Geeking Out About Fanfiction with Tor.com Publishing Authors at BookCon!

The BookCon panel For Fans, By Fans: Fanfiction Addiction can best be summed up by the moment when Riot Baby author Tochi Onyebuchi mentioned a Superman fanfic about Martha Kent shooting every time traveler who tries to kill baby Clark—and then an audience member piped up with the name of the fic, and suddenly all the attendees were distracted bookmarking Empty Graves by Unpretty to read after they were finished gushing about fanfiction.

The panel featured four Tor.com Publishing authors with varying relationships to fic writing: Onyebuchi, who says “Gundam Wing MADE ME”; Tamsyn Muir (Gideon the Ninth) and Brooke Bolander (The Only Harmless Great Thing), who met in the Final Fantasy 7 fandom; and Katharine Duckett, whose Miranda in Milan is queer Shakespeare fanfiction.

Moderated by The Mary Sues’ Princess Weekes, the discussion ranged from thoughtful commentary on fanfiction as a subversive, queer, punk space, to the authors’ OTPs and favorite fanfic tropes. (Shockingly, no one said “there’s only one bed.”) Truly, it was a delight to live-tweet, the entire thread of which you can read below! (And more great photos on Tor.com Publishing’s Facebook!)

Next up for #BookCon19 is For Fans, By Fans: Fanfiction Addiction with @TochiTrueStory @BBolander @tazmuir @kekduckett! moderated by @WeekesPrincess

What was your first fandom?

@TochiTrueStory: “I was the Toonami generation. Gundam Wing MADE ME.”
@BBolander and @tazmuir met through Final Fantasy 7!
@kekduckett: “I got into Buffy fandom before I understood fandom was something you could get into.”

But what was their first *fanfic*? “I was very gay, even as a child,” says, @kekduckett, so of course it was Xena/Gabrielle, with some Callisto thrown in there to make Xena realize she loved Gabrielle: “They were camping out, for some reason.”

@tazmuir wrote some #Animorphs fanfic, but it was mostly a very ’90s parody dunking on the X-Files movie

Fanfic, @TochiTrueStory says, “was the very first instance where I confronted the problem of, how do you write out in prose this magical thing that is happening”–like in Naruto, or as @WeekesPrincess points out, Sailor Moon transformation sequences.

What fanfiction teaches writers:

to be humble: you’re bending characters to your will, but within someone else’s context
structure
to be ENTERTAINING and keep people coming back for the next chapter
characterization, diving into the interiority of characters’ heads

LIVE FANFIC RECS via @TochiTrueStory: Empty Graves by Unpretty, about Martha Kent dispatching of every person who comes back in time to try and kill Clark. archiveofourown.org/works/6447187

The panel reminisces on seeing queer and nonbinary characters for the first time in Gundam Wing slash fiction, watching queer culture carve out a space online, coming of age in a time when writing slash was a political statement. #BookCon19

Pick an IP: how would you fanfic it?

@TochiTrueStory: “Marvel, just give me Cable and Bishop, and just lock me in a room.”
@kekduckett: “I want a corner of the MCU. I want to make Valkyrie the bi icon she’s meant to be.”

Pick an IP: how would you fanfic it?

@BBolander: “Final Fantasy 7, because they’re busy making that terrible.”
@tazmuir: “Final Fantasy could use a healthy dose of gay. […] Give Bo and me the next Final Fantasy, and you won’t want to play it, but we’ll have fun.”

Why do we think fanfic was in the closet for so long? When did the panel begin to notice that changing? @WeekesPrincess cites @rainbowrowell‘s #CarryOn as helping make fanfic more acceptable for the mainstream.

Fanfiction was always subversive, always underground, @kekduckett points out. But now it feels like we own it more. @tazmuir agrees, citing when fanfic authors stopped including “it’s not mine, please don’t sue me” disclaimers in their authors’ notes.

What makes fanfiction still feel so punk, @TochiTrueStory says, is that it’s “a place where people can go who’ve been kept off the shelves of bookstores.” Like mixtapes versus albums. #BookCon19

A VITAL shipping question for this panel: What is your ride-or-die OTP?

@TochiTrueStory: Cap/Bucky
@BBolander: Mulder/Scully
@tazmuir: John/Karkat
@kekduckett: Xena/Gabrielle
@BBolander on the Internet helping young Bo become a writer: “[I thought] writers are like trees, or the sky. They’re something that just happen. You don’t grow up to be a writer. Writers are gods. […] Having the Internet to spit into, consequence-free, was really freeing.”

The inevitable shipping follow-up question: Favorite fanfiction tropes?

@tazmuir: fake-married
@kekduckett: Hollywood AU
@BBolander: end of the world, “everybody pressed to their breaking point”
@TochiTrueStory: enemies to lovers

We’ve heard their OTPs–how about *No*TPs?

@tazmuir: Aang/Katara: “My brain is the wrong circuits, I could not see it, I could not love it… I want to be converted.”
@kekduckett and @TochiTrueStory try to keep open minds
@BBolander, too: “Convince me.”

“Fandom is cultural capital now. Front-and-center that stuff.” @tazmuir urging people to out themselves as fanfiction writers/readers, because that’s how you get to learn something new about them #BookCon19

The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander

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