These Curious Times Interview with Speranza

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Interviews by Fans
Title: These Curious Times Interview with Speranza
Interviewer: curious
Interviewee: Speranza
Date(s): August 27, 2016
Medium: online
Fandom(s):
External Links: INTERVIEW: JUST A FAN FROM BROOKLYN – SPERANZA – These Curious Times, Archived version
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These Curious Times Interview with Speranza ("Just a Fan from Brooklyn") is a 2016 interview with Speranza.

It is five pages long.

Part of a Series

See These Curious Times Fan Interviews.

Excerpt from the Introduction

Stories that I love, fall into one of two categories. The first is all about the words. The prose jumps out at me and I linger over beautiful sentences and how they echo long after I finish the story, still evoking emotion and pulling me back in again. The second is when all of the words fall away, and the page becomes a movie screen and the action unfolds, bright and vivid and alive. Both of those experiences are rare, but when they do happen I take notice and seek out everything by that writer I can find. For me Speranza’s stories do both. For me they feel more like fanvideos than fanfiction, and wow what epic TV series they are, but often her words also break through the screen, and make me pause and turn them over again to try to figure out how she works her magic and loads up these emotional bombs that land and make my head spin or break my heart.

Some Topics Discussed

Excerpts

Curious: On AO3 you have stories across 24 fandoms. It seems like you’ve written in every fandom.

Speranza: No, I haven’t actually! You know I always used to joke that I’m the person who goes into a fandom and builds like the post office and the town hall and a subway. I go in and I live there for ten years and build infrastructure. I’m not on the cutting edge … But when I leave a town, it is built, my friend!

Curious: How long how you’ve been in fandom would you say?

Speranza: Oh my God! I’ve been in fandom since … I’m embarrassed to say how long I’ve been in fandom. I think that my life in fandom starts about 1980. I came into fandom in the middle of the original Star Wars as a kid. I started on Star Wars fanfiction, this is how old I am. I am super cute, okay? Just telling you, but I’m kinda getting old now. I was a kid and I came into fandom between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, when we didn’t know that Luke was Leia’s sister. That’s how long I have been in fandom, despite my super cuteness. I mean, I was really a child and in fact, living through Harry Potter was like living through Star Wars all over again, where both Star Wars and Harry Potter brought in huge numbers of mundanes into fandom. Half of whom stayed and joined fandom broadly speaking and half of whom were fannish but only about Star Wars or Harry Potter.

Harry Potter was really special. Half the people who came into fandom in these enormous cultural moments – Star Wars from ’77 to ’83 and what Harry Potter was in the nineties into the 2000s – half of them came and just converted to fandom. They became fannish and they moved into other fandoms. The other half think it’s cool if you have a Darth Vader helmet on your wall but if you say: “Yeah, and I’ve been writing fan fiction for 20 years,” they go: “Oh, you’re weird.”

I was a Trekkie even before Star Wars. See, the early eighties, this is where I sound really old, the early eighties were a great time to be a fan because you had Empire and you had Blade Runner, and you had the first and second Indiana Jones and you had Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan,. E. T.

Literally the early eighties into the mid-eighties was the science-fiction boom. That was when fandom was on paper, and so many conventions and all of that. Then I disappeared for a couple of years while I went to college and graduate school. When I came back, in the early nineties, the internet had happened, it was like all of the same people I knew in the 80s had gone online. In fact, I got online because I had a university account in the 90s. I was like: “Oh my God, I know all you people.” Not literally, but I knew exactly what fandom was because I had been in it in the analog version. I came in to fandom and I was like: “Wow, this is fanfic, this is people doing fandom, but they’re doing it online.” I got into all my fandoms right away in the 90s and ever left again.

Curious: When I talk to a lot of my friends, some of whom are original fiction writers, they always ask me: “Well, why do you write fan fiction? Why don’t you write original fiction?” My answer is always, “Well, right now I really enjoy writing fan fiction, it’s just what I want to do.” So, what about you? Why do you write fan fiction?

