These Curious Times Interview with Mimi Noyes

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Interviews by Fans
Title: These Curious Times Interview with Mimi Noyes
Interviewer: curious
Interviewee: Mimi Noyes
Date(s): September 1, 2015
Medium: online
External Links: online here; [ Archive]
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These Curious Times Interview with ("The Dangerous Art of Running a Fan Convention") is a 2015 interview with Mimi Noyes.

Part of a Series

See These Curious Times Fan Interviews.

Topics Discussed


How did you get started in fandom?

My first fandom was Star Trek. I have all these older siblings and they were into it so I started watching it. I was instantly hooked. I was a Kirk girl. I still am. Spock, pssh, whatever. Kirk all the way!

It wasn’t until I was in high school and I was watching television that I saw my first commercial for a Creation con. I’m much more of an old fandom kind of girl so I grew up going to cons like Lunacon which takes place in Tarrytown, New York.
The thing about the early cons that I liked were that because they were not genre specific you got all the people who didn’t really fit in. For the longest time going to conventions was the only time in my life where I felt like I belonged somewhere and where I felt completely 100% accepted. It didn’t matter what I looked like, or if I was fat or thin, I could just be myself for practically the first time ever and just be accepted.

Like any social situation there are those who are a little bit geekier than you might like, and those who are less. It’s not like it’s a perfect world or anything like that, but there was just an enormous amount of freedom and an enormous sense of acceptance.

I guess nowadays it’s really not a big thing, but you have to remember that when I was a kid there was no internet. There was barely television, so it was really easy to feel very very isolated. When I was in high school I had maybe two friends and that was kind of it. By that point I remember my first year of high school I had gotten used to the fact that I was not likable. That’s how I felt. I was just too weird to be liked and was just kind of okay with that at that point.

I don’t think people realize now it’s a lot easier to find acceptance or find places where you can be accepted on the internet. But back then if it wasn’t local you didn’t get it, which was why cons were literally an oasis in the desert. This wonderful place where you could go and suddenly completely be yourself, and be not just accepted, but actually celebrated for being weird and geeky and funny and bizarre.
How did you get into Sherlock?

So this is kind of funny. Most people get into fandom through the front door. There’s a show, they fall in love with it, and they’re like, ooh la la, I want more. Where can I find more? There isn’t any more? Let’s go online!

I came into Sherlock through the back door. All my friends were raving about the show, all three episodes had come out and I hadn’t seen any of them. They were all like, “You gotta see this show! You’ve got to see this show!” I watched the first episode and when it ended I was like, “That was okay…” It really didn’t grab me. The main reason was that I thought it was visually stunning, I really love the style and the look of it, but the first story was so ridiculous to me. There’s this scene like halfway through the episode, they’re walking down the street and Sherlock says, “Who hunts in a crowd? Who walks through the streets of London…” And I’m like, it’s either a cop, a fireman, or a taxi driver. It’s gotta be one of those three.

He keeps having these “Oh-OH!” moments, but then it’s about something completely different. And I’m just sitting here like, I shouldn’t know who did it a half-an-hour before Sherlock Holmes does! That’s just wrong. So my impression of the show was just, eh, it’s okay. I didn’t see quite what everyone was oohing and aahing about, but I watched the whole season and thought it was good.

I think it was my friend Lanya who was like, “Oh my God the show is so great you have to watch it!” Then she went to a fan convention called Escapade which is all about slash. Slash, slash, slash, slash, slash. That’s all they do. Escapade’s been around forever and is one of her all-time favorite cons. When she came back, she was like, “zomg, you have to read this!” And she sent me a link to wordstrings’ The Paradox Series. At that time I think there were only two stories up so far. It was right when it had just started.

So I read the story and was just like, “Holy shit this is amazing!” Mostly because of course wordstrings is such a brilliant writer. So after I read those, I was like “I need more! I need a fix.” I didn’t trust that anyone would be able to do it as well, because I’d read a lot of crap fanfiction in my life so I was like, “She’s one in a million, I’ll never find anyone who writes that well!” So I actually wrote to her and was like, You’re a brilliant writer so you have to have written something else for something else. I don’t care what it is I just want to read your writing.” So she admitted that she was also Katie Forsythe and she pointed me to all of the original ACD stories she had written.
[LiveJournal communities] fandom made me a fan of the show, because the more I read, the more the show meant to me. The more I watched the show, the more I appreciated the parts of it that were really really good. It’s always flawed, it’s always been flawed and it will probably always be flawed, but the parts that are great became that much more great. Really it was the fandom that I fell in love with. I became completely obsessed with the fandom and what the fandom created. Then it became so much of an obsession that I began to feel frustrated that I wanted to be a part of the fandom. Originally I wanted to do that through writing.
We may have a little spike [in Sherlock BBC interest] at the end of the year with the special.

But it depends on whether that will bring people back. I think what happened is that third season was just disappointing for so many people. So many people come to Sherlock Seattle just because of the show. The first year it was focused on BBC Sherlock because that’s what people were interested in at the time. That’s what I was familiar with and even then I wanted to have some work and panels about the original stories and the pastiche novels and all that sort of stuff.

By the second year I definitely wanted to expand on that and include way more, from the books to the history, to the original characters, to the original works. Fandom had exploded in the second season and then in the third season we lost a lot of people who were really dedicated people in the fandom, which kind of breaks my heart. I am a little concerned that the numbers are not going to be there. Maybe Watson Washington will help in terms of being something very different that we haven’t really done before. It might bring some more people out of the woodwork. But there are already people who I’ve contacted who are not in the fandom anymore. We do have the Christmas special and I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. If they do a good job then the fandom will flourish again and if they do a bad job then numbers may dwindle.

This year has been a really hard one for fandom not only because of the third season, but also because of all of the trauma that’s been going on.

That’ll be one of the challenges I already have a lot of thoughts in place in terms of how to deal with these sorts of things. I’m thinking about having a convention safe word, so that if you’re in a situation where there’s a conversation that you either don’t want to overhear or be a part of, or if you’re having a dialogue in which you feel like somebody is harassing you, you can use the safe word. It’s hard to say, “I can’t talk about this anymore,” or “You’re really upsetting me.” But safe words are great because it’s a simple thing to say that has no onus or judgement. That’s why they are safe.

I’m thinking of possibly using “Vatican Cameos,” to be like, “This has to stop now. No harm, no foul, I’m not accusing you of anything, I’m not blaming you. It’s just that I can’t do this now.” I think that’s one possibility that I’m looking forward to as being an option so that people have a way to escape complicated, upsetting situations. The other way will be to give the panelists better instructions on how to handle and moderate panels.

People need to have a respectful way to say, “I hear your concerns, however this panel is about this other topic and were going to be staying on topic.” I think that’s one of the hardest things to do if you’re a moderator. And if you don’t have actual training as a moderator, it’s hard to know how to do it. So that’s another goal this year. I always have instructions for the moderators but this year I think I’ll actually have contingency plans, like if this happens at this panel here’s what we want you to say. So that they have an actual script that they can follow and feel secure in.