Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Bookshop
|Interviews by Fans|
|Title:||Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Bookshop|
|Date(s):||July 18 and August 6, 2012|
|Medium:||audio, print transcript|
|External Links:||Fiction Oral History Project with Bookshop|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Bookshop was conducted in 2012 by Andrea Horbinski and archived at the University of Iowa Libraries.
This interview's medium is audio (length: 2:01:32) (part one), and it has a written 66-page (part one) 26-page (part two) transcript. There is no audio for the second part of this interview.
It was part of the series: Fan Fiction Oral History Project also referred to as "an Fiction and Internet Memory Research Project" and "Fan Fiction and Internet Memory."
The interviews conducted for this project were used for the book by Abigail De Kosnik called Rogue Archives: Digital Cultural Memory and Media Fandom.
Some Topics Discussed
- being a Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen fan, not knowing there was a community of fans for these fandoms, getting computer access and discovering listservs
- Republic of Pemberley and Derbyshire Writers Guild
- Kevin Spacey Mailing List, fan clubs, Legacy, and massive wank that included Kevin Spacey himself
- learning about Harry Potter by reading about it in "Time" magazine
- Diagon Alley
- Harry Potter for Grownups
- Paradigm of Uncertainty
- Gryffindor Tower
- Cassandra Claire and The Cassandra Claire Plagiarism Debacle
- MsScribe and The Ms.Scribe Story: An Unauthorized Fandom Biography
- The Inner Circle
- much, much about Harry Potter politics
- the world of young adult books, the close circle of people involved, lots of names named, politics, and machinations -- Sarah Rees Brennan, Holly Black, Anna Genoese, Ali, Jaida Bennet
- the fan writer Maya
- "It took many years to actually be able to deal with existing in this world that Cassandra Claire was gradually getting more and more famous in."
- Prince of Tennis (TeniPuri), wank in that fandom
- torrented fan sub
- Hikaru no Go
- Armchair Slash
- The Draco Trilogy
- the fic Irresistible Poison
- JournalFen, Dreamwidth, LiveJournal, Insane Journal
- Burning a T-Shirt
- being banned from communities
- Eros Affair
- wank following her everywhere
- the formation of the Organization for Transformative Works, Bookshop's part in that
- OTW politics of the time
- Del.icio.us and Pinboard
- much about the Inception fandom
- Comic Con
- Big Bang
- the Teen Wolf wank regarding Jeff Davis and comments regarding race on Twitter, Tumblr
- the challenges of meshing being a fan and being someone who is paid to write about fandoms
- Nocturne Alley
- much, much more
I wonder[ed] if there are other people—because I had found in this Georgette Heyer, you know, I found listservs. I found all kinds of communities of fans around her, just discussing her work and I thought, Oh, I wonder if there's something like that for Jane Austen. And, of course, there was, but the very first hit that I got took me to the Republic of Pemberley, pemberly.com at the time...They eventually kicked all the fanfic off their site. But at the time, they housed discussion and fanfic in the same place, in 1998. So, I was introduced to fanfic really the same day that I actually got the idea to google or to search on search engines and see if there were other people out there who liked the same thing I did, (laughs) essentially. So, my very first fanfic archive was pemberley.com. After they kicked all the fanfic off, they kicked it off and sent it to another site, austen.com, which was the Derbyshire Writers Guild, which is still there today. Both of those sites are still there today, and they were forum-based, so you actually posted your fic on a message board.
... I got into a different fandom—which I'm ashamed to say—was the Kevin Spacey fandom, which actually existed, but it primarily existed on individual websites and on mailing lists. So, I was in the Kevin Spacey fandom, back when it revolved around ONElist, which was the predecessor of e-Groups, which was the predecessor of Yahoo! Groups. Yeah, so I got into fandom that way. At the same time—around the time— my Kevin Spacey fandom participation was a very volatile flame that did not last long. (laughs) Primarily because Kevin Spacey's personal assistant was actually on our mailing list, watching us. He actually—. What happened—. Oh my God. This is classic wank right here that nobody knows about, because all the people who were there have gone on their several ways, but okay. So, the Kevin Spacey mailing list split because they had this policy—it was about 300 people on a mailing list, and they had this policy that if people didn't like you, they would boot you unceremoniously from the list. So, because I was me, there were a number of people who really, really loved having me in the list and a number of people who really, really didn't. And so, they booted me off the list. And when that happened, the list split into two lists, because people—. I don't know, this is my second fandom. There was wank and—(laughs) ) anyway, they formed a second list around me and so the second list became known as The Legacy, it was named after his dog.
