An Interview with CreepingMuse
|Interviews by Fans|
|Title:||An Interview with CreepingMuse|
|Interviewer:||an anonymous student|
|External Links:||An Interview with CreepingMuse, Archived version|
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An Interview with CreepingMuse was conducted by an anonymous student in the 2015 class: "Fanfiction: Transformative Works from Shakespeare to Sherlock" taught by Anne Jamison at Princeton University.
But my first encounter with “modern” fandom and more traditional fic writing was The Vampire Diaries. I decided that I needed to write about this tertiary character who was killed off – Andie Starr. Random and unimportant character, but she got into my head. I created a FF.net account, and that was that. I wrote several one-shots, one aborted and embarrassing crack fic (that wasn’t intended to be a crack fic), a few novella-length romances, and one novel-length work similar to “She and He” but hewing closer to the show’s canon. I left the TVD fandom after the premiere of its fifth season, and stumbled into Sleepy Hollow shortly thereafter.
I wanted to crawl around in character’s heads. I wanted to understand the stuff TV couldn’t show us. I wanted to dig into things that were hinted at but never explored. And that’s a large part of what keeps me active. Also the community around Sleepy Hollow is really special and wonderful. It feels good to contribute to that smart, talented group of people.
[writing authentic POC characters] is something I’m working to improve. I am white. I have spent most of my life in environments in which people of color were scarce. There’s a lot I don’t know.
When I first wrote Abbie Mills, I was only writing fic. That is, I was not involved in the Tumblr community, which is mostly women of color in the segment of fandom I participate in. I was out there on my own and didn’t have a black beta or sounding board I could turn to. But I was very worried about doing Abbie justice and not falling into stereotypes or offensive areas. I didn’t want to screw up, but I didn’t really know what I didn’t know. So my strategy was to be true to the character I saw on the show. I figured that if what I saw on screen was a sensitive and accurate portrayal, I would be okay as long as I followed that.
As I got involved in the Tumblr community and started learning from women of color, I began to incorporate more of Abbie’s race into fics. “Within” is a trope-y body swap fic, but it also touches on what it means for a white man to suddenly be living a black woman’s experiences. And vice versa. You can’t write the story without addressing that aspect of it. A lot of what ended up in that fic was informed by the day-to-day posts and discussions among black women on Tumblr. I also asked for beta assistance from a very talented black writer on that fic – the first time I had a formal beta on a Sleepy Hollow fic.I’ve learned so much about race from the fandom – on representation, microaggressions, daily experiences, harmful tropes I was oblivious to, details that add to the reality of the story, like how Abbie does her hair. And on and on and on. I know I still have a lot to learn, but I’m grateful to the fandom for actively and passively being a great teacher.
I’m big on hurt/comfort. Both the physical and emotional kind. That’s definitely a running thread through a lot of my Sleepy Hollow fic, and Crane and Abbie are the perfect couple for it. That’s probably the biggest one for me. Obviously I do sometimes play into fandom tropes, like body swap, but often it’s not because I love the trope, but because I see an opportunity for the trope to work with these particular characters. You couldn’t have two characters more physically different than Crane and Abbie. How awesome would it be to see them have to deal with those vastly different exteriors while working out their own interior issues? How does that change how they see each other – and themselves? It’s too perfect. For me, it’s always about the characters.
Anonymity is important to me, yes. No one in my offline life knows I write fic, much less has read it. And that is the way I would like to keep it. In part because some of it is explicit in nature, but also because fan fic is still stigmatized. Even though I am very proud of some of my fic and feel I have done much of my best writing in fandom, I don’t know that the people in my life could look past its status as fic to see the quality, even if they were reading non-explicit material.
What makes explicit scenes interesting is the emotion behind the sex and how it reveals character. We already know the emotional backstory behind characters and can project that onto erotic interludes so they become something more than just body parts and physical acts. When I write sex, I think about how emotion can drive action. How it informs when, where, how, and why a character has sex. Or doesn’t have sex. And that’s what makes it personal and real and sexy to me.