Hatstand Express Interview with Fanny Adams
|Interviews by Fans|
|Title:||Hatstand Express Interview with Fanny Adams|
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In 1988, Fanny Adams was interviewed for The Hatstand Express #16.
For others in this series, see Hatstand Interview Series.
Hello. My name is Fanny Adams. (No it's not.) Hello. My name is Araminta Carrington. (No it's not.) Hello. My name is Dargelos, Purdence Phynagle (half of same, at least), Aramooska Carrington...and on and on. If there's anyone out there who doesn't know who I really am, they're not going to find out here.
If I might explain once and for all about the name Fanny Adams: so many people have asked why I picked that name. (One lady asked 'that's not her real name, surely?') When I began writing in this fandom, there was some fuss about Americans writing Brit characters. Well, I'd been through the other pole in S/H fandom in which some Yanks decided that Brits couldn't really write American characters. (And if Terri Beckett and Chris can't write S&H, nobody can!) I thought it was petty in S&H and I saw no reason to change my mind in this fandom. Fanny Adams was a lady whose husband chopped her into little pieces at about the same time the British navy introduced tinned, chopped meat as part of sailor's rations. With typical black humor, the sailors immediately dubbed their new rations "Fanny Adams." This eventually became synonymous with something that was worthless which is what some Brits thought of American B/D, but in another form, as "sweet Fanny Adams" or "sweet f.a." it means (politely) "nothing at all" which is what I thought of the criticism in the first place. Frequently, my opinion of the whole situation was impolite.
"The Need" was the first Pros story I ever read. Yes, I still like it. You always have a soft spot for your first. Anyway, I think it's a fascinating idea. I remember those earlier stories(even the ones that weren't so hot) much more clearly than the vast bulk of the stuff I've been reading for the last year or so.
I came to Pros from Trek via S&H. In each case, a relationship drew me into the fandom, and what held me was the freshness of what was being said about that relationship (either by me or by others). When I begin to read or write the same old stuff in any fandom, I pack it in. When I left Trek, most of what was being produced was the 'whips and chains' fiction which turned me right off. As for S&H, though I no longer write it, I do still read it. There are a lot of new writers working in that fandom, and the stories are still interesting. I still have a few things I want to say in B/D. Oddly enough, in the process of reading over some old stories, I encountered a snippet of what was to be part of the third draft of "All Our Worlds in Us," and realized that it would make a nifty short story. It won't leave me along and I have the feeling that I may be writing a bit more S&H soon. I don't think that genuine enthusiasms ever leave you entirely.
[My first reaction to the idea of B/D]: I assume you mean the sexual relationship and not just the show and
characters? I thought "Hot damn, these two bodies are nice together!" Slash has never been a problem for me since I was into K/S fandom back in '76. Then I got into S/H and finally B/D. No, I'm not one of those fans who sees a 'relationship' every time two men are on the screen together, and to be perfectly honest, I no longer believe in K/S since I realized (it was one of those awful moments of truth) that I'd spent about four years appending other faces and bodies to the names Kirk and Spock. I wasinvolved in the gay rights movement back in college (am I an old hippie or what?), and I've had a fascination for same sex relationships for as long as I can recall. The only reason why I haven't written f/f within fandom is because most fans would dismiss the subject entirely. I'll do it one day, though.
I can't help but feel that the writers who find the less appealing character easier to write are writing themselves. It's a nifty way to sort through some of your less appetizing traits. I used to do that with Hutch. While I preferred Starsky, I found Hutch much easier to write because I was writing all the things I knew about myself. Consequently, my Hutch had a very murky side to him.... To some degree every character created by a writer is that writer. You create out of your own experience. Yes, my characters are me; some more than others. People who know me really well will tell you that Colette from "Cat Tales" is the real me. (Unplanned, I assure you. It was something of a shock to me when people started talking about the self-portrait.) But I think I identify less with my characters than I used to, and so am able to write a little more objectively. I still write my faults as well as my virtues (such as they are) into my characters, but I try to do it consciously and selectively, making those characters less bits of myself and more whole, rounded characters.
I guess I write because I have something to say, and because I have ideas that I want to see explored. If some other writer was producing all the stuff I want to read I wouldn't have to write B/D. Isn't fandom mainly [wish fulfillment]], after all? Writers write what they want to read, particularly within fandom, and non-writers have to make do with what comes down the pike. I think it's amazing that so many of the non-writers are satisfied with what they have to read.
What was the first B/D story I wrote? Pause for a quick search through the files. Oh, yeah, "Thru with the Two Step" under the name Dargelos, which is what I wrote under in S&H fandom. I think it was way out of character. I wrote it after reading the stories that Robbie loaned me, and I guess I was writing my interpretations of other writers' interpretations. Not the best situation to work from. Not only have I reread it since I wrote it, I've rewritten it. It appeared in Code 7 iii as "Crying for the Moon" under the name Fanny Adams. I think there are some copies of "Two Step" floating around on the circuit...to my everlasting chagrin.
