Category Archives: fanfic

Can Someone Please Explain?

I love doing research. That probably makes me kind of a nerd (more than kind of a nerd). As Rhonda and I have mentioned here a few times, we have started on a new project. While we are not sharing details yet, it is amazing how research can take you to places that you didn’t necessarily expect when you begin. A big part of me really loves that research then becomes more about a journey. One of the rabbit holes of research I have found myself in lately is about fan fiction.

We have talked about fan fiction on here before. For those not in the know, fan fiction is stories or other fictional works written by fans in connection with specific fandoms. Fanfic, for short, happens in a lot of fandoms, especially those that are based on TV shows and movies. Those are works of fiction to begin with so it does not seem that strange that fans would write stories about made up characters and settings. Typically, fanfic for movies and TV shows involve either filling in gaps like missing scenes, future fiction about what might happen after the show/movie ends or alternate universe ones in which characters are placed in different settings or plots from the show. Fan fiction also happens with real life fandoms. There is fanfic about bands, including Duran Duran.

What interests me at this point is not that people write and/or read fan fiction but that a lot of it is what is called “slash” fanfic. What is that? Simple. It is about same-sex relationships, often romantic and/or sexual ones. In the case of Duran Duran, this means that the focus might be on a John and Simon pairing or a Nick and Roger one. This shouldn’t be that surprising since our fan community does get pretty excited about JoSi or those John and Simon interactions on and off stage. We have even talked about JoSi on here as I have to admit that I appreciate JoSi and even DoJo (Dom and John).

So what about this slash fanfic? Now, I am no expert on fanfic as I’m not a writer myself and would not say that I’m much of a fanfic reader. When I have read fanfic, it has typically been about a TV show or movie like when I was into the TV show, Roswell. Then, I read quite a bit but I have not read a lot of Duran Duran ones. Interestingly enough, when I have searched fanfic sites like Archive of One’s Own, there are Duran ones there (172 to be exact!). The vast majority of the most popular ones are slash ones. The combination varies between the band members but it was rare for me to see one based on a band member and a woman. There were some heterosexual ones but not a lot from what I saw. I know that there is a site for Duran Duran fan fiction in which both slash and non-slash fanfic can be found.

Now, from my research I can tell you that slash is not new. It appeared for the first time with Star Trek stories focused on Kirk and Spock. Obviously, those characters were not romantically and sexually connected on the TV show or even in the movies. Yet, fans placed these two characters together. Why? Why do some Duranies love JoSi? Why would fans read and write slash fanfic? Let me be clear. I’m not asking this with any sort of judgement. Again, I’m a big fan of the JoSi. I have read some slash fanfic when it has come to shows I have liked. I know what some of the fandom experts think. I have done my research. Yet, I wonder what people who do write and read fanfic would say. I know that the gut instinct is to say that it is hot, which I get. But why? What makes it hot? It has to be more than both guys (in this case) are hot.

Let me go a little further with this question. Does it have a greater appeal than heterosexual fanfic? If so, why? Is that true for all fanfic or just the Duran ones? If you write or read slash fanfic, do you notice differences between slash and non-slash? How are the men described? How are the women? What are their relationships with each other like? Are these same sex relationships different than the straight ones in fanfic? How do these stories compare with what you see/know in real life? Are they realistic? Totally different or something in between?

On that note, I’m off to continue my research. I’ll be anxious to see if the Duranie fanfic writers and readers match the experts or not.

-A

“After” Fan Fiction: Once a Fan, Now Celebrity

I love reading. In fact, my other “hobby”, positioned right next to writing blog posts for this very blog, is running a street team for my friend Karen Booth, who is an author. I enjoy running the street team, although I am definitely in the learning curve of finding what works and what does not, but it’s a good challenge, and I’m also learning a lot about the world of publication. What does it really take to sell a book? How do books end up on the New York Times Bestseller List?  Like anything in life, it’s complicated…but this blog isn’t about me, so keep reading.

