NTMI: Good morning... erm, evening? Yes, the sun is setting over Neopia and everyone is getting ready for bed but there is a bright light that never goes out... or shall I say stays up a little later than most folks, that is. Welcome to your own show, Scriptfox. What do you have to say for yourself?
Scriptfox: First that I'm glad to be here, and second, that I'm glad you decided to do the interview. The other option was doing it myself, which is either no fun- or too much fun, take your pick!
NTMI: What, you don't like talking to yourself?
Scriptfox: I do it all the time... when I write it down, I call it stories!
NTMI: First things first, what is a "Scriptfox"? Does it bite?
Scriptfox: Only if cornered! No, seriously, I got the name from Palace, a graphical chat program I've played with for years. I've used the name of "Foxy" in palace, but when I went elsewhere online, I knew that name would be taken. I've become good at the Palace scripting language (called iptscrae) so "Foxy" became "Scriptfox".
NTMI: Ohhh, can I call you Foxy?
Scriptfox: <laughs> many people have, even to my face... by all means
NTMI: All right, Foxy. So how did you stumble upon Neopets?
Scriptfox: A friend of mine had been on it for some time. I'd been aware of it, but I've never been interested in virtual pets. However, when she told me of a high score she'd just gotten in Neggsweeper, I decided to see if I could get a better one. I logged on and had to create an account (and pet) to play the game... after that, it was a couple of months before I surfaced again ;-)
NTMI: Did you wind up beating her score?
Scriptfox: Not that night- I think I did ages later. The "problem" was that she was always playing it on an advanced level. I figured out early on that the simple level got me a better stream of Neopoints, but you have to depend on luck as well as skill... fish neggs make all the difference!
NTMI: Yes, the fish neggies definitely do make all the difference, especially at dinner time. Anyhow, you're about to break into the 40 NT trophy club... are you able to look back at your first story and smile?
Scriptfox: I looked back at it not too long ago and was actually amazed at how well it compares with what I do now. I have developed, I know that, but my skills seem to have grown more in the way I plan and write the stories than in the technique and vocabulary. In other words, what used to require a stroke of genius is becoming more and more a relatively commonplace occurence.
NTMI: So how did you find the Neopian Times? Was it a rainy night and the cable was out?
Scriptfox: Finding the NT itself was almost certainly a case of just following the links. I do remember reading some of the stories then and telling a friend that I'd better quit before my brains began to ooze out of my ears because they were turning to mush!
NTMI: Oh no... you're not suppose to read them backwards.
Scriptfox: <laughs ruefully> I'm sorry to say that some of those stories made as much sense either way.... I honestly think there has been improvement in the quality as time has gone on, no doubt a large part of it being the greater number of submissions getting a better "talent pool"... although the job of picking that talent out would have gotten harder during the same time.
NTMI: Is bettering the "talent pool" one of the reasons why you continue to be one of the main contributors to the Times? Or were you just fond of the ooze and mush?
Scriptfox: My first two stories (a short story and a series) both had an ulterior motive- I was deliberately floating an "idea" and wondering if it would be implemented. (Neither of them were.) On the heels of those came Snow Job, which was twelve episodes and therefore took three months or so to print. During that time, I actually did relatively little on Neopets.... no, there are basically two reasons I continue doing Neopets writing.
Scriptfox: One is that I like to use it to gain practice in planning and executing a story.
Scriptfox: The other is that I've made my pets so "alive" in my mind, that I just can't bear to leave them now!
NTMI: Wait, MonoKeras isn't real? He's supposed to be working on a case for me.
Scriptfox: Oh, well, on your cases he'd probably do fine. Just don't have him try to investigate anything on Earth, though, his beat is pretty much limited to Neopia.
NTMI: So I'm pretty much screwed. Anyhow, how many times did you submit something before you were finally published? Have you ever submitted something, had it rejected, then submitted the same thing over and BAM! it's in the Neopian Times?
Scriptfox: The first story I submitted was accepted- but I had to wait about a month for it to come out! Literally... it took that long before an opening came up for it. As for resubmitting, I remember distinctly having one story that I submitted two or three times. It never got in, and I gave up on it for months... I finally resubmitted it after "coming back" from my absence and it was accepted immediately.