I like to write relationship stories. By that I mean, I like to write stories about how people relate to each other. My plots tend to be awfully internal, and it takes a major effort for me to remember to toss in some action from time to time. I like to read fantasies, but I haven't gone much past Cat Tales in that area. I am at work on a vampire story which was supposed to be in Code 7 v, but which will go on the circuit now that the zine has been canceled.
A type of story that I [still] want to write? Sure, lots. But if you mean strictly within this fandom, then I'd have to say that I've done almost everything I want to do. I guess that's why I'm concentrating on secondary characters so much lately. I like having a fannish audience for my work because the feedback is more immediate. And since every fan has an opinion, I hear things I don't think pro writers hear. I like being able to have contact with my readers because it enables me to sit down with them at cons and such, and talk. I love to talk.
I've detected ambivalence on the part of some writers to the subject of homosexuality. In particular, I find that some writers think It's okay for B&D to be lovers, but they'd nevemevemevernever allow the remotest possibility of sex with another male to even speculate about crossing their minds. Now, I know that some people are motivated by a romantic ideal and don't ever want to see these two guys look at another human being again, world without end, amen. Not realistic, but sort of understandable. What bothers me is a vague suspicion that there are a whole lot of other writers who find homosexuality sort of icky. After all, homosexuality is being...queer, isn't it? And queers are effiminate and they have nasty diseases from doing gross things, don't they? And our boys would never do things like that, would they? Ladies, grow up. Labels are just so much bullshit. If you're involved with a member of your sex, even if it's the only time this has ever happened to you, you are involved in a HOMOSEXUAL relationship. What that makes you is entirely up to you.
I take criticism surprisingly well, and even if I disagree, I find that it's important to hear what readers think. One of the nicest things that can be said about a story is that a reader learned something from it, or found some comfort or happiness in it.
[Do you have an urge to write a "straight" story?] By 'straight' I'm assuming you mean that neither Bodie nor Doyle has a yen for his partner. Yes? Okay, no, I have no desire to write a straight story within strict boundaries of this fandom. When I deal with BSD, I want to deal with the way they are bound up together. I just don't think I could write a story in which the subject of sexual feelings between the two of them doesn't arise. I can write them as having had, and still having, relationships with women; satisfying relationships, intense relationships, but at the same time this sexual tension that exists between them must always be acknowledged. But just as visual erotica doesn't require nudity, written erotica doesn't require a sex scene, and the subject of sexuality can be raised without ever dealing with what people are doing with their pelvic areas. Consequently, I consider "/" anything that acknowledges that tension, even if there is no sexual contact.
[How have Pros stories changed over time?]: This one is difficult because I don't think that there has been a clear time-progression within the circuit. When we first started reading B/D, there was a backlog of several hundred stories that bad been circulating within a very small group of fans for several years. Until fairly recently, we've been getting a mixture of new stories from experienced writers, new stories from brand new fans and stories that have been lying around in slush piles for ages. I find that just lately things have slowed down dramatically. Original ideas are harder to find simply because so much has been done already. Fans are notorious for writing first time stories and there are only so many ways two people can decide to have sex together. I don't think time has been a factor to fanlit in general so much as it has been to certain writers in particular. Take Lainie Stone for example. Though her early work is sometimes awkward, if I could turn out first drafts like the ones she produces these days, I could die happy. Then there are people like Marion Kelly who couldn't turn out a bad story if you held a gun to her head. I suspect she's always been that good. The author of "Bishopen Op" had a shakey start (fascinating idea, but awkward characterization of B&D, due, I expect, to her lack of familiarity with the characters), but is really becoming a first-rate writer of B/D. Unfortunately, I've also seen the opposite occur. A fan starts out with some wonderful ideas and decent writing skills. Then she works the ideas to death in story after story. Eh, but when you're just writing for fun, it really doesn't make any difference, does it?
Reactions and Reviews
I found the writer profile on "Fanny" fascinating. I've known the lady for years, but there was so much more here than I'd ever thought to ask. So much I agree with, so much I feel I learned, so much to encourage us all... Fanny knows how much I enjoy the body of her work. It was interesting to me to learn which stories she herself enjoys most and least. I want to reassure her that I was very impressed with "What The Thunder Said" even though it is very painful, because it is also encouraging. As romantic as the notion of killing oneself after the death of a loved one might be, learning to live is harder. Accepting that Bodie would not uant Doyle's life wasted is a burden he takes on and manages, and there is enough loving magic to ease the pain for us all. 
- from [R K] in The Hatstand Express #17