Time and time again here on the blog I’ve attempted to skip lightly across the waters of fan fiction. It is not an area that I’ve spent a ton of time examining, particularly because just as in other fandoms, our fan fiction seems to have gone underground. Just as some see writing a blog about a particular band to be something that I should have grown out of by now; others see fan fiction as something that psycho people do. There’s the whole “You’re writing about an actual person!” thing, coupled with the whole “You’re writing about your own fantasies, aren’t you?” question.  The funny thing is that fan fiction is  huge business in fandom these days. Pick a subject, TV show, band, video game, book series, etc…and there are entire websites devoted to such delights. To many people in the academic world, fan fiction IS fandom. Any literary agent with half a brain would likely be staking out such places to find the “next best thing”.  My point? Many will scoff at fan fiction, point and call names; but you can’t really deny the marketability if you’ve spent any time at all looking into the subject.

A friend of mine tagged an article for me that ran on Billboard.com about Anna Todd. She is a One Direction fan who has written fan fiction in a series called After. It’s gotten a staggering amount views and follows (something like a billion reads??), and earned Todd both book and screenplay deals. The fiction is based on Harry Styles (whose name has obviously now been changed in the books. Legalities, you know.) and a few of his buddies.  They are marketed as New Adult fiction, with plenty of sex scenes (in fact Simon and Schuster asked Todd to include more for publication), and are large books at about 550 pages. Todd went from fan to published author in the blink of an eye, so it may seem.

To hear Anna’s story, it might sound remarkably familiar, if we erase the part about being offered a $500,000 book deal and screenplay, of course.  She liked reading, found that she enjoyed One Direction, stumbled onto a fan fiction website (iPhone app Wattpad) where she spent her time reading (amongst sending out resumes and looking for a job). One day nothing was being updated and she decided to write her own story. Something about that story resonated with someone, who told her friends, and so on and so on. A billion reads later and she’s got her OWN fandom. She spends her time writing, responding to her own fans, creating her own community.  Her participation in 1D fandom has really become participating in her own fandom at this point.  And result? A very vocal (and not quite so small “minority) of fans hate her.

Here’s the thing, not all fans want to see great things happen to other fans. It’s a fact of life. Jealousy easily flows and divides. 1D fans who originally liked her story now swear they hated it from day one. As Anna Todd has evolved from fan to celebrity, a certain faction within the One Direction community that once supported has turned against her. They don’t believe she was ever truly a fan and argue that she’s simply using the band’s success in order to cash in.

Todd herself claims that she was never, “psychotic obsessed with One Direction”. As someone who studies fandom, I find this particular characterization and description interesting. There’s always this need to equate the sort of passion that fans exhibit with crazy behavior; as though since 1D fans question the validity of her fandom, they are crazy.  It is a mechanism designed to dismiss their concerns, whether valid or otherwise, one we see used in fandom debates over and over again.

Fans particularly do not appreciate the “bad boy” characterization Todd has given to Styles, even though at this point Harry was simply the beginning “muse”. The character in the book is now named “Hardin”, and all other band member names and/or likenesses have been changed.  This is something that I’ve seen mentioned across all fandoms with regard to fan fiction. Fellow writers and readers forget that this is fan fiction. The band, the subject of interest, etc, are used purely as muses. They are starting “platforms” and those characters are typically expanded to be something quite different than how they began. Besides, who is to really know what Styles or any other band member is really like? This type of argument, over what is or is not “canon”, is common. I can only imagine what Twilight fans must have said regarding 50 Shades…

Jealousy flows readily within even our own fan community when stories of success are told. Rumors fly. Some may be valid, others couldn’t be farther from the truth. The bottom line is that it’s all fine and good until somebody gets an extra hug from LeBon and Co…and we’re in our forties at this point. The demographic of One Direction fans is decidedly younger, in more of the teen-range. Oh, the drama!

