Welcome to the April edition of Soshified Spotlight, where you can read about some of the more active members on Soshified and get to know them better! Yes, we’re a few days early, but just consider this a little springtime/autumnal present. This month we’re featuring Auratus and grandma deer (Karen). Grandma deer will be profiled in an article later. A very private and introspective person, Auratus agreed to let us take a tiny peek into this member’s private life and thought process. Auratus is a frequent writer in the Fanfics section and has gained quite a following. Auratus shares views on writing and how ideas are formed, among other things, below:

What is your first name?
I choose to leave this one blank. Privacy is the last bastion on the internet. I like it.

How did you find out about Soshified and why did you decide to join?
I actually started out as a 2NE1 fan, trying to connect with the popular culture of the old homestead. I liked them, but YG is quite parsimonious with the amount of exposure they let their artists have. And in any study of KPop, SNSD rises to the top quite ferociously. Well, I’m a contrarian by nature and tried to ignore them for a few months but it was like fighting the incoming tide. They’re pervasively omnipresent, and when I did fall to the inevitable and paid attention to the nine, well, something about them grabbed hold. All the subbed videos on YouTube really helped as well. This was when they were doing Hello Baby. And the home of the pink subs? Soshified.

I analyze things. I like to make sense of what I see, and SNSD really puzzled me. I studied all that I could find, trying to figure out HOW they did what they did. I wrote some of my thoughts down, and I thought SSF was the best place to put them.

How did you come up with your screen name?
That’s a funny story. I had an aquarium a while ago, African cichlids, vicious fish, but pretty. One of them was a Melanochromis Chipokae. I adopted a rework of that word thinking it would be unique. ‘Chikopae’ was my first SSF screen name and do you know, it’s slang in Singapore for ‘old perv.’ Really. I wandered around SSF for MONTHS until someone told me. Well, I then took my screen name from another close relative of that fish, the Melanochromis Auratus, which is just latin for ‘gold’. Sigh. It worked out.

Where are you originally from, and where do you currently reside (city and country for both)?
S. Korea, a long time ago. I immigrated to the US with my family as a child. I currently live in Virginia, the DC metro area.

If we were visiting you where you live for one day, where would you take us? Why are these places so significant?
Oh gosh. What visit is complete without touring the Smithsonian museums? They are the class of the world.

The Smithsonian is a big place and is quite spread out. Any specific exhibits that capture your interests?
Natural History is probably my fave. I’m really not much for modern art, but the timelessness of the classics and the natural world are always deeply interesting. For all our hubris, it’s humbling to know just how small a blip we are in the history of the world.

Tell us a little about your life. What do you do full time and in your free time?
I read, I write. Both for leisure and work. What I write professionally has nothing to do with anything publicly consumable… though I may look into that. My fanfic career seems to have infected me with a very persistent writing bug. Writing for fun is more enjoyable than a basketful of puppies. I assure you.

How did you get your start in writing, and why write fanfics, especially about SNSD?
Good question. I write for a living, as I said, and I’m a voracious reader, and lately, I’ve been genuinely dissatisfied with the books available in the genre I usually read, which would be SciFi and Fantasy. They’ve become so rote and formulaic. Much why I no longer watch movies the way I used to. Hollywood’s language of visual trickery often stands in for good storytelling. And don’t get me started on vampires and werewolves. So overdone, and done in such a way that they’ve lost… their heft. The laws and rules have become mutable.

I thought I could write something that took elements of what I knew and craft something entirely different and (hubris alert) better.

For my first foray in fiction writing I thought a fanfic would be ideal. I’d get feedback (and hence the start of my perpetual frustrations with the difficulty in engaging the readership in a dialog), and most importantly, I’d be shortcutting the familiarization process in introducing my characters, because they’re already known to the readership. Granted, they are MY versions, but it was important for me to build the characters to be complete people that remained recognizable.

I find SNSD inspirational. My nine aren’t the real nine, obviously, as they’re in some pretty wacky situations, but what is true, in my mind at least is their bond. The Soshibond is the central 10th character in my stories about them.

What’s the most interesting thing about you and/or that has ever happened to you?
Hmmm. I’m boring, I think. Or is it that I think so much that I seem boring? Six or a half-dozen? I like to observe more than centrally participate in the any given situation, a professional wall-flower at parties, I suppose. I’ve traveled pretty much all over the world, studying things and I think, for a rock floating in space, it’s an awfully interesting place. To clarify; being an observer is not the same thing as being passive. Curiosity is its own reward. Be curious.