All of us partied and everything, and then, at some point during the night [that we went to see "The Iceman Cometh" and interview Kevin Spacey] —. And I was not familiar with slash at all at this point in my fandom life. (laughs) You're like, This is getting good. So, at some point during the night, my friend Karen must have gone back home, because she lived in New York, so she didn't have as far to travel. And she must have posted to the list ... Because he had a personal assistant. We all knew that the personal assistant's name was Dana. And there was never really a lot of talk on the mailing list, because again, they were all discussion-based. There was no fanfic, and I'm thinking—I don't think there's ever any talk of fanfic. Which is really odd, because I know—obviously, I'd written it at that point, and we knew what it was. But there, in the Austen fandom, there was no slash. There was just no discussion of anything except heteronormative Austen everything. But somebody, Karen, made this comment on the list about how she wanted to see Kevin Spacey take dictation from Dana. (laughs) ) Right? Just harmless, one comment—one single comment and none of us knew at the time that Dana was actually on the list and had been on the list for months. And apparently was on the other mailing list too. When they read this comment, apparently he told Kevin Spacey, and Kevin Spacey flipped out —flipped out completely and called the owner of the other mailing list, the one who managed the Kevin Spacey mailing list, the fan club.... They called me, like, the day after I got back to New York, and was like, Oh, he's very concerned, and in the meantime, the woman who had actually created the list, and this is the lesson I learned: never let anybody else make a list that's for you. Like, you actually want to own the list, because this person actually sort of went crazy and deleted the mailing lists that we were all on, because she found out that Kevin Spacey's personal assistant was on it. Basically, I guess he called her too. There was a lot of drama. The list disappeared. Nobody knew where it went. (laughs) Iwoke up and it was just gone, and I had a phone call from the Kevin Spacey mailing fan club president telling me that Kevin Spacey's assistant was very mad, and that Kevin Spacey wasn't going to be doing any more fan meet-ups ever. And after that I was like, you know, I don't think I want to be in this fandom anymore.... Eventually the mailing list settled down into a much more boring list run by other people who were not us, because obviously we couldn't be trusted not to make dick jokes.
I was in the school of education computer lab one day, and I just started looking up Harry Potter stuff and I found a mailing list. I found HP for Grown Ups, of course, and I found the Paradigm Of Uncertainty mailing list.... Paradigm Of Uncertainty was this really, really classic Harry/Hermione fanfic. It was super popular. It was written by—oh, who was it written by? Lori? Mad Lori? Yeah. Lori, aka "Mad Lori." She's on Tumblr right now as Mad Lori, I think, and that was her handle, Lori, and it was like the classic Harry/Hermione fic. It had some Ron/Hermione in it up in there and I remember reading it. It was the very first Harry Potter fanfic I ever read, and I remember thinking, You know, not really. This isn't really for me. Around the same—. Like all through the years, because as I said I had this circle of friends that I'd been friends with since a year previous, and there were at least two of them that had been trying to get me to get into slash for a while, and I think I probably read my first slash fic around that time, but it was very confusing. What's interesting is that I know now that I've always really been drawn to slash dynamics.
[much snipped]I knew about slash by that point. I knew that it existed. I was just like, No, not my thing. I don't think I'll ever get it. And then, I was on mailing lists. I was on the Harry Potter for Grown Ups mailing list. I mostly lurked. I didn't really participate in that, but there was another mailing list that I had some brief participation in. I don't think it exists anymore. I think it sort of died many years ago—but yeah, I had that one fanfic that I read, Paradigm Of Uncertainty and I had heard of the Cassandra Draco Trilogy by that point, because I think Lori and Cassie shared a list together, like a mailing list together.
