NTMI: Good evening, everyone. I'm here with Muas, a long time and well written contributor to the Neopian Times, with no less than twenty eight different stories to her credit as of this interview. Good evening, Muas!
Muas: Good evening, scriptfox!
NTMI: Our first question is, how did you find Neopets?
Muas: Well, there's a very neat site called Bored, at www.bored.com, and they linked to Neopets. I looked at it briefly, then told my best friend about it via AIM. When he joined, I decided to join for good so I'd have a friend there already.
NTMI: So is he still playing it today?
Muas: Well, he plays it off and on, but it's mostly just me now :-(
NTMI: Yes, I know what you mean from my own experience. How did you get the username of muas?
Muas: I originally signed up using the username "trekker13" and actually spent something like a year there under that name. I had four pets, Mrricardo, Ufo, Adonais, and Shanter, and when I created my new account, I named it "muas" after them :-)
NTMI: Acronyms at work! Did you ever do any writing under that account?
Muas: To be completely honest...*hangs head*
Muas: I didn't like the Times then!
Muas: I'm terrible! I know!
Muas: But it wasn't until I signed up as 'muas' that I got interested in it and started writing :-)
NTMI: lol, so was this your first time at serious writing?
Muas: Well, I had done writing for school (of course) and I'd been seriously considering a career as an author, but this was the first time I'd ever submitted anything for publication, on or offline. :-)
NTMI: To judge from the results, I'd say you're onto something. So what are your favorite things about Neopets?
Muas: Now that's a really tough question. I love seeing the different species of pets--every week I fall in love with a new one. I also love the creativity of the site and how, though it may have some flaws, it's managed to keep going--and add more unique things-- during its lifetime. It's lasted longer than the majority of sites!
NTMI: Fifty million neopets as of a few days ago. How do you spend an "average day" in Neopia?
Muas: Actually, a week ago, I realized there were so many things on Neopets I was forgetting to do each day, so I made a Favorites folder specifically for things to do daily on Neopets. Let me see here-
Muas: I keep a record of what happens to my pet Muasaum at the lab ray daily, visit the free games like Coltzan's Shrine and the Tombola, check my shop till, and work on whatever current story or article I'm doing.
NTMI: Have Muasaum's stats continued to improve past a hundred points?
Muas: Unfortunately, no--she (or should I say HE, stoooopid Ray) is only 151 hours old. She'll get there eventually, though.
NTMI: (laughs) MonoKeras would have a few words to say about those sex reversals as well. So what got you started contributing to the Neopian Times?
Muas: My first story was "Days in Neopia", which I wrote because I was fascinated with the idea of actually visiting Neopia itself. It got an awesome response; it totally blew me away. When I look at the story now, I see so many things that could be fixed so easily with some editing. But apparently, the public liked it! With the confidence from that success, I wrote more. Had DIN not been so popular, I might not have continued writing!
NTMI: Yet another reminder to all Neopian Times readers: if you like it, let the author know, they've got feelings too!
NTMI: What are your favorite things to write for the Times?
Muas: I love both short stories and articles. I like coming up with a creative spin on something and then typing it up in a nice, neat, entertaining little package. It's an extremely satisfying feeling to pound out a story and then think, "This is a solid little story (or article)." Both have their merits; it really depends on which I'm in the mood for, fiction or nonfiction.
NTMI: I notice that the only series you wrote was just two episodes. So you don't care to write anything longer?
Muas: Well, I'm currently working on my longest work yet...
Muas: It's called "Follow the Stars"
Muas: I have a nice little outline to it and everything. I'm 2/3 of the way through and may split it up into more chapters when I finish, if they seem too long. :-)
Muas: Most of the time, though, I stick with short stories and articles because I like to have the story wrap up within one time, for the reader's benefit.
NTMI: You don't like to tease them into waiting until next week, in other words.
Muas: Not generally, because often readers don't read series unless it's incredibly creative. That's just my experience, though--no stereotyping of any series writers or readers :-)
NTMI: I'm not sure how that should discourage you (;-)), but on to our next question- what source(s) do you get inspiration for new story ideas from?
Muas: LOL :-) Well, when I don't have any inspiration for a while, I think of conflicts. I write down conflicts:
humans vs. nature
humans vs. self
humans vs. others
humans vs. combination of all of those
Then, I think of stories that fit the conflicts. A 'pet vs. self', for example, could be a lonely Neopet who learns self-confidence through the Battledome. I also get inspiration from my own, actual pets, my dog and my cats, who sometimes act in ways that fit a Neopets story :-)
NTMI: Once you get the idea, how long does it take to actually write a story?
