Slashcast Insider Interview with Speranza

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Slashcast Insider Interview with Speranza
Interviewer: djin7
Interviewee: Speranza
Date(s): October 2, 2012
Medium: online
Fandom(s): Due South, Batman, The Sentinel, Burn Notice, Star Wars, Stargate Atlantis
External Links: online here as a transcript; WebCite
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Slashcast Insider Interview with Speranza is a podcast created by and posted to Slashcast as "Episode 35." Slashcast includes an transcript.

The interviewer is DJ (djin7).

The Interview Series

See Slashcast Insider Interview Series.


I came in on the first Star Wars boom, is how I sort of date myself. In the sort of 1980ish, around the time of Empire Strikes Back ‘cause I’m that old. But I was young then. And in fact I sort of back formed into organised fandom I kind of back formed to Trek. But it was really what got me out of the house, as it were, was Star Wars, was my first connection to other fans. Though it wasn’t the first thing I was fannish about. I was, in the late 70s – I’m really dating myself, but whatever – in the late 70s was our last big superhero boom. And in fact you had Wonder Woman, you had Linda Carter as Wonder Woman on the air, and you had sort of The Hulk on the air, and there was a Spiderman series on the air and there was Mighty Isis, which nobody remembers-
And then the Adam West Batman, and Adam West on some level will always be my Batman. And it was kind of the Superhero thing, and that’s what I was quietly, privately fannish about, but I didn’t connect with other fans over that. The thing that brought me out of the house, as much as a 10 – 12 year old gets out of the house, was Star Wars, which I became kind of fannish about at a moment when everybody was fannish about Star Wars in a way that felt like living it all over again with Harry Potter. I mean, it was the kind of thing that mundanes became fannish. In the way that Harry Potter really just made people who would not have thought about fandom as a way of life, you know they weren’t kind of FIAWOL, but they became crazy fannish in this huge sweep in. And so I swept in on the kind of 1981 equivalent of that, which was the sort of Star Wars craze and it was a great time to be a fan. I mean you still had the Superhero hangover [DJ makes agreeing noise], and there was a science fiction explosion and you were going to have Raiders, and you were going to have Star Trek 2, which, you know, Wrath of Khan came out and then Search for Spock in ’83 and I remember all of this like it was yesterday. And I had a Star Log subscription and I was a member of the Star Wars fan club and I had blueprints of the Millennium Falcon on my wall. [DJ suddenly laughs with joy] and I was just – no I mean I had-
In the day. And so you literally could go and it would be Bren AntrimHighlander stuff, you know a lot of these people are still around, or Kim Gasper or whatever. I mean there was just a list of sites, people’s individual pages of people who were writing fanfiction. And you could put that on two webpages, just like a list of links, and I swear to you I just inhaled it, you know. I remember just sitting and at that point I had just gotten a doctorate and I was guesting and I was sitting in my office and I was just inhaling this stuff in just huge batches. Sometimes I would just stay in my office until eleven o’clock at night, and literally just not be able to tear myself away from the internet hookup at the office where there was all the stories in the world.
It was a Batman/Sentinel crossover which I’m sure is still archived out there somewhere. And I remember thinking ‘There’s a Sentinel from-, what is this?’ Yeah, famous last words. And, um, obviously I’d just finished graduate school and Sentinel which was a popular show in the – of the era – in the late 90s, but it featured a graduate student and you just see very few graduate students in mass culture and there was a sort of attraction there with the Blair Sandburg character – studying a hero, it seemed very fun – and I initially wrote my first, well I was going to say my first fanfic, my first fanfic then after the hiatus, my first online fanfiction literally as a way – I remember thinking to myself ‘Well, I know how to do this, I used to do this when I was a kid, I know what it’s like to write fanfiction, and I am a serious writer and I can certainly write a story to give back.’ And I remember sort of thinking to myself ‘I’ll just write a story’ because that was the way you-, there was really no other way to kind of pay back, you felt like you wanted to give something back to people who had written so much stuff that had given you so much pleasure.... And I didn’t know how to do it other than I thought, ‘oh well, I’ll write one and that will be my way of putting into the pot as it came around.’ It was like a contribution, you know. So I thought I know how to do this, so I’ll write a story and that’ll be my way of saying ‘Boy I have had such a good time’ and I thought I would just write the one and that’s not how it worked out. [DJ chuckles in the background] Um, and really famous last words. ‘I’ll just write this one story’.