[A] thing she wanted to happen now was to see—like, I'll never forget this. She was like, I just want to see Dan Radcliffe and Tom Felton suck face for thirty seconds. I had read Paradigm Of Uncertainty and I had reread the books in prep, that summer 2001, the summer of 2001, and I remember thinking, You know? I could see ... I can't really see fanfic about any of these characters, because I can't really see what I'm missing. And I remember the moment she said that, I just thought, Wow! Wow. I could really see that. Like, not, obviously the RPF, but Harry and Draco, which is what she was referring to. And it just made something click in my head, like, just, giant light bulb going off, and I was writing my first HP fanfic by the end of the night, like just writing little snippets of it, because it just made so much sense to me. And then, after that, immediately, she was like, I'll recommend you this site. And she recommended me Diagon Alley, which later became kind of like an everybody-uploads-their-fic kind of archive, which you didn't have to be invited to. It wasn't selective. It was just a regular archive like Fanfic.net. But at the time it was owned by Ali Wilgus, Alison Wilgus, whose handle was aliwildgoose, and she was actually Cassandra Claire's roommate or, at least, she would be later. (laughs) Everything is incestuously connected in Harry Potter fandom. And she had her own archive of fics that she really liked to read. They were pan pairing. Most of them were Harry/Draco, but not all of them were. And so, my friend, whose name was Veronica, by the way. ... She sent me to Diagon Alley and she was just like, read some things and so, I wound up reading all of the main H/D fandom classics in one weekend, which I didn't really realize were the classics, because I was new. But I would soon find out that you had to have read all of these fics. So, I would up reading Stacey—phatphatkitty's "Tower with a View." I wound up reading Alex's "Snitch!" I wound up reading "Irresistible Poison" by Rhysenn. I wound up reading my favorite fanfic of all time, "The Weather of the Heart," by Shalott, and its two mini-sequels, and I wound up reading most of the Draco Trilogy, all in one weekend. So that's like six fics that I can remember reading. I'm pretty sure there were some other things too. I think Telanu had some Harry/Snape there ... I think she actually might have had some, one or two Harry/Draco fics? I think Aspen might have had a fic or two there at that point? It's so long ago I don't remember. Oh, and I think R i d d l e had some stuff there: R i d d l e (laughs). R i d d l e was this super hardcore emo writer who only wrote in lower case and had a fic where Draco was a Death Eater but he was still at Hogwarts and at one point, he had to cannibalize a baby.... Because he was an evil Death Eater, but he felt sick, and he felt so sick with remorse that he vomited up the bones, and everybody in Harry Potter fandom thought this was just like, the shit. They were like, Oh my God. This is so deep.... And R i d d l e spelled their name like this (thumping noise), with spaces between every letter.
So, I read all of those fics at Diagon Alley and that was November 2001. And by February of 2002, I had subscribed to cassie_and_rhysenn, which was the mailing list for Cassie and Rhysenn, obviously, because they shared their fics, and they had this giant—tons of people, like 3,000 people on their mailing list, which was huge when you came from a fandom that had only had 300 people total, right? And let's see, I advertised for beta reader. I wasn't supposed to do that on the Cassie and Rhysenn mailing list, because it was off-topic, but someone—and that was my very first post ever in HP fandom, but someone took pity on me anyway, and her name was Franzi and she was like, I'll beta for you.
Franzi, yes, and we are still friends to this day. So, my very first friend in Harry Potter fandom, I made in January of 2002 and she actually, last year, she actually dug up the posts—the e-mail that I sent her. I was like, There's no way you still have that. And she was like, yes I do, and she did. So, the fic that I was asking her to beta was called, "Love Under Will." And it turned out to be pretty popular—it's still considered a fandom classic to this day. It was very overwrought and tropey, but at the time, people really loved it, and then I never finished it, because of much, much, much, much drama—many things that happened in Harry Potter fandom— Which ultimately caused me to lose my job, which is a thing that few people can say, (laughs) but in the end, actually possibly got me to the point where I just got this new job just last week working for the Daily Dot.
