How did you begin writing in general?
I was 11 or 12 and no matter how hard I sent brainwaves through the air, teenage boyband Take That just wouldn't kiss each other on TV. I had no idea what real person slash was, but I was scribbling it into notebooks. Then my attention migrated to DS9's Garak and Bashir. Mulder and Scully sucked me into het for a while before Alex Krycek seduced me back to slash. The stories I wrote were utterly horrible, worthy of the very worst of fanfic.net. I'm so glad I didn't have internet access then: all the training wheels stuff can stay where it belongs, in a drawer in the attic.
What inspired you to begin writing fanfic?
Ah, I've basically answered this above, since it's always been fanfic I've written... how'd I get into Buffy fanfic, then. I'd been watching the show since Once More With Feeling; had a go at a few bits and pieces but never finished anything. Then the first ficathon came along, and I signed up, and suddenly I *had* to finish a story. And it was Buffy/Wesley, not a pairing I'd ever thought about. Looking back, I can see the flaws with that story, but I still like it very much. And as everybody knows, ficathons are crack. I've done something like fifty of them (!), written some incredibly bizarre pairings, and had a blast. Oh, and written some stuff that wasn't for a ficathon, but those stories are few and far between...
What do you enjoy about writing fanfic?
The chance to fill in the gaps in canon, from the major (did Spike ever meet Penn?) to the ridiculously small (say, Spike's lighter in Gone looks a lot like 50s-Angel's light in Are You Now...) Getting characters to interact in ways we never saw onscreen. Looking at 'well if this had happened instead, how would things have changed?'
Why have you chosen to write about Spike? What do you find interesting about his character?
On a completely shallow level, I love how he talks, the choppiness and that terse quality of his speech. Character-wise, there are just so many layers to explore (I'm a physics undergraduate, I'll stop myself here before I start talking about mandelbrots and infinite complexity). We've seen all these sides to him and there's such a variation in how he interacts with people - his canon relationships with Dru, Buffy and Angel/Angelus are the most obvious ones, but there's also how he is with Dawn, or Fred, or people he never shared much time with. Plus the 124 year time period to write him in lends itself to lots of interesting stories.
What other characters or relationships do you find most interesting to write?
Holden Webster. Holden, Holden, Holden. I got the season 7 DVDs recently and I'm so in love with Conversations With Dead People. I love to write almost all the characters, but I'd say that Dawn and Xander are the easiest heads to get inside. I tend not to prefer slash or unconventional relationships - my One True Pairing's Spike/Angel - but I'd really like to tackle Buffy/Spike at some point.
Of the work you've written, which piece is your favorite? Why?
It's not Spike-centric, but A Girl Made From Sky is my favourite. It's Dawn/The Cheeseman and the words just seemed to flow out when I was writing it. Plus it let me play with Neil Gaiman's rich, lovely Sandman universe. Of Spike fics, I'd have to say Ewan MacGregor Is Not Just a River in Egypt
. It's short, it's pointless, it has no plot but does have snark, which means it's practically a signature piece. *g*
Which piece was the most difficult to write? Why?
Again, not a Spike piece, but my longest story to date is an episode-type Cordelia fic. 13500 words, written in a day and a half. That involved some sweating of blood.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a fanfic writer?
Strengths: probably dialogue. It's not exactly a strength, but I love all the characters - even Eve has worked her way into my heart like some malignant virus - and I try my best to write them fairly, while not whitewashing any of their bad qualities. Weaknesses: the fact that if given free rein I'll take 500 words to say something that could be said in a thousand. Also, I tend to stick very rigidly in the central character's head, and that can sometimes get in the way, especially in a story with lots of action.
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?
Yes, definitely. I've become a lot more aware of word choices and of the need to not make it Topsy and Tim (what's the American equivalent, Dick and Jane? I have a tendency to write 'he went down the stairs. There was someone at the door. He opened the door.' Yeah, I try not to do that...)
What do you find to be the most difficult aspect of writing fanfic?
Finding new ways to say the same thing. Kisses are hard to write. Sex is manageable because there's more, ah, room for variation, but a kiss is just a kiss, etc. This is probably why I find myself writing more gen stuff.
What advice would you give to new fic writers?
Try lots of things. Lots of styles, different pairings, even if they seem weird. Don't feel compelled to publish everything you post, it can always be cannibalised for a later fic. Ask for advice.
Do you read other fanfic? If so, what are some of your favorite stories and/or authors?
Far too many. I'll just gratuitously pimp my recs site, then: http://www.exitseraphim.net/recs
Do you write original fiction? Or fiction in other fandoms? (If so, where can we find it?)
I've written a couple of Pirates of the Caribbean fics and one each for Discworld and Queer as Folk UK. They'll be on my website when I finally get round to uploading everything.