Last week I did an interview at Keysmash, a fandom blog that discusses a range of topics with enthusiasm and intelligence. It was a treat for me to discuss my fandom roots and how I got started as a fanfic writer. In the days of dial-up, my very first online fandom was for Homicide: Life on the Street. I was part of a listserv where we discussed the show via email. I recall someone mentioning this thing called fanfiction, and my reaction was mostly:
It seemed kinda weird, but it was no skin off my nose. It wasn’t until I became heavily involved in the Angel fandom that I started reading and writing fanfic for Angel/Cordelia. (Don’t get me started on how the show totally ruined Cordy!) Fanfic became this incredible outlet for not only love of the show and characters, but my creativity. Fanfic now made me feel thusly:
I do recall the first time I saw RPF/S (real person fic/slash). It was Sarah Michelle Gellar/David Boreanz.
I just did not get it. How weird, I thought! But the great thing about fandom is that it truly does expand your horizons. I don’t judge anybody else’s interests, whether it be RPS, Wincest or what have you. Even if it’s not my cuppa, it all became completely normal. Fandom was this fun, crazy place with every kind of fanfic you could possibly want. It truly made me a more accepting person to be in fandom.
Tear down this (fourth) wall!
In the last few years, fandom has become much more mainstream. It used to be fairly hidden on message boards and sites like LiveJournal. Fandom was Fight Club, and we didn’t discuss it with showrunners or actors. Then with the rise of social media such as Twitter and Tumblr, fandom became much more known. Sometimes I really miss the days of having our own secret world, but that horse is out of the barn and galloping out of sight. Some shows and actors engage fandom expertly. Others not so much. I honestly think that you have to be a fan to understand fandom. Many people know about fandom now, but they’re still Muggles, if you will. Or maybe Squibs.
50 Shades of Grey was a watershed moment for the publishing of fanfiction. I was initially not happy about it.
But as time went on, I began to reconsider my position. These days it’s a brave new world, and if people can find success publishing their fanfic, who am I to object? Often it seems fanfic that has the serial numbers filed off to publish are AU (alternate universe) stories, which are mostly original to begin with. Some authors encourage it, including Hugh Howey.
I’ve read some amazing fanfic in my time, and it’s a genre I’ll always love. I haven’t had time to write any in the past couple years, but I’m sure I will again if a shipper obsession strikes. If I read fic it’s almost always because it’s about a relationship that either isn’t canon or that I can’t get enough of. Fanfic is something that not everyone understands, but when you find that perfect story for the moment you wanted to see onscreen? It’s magic.
p.s. You can read most of my fanfic at AO3. I still need to upload some stories, but the bulk is there.