Fandom in the broadest sense I would say inspires me, in fact. You know I’m really different. I’m really friendly with astolat aka The Lady of Shalott and she really, you know, beats to her own drum. She sees the source and she has a story. And the story sort of comes off the source and I always used to call myself a kind of third wave writer. I’m somebody who really gets inspired by the fandom around a source rather than the source. So really, literally speaking I am inspired by fandom, I get my energy from fandom, from the creativity, from the other stories that are being written. And if you look at what I look at what I do I have tended to be not only in really big fandoms but in big fandoms kind of late, right. I’m typically not the first one in the door. Astolat is more likely to be first in the door, my friend Julad is more likely to be the first through the door, where they really kind of build a fandom. I used to joke there are people who sort of turn up and they found the town and they go there and they set up camp and build a campfire and they start kind of doing the fandom. I come in like, you know, like a year later and start building like the Post Office and the railway system [laughs] you know what I mean? And like put a supermarket in. I sit in for the long haul and I build, like, infrastructure, you know, but I don’t really discover fandoms so much. Like I go into fandoms where the explorers have been before me, and I start mapping, I start doing more, more er, civilization building work later in the day, I’m not the first person to turn up at your fandom. So like now I’m getting interested in Avengers, right? Where literally, like, literally people have been in there before me and now I kind of want to come and – you know – build a Town Hall or something.
People always say, you know, that so much fanfiction is terrible, but I actually have the opposite. Now, admittedly I don’t read everything, I know people who are really voracious readers and read everything and then they say that 90% of everything is crap. But I read pretty widely and I would say that what I read is really very good... And I think that people really do love it so much, even when it’s bad it’s really good.
And we like metaphor. And you can kind of suspend the rules a little bit. Um. You know it’s funny because it reminds me a little bit of women’s writing, you know, I think women have always actually been really, really, great at writing genre. And I think that women actually don’t. Here’s another of my theories, I think that women actually don’t like realism all that much. Realism’s kind of depressing. And I think that the extent to which we do want to talk about things we care about we prefer to talk about them in metaphor and I think that that’s much easier to do, in kind of really paranormal fandoms. And so I don’t think there’s any sort of accident when you come up on the big women writers and it’s Rowling and it’s Twilight, and it’s The Hunger Games. I think there’s something about the metaphor there that allows women to talk about stuff that they care about. Where like doing, you know, some lifetime movie of week, is just drab and boring. At least to me it is. I know some people like that sort of thing, but I don’t like it at all, I’d much rather read The Hunger Games than I’d read a serious, a serious novel about the problems of being a teenage girl. Like I’m completely bored by that, I’m bored by the description of that. I feel like have her kill everybody with a bow and arrow and I’m interested.
I mean at the minute [my best-received fanfic] probably still is Written By The Victors, which was just unlike anything in my experience. I mean, it was this SGA story and what was so amazing, aside from the response – which continues to come in, I mean the story was done in 2007, which in internet time you know, there were dinosaurs, but it’s a long time, you know, it’s five years and people are still reading and reccing it – but the part that really got to me was the incredible creativity people had of their own off the story. And in fact I try to collect it and celebrate it as much as I can, um, but you know people made art for the story and wrote poetry, and recorded kind of song cycles and made vids and you know Lim made this podfic, you know, or edited this podfic that was, it may be the longest podfic out there, it’s something like six hours and 32 people on like six continents, I mean it’s like a joke. But to see people, I guess that- I would say it’s what the powers that be feel when we make – I hope it’s what they feel, it would be what they felt if they had any sense at all – to see somebody engage your work that way and make beautiful things about it and near it. And so that really in that way is really a cut above. Every couple of years I think to myself you know, I’ve written the story that’s going to be the first line of my obituary, fannishly. For a while it was ‘oh, you know Francesca who wrote the Nature Series’, and then it was ‘Speranza who wrote ‘Chicago’s Most Wanted’, and then, and now it’s kind of ‘the author of Written By The Victors’. Um but it’s been enough times that I’m confident that I’m not going anywhere and so that someday I’ll do something that-
I think so. I mean, and I think [fannish love] literally makes the prose better. I mean, I’m really positive on it. I think that it is really good broadly because people love it so much. People have been so encouraging and so nice, I mean, I have gotten so much more than my share of love, I mean I’m really – fandom if you’re listening I’m really, really grateful for it. It just does mean the world to me. And people say such nice things about my stuff and I really do think it’s kind of encouraged me to be better and I try to do my share of encouraging other people. For me it’s always been a wonderful, warm place to write, and I’ve felt really supported and loved in fandom.