NTMI: Good evening everyone! I'm here with Polayo (the writer) whose pet (Polayo) has had her adventures chronicled in the Neopian Times. Good evening Polayo!
Polayo: It's nice...er...being here I guess? Virtually...
NTMI: Yep, virtually speaking we can talk halfway around the world! but fortunately for both of us that doesn't seem to be necessary. Anyhow, I guess the first question is how did you find Neopets?
Polayo: Well, I was reading the newspaper one morning, and it had something about an online club that helped people figure out how to use the internet, and they found a bunch of cool sites. One of the sites they listed was Neopets, so I decided to give it a look. I created an account (my first one was naynaynaynay) and didn't return the next day, or for a while. I had told my friend about it ( novalaen) and when I was over at her house, we went on again, and I've been hooked ever since.
NTMI: Did you have to create a new account then? Or when did Polayo come into existence?
Polayo: Well, during my first five months in Neopia I could never stick with an account. I grew bored after a few days, my longest before this one was probably a month. One day in October, a friend who had criticized neopets (how dare she!) from the beginning neomailed me saying she'd joined (she quit, just to let everyone know) and I told her to create an Aisha named Polayo...after she didn't I did, and it was all..er...uphill from there :-)
NTMI: Lol there you go! Where did the name Polayo come from?
Polayo: I don't know...pretty random. In my guild, someone asked for a name for a new Aisha that didn't end in 'a' (who knows why?) and I suggested Polayo. After it wasn't used, I suggested it to my friend, and finally took it for myself
NTMI: Just one of those random, off the top of your head, things, huh?
Polayo: yeah, definitely
NTMI: So now that the account seems stable, what else do you like about Neopets?
Polayo: Well, I love the Neopian Times (obviously...), the pets, the petpages (I learned web design, thanks to neopets), and the games...especially Maths Nightmare. I right now hold place 38 on the High Score table, and plan on moving into the top 17...eventually
NTMI: Whoo, good luck! Me, I've found the best way is to use the old trick of having the mouse in the left hand while using the number pad on the right, but that's just me.
Polayo: Yeah, it gets crazy in the higher levels...
NTMI: So outside of Maths Nightmare and working on webpages, what else is a typical Neopets activity for you?
Polayo: Oh, well, I love going to my guild, The Aisha Pride, it's where I've met most of my friends on Neopets (but not all of them!) and I often spend maybe about 15 minutes a day just taking plushies out of the SDB and playing with Po. It's fun :-) It may be useless, but it remains fun
NTMI: Well that's the whole point of the site, to have fun! But Po has done more than play with plushies! What prompted you to get her into the Times?
Polayo: I've wanted to be in author since I was maybe 5, and in November it will be a year since I first tried writing for the Times...and it wasn't until late June when I first had the pleasure of seeing a Neopian Times trophy on my profile. And I truly believe that each Neopet has their own unique personality, and in hopes of developing Po's more, I began writing stories about her and from her point of view...and eventually, one got in.
NTMI: Eventually? How many failed?
Polayo: Oh, a lot...the ones I wrote from November to, say, January weren't about Po, but about other things on Neopets, and then I started writing about Po when some of my guildmates got some stories in, I wrote maybe one every two months, and sent them in, and finally 'Po and the Notebook' got in, so it took quite a few...maybe 11?
NTMI: Until persistence paid off! So what do you find more interesting to write, series or short stories?
Polayo: Short Stories are fun and sort of easy...and don't take as long. Series are more of a commitment, and I've only written one so far. (Actually 2, but the first one didn't get in) It took 3 straight days of writing, and I developed a bad case of writer's block in between. I like them both for different reasons, though, so I can't really choose one.
NTMI: After so much writing, what can you tell us about where and how you get story ideas?
Polayo: Some of them I get from browsing the site and what's currently been happening, but not many. Po and Camp Neko came from an idea I'd had for a while for a real life story, and I changed it to Neopets...most of my other ideas come from the time I lie in bed before sleep...that's when I'm most inspired, in the dark, computer off, mind blank.
NTMI: Hmm... when I get those ideas at that time of night, I usually wind up having to get up and write them then so I can go to sleep! How about you?
Polayo: Yeah, I have tons of notebooks and usually keep one with plenty of blank pages and a pencil by my bedside, and if I have a really good, descriptive idea I write it down, but usually I just write down the basic idea so I remember it in the morning...but sometimes I don't, therefore losing the idea...
NTMI: I hear that! So let's assume you've managed to capture and hold the idea. How long does it take to write and get the story ready for submission?
Polayo: During the summer, I'd usually start one right after the most recent NT has come out, and then I'd finish it by, at the latest, next Friday. But that's when I write just a little bit a day, sometimes I can write the whole thing in one day if I'm very inspired.
