Interview with MRS Jeevas
by A-Pseudonym

On Sunday the 22nd of March, 2009, A Pseudonym got a chance to chat, over a horrendously temperamental internet connection, to MRS Jeevas about her writing, the Death Note fandom in general and Matt and Mello in particular, and to ask questions submitted by some of MRS Jeevas' readers. Here follows a somewhat cleaned up transcript of that conversation. (Profanities concerning AP's Internet Provider and talks about the May ham has been edited out for the convenience of the readers.)

A Pseudonym: How many hours a day do you write on average?
MRS Jeevas: It really varies as to how many hours I write. Probably not as much as people think, because I touch type quite fast. If I'm really into a story, then I'll write for hours, if I'm not then I'll tat with it for about two minutes then put it down. The most I think I ever did was the Christmas 2002 story. I only decided to make that so big with a few days to go. It took me about 8 hours one day and another 5 hours another day to write that story.

AP: What time of day do you usually write?
MRSJ: When I was working, then I'd usually write at night. Since I've been a doleite, I'll write in the daytime.

AP: What was the hardest scene to write? Was there ever a time when you felt like quitting?
MRSJ: I quit on a regular basis. No-one believes me when I quit anymore. But there were two big moments when it nearly didn't happen. I had abandoned 'All The Way Here', but Miyamashi engaged me in it again. I had thrown out 'Watari Pt 2' and Spoiled-kitten, with infinite patience and diplomacy, rescued it from the scrap heap. There are no current plans for a sequel to 'The Mello Code' though, so technically I've quit now. When you say hardest scene, do you mean emotionally or technically? Technically, the biggest danger is me getting bored. There was a scene subtitled, 'that bloody vanilla sex scene', that got rescued by Awhaaaa and Spoiled-kitten. The 'Waiting for You' scene from 'All the Way Here' was excruciating too. Emotionally the 'Matty Was a Friend of Mine' scene, in My Own Way, hit me hard. There are also a lot of scenes based on real life, where I've drawn upon my own past to write them.

AP: Can you give an example of that?
MRSJ: Ok. I'm assuming that everyone reading between the lines by now know that I've had a nervous breakdown in the past? A lot of Poisoned Rationality is based on reality. Also I tried to pack in smoking and the ninja/MI5 thing was totally taken from life. My own mother went and fetched me a packet of fags, when I totally lost touch with reality. Those are separate incidents. The bit where Matt does the First Aid thing on someone overheating after taking E? That was real. I didn't have a Mello to deal with the bouncers though, I had to take them on by myself There are loads of things like that. They aren't necessarily hard to write though, but I've strayed off piste here a bit, haven't I? Back to Poisoned Rationality, I've been imprisoned by a stalker too.
AP: WTH happened there?
MRSJ: I'd stayed with a couple for the weekend, then when the time came to go, they refused. I thought they were joking, so made light of it. But the bloke double-bolted the door and the woman took my car keys off me. My bags were taken off me and hidden. It could still have passed for a joke, but they made it quite clear that they weren't joking. Fortunately, I know how to keep calm under pressure. I talked my way into getting my mobile 'phone back and then sent a text to a friend. He called the house and they panicked. I was able to get away then.
AP: OMG that sounds terrifying!
MRSJ: There was also the time I got held inside my own house. That was the incident when a Sikh friend had a difference of opinion with her parents over the subject of her arranged marriage. I got her hidden, but her parents strongly suspected that I knew where she was. They knocked my door and I stupidly did the polite thing in inviting them in. Eight hours later, I was in hospital a bit battered. There were several weeks of private detectives on my back and death threats on the 'phone. I don't think I was their favourite person in the world. I didn't tell them where my friend was though.

AP: What inspires you?
MRSJ:
Life in general. That sounds so clichéd, but it's true. Something random can happen and I'm inspired in a new direction. Or someone can say something and it'll set my mind going. Poisoned Rationality happened because Saigocage said that she'd love to see an AU from me, where they don't die. If I get an idea, I'll run with it, but my scraps folder is full of those which didn't happen.

