OS: Welcome to Tia Fielding here to talk about their new book!
Fans, Fiction, and Fan fiction
It’s not a secret that I, along with many other authors, started with writing fan fiction. Why is that?
Well, now, maybe more than ever, people of all ages belong to different fandoms whether they realize it or not. There are people who are into Marvel comics and the subsequent movies, or maybe they’re into series like Sense8 or Teen Wolf, or books and movies like Harry Potter or something completely different. Or all of those, as it might be the case with yours truly.
Now, I’m going to use Teen Wolf as an example here, so bear with me. The short version is this: Teen Wolf started as a somewhat good show that got mediocre, then worse and worse, writing-wise, over the years it was on air. It had an openly gay showrunner, and it had plenty of shots of shirtless young men. It also had an oddly misogynous and racist way of getting rid of female and POC characters—some of them died in one episode and were never or rarely mentioned again, including the main characters main love interest from the first couple of seasons.
There was also, one of the most famous “ships” modern television has conjured, Sterek. Now, Sterek, the mostly imaginary romantic relationship between Stiles Stilinski, the mouthy, sarcastic, spazzy sidekick of the series’ main character, and Derek Hale, the supposed misunderstood bad boy werewolf, was the stuff of legends.
Why? Because for the first couple of seasons, the show kept queerbaiting its audience with scenes that could easily be construed as having romantic or sexual tension between Stiles and Derek. There were even promotion interviews and such, where the actors in question were draped over each other in a suggestive way. Then suddenly something changed. Suddenly, Stiles and Derek had next to no scenes between them.
The show began actively erasing any trace of Sterek. This went as far as not letting the actors sit next to each other at a Comic Con panel. There are actual fans who saw that their name tags were set next to each other, and then one was moved before the panel started.
So what does all of this have to do with fan fiction?
Oh boy…. One of the things fans of all shapes, sizes, ages, gender identities, and sexualities do is create stories where their favorite characters get their happily ever afters. This happens with most shows, movies, book series and so on.
With Teen Wolf, the audience was queer baited—led to believe that there might in fact be a relationship in the canonical future of Stiles and Derek on the show—and then suddenly and rudely denied the chance to see what they’d hinted at actually happen.
This lead to the fans getting majorly pissed off. A lot of people stopped watching the show, especially after the actor portraying Derek, Tyler Hoechlin, left the show after season 4. Many believe, that the queer baiting led to the good ratings at first, and then, when they stopped doing it, into it’s steady yet fast ratings decline.
It’s now been almost a year since the very last episode was aired, and the fandom is still going strong. There are events that celebrate different ships, there are many sub-communities on different platforms where fans connect with each other, and there are So. Many. Fics. The current number, as I’m writing this on the last day of June, is 96 520 works tagged under Teen Wolf (all potential ships included) on Archive of Our Own alone. There are other platforms, which only add to that number.
And that’s just one fandom, where there are hundreds.
The key to understanding fan fiction, in my opinion, is this: When people form emotional attachments to characters, they want them to have more stories, more spotlight, just… more. It could be that the original creators messed up somehow—killed off a character that now lives in fan fiction only, hinted at a relationship that never happened, had one of the characters fall for a third person etc.—or it could be that no matter how good the original content was, people still wanted more for their favorites.
In some ways, I believe that fan fiction and fan art are the ultimate compliments any creator can have. Fan fiction or art means that someone loved something you did so much, they took time and created their version of it. They loved it so much, that they needed more of it.
Of course, there are people like, say author Diana Gabaldon who had a famous fan fiction related meltdown on her blog in 2010. For her, fan fiction was immoral, and her belief was it was also illegal (which it isn’t, unless you’re trying to make money out of it or claim the characters you’re using belong to you.)
Needless to say, I stopped reading her books soon after. I used to love them, but her prejudiced point of view made me feel dirty to be giving her my money anymore. She was basically telling me, as a reader, that I was a bad person for writing fan fiction—even though I never wrote or read any fic based on her characters.
I guess I should end this by saying that I still write fan fiction in a few different fandoms. I read it regularly too, actually I read it a lot. There are so many excellent writers in fan fiction that have never been published. Whenever I talk to one of those people, I try to encourage them to write original fiction, try to find a publisher, because they certainly have the chops to do so.
For someone like me, who doesn’t necessarily have the “spoons” to write a lot in the first place, fan fiction is an escape. I know I maybe should be writing original fiction when I have the strength to write in the first place, but sometimes I just want to quickly write something, just to keep my brain happy, and have people comment on it instantly. Sometimes, fan fiction is brain and muse maintenance, while original fiction is… well, work.
So I’ll leave you with this thought: Whether you read or write fan fiction or original fiction or all of the above, there’s nothing wrong with any of that. Whatever makes your brain and heart happy. There’s no shame in borrowing other people’s characters, and there’s certainly no shame in reading fan fiction.
I would have never gotten published in the first place if I hadn’t gotten into fan fiction first. Fan fiction made me find my purpose in life. This is my thing, this is what makes me happy, and I have fan fiction to thank for it!
Life started out rocky for Devin Rice, but it’s turned out pretty well. He has adoptive parents and a brother who love him, and he works as a coder for his dad’s video game company. Romance is scarce, but a chance encounter leads to more than he ever expected.
While dropping off an assignment for his sick brother, Dev meets his mentor. Art history professor Seth Kent is brilliant and gorgeous, just what Dev has been looking for. Except that he’s in a long-term committed relationship.
Seth’s partner, Leaf, is older and sees the world differently due to his unusual upbringing. To him, the clear attraction between Seth and Dev isn’t a problem, it’s an unexpected gift. After all, Leaf is often on the road, going wherever rescue dogs need rehabilitation.
When Leaf meets Dev, all the missing pieces fall into place, and three men from different worlds and at different points in life fill each other’s empty spaces. For them, building a future together is the most natural thing in the world. But their unconventional love causes waves in their careers and family dynamics, and each man has his own doubts and fears to overcome.
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Tia Fielding is a thirtysomething Scandinavian who is a lover of witty people, words, cats, sarcasm, autumn, and the tiny beautiful things in life. Tia struggles with stubborn muses and depression, but both are things she has learned to live with. Tia identifies as genderqueer, but isn’t strict about pronouns. Why? Because luckily, in her native language there aren’t gender-specific pronouns. Being a reclusive author living with her fur-babies is another fact of life for Tia, among the need to write that seems to be a part of her psyche by now. In 2013 one of Tia’s novels was recognized by the industry’s Rainbow Awards in the Best LGBT Erotic Romance (Bobby Michaels Award) category.
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