Tell us something about yourself: Where are you from? Age/Gender? Hobbies? Anything you'd like to share.
I'm a lowland Scot and it still shows, even after fifteen years in the US and Australia. I''m a scientist and mathematician and I'm in my early thirties.
How did you begin writing in general?
I was given some Lego one Christmas, which I used to build a space monster with a plastic pine tree as its pointy snout. I then felt compelled to write a story about it. I was five, I think, and writing fiction has been a hobby ever since.
What inspired you to begin writing fanfic?
I wrote fanfic as a child, without knowing what it was called, but stopped to concentrate on writing "original" fiction in my teens. I returned to writing fanfic when I was feeling burnt out by my PhD studies; I'd been working on a novel up until then, but trying to work full-time, finish my thesis part-time and
work on a novel would have killed me. Writing short fanfics was a way for me to write fiction without my brain pouring out of my ears. Besides, my head was full of BtVS images and turns of phrase: the only way I could get the damn things out of my head was to write them down.
What do you enjoy about writing fanfic?
It's play. You can try out many different forms, genres and styles and explore different techniques very easily. Plus you can write in a very dense and allusive fashion, as you can assume that most of your audience is completely familiar with the backstory and characters. Also I very much enjoy working within the tight confines of canon; I love interpolating. Then there's the fact that you can self-publish without shame and without all that tedious toing-and-froing of sending stuff to editors. Oh and the feedback's very nice too.
Why have you chosen to write about Spike? What do you find interesting about his character?
You know, if I could answer this question fully and succinctly I probably wouldn't feel the urge to write about him. But have a look at "Fool for Love" and see how many genres he walks effortlessly in and out of: drawing-room romance, weird tale, Hong Kong action flick, blaxploitation movie, melodrama, magic realism and noir at the very least. He's versatile, is our Spike, and he's British, so I get to use slang and speech rhythms that I'm familiar with, rather than trying to fake Valley Girl. He's willing to strive for the nigh impossible, he's usually the underdog, and he combines strong "masculine" and "feminine" traits in equal measure. But his strongest appeal to me is actually philosophical, because he's about self-determination and free will, and because he's very grounded in the material world without being materialistic.
What other characters or relationships do you find most interesting to write?
I like writing from the point of view of minor characters because they're able to provide interesting perspectives. And I like writing Giles because he's another characters whose voice I find easy to do.
Of the work you've written, which piece is your favorite? Why?
, which was a real technical challenge to write, partly because of the research required but mostly because I had to write about someone going mad from that person's point of view. The imagery I experienced for that story was almost hallucinogenic at times. But I'm also fond of Foreign Devils
, because I wrote almost all of it in a single weekend and it required little revision. Usually I'm a terribly slow writer (Descent
, for example, took a year).
Which piece was the most difficult to write? Why? Hotel Lavear
, because at times we are laughing at the protagonist rather than with him and that just seemed to me to be terribly cruel.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a fanfic writer?
Strengths? I'm willing to take chances. I'm willing to do research. I have a strong (but not infallible) sense of the cadences of the written word and I've been pleased by some of the visual imagery I've been able to deploy. Weaknesses? I can never make my characters have extended conversations. And there are some characters whose voices I find very difficult to do, such as Willow and Faith. Also, perhaps because I write so slowly, I tend to be too concise, always impatient to be on to the next section because the last one took so long to write. And I worry that sometimes my prose style is too mannered.
Do you feel that your work has improved as time has passed? If so, in what areas do you think you have improved the most?
I suppose I've broadened myself a bit and gained confidence but I'm not sure that I've improved much in a technical sense since I started writing BtVS fic. I only ever seem to write two kinds of story, one of statis and one of rushing headlong into one's fate.
What do you find to be the most difficult aspect of writing fanfic?
Not being able to share the finished work with friends and family who aren't familiar with the shows and the way's one's work can be dismissed as lacking art for no other reason that it has not been published commercially. No, actually, the worst bit for me is the time between finishing a story and hearing back from a reader, during which I am always entirely convinced that it's the worst thing I've ever written. Each time I get terrible kind of stagefright and consider moving to Alaska while wearing a Groucho mask and calling myself "Heebi".
What advice would you give to new fic writers?
Find a good beta -- behind every great author is a great editor. And don't publish your Mary Sue. Mine would have been a dreadful and long-winded saga of myself as lab assistant to the valiant (Peter Cushing) Frankenstein. There is no need for that in the world.
Do you read other fanfic? If so, what are some of your favorite stories and/or authors?
I read a fair amount of fanfic: there's a recs page at my website.
Do you write original fiction? Or fiction in other fandoms? (If so, where can we find it?)
I'm trying to ease myself back into original fiction now that the PhD is done, but none of it's published yet. Childhood examples of my fanfic in other fandoms can be found in a cardboard box, hidden among other cardboard boxes, in a ground-floor storage lock-up near St Vincent's Gulf. Trust me, your life would not be enriched by reading song lyrics composed for an Ogron chorus. Trust me on this.