On the very first episode of The One True Podcast, Enthusiasm Girl talked about what inspired her to take on the challenge of creating a podcast. Her explanation really resonated with me.
“This podcast is called the OTP for a reason, it’s because my one true pairing right now is the fanfiction community/this podcast. I really want to create a community driven podcast where we have insightful, deep conversations about how fanfiction can be transformative, not just in a sense of transforming the original source stories we write about, but in the sense of transforming us. I want to talk about why we ship, and why we beta, and why we write. I want to bring new people into fanfiction and combine the voices of people who have been doing it for decades with the voices those who have been doing it for a few months. I want this podcast to represent what the fanfiction community is, an amazing place to meet new people, have great conversations, find amazing stories, and transform ourselves.” – EG
I completely share her enthusiasm in being a fan of fandom and an lover of fanfiction and the community that springs up around it. So I was super excited to speak with Enthusiam Girl about her exciting fandom project The OTPodcast.
(This interview took place back in November, 2015, so quite a bit of what we talked about looking forward to is already here!)
I wanted to ask you about your handle Enthusiasm Girl, it’s such a great name! How did you come up with it?
It was bestowed upon me by somebody else. I started out in fandom really heavily doing conventions. I volunteered for this convention called Polaris and I ended up on the convention committee. One of the guys in my committee said it to me sarcastically, like it was his way of almost putting me down like, “Oh Enthusiasm Girl. Anytime we have a really big project that we know no one else wants, we’ll give it to Enthusiasm Girl.”
My way of hitting back at him for the sarcasm was to embrace the handle enormously to the point where the second year of the convention I actually showed up in a homemade Enthusiasm Girl costume with a big EG on my chest. I took it as a badge of honor. I think that everybody in fandom is Enthusiasm Person so I said, “That’s fine. If I’m going to be the go-getter if I’m going to be the Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation of the convention committee, then I’m going to embrace it and go all in.” I ended up changing all of my handles to Enthusiasm Girl and to this day I think it irritates him.
How did you get started in fandom?
I was always a kid who was just around science fiction and fantasy to begin with. My dad loved Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov and so Star Trek was always on growing up, and the classic Doctor Who. But it wasn’t something I think I delved wholeheartedly into until I was about eleven and discovered The X-Files. I went X-Files crazy. It was on the air the time and the movie was coming out and it was a really big deal. I started collecting TV Guides with X-Files covers and I started delving into the internet fandom with GeoCities. A friend then got me into Buffy the Vampire Slayer and that was the first fandom where I kind of tentatively read some fanfiction and realized that fanfiction was a thing.
This was back when you downloaded a text file onto floppy disks, it was the olden days basically, and there was a lot of Harlequin Romance type fic. I didn’t get heavily into fandom until television became more readily available to stream or get instantly on DVD. The first big fandom I wrote for was The Pretender and then I wrote some Star Trek: Enterprise fic as well.
Conventions came much later. Once I discovered conventions, I jumped completely in. Going to those first couple of conventions that were more fan run, where they had panels, I felt like I landed on my home planet. The first year I went I saw the panels and I thought ‘Well, I could be a panelist’. The next year I went to their website and looked at the panels and I thought they were missing a whole bunch of really good ones. I think I sent them twenty panel ideas, and I’m talking about suggestions that included the title and a full-page description of the panel. I volunteered to be on all of them. I was like, “Oh my God, you guys have to do this because you can’t have a science fiction convention without a Doctor Who panel and a Star Trek panel.” A couple of months later I got an invitation that just said we would like you to come and be on the programming team and have your job be coming up with all the panels. So that was how it started. From there it led me along that road of wanting to write more, and wanting to interact with more people in fandom, and getting that sense of community.
I stepped away from fanfiction for a long time to do the conventions and then Marvel and AO3 brought me back to fanfiction. The AO3 tagging system and the layout, and how easy it was for authors to add works was great. I thought ‘I need to write fic just to be a part of AO3.’ It was like a slow process of me starting out just as an individual fan and then realizing all of the areas of community that I kind of had tendrils in.
So where would you consider your main community to be now?
Because I had left fanfiction, my community was mainly conventions for a long time. I was talking to the other people who attended conventions and meeting a lot of people face-to-face and adding them to Facebook. I had this huge Facebook group of people who I knew from my area, and thankfully in Toronto we have a massive community where everyone starts to know everyone and you see the same people at every convention, so it’s nice.
When I jumped back into AO3 it was kind of like a rabbit hole because AO3 led to tumblr and then recently with Daredevil I discovered the kink meme and I was all about that. If you look at my fanfiction history, I wrote five or six fics across the ten years prior to the kink meme, and now I think I’ve written a hundred thousand words of Daredevil fic in the last six months! I was on the off-topic discussion posts on the meme, and I befriended pretty much everybody who would give me their tumblr who wrote Daredevil fic. I’ve created challenges on AO3 now and I actually have a whole online community from tumblr and the kink meme and AO3 who I’m familiar with, and that’s where I also pull my contributors for the podcast.