I have no way of determining whether Anna Todd is in fact a real fan or someone with enough marketing genius to see that if she could get her stories read, followed and supported by the legion of 1D fans out there, she’d have half a shot of getting a book deal. In the end, I really doubt it matters much. Someone commented to me earlier on Facebook, “Too bad the subject of our fanfic probably wouldn’t garner quite that many readers!“, and that’s really the truth, as much as I dislike admitting it. That’s really more than half of the equation here. It might not even be that her writing or the story is that compelling – it’s that she got it read by a billion people before it ever became a printed publication. In the short time that I’ve dabbled amongst street teams and have witnessed the victories and defeats of fiction authors, talent rarely has anything to do with getting published. It’s who you know, who saw your work, and in the case of Anna Todd…building a community of people willing to support you.  Billboard characterizes Todd as a lifelong fan. Perhaps a fan of many things, although we all know that One Direction has not been around quite that long. Anna Todd has gotten a billion people to read her work. How many of us can say that?

Fan or marketing genius….we may never really know.

-R

 

Showcasing Fandom: Shelly Duran – Twilight Fandom and Fanfic Writer

This blog is more than Duran Duran and more than being a Duran Duran fan.  As any regular reader would know, we are in the midst of editing a book that features extensive research on fandom, including what is fandom, what it looks like, why someone would want to be a part of fandom and why someone stays in fandom.  This blog has certainly allowed us to explore Duran Duran fandom both as observers and as participants.  Over a year ago, I asked people who participate in either different fandoms or who participate in Duran fandom differently than we do to fill out a questionnaire.  The reason for this was simple–to help me with research and to show how all fandoms experience similarities.  One of the people who volunteered is someone who participates in the Twilight fandom.  Here is how she responded to my questionnaire.

What fandom are you a part of?

Twilight

What drew you to this fandom? What did you like about the object(s) of the fandom?

Friends had been telling me for years that I should read the books but I resisted. I already had an active fandom. I didn’t think I had time for a second one. I saw the first movie on t.v. one night and knew I was hooked. I then read all four books in less than a week and saw all the movies. I even took a “mental health day” from work so I could see Breaking Dawn in the theater. The iconic love story of Edward and Bella appealed to me on a level I hadn’t experienced in years.

How long have you been a part of this fandom?

Since November 2011.

How do people communicate with other fans in your fandom?

Through different forms of social media- message boards, twitter, FB, tumblrs, various blogs and websites. I have become active in the fan fiction part of the fandom. Most stories are on one website and you can also leave reviews for the stories there. 

Are there some fans who are thought of bigger/better/important based solely on their communication?  What qualities do they have?

Yes, usually the bloggers who review fanfic and the BNA – the Big Name Authors, those that have written popular fanfic stories. They are valued for their opinions on the various stories and getting a recommendation from one of these people can really raise an author’s profile. 

What are the most common discussions?

There are three general areas: The films/books, fanfiction, and the obsession with the actors who played the characters in the films, most notably Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart.

The films/books are over so discussion is limited to recalling favorite moments or things that could have been done differently – hindsight. The biggest discussion in the book world is whether Stephenie Meyer will ever finish Midnight Sun, the unfinished manuscript of Twilight written from Edward’s point of view (EPOV).

I usually stay in the fanfiction realm. Fanfic is widely accepted in the Twilight fandom. Since these are fictional characters, there is no controversy about reading and writing fanfic like there is in the Duran fandom. There is an incredible amount of Twilight fanfiction- literally thousands of stories. I could spend years and years reading nothing but Twific.

I try to avoid the Robsten/Nonsten (those for and against the real life relationship of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart) at all costs. However, I will say I’ve become a fan of Robert Pattinson as a result of being a Twilight fan. He is nothing like “Edward” but he seems to be a genuinely nice, humble person and I’ve enjoyed the other films he’s been in besides Twilight, most notably Remember Me and Cosmopolis. Yes, I also think he’s really, really, really um… attractive (I mean hot!). But then again, I seem to have a thing for 6’2″ British guys with great jawlines and long fingers. It’s definitely a pattern for me.

Do fans get together? How? Why? When?