Yesterday was my first day [working for the Daily Dot] —they said, "Well. We were worried about you not having a beat. But you kind of already have a beat, don't you?" And I was like, Yeah. And they said, "Just keep pitching us all the fandom things you want." So, that's my job. I'm literally getting paid to write about fandoms in Internet culture right now
[Losing my job because of fandom?]. My own experience. If you asked Cassandra Claire what happened, it would be completely different. Essentially, Harry Potter fandom at the time revolved around Cassandra Claire. Fanfiction.net—right before I joined the fandom— had essentially just kicked her off of its forums, and kicked off the forums along with it because they wouldn't stop talking about Cassandra Claire. Essentially, she had been kicked off Fanfiction.net for plagiarism, but she was so popular that there was basically a mass rebellion when this happened. And so to prevent people just fighting about Cassandra Claire all day long, they deleted their own forums and kicked her off—which, in retrospect, was probably not the best move, but they never brought the forums back, so I guess they were okay with it. Heidi and Flourish and some other people had been working to put together FictionAlley, which was the first really big in-house Harry Potter fan fiction archive. And so Heidi, who is friends with Cassie, essentially said, Move your fic over to FictionAlley and we can be—you know, we can grand open the archive with your fics. And so everybody flocked to FictionAlley. Though more than that, they also had forums. And the very first day that I posted my very first fic, which was this really silly fic called "About a Strip Tease" that I wrote for a friend. I posted it on Fanfiction.net and like maybe two hours later, Heidi, who was the owner of FictionAlley, managed to see it somehow. And she was like, This is a really cute fic. You should post it at FictionAlley! And so I did. Eventually, because —I don't know, people were reading my fic—it caught the attention of Cassandra Claire, and we started talking and became friends. But there was such an air of cult worship about being in that circle. People called it "The Inner Circle," and it consisted of Cassandra Claire and whoever she was friends with. I was actually—. I came under a lot of criticism at the time—back in 2002, 2003 because I was very vocal about wanting her to slash the Draco Trilogy—which, obviously, she was paired up on a mailing list with Rhysenn, she liked the idea of having H/D slashers read her fic, and she would throw in little taunting, teasing things, but we were friends. We were close friends. But there were also a lot of other things happening at the time in terms of fandom drama—in terms of the way that people just sort of desperately wanted to be friends with her—that made people do very crazy things. For example, one of her friends, Stacey, was so adamant that Cassie not be my friend that she essentially would hurl abuse at her. She broke into her e-mail account and—in an attempt to see whether Cassie was actually friends with me. Oh, and Cassie had actually made me be her secret friend at the time. Like, actually used a nom de plume name, "Darcy," to thank me with in one of the chapters of her fic so that Stacey wouldn't know that we were actually friends. It was very humiliating for me to be someone's secret friend. (laughs) But I just put up with it, because that's kind of what you were expected to do. Then when Stacey found out that Cassie and Heidi had lied to her about being friends with me, because Heidi couldn't be friends with me either—I don't know. She—Stacey was one of the moderators of FictionAlley, she posted, "I hate the liars. You can fucking die!" on her LiveJournal.
[snipped]And to my one or two friends, and then suddenly, people started to find it. But all year during 2002, people were flocking to LiveJournal and, in fact, the reason Stacey decided that she hated me was because she didn't like the fact that we had so many mutual friends on LiveJournal. It was very bizarre. But she—Stacey found that out and she resigned as moderator of FictionAlley, and she— Left fandom in a huff. So her fic "Tower With a View" was never finished. God, apart from that—that was just the beginning of the bizarre things that happened. There was the whole Msscribe thing where Dionne apparently pretended to be—like, she essentially was Cassie's friend, she attempted to draw blame to Gryffindor Tower—which is an archive that Cassie hated.