Muas: I used to immediately sit down and start writing (or I'd scribble the story and work on it when I had a chance), but lately I've been more careful. When I get an idea, I write the basic idea down, and work with it a bit. I develop the characters and come up with a detailed outline. Then, whenever I get a chance, I work on the story. No matter what I'm doing on the computer, I keep my WordPad file open, where I constantly add to the story. I'm doing that with "Follow the Stars" as we speak :-)
NTMI: Do you write multiple stories about the same character(s), or is it a case of starting from scratch every time?
Muas: Mostly, I come up with different characters every time because I like starting fresh. I think, but I'm not sure, that the main character in "Follow the Stars" (Muasaum, my pet I mentioned earlier) may pop up a few more times. However, I do have some things which are consistently the same throughout a lot of my stories. Whenever a pet has to get someplace, I try to make them take a "UniTaxi"--a transportation method of my own invention, involving Unis. It's an injoke :-)
NTMI: Well consider it stolen for one of my own stories in the (hopefully) not too distant future ;-) What advice would you give to someone first starting to submit pieces to the Neopian Times?
Muas: Hehe :-)
Muas: I would advise them to just keep trying. Sometimes the people in charge of the Times can be picky, and if a story is rejected, it doesn't necessarily mean that the writer is a horrible writer who must never set pen to paper (or hands to typewriter) again. It just means that that particular story was not accepted. I would also advise them not to be afraid to edit their stories. I was for a bit, and my stories weren't strong because of that. Keep trying and be your own worst critic. :- )
NTMI: I remember hearing about how Tiger Woods became famous with his first string of victories, then went back and redid his drives from scratch- totally reworked his technique- to make them better. It makes you think, doesn't it!
NTMI: So what sort of other Neopets writing have you done outside of the Neopian Times?
Muas: I've written several Pulitzer Prize-winning articles on the psychology of Neopets players. ;-)
NTMI: (laughs) Where have they been published??
Muas: Oh, the New York Times, the Washington Post, you know, the little outfits.
NTMI: Oh, yeah, I've heard of them, lol... so what else have you done in the way of writing, that's NOT Neopets related?
Muas: I've been trying to work up the courage to submit short stories to magazines specifically for teenagers' work, and I've done school writing. Next year, I'll be in charge of my school's Literary Magazine for students' work, which will be lots of fun.
NTMI: What are the goals you have for your writing, both on and off Neopets?
Muas: I want to get lots of experience and start writing longer things. No offense to the Times, but sometimes it can feel restrictive (it's got to be G-rated, of course, which can be a thin line sometimes). I'm trying to 'hone' my work, get it as best as it can be.
NTMI: What sort of role do you see writing playing in your career choices?
Muas: Writing has always been something that's a source of inspiration and relaxation for me. When it comes time for me to choose a career, I want to choose one that involves at least some creative or nonfiction writing; journalism, or somesuch. I know, though, that even if I get into a line of work that is traditionally not a writer's world, I can still write in my spare time, which can't be said for some other peoples' hobbies and such :-)
NTMI: Very true! Ok, I now have a small confession of my own to make. After you mentioned your first four pets, I looked them up on Neopets while we were talking. Although UFO is now in an account that's been frozen, the other three pets are adopted and their original pet pages still seem to be up- with all of your original writing and links!
NTMI: One of them mentions a creations date in March of 2000.
NTMI: Would you recommend these as good sources for people wanting to learn more about you? Or would these links all be dead now?
Muas: Eyup, that's one thing that perplexes me... these people adopted them and didn't bother to change the page. *sigh* Some of the links would likely be dead, but they're still pretty good sources. The page layouts themselves are rather... horrendous... since I wasn't that adept at HTML then, but they still offer an interesting glimpse into what I was like then (and, in some ways, am like now).
Muas: Mrricardo's page is actually the front page of a site I did, 'All About Neopets', with the user Gameaddict. We moved it to Mrricardo's page so it would be eligible for the site spotlight, though it never made it :-)
Muas: I don't know if any of those links work, though
NTMI: And speaking of history, did you realize that you are tied with Epk for longest running active Neopian Times contributor? (That's without doing an exhaustive research of my database.)
Muas: Really? Wow, that's great to hear!
NTMI: You both started in the old version, issue 29.
Muas: The old version...*waxes nostalgic* Those were the days.
NTMI: Well, I think I managed to skip a few questions in my list, but we have most of them in. Was there anything else you wanted to tell our readers?
Muas: Well, there's just a few things: one is that I truly appreciate all of you readers, and I love hearing your opinions on my stories and articles. (The non-inflammatory ones, of course.) I hope I can keep writing for the Times for a long time to come.
Muas: Thanks, scriptfox :-)
NTMI: And thank YOU for taking the time to share your experiences with us!
Would you like to read all of Muas' stories? Just click here to check her out in our database!