Yes. There are various informal and formal meet-ups and fan conventions throughout the year. Some focus on just the movies, some on just fanfiction. Fans would camp out for days before the movie red carpet premieres whenever a new movie was released. Also, the Comic-con in San Diego has attracted scores of Twilight fans over the past several years. There are Twilight specific panels at the convention as well.

What activities are found in your fandom? Describe them.

In addition to fanfiction reading and writing, there are weekly fanfiction trivia contests on twitter. Fans also make banners, blinkies, and “manips” (photoshopped pics) relating to the stories. There are highly competitive fanfiction writing contests as well as weekly and monthly polls about the fanfiction stories. The prizes are usually banners or blinkies but the real prize is the “glory” of winning the contest. There are usually several categories for winners.

One thing that impressed me the most are the causes- Twilight fans have raised thousands of dollars over the past several years by having fanfiction auctions where bidders donate money to causes everything from the tsunami in Japan, to the earthquake in Haiti, to various cancer charities. In return, authors will write specific stories- either “outtakes” of stories they are currently writing or those requested by the bidders. These stories will only be available to those who have donated for a certain length of time (3-6 months usually). 

Would you say that there is social status or a hierarchy within your fandom? How do people get higher status? Are the rules for this clear or very subtle?

Yes.  The usual rules of any fandom apply. I think also like tends to go with like.  Someone who doesn’t care for a certain character or actor isn’t going to spend a lot of time with those that are fans of those characters/actors.  In fanfiction, I think the easiest way to get “higher status” is for someone with higher status to recommend your story.  One or two mentions on an influential blog or by a “BNA” (big name author) can bring hundreds of new readers to a story.

Are there chances to have access to the object(s) of your fandom? Online opportunities? In person? Does every fan have the same opportunity? Is there tension from uneven or unequal opportunities or experiences?

Some of the same controversies in the Duran world about “stalking” vs. “being in the right place at the right time” apply here as well. There are those who go to film sets or to the actor’s homes in hopes of seeing them.  Then there are those who frequent concerts of friends of the actors.  Interestingly, Stephenie Meyer, the author of the stories attracts far less attention than the actors who played her characters. There is definitely tension over what is crossing the line and what is appropriate behavior. It is very reminiscent of the D2 fandom.

There is also tension in the fanfic world over “P2P” pulled to publish. Many, many Twific writers have removed their stories from the free fanfic websites in order to rework and then publish them as original works of fiction. The most famous (and one of the first P2P) is Fifty Shades of Grey.  Like it or not, the book has made its writer rich and famous.  Some fanfic writers don’t think fanfic should ever be published, regardless of how different the fanfic story is from the original story.

What is the range of behavior and statements regarding the object(s) of the fandom? Basically, what is said and done? What are common behaviors and statements and what are the extreme behaviors and statements?

Most of the extreme behavior occurs among those who follow the relationships of the actors from the Twilight movies- the “Robstens” vs. the “Nonstens”.  Again, I try to avoid that part of the fandom at all costs.  I have no interest in the personal lives of the actors. There are twilongers and twitter arguments between those who believe that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart are still together and those that either never believed they were together or that they were but are now broken up. The fans argue everywhere – on blogs, fan websites, in the comments section of entertainment news sites, on facebook, etc.  It isn’t just the teen-aged fans. There are fans in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s engaged in these disputes.

Some of the P2P debates have gotten ugly too. I’m not into drama (unless it’s in a story) so I avoid those arguments.

Most fans of Twilight and Twilight fanfic are older than the stereotype.  There are readers in their 20’s-60’s who are active in the fandom.  They are mostly female so that part of the stereotype holds true.  I’ve actually met many Twilight fans who are also Duran Duran fans- Twiranies.

Are there subtle rules regarding said and done?

I’m sure there are some but I haven’t been in the fandom long enough to know. That said, I think there are definitely those who are fans of the actors that fall into different groups- those that follow them relentlessly, those that just take an interest in their careers, and those that are interested in their careers and their personal lives but try not to be too instrusive (i.e. looking at paparazzi pics or paparazzi sites).

