t about him, really? That seems strange to me, probably because Smith has been the main character for so long.
And, at times the characters don’t feel like themselves. The characters are so young in this fic, in comparison to where they are later on, and that’s sort of why I feel they’re not the same. Which is understandable, because they’re not going to be the same, but it still feels off somehow.
13: What music did you listen to, if any, to get in the mood for writing this story? Or if you didn’t listen to anything, what do you think readers should listen to to accompany us while reading?
If you listen to any song off that playlist, listen to Promises of No Man’s Land, by Blaudzun. This song breaks me every time I hear it. It’s such a Trott song to me.