NTMI: Jerks made you wait?! Probably with no explanation either, huh?
Scriptfox: Actually, that was the nice part- on my first story, I _did_ get an email back, saying it was good but they just didn't have room and it would probably be in later. I don't know how common that is for others, but after that I always recommend to everyone to wait at least three weeks before resubmitting. You never know- and emails can get lost too easily!
NTMI: I heard the person that puts together the Neopian Times is quite fond of the 'delete' button. But you didn't hear it from me. Let's get back to the juicy stuff: What does an "average day in Neopia" consist of for you? And don't say refreshing the Neocam page because that's what I do... all day long.
Scriptfox: You know, I never have sat and refreshed the Neocam page much... probably because I have to work during the day so when I get on I figure no one is there anyway. So, an average day. There's actually two routines... the first is the morning one where I log on, grab my interest, omelette, and hit up the other freebies. I check for messages in the Neopian Times Appreciation Guild message board, and pretty soon I have to get off to go to work. In the evening, it's a case of get back on and check for messages, then do some aimless wandering around the site. Sometimes, if I'm bored and in the mood for it, MonoKeras and I will do some 1 player battledoming, or I might play some games. Neggweeper, though, is one of my tradional favorites and it's been offline with no explanation that I've heard of now for a couple of months or so :-(
NTMI: So Neggsweeper gets canned and you have this incredible void to fill… you don't know which path to take. You're standing at the crossroads. So you decide to index THE ENTIRE NEOPIAN TIMES. Good god! Please tell us why…
Scriptfox: (laughing) The reason is because I joined the Neopian Times Appreciation Guild. I hated to admit that I had little to no idea what anyone else had written, so I wanted a way to find out what anyone had written quickly. I've programmed for a hobby now for about fifteen years or so, so the instinct to organize and display information is natural to me. The two enthusiasms combined into a new project- this!
NTMI: Well, your indexing is much appreciated.
NTMI: Besides writing and indexing the Neopian Times, what sort of thing(s) do you enjoy most about Neopets? In my notes here it says that you are an avid collector of streaky bacon. Elaborate...
Scriptfox: Well there are certain uses around the house for it, but let's just say Shidi covered most of that in her latest article. As to what I enjoy most about Neopets, I have to say my pets, and writing... and since I write about my pets, that's pretty much the same thing! I also enjoy being able to help other people with a bit of advice now and then. The only problem there is that what with all of my other stuff, I can find myself with more good intentions than good results when it comes to anything time-consuming.
NTMI: Speaking of your pets... Does one have to be from another planet to pronounce "blchocobo"?
Scriptfox: Possibly! Since I adopted him, I didn't get to be the one who decided the name. For those who don't know, a "chocobo" is a bird-like creature in the Final Fantasy role-playing game series. I'm not sure if the "bl" was for blumaroo or blue... he was both when I got him. Personally, I pronounce it as something like "bull-choe-koe-bo" ... all long "o" sounds, and the "bull" is abbreviated a bit. However, since I don't have much opportunity to discuss him "in real life" I don't have to worry about how it's said!
NTMI: I'm still having trouble saying it, but that's my problem.
Scriptfox: I think four consonants in a row is tough for anyone who grew up speaking English.
NTMI: Besides your pets, what source(s) of inspiration do you use to think up things for the Times? Meditation? Long walks in the park? Jerry Springer?
Scriptfox: It's hard to give one general answer for everything. Different stories have different sources. Some were sparked by a single question- "What do you do when the only proof of a crime you have can't be submitted in court" or "How do you find a starry blumaroo when there is no such thing." Others come from other characters- I loved the Society of the Dark Kyrii enough to use the characters in a story. I actually HAVE gotten and developed ideas for stories while taking some good walks too. But I think you got the main source in your question- my pets themselves. I mentally sit them in my mind and have them play around and see if they can do anything interesting! Or, make up more history for them and say "I wonder if...."
NTMI: I wonder if it takes Scriptfox very long to write a story?