-A

 

Part of a Celluloid Dream

I am ALL about breaking rules. One of the first, if not *the* first rule of fandom is to never talk about fandom. I break that rule every single day, and I’m pretty proud of that. Another rule is not to talk about fanfic. Not sure if anyone knows, but I have been doing a lot of reading on fan fiction lately. Shortened to fanfic – it’s a subject that is apparently pretty polarizing in fandom circles. People either like it or hate it.  It’s one of those things that tend to have nasty insults hurled “You’re crazy and basically fantasizing out loud!”, “Stop putting yourself into your stories!”, “You’re just a stalker with an overactive imagination!”.  What do you think?

I don’t write or read fanfic currently. Several years ago on my old message board home (duranduranfans.com – it’s gone so don’t try to find it!), there was a fanfic section and I did read a lot of it. I was amazed by the creativity. I also did attempt to write some of my own, but the problem I found was that I was creeped out at by the idea of writing about real people…because the band is made up of real people. For me, that stopped my creative juices cold, and I decided I was a much better reader than writer. No judgment, I just couldn’t write a story to save my life. Since then, I haven’t read because there’s just no time (in my day) for that. I can barely find time to read my research, much less a book or story for enjoyment. I am not totally FOR FanFic, nor am I totally against it. I think like everything else in fandom, my opinion is that there is a place for it, certainly. I also believe that there are probably boundaries – but that is a personal thing. I am not into telling people what they should or should not do with regards to fanfic, but I am very interested in reading what our Daily Duranie readers think either way. 
I asked a very innocent (well, mostly innocent) question on Facebook last week – I wanted to know how people felt about FanFic. Is in an integral part of being a Duran fan?  My reasons for asking were simple: in the fandoms I’m researching right now – they lend themselves well to FanFic. Books like Twilight and Harry Potter, television shows like Star Trek and Supernatural all have a thriving and growing fan base, yet in three out of the four examples I’ve given (Twilight, Harry Potter and the TV series Star Trek), the original series has ended. What keeps the fan base active? I’d have to offer up the idea of FanFic as at least one point.  To fans, the stories have continued in one fashion or another, and the “fanworks” are what keep the fandom alive.  
Interestingly enough, the storylines don’t always follow true to form. They aren’t always a continuation of existing stories. The authors of the FanFic put their own spin on things, it’s not a re-write of what has already been done, but brand new stories, and even more curiously there are many different genres that characters from the books, movies, TV series, etc. are written in which to reside. These genres include Romance, H/C (hurt/comfort), Slash (guy/guy; girl/girl), including incestuous and other types of relationships, they can be extremely sexual, not so much…and everything in between. So the boulevard for fanfic is incredibly wide, yet ridiculous to try and navigate in a single blog post. 
The answers I received to my question were very enlightening. Most of those who wrote publicly wanted to make sure I knew that they didn’t participate. Others were happy to tell me that they still participate, but that the entire topic has really moved underground. It’s just not out there in public for people to find. You’ve got to be a member of a private board or so forth, because a lot of writers are just tired of being judged. None of the reactions surprised me. As I said earlier, I think it’s something that you either love and participate in, or you hate the idea it even exists. Someone else pointed out to me that the band were real people – so fanfic probably doesn’t exist. In fact, DD fanfic still exists. It’s real, and it’s out there. For those of you who were on DDM.com a few years back, you probably know or have heard about Offenderland – the fanfic area that was removed.  The fact is, it does exist, RPF or not (Real Person Fiction), and yes, all of the above genres mentioned are still written with the band in mind.  
I know some of the questions people want to know. How can you write about real people? Isn’t it disrespecting the band? Isn’t it just flat out creepy?  Isn’t it invading their privacy?  Where can I find this fan fic?!? (Come on, I know somebody out there wants to know!!) 
I can’t answer all of these questions, because I’m not a writer in that sense. What I can tell you is this: fanfic is an important part of fandom, even if it’s not a publicly-seen cornerstone of our own. Real Person Fiction, however unnerving it might seem upon first glance – occurs across every single type of fandom out there. Fanfic can be therapeutic. It’s putting thoughts to paper (or screen) that you just need to get out of the system. Sort of similar to blogging!  Fanfic also opens the doors for discussion, in the very same way that this blog might. I would agree, there are parts to fanfic that yes, I find very creepy, but the trouble with extending that creepiness to all of it, insisting that it be kept out of sight and out of mind is that for many, it is how they choose to communicate. It is how those real world issues of race, sexuality, misogyny, homophobia, and other challenges to whatever the social norms might be get discussed. To those who write fanfic, the band are just the muse. They’re the characters in whatever situation they’re being written into. Let’s be honest: unless you’re a friend of the band – and by “friend” I don’t mean someone who has met them many times, I’m talking about someone who is invited “IN” past the curtain or stage door – they aren’t people we know. We only know the onstage, public persona. I don’t know how the band might feel about the stories being written about them, but I think their privacy is likely whatever happens after that proverbial stage door is “shut”. 
What I’d like to read though, are your opinions about fanfic. Like it? Hate it? Weirded out by the idea? Send in your comments. In coming blogs I plan to dig a little deeper into the subject – so prepare yourselves.  
-R

