OTW Guest Post: Una McCormack

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Interviews by Fans
Title: OTW Guest Post: Una McCormack
Interviewer: Claudia Rebaza
Interviewee: Una McCormack
Date(s): September 13, 2018
Medium: online
External Links: "OTW Guest Post: Una McCormack". Archived from the original on 2018-11-22.
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OTW Guest Post: Una McCormack is a 2018 interview done as part of a series. See OTW Guest Post.

Some Topics Discussed

Some Excerpts

How did you first get into fandom and fanworks?

My first exposure to fandom was at a very young age: my (much) older sibling was a fan of the 1970s BBC science fiction programme Blake’s 7, and went to several conventions when it was still on air (circa 1979). I was seven or eight at the time. My sibling brought back a pile of zines, which I have to this day. I loved reading these stories: it really blew my mind that these characters that I loved could continue having adventures off-screen. I started drawing my own comics, stick-man cartoons based on Blake’s 7. This turned into fiction when I was about 16 or 17. There was some pretty heartfelt poetry at the time too.

I got online in the early 90s (I met my other half through a university Doctor Who bulletin board, but that’s another story…), and from around the mid-90s I was very involved in online discussion and fanfiction groups, particularly Blake’s 7, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and, later, Tolkien fanfiction groups. I got onto LiveJournal in the early 2000s. So I feel like fandom has always been a part of my life, in one way or another, for nearly 40 years now.

You are active in several areas: creating fanworks, being an academic, and also having published tie-in novels. How did the novels come about?

The novels came about by chance rather than design. I’d been writing fanfiction for ages, mostly Blake’s 7, and mostly posting on private mailing lists or publishing in paper zines (anyone remember them?). In the late 90s, I started to watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and went looking for new online forums where I could post my fanfiction. I found a usenet group (anyone remember them?!), and started posting stories there.

Then I got an email out of the blue from someone introducing himself as the editor of the Star Trek books range at Pocket Books. He was looking for new writers to produce stories in advance of the anniversary of the show’s first transmission (2003). My fiction had been recommended to him, so he was inviting me to pitch. That pitch eventually became my novel Hollow Men, which is a story set during a very popular and striking episode of ST:DS9, ‘In the Pale Moonlight’.

What fandom things have inspired you the most?

Not to get sentimental, but fandom has given me some of my very best, oldest, and dearest friends. Being a fannish teenager in a girls’ convent school before the internet was pretty rubbish, to be honest: “Did anyone watch Star Trek last night?!” “No.” Finding people who read the same texts as I did, in the way that I did, who liked to tell stories about them, and debate them in interesting and serious ways –- that’s been a huge gift.

My most sustained involvement with fandom was when I was doing my PhD, in the late 90s/early 2000s. Fandom provided the intellectual stimulus and community that my graduate study wasn’t really delivering, educating me in feminism, queer theory, reception studies, etc. My numerous beta readers over the years pushed me to write, encouraged me to write better, taught me how to work with editorial advice, and did all the groundwork to enable me to write for a living. I really did find my gang.