AP: Example of that?
MRSJ opens her scraps folder:

"Where have you been?" Chrissie asked, waiting for him as he entered the front door. Century knew that he'd been seen approaching. He'd spotted Salvo in the upstairs window with the baby in his arms. It was no surprise that it was Chrissie though who met him now. "I had to cover for you again." Century dropped his backpack onto the carpet, shaking moisture from his hair and clothes. It wasn't raining, but the air was damp outside. It had been all along the track, rising up from the lakes, trapped by the mountains. "Hal does it on purpose. We've discussed this. She calls at random times and always finds an excuse to ask for a quick word with you. There is a limit to how many times you can be just down the shop or in the bath. Why weren't you answering Watari?"

Century bowed his head. "Thank you for covering." He crouched down, opening his backpack and taking out a cellophane wrapped bara brith. He held it out.

"You were in Wales then. We thought you might be."

Chrissie didn't take it. Though held up as a peace offering, it wasn't a taste from her home. Century had bought it for himself. "The call of hiraeth became too strong again, did it?" She pronounced the Welsh word like a native speaker, but then Century had taught them both the language over a year ago and she was good at linguistics. Hiraeth. There was no equivalent word for it in English, nor even in their own native tongues, Chrissie privately wondered at the national psychology of the Welsh that they had produced one for themselves. Yet, in a house full of displaced orphans, The End

AP: Wow, you even write it down in story form!
MRSJ: My scraps are stories. There's one in here about Mello escorting Rio's comare to a Mafia party; another that's a row between Mello and Matt re Matt looking for Mello instead of trying to track Kira, pre-reunion.
AP: "Mello escorting Rio's comare to a Mafia party" sounds like something I would personally find interesting!
MRSJ: I still have a ty story for MOW to write, so it might turn up yet. If I told you that it was written to 'La Belle et La Bete' by Babyshambles, it might give you a hint about the story!

AP: How did you first think of writing a fic? Did you want it to be a Mello/Matt story, a Death Note story? A yaoi story? Did you want to write about Mello and Matt as a couple or did you want to develop the idea of Matt being number one?
MRSJ:
I wanted to write a MelloxMatt story, but I didn't want it just to be a romance or smut story, because they bored me reading them. I had read a story where the author had an actual plot and that's what prompted me to write my own. The spark though was the idea that Matt made it third by not applying himself. The undercurrent of all my stories is that Matt should have been number one, but couldn't be arsed. Matt would have made a crap L.
AP: I think so, yes! But I love that he could have been if he'd wanted it...
MRSJ: Yes, me too. But we are only talking academic smarts here. I think emotionally Near is the perfect replacement for L. Matt would have been psychologically destroyed and Mello would have kicked out at the constraints.
AP: Well, Near is basically a little L, isn't he. He even looks like L bleached!
MRSJ: Yes! But even he makes the title his own. Miyamashi once said that Mello is more your vigilante and I have to agree with her.

AP: What got you into yaoi?
MRSJ:
Mello and Matt got me into yaoi! I had never read a manga or knew any of its subgenres until last June. I read Death Note, because someone on one of my gaming forums went on and on about it incessantly. So I meant to read just the first chapter, so I could get his references. I fell in love with it and was sad when it ended. I then went in search of fanfiction and fanart, just so that the magic didn't end, and found all this Mello and Matt yaoi. The quality of some of the fanfiction that I read brought me to Mello and Matt as a pairing.
AP: So, how come you fell for that pairing in particular?
MRSJ: I'm not sure. L was my first love, then I had a bit of a shock when he wasn't in the manga anymore. I didn't read the second arc until about a week later. By the time I reached the end, I really connected with Mello's story. I didn't identify with him, but I thought that he should have been the one to bring Kira down.
AP: That's funny, I was like that too. My favourite was L at first, then after reading fics, it became Mello.
MRSJ: I think it's a common route!

AP: What was your first fanfiction?
MRSJ:
I can't remember. I was, and am, on MelloMatt community on Live Journal, so I was going back through the archives and reading things there. I haunted fanfiction.com a lot as well. I read everything and anything, but there was one where Mello and Matt end up on the run in America. That's the one which I finished and looked for something as entertaining and couldn't find anything. Instead, I decided to just write one.

