Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Meri Oddities

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Meri Oddities
Interviewer: Lisa Cronin
Interviewee: Meri Oddities
Date(s): August 5, 2012
Medium: audio, print transcript
Fandom(s):
External Links: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Meri Oddities
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Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Meri Oddities was conducted in 2012 by Lisa Cronin and archived at the University of Iowa Libraries.

This interview's medium is audio (length: 1:39:09), and it has a written 37-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

Fan fiction. I read my first zine in 1981. I wasn't even twenty- one then. I found out about fan fiction from a book — two books actually. One was Star Trek Lives by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and somebody else whose name escapes me, Sondra ... Somebody or other. And they talked about it. And I had read all of the Star Trek books at that time. And I — I was like oh, this sounds so much better than all the published books, And I found another book somewhere with the name of the Star Trek Welcommittee. Which — Shirley Maiewski, I think her name was — I wrote to her and said, "Okay, how do I get this stuff?" And she wrote me back and gave me a long — I gave her a long list of every zine mentioned in either of the books that I had read. And I was like, Okay I want all of this. She's like, Yeah, some of it you're not going to get. But my mother was also a Star Trek fan, oddly enough. And she and I started to collect the zines. And the first zine, I want to say, was Alternate Universe Four. And there were four people who wrote that. And it was like a collection of stories about the — it was an AU of Star Trek. Beyond that, I can't remember. There was just a lot of zines. And then I went off to college and my mother continued to collect gen Trek zines. And I sort of gamboled on and found slash. (laughs) But I never did slash in Star Trek, oddly enough. So I read zines for years without really thinking a lot about who was behind them. And in '94, I want to say, I got on a mailing list and I also found Bill HupeBill Hoop]].

I learned early not to [use my legal name]. As a matter of fact, one of the people in England picked my name for me. Because I was on a conference call at work, and somebody said, Yada yada yada. Oh, and I found this article, you know, someone talking about you on the Internet — This is like in the mid '90s. — And I'm like, Okay, really? And they have used my full name. And I was like, Hmm ... that's a bad thing. And I had written under some form of my real name, but not really. And then, so she's like, Well, you know, you need to pick a new name. Because I was talking to her on the phone. And it was like, Okay, fine we'll just... She's like, What street did you live on as a kid? [But] I didn't like that name. Then she's like, Okay, what's the next street over? And [I] was like, Meridian. She's like, There you go. And Meridian became, when I was writing in SGA fandom, Meridian became Meri when — "Meridian" was the episode where Daniel died.

So. Somebody said, "Okay, we can't call you that anymore. We need to call you something else." (laughs) So it became Meri. Which was fine. I liked it well enough. And my website had always been Other Oddities of Fiction, so it became Meri Oddities.

Yeah, for somebody who really doesn't like fan names at all. I mean, I will call people by their fan names if I have to. But, you know. I'm old enough that that's still not a real name to me.

... what the Circuit Library became was, somebody got copies of almost everything and worked on typing all of the favorites in first. But then some of the English writers objected to having their stories on disc or on — eventually it became a CD. There was a library list where they would e-mail whatever had been typed that week. So it was kind of like being on the Circuit. You were on this e-mail list, and you would get all the stories whenever they were typed. But they were typing them into text files. And, like I said, I didn't like the text files because I like my stories formatted. So I wanted to put them online. And eventually I did. I had ... 200 stories, maybe? Overall.

And then JustACat took it over. And she got a lot more. Because at that point, it was '93, '94; no, 2003, 2004. Something like that. 2005? Somewhere in there. And she redid the whole thing. And she got a lot more permission because she started going to that con in England, and taking to people. People who initially resisted having their stories online, or whatever, sort of got used to the Internet and learned that it was not as bad as they thought it was. And more and more of them allowed their stuff to be put online. And one of the things I didn't that Just — that JustACat did, was that we didn't put anything up without permission.

