Last month I gave a brief primer on fan fiction. This month, I’ve decided to jump more fully into the topic. Jennifer Hutchins, who writes under the name a_xmasmurder, graciously agreed to an interview about her own writing and the field of fan fiction. As with the last time I did an interview, I will be cutting this one into two columns. While my questions were basic, Jennifer’s responses are thoughtful and give great insight into just what makes fan fiction so powerful.
1.) What first got you into fan fiction?
One story – “Two Two One Bravo Baker” by one of my favorite authors in the BBC Sherlock fandom, abundantlyqueer (her penname). I’d just watched the first episode of Sherlock, just gotten my tumblr account open – so long ago, now, it seems – and was sort of trolling around for things to read. I don’t even remember how it happened, but I followed a link to this story, and it sucked me in. It wasn’t the first time I’d been exposed to fanfiction – that had been deviantArt. Hell, it wasn’t even the first time I’d been exposed to romantic/erotic writing – thank you dime-store paperbacks! But it was the first one where I looked at it and thought, ‘My God, I can do this! I can write.’ It helped to have something that sucked me in so quickly, as Sherlock did. I’d dabbled in writing before, but that was before I knew what ‘fanfiction’ actually was. Now I knew what it was, and I knew what it could become. What I could create. And, ultimately, what I would create.
2.) What fandoms do you write in?
Currently, I am strictly writing in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and James Bond fandoms. As with all aspects of life, sometimes your first loves fall to the wayside once you find something more worthy of your time. Due to the chaos and size of the BBC Sherlock fandom, along with the show itself taking a turn I didn’t agree with, I’ve fallen out of love with Sherlock. But James Bond is eternal (and Ben Whishaw doesn’t make things easy on us, does he?), and Marvel is basically crack cocaine with a dash of lemon and a gold brick to the forehead (thank you Sebastian Stan, Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson… I could go on and on). I have, in the past, written in the Hitchhiker’s Guide, The Hurt Locker, Little Favour, and Strike Back fandoms (much, much smaller than the previous three that I mentioned – in fact, I might be one of three writers in the Little Favour fandom, since it’s a Kickstarter short movie Benedict Cumberbatch did last year). I also have multi-fandom ‘crossover’ stories I’ve slid into the wings.
3.) What do you think is the most common stereotype about fan fiction or fan fiction writers?
Oh, dear, where do I begin? I think the most common stereotype is that we are all oversexed, underemployed teenage girls that have crying jags over our favorite celebs and pretend we are married to them. Also that we are rabid and crazy and should be medicated. And fanfiction is nothing more than plagiarized slop that steals characters from legitimate writers (at best) and unmitigated pornography (at worst).
This couldn’t be any further from the truth. Well. Um. Okay, yes, some of it is unmitigated porn, otherwise known as porn without plot (PWP). Those are the fun stories.
4.) Describe your writing process:
There’s a process?
Haha. No, I’m not even kidding. My ‘process,’ as one would call it, is pretty much this: at any point in the day, my brain will throw up a light bulb. This light bulb is a plot bunny. If I am lucky, I have paper and a pen handy and I will write it down. If I’m unlucky, I try to remember it until I get home or to reliable Wi-Fi (now that I have Drive on my phone—whomever thought up that little gem of an app can simultaneously go burn in Hell and accept my undying adoration).
Once I get it on paper, I usually set it aside and let it fester – sorry, flourish – until I have a set idea of what I want to do with it, instead of a hastily jotted word or two on a napkin (I have one that is literally “Bond and Watson in a bar.” Ok, what?). Once I have an idea, then I throw it into a word document and attempt to do something with it. Nine times out of ten, I get bupkiss and throw that document into my bunny pen until I can either do something with it or discard it.
If it turns into something, then it gets written. How it gets written is a strange thing, since I don’t use betas (I should, but I’m terrified of them). I essentially write until it’s done, do a quick SpaG run (Spelling and Grammar), then when I upload it I do a final edit if I notice something I could add or delete or change completely. If I don’t feel like doing any of that, I just throw it up at the mercy of my readers and warn them ahead of time. Usually I only do that with fic that I’ve WWI (Written While Intoxicated).
5.) Do you read fan fiction as well as write it? What most excites you about fan fiction?
YES. Oh, yes, I love reading fanfiction. In fact, I prefer it to the usual fare of books. Some stories I will read over and over again, and some I will read once and never read again; not necessarily because of quality, but more so for the emotional factor. There are a few I’ve even started reading, then kept reading just out of sheer morbid curiosity.
What excites me the most about fanfiction is the sheer amount of amazing amateur writers out there, young and old, good and not-so-good, who are creating little pockets within the canon of their fandoms. They are creating new worlds; parallel universes, canon-divergent, canon-compliant, not even remotely canon, if-you-squint-really-hard-it-could-be-similar to canon, the-hell-with-it-let’s-call-it-an-AU… it’s all kosher here. Angst, erotica, fluff, crack, action/ adventure, alternate universes – all of it. All of this comes from the minds of the fans of these shows, movies, books, bands, artists, sporting teams. And these people are either writing from experiences they’ve had, or they are writing to escape those experiences, or they are writing experiences they want to have. Sometimes they are pouring their hearts out on the page, and you can almost see those words written in blood and tears. Sometimes you can tell they are just writing for the hell of it (like me) and that shows, too. Sometimes it’s a multi-chaptered behemoth of a story with plot and enemies and emotions and a problem to solve. Sometimes it’s a five hundred word short of someone getting sand in his eye and cussing about it. Some of it is so far out in left field that I’m left shaking my head. But most of it is…well, let’s be honest. I’d rather read the works of a young trans girl where she makes Sherlock or John or Q or Castiel transgender because that’s the only way she can make her voice heard than the memoirs of some stodgy old man or the old dime-store relics I still have on my bookshelf. People who say, “There is nothing new under the sun” have never read fanfiction.
On that note, I’ll sign off until we continue this interview next month. In the meantime, go out and read some excellent fan fiction! Or better still: write some of your own!