Acknowledgements: Many thanks to all of those who gave me support during this long and arduous process, but especially to James M for Beta Reading all of this and giving me very helpful analysis on story arcs and meanings, Lini A for that terrific artwork she did for the series so far, and for Harumi, who was and is my primary inspiration for writing this series.
Special thanks also to Evageeks.org for their hard work in maintaining the American fan presence for EVA, and for the considerable resources they make available online for us Evangelion fans and FanFic writers.
The Blue Rose saga was ten years in the process from concept to final chapter, and represents the fulfillment of a personal challenge of mine in learning how to write my own novel. It's also the climax of 25 years of anime fandom to be able to generate such a fanwork and the hope that I did my small part in contributing to the popularity and fanbase for such a masterpiece as Evangelion.
In writing something this large you learn a lot about the writing process and certainly when I started I knew nearly nothing about creative writing despite a strong desire to at least try. I always had designs on making my own stories into novels but figured that I never really had the time or ability to concentrate enough to actually get something that was worth reading.
Harumi, who as I mentioned earlier was my primary inspiration for doing all of this, started me on the idea of writing a FanFiction, and specifically a FanFic for Evangelion, about ten years ago. At that time the two of us were highly active otakus who enjoyed EVA, not only watching the series several times but also playing the several GAINAX-produced PC games available only in Japanese. During such an EVA-binge session the idea of how to do a proper FanFic got into my head and I started to work out what my goals were and what I wanted to accomplish.
I had read several EVA Fanfics already and was unfortunately not all that impressed with what was available. There were a few good stories (the epic EVA-R, and Jimmy Wolk's The Second Try among others) that were out there, but I found very little that really made me feel like it was a story from EVA. Like a lot of FanFics at that time, there were ample amounts of slashing, crossovers, Peggy Sues, Mary Sues, and others, but very few stories felt "real". I knew that I wanted something that was logically and emotionally consistent with EVA itself, something that had the "look and feel" of Evangelion as if you somehow had run across a lost episode of the series.
There was strong inspiration from the GAINAX-produced EVA games, especially Girlfriend of Steel which was structured more like an actual episode of the EVA TV series. Based on that, I initially decided to write my first major story using GOS as a model.
Before I got started I ran through several concepts for what would be an interesting story that wasn't well-travelled ground already for a FanFic (so obviously no Shinji/Asuka tales...). I had several ideas, including one that I called Evangelion: Second Branch which was about the other NERV base in Nevada, the one that eventually went...somewhere in Episode 16. I wrote up a brief summary of what I wanted but then decided it was too slow and wasn't close enough to the original EVA story to get readers interested. The main characters in Second Branch, however, went on to be in what I would later call Blue Rose: Patrick, his twin sister Erin, and Vance.
While watching End of Evangelion again for ideas I was struck with the plight of Rei Ayanami and how tragically her path ended. Throughout EVA hers was a struggle for identity: was she Rei (and if so which one), was she Yui Ikari, was she an Angel, or was she all three? Ultimately in EoE she resolves her dilemma but it comes at a heavy price as it's only through her sacrifice that the world can be reborn. While watching I found myself wishing almost that there could be some way to save Rei from this fate, I felt horrible in seeing her demise in such a manner. I began to wonder how could she be saved and live a full life, and it was then when I knew I had my theme.
I figured I had a good story idea but my execution was horribly lacking. I had never written prose at this scale and even at an early draft of sixty pages it was very taxing. Plus, it was pretty bad. It took a few tries to get from basic outline to early drafts to a final version, and then having that final version shot full of holes by critics. I didn't give up, however, and just worked on ways to be better at writing.
Ultimately the story that was later renamed The Blue Rose got up to 50,000 words and after a lot of polish was uploaded to Fanfiction.net (FFN). Response was much better than previous attempts and several readers told me they thought the story had potential for an epic if I was willing to pull it out.
