Working Stiffs Interview with Jess M.

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Working Stiffs Interview with Jess M.
Interviewer: Nicola Simpson
Interviewee: Jess M.
Date(s): October 2000
Medium: online
Fandom(s): X-Files
External Links: part one; part two; ; part one reference link; part two reference link
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Working Stiffs Interview with Jess M. was conducted in 2000.

It was posted to the website Working Stiffs.

Other Interviews in the Series

Some Excerpts

All the time. Mulder and Scully have a very televised way of speaking to one another, plus there's the whole "monologue" thing that CC does, which is unnatural to the point of being ridiculous. My husband does a fabulous imitation of Gillian reading a monologue that you have to hear to believe...

Anyway, I think we do an especially good job of giving these characters realistic "inner" voices, particularly when they're narrating a story. Scully is especially in need of this, as the character on the show tends to be terribly uncommunicative when it comes to her emotions. I love a story that somehow "feels" like Mulder or Scully while still bringing out some aspect of the characters that Chris has never envisioned.

It definitely depends on the writer. Something I hear all the time, but have no ability to back up as truth, is that XF fic is some of the best on the Web. I will say that I have read works that make me want to scream, they're so out of character and dripping with "Danas" and "Foxes", but I've also read stuff that I'd swear was written by someone professional. The first fic I really ever read was one of Dawson's, I can't even remember which one... I think "Umbra", and I kept saying to Tom: "This is better than any Tom Clancy I've ever read". Not that I've read a lot of Tom Clancy, but you know what I mean. I just couldn't believe something that well written and serious was on the Internet, written about Mulder and Scully and FREE. Sometimes I'm astonished by how bad the show is compared to the fic it spawns. And don't even get me started on the official novels. I'd rather read fic any day.

Well, at least with humor and romance (because this is something altogether different from humor and smut) I think this is because love generally manages to obliterate our ability to laugh at ourselves, which in turn makes us enormously funny to other people. Mulder and Scully in love are funny precisely because they are foolish and sweet. And because love does this to everyone, at some point or another, we identify with it when it happens to fictional characters we care about. I think Mulder is particularly amusing when he's in love. There's a goofy, shaggy quality about him when he's trying to suck up to Scully that's easy to capitalize on. Scully gets very serious and self-absorbed, which is also great material. And they're both so unbelievably blind to each other. I'm not sure every set of fictional characters is like this. I can't imagine writing hysterically funny fanfic about Captain Picard and Beverly Crusher's first time, for instance, though I probably would have tried if I'd known it existed at the time. Now I'm sure I'll get multiple e-mails from people who've written very funny ST:TNG stories.

Smut and humor work well because sex is a truly embarrassing, ridiculous thing, and reading about it is even crazier. Some small part of our brain kicks in during the smuttiest bits and whispers: "What the hell are you doing? This is porn, porn!" At least mine does. And that's funny to me, and indicative of the way we, as rational animals, tend to approach sex. Humor diffuses the intensely personal and confessional nature of sex and lets us relax enough to enjoy it, even if all were doing is reading about it.

I find I do that all the time, to be honest. I include in-jokes and fanfic cliches without even thinking about it, knowing my audience will "get" it. Then I send the story to a friend who isn't a regular watcher of the show and I have to include 2 pages of explanation.

But yes, it can get even clique-ier than that, with in-jokes about other writers and Scullyfic jokes and etc. That's the risk with a group as tightly knit as XF fans are. There are tons of us, but only a handful are vocal and out and about. We forget that not everyone knows everything that goes on within a list, particularly a private one.

Mind you, this is also somewhat liberating, I find. I love being able to just dive into a story without considering the "backstory" for the characters. I know you all know Scully's an FBI Agent. I don't have to tell you in the first paragraph.

Writing for your readers is something all together different. It's more about writing for the sheer joy of telling a story. I love the immediate gratification of feedback on my stories, I love that connection to my readers. I'm always wondering: "will this make people laugh? Will it offend them? Will they believe it?" I don't write to make myself feel clever, because then I'd come off as pretentious. I don't write to feel better about my writing, because at this point, I'd better be reasonably confident or I shouldn't post it in public. I write because it's this glorious thing, this connection to other people and because it gives people joy. And I think that's reflected in the story. I write things I want other people to read.

[regarding her story "Mutual"]: Well, I think there's always an element of PornStar in them both. That's why we like them. I mean, c'mon, do FBI agents really look that good? Probably not. But I know what you mean. And I'm glad you thought it was sexy.

Again, I think it goes back to vulnerability. Masturbation appeals to me as a subject for smut because it's so self-centered and self-referential and I can really see them both (particularly Mulder) using it as a crutch to keep them from having to experience the fears that are inherent in any personal relationship. They don't want to expose themselves to the other person.

Which is the perfect metaphorical set-up for a fic. Scully masturbates to avoid showing her sexual self to Mulder, Mulder sees it anyway, they deal with the aftermath. That's why the "caught in the act" set-up is so popular. Masturbation is us at our most selfish and sensual and uninhibited. Then when you throw in another person and the "exposure" of this side of ourselves, it makes for great drama. I think what makes "Mutual", at least the first one, so sexy is that Mulder knows this. Mulder sees that Scully has exposed too much of herself, emotionally more than physically, and rather than try to verbally reassure her that hey, he loves her too (which she'd never actually believe), he puts himself out there in the same... position.

And a naked Mulder stroking himself is just too damn hot. Metaphorical, schmorical, that's what I was really writing toward.

I know there are fifteen year-olds who read fic. But I think we forget what teens are like, and the amount of sexual stuff being thrown at them every day. If the worst they read is a representation of two people who love and respect each other having blissful sex, then whoopdeedoo. I don't see that as a bad thing. They aren't reading rape fic, or BDSM or whatever (at least, not very often on our lists). Regular old vanilla sex isn't going to shock any of them, or be something they've never heard of. And I think kids old enough to really get into the XF are probably old enough to handle loving sex. A bit more maturity may be needed for the Krycek/Marita stuff, but I don't write that, so...

The only thing I worry about is that we could be setting kids up for unrealistic expectations of what sex is really like, particularly girls, who get terrible messages from society on their sexuality to begin with. I worry that if their first time isn't mind-blowing and followed by thirty-six consecutive orgasms, they'll think they've failed somehow. I'm exaggerating, but I really do worry about that sometimes. Am I accurately representing sex in my stories? No. No one's got a headache, the dog isn't off barfing in the corner, the phone isn't ringing, work didn't suck, kids aren't screaming... I just hope kids realize that real life makes sex infinitely more complicated. Maybe the mere sight of Mulder's glorious manhood can bring Scully to orgasm the first time, but after she's seen the glorious manhood every morning for six years, she's going to need something more. Maybe they could pull out those videos he doesn't own.

It must be hard to be a noromo anymore. And let’s face it, smut gets more feedback, generally, and authors who write for a while figure that out.

I don't worry about it as I write, and I hope most other people don't either. But yeah, the number of plain ol' case files and UST seems to have dropped dramatically. It's a little more difficult now that Scully's preggers, I suppose.

I think there will always be fanfic for the XF. People still write fanfic for the original Star Trek series, for heaven's sake, and nothing on Earth is as ridiculous today as William Shatner in his girdle.

That said, I can't really see myself writing this stuff forever. At some point I'll lose interest, or move on. I might keep going if there are movies, but I don't know. I feel like real life is just going to intrude at some point and take over.

We hope it doesn’t happen anytime soon.