Scriptfox: It depends on the story! My fastest one was Tonka Tonu, which went from original concept to submitted story in one weekend. That was too fast, though- I had to send in a corrected version on its heels. More typically, I'll come up with an idea and let it "marinate" in my imagination until it's good enough to start writing on. The actual writing can take anywhere from one evening- for a short story- to a couple of weeks for a series. (If I'm really involved in a series and I have the day off from work, I can do two or three episodes a day). But after I write it, I have to read and re-read and then set it back to clear out of my mind before coming back to re-read it again. That's where I messed up with Tonka Tonu- I didn't give it time to be proofread.
NTMI: Do you think "Tonka Tonu" fails somehow?
Scriptfox: The problems were mostly in the "technique" area- that's where the editing comes in, to correct grammar errors, poor phrasing, etc. As far as the content, I like it fine with the one exception of the ending- I hint at some big disaster looming, but it never really happened in Neopia. I'd read a hint of that in the news, but apparently that was just an offhand comment, so the "prophecy" at the end doesn't fit the facts.
NTMI: Do you think you really have to have the "facts" to have a successful story?
Scriptfox: In general, no. The only reason I mention it in this case is because it is supposed to take place in "Neopia", which means I have a historical background to reckon with. I do like to do some research into the things that I write, as to places and characters. If I'm using Sabre-X, for example, I like to talk about his past as being roughly what it says on the site.
NTMI: Along with knowing your Neopian history, what other advice could you give someone who's thinking about submitting to the Times?
Scriptfox: The main thing that any would-be author needs to learn is to edit their work. Don't be afraid of changing a word because it's somehow "sacred" that you wrote it. And along with that, see if you can get some constructive input from other, more experienced authors. The things you can learn from them can improve your writing before you even submit that first story, making it more likely to get in. Oh, and second, I'd like to reiterate what is mentioned in the FAQ on this site: make it as easy as possible on the editor! If he has trouble figuring out what you wrote, I can just about guarantee it's heading for the trash basket, and even if it doesn't, it better be good enough to justify the effort it takes to get it into "printable" shape.
NTMI: I'm writing that last part down...
NTMI: You seem like a nice person and a nifty writer at that... I bet your Neomail box is filled to the brim with fan mail?
Scriptfox: Well I do get some, but it's not jamming things up- just as well, since I like to save my neomails, and that means copy/pasting from the browser into Wordpad. I have yet to get someone who says my writing technique is bad... the one hate mail I got was really someone who was apparently being a jerk on principle rather than any personal animus towards me. I wrote back and told them that if they wanted a neofriend, a death threat wasn't a good way to ask for it.
NTMI: You could get some really intense Battledome matches going that way.
Scriptfox: You certainly could... that's what the kid was asking for. "Battle my pet or I will hunt you down and kill you." I told him no default levels pets (which is what his were) would last three rounds with MonoKeras.
NTMI: Number Six or Mister Shankly?
Scriptfox: lol, I'm not sure which villian would be better able to settle his hash, but he had a lot to learn- about Neopets and real life both.
NTMI: Are you running for office or something?
Scriptfox: Nope, not at all, in fact I enjoy a pretty quiet life, just living by myself and dreaming up stories to amuse myself and others :-)
NTMI: What sort of writing do you do outside of the NT? Hopefully it has nothing to do with bathroom walls.
Scriptfox: Bathroom walls have always been safe from my fingers, hehe... most of what I've written is actually on the same website as the index ( http://www.geocities.com/script-fox ) ... I've started a couple of novel length works on there that bogged down about a third of the way through, and several short stories. Neopets has been the most prolific outlet for my writing, though, by far.
NTMI: Speaking of your Neopets writing... is there an ultimate goal involved here? Like making it to a hundred trophies and you're out? Does a Neopian Times writer like you ever dream of retirement?
Scriptfox: Writing for Neopets has been my chance to learn how to actually plan and complete a story, and how to write something longer. I would hope in the end that I'd have enough experience to use it to go into other types of stories- or at least a "different world". I think I would probably quit writing for the Times when a) I feel I'm no longer gaining useful experience and b) it's too much a drain on my time. So far, neither condition has been met... well at least a) hasn't!
