OTW 10th Anniversary Chat with Seanan McGuire & Martha Wells

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Interviews by Fans
Title: OTW 10th Anniversary Chat with Seanan McGuire & Martha Wells
Interviewer: moderated by Sarah Loch for The Organization for Transformative Works
Interviewee: Seanan McGuire & Martha Wells
Date(s): September 17, 2017
Medium: online
External Links: Transcript for OTW 10th Anniversary Chat with Seanan McGuire & Martha Wells – Organization for Transformative Works, Archived version
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OTW 10th Anniversary Chat with Seanan McGuire & Martha Wells was a September 2017 chat with fans. It was conducted in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Organization for Transformative Works.

Some Topics Discussed


...what do you remember about fandom from back in 2007 — either the fans for your own work or regarding fandom in general?

MarthaWells: In 2007, I think I was on Live Journal, meeting a lot of new people and reading a lot of fanfic. Being able to socialize with a lot of different people online and easily read their fanfic and posts was still a bit new. Before LJ, I was reading web site archives and mailing lists, and before that, print fanzines. Having such a huge platform as Live Journal, with so many different fandoms represented on it, and so accessible, was very different.


SeananMcGuire: 2007 was way more tide pool-y. If you liked something, there was an archive just for it, and it was probably controlled by a clique of people who viewed their power as ultimate and their motivations as just, even if those motivations were, like, “in this archive SEASON 5 never HAPPENED and BOB is still ALIVE and if you imply OTHERWISE we will BAN you FOREVER.” And like, the fear of being banned from an archive was huge, because how else would you find readers? The last few paper ‘zines I followed/was involved with were dying, and everything was moving online, and I was terrified all the old fic would be lost forever in the tide. Also, tagging was a lot looser because “dramatic tension,” which no.

What specifically do you miss about the old LJ?

MarthaWells: All the people I met. We used to talk all the time, and now their scattered, or out of fandom. It was the same way when the big email lists went away.


Being able to control and curate the visibility of posts while also having a public “face.” I love my Tumblr, but it’s all or nothing, and the whole “going viral” performative aspect of modern social media means things get taken out of context and suddenly you have the world landing on your head because of perceived “problematic things.” It feels like we’ve started, as a community, to be more pro-censoring ourselves.

Moving on to some more positive aspects of fandom, what things have you been excited to see in recent years, either regarding fandom or work in your genre(s)?

MarthaWells: One thing is the popularity of audiobooks. MP3 players and iTunes and have made audiobooks so much easier to find and listen to, and I know it’s made reading possible again for a lot of people whose only free time is when they’re traveling or commuting to work. It’s been a huge benefit to writers and readers. And it’s been cool to see the number of people who are creating podfics and making those fanfic more accessible too.



I love that we’re getting a lot more people participating, in all levels. We’re seeing levels of diversity and discussion and inclusiveness in fandom and fanworks that are just dazzling. And we’re finally seeing full interrogation of the misogyny behind the idea of “Mary Sue” that I think are going to be so good and so healthy for authors of all backgrounds.

Another question for our authors: what were some of your early experiences like when your work gained its own fans?

MarthaWells: I think my favorite experience is seeing the fan art, and seeing fanfic from my books show up in Yuletide. That’s hugely exciting to see fanfic and fan art of your work, especially to someone who was a fan from way back in the print zine era.


The first time something I’d created showed up as a fandom option for Yuletide, I literally cried. Happy tears! But it was like, HOLY WHAT NO HOW OMG VIXY LOOK AT THIS DO YOU SEE THIS. It’s amazing. It’s still amazing. I can’t read any of the fanfic of my own work, but knowing it exists makes me so happy.