Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Therienne

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Therienne
Interviewer: Lisa Cronin
Interviewee: Therienne
Date(s): September 9, 2012
Medium: audio, print transcript
Fandom(s):
External Links: Fiction Oral History Project with Therienne
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Therienne was conducted in 2012 by Lisa Cronin and archived at the University of Iowa Libraries.

This interview's medium is audio (length: 1:59:26), and it has a written 55-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

Well, I've always watched science fiction stuff. Went to my first convention — although it wasn't a fan-run convention — in 1989. And I followed the Doctor Who chat in Usenet format when it was there. And I think the first fandom that I was really actively participating in, though, was Due South in the early '90's and late '90s. And I think I found that mainly through the mailing lists at the time. DueSouth-L and the other ones that came after it. And also through the web pages that were associated with those lists at the time.
I think I probably went looking for stuff online, and I made—I did make a lot of friends through fandom. A lot of them I still know. I mean ... I've been lucky in that I was wired in to the Internet really early. The university I went to, for 1988, was really ahead of the time. Every incoming freshman got a computer as part of their tuition, and also a phone line and a modem that was hooked up to a very raw version of the Internet.

[The mailing lists] were really active. They were really nice. They were pretty strict about their rules. Due South, in particular, because they had one of the show runners participating on that list had a "no fan fiction" rule that they would come own on you with an iron fist about, which is why it had to have a separate list for the fan fiction. I think his name was Scott, and he was one of the people behind the scenes who would answer questions at the time. And a lot of fandom back then was still in print format, so not everybody was on mailing lists, and the ... It cost a lot to have an internet account, so the rules were pretty tight about what you could do in your post, in terms of how many lines you'd put quotes and stuff like that when responding, so that you weren't using up peoples' bandwidth just to respond to an e-mail, and things like that. But there was a lot of good discussion and it was all centralized. You went to one place, and everybody was there. There was no one else—nowhere else to go. So you knew you were participating in all of the discussions that were happening.

[snipped]

[Having a mailing list for fic and one for discussion] changed, because Due South had a lot of problems as a fandom. And other—And it started to fragment as it got easier to get mailing lists later on. But, for example, Due South started out with one main list for discussions, and then it sprouted a second list for fan fiction. The owner of that list was in Australia, and back at the point at which people started posting things she didn't like—which was anything with curse words or that took the Lord's name in vain—she started to get a little crazy. And as a result, people got a little crazy back at her, and she shut the list down dead. And she just killed it. And James, who had her own server at the time—I think it was JBX—sort of saved things by coming in and offering new mailing lists. So when people objected to there being slash on the new list, she broke it out even further and offered slash mailing lists as well. So it moved on. Due South moved away from the original location for fan fiction and it moved over to the server that James was offering...

But James has been around forever, and at one point, her lists were very important, in that they let Due South fan fiction continue after that list owner just crushed fan fiction lists because the people were using ... And I mean, and of course when she did that, everybody started naming their characters "Jesus" and doing all sorts of things just to piss her off because they weren't happy with her. Because she was basically telling them what they could and could not put in their stories. It didn't go very well.

Well, [fandom] was more centralized. It was more ... Slash was not as accepted. The fact that we broke out the list the way we did when we moved the fan fiction list. But also for a long time, this idea that you would have a single archive that would have both the slash and the gen on it was not okay with people. Which was why for a very long time, we—the Due South archive was two archives. It was an archive that had everything at one URL, and then at another URL, it had everything except the slash. Which meant for a really long time, we were not only hand-archiving everything and creating web pages and doing all that, but we were doing it twice. Once with everything, and once with certain links cut out. And that was a pain. In addition to that, we had an FTP mirror of everything. So we were creating the stuff in HTML and also in text files. Did not yet have the ability to get to web pages. So, I mean, we've had, we had three basic sites: the FTP mirror, the Due South gen, the Due South slash. And when I finally said—I don't know when, [in] the late '80s—I have had it, and you're just going to have to cope with one archive with warnings on it, I got a lot of people who were angry at me. That I would do this, and ... I remember, I think they started their own site, called Fraser's Library, which had really strict rules, again, about what kind of content you could put on there. The fact that it had to be family-friendly. In the spirit of the show—which they thought meant nothing higher than PG-13 and stuff like that. So I mean ... And I did that. It was impossible to keep doing that many pages.

[snipped]

Right now, it seems like anything goes, and it's not shocking. But then it was sort of upsetting to people that all that stuff would be in the same place.

[snipped]

