What inspired you to begin writing fanfic?
My ex and I broke up, and I knew I had to do something positive to deal with the situation, so I started drinking and reading Internet porn. And somehow I stumbled over BtVS stuff, and I'd seen the show a couple of times, found it funny and smart and entertaining, and figured it was something I could probably do.
What do you enjoy about writing fanfic?
It's a lot easier than writing original fic, at least for me. The playground's all set up--I just get to bounce on the trampoline. Instead of having to, you know, fundraise for the new pommel horse and poll the PTA on whether or not to have co-ed dodgeball, and stop the girls from pelting Carrie with tampons in the shower.
I also like the fandom--the feedback, which is wonderful. Most people are very appreciative of the stories, and I like writing things that I know are going to produce a response in people. I like going to bed knowing that when I wake up, there'll be 16 emails in my mailbox from people asking why Spike and Xander still have all their clothes on, in chapter 43. I'm slow as molasses and people are patient with that. It's very nice.
I also like the sexual frankness of fanfic, and the (for the most part) sexual tolerance of most fans. I write about stuff that would make a lot of people's heads spin around--boy/boy sex, mainly. A lot of readers aren't okay with that, as a basic premise. In fanfic, there's a fundamental understanding that that's fine, that's cool, that's part of the deal. Boys kiss boys. And should do so more often, and before chapter 43 if possible. Please, thanks.
Why have you chosen to write about Spike? What do you find interesting about his character?
Spike's hot, he's funny, he's dorky, and he plays well with others. He does
stuff. He's a very active character. You can put Spike in a room with just about any other character, and things will happen. Not necessarily groiny things--one thing about fanfic, particularly Spikefic, that sort of cheeses me (insofar as I get cheesed, which is to say, a faint dusting of old and flavorless Parmesan, that's all) is that so many people treat Spike as a kind of mobile vibrator. The Fuller Brush salesman, you know? Always ready to get it on. When really, we haven't seen him act like that on the show. Sez I, who haven't watched more than a dozen eps. But he's not a nymphomaniac. He's, you know, a healthy, um, dead guy, who knows he's attractive and isn't above using that to his advantage. But he's not all over every woman in every show--hasn't Xander got more trim, if we tally it up? I might be wrong about that, but if I'm wrong, it's still close. Spike's interesting because of the way he's charged, not because he's throwing everyone over tombstones and boffing them senseless. Cf. chapter 44.
What other characters or relationships do you find most interesting to write?
Well, ahem. Funny you should ask. I used to write William/Angelus as Coquette, and I feel very guilty that I've let that go for so long. I had to move to a new country, had to return all my research materials to the library and lost track of it all, the voice and the period and all that. And I just haven't got back to it. But that was my first fic-publishing gig, and it was completely Peasant's fault. Although she didn't know me at the time.
I've written Angel/Spike from time to time, and I enjoy doing the three-ring circus of all the crew (Ats or BtVS) in the same plot, but I don't really know the characters well enough to do much besides S/X or S/A. I'm not invested enough to learn more, I guess.
Strangely, although I'm pretty much gay, I have no interest at all in writing femmeslash. And het just fails to grab me. The emotional tenor is all wrong.
Of the work you've written, which piece is your favorite? Why?
Maybe Bus Stop Boxer, because I love that hard, sad Xander. Or Dark Horse, because it came together so easily as a story, and because I like how all the parts fit. Like a Russian doll set--story inside story inside story. I re-read some bits of Modus again recently, which was the one I wrote while drunk. It's funny, but it has something that none of the other stories have. Less head, more heart. Which I guess makes sense, considering that I was, you know. Drunk. But yeah, it's a good story in its own way. In a necessary, cheesy, heartfelt kind of way.
Which piece was the most difficult to write? Why?
I think Ars Moriendi, because to a certain extent I forced it, and got kind of fancy-literary on its ass, and that weakened the voice and flawed the construction. You can tell, reading it. It does this lame-o narrative confusion thing in the beginning, with the shifts in the chronology, which are just confusing and sort of pointless. Well, I think they have a point, but I don't think they really work. So maybe I'm not an adept-enough writer to pull that stuff off, or maybe it's just a case of the wrong tool for the job. Anyway, I wrote and rewrote and rewrote, and it started to really bottom out and drag, and nothing was happening, and the momentum just dropped through the floor because what is it about, really? It's like the 0-degrees Kelvin of badness, the situation Xander's in. It doesn't get much more bad than being raped and kidnapped and threatened with death and held more or less hostage in a deserted frozen ghost town in upstate NY. That's when molecules pretty much stop moving. And poor Xander just sort of shut down and wanted to die. I don't blame him. I wanted to die too. But at least people stopped asking for a Modus sequel.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a fanfic writer?