NTMI: You've been on Neopets for a while and can probably answer this better than any other Neopian: What do you hate most about the whole experience of being a NT writer?
Scriptfox: There really aren't too many down sides to it, although one personal problem I had was getting to be "performance oriented". I got to the point that I had to have something in every issue "or else"... and it helps to take a break and realize you should be able to do it for the fun of it rather than because "I have to meet my story quota."
NTMI: What do you love about it?
Scriptfox: The chance it's given me to make friends with others who are interested in writing as well. Probably the most fun I've had since I ever got on Neopets was when I joined the Neopian Times Appreciation Guild and started trying to find out everything I could about the Times and the people who write for it.
Scriptfox: After all, that IS what the whole Index site is all about ;-)
NTMI: If you could change one thing about the Neopian Times, what would it be?
NTMI: I'm talking features here, not content.
Scriptfox: Well I was going to say "make sure it comes out on time every week" but I'm not sure that qualifies as a feature!
NTMI: Yeah, I hate that too.
Scriptfox: As far as the layout is concerned, I only have one thing that I can think of right offhand.
Scriptfox: There is a link at the top for every issue- fine and dandy when there were only a dozen issues or so, but it's getting bigger every week. I think it'd be nice if that could be replaced by a drop-down list where you can just scroll through the numbers and hit the button to go there.
NTMI: Rumor has it that there is a drop-down feature in the near future.
Scriptfox: (applauds) It's about time!
NTMI: What sort of other Neopets items have you gotten published on the site? I want to know because I think some of the other writing "contests" are rigged. Don't tell anyone, though. Go on...
Scriptfox: I wish I could give you some, but the truth is I can only report failed attempts in both the storytelling competition and the caption competition. I think that last one is probably decided more at random, but I have to admit I'm not too good at it anyway, even by my standards.
NTMI: Well, I think you make up for it in the Neopian Times.
NTMI: What future goals do you have for your writing, both on and off Neopets?
Scriptfox: To be able to write longer stories, and finish up those novels I started. After that, I can seriously consider writing "professionally", to my mind. I sent a short story I wrote to a friend once who wrote back "quit your day job". I laughed quite a bit at that, but felt flattered by it, too, which was no doubt why he said it.
NTMI: You could always work at night. Erm... Shankly or Number Six?
Scriptfox: (or should I ask what is behind Door C first?)
NTMI: Ahhh, a question with a question. A true politician....
Scriptfox: If that means someone who hasn't got a clue as to what the question is, much less the answer, then I'd say I qualify!
NTMI: Ahem, caller are you there? *listens closely* Uh huh... let me ask. Scriptfox, I have a caller here that wants to know if you can speculate as to why the Neopian Times Issue 3 is given out at the Tombola? Was it really the worst of the worst?
Scriptfox: No, in my opinion, the worst of the worst was issue number one. I've read both of them, and although there isn't a whole lot of difference, I suspect number three got chosen simply because someone decided that "three" was funnier than one... very likely so that they could get people wondering as to where issues one and two were.
NTMI: The same caller wants to know "Why is Laura so cool?" I don't know if this has any relevance to the interview but she won't hang up unless I ask.
NTMI: Groupies, huh?
Scriptfox: That's true! LOL, I'd say you'd have to ask Laura, since she knows herself better than I do.
NTMI: Oh, would you look at that... we've been disconnected.
Scriptfox: LOL, ouch! Hey, was there anything else you needed to ask me while I'm here?
NTMI: Yes, if this truck was for sale on eBay, would you get your bid on?
NTMI: CONDITION: TRUCK HAS BEEN SUBMERGED IN OCEAN
Scriptfox: (laughs) I'm very "practical" when it comes to automobiles- as long as it gets me around without any trouble, I don't care about the rest. Trucks I've never even seriously considered- at least as long as I can have my dad bring his over to haul a load of gravel in for the driveway.
NTMI: Well, you're smarter than I thought. It's been fun, Foxy. Have fun out there and don't forget to sharpen your keyboard from time to time. Good night...
Scriptfox: Thank you and good night to you as well!
NTMI: No, thank you.
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