AP: Is it difficult for you to write yaoi stories?
MRSJ:
No, it's really easy. What is difficult is making them interesting. The sex scenes are basically person A putting part of their anatomy into person B. Bit of squelching and both are happy. The difficult bit is making that interesting to read.
AP: So you're never embarrassed about sex obviously?
MRSJ: No. I think I might be embarrassed if my parents ever came across my website. The trick is to take the mystique out of sex in your mind. There's so much bumf built up around it that it becomes bigger than it actually is. Once you knock it back down to basics, you can rebuild the circumstances better.

AP: Have you received rampant anti-yaoi reactions, or any other flaming?
MRSJ:
I've been really lucky. I can count on one hand the amount of direct flaming on any subject. I've had people comment that I'm shit and all of my writing is shit. I've had people tell me that nothing I write is of literary worth and any site where I upload things should ban me. I've also had one person come out and tell me that they really can't understand why I'm so popular and they think I'm nothing special. Mostly though, I've had no specifics that I can latch onto. Unless you count the DA moderators... They occasionally go in and take out another chapter.
AP: You handle negative critique very professionally - does it really not bother you, or does it make you feel sad/angry but you just don't let on?
MRSJ: It depends on who is doing the critique. If it's just a random stranger telling me that I'm shit, then I get highly amused by it. If someone whose judgement I value tells me that something is wrong, then I'll change it. But I don't get angry or sad over it. I'll ask questions, if I want to evaluate their opinion and defend my position if needful, but that's just to improve my stories. I've been a moderator on sites for years though. I'm used to people seriously flaming.

AP: Whats your outlook on gay marriage?
MRSJ:
I've officiated at one. I think that gay people should definitely have the option to marry, if they wish to do so. I'm a High Priestess and I've handfasted a gay couple. Handfasted = Wiccan marriage.

AP: Is Matt going to be seme?
MRSJ laughs.
Matt originally was going to be seme and uke, as I was going to have them interchangeable there, but thought I'd be lynched. Matt, as I've written him, would be highly uncomfortable with the control aspect that being seme implies. He gets off on the idea of being possessed and taken over. He might grow to feel more comfortable being seme occasionally, but never full time. I could write him as seme, but not within the context of my stories. In fact, I'm writing him as seme at the moment, in the one-shot that Miyamashi and I are writing for Melissa.
AP: Is it important to people who's on top?
MRSJ: It's not important to me, but I've learned that it is important to a lot of people. I'm very live and let live, so I'm fine with that. Where I'm not fine is when people get verbally battered over their choices of seme/uke, if they happen to choose differently to other people. I don't see much realism in seme/uke. I had to force an explanation onto it or else I wouldn't be able to take it seriously as I wrote it. Not that I'm entirely being serious about my writing at the best of times.

AP: This question ties into that last one. Do you feel guilty or bad somehow for making Matt such an uke and a masochist? Do you regret it?
MRSJ:
Not really, because I think it adds an interesting layer to the story. By doing this, it's opened up a lot of plotlines that were fascinating to explore. I felt bad during the 'Matty was a Friend of Mine' chapter though, because that was much closer to violent rape than a S&M relationship. I posted it and immediately panicked. Spoiled-kitten reassured me a lot. Yes, Spoiled-kitten does rescue more behind the scenes than anyone might know! Miyamashi tends to rescue whilst I'm writing, while Spoiled-kitten rescues after I've finished writing.

AP: Is there's anything you would like to do to Matt and Mello (or one of them, or make them do it) that you don't dare to do?
MRSJ:
I don't think I've ever not dared to do something. If it occurs to me and I think it's within the framework of the story, I'll crowbar it in somehow.

AP: Do you like any other pairing in Death Note besides MxM?
MRSJ:
I can get interested in any pairing. I've been reading MattxNear in ChocoMihael's gallery; MelloxRaito in CocoaCovrdGods's gallery; I've read BBxMatt, LxRaito... anything. I'm not precious about what I read. Nothing has quite captured my imagination like MelloxMatt though. I also have pairings in my head that I've never put on paper. Usually OCs and Mello or Matt.
AP: OCs that we haven't seen yet, or one of the other Wammy people?
MRSJ: The OCs that have been seen. For example, I have wondered about MattxAimee, if Matt had been straight. RaitoxLamond.

