Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Nele Noppe

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Nele Noppe
Interviewer: Andrea Horbinski
Interviewee: Nele Noppe
Date(s): August 15, 2012
Medium: audio, print transcript
External Links: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Nele Noppe
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Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Nele Noppe was conducted in 2012 by Andrea Horbinski and archived at the University of Iowa Libraries.

This interview's medium is audio (length: 01:38:24), and it has a 40-page transcript.

It was part of the 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 Rogue Archives: Digital Cultural Memory and Media Fandom by Abigail De Kosnik.

Some Topics Discussed


I'd say somewhere when I was around fourteen or fifteen years old, so that must've been '96—'[9]7-ish? And that was because I was always a very avid reader of European and American comic books, and I got into Elfquest, an American comic book series, and while—we discovered the Internet around that that time, and there turned out to be an Elfquest mailing list, and that got me hooked onto Internet fandom, pretty much. : It was translated, but I learned English through Elfquest because I wanted to know what the original—what the characters originally said, so I was always bringing my comic books to school [in Belgium] and showing the English versions to my English teacher and asking what this expression meant that I hadn't managed to find in a dictionary and such.... I had the Dutch language versions.
[Equest-L, the Elfquest mailing list] So it was not fan-run, it was an official mailing list [snipped] I don't know exactly when—the official mailing list branched into—there was another mailing list added for fan fiction. I think if you go to the Elfquest website,, right now, there's still a link—there used to be a link to the archives of both Equest-L and Equest-L-Fanfic lists. The fanfic list was official as well—they approved of that.

I think maybe in the last year or so, you see people starting to complain about "social justice warriors" and things like that, and I can't—get the feeling that people are—a lot of people are pushing—are —seem to be sick of feeling that they are being required to critical, and in that they don't really want to be critical. I don't mean it in a bad way, but people seem to feel like if they write something in a—if their fic has some kind of content or characters who are acting in, say, a racist way, or a sexist way, that they feel like some sort of social justice warrior might come in to the comments or put their fic—or lambast their fic on Tumblr, and it feels to me like people are sort of feel like that is going too far, so they're being—that—I'm not sure. I've never really thought about this, so it's hard to put it into words, but people feel like they're being expected to be critical, and all the time, in a way that doesn't really fit with why they are in fandom or why they are making fic.


I feel like there's a little bit of pressure on—I don't know where this comes from—nobody actually told me this, but I feel like there's this kind of pressure to be—to either deal with sexual assault in a very appropriate way, or to put on a big disclaimer saying that you understand the issues actually, but you chose not to handle—not to deal with them because of blah, blah, blah. And I feel that there's this pressure to do either of those things, and that this is unfair, because I'm writing fiction, and I should not be forced to explain my understanding of social justice issues all the time. I should not have to justify one thing to write a scene in which somebody deals with sexual assault in a bad way.
I think in the English language fandom, there's this very strong dividing line between the professional artists and the amateurs. There's some crossing over into there, like we have these well-known fanboy authors like Joss Whedon as such who do interact with their fandom quite a bit, but they're still—there are very few people who actually exist in both worlds at the same time—are actually in both worlds at the same time. And especially with—in the case of novels, you know that there's apparently people who are still getting warned about not reading fanfic because it might—not reading fanfic of your works because it might lead to copyright problems if you later use something in your work that was already in a fanfic. People are still apparently still passing along that ghost of Marian Zimmer Bradley.
Well, the thing is in Japan, it is a gift economy in a way, as well. Just because peoples' motivations are basically the same. And if a doujinshi circle looks like it's creating doujinshi and it's very popular, and it starts to look like they're creating doujinshi not because they love the source work, but because they want to make money, then people get mad about that. Because you're supposed to put—even if there's some—there's some money involved, but you're supposed to make them because you—because —out of love for the fandom, for the source and for the source work, so the motivations are the same all around, it's just the ways of exchange and people's attitude toward money and attitude toward industry involvements are just a little bit different for historical and for economic reasons, I think. So it's not like things are so wildly different—people all want the same fannish things, basically, they're just—have gone about it, are going about it in a little bit—in a slightly different way.
I think Wikipedia has a community and rules that are so vast and so established, and it's very hard for new people to still—to come in. So I think that's also what I liked about Fanlore, that it's smaller-scale and I guess—. I can take part—. I can start writing things on Fanlore, and I will make some mistakes—I made some—I did make some mistakes, but then people gave me a nudge in the right direction, and I didn't feel like there was this whole massive community history or massive set of rules that I had to know before I could start anything, so that's very different than Wikipedia. I like that atmosphere too.
And with that fic, I had one of the nicest AO3 experiences I ever had—was—well, it started out pretty awful. I tried to update the fic, and I accidentally added a couple of draft chapters. I accidentally added the same chapter several times, but in draft format, but I thought that I had added the chapter twice and I panicked, and I said, Oh my God, I have to delete that right away. And I accidentally deleted the whole fic. So the AO3 interface was a bit confusing over there, so I accidentally deleted the fic—the whole fic, instead of just that chapter. And it turned out that it couldn't be restored, and all the comments and the kudos and stuff were all gone. And so I was pretty down about that, and I went to bed. But then I re-uploaded the fic, when it turned out that there was nothing to be done and it couldn't be restored, and immediately—the fic had a lot of kudos for an Avatar fic—around seventy kudos or something like that. And as soon as I re-upload—I had been whining about it on my journal at that point, and as soon as I reuploaded, the fic the next day—the kudos started coming back. Flooding back into my inbox, and everybody who liked the fic before had read my cries of woe on my journal, came back, and put the kudos back on the fic. And I was almost crying. I was like, Oh, thank you so much, oh, thank you so much. That made me so happy. I love it so much. And that's—every time somebody starts this discussion about why—about how they don't like kudos or something, I rip out that story, it's just that I love kudos for these reasons. Everybody gave me back my kudos when I needed them the most. Ah, I like kudos.