So, people hated [Gryffindor Tower]. They were a very easy target. Msscribe—Dionne is Msscribe, sorry—she came into this. She became friends with Cassie and then proceeded to—there were a series of racist and homophobic trolls that trolled the fandom during 2003 and early 2004... It's all detailed on Bad Penny, and it's actually quite extraordinary, but at the time we didn't know what was happening. We had no clue, and I remember waking up one morning and finding myself a member of this invite-only community that was essentially created by Dionne to, in short, laugh at the accusations Gryffindor Tower was making against her being the source of these trolls. [snipped] No one believed them, and again, I woke up and I was friended as part of this elite, invite-only community that had all Cassie's friends on it. And Cassie and we were like, LOL! I didn't really know what we were laughing at, but I was just like, Yay! I'm one of the groups. You know? Whatever, everybody hates Gryffindor Tower. We like Dionne. I mean, whatever. I saw her at a Nimbus 2003, which was the first HP panel or conference, and I was on a couple panels there. I was on the Draco panel with Cassie—and I would—and the slash panel was immediately after that. And the slash panel  was really infamous because it had a lot of contention, and Dionne actually stood up and started talking about diversity and fandom, and she was very sassy and everybody loved her. And I got to ride in her convertible. But it was very clear that she was doing a lot of things specifically just to be friends with Cassie and just to troll everybody and play off this cult worship around Cassie, and it was very bizarre. It was very—it was unlike anything I've ever experienced. And in fact, when I essentially got tired of it, it was partially a product of this feeling that you couldn't actually say anything against Cassie or against the whole cult of silence around her. Like, if you were friends with her, you had to sort of be her minion— And protect her at all costs. So if you actually stepped out of line and did something that was publicly uncouth, (laughs) it looked bad for the whole thing, and me being me, I was always stepping out of line and doing things that were publicly uncouth. So eventually, to skip over a giant part of wank—many, many months of wank—I eventually just got tired of it and I defriended her, and I just said, You know, Cassie, I need a break, which was fine. Except I reposted a fic that a year earlier in 2002, she had claimed I had plagiarized—and I didn't plagiarize it. Her actual accusation was that it "stole her thunder" because she was planning to post a much longer fic that was also kind of emo and kind of in present tense and kind of in second person— And about a completely different theme, but she'd been planning to post this thing and I'd posted mine first and she wasn't happy— but then a year later, after I defriended her, I was just like, I need a break, and I basically said, "I'm just going to post this fic, and it will be like me taking—getting my own autonomy back." She freaked out—freaked the fuck out on me and sent me this long e-mail, saying, basically saying, "Stacey was right about you. You're a Machiavellian social climber and I never want to speak to you again. Stay the fuck away from me," and that was the last time I ever heard from her. (laughs)
[snipped]This was October 2003. So, all this happened within this giant horribly wanky span of between January 2002 and December 2003. So, my defriending Cassie happened in October 2003. Actually, I never talked to her again after that. I did see her at the POA premiere in IMAX, for the movie premier in spring 2004 and, she actually like—. I guess they made fun of us at the time, because my group, we were like huddling in a corner, scared to even look at them. At least, I was. She told me to stay the fuck away from her and there I was right in the room with her and I didn't want to be in the room with her. And actually, they had to put a security watch on me at the time, because someone had been going around drunkenly the night before saying that if they saw me, they'd punch me in the face because of what I'd done to Cassandra Claire. She actually, after that whole, you know, "Stay the fuck away from me" e-mail, she wrote this giant post to her LiveJournal essentially blaming me for the delay of her fic. The reason that the fic was actually delayed, this was the last few chapters of Draco Veritas, at this point, was that she had been in New York hobnobbing with Holly Black—making friends with publishers and shopping—basically getting an agent for her new novel. Which would turn into The Mortal Instruments.
Essentially because it just poked so many holes in the way that there had been this bubble around Cassie, and it didn't matter what she said, or what anyone around her said, because we were like Cult of Nice. Cult of Nice, essentially. And to get kicked out of that cult meant that you lost your friends and ultimately for me meant that I lost my job, because I had been editing, I had been working as an editor—not an editor, as a freelancer, I'm sorry, for this paper that I wrote for locally, here in town—the Bloomington Herald Times , and I'd been working with them for three and a half years, actually four—since I had started working out in classifieds and then switched over to doing freelance theater reviews, which I absolutely loved and I've been doing this since 2000. Essentially, my editor called me one night. It was a couple of days before Christmas, I want to say it was a week before Christmas. He called me at like seven o'clock at night and he said, in this very odd voice, he said, "Someone told us about your LiveJournal. Someone called us and told us about your LiveJournal." Yes. And then he said, "I'm kind of weirded out," and then he said, "I don't think you're going to be working for us anymore." Yeah.