AP: Who's your least favourite character on DN?
MRSJ:
There aren't any that I actually dislike, though there are some who don't register. For example, I have no opinion on Raito's Mum. Roger annoys me, but I've used that to explore his character in the stories and think I understand him better now. He still annoys me. Linda too, for the same reasons. I think Roger failed in his duty of care to Mello and Near; and colluded in creating child soldiers. I've only got my head around him by viewing him as someone completely out of his depth.

AP: What is your favourite part/chapter of your fics? And less favourite?
MRSJ:
That's a hard one. I love exploring the dynamics between all the Wammy's, so the major arc of Watari Pt 1 was very shiny. I enjoyed Matt's birthday in PR. I think that 'Red' (in Poisoned Rationality) was one of my best chapters. The least favourites were those that were excruciating to write, like 'Waiting for You' in AWTH.

AP: Would you'd like to re-write any chapter?
MRSJ:
Yes. However, I wouldn't, because that would be worse. There are chapters in AWTH that I would rewrite, because I think they could be more powerful now I know the characters better. The hothouse scenes in IM could be rewritten too.
AP: Well, you know my position on this. You start re-writing and you'll never stop... it'll never end!
MRSJ: I also think I'd be lynched! I was taken aback by the reaction when I whinged about ATWH in my MangaBullet journal. I thought that everyone thought it was as clumsy as I did.

AP: Alright - and then we have this very interesting question from one MRS Jeevas: Why did Matt not just use the Watari Network in ATWH?
MRSJ:
Ok, what MRS Jeevas obviously hadn't noticed at the time was that Matt did use the Watari Network. He searches for the other Wammy kids, yes, but that's only to determine what they are doing. These are paranoid times and he's never been entirely friendly with any of them. He also had three or four years of hearing them slag Mello off after Mello left. He was first running a check to see if any of them wished more ill than usual on himself and Mello. Once he'd ascertained that they were safe, he left a note on the Watari forum for someone to e-mail him. He figured that getting them to come to him would give him clues as to whether they could be trusted. Linda responded. If he'd just done a blanket, 'Hi, do you know where Near is?' then Near would have read it. He also didn't think that Near would respond for him. I'd like to rewrite that chapter...

