Old School X Interview: Sophia Jirafe

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Old School X Interview: Sophia Jirafe
Interviewer: Lilydale
Interviewee: Sophia Jirafe (sophia_helix, sophiahelix)
Date(s): December 1, 2020
Medium: online, Tumblr
Fandom(s): The X-Files
External Links: at lilydalexf; archive link
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Old School X Interview: Sophia Jirafe was conducted by Lilydale as part of the series Old School X Interview Series.

Some Topics Discussed

  • posted her first fic in 2000
  • origin of her pseud
  • fans of different ages sharing spaces

From the Interview

What do you think of when you think about your X-Files fandom experience? What did you take away from it?

It was my first fandom, discovered when I was 17 and searching for info about the show on the school library computer, and it really shaped my whole life! I met a lot of people I still know today (mostly in non-fannish venues like FB, though I do still have some connections in fandom), and learned a lot about writing and just life generally, since I was younger than most of fandom at the time.

Social media didn’t really exist during the show’s original run. How were you most involved with the X-Files online (atxc, message board, email mailing list, etc.)?

I started off on a tiny forum at a website called Squirrel’s Nest, but I kept seeing people thanking Scullyfic in fic headers and eventually I was able to join the mailing list (which was capped to 500 members). Scullyfic was everything to me — I made friends, betas, discussed the show, learned about all kinds of things on Off-Topic Fridays, etc. A lot of those friends, I would email with or more often chat on AIM (individual or these sprawling group chats that would go on all day), and then at the end of 2001 we started migrating to Livejournal. I was getting into Buffy more by then, but it was still mostly the same crowd of people I knew from Scullyfic.

What did you take away from your experience with X-Files fic or with the fandom in general?

I feel like it started me on a whole life path really — finding that my deep obsession with fiction could be channeled like that and shared with other people, as well as deepening my writing. Online fandom has been a major part of my social life for over 20 years now, and I love the mix of getting excited about things with friends and also the creative outlet.

My corner of X-Files fandom in particular was just very calm and enjoyable for the most part, full of older professional women who were happy to be friends and give me advice about all kinds of things, and it really set the bar for me with my online interactions. Now I’m almost 40 and trying to be that person for my younger friends, as well as having no patience for toxicity and in-fighting in my fandom spaces.


Were you involved with any fandoms after the X-Files? If so, what was it like compared to X-Files?

So many! None of them had quite the same combination of excellent central architecture (especially pre-AO3) and a really high level of discussion and friendliness without being enormous, but I’ve loved them all in their own ways. I’ve done fandom on LJ/DW, Tumblr, Discord, and now on Twitter, and I think I miss the mailing list days the most. You didn’t have to repeat yourself so much in multiple conversations, you weren’t character limited, and the discussion was all in one place, with personal stuff more confined to your side conversations. Discord is a little like that, but it moves too fast and there’s too much noise for my taste.


What’s the story behind your pen name?

When I wrote for X-Files, I picked “Sophia Jirafe” combining my favorite first name with a fancy spelling for my favorite animal (I was 18! Don’t judge!) Over on Livejournal, my friend Jintian and I initially shared an account with the same name as our website, double_helix, and when she got her own account I changed to sophia_helix, which is now sophiahelix just about everywhere. A little clunky, but I like the continuity (and I do run across old friends who remember the name).


Is there anything else you’d like to share with fans of X-Files fic?

Just that it really was a high quality fandom — so much excellent long casefic, so many cool down to earth people, just generally a great launching place for a young fan. The friendships I made with older people were really important to me, and it makes me sad to see a lot of younger people now getting upset about the idea of anyone over a certain age being in their fandom spaces. I hope someday fandom can get back to appreciating that people of all ages can be the fandom type, and that everyone brings something different to the community.