Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Julia Price

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Julia Price
Interviewer: Andrea Horbinski
Interviewee: Julia Price
Date(s): June 13, 2012
Medium: audio, print transcript
Fandom(s):
External Links: Fiction Oral History Project with Julia Price
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Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Julia Price was conducted in 2012 by Andrea Horbinski and archived at the University of Iowa Libraries.

This interview's medium is audio (length: 1:17:58), and it has a written 25-page transcript.

It was part of the series: Fan Fiction Oral History Project also referred to as "a Fiction and Internet Memory Research Project," "the Fiction and Internet Memory Program," 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

Excerpts

The first one I remember reading was on a, somebody's personal JuCity site and most of what I was finding, I was finding, like, band sites, and I remember actually I would go through images a lot and people would have lots and lots and lots of screencaps and I would look at those and then I found fanfic through one of these. I don't remember how I discovered Fanfiction.net, but I used that to look at Harry Potter fic through middle school. And then, when I was fourteen, I met another girl who was into Harry Potter and Harry Potter fic and she introduced me to the Sugar Quill, which, you know, was another independent site. I don't know what it was hosted on but I'm sure they bought their own domain, obviously, and that was all dedicated to Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny, with some Sirius/Remus stuff on there. But they had, like, official pairings, but they vetted that so the quality was better or was easier to find, once you liked. That was the first time I had encountered, like, I don't know what the term for it is exactly the like the juggernaut fics—like big name fics—that were sort of like standards within the fandom, like after the end and stuff like that. And this was just following—I'm trying to think what—which was the last book at that time? I think the fifth one had come out recently because, right, the fourth one came out in 2000 and there was the Three Year Summer soak through. Of course, the fifth one would have just come out that year, but there had been, you know, a lot of fanfic written and just leading up to that. Ao I read a lot of it, and—then, I was kind of hooked. I discovered LiveJournal when I was about sixteen? Which would be about 2005? And that's sort of my go-to even now. There would just be these authors that I would track that were pretty prolific.
Well, it was an interesting transition because I kept following [May/Mistful's] blog and you sort of saw her feelings about it change. She said, you know, "This PDF will only be available for a certain amount of time. I'm taking everything else down." And so I downloaded the PDF, but at the time she was saying, you know, "I'm glad to have done all of this. It's just, like, my publishers say, and I don't want to mess this up, so ... I'm not doing it because I don't like fanfic anymore. It's just—I've got my career to focus on." And now, I mean, in interviews and things, she gets ... she does not like it to be brought up. And she talks about fanfic. She's just like, "I like fan fiction and I think people should be able to write it, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I wish I hadn't done it."
I'm kind of a lurker these days, but ... I don't know, within stories, usually pretty easy to navigate. Although, now I usually read one shots. Just, I feel like reading long fics is such an investment and while I love fan fiction, I think a lot of it is very much the same? So, it really takes a lot for me to want to read all of one. The last one I did wasn't even that good but I kind of read it anyway because... It was like a guilty pleasure fic. It was an AU where John Watson was on the Bachelor and I was like, Okay come on, what is this? (laughs) So I read it, and I read the whole thing through. And it wasn't fantastic. It was fun. It was like, I don't know; candy, popcorn. (laughs) But normally, I like reading short things that get ... You know, I kind of go all over the map in terms of, like, the tone. I go for angsty sometimes. Sometimes, I just go for ... I don't know—it doesn't really matter so much—but I like sort of this feeling of a brief moment and that's what I look for now when I read. Often those brief moments include sex. But, (laughs) you know, even if it doesn't, like, keep it short.
...while I was still on Xanga, I was reading slash and I know that because I remember saying (speaks in a high pitched voice), "I'd rather be reading about Sirius and Remus kissing than doing my homework on this group project with these people in my class!" (speaks in a normal voice) And I named them. And years later, one of the girls was like, I googled myself. Actually, no, she Yahoo! searched herself, which is why I thought that was totally off. Because this is, you know, who the hell yahoos anymore? This is my sophomore year in college. Nobody yahoos. Anyways, she's like, So, I found your blog, because I yahooed myself. Could you take that down? (laughs) Yeah, that was funny. I think I made the post private. I never take anything down. I'm such a pack rat. On the Internet, I'm a pack rat. In my life, I'm a pack rat. I never throw anything away.