AP: Do you think Mello would have used the Death Note if he had gotten it instead of Light? If so, how?
MRSJ:
Mello did have the Death Note. So I don't think he would have initially done it any differently than he did in the manga. However, in the manga, he only had it for a few days, so he was still experimenting. I've heard two points of view on this one. Miyamashi points out that Mello never actually kills anyone in the manga. Spoiled-kitten counters that with the fact that Mello keeps himself alive first and so his non-use of the Death Note was just him checking out the 13 day rule. I personally think that Mello would have been scribbling away the second he thought he was personally safe in doing so. Mello is much more like Kira than he cares to admit.
AP: I'd side with Spoiled-kitten there I think - I mean, why risk it? What are henchmen for?
MRSJ: Precisely! Oh, I missed a bit: How? I think it would have been to become L, as he views that position. He'd have used it to become a brilliant detective, so it would have been highly subjective.
AP: But what if Mello got the note instead of Light? I mean when they didn't know what it was and there was no Kira etc...
MRSJ: I see Mello as having layers of personality. He's Mafia; he's sex-god; he has fire and angst in equal measure. But underneath it all, he's an academic. I also see him with a well of spirituality underpinning things. This is what I think he would have tapped into, if there had been no Raito. He would have experimented with it, exactly as Raito did. He would have taken paper samples into the chemistry lab. As soon as the shinigami turned up, he'd have shit himself.
AP: But would he have killed people? Criminals? Or who, and why?
MRSJ: I see Mello's motivation as wanting to be like L. In 'Another Note', it is implied that L has killed people for no other reason than to take their detective codes in order to big himself up. This is the ethos that Mello learned by having L as his role model. So yes, I don't think that, fundamentally, Mello is a killer, but his compassion has been swamped by his role models. He had L, who killed, then he had the Mafia, who killed. He has the Roman Catholic church telling him not to kill, but he's also got his history lessons telling him that the church has repeatedly killed. I think that Mello's psyche is pretty much indoctrinated and downright warped. He would have killed anyone it took to be the best detective in the world ever. 'Another Note' is set before Kira. That's where it's implied that L has killed to subsume over people's detective codes. Kira was just the biggest challenge ever. It was a game. He wasn't the first though.
AP: So, you're saying that with a role model like L, you can't help but being warped!
MRSJ: Look at the evidence. Beyond Birthday - killed several people in LA; Mello - implication that he killed a Mafia don, but also he ordered the deaths of many other people; Matt - turned up at the Takada event with a gun in his collar, presumably with the intention to use it; Near - threw money out of the window knowing that people would get trampled to death (or dangle out of windows trying to grab it). Those are only the Wammy kids that we know about. I don't see the institution as a fluffy place at all. It produces killers pretty much across the board. Oh! Linda! Into a world where a name and picture are dangerous commodities, she gave away pictures of her peers to total strangers. And remember that she's a genius. She's not an airhead. I think that she knew precisely what she was doing.
AP: She knew that just because they (said they) were police, that was hardly an excuse!
MRSJ: Precisely! She could presumably have checked them out via Watari, but everyone knew that Kira was Japanese, which made it even more suspect. I certainly think that the Wammy's were raised as killers.
AP: Yes - the Watari network. Is that something they mention in canon, or is it totally your own invention?
MRSJ: It's hinted at in canon. Near says that he has the medium through which to contact Mello, but he doubts that Mello will respond for him. Then, in the live action films, you do see the actual computerised interface, used by several in the Watari Network. I've taken those hints and run with them.

AP: What really strikes me is, compared to the fan-world, the "real" world in DN is very hard and cold, isn't it?
MRSJ:
The Death Note world is horrific. Especially with what they do to kids. I got fascinated with all of that, comparing the fate of Wammy's kids, as implied by the canon, with their human rights. That was the inspiration for Watari Pt 2.
AP: Human rights don't seem to exist in Death Note. L certainly has never heard of them!
MRSJ: Nope, not at all. L lived in an isolated L bubble from what I can see. He could have anything and he was above the law. It's certainly not good versus evil in the manga. Raito has more compassion than the Wammy's kids at times. That's why I support Maru-Light, when she defends Raito. He certainly isn't an angel, but when he's being held up next to the Wammy's kids, it's insupportable to say that they are the good guys. None of them are the good guys!

AP: Another thing that occurred to me: Near says that he doesn't know what Mello's real name is. Which could very well mean that in canon, Matt and Mello wouldn't even know each-other's real names!
MRSJ:
There's a lot that's been decided in fanon that I didn't necessarily know wasn't canon when I first started writing. The big example is when Near left Wammy's House. I originally wrote that he left years after Mello, but was repeatedly corrected, until I changed my story. I figured that I'd missed it in canon. I've since researched it properly and I think I was right the first time.

Aug 24th 1991: Near is born.
Nov 20th 2004: Learns that L is dead.
2006: Starts collecting data on Kira.
Mar 5th 2009: Speaks to the President of the US.
Mar 12th 2009: SPK formed.
See! However, he's 12 when he leaves in my story and that was totally fanon pressure.
AP: It doesn't say when he leaves at all there! Could be right after Mels, could be years later.
MRSJ: Precisely. I think that it was 2006 when he started working on the case and that he was at Wammy's House until 2009. However, that's not what my story says. My story says that a black limo came for him two days after Mello left and so Near was 12 when he was in L's HQ. Near does say that he doesn't know Mello's name, but Near also lies a lot. There was no reason in canon for him to admit knowing Mello's name, so he doesn't. I had to have them knowing each other's names, because the prologue of It Matters says that they did. It's only later, with a bit of research, that I realised that the canon implies that they didn't. Linda would have given them to Kira if they did know them.

