Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Te
|Interviews by Fans|
|Title:||Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Te|
|Interviewee:||Te and spouse Jack|
|Date(s):||August 3, 2012|
|Medium:||audio, print transcript|
|External Links:||Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Te|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Te was conducted in 2012 by Lisa Cronin and archived at the University of Iowa Libraries.
This interview includes a second interviewee, Te's spouse, Jack.
This interview's medium is audio (length: 1:52:32), and it has a written 42-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
- gourmet cheese
- Anna S.: fantastic writer and influence
- the fight club that was X-Files fandom, emphasis on the Mulder/Krycek mailing list (600-700 members, about 50 emails a day)
- shipper wars
- The Ray Wars and the terribleness of due South fandom
- a Buffy mailing list called UCSL
- Smallville: "the 800-pound gorilla"
- Smallville Slash Archive
- Level Three
- Serge, due South mailing lists
- fandom's migration to Tumblr
- DC Comics
- Archive of Our Own
- Justice League
There are actually two stories [about my discovering fan fiction]. The first story is that back in 1994, when I was a college student and I was looking for porn — specifically looking for porn — I went to alt.tech.stories. This was when it was just a newsgroup. There weren't any archives or anything like that, and it hadn't even been, it wasn't remotely spam. This was — this was back when the world was new, basically. And I happened to find two stories. One was a story where Batman and Robin, Robin had been kidnapped by robbers and he fellates himself — because he had gotten distracted while untying himself. As you do. And one was a story where Wesley Crusher is getting raped by a random Romulan and a random Klingon while the rest of the Enterprise's crew is watching on the view screen. And those two stories were actually the first two male-male stories I ever read. And they were terrible, but they blew the top of my head off. And then around three years later—well three- and-a-half years later, I guess—in, at the end of 1997, when I was very ill and I had just become disabled and I was very depressed, and I'm like, Well I might as well wank. So I am going to find this porn. And this was before Google. So I went to use WebCrawler—I don't know if you even remember WebCrawler?
It was a very bad, it was a very, very, very bad search engine. And I type in Batman/Robin porn and a few other details from the story, and it sent me to R'rain's—who spelled her name R-'-r-a-i-n—Trek slash archive. Now, how WebCrawler got from Batman/Robin to Trek slash? No idea. But I am so glad it did because that Batman/Robin story is actually, you can find that story on Misty now, but Misty doesn't really take you to fandom. Whereas that Trek slash archive, wham! Here I am, finding authors like Torch, and Anna S, and all of these other great, wonderful slash goddesses. And I—the first story I read on that archive was actually by Torch. And it was so amazing, and she included an e-mail address where I could write to her and give her feedback. And, of course, I was like, Holy crap! This amazing! This is the best porn I have ever read. You're awesome! And she writes me back, and I realize, What the fuck? This is a community of incredibly perverse women.And there I am: it's like New Year's 1997, and my mind is blown. Because, you know, I am a person who, at that point, was only around women to fuck them. And I was ... My best friends were all male. And that was how I rolled. And ... But suddenly—it had never occurred to me that there were women like me, who thought about sex all the time, and who got crazy about fictional characters, and who wanted to write dirty stories. Which, you know, I was writing dirty stories at the time, too, just not all of the time and just not about other characters. So that was December 1997. And I read all of the slash I could find that was online at the time, in fandoms like Trek and X-Files and Highlander and within ... I hadn't met Sentinel at that point, not quite yet, and within six months, I was writing my own fic.
I believe the first story I ever posted was on March 21, 1998. It is probably dated—it's still up there on my archive somewhere. Yeah, probably on the solstice....X-Files. Because it was, it was, uh. Krycek. Yeah, that one. It was in March '98 that "The Red and Black" aired, that then-famous episode where Krycek kissed Mulder, and the world of slash fandom went fuck-nuts! For me, I had—. I had mostly been lurking at that point. Sending feedback, but not really getting involved with any of the open discussion or the community aspects of fandom. And I was watching with—I was watching X-Files with my guy friends, as usual. And the episode aired and Krycek laid a kiss on Mulder, and I was literally jumping around and freaking out. "It's true, it's all true, they were right, it's all true!" (laughs) And then I immediately went back home, and sought out the community, and started talking to people and making friends. And within a couple of weeks, I had written my first story.
