These Curious Times Interview with Tiltedsyllogism

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Interviews by Fans
Title: These Curious Times Interview with Tiltedsyllogism
Interviewer: curious
Interviewee: Tiltedsyllogism
Date(s): September 1, 2015
Medium: online
Fandom(s): Sherlock, The Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid, X-Files
External Links: online here; Archive
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These Curious Times Interview with Tiltedsyllogism ("The Gods Don't Give Us All of Their Gifts at Once") is a 2015 interview with Tiltedsyllogism.

Part of a Series

See These Curious Times Fan Interviews.


Can you tell me about your fandom handle tiltedsyllogism, what’s the story behind the name?

Actually this is going to be very disappointing story. It was clearly conceived by somebody who never planned to interact with anyone else socially. I’d been reading a lot of Emily Dickinson and she has that line, “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.” I’d been reading a lot of Sherlock Season one fanfic, in which Sherlock is this perfectly logical creature except he’s not, either because he discovers love or because there’s been a sort of implicit failure in his logical capacities all along. That was the version I preferred, not the one who’s transmuted by the discovery, but the one who’s been slightly skewed all along.

So I think the originally I wanted “slantedsyllogism.” I liked the way it sounded and it seemed like a good way to represent Sherlock’s way of understanding his own place in the world. The first thing I thought I should do if I wanted to join the fandom was to get a LiveJournal, but it was too many characters. I didn’t have the juice to think of something that different, so that’s the story. It’s not a very good handle, I would totally change it. I like syllogism actually.
Were you involved in fandom before Sherlock? What’s your fannish history?

I was in the OBSSE (Order of the Blessed Saint Scully the Enigmatic) for a while, and then I hung out on the West Wing boards at Television Without Pity. In all these cases they were primarily meta-communities or focused around shared enthusiasm. I also did a lot of filking. But I didn’t write fanfiction and I didn’t really read it, although I think a lot of people in those communities did.

Then there was Battlestar Galactica, which I loved more than anything I have ever loved or probably will love again. Everyone in my graduate program was totally obsessed with it, as were a couple of other friends that I had locally who were sort of fannish in temperament. So I didn’t have to go anywhere. There were times when I wanted to read Battlestar fanfiction because I just wanted more canon, but I stopped really quickly because I realized how delicate was this sense that these fictional characters and their reality was real. I mean, you get into fanfiction and you realize that that’s a mode of engagement, and when you shift into “fic” mode where you’re thinking you can create new realities or backstories, and that’s different. I really wanted to preserve the sense that they didn’t belong to me. It’s like a different notion of canon, and I really wanted to preserve that.

And then there was Sherlock. We watched the first season with a friend and then when the second season came out my wife got it for me and we watched it and then stayed awake in bed being like, “But why? How? We have to know!” So we were there. We also hung out with some friends later that summer who weren’t grad students. They were smart and interesting and educated people, but also didn’t hate themselves in the way that we hated ourselves! They didn’t hate their lives! And so we were like, what can we learn here? And so I asked one of those friends, “What do you do to keep yourself happy?” And she said, “Well I read a lot of fanfiction.” And I thought, well I can do that. [snipped]
What inspired you to take on a Kipling/Sherlock fusion?

I was chatting with redscudery, she’s such a gift to the fandom. She comes up with so many great challenges. She made Wits on Tap, where you take somebody’s fic and make it into a poem, or the idea of the album challenge where you get a whole group of people and everybody writes a song fic to hit every song on an album. That’s her idea too, she’s great. I was talking to her about this and she was like, were thinking about doing children’s books and so looked for a list of Victorian children’s books and I saw The Jungle Book. It was perfect.

That was one of those times where you hit the vein and it’s just all right there. It’s funny, though, because some of what seemed to line up really well was pretty clearly threaded through the Disney adaptation. Which is really ironic because my last thing was The Little Mermaid and of course there’s the Disney version and I was like, “No not that! All wrong!” But then here I am thinking that Shere Kahn is the smooth talking villain when in fact, if you read Kipling, he’s like this dumb oaf. There’s no Monkey King in Kipling. But then here’s Jim Moriarty and who could be a better Monkey King than that? So I had to write one in.

So it could be done, but there is a little more work on my end. A lot of the characters just dropped very very neatly into roles in that story. It’s a very different experience, working on this story, in part that the stakes of The Little Mermaid were really high for me. One of the reasons I got into the Sherlock fandom is that I was processing the ending of a friendship that was very very intense with someone who reminded me really a lot of Sherlock in many ways. It was one of these, is it just friendship? Is it more complicated? I’m married but it still kind of felt that way.

So reading Sherlock fic in particular was really helpful. But it was this really significant loss in my life and I spent a lot of time thinking about it, and in some ways I felt like there was no way I could have gotten that right, and so part of why I wrote All Our Gifts at Once was to sort of think about the fact that sometimes there are good things that happen to us that our lives ultimately cannot accommodate. That doesn’t undo the fact that they are good things, but the fact that they are good doesn’t mean that our lives can hold them, or that we can hold onto them forever. So in that sense it was really a personal story. Obviously fanfiction is in some ways about satisfying emotional needs. Sometimes I want to read just happy endings! But I usually don’t want cheap ones, and one of my other emotional needs is naming those kinds of realities, in which we have good things and then we lose them. So I wanted that kind of story to be out there too.