And there's nothing I can do about [the wank I've been in]. But I essentially had this choice, because I had been outed, obviously. Oh, I didn't tell that part. The reason people were able to even find me, to out me to my editor, was because—back in 2003 again, in early summer 2003, Stacey—evil Stacey (laughs) who was friends with Libertine, who was friends with Ivy, they all hated me—just because they just did. It was just fandom. It was all about Cassie. Cassie—We all just wanted to be friends with Cassie. I mean, I wanted to be friends with Cassie and essentially, they made this LiveJournal—or actually, a JournalFen community called, TheExhibitionist. They made a journal called TheExhibitionist that existed just to take a filtered post of mine that had been stolen without my permission from a tiny locked journal that was filtered to five people—except that someone had— another girl, her name was Rue, we found that out years later, who we actually didn't know for years, who had done this—but it was another girl. This is what fandom was like. It was just, full of backstabbing people who did things like this to you. They logged into one of my friend's journals. They had their password. They logged in and they saw this post because it was filtered to one of the five people. Yeah, so this post was actually this mockery. You can actually look it up. It's on Fandom Wank Wiki. It was this mockery of whole inner circle thing. It was like this mockery of me and this mockery of Cassie and this mockery of Ivy. And the way that I felt like I was having to compete with Ivy for Cassie's attention, and I was making fun of myself for feeling this way. I was making fun of Cassie a little bit, and I was making fun of Ivy a lot, and it was stolen and passed around fandom and it had my name on it. It was called "The Very Secret Diary of Aja Romano," and it had my full name on it and it was posted to this very public journal, without my permission. So, my name was out there, and it was always permanently and is still permanently attached to my fandom participation, because it was—again, it was on JournalFen and then Fandom Wank Wiki. I mean, Fandom Wank obviously made a post about it, and then, when the Fandom Wank Wiki was formed, they linked to it with my full name. If you google my name actually, right now, my full name—you come up with this link to—it's a dead page but it still says, "The Very Secret Diary of Aja Romano" and it's on the Fandom Wank Wiki. And it redirects to "The Very Secret Diary of Aja," because I actually got them to take my name off of it eventually, my real last name—but the actual redirect is still there and still googleable. So, in 2003 knowing this—knowing that my name was permanently attached to this giant humongous, humiliating wank that had caused me to lose my job, I basically had to decide whether I was going to go underground and hide and use a sock puppet or whatever, or whether I was going to keep representing fandom positively, I guess. It took me a long time to figure out how that lay, but it also helped that I actually had jobs that were very fandom-positive.
My fandom history is full of so much wank. Oh my God. But I shipped TezuRyo, Tezuka/Ryoma, because they're adorable and I really loved them. And little was I to know that there had been this giant ship war in the fandom, before my time, and the TezuRyo people had lost, and the TezuFuji people had won, and they were very diligent about guarding their turf. I had people writing me. I had lurkers in the fandom e-mail me and say, You don't know what it was like before you came! The TezuRyo people just basically had no place to go and no one to talk to, (laughs) and they were hiding in the corners of fandom. And then, little did I know, I come into TeniPuri fandom and I'm this giant wanky BNF with this terrible history behind her. All I really wanted to do was make people like my ship. I had this very proactive attitude—was, If you want somebody to like it, do it yourself. So I started to post about it and I started to post screen caps. I started to be very happy and perky, and basically doing what I did when I was in Harry Potter fandom, because people used to love—you know, I was called, kind of like the H/D cheerleader, just because I was really happy.