Fanfic

Yesterday, a teasing John Taylor tweeted the following, “now.. a jacuzzi with Roger or a sauna with Charlie?  Such highly-charged homo-erotic options.”  Of course, the responses to this tweet came fast and furious. Some people responded with which choice s/he thought was best.  Other responded with some sort of “can I join you” question/suggestion.  Of course, there was at least one comment about how the fanfic was writing itself.  I laughed and thought about how we have never even come close to discussing fanfic on the blog and yet, for some fans, it is a big part of their fandom.


For those people not in the know, fanfic stands for fan fiction.  They are fictional stories featuring one of more band members.  In some cases, the stories are completely heterosexual in nature and feature the band member of choice in some sort of romantic and/or sexual situation with one or more members of the opposite sex.  I have seen many stories in which the main character is a fan or someone who could be a fan.  In my opinion and I’m by no means an expert as I don’t read much fanfic, these stories can seem like people’s personal fantasy regarding the band member(s) of her choice.  Now, there are other stories, which are homoerotic in nature.  In some cases, this is done subtly and left more to the imagination and, in other times, is pretty explicit.  Most of those stories focused on John and Simon as a couple but there were other ones representing every combination of couple possible. 


Now, again, I’m not expert in fanfiction, Duran fanfic included.  I don’t read much and have never written anything myself.  Yet, it seems like fanfiction has been around a long time and probably has been around for almost as long as the band has been around.  It wouldn’t surprise me, for example, if there aren’t many Duranies who had written some sort of story featuring Duran at one point in their youth.  Anyway, fanfic seems to have been or is very popular within the community.  For a long time, there was a section on the DuranDuranMusic message board dedicated solely to fanfiction and it was a very popular place.  The moderators, for whatever reason, decided to remove it.  This, obviously, upset a lot of people.  Frankly, I don’t even know if a reason was ever given to explain this decision.  It seemed like a lot of those writers and readers left the board quickly after that.  Maybe they found a new place to play.  No matter if the reason was stated or not stated, I still wonder.  Was it removed because the band didn’t like reading fictional stories about themselves, no matter if they are written gay, straight or bisexual?  What is removed because there were complaints about the graphic nature of some of stories?  Was it an example of what could be called homophobia because people didn’t like gay relationships or gay sex? 


Now, I’m left wondering what the status is with fanfiction in our community.  Do people still write?  Do people still read?  Where is this exchange taking place?  Is it the same type of deal in terms of types of stories?  I also wonder what the fan community thinks of fanfic as a whole.  Why do people write the stories?  What do they get out of the experience?  Why do people read them or why do people not read them?  Do people prefer the straight ones or the gay ones?  Why?  Is there a place in our community for this kind of creativity?  What do you, personally, think of fanfic?  


-A