In Their Own Words: Deslea R. Judd

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Interviews by Fans
Title: In Their Own Words Interview with Deslea R. Judd
Interviewer: Megan Reilly
Interviewee: Deslea R. Judd
Date(s): March 2001
Medium: online
Fandom(s): X-Files
External Links: full interview is here; reference link
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Contents

Deslea R. Judd was interviewed in 2001.

It is a massive, massive interview(18,000 words) and covers many extensive topics.

The interview is prefaced by: "This interview took place over a year ago now, and in the time since then I have changed my views on many of the topics discussed. However, I hope you enjoy the interview and that it gets you thinking - it certainly did me. This was probably one of the most formative things I've ever done as a writer. -- Deslea"

Some Excerpts

I can usually be found at xdesign, the mailing list for x-artists; Glass Onion, an alternative fiction list; and a handful of other places. I maintain http://xfiles.deslea.com/, a suite of X-Files homepages including my fiction, X-Files art, X-Files music video, a huge supporting character image archive, and my jewel, Blondie's Ratcave, a 100MB website devoted to the pairing of Alex Krycek and Marita Covarrubias. My biggest online involvement is in X-Files fan fiction, which I've been sharing online since 1996. Beyond my present works-in-progress, I am involved in other creative XF-related projects. These include collaboration on The Time Magazine Mulder Project, which is a mockup edition of TIME in the light of the events of This Is Not Happening; contributing to Katie's forum The Truth Is A Bitch; compiling a Krycek/Marita anthology in eBook format; and collaborating with the 2001 Spooky Awards. I've had the honour of being recognised from time to time, which means a lot to even the most self-confident writer. In my case, I've had recognition as a Spookys finalist on three occasions, as well as B.I.T.T. and Fluffy Awards and a Wirerims nomination. I've been thrilled to be recommended by Primal Screamers, A Quiet Place To Read and Museans, as well. I'm a periodic contributor to alt.tv.x-files.creative; but I have an unfortunate habit of getting too involved in controversial discussions, so I try to keep my involvement there to a minimum. There are times in one's life when one must put sanity ahead of intellectual stimulation *g*.
As far as the X-Files goes... I watched it for about half the first season - when it came out here in Australia, it was starting to make waves in the US media - and then I sort of went off it. I can't remember why - it might have just been that there was something just as good on another channel. I started watching it sporadically around the time of Duane Barry, and got pretty interested in it then. It was about that time that I started buying the merchandise and all that. Then came the Anasazi trilogy, and that was just the last straw. To me, that trilogy has all the best elements of XF. There was no keeping me away after that. I did go off it a little in Seasons 5-7 - I got to a point where I only watched mythology episodes - but now with Doggett I feel the show has had a breath of fresh air. It's fantastic.
I understand [the X-Files mythology] better than many, and not as well as some. The mythology really only makes sense in the light of a lot of social disciplines - theology, morality, anthropology, sociology, biology. You can't make sense of the mythology without a sense of the world in which we live. The people who say they watch The X-Files, or write fanfic, for fun (rather than for some headier reason) - I'm not criticising that, in itself - but those people start off from the back foot in understanding the mythology. They may write very compelling angst or romance, or amusing humour; but I don't think they're equipped to write intriguing mythology. The mythology - and I'm about to draw another Stephen King parallel, I guess - the mythology is really eschatology - the end things, the final things about life and death and meaning amid the chaos of humanity in the universe. It's religious and humanistic and philosophical. It's heady stuff - and I guess that's why it spawns so much fanfic, far more than the other fandoms. JAG, Profiler, and The Practice all spring to mind as compelling, quality dramas; but there's maybe twenty small homepages of fanfic for all those shows combined. Contrast this with XF! The heady stuff of The X-Files draws the really smart people - the people who really think about things all the time. Those are the sorts of people who write. As time has gone on, Chris Carter and his crew have gone further and further into their theology and philosophy, and I think that's a strength. That said, I think it will eventually be the show's downfall, as the intellectual demands of the underlying philosophical exploration increase, and as the psychic toll of that introspection grows. Some say he's losing the viewers with his alleged mistakes with his characters; but what's really happening is that he's losing whole sections of the demographic with each intellectual rung he climbs. Every time he says, "The characters serve the story" - by replacing them or killing them off or whatever - he alienates people who care more for the characters than the story. I love the characters and I understand why that upsets people - I'm not saying they're wrong - but philosophically, anything about the future of humanity takes precedence over the individuals involved, and for myself, I agree with Carter in most of the hard choices he's been making. And most people don't want to engage with the story to a point where they can accept that truth. The truth is, most people who watch TV don't want to think about it on that level. That's unfortunate; but I guess it's a reality of the medium and how people use it.
I have to admit that I have a lot of issues with the shipper end of the fandom. Some of my best friends are shippers, as the saying goes; but I've gotten awful letters from shippers, especially during my Scully/Skinner days (and the Dipper writers I know now are getting even worse than I did). I would never have dreamed of criticising anyone for writing Mulder/Scully - though I do have a couple of friends I do keep asking to come over to the dark side *g* - but that courtesy has often not been extended back to me. Many of them seem very threatened by noromo fiction, and that puzzles me. I don't generally like reading MSR, or Krycek/Mulder, or many of the other pairings; but the existence of those writers and those works of fiction doesn't threaten me as a writer or a fan or a person. So I don't get that weird insecurity and rivalry that seems to exist. I have read interviews with shipper authors who basically have said, in only slightly nicer words, that you'd have to be pretty stupid not to buy into the MSR ship now; and as I've indicated above, I don't actually think that's the case. There is scope for the shipper POV - there always has been - but it's far from the only scope. To view the fanfic universe as MSR except for the odd aberrant few seems to me very shortsighted; worse, it's condescending and rude.
I think the fandom has gotten very insular and political. Back in '96, atxfc was really just about stories. The controversies happened, but they were rarer. I don't know - I mean people threw hissy fits even then, but they seem more common now, and they're nastier, too. One flame war I was involved in a year or so ago was about minors writing NC17 material. I'm pretty laid-back about that, actually, which is partly cultural - more on that issue later - but this flame war culminated with a person who is known for online unpleasantness saying, basically, that if I knowingly read NC17 fic written by a minor then I was a pedophile. I mean, that's pretty extreme stuff. For anyone, that's below the belt; and I'm a parent. I don't need anyone saying that about me in the public forum. What if I'd been in a custody battle at the time? That kind of reckless vitriol is just plain scary.