X-Files was a very disputatious fandom.... Let's see, on the lists that were strictly pairing-centric—where you could only talk about Mulder/Krycek, where you could only talk about Mulder/Skinner or whatever—those were less disputatious, but you would get fights about stories not having the proper warnings on them or stories being inappropriate in some way....No, [fandom] really, really doesn't [change]. And you would get people writing us a story where ... You would get people fighting about if Krycek was too mean in a story or if Krycek was too nice in a story, or if Mulder was too mean in a story. (laughs) Or if in the episode, if he was too nice there, or too mean there, or if he was an asshole. Or if somebody liked the episode and somebody hated the episode. It was very ... People did not know how to get along in that fandom, at all. And on the mailing list where anything went, it was even worse—because you had the shipper wars.
[INTERVIEWER CRONIN: You said you ran the mailing list for about a year-and-a-half? What made you decide to stop.TE: Hatred. (CRONIN laughs; TE laughs) I reached a point where I caught myself writing stories that were designed to make people feel bad. Well, that were—that were designed to make ... I caught myself writing stories that were flat-out bitter. They weren't bad stories in terms of literary quality. I mean, one particular story is one of the few X-Files stories that I can still look at now. I think it's called ... I think I called it "Love," actually. And it is quite funny in a very dark way, but it was so mean-spirited, and so dark, and so objectively awful in terms of subject matter and stuff like that. It really was designed to make everybody feel bad. Every kind of shipper Mulder/Scully shippers, Mulder/Krycek shippers, Mulder/Skinner shippers— there was something in there for everyone to hate. And once I wrote that story, I realized, I don't want to be here. There is nothing in here. I don't have any joy in this, anymore. And running this mailing list is sucking out every last bit of life and happiness I have. And I need to stop. So I took the first offer I could get from someone who wanted to take over the mailing list, and jumped ship. And I think I went directly to Due South fandom.
Oh, God; the Ray Wars. Jesus Christ. That was ridiculous. What you have to realize is that the Ray Wars are still quietly simmering Now. Still. Even years and years and years after the show has been canceled. I kind of think that the Ray Wars will still be going on when all of the actors are dead....
...they were just really damn passive-aggressive about [not allowing Ray-bashing]. I had to leave Serge; they were awful. They were awful. I hated Due South fandom....
(laughs) Oh, my God. In my experience, fandoms ... I learned the hard way that I needed fandoms where there were—where there was a large ensemble cast and lots and lots of ships. Because when there were just one, just two or three main ships, there was just going to be too many arguments, and too much drama, and I had to get the hell away from that.
But the Due South mailing lists were terrible! Not as bad as the X-Files mailing lists. I have to say the X-Files mailing lists—and I ran two of them myself for a good year-and-a-half; big, big ones—and I was constantly putting down flame wars, and kicking people off the list for starting shit, and calming people down, and explaining that, "No, if somebody wants to post a story without warnings then they can, and it's your responsibility to not fucking read it if you're not going to—if you don't want that kind of thing." That kind of shit. Stuff that shouldn't have to be repeated 900 times, but does. And the fighting was constant. And Due South wasn't that bad, but I still hated it more, because the people were ... Fake nice, I guess?
Yeah. It was all said with a smile. I can't, I can't handle that bullshit at all. If you want to stab me in the back at least snarl at me.I had many more Due South stories to tell, but I still couldn't stay in the fandom.
You could post anything [to UCSL, a Buffy list] so long as it was not canon. Het, slash, femme slash. As soon as it became canon, you couldn't post it anymore, but so long as it wasn't, you could post it so people were posting things like Oz/Tree. And ... Or Spike/Xander, back when nobody was writing that shit. And, uh, things—it was wonderful for me, because I have always been the kind of person who wanted to write a million pairings and write a million different alternate universes, and just sort of see where things go. And Buffy was a wonderful show for that, too, with the canon AUs. That was just ... I loved it. Of course, Buffy had a lot of failures, but I think that what people don't understand now, when they talk shit about Buffy, is how ground-breaking it was in the late '90s. And as a fandom, the archives were amazing!
Okay. I am going to tell you a story, but I can't — some of this has to be redacted. Because the only reason that I got into Smallville fandom was that a friend of mine actually was a writer for Smallville for that first season. And she specifically wanted me in that fandom writing Clark/Lex because, you know, the last time we shared a fandom was X-Files and she liked my Mulder/Krycek, and she was like, Te, I need you writing Clark/Lex porn. I need you to do this. Please drop whatever you're doing and watch this fucking show. And I wasn't going to do it because—believe it or not—I was never into super—Superman. Not really. You know? I was ... Of course, when I was a little girl, I was in love with...
Christopher Reeves—but who wasn't. But Superman wasn't my hero. And ... The idea of teenage Sup—a teenage Clark Kent? What the fuck? How boring is that? And throwing him together with a teenage Lex Luther? That was just so corny! But, you know, I watched the show because she was a friend of mine, and I said I would. And it was back in the days when I actually watched television. And there it was, and it was just so relentlessly gay....