Well, one weakness is that I don't know much about canon, but I work around that by just making shit up. I hang the "Disabled" thingie on the rear view mirror and park where I want. So that's no big. I think a bigger weakness is one I have in writing in general, and that fanfic's actually helped me with, a bit--this hangup with style, and with so-called "literary" writing, and my dualist angst about creating popular, enjoyable, readable writing versus fancy-pants stuff. Which is all about having formal training in writing, and having to unlearn a lot of that stuff, because I think I learned it wrong in the first place, or learned the wrong lessons from what people were teaching and showing me. I mean, I think when I try to get "literary" I distance my brain from my voice, or whatever it is that brings the story, and it slows down and becomes intellectual and boring. I don't think that I have a natural intellectual voice, like some writers. Like, say, Louis de Bernieres, or I don't know. Anyone. Anyone who's achieving acclaim in the field of "literary" writing, which usually means domestic realism. I find that admirable, but not as emotionally compelling as some lower-brow genres. Comics and some fantasy, and genre blends. Stuff that deals with arcs and epic character development. I grew up reading Teen Titans
. I'm all about the arcs. I think that's what drew me to the Jossverse in the first place, and it's where I have to start situating my writing in general, as soon as I can find a way to do it without abandoning my desire to produce "good," "literary" writing.
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?
Yeah, for all that I think fanfiction doesn't set the same challenges as original fiction, I still think it's helped me as a writer. Any kind of creative writing helps, I guess. And fanfic's helped me to loosen up a bit, which I really desperately needed. There are no real stakes in fanfic, because it's anonymous and clearly not for profit or recognition. It's just play. It's been great to feel like writing's play again--it hasn't felt like that in a long time. Which is too bad.
What do you find to be the most difficult aspect of writing fanfic?
There's sometimes a sense of obligation, to finish stories or post more frequently than my human frailties and RL schedule want to allow. There have been periods when I've been writing a lot when I really haven't slept much. So, there's a physical strain. Which seems odd, but there you go. I'm starting to let that slide a bit more--I leave stuff unfinished, I try to be more open about my level of commitment. Which isn't, strictly speaking, too high. I mean, see above, re: play.
What advice would you give to new fic writers?
I have no idea. Um, write what you know? Set aside some money each month for retirement? Do weight-bearing exercise? Floss?
Honestly, I have no clue.
Do you read other fanfic? If so, what are some of your favorite stories and/or authors?
I don't read much fanfic, and haven't for a while. I'm mostly on LJ, I almost never stray out into the Internet anymore, because I just don't have time. My schedule is sort of ridiculously restrictive, when I sit down and look at it. There are some authors I'll make an effort to read, though--mainly friends, at this point. I'm not reading very widely, I think, because I get my intellectual and "good writing" jolts from other places (mainly original fiction and non-fiction--books, etc.) and I don't need the angst/sex jolt as much as I used to. Thank god.
Favorite authors and stories...that gets into iffy territory, I think. I have days where I crave really gummy, dark S/X or S/G or whatever, with lots of shameless h/c and angst and non-con, where you can just wring the story out and watch it drip sad, sexy pain into a bucket. And then I have low days. No, no. I have days where I'm tickled by funny, light, snarky stories that take the whole BtVS premise irreverently. And I also have days where it's all a big epic and everyone's cast in this sort of heroic glow, and I love those too. Basically, I love watching someone do something well. Like watching dance, or capoeira, or trapezery, or something. But unlike those things, it's like watching someone perform at something that I actually do, and know something about. There's a shared rush. I used to feed people with long, workshoppy letters about those stories. I think I scared some people. Now I hardly feed at all, which is probably far worse. LJ and RL have conspired to make me mute.
Do you write original fiction? Or fiction in other fandoms? (If so, where can we find it?)
I write original stuff, yes. I don't write in any other fandoms. Although there's a Full House
RPS triptych niggling at the back of my mind, a Bob/Jon h/c mpreg series that I think could really go somewhere...