And if I found out somebody died though? Through various means? I was like, you know, "They're dead; that's it." I put it up under their pseudonym. And even if someone else objected, unless they were the person, I figured, you know, the persons dead.
... online life wasn't like it is now. In general. And fandom; fandom was still in, at cons. And the mailing lists were sort of... It could be really limited. I was never on the 852 Prospect, or whatever it is, the Sentinel? I was never actually in Sentinel fandom. I had a lot of friends who talked about what it was like on that mailing list. Where you had to warn for, you know, Blair getting a haircut? And everybody had to be nice. And then they had Prospect-L, or whatever it was called. Maybe that was the name of ... Well, they got a new mailing list where people didn't have to be nice. Because being nice was part of fandom, and they, they enforced it really, really heavily in Sentinel fandom. And then they had a criticism list and everybody was, like ... Got to say what they thought. I sort of see ... Fandom used to be polite, and now fandom can be like, wank. It's amazing. I don't do wank. At all. I do not have anything to do with it. I do not do dog piles. I find it actually kind of appalling. It's like people, people who have been victimized, want to victimize somebody else. They want to watch somebody bleed. People who made a mistake, you know? Who've done something stupid, who's written something they that didn't know any better to write. But anyway, that's another story. Somebody needs to do a paper on that....
I got a LiveJournal in, like, 2002. And that was a whole other way of doing things. And there were tons and tons of people who were just like, No. We're totally not doing this. A lot of old school fandom was just ... They balked at LiveJournal. And I like LiveJournal. Because you read the journals you want to read, and you don't read anybody you don't want to read. And, you know, you can sub the journals that are in the fandoms you're in. And everybody ... I think LiveJournal changed the face of fandom. Changed the face of fandom. Again, as it were. Because mailing lists were ... You had to talk about what the moderator wanted you to talk about. Fandom, it was in these parameters. And then LiveJournal, in your LiveJournal, you could say whatever you wanted. You could talk about what you had for dinner. And people did. And they posted six times per day. And I learned how to filter people. And, you know; people ... And then there was the whole, the friending thing.
I think that some people really believed that stuff was private if you posted it to a mailing list. Or, you know, if you posted it in your little corner of fandom on the Internet. The Internet remembers everything, okay? Nothing is private. And I think anybody who has an expectation of privacy needs to keep it at home at their un-Internet-ready hard drive. Because, really? I think people have, have ... Just don't expect ... I mean, it's like people who post stuff to their Facebook. You know, pictures of them drinking and doing stupid things, and then not locking their Facebook. Why would you think you could get away with this? Why would you think that nobody would find this if they looked? Fandom is like that. They just have had blinders on for years. That they don't realize, it's in the public eye. You can't hide. There is no hiding. It's all out there. The best you're going to be able to do is hopefully maintain some anonymity using a pseudonym.

There's always somebody somewhere who's still writing in whatever fandom, however small it's gotten. Pros was pretty big there for a while, and it's pretty small now, but there are still people there. Starsky and Hutch fandom. Starsky and Hutch fandom is an old-school fandom. I was never —. I was sort of peripherally in it. But I sort of watched it. And, you know, they have a con every year in October in Baltimore, and they get maybe fifty, sixty people who come. Most of them are in other stuff but they still have a soft spot for that particular fandom. I think that's true of a lot of fandom. I don't think they ever, really, completely die. I mean, look at the Phantom Menace. I mean, that was, like ... You'd think that'd be a phantom ... I was in that fandom for, like, eight months. I mean, yeah, I wrote a ton of stories and then I moved on. But a lot of people stayed there years. And they have thousands of stories on their Master and Apprentice archive, and then where that moved to. And they have a con every year in Las Vegas, like, in July. And, you know, they get thirty or forty people who come to Vegas in July. And you know, again, not my fandom particularly, but I have a good friend who's really into that and they go to that, they go to ... What is it called. I forget the name of the con. It's just a little, like I said, thirty to forty people. And they all hang out together, and it's like a one-room con.

They used to have ... There used to be a one-room Sentinel con that was here, called Bash at the Loft. Which I actually worked at a couple times. Because I knew the person who ran it, and they sort of ... You helped people out. So I did some stuff for that one. There is a lot of little stuff. Actually, I saw Astolat, the first time, at Bash at the Loft. Because, you know, everybody is in these sort of jeans and T-shirts and stuff, and there comes this really good-looking woman in slacks and a blouse and heels. And I'm like, Who is that? And they're like, Yeah. She's like the best writer ever. I don't think I actually met her then. But, yeah, I remember seeing her. Anyways, I think that was '99.

References