For people who are first meeting you (like most of us), how would you describe yourself?
Introspective. Quiet. Analytical. Studious. Much given to dry humor. I do have a sense of humor and really, an odd affinity for trivia. I know the most useless things, perhaps a result of being a student of the world. I think it comes through in my writing, and it helps a great deal in weaving plots and storylines together.

Where do you get your inspiration for your ideas and analysis?
Hmmm. Observation. Empathy. Interpretation and opinion. Here’s the thing. The human brain is a neural net. It doesn’t process information in a linear fashion. It takes unrelated oddments and finds the relationships, forming new thought, new patterns of sense. In effect, the more you know, the more you CAN know. It helps that there is so much available for public consumption, but of course what we see of the nine is only a pale reflection (often crafted by SME) of the truth. Scripted, rehearsed, whatever. But they are real people in an unreal situation and that uncomfortable dichotomy presents tensions that are observable. Much like strain testing to failure in material science, we see them bend… bend… and then snap back so resiliently. That 10th character. Beyond their lives as idols, they have something that is beyond rare. Isn’t that inspirational?

Tell us some things that most people don’t know about you that you think they should.
I think I’m incredibly fortunate, blessed to have in my life people who are remarkably patient and wise. I hope someday to be considered not… dumb.

Is there anything big in your life that you’re working on? (This can be related to school, career, hobbies, family, friends, etc.)
Yes! I’ve kicked around an idea for a while, and have decided to take the plunge. Some may have wondered why my lightning pace of updates has slowed so much… well, it’s not from lack of writing.

Your description of yourself sounds like that of a typical writer who expresses himself more through the written as opposed to the spoken word. Are you a writer because you’re observant and introspective, or are you observant and introspective because you’re a writer? Do these qualities give you ideas for what to compose next?
I’d say a person has to have those qualities first before becoming a writer. The aspiring writer has to have heard and read countless conversations in order to be able to write conversation. Love to write about love, hate to write about hate. And so on. Research can fill in for particulars, locations, details, but not the humanity. A good story is about characters. People. First and foremost. The story’s characters have to be well-rounded PEOPLE. We’re people too. So it isn’t impossible to know how people talk and act, and to write how they’d talk and act. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

But the practice of writing well-rounded characters takes… well… practice. Lot’s of practice and attention to detail. Lots of observation, study and attention.

A good story is a living thing in the hands of a writer. It takes on a life of its own and it will let the writer know what it needs to be successful. In effect, it will write itself as long as we pay attention. This gets beyond the mechanical aspects of sentence construction and vocabulary and tone. That ALSO comes with practice but its founded in how much attention one paid in school and in how much one read other authors. That observation thing again. WHY do things happen the way they do? Motive, action, result. Reaction, tension, resolution. This is about the story’s movement and pace. Listen to the story and it will tell you HOW it wants to be told.

What goals are you working towards, and where do you see yourself in the near future, say five years down the line?
Ah. That goes hand in hand with the previous question. It’s not everyday that one gets a chance to reinvent oneself. In five years time… well, it should be interesting. I foundered for most of my youth, wondering what I should be when I grew up. I had a creative side, only I hadn’t found a way to express it. Until recently.

Can you give us any hints on this big idea you have, if you can’t tell us specifically what you’re working on?
Book. And I can’t say much more than that.

What are your interests outside of Girls’ Generation?
Motocycles, bicycling, museums, movies, writing. Reading. Books. Magazines. Cereal boxes. Anything really, with the printed word.

How did you first become a fan of Girls’ Generation?
Fan. It’s a funny word. In fact, I wrote about this process, of how I became a fan in my Forever09 piece, not the mechanics, but their inevitable appeal. How did I become a fan? Gradually. I’d seen Yoona in YAMD first, as it was one of the first subbed dramas I found and recognizing her in the Gee MV was a bit of disconnect, the half-blind earnest heroine and the singing, dancing idol… was a bit weird. If I had to pick WHO I became a fan of first, I’d say it was Yuri. I thought she was Yoona at the time and so a point of familiarity. (It was a blurry video, and she had long black hair, like Yoona in YAMD and the Gee MV.) Their self-deprecation, their un-idol-like behavior, their genuine friendship and ability to BE themselves was what hooked me. HOW could nine gloriously gorgeous young women be so matter of fact about themselves? It was fascinating. They’re the anti-hollywood, if you will. Real and not fake.

