Slashcast Insider Interview with Cassie Claire

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Slashcast Insider Interview with Cassie Claire (thegraybook)
Interviewer: emmagrant01
Interviewee: Cassie Claire
Date(s): July 15, 2006
Medium: online
Fandom(s):
External Links: online here as a transcript; WebCite
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Slashcast Insider Interview with Cassie Claire is a podcast created by and posted to Slashcast as "Episode 6." Slashcast includes an transcript.

The interviewer is emmagrant01.

The Interview Series

See Slashcast Insider Interview Series.

Some Topics Discussed

Excerpts

Emma: Good! Well, let's just start off with the story of how you came to be a fanfiction writer.

Cassie: Well, that's a tough one. I was a writer of fanfiction because I'd actually been asked to do an article on the X-files fandom and so I was researching online and I came across Gossamer, which was the biggest X-files archive at that time and I spent, like, three weeks at work just reading all of these stories. And being like, "Wow, people like - people put a lot of work into this!" You know, this is amazing, they're offering all this, you know, amusement for free. And then I didn't think about it again for a long time and after I read the Harry Potter books my best friend was heading off to medical school and I asked her if there was anything I could do to amuse her while she was there being tortured by the professors, and she said she would like me to write her a story about Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy and how they switched places and that became the Draco Trilogy.

Emma: Wow, was [The Draco Trilogy] the first- so that was the first piece of fanfiction that you ever wrote?

Cassie: ... I'd never interacted with any fan community, I didn't know anyone who wrote fanfiction... It was a complete mystery to me. I had found fanfiction.net by googling and I just put it there because I was trying to find a place that had an easy upload interface. And there were no Harry Potter archives at the time that I could find.

Emma: ... at what point did you discover slash?

Cassie: That came later. Somebody had told me that I - had recommended stories to me. And they were like, "These are slash." And I was like, "What's slash?" I went and joined the hp slash group on Yahoo!Groups at the time and I read shalot's fic, The Weather of the Heart because Weather of the Heart comes from a beautiful [Dylan] Thomas poem and I was like, "I love that poem. I will try this fic." And I read it and was like, "Oh my god!" It really shocked me. And I wandered off thinking, "Oh that's really, you know, amazing that anyone would do that," but she captured this really great dynamic, I thought, between Harry and Draco and so I started looking for other slash fics.

At the time there was very little Harry/Draco - I think she might have been the first one. Um, what I found was a lot of Remus/Sirius, so I read a bunch of that and I discovered that it really- I liked it. I liked the dynamic that people had created between them and I liked the emphasis on characterization.

Emma: You know, I've heard people credit you before as being one of the original Harry/Draco shippers. Even though I think there's not a lot of slashy content in the Draco Trilogy, it certainly can be read from that perspective. How do you think the Harry/Draco dynamic has changed over time, since you've been around and seen quite a bit of that?

Cassie: Well, the Harry/Draco fandom has exploded exponentially since I remember it back in beginning when there were very few fics of any substance. Like, there was always a lot of fluffy drabble stuff that was floating around, but people didn't start writing long stuff until maybe, I don't know, I'd guess 2003, something like that? I think people have gotten into writing more variations on their dynamic and certainly as canon as progressed there's actually been more substance to hang a Harry/Draco story on than there was before. I mean, when I came into fandom, people were writing from book 3 and then book 4, there wasn't really a lot there. You had to fill in a lot of years inbetween and now canon's sort of catching up so you can actually take- you know, go from book 6 straight into a Harry/Draco story and have it make sense.

The Harry/Draco fandom's gotten huge - there's all sorts of variations. People write funny fics, people write angsty fics, people write Harry, you know, as the one in charge of the relationship, people write Draco as the one in charge of the relationship... There's- there was a much more set, kinda, paradigm back in the beginning. It was always Draco coming up to Harry and being like, "You. I want you!" And now there's a lot more variation.

Emma: Which of your works of fanfiction would you say is the best example of your writing, do you think?

Cassie: I guess I would probably say the Draco Trilogy because it veers in style, pretty wildly, because I used it as sort of an experimental work to try out lot of different things. Like, I was like, here I'm going to try this kind of voice and I'm going to try this other kind of voice, so I mean, when I go back and read over it, I notice the style changing even within chapters, and evolving in some chapters are very dissimilar than other chapters, so I think, you know, it's a wild smorgasbord of all different kinds of styles I've employed is probably the best example.

Emma: You've written several NC-17 fics that I think that most slashers who might be listening regard as really amazing pieces of erotica, and I know that you've recently taken those down, but I was wondering if you could say a bit about A Season in Hell and After the Flood. You created this incredibly dark and gritty sort of feel in those that I think a lot of people really liked. Can you say a bit about writing those?

