OTW Guest Post: Agnese Pietrobon

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Interviews by Fans
Title: OTW Guest Post: Agnese Pietrobon
Interviewer: Claudia Rebaza
Interviewee: Agnese Pietrobon
Date(s): May 3, 2018
Medium: online
External Links: "OTW Guest Post: Agnese Pietrobon". Archived from the original on 2018-05-08.
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OTW Guest Post: Agnese Pietrobon is a 2018 interview done as part of a series. See OTW Guest Post.

Some Topics Discussed

  • Fanheart3, an Italian cultural association dedicated to fans and founded in 2014
  • sticking up for fanworks and acafandom in Italy
  • the OTW

Some Excerpts

How did you first get into fandom and fanworks?

I discovered fandom before I knew what the word fandom meant! When we were kids, me and my friends used to reenact scenes from movies and shows. We loved to try and give them different endings: Star Wars, movies with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill… Then, in high school, my best friend and I used to share a journal where we wrote self-insert stories where our fictional selves met Backstreet Boys (embarrassingly normal for adolescents) and Kevin Spacey (embarrassingly not normal at 15 years old).

It wasn’t until years later that I realized those were fanfictions (and NC-17 rated, too). In my defense, the Internet was still something very, very new at the time, and living in a small town in Italy did not give me access to fanzines or similar media. So being a fan for me mostly meant these things, and collecting pics from magazines, or watching and re-watching VHS while analyzing every expression my favorite characters wore, while sharing all of this with the people I had around.

It was only when I started reading the Harry Potter books, though, that I finally gave a name to the things I was doing: I joined a blog dedicated to this fandom where I could chat to no end with other people about our favorite ships and about my absolute conviction that Snape was Harry’s father. Only 4 books had been published at the time, so we spent a lot of time discussing theories and ideas.

At some point someone started sharing what they called fanfictions. And that was it. A whole new world of possibilities… it was amazing! So two years and tons of slash fanfictions later, I decided to write my bachelor thesis on fanfictions. From then on, I could not stop studying fanworks.

You’re involved with creating a fanfiction convention in Italy. Will it be the first such convention? What sort of challenges have you faced?

When we opened fanheart3 one of the first questions we asked ourselves was: “What kind of events would we like to experience, as fans, but which are not available around us?”. And what we really, really wanted was an event entirely dedicated to fanfictions. So we decided to organize ficsIT, which is both a writing contest and a convention on fanfictions. The writing contest will be closed by the time this interview will be published (it closed on 31st March), while the convention will take place in Padua later this year, on the 3rd of June. A jury of experts on fanfictions will choose the best stories and award the first three prizes during the convention. On that day panelists from around Italy will also join the con to talk about the origin of fanfictions, fanfic genres, and some specific themes like new masculine identities created through this type of fanworks (all panels will be in Italian).

Ironically, one of the initial challenges was how to name this event. After some intense discussion, we opted for ficsIT: it plays with the expression “fix-it” (a tag often connected to fanfictions) and at the same time the “IT” is a reminder of the Italian setting in which the convention will take place. I must admit the main challenge is still ongoing, though. While we found some very enthusiastic and interesting people ready to talk at the convention, we are currently (March 2018) experiencing some difficulties receiving fanfictions for the writing contest: maybe because of the challenging theme, metafandom (in other words, fanfictions where characters are fans of something themselves), or maybe because it’s a first edition. Anyway, I have to say that the works that have been sent to us are incredibly good, and gratifying to receive too. There are some incredible ideas behind those fanfictions, so this is a good moment to thank those who took the time to write them!

What fandom things have inspired you the most?

More than fandom things, fans themselves have been of great inspiration to me. I love the fact that we share this attitude of “not judging a book by its cover” (literally, sometimes). Yes, there is a story, and yes, it has already been written by someone else. But this is not all there is to it. I can read more behind it, I can see more than what is in front of me. I can add to it my own interpretationand, in doing so, make the story more than the sum of its parts.

It’s amazing, if you think about it, the kind of depth it requires to be a fan. You see a character acting a certain way and you don’t just accept it, like anyone else would do. You ask yourself questions. A lot of them (sometimes too many of them!). Why does this character act like that? What do I learn from their actions? Are they coherent with what I know about this character? And if not, what could justify them? In trying to find answers you use your brain and your heart, and you really get involved in everything that is happening. So maybe we overanalyze things, but we also put all of ourselves into our passions and we are not afraid to be seen as outsiders, by other people, because of it. That’s something that I can’t help admiring and being inspired by, because it constantly reminds me that, to love and understand something, you cannot watch it from a comfortable position. You need to get close to it, work for it and really, really look.