There was HoYay! And there's a difference between homoerotic and relentlessly gay. And that show, in the first season, was relentlessly gay. So, yeah; that was ... Let's see what my archive says, there. First story written October 2001. That was when the first episode aired, and that was when I got into it.
[snipped]I watched about half of season two. I stopped watching because they fired my friend, and she was the best writer they had and the show sucked.
I have well over 600 stories. I cannot even begin to move them anywhere. Sometimes people complain about how Teland is organized, and I'm like, You are welcome to fix it. Here, take over. And then the complaints stop. But I—I—honestly, I don't have time. I really don't. I made a promise to friends of mine that I would always keep my archive going. That I would always keep an archive going somewhere, with all of my stories there. That all of my stories would be available somewhere. That they could be found, that someone would be able to get in touch with me and get them if they couldn't be found. And I have kept that promise. And I have every intention of keeping that promise for as long as humanly possible. And other than that, well, we'll see.
I couldn't believe that they managed to do that [create Archive of Our Own ]. I took a look at it and I was like, Holy shit, are they really going to do this? Did they really manage this? Does this really work? And I watched it afar for a while, and I was just blown away. You know? I am trying to describe my feelings for it. I actually teared up a little bit the first time that I heard about it, because it's something that we've needed as fans for so long. And something that was utterly impossible when I got here back in '98, and something that I didn't think anyone would ever do. And yet, there it is. And people are still working on it, and still trying, and still putting so much effort into it. And donating money, and time, and everything else. And people in all kinds of fandoms are using it and it's working. It's working. Not just technically, but socially. And I can't even ... It is so beautiful. It's just so incredibly beautiful.
back in, oh, I guess it was 2005 or so when Dan DiDio was formerly taking over the DC Company and doing terrible things— just terrible, terrible things—I saw which way the wind was blowing. You know, I had had a conversation with my comic shop guy. Wonderful guy. And I told him my philosophy of writing, and how I believed in that you shouldn't write any character that you didn't love, or at least respect, with all of yourself. And if you couldn't love and respect a character, you damned sure had no business writing them. And he said to me, "Te, comics are going to break your heart. Because these characters will never be anything more than commodities to the people who currently run DC Comics." And that didn't sink in right at the time. But then suddenly, they killed off Steph Brown, the character who had been the Spoiler and who had become the girl Robin, and I thought, Oh, shit; it's happening. And I tried to warn all of the people who I brought into the fandom with me. I tried to warn them, "Stop reading. You've got to stop reading. It's not going to get any better. It's going to get worse." They're like, Yeah, I know, I know; but I have to see what's going to happens next. And I was like, No, don't do it. And of course they kept reading. And of course, it did get worse. They killed off all of these wonderful characters, and did other terrible things, and my friends all got horribly bitter and ran screaming for other fandoms. And the fandom went from being a medium-size fandom to being very small. And I wouldn't say DC is dying as a fandom.
It's experiencing something of resurgence, but it's—It's never going to be—I don't think—as strong as it was in 2004. And, well, when you have the fact, when you have comic professionals like Greg Rucka actively quitting and saying, "I am leaving because DC doesn't care about their female fans, or female characters, or females, period," well, that's what you're going to get.And I don't know what to do anymore. Because in the old days, I could just move on. And it didn't mean as much. But now I can't; DC is where my soul is. And I'm not going to say that I'll never write; I'll never be in another fandom, because I don't—I never say never. But. I've got a teetering stack of bunnies waiting for me to pay attention to them. I just finished another 200,000-word novel, and I've got another novel in my head for the same fandom that is likely to be just as long.
I never could have imagined how happy I would become, you know. And, well, that's about it. With all of the ups and downs with fandom with all the flame wars, and all of the passive-aggression, and all of the entitlement, and all of the "this", the "that", and the "other"—and I have done a lot of bitching today—fandom is my world. If I could do nothing but give, but spend my world in fandom, I absolutely would. I dream of someday being rich enough to build a fannish compound and invite all my besties to live there with their dogs, and their cats, and their ferrets, and their fish, and their turtles, and their snakes. And also a sushi chef, and also a vegetarian chef, and there would be a bat signal on the roof, just in case. I dream of that, I really do; I want all my fandom friends to live together. I have long since stopped looking for lovers, or even casual fucks, outside of fandom, you know. I mean, okay, yeah, I've got three lovers now, so I'm not looking for anyone else. But even if I were I would not be looking for any outside of fandom. This is my world. This is my life.