AP: Do the stories stay with you when you write, for example had any cool dreams?
MRSJ:
I have done, but nothing that could spark a sequel. They tend to be more like feelings, when I wake up, that I dreamt about it. Flashes of colour rather than an actual narrative. I do often sleep on a sticky plotline and wake up with the answer though.

AP: Have you done any particular or interesting research for a story, or become interested in something because of research?
MRSJ:
Yes. The big one is the history of Yugoslavia. I remember it all happening, but it's only after having to research it as my stories got more involved that I got so absorbed in the nitty-gritty. I think that what happened in the early 90s, in the former Yugoslavia, can trace a direct line to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now.

AP: Ok, for something cheerier: What kind of music do you think Matt and Near are into?
MRSJ:
I've got Matt down pat. It's all cyberpunk, electronic, techno, garage. I've got him listening to the sort of thing that turns up on the Matrix soundtrack. I see Near as much more eclectic. He is very mathematically minded and so I think that his listening experience would be different. He'd like things like Mozart, where mathematics are intricately woven into the score. But generally he listens with a view to dissembling music and/or learning from it, rather than pure entertainment.

AP: You said once that one character was a sort of secret self-insert - which char was that?
MRSJ:
It was an epic fail though. Century was supposed to be my Mary-Sue. I made him male and younger than me to disguise that fact. Unfortunately for my Mary-Sue aspirations, he refused to be me and went off being himself instead. I've had close friends have several guesses at my Mary-Sue, before having Century pointed out. They all unanimously tell me that he's nothing like me.
AP: So, which character-if any-do you identify with the most?
MRSJ: Matt. You need elaboration there?
AP: I guess the screen name should have been a giveaway, yes!
MRSJ: He's always been the easiest to write, because we have a lot in common. Even there though, he's not a Mary-Sue, because we have enough differences too.
AP: Well, he is the sort of most realistic character I guess. He's not as extreme as the others, more like a regular person, in canon.
MRSJ: I think that's the point of Matt in the canon. He's the Everyman, so when Raito pwns him, it sets up the final showdown. We're all supposed to enter that on Near's side. By Matt being killed it's like a personal threat to the reader too.
AP: Not to mention that they show just how fanatical the Kira side are - he's surrendered and everything and they just gun him down!
MRSJ: Mind you, in the anime version, it's Matt's own stupid fault. He got out of the car, when he could have just reversed and driven through the massive gap between two cars. He was also reaching for his own gun at the time. It was practically suicide. His hand moves towards (the gun) and they shoot him. Then you have the whole magic cigarette sequence. His cigarette moves from filter to rollie and back again, then disappears completely, only to return when he's on the ground!
AP: So, Matt actually thought he could shoot all them before they shot him? Are you sure he's a genius?
MRSJ: The anime makes him thick as shit. Getting out of the car in the first place was stupid, and as for the gun, I don't know what he thought he was going to do. Mind you DN13 has Matt's intelligence on a par with Mogi's.

AP: You know when Mello says "I didn't think they would kill you" is he lying or being naive, or is there a chance that he would actually think that?
MRSJ:
No, he meant that. Hal killed Matt. Hal redirected a team off Mello and onto Matt, otherwise there wouldn't have been so many after Matt and he could have driven away. He was winning in that car chase right up until he ran into the team that Hal had sent, after they lost Mello. I think that Hal thought she was secretly helping Mello.

AP: Then we have this question: Ask MRS-Jeevas: what she would do if a giant, flying, cheeseburger, with a machine gun, and with sesame seeds that fired lasers, came out of the sky and demanded that she gives him all of the pickles she owns at once, or else.
MRSJ:
I would obviously pwn it. That's a flying attack, so I'd see what I had in reserve to get it within the combat triangle. I'd use range, of course, because flying attacks are weak against range.

AP: And there was one other question. Isn't bob awesome?
MRSJ:
Bob is truly awesome and should be acknowledged as our god.

A Pseudonym would like to thank those who submitted questions for her to ask MRS Jeevas; Nearu, MelloKitty, MagicSpoon, Spoiled-kitten, and Blondie Love.