Cassie: I had never written any slash, I had never written anything NC-17, and the restrictedsection.org was opening and they had asked for fics from various people in the fandom to sort of start their archive off and I thought, "Well, I've always wanted to write a fic about Hogwarts being under siege. I'll write a Harry/Draco fic and I'll set it in this sort of, you know, mental space that I had with Hogwarts under siege and nobody having any food, everyone's starving, everybody, you know, turning on each other and, you know, that sort of war and darkness but with a very bleak humor about it." And I wrote Season in Hell in about two days. It was really fun. I loved writing it. I had asked my friends- we had been out to dinner and I was like, "I'm going to write a Harry/Draco story. I'm gonna write, you know- set it in a Hogwarts under siege. What do you think?" And they were like, you know, "Try to get in these various things." You know, long tunnels as the way to freedom and there's no food, everyone's eating these weird gelatinous creatures that keep crawling up from under the castle, and somebody said, "and Harry cuts, like, his hair." And I was like, "Alright, let's see if I can work all that stuff."

Emma: And you've taken this down off of the internet, and I just wanted to give you an opportunity to explain in this interview that you don't have an intention of putting them back up again.

Cassie: No, I don't. I don't. A lot of people have asked me if I've taken them down off the internet because of my original fiction and, no, I haven't. That's not actually why. I've been really straight with everyone in my publishing career that I wrote fanfic, that some of it was NC-17, and that it is available on the internet, and nobody's ever cared. But I have a bunch of friend who ran into legal problems with having their NC-17 fanfic up. Two of my friends were served Cease and Desist letters for using the term NC-17 because it's part of the MPAA. And another one of my friends took down her archive because of that case in Australia where the guy was arrested for just having stories about, you know, under aged kids having sex on his computer, which I found weird because, as someone who writes young adult fiction, nobody's ever told me that I cannot write sex, that I can't write gay characters, that I can't write gay characters having sex. So I feel that it's odd that what I can do in my professional life is problematic to do on the internet.

Emma: How did writing fanfiction influence your development as a writer?

Cassie: Writing fanfiction reminded me how much I enjoyed creative writing at a time when I'd sort of put it aside and it was very valuable to me that way. I've learned a lot from writing fanfic, I'd say as much as I learned studying creative writing in college and high school. I learned a lot about plotting and characterization and I learned a lot about what people respond to and what they don't respond to, which is one of the great things about the kind of feedback you get when you're writing fanfiction. You get a very immediate feedback response, people telling you what they like and what they don't like and while it definitely varies from person to person, you can sort of pick out patterns of what people do and don't respond to, even if they don't know why they like or don't like something, you can sort of pick out patterns of they, you know, of what it is people do and don't respond to and try to figure out why. So I think it influenced me in that way. I had always separated out writing things that were funny and things that were sort of dramatic, previously. I had sort of thought comedy writing and trying to write funny as a little thing you did for your friends, but not something that was serious and now I realize how- how much work it takes to be funny. I mean, people who really write things that are funny - that are genuinely funny, I really admire. I think it's extremely difficult and is as or more difficult than writing drama, so it helped me to teach myself to write funny, especially writing things like The Very Secret Diary, some parodies, things like that. So, there are things that you don't learn from writing fanfiction. I mean, that much is true and when I started writing original fiction, I had to retrain myself in certain ways.

Emma: For me, as a writer, that sense of community in fandom is something that I really love and have a hard time imagining how I'd be able to write without it. Does it take a lot more internal motivation or...?

Cassie: It does. It's hard. I've met a lot of professional writers now that say, "Why would you write fanfiction? Why would you do that? Why would you give your work away for free?" And I'm thinking, "Why- how can you write original fiction? It's so lonely." You sit there and you work all day, and at the end of the day you're done and nobody cares. Um, I think that the sense of community is hugely valuable, and I also have had professional writer friends who've said they've gone online and read fanfiction, not even for fandoms they cared anything about, but just to feel the sense of connection to people who are writing because they love it. Not because it's their job, not because they have a deadline, and not because they're ever going to get paid or anyone's ever even going to give them really, you know, any credit. No one will ever really know their names, but just because they love writing and they love talking to other people about writing and it's a medium through which you interact with other people through your writing. So it can be when you're transitioning into writing original fiction, it can be kind of lonely. I mean, that was definitely part of my experience. I would, you know, sit there and do all this writing and I would think, "I don't have anyone to bounce this off, you know. I don't have anyone to give me feedback whether this is working."

Emma: [snipped] What advice do you have for new fanfiction writers?

Cassie: I would say have fun, you know? Enjoy yourself. This is your chance to experiment and try lots of different things with your writing. And you should, you know, respect your own writing and respect other people's in the fandom and you'll have a lot more fun. I think that, you know, fanfiction and fandom at its best creates this bright, supportive community where you can experiment, you can try things and some things may work out well and some things may be giant failures, but that's okay.