Who is your favorite member and why?
Well. See Forever09. People will start off liking one or two. But if you understand the girls, understand HOW and WHY they succeed, you can’t help but love ALL of them. You HAVE to love all of them. I think each brings a unique strength and benefit to the group, and without her, we wouldn’t have SNSD. They exceed our expectations, their own expectations, their entire nation’s expectations because they are ONE. So many top talents, when asked, if they had it to do all over again, who they would choose to be, pick SNSD. To be part of something perfect and great. Kim Ah Joong (love her, btw) recently said she’d want to be the 10th member. When asked, why not simply replace one of the nine to be the 9th member, she replied, “How is it possible to leave out a member? Among all 9 of them, none can be replaced. Instead, I would like to join them as the 10th member.” Their magic, in large part, is in their bond. Individually, they are gorgeous and talented, without a doubt, but by being part of something larger than themselves, they can be sheltered by it, can be stronger for it, can succeed beyond human limits because of it. I’m not saying individually, they wouldn’t be able to succeed. One only needs to listen to Sooyoung on the radio, or Taeyeon’s OST’s, or watch Seohyun in WGM to know they’d be great at whatever they chose to do, but looking at their record of achievements as 9, it’s simply unimaginable to think that they’d be able to equal it alone.

But more. More than awards and money and CF’s, more than variety shows and MV’s and pictorials. More than success as idols, SNSD’s bond has given them something more precious than all the money in the world. It’s given each of them 8 people who KNOW them. Inside and out, their dreams and fears, their weaknesses, their desires and hopes. How powerful is that? How incredibly strong does that make them?

How can any ‘fan’ of SNSD not love all of them?

What is your favorite Girls’ Generation song and MV and why?
Hoot. See HoM. You’ll understand why.

What is your favorite Girls’ Generation moment (only between any of the nine girls)?
Their concert, when they form their circle, inward facing and hold hands, and then turn around to face their fans. Exclusivity to note that they are in this together, and inclusivity, to show appreciation for us. They allow us to be part of something… perfect.

What is the best memory you have of Girls’ Generation (you and the nine girls)?
Never seen them live, don’t think I ever will. Geography and an allergy to crowds… lol. I’m not much for the trappings of fandom, but I do appreciate all that they do, whatever the form of media. Perhaps the manic happenings on Hello Baby, the hysterical laughter and roughhousing, fighting for the baby’s attention and simply enjoying their time together. On stage, singing Dear Mom. Their Hoot rehearsal, when Yuri spanks Sooyoung. Sunny. Sunny. Sunny. Hyo’s head bobbing and dancing whenever she thinks the camera isn’t looking. Yoona’s moments of melancholy showing utter honesty and humanity despite her breathtaking beauty. Tiffany fills my heart with her sincerity and hope. Jessica when she pouts. Preciously frustrating Seohyun.

How has Girls’ Generation impacted your life, in specific areas or even as a whole?
I like KPop, as much as I like any other genre of music. I do find it a bit derivative and at times artless, but SNSD’s music isn’t the main point of their attraction for me. I mean, I like it, but I don’t think it’s the best music in the world. But because it’s they who are doing it, I pay closer attention. I think anything they put their hands to will be worth my attention. Mainly though, their bond was an epiphany for me, as an affirmation that there IS something good and right and pure in the world, beyond the reproach of reflexive cynicism. In a jaded world, they are a breath of fresh air and a sight for sore eyes.

What do you like most about Soshified, and why? Any section in particular you’re attracted to?
I like that SSF is peopled with talented like-minded individuals, who seek to BUILD rather than tear down. WE know the girls are the best at what they do, not because they step on others to do it, but because they find it in themselves to be better. That’s the spirit of Soshified.

Of course SoshiSUBS are the best, and there are tons of goodies to be found in the various forums. The fanfic section is where I mostly spend my time, and mostly in writing and reading my own fics. I tend to tunnel vision when writing, and really, I write a lot. I did post some analytical pieces, one for each of the nine and the Forever09 piece, when I was first starting out in the fandom. I’ll probably give those another go, or perhaps add additional pieces as time permits. I think I have a better understanding of them now.

A big thank you goes out to Auratus for graciously participating. Stay tuned for grandma deer’s interview, which you can access in the link Soshified Spotlight Solicitation announcement.

Compiled by: residentbenchwarmer@soshified.com
Graphic by: tishos (L)@soshified.com

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