The things that you take for granted right now. Like an archive where you check the ratings. It wasn't there yet. People expected to be able to go to a certain site and not see any of that. And that was hard. It was hard enough that I only did, like, took care of the archive for three to four years before I had to hand it off to somebody. And we automated it before I went. We had to involve a lot of volunteers in that, because every single story in the archive—which was, I don't know, maybe 1,200 or 1,300 at that time—had to be reimported. And that was just a pain. But we got everything over to the automated site before I went, and then I think I handed it off to Elaine. And it was still hosted at Hexwood for a long time, because that had the space, and whatever. I just gave her access to the site and let her have control of it.
[Sentinel fandom] was bigger, it was a little more fighty. I mean, Due South had a lot of issues. It some real flame wars in the convention. [Unintelligible] was its own flame war. Sentinel pushed it further. The fandom had a lot more people involved with it, had a lot more fan fiction. And it had a lot more push-back, I think, about critique. People wanted to be able to critique stuff there—both the fan fiction and say what they really thought. And when people had a problem with that, it caused a list split of its own. From SENAD, which actually being hosted on my server at the time, to Prospect-L, which was created as a Yahoo! Group—it might've not originally been a Yahoo! Group, I'm not sure what that was called before it was Yahoo!, but it was something else—because there was this attitude of "Play nice." And not everybody thought that saying what they really thought wasn't necessarily playing nice. They just wanted to have the ability to do it. But there was a breakout there too. There were slash and gen mailing lists, and I actually ran the gen mailing list, which was called Senfic, along with a friend of mine named Holly. So that was ours for a long time, and then the slash was different, the discussion list was different, and there were a couple of private mailing lists as well, that people didn't know about, where they could even be more free than what they were saying, because they wanted to be able to talk about the stuff they didn't like. And there's always some push-back and resistance, when you're actually talking honestly about what you think about the story on a mailing list, where people want you to be nicer because the authors are there and listening in.
By Senfic, everybody had a website, pretty much. I mean, I did with ... By the time it got along with Due South, people had websites. Even some people had posts and just hosted on the archive at first, but a lot of people had—it was only a few years before people could get free website places or ask a friend to host them. Like I said, I hosted a bunch of people, and by Sentinel, people were doing what most people did, which was to have their own website with their fiction on it, but also host it and put it in the archive or ask the archive to link to them. Most archives had a page that a page that was links back to peoples' website if for some reason, they didn't want to have it on the archive. I know Due South certainly had everything that was sent to them, but they also had a list of links back to websites so people could take it, and a lot of people joined web rings so that you could usually just follow along the loop to find everybody's web page. And I don't think web rings were very successful or lasted very long, but they were there for a while in case you needed to join one and follow it backwards.
SG-1 was probably my next big fandom that I followed and joined lists, and right at the time people had just started to move to LiveJournal. And SG-1 was also a big fandom. Around the time I went to one of my first fannish conventions, which was Escapade. And at Escapade, we saw what was our real vid show. Because while we had been— I take that back. I'd been to EclectiCon, I think, before that, which was in New Jersey. But there really wasn't any comparison with regards to the way they ran a vid show. Whereas at Escapade, you had a vid show that was really, really dedicated to vids and feedback, and in a darkened room that was a theater style, and then had vid review afterward, and that was really enlightening for us. And we stuck around in Stargate for the vids as well as the show, because that taught us a ton of stuff that we had never seen before. So I would say, Stargate was our next big thing, and we were there for quite a while.
I think that Escapade—maybe our second or third Escapade we went, and there was a great Stargate vid, and I was thinking about the things we had done, and sitting next to me was—at one of the convention rooms—was Astolat. And she whipped out her laptop and just started ordering computer parts online, and I said, "What are you doing?" And she said, "I'm building a vidding computer." And I was like, "I don't think you can just do that." And she said, "I can." So she had her vidding computer built, like, in a week, and had started vidding. It took me, like, eighteen months to put together my vidding computer and figure out how everything worked and try to start vidding and get stuck thirty seconds in, and call up my friend—who was Sandy Herrold— to say, "I'm just stuck." And she flew here to the—You know. She flew here, and she visited for, like, five days, and had never actually used a computer for vidding before, because she was a VCR vidder. But she showed me what I should be doing in terms of what clips I should be choosing.
So we had seen vids before, like I said—you went somewhere like EclectiCon, it was a really different experience. Where basically they had a TV set up in a con suite, and vids running all day while people talked over them. Or if you went to Escapade and had a darkened theater room where people play the vid and give you thirty seconds to write down your notes about it and then moved onto the next vid. In that way ... And then the next day went through and had a review of vids that they felt had been particularly successful. Went through the vids and showed you what the vidder had done and why it had worked for them or hadn't worked for them—which, you know, we had no clue. We watched these vids and they were pretty pictures, and then the next day, they showed them to us, and then we were like, Oh, this is what they were actually doing. This is what point of view is, and this is how we know how to watch it. And before that, we really didn't know what we were doing. But that taught us a lot, so we were able to start doing it ourselves. And, I mean, that was pretty brave at the time. Vid review doesn't need to have those things anymore because people understand them now. But at the time, we didn't.
I put out You Pay, and Pay, and Pay which was a Due South gen zine. And then later on, I put out Crossroads, which was a Sentinel slash zine. So ... And they're at least under my real first name. I'm not sure if I put my last name in them. I don't think I put my last name in them. I think I used, usually, just went by my first name—but my first real name in those zines. So I've just—do two zines at the time, because I was trying my hand at that. Zines were a really ... When I found zines, it was like, Oh my God, if I give somebody money, they'll send me fandom. And the stuff in zines was generally higher quality. It was better edited, it was worth the money. It was nice; you had it all printed up in beautiful, wonderful format. For a while there—and I don't really think about this stuff much any more, but I guess for a while there, there was a time when I would go through and find the stories I really liked online and put them in Word, format them so that they looked better, and then just print them out, just print them in book format for myself and keep them for as long as I need. I've still got some of those. I've got a very small section of zines that I've held onto. I've got a couple of the ones that I created myself. I only kept the ones that were really well done. There were a lot of crappy zines I saw along the way.

References