I think, too, that people have gotten a lot less generous in a number of ways. They send less feedback, less often. Readers won't break out of their preferred subgenres and try anything else the way they used to. There's more bandwidth stealing, and less co-operation between archivists. If someone asks for help on the newsgroup with a newbie question, no-one helps - people just jump on the ridicule bandwagon. Not long ago I was in an Ebay bidding war over a rare videotape of a movie staring an XF cast member. I wanted it to get video captures for my website. Well, I lost; but I recognised the winning bidder as a fellow webmaster. I wrote and asked if she'd dub me a copy at my expense. We move in the same circles but she didn't even have the decency to reply. A few years ago I wouldn't have even had to ask - the other webmaster would have offered. The website business has gotten competitive in some quite unfortunate ways. It serves no-one for us to be at each other's throats - after all, we're all in it for the same reason, aren't we?

I do think that webmasters and archivists are under a lot of pressure, and not only because it's a big job. The commercial pressures of finding reliable webspace are increasing, especially with the fall in internet stocks and NASDAQ's recognition that e-commerce isn't always good commerce. The gravy train has ground to a halt, and webmasters are faced with tough decisions if they want to provide good service delivery. I've moved several of my sites in the last year, especially the video ones. I finally gave up with Blondie's Ratcave and started paying for webspace, which is quite a lot for a 100MB website. I don't think there's enough recognition or support, and I don't think we're pulling together enough. And I don't think that our users really recognise what we go through, either. They think the Net is still pretty much a free lunch, and it just isn't. If you want more than 10MB of ftp-accessible webspace without handing over a license to your material, you really have to pay. That pressure comes from outside the fandom; but that then makes us less flexible in terms of what we do, and our users pick up on that. Then they get more demanding. Though fandom, itself, is still a communal endeavour, its statement and interaction is taking on very commercial overtones as a consequence of these pressures.