What I really wanted to do was an EVA sequel, but at that time, prior to the Rebulid films, there wasn't a good starting point for such a thing. End of Evangelion is quite deliberately a termination point and there were already many FanFic sequel attempts that use the ending of EoE as a starting point. To do this right, I needed a "swing," something that I could bend in the regular EVA storyline and switch over to a new, fresh story. In the Rebuild film versions the "swing" is what happens when Mari literally drops in on Shinji during the middle of Evangelion 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance. By introducing new elements, Rebuild turns out not simply a repeat of the original series but something completely fresh. That's what I really wanted with my own story.
I made a decision to make the "pivot" point within End of Evangelion, and in particular seek out one critical moment: what causes Rei to stand her ground against Gendo ("I'm not your doll"). To me, that's the fulcrum of the whole storyline of all three books and everything else is centered around that. I also decided the new path would consist of two stories: one to set up the new storyline, Blue Rose #2 Sacrifices of the Heart, and a third to fully flesh it out, and that was #3 Awakening.
Both of the stories took a lot of effort, and for a guy who's running two small businesses there's not a lot of free time to write. Sacrifices took a year to put together, and then there was a break between #2 and #3 of about a year to gather up research and get the outline completely set up. #3, at 300,000 words, was an intense effort and took literally two years to write. Because it was so long I needed to set up a system where I'd write a few chapters at a time, then edit and polish, then go write another few chapters and then polish, and then finally send out the segment to a beta reader for feedback, followed by more and more polish and edit. Eventually things were set up so that chapters were written several months in advance of being posted on FFN and then I rotated through different stages so that way earlier chapters were more consistent with later ones, absolutely necessary if your story is rather long.
With the whole saga I also had to make a few decisions about just how closely I'd adhere to the original work. I knew if I wanted by story to have EVA's "look and feel" and especially from the original TV series I couldn't stray far. There was no room for OOC characters or other really awkward situations that didn't fit within what GAINAX had created. Fortunately for me, in addition to the original series and films there were also Sadamoto's manga and also the half-dozen of decent PC games set within EVA, including not only Girifriend of Steel 1 & 2, but also games like Secret of Evangelion and Rei Ayanami Raising Project. Therefore the scope of what I did incorporated not only the original series but pretty much all of the "Evaverse" GAINAX had created. Working with material from the games gave me a lot more to go on and helped a lot to expand the world of the characters.
Another very critical decision made early on was how much to rely on the original characters and settings. I decided it wouldn't be EVA without Tokyo-3 and Hakone so those locations figure very strongly in the story background. It was very important that I introduce new characters and not just new pilots however, if I wanted my story to feel fresh and unpredictable. It was a controversial choice and one I knew might deter a lot of regular FanFic readers, but it was also a very necessary creative one. I don't at all regret it.
Ultimately The Blue Rose is about finding love by learning to love yourself, and then learning to love those around you. While Patrick Forrestal figures strongly in the story, it's not as much about him but rather about Rei Ayanami and finding a way to completely fulfill this wonderful character within a familiar yet still fresh storyline.
Despite all of the work I put into this, or maybe because of it, I found truly that I have a real love of writing. There's perhaps no better feeling to me to go back to what I wrote before and read again for my own pleasure, and I do sincerely hope that others reading this series also have the same sense of enjoyment.
I really enjoyed doing this project, but also I knew all along that I'm playing in someone else's sandbox with their toys. Beyond what I've already done for EVA, I have designs on my own original storylines and now I have better skills to make those stories real. Patrick and Erin Forrestal have homes in that other universe of mine that's been patiently waiting to be created, and while I'm starting on that new story I just might "borrow" a few other things from EVA while I'm at it.
If you read through The Blue Rose series and liked the stories, please let me know as I'd like to hear feedback from you. This is a very different take on what you normally see for FanFics, and hopefully readers will like what they read. Ultimately, while I have ideas for new stories in The Blue Rose series, what I do in the future will depend a lot on reader feedback and if there's a lot of positive comments or reviews I'm much more likely to do another story or two. It's pretty obvious from the last few chapters of Awakening that I've got the background set for this, but if there's more in Blue Rose it's up to the readers to help make it happen.
Thanks to everyone who made the effort to read up to this point, I truly hoped you enjoyed it. I also have a website for this series called Boyfriend of Steel, which hopefully will have more content there as I continue to support this fanwork.