Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Via Ostiense

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Via Ostiense
Interviewer: Andrea Horbinski
Interviewee: Via Ostiense
Date(s): August 8, 2012
Medium: audio, print transcript
External Links: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Via Ostiense
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Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Via Ostiense was conducted in 2012 by Andrea Horbinski and archived at the University of Iowa Libraries.

This interview's medium is audio (length: 01:36:50), and it has a 49-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


Okay, so I got into online fandom, let me see it would've been around September or August of 2002. It was—the Harry Potter books had finally taken off in a big way, I don't remember if they'd had movies out by that point or not. Yeah, I think there had been a couple movies out. And you know there were all those quizzes, like the, online, like the "sort yourself into whatever House" quizzes?

And so I took one of them, and I don't even remember how I got the link, you know, those things were all over the place, even to non-fannish people. And the end result was like, you have been sorted into House Slytherin! And then, there was a link, you know, at the end of the quiz you got, there was a little JPEG of the House badge, and there was a link underneath. And I clicked the link, and it turned out to be to—gosh, I I think it was [Somniesperus's] fic, the NC-17 Harry/Snape. (HORBINSKI laughs; OSTIENSE laughs) And so I read this, and was like, Hmm, this is interesting. And I think there were links to the rest of the fic, from, to the rest of the series from there. I think it was the "Tea and Coffee" series, maybe it was by someone else—anyway. Yeah, and then I was like, So, this fan fiction thing, this is interesting. And I think at roughly around the same point, the Lord of the Rings movies must have been coming out by then. And somehow, I don't remember how, I got into the "Very Secret Diaries." And by some convoluted link-hopping around Cassie Clare's site I ended up at her Harry Potter fanfic. And then, being relatively innocent to these things, I googled "Harry Potter fanfic" and got sort of like, a whole bunch of really crap results. Yeah, and, but one of them ended up going to Schnoogle, the one—you know, Fiction Alley had this set of archives back then, think it was Shnoogle, and the Astronomy Tower, and Riddikulus, and something else.
I read Podficmeta, and I guess Paraka is a really big booster of podfic, and so this is, this may be why she runs into a lot of negative attitudes. But she and—. [In] Podficmeta and other podfic comms, people talk about, you know, the image of podfic as being somewhat strange, creepy, weird, things like that. And I have to say I've never run into it, but that's mostly because I don't bother to publicize it at all, and I don't really participate in discussions. And—but most of the people who I've—. Man, one thing that really bugs me though, is having to ask for permission, because I don't think people—I don't think—I mean, I may be wrong because I don't do fan art, but I don't think it's a common thing to ask for permission before you do fan art of a piece, is it? It's like, Ergh. I mean, I do it just because it's ... you know, considered etiquette these days, and like ... but it annoys me every time I have to send an e-mail and be like, Hey, so-and-so won an audio fic from me in an auction, and they would like this story, is that okay with you? And just like, if I were a fan artist, I could just draw something and then you would be gushing, even if it were a stick figure. Yeah. I've only gotten one "no", though. I mean, out of all the years I've been doing it, I've only gotten one "no", which was from someone who said she felt very ... possessive of her words and her characters—or very proprietary, I forget which word it was she used. And she wanted to keep control over them, so thank you for asking, but no. I mean, she was very polite about it. But I was just sort of like, Huh. It's just the only time anyone's ever said no. So people usually do say yes. But I'm annoyed that we have that, we hate, we're supposed to ask for permission as it is. Also, I think it's pretty rich for a fanfic writer to feel—to say that.

I think [the differences between being fannish about books as opposed to TV and film] depends on the kind of book,

because—and it depends on your relationship to it as well. Because when I write, or when I used to write in Harry Potter, I didn't have any trouble with it at all. But when I think about trying to write, I don't know, for Lymond, say, it's much harder, just because the quality of Dorothy Dunnett's prose is excellent, and ... and her writing has such a distinct feel, that it would—. I have a really hard time with the idea of writing something not in her voice, but at the same time her voice is so damn hard to emulate. So I end up not writing it for anything at all. Language also becomes an issue as well. Like, the language of the source medium. I was watching Coffee Prince last year, and it's in Korean, and I watch with English subtitles, but I sort of can understand like a quarter of what they say in Korean, as well. And, so all the characters speak in Korean, and when I try to write fic, I have to write it in English because I can't write it in Korean. It's—. I just don't have the vocabulary, or the—enough grammar. But it feels really bizarre writing them speaking in English. And so I feel like my dialogue comes out pretty stilted, and so I just sort of abandon the story part way through. And, oh, and recently I wrote a story for Volvió una Noche, She Returned One Night or She Came Back from the Dead One Night, which is an Argentinian play about a woman who comes back from the dead, and I wrote that in Spanish, and that was pretty straightforward. But I think if I tried to write it in English it would've also been a very odd experience.
On Dreamwidth I've found HP Beholder, which is a fic challenge, or—a fic exchange for rare pairings. And the premise is that love is in the eye of the beholder, so it's usually about people who are not considered conventionally attractive, and there tends to be a lot of really good fic. The type of stuff that I read has changed a lot. When I was younger, I liked school adventures, and Marauders-era stuff, and now that I've been working for a while, I really love the fics with the middle-aged crisis, where they're really bitter about working at the Ministry and they get divorced.