Hatstand Interview with Brenda Antrim

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Hatstand Interview with Brenda Antrim
Interviewer: Metabolick
Interviewee: Brenda Antrim
Date(s): September 2010
Medium: online
Fandom(s): The Professionals
External Links: interview is here, Archived version
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Contents

A 2010 interview with Brenda Antrim is at The Hatstand.

For others in this series, see Hatstand Interview Series.

Some Excerpts

Hi! I'm bren, and I'm a fandom butterfly/slash slut. I started writing fan fiction in 1992 and haven't stopped, though I've slowed down considerably. I like pretty, conflicted men with tortured histories and (preferably) dark, dangerous partners and/or nemeses. I hate men written as women, only like them as elves when they're born that way, and have a weakness for chains and blood. My best friends are fans... fandom keeps me as close to sane as I get.
My pseuds include glacis, seeker, and sue castle (the Pros stuff is under sue castle). Last count was 345 stories in 58 fandoms in eighteen years (I had to convert them all to put them up in Archive of our Own, so I counted. Gack.)
Doyle's arse. The blazing hot chemistry between the two men. This is what always attracts me to characters that I then write. If I'm going to go nuts over stories I read mysteries. To inspire me to write, slash requires men-tinder, and Pros had it in buckets... I like both of them, but physically I prefer Doyle, and I also like the backstory they've given him more than Bodie's -- I feel like it gives me more to play with that I can actually write (angst-ridden cop I can write... mercenary in Africa, not so much).
[Story ideas] find me... they pop up out of the woodwork like rabid rabbits, then start whispering backstory and detail and 'this is how it started' and 'this is what influenced it' and 'oooh, tie this in too' and 'tie him up, it'll be fun' and next thing you know, bingo, story. It's been that way from the start, and I doubt it will ever change. Unlike some, who view fan fiction writing as a training ground, I don't actively seek to develop or improve anything whilst I'm writing. I leave that for my academic and technical writing. Fan fiction is the place where I can get away from my perfection-seeking Superego and simply enjoy myself letting my Id out to play.
If the story calls for it, the story should have sex. If it doesn't, it shouldn't. I've always felt that way. It sounds simple, but it's the problem I have with smarm (as an example). If a story is a romance/love story between consenting adults, fucking is part of the equation. Stories that do everything but have sex in them feel like a cheat. On the other hand, some people have a problem with pure smut. I don't. You can have sex in your story. You can also have sex BE your story. I like it either way, as long as it's organic within the story, not grafted onto it (or censored out of it). What I don't like are 'laundry list' stories: put tab A in slot B, one finger-two finger-three finger-thrust, time for the condom public service announcement, okay, now where were we? Oh right, in the middle of chasing a bad guy. I give a double-take and drop right out of the story. I also don't like 'any two guy' stories. For someone who is primarily (even purely) attracted to the unique characters, there is nothing more insulting than a story that is so featureless the men literally could be anyone.
I don't write for the message, seldom even write for the plot -- I write for the characters. Many times the characters have to go through painful or difficult situations, but I'm not trying to say anything about the situation or send a message, I'm trying to look at a character through a particular prism. I'm a feminist, but I'm not a feminist writer, for example; my characters may be raped, as another example, but I'm not concentrating on the idea that rape is awful, I'm concentrating on WHY he was raped, and WHAT happened to him afterward, and HOW he and his partner cope, that sort of thing. I usually find message stories boring, because they feel preachy to me. However, I do notice recurring themes in my stories -- not because the theme is particularly important to me, but because it's so interesting to see what happens to different characters when that situation happens to them. The only thing I try to communicate is a good story, an interesting story, a sexy story, a sad story -- something particular to those characters.
I don't evaluate feedback. I appreciate it, but I don't ask for it. I don't particularly like it, because it takes time away from writing to respond to it. I really dislike 'polly-wanna-cracker' feedback ('great! Write more!'). I appreciate thoughtful feedback, complimentary or critical, because it shows that the story worked for the reader, one way or another. However, when I finish writing a story, I'm done with it. It's over and I'm on to the next one. So feedback is essentially moot. I shake my head when I read notes from authors saying they'll only write more if they get reviews -- what's the point? They either have a story to tell, or they don't. If they do, they should write the damned thing. If they don't, they should bugger off and paint a picture or watch TV and stop wasting my reading time (can you tell I hate unfinished stories?).
I even wrote fan fiction before I knew about fandom... I wrote a Deep Space Nine story before I realized anyone else even wrote fan fiction (hey, it was 1992). I didn't know zines existed. My exposure to fandom was science fiction conventions and organized fan clubs; I had no idea there were groups of fans who got together without having to buy a ticket to an event. I got on a BBS and asked if anybody was interested in reading about Julian Bashir's alternate back story as a prostitute. Ka-Boom -- welcome to fandom. However, I've never gotten into a fandom via fan fiction. I have to like the source, or I'm not interested in the by-product -- because that's what we do -- if we do it right -- we create a by-product of a media source. If we're not doing that, we're writing original fiction and calling it fan fiction, and that's a drag.
[Regarding someone else rewriting an ending or doing a sequel, unauthorized or with permission of one of my stories]: I do it all the time, only the writers I'm rewriting get paid for their stories... I don't care if someone wants to write a story based on something I've written. I'd like it if they told me, because I'd be interested in seeing what ideas they came up with from what they read. I DO care if they copy wholesale from my story and stick it in theirs -- that's not rewriting, that's plagiarism, and it pisses me off. That's happened a few times, and I've registered complaints with archives and had the stories removed. But using my story as a springboard? Hey, go ahead, dive in. The one time I wrote a sequel to another person's story (in X Files), I did ask for permission beforehand. Just like when I wanted to scan a fan art piece, I called the artist and asked for permission. It's only polite.