It sounds like Daredevil took over as your main fandom.
I still really love Tony Stark and I still love Marvel, but primarily right now it’s Daredevil.
So what drew you to Daredevil? What about that story and those characters made you want to write in that universe?
Initially when I watch a show, I am drawn to all the areas of possibility as a writer and like finding an interesting perspective, so the first thing I was drawn to in Daredevil was his senses and the way that he interacts with the world. To me the show only kind of touched on it, but I loved the idea that you have this person who has such a completely unique perception of the world, and I just wanted to explore his backstory and his senses. So I went on AO3 I wrote a series of stories called The Five Senses, where each one is a drabble about him existing with his senses at different points in the continuity of the show’s canon. I got some good comments and feedback and I started reading Daredevil fic and that’s when I started seeing that a lot of the fics I was reading were in the kink meme collection and people were talking about prompts.
Once I realized that the kink meme was a place that I could take the kinds of prompts that always stuck me as a writer and put them out there for other writers, I was able to get millions of ideas out of my head. Before I was always in stuck in my head and working on long fics, and when I found the kink meme I realized I could just write lots of drabbles. I would challenge myself and find prompts that weren’t getting fills and write five fills in a day. Once I started doing that, the writing became less about me writing to get something off my chest and more about engaging with that community.
Now I love Daredevil because I’ve slowly come around to being a lover of Foggy Nelson and writing a lot of fic about him, and also committed myself to writing more niche works that other people are not necessarily considering. I write a lot of stories about parental angst or different takes on backstories. I tend to write a lot of stuff about the perspectives of minor characters. I ran a minor character Daredevil fic fest because I was complaining on tumblr about how I was really struck by the obsession with Matt and Foggy and the lack of Ben Urich appearing in fic at all. There’s about five Ben Urich stories on AO3. Even some of the minor Russian thug characters had more stories than Ben Urich and so I asked some questions on tumblr about why that was. I said “If he was written as a 25-year-old white guy, and that was the only difference in the character, you can’t tell me there wouldn’t be hundreds of fics about him.” And people called me on it and said “Well, you tend to write Matt and Foggy”, and so I wrote a Ben Urich fic and ran the minor character fic fest and I tried to be more conscious of that.
But I also feel that with Daredevil there are so many people who are shipping Matt/Foggy and kind of only doing one thing, so there is a lot of opportunity for me to come in and write stuff that I feel like needs to be there and is unique and is offering different takes on stuff. There’s usually people who really appreciate that within that fandom. It’s not like I’m writing into a void and nobody cares. The fandom has been very encouraging of that and so it’s kind of nice to be able to feel necessary there.
What I really love about fandom is that when I first get into a new fandom, I go and look for all the things I like and if I don’t see them I figure I can just write them myself and contribute in that way. There will always be someone who’s looking for a rare pair or a different point of view.
I’m always happy to break out a new tag on AO3 and I feel like I’ve been doing good job at that. Recently I wrote a fic and I was one of the first people to use the Franklin Foggy Nelson & Elena Cardenas friendship tag on AO3, and it was shocking to me that no one else had because it’s such a great relationship. I feel like once you put it out there, other people will be like ‘Wait a second, how come I’ve never seen that before?’ It’s kind of awesome.
Fanfiction can be kind of a weird feedback loop. When I went on my Ben Urich rant, what I got back from some people was that the Daredevil fandom has decided that Matt and Foggy is all they want to read or write about, and other stories weren’t being written because fans didn’t want them. The point of the post was really trying to remind people to think critically about why you want to read or write what you want to read or write. When people initially came to the Daredevil fandom, if you looked at the kink meme, there was a broad base of prompts and people were asking for all sorts of pairings. But if all of the prompts that get filled and commented on tend to be the Matt and Foggy ones, it didn’t necessarily mean that fandom only wants to ship and talk about them. It could just mean that the people who wanted something else realized that the fandom wasn’t for them and left. That’s the unfortunate thing about fanfiction being so slash focused and so OTP focused. Sometimes I feel like we get into this feedback loop of producing what’s popular and you don’t see the people on the outside of the community who might like to be a part of it but are looking at it and wondering where they fit in. Again, that’s part of why feel like what I do is necessary. It’s kind of why I try to stick with it and not just say “I’m not just interested in this particular ship, so I’m leaving”. You need those writers who are willing to come in