Hikago fandom is still talking about this post I made in 2009, which was the post that everybody hated and [that] basically caused me to fall and eventually drift away. That post was a post in which I accused—well, I suggested that someone had plagiarized my fic and the fic of this friend that I had, my friend Cathy, who actually brought this post to me that she found. This woman, this girl, had been writing fic, and the girl's response to my making this post was to delete her journal without actually responding to the accusations. In most other fandoms, I think that deleting your journal would have been taken as proof of guilt. : Because that's usually how it works, but in this fandom it was taken as proof that I was a giant horrible bully and that I had attempted to sic minions on her and drive her out of the fandom. And it was all my fault that they had lost one of their best writers and that there was never any— you know, I just made up this proof of plagiarism. I didn't have any proof et cetera, et cetera. It was very, very, very weird. It was like, Yes, we have an excuse to demonize Aja, let's pounce on it!—to me, anyway. There were horrible posts written about how I was a horrible human being—like, literally people were making posts about how they wanted me to die, (laughs) and it was not fun. This girl deleted her journal and never came back. So, I have no idea if she—. I mean, she never responded to the accusation of plagiarism and to this day, I still think that there was some merit to those accusations, but because I was the one who was making them, nobody ever really took them seriously because they didn't want to. But I was like, Okay, so I gave the fandom some space, essentially, and gave it some time to dry out, and just was in a multifandom phase, I guess, between late 2009 and summer 2010, which is when I discovered Inception
Okay, so I am quite notorious for having burned a shirt.... . I got really upset about Strikethrough, and I had this T-shirt that LiveJournal had given me, because I guess I'd bought so many gifts or something.... [snipped] I had this very nice shirt that I had actually worn for years because I was like, Hey, LiveJournal, and (laughs) —there's no way to make this story not embarrassing. So, I won't even try. I am something of a crusader, and one of the things that makes me so wanky is I get people riled up, but also, when I go on my high horse, to like, do things that people aren't quite on the ball with. They're like, Um ... maybe not... I basically took one of those little lighters (laughs) and lit my shirt on fire while filming it on—I think I had a Flip video camera. I essentially was saying, I'm going to leave LiveJournal now. I'm going to leave it! and I intended to leave it for good—only there was no Dreamwidth at that time.
[snipped]]People cared more about actually burning the shirt than they did about principles around the shirt burning, you know? : And to this day, I think that remix of the video, which I'm sure everybody's seen, because it's the only part of the video that exists. You can still find the remix of the video, I think, if you look hard enough.
... then Dreamwidth happened and the thing about—I will always be a little bit bitter about this, because the same week that Strikethrough occurred, I sent an e-mail to a bunch of people and I didn't know, really, what I was doing. But I sent an e-mail to people who included Rebecca Tushnet—but just a bunch of writers that are respected. So, it was like Shalott—[redacted]—Francesca Coppa ... Rebecca Tushnet, Svmadelyn. Just a bunch of friends, like Erica, Femmequixotic probably was there—a bunch of people who (a) were like movers and shakers in the fandom, and (b) who were smart and well-connected, and I had thought would actually listen when I said this—in other words weren't just going to write me off as a wanker. And I said, "I would like to be a part of or form some sort of movement to create fandom advocacy." Yeah, I said I wanted to be a part of something that would basically be a source of fandom advocacy in the fandom, because we didn't have anything like that and obviously it was Strikethrough hitting us really hard. And it was also after FanLib had hit us really hard. So, it was very obvious to me that we needed some sort of legal group or something. Nobody really—. I think Rebecca responded to me, Rebecca Tushnet, but nobody really got back to me. It never really went very far. I was just one person, I didn't really know how to say—and I wasn't really in a position at that time, to make a post like Shalott made a post and say, "We need to own our own damn servers."
At the time, I wasn't really interested in owning servers. I was interested in actually having legal advocacy. And so I was like, Okay, well that's nice, but what about legal stuff? So about the same time that everybody was planning Archive of Our Own, I was involved in the early planning discussions and so forth. I was cc'ed —I think I was on the mailing lists then—but I eventually unsubscribed because it seemed like it was all revolving around this archive. And I didn't want to have anything to do with the Archive and I just didn't think it was—it wasn't what I wanted.And to this day, I've never been about the Archive. I like the Archive, but it was the biggest surprise in the world to me when six —nine months later, people started publicly talking about the Organization for Transformative Works, and I turned around and realized that it was exactly the organization that I had been wanting to help build. It had sort of formed when my back was turned, because I just had no idea that they were planning all this stuff. They had been planning around the archive all of this other stuff, which all the other stuff was what I was keenly interested in. You know, supporting internationalization and outreach and preservation. And obviously, legal advocacy.
We're not ever going to get back to the place where we're all on LiveJournal, all posting and interacting the same ways—like that illusion is just gone. So, basically it's just Tumblr until something better comes along. [snipped]I have so much angst with people who post fanfic on Tumblr. Like, Why would you do that? Why would you make your fanfic reblogable? You know? That just seems so completely counter-intuitive to me, but if you're thinking about fan work as—you know, GIF sets, people re-blog them all the time. What's the difference? So, I think of it as pretty much a shift in how we think about fan work, and I'm okay with that shift to happen, even if I'm not exactly comfortable with it.
It's really hard. It's really difficult to manage people if you're worried about people liking you. Which is one thing that I really learned when I was tutoring. Because—oh my God, I used to be so worried about people liking me, about being friends with my students instead of actually disciplining them. But I don't have that problem anymore and I honestly—. It was sad, it was very sad, because Shalott and Ces both defriended me after that post. But I made this post, because I was like, Nobody else is going to make this post. I am the only—literally the only person in the Org with the social capital to say this, and if I get burned by it, it won't matter because I'm already the wanky outcast anyway. You know, like I'm already that kind of powder keg. (laughs) That's sort of the role I occupy, and sometimes when I feel like I need to use that role to say things nobody else will say, I'll say it. I mean, I'll use it that way.
I still love the Org.
[snipped]It's beautiful. I love the Archive so much more that I ever thought I would when it was getting off the ground. I'm so proud of it. I never thought I'd be that proud of it, but I'm also so freaking proud of Open Doors. I am so proud—I just think it's amazing and it gets so little love.
You have to forgo objectivity because the fact that you're writing about things from your perspective—like, I just have been so immersed in one corner of fandom for so long that I have all of this information at my fingertips when I go to write about things. A good example is the Jane Austen—like, I wrote an article about Jane Austen fandom and mainstream published original Jane Austen fan fiction, basically. And because I've been in the Austen fandom that I knew automatically, but a lot of things that I didn't, you know. So when I'm writing about something that is totally new I can definitely tell the difference in terms of how confident I feel when I'm researching things … I mean if I am writing about Harry Potter fandom, I don't need to look up—I don't need research, because I know exactly where I need to go to get the information that I need, because I know what I want to write about. And it makes it very clear very quickly, I think, like what areas of fandom that I'm drawn to, I guess, and what areas of fandom I feel like—like, "Oh this is my area of expertise." And it's not so much that I actually have researched it. It's that I've lived it, and have been in the middle of it, which is really interesting. But I'm hoping—I'm thinking that at some point that's going to diversify a little, and I'll get more comfortable sort of going out of my comfort zone. Somebody actually left me an anon message basically saying that I had to stop, like, talking to my friends but the thing is that, but the thing is my friends are all people who have been—. Like, the people that I've been talking to have all been people that have done things and been significant in many ways, you know, in terms of shaping fandom. Like if I'm talking about Strikethrough then I interview Femmequixotic because she was moderator for Pornish Pixies, right, dealing with Strikethrough. Or if I'm talking about, you know … white-washing in fandom than I interview Glock because she invented, you know, she created Racebending. You know, that kind of thing—just, people, the people that I'm talking to, they happen to be my friends but they also happen to be significant to, you know, keystone parts of fandom creation. I'm trying not to worry about that too much.
BOOKSHOP: I don't know. I feel like I'm kind of a stranger—not stranger—but I'm kind of an odd bird in fandom, because I do have this very weird tie to Cassie Claire that means my entire oral history's about wank.
HORBINSKI: Well, you know. I was glad you agreed, because you have been around for a really long time and I know that, obviously—if you read Fandom Wank, that's not the whole story. So, I was glad that you agreed to do this and tell your story, you know?BOOKSHOP: Yeah, I mean, the bottom line for me is I've always really,really tried to be—. I mean, I love fandom. I've always loved fandom, and fandom has screwed me over many times and has been really mean to me—has made me cry many times, but the thing is that, like, those are just pieces of fandom. And the whole of fandom, as much as I complain about the OTW—I really mean—I think it's an amazing group and I'm so proud to be a part of it, because I think that the impulse that it springs from is an amazing impulse that applies to everybody in fandom. Just this sense that we can do our own thing, that we can have our own fandom spaces. And everything—every single fandom experience that I've ever had—ultimately has borne that out to me more and more—that fandom is just this vibrant community. I mean, for all the wank, we do amazing things, and I have gotten to be a part of really amazing things. Like, I didn't even get to talk about [Nocturne] Alley and just experiencing that and creating the Big Bang, because we created the first Big Bang— (laughs)
- "Coming out of the Cupboard: Slash in Harry Potter Fandom" (John Walton, Moderator, Bridget Roussell Cowlishaw).