I guess, there's this idea, especially because fan fiction can be pornographic, that there, that fans have weird sexual obsessions with characters. And, while I don't think that fan fiction and its connection to sexuality is unhealthy, I do—. ... You know, people invest a lot of emotions into fandom and to the characters, and so when you see them embodied in cosplay, that adds a whole other layer to it and you will, you know, have people who are dressed up, and they will have—they will be, like, the rock stars of the con, and people will think they are really hot, and it will cause crises of sexuality for some people. I mean, I'm not kidding. (laughs) Because most of the fans—most of the fans are female. So, there will be a lot of crossdressing. And there's a woman ... She's middle-aged, has a career and life outside ... She's older than most of the fans I know, although I know a lot of fans are older than me. I think she's older than most of the Harry Potter fan base. And she cosplays as Snape and goes hardcore. She uses clippings of her own hair for stubble. She puts on a prosthetic nose. She, I think, puts on contacts to make her eyes black—probably makes her costume, don't know. But, she's had people just be like, I think I'm in love with you, and I'm straight, what does that mean? And she said, "Okay, here. I'm going to take off my costume. What do you feel about me now?" And she's like, "Oh, yeah. I'm not attracted to you now. Okay, I feel better."

A close friend of mine also cosplays as Snape. We met. Okay, this is where it gets complicated, and this is another area of queer that I will—that I also have many feelings on. I met this close friend as ... Okay. I know a lot of trans people in fandom. One of whom is my ex. One of whom is this close friend of mine. And this close friend of mine, I met him at Azkatraz dressed as Snape. I think this was his first time at a con, but he, at the time, thought of himself as—and presented himself as—a straight woman. So the edge that I was going to tell was, he ran into some girl who was, like, "I'm really attracted to you. I'm straight. I think I need to go think about my life now," in a really scared, disturbed kind of voice. But, also to point out that this friend and my ex both went to this con for the first time, cosplaying for the first time, and they were responded to as male. And they didn't think they were trans before, and sort of because of people's responses to it, really figured it out that they were through that convention. And I think it's also similar to the experience of another trans-guy that I met there, who already knew he was trans. Like, he had done all of this work beforehand. (laughs) But from what I understand, he figured it out through many things, but online roleplay as Voldemort helped him figure it out. And for my close friend, who dressed as Snape at that particular convention, and now is ... He's the one that introduced me to Doctor Who. He cosplays a lot as Ten. But, it's one of the only—not the only avenue, but it's the avenue in which he is most comfortable being out as trans or expressing himself as a male, because he has not been able to integrate that into the rest of his life and I think, because fandom is so ... Because you are creating things and pushing all these boundaries to begin with, I think lots of queer sexualities and gender presentations and people who struggle with those feel a lot more comfortable in that kind of space.
I think my ideas about pairings have gotten more and more liberal as I've gotten older. I think when I was younger, I was like, Harry/Hermione was obvious. I mean, not Harry/Hermione, Ron/Hermione was obvious. Freudian slip there, maybe. And I was a big Harry/Cho fan, which was very quickly an unpopular ship. Like, even before the fifth book came out and Cho was kind of dumb. But I definitely ... I never really got heavily involved in the flame wars, but I definitely could not understand why anyone would ship Harry/Hermione. I was like, Why do you think that's possible? And I didn't really think that critically about it until the seventh movie came out. Well, actually, maybe the sixth, but especially the seventh. Harry and Hermione's friendship is really developed. And I thought it was just, so much more interesting than I remembered it being when I read it and I really enjoyed it. And, while I didn't walk away from that as a Harry/Hermione shipper, I thought, Well ... Their relationship is so much more interesting than Harry and Ginny's, certainly. I've never been a Harry/Ginny shipper. I don't really conform to any ships anymore. I just ... fucking Ginny, man. (laughs) But I could understand why people see something there, and whether or not you chose to define it as a romantic relationship or a friendship is up to you. So, I've become much more open minded about it. When the flame wars were actually going on, I think I held strong opinions, but I sort of avoided them—I think, because, I was much more of an elitist when I was a teenager, than I am now. I was like, This is going to be a cesspool of people just screaming at each other and saying dumb Internety things. I'd much rather just look for the fanfic I like and read that and just avoid the rest. And, so I think that's mostly what I did.

References