Speranza: I do it because it’s fun. Most people can’t imagine writing as something fun–because I think they think writing is difficult somehow, unlike gardening or knitting or singing or painting or any number of the things that people do for fun. They go: “Sure, you’re doing that for fun,” but to say you’re writing for fun – most people think that writing is work in a particular kind of way. I think actually with women there’s also always a resistance to having fun. There’s is a sense that women’s labor always has to be productive. “Well, you’re writing, but why aren’t you writing for money?” The answer is: “Because it’s fun!”” Writing for money is great, but then it’s a job, right?

It’s like somebody knits you a sweater, you say: “Oh, that’s great, why aren’t you running a knitwear company?” The answer is that truly that would be a very interesting thing to do, and women should run knitwear companies, but I am actually just knitting this for fun. You know what I mean?

Sometimes there’s a weird resistance. Sometimes even in fandom there’s almost a sense that you have to be doing something useful. I feel like quite the hedonist, I think that we can learn all sorts of skills, but it’s okay just to do it because it’s super fun. I think for women to say that it’s really fun is still actually a subversive act.

Curious: Where do you think you’ll go next with your writing?

Speranza: I don’t know. I feel like I’ve gotta play with Civil War. I think I’m gonna be banging on the tires of Civil War for a while. I think it’s a puzzle to be unsolved or solved. I’m applying my brain to the problem and I think that the solution … because there’s not one solution… is kind of multiplicity. Actually in fact, I have a sequel to The Fifties in progress, too, but I’m much more interested in trying to unpick the puzzle of Civil War. I think it’s more important for the fandom.

Fanfic can do that. I love fanfic, I love other people’s fanfic. When we started this conversation I was saying I was a third-wave writer. One of the reasons I am is that I love other people’s fics. I love borrowing from it, I like the collective tapestry of it. I don’t actually think you have to solve every problem by yourself, we can collectively solve them, and many of our solutions are better than what canon comes up with. I feel like I’m in the group project of trying to make Civil War work for us.

Curious: You wonder if they had to partially resolve everything so that when they kick off Infinity Wars they don’t have to spend a lot of time apologizing and healing.

Speranza: I’m pretty sure Steve is gonna come running over some hill. I think something’s gonna happen, and somebody’s gonna yell: “Oh my God, we need help!” Then Steve and his people are gonna come running over a hill and that’s it, that’s gonna be your emotional resolution.

I do think that in fact fandom compensates a lot for the fact that major media is really good at plotting, but they’re just not as good at catharsis of any kind. If you want catharsis, you come to us. The big classical emotions like joy, victory, sorrow, pity, I feel like the mass media does not know how to do them. Television is evolved to sell stuff, it’s all about serialization. What it’s really good at is getting you to come back. It’s really good at the cliffhanger, it’s really good at “tune in next Tuesday”, it’s really good at “come back for the next film.” So what it’s really good at is creating dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction sells, that’s how you sell soap flakes, you sell soap flakes because you create a soap opera that brings you back and back and back and back to sell stuff. What we actually have–in fact, I laugh every time I hear people going: “Oh! Piracy!” They’ve actually created an almost feral demand in people for this stuff. As they have developed the art of serialization to such a frenzied pitch that people will beg, borrow or steal the next episode because the thing has been engineered by experts to bring you back. That part of it, they’re super good at. What they’re shit at is resolution.

Later Comment by Speranza

I will say that it was actually really weird to be interviewed, which I didn’t expect! I’ve been interviewed as a talking head before, like professionally, but never–you know, about ME and what I personally think and feel about things. So it was a funny feeling! I think my fandom self is more myself than I am. VERY WEIRD, but thank you so much for the opportunity, @thesecurioustimes​! [1]

References

  1. ^ cesperanza.tumblr, date unclear but shortly after the interview was posted