NTMI: And once these stories get in, what sort of feedback do you get?
Polayo: well, I got quite a bit of feedback on my first story, and it was all good, and on my most recent story I got even more, also all good (after hearing about some other people, I think I'm quite lucky). Both of these stories were featured on the front page under 'More Stories', so I suppose that was why they got so much publicity. The only negative feedback I've gotten wasn't really feedback...it was a battledome challenge that included some curse words, and when I declined, they sent me an angry neomail...I don't understand some people at all :-P
NTMI: I've felt that before with some of my feedback, too! But let's say they're polite and are asking for advice about getting into the NT. What would you say?
Polayo: I'd say keep trying, because there's really no other way. You could get extremely lucky and get in on your first try, but really it takes persistence, like anything in life, I suppose. All of my friends and family and teachers say my writing is good, so I decided not to give up until the Neopets Team realized that too...and I guess they finally did
NTMI: And when you read other stories in the Times, what sort of faults do you notice the most?
Polayo: Well, I mainly notice faults in my stories...but what I notice most is rushed typing, spelling mistakes, and homonyms. Once in a while I've seen something like "I wood" instead of "I would" And also, plenty of things are hard to understand in the context they're put in...sometimes I have to read and re-read it just to make sense of it, and then it seems a little pointless to take the time to have to do that
NTMI: It doesn't seem worth it, in other words?
Polayo: Yeah...to make a long story short, I guess.
NTMI: Lol... what's the best part about being in the Times?
Polayo: Well, I think there are two big things for me - one is just being published, which has been a dream of mine for a long time. The second is seeing that people you've never met (and probably never will) actually like the stuff you've written. I just feel really accomplished whenever I get in
NTMI: With reason! And what's the worst part?
Polayo: Probably the times when you think you've written a great story and then get no feedback whatsoever. For example, when Po, Omni, and Tikano - Unbreakable got in, I was really proud of that story. I thought it might have been my best one, but not a single person neomailed me with any opinions. I felt kind of dejected, I guess, but I got over it.
NTMI: Sometimes you just have to trust your own instincts. And on to the Times itself... if you could change one thing about how the NT is organized, what would it be?
Polayo: I don't know...I like it the way it is, and there isn't much I'd change drastically. I might make it so that poems were in there too, and not a separate contest, but other than that, I have no real criticisms.
NTMI: Hmm another section! Actually, Poetry was published in the Times in the first few issues waaay back when, but not since it got "organized" into formal sections. But enough of the history lessons! What sort of work have you gotten published on the Neopets site besides your NT stories?
Polayo: I got into the Poetry gallery once, on Moehog Day, with a wretched poem I forced myself to write. I was rather suprised it got in, to tell the truth. I also got into the Storytelling contest once, under the name 'fursia' while this account was ::shudders:: frozen. I don't even like to think of that time...
NTMI: Yick! I guess you got everything taken care of. From your experience, though, do you have tips for anyone else facing a frozen account?
Polayo: I was frozen unjustly--I entered a picture in the beauty contest, and I was frozen only minutes after the contest started. I cried and for a while I didn't do anything--I was heartbroken. Then I set my mind on the idea that Po would be coming back and began emailing nearly every neopets email they mentioned on the site (a little dramatic, I know). After several of them told me that I had cheated in the beauty contest, my mom emailed one of the staff, who unfroze it. So my advice is the same as I gave for getting into the NT...don't give up, and as long as you tell yourself you can do it, you can :-)
NTMI: Yep, and getting your parents involved can be helpful too! :-)
Polayo: We called Neopets too (I was a little over the edge) but they said there was "no phone support"
NTMI: Wild! Well enough about Neopets for now... do you have any other writing published on the web?
Polayo: I'm hoping to write some stuff for fanfiction.net soon, but so far, nothing. I only started using the internet when I discovered Neopets, and that's really all I use it for now, other than school related things. I do a lot of writing by myself that I hope to publish in print some day, but who knows?
NTMI: Exactly- who knows! Any other goals for your writing?
Polayo: As I think I mentioned before, it's always been my dream to be an author. I've always loved fantasy and I actually have a 'book' in the making (I doubt I'll ever finish it, though). I hope, however far off this dream is, to someday be as successful as someone like JK Rowling or Philip Pullman...
NTMI: Hey, they were obscure once, too! Well, that's all the questions I had. Was there anything else you wanted to tell us?
Polayo: Uh...not really, other than look out for more stories and possibly a comic strip soon! And thanks for the interview, it was fun :-)
NTMI: We'll do that, and thank YOU for taking the time to chat!
Polayo: No problem... ;-)
Would you like to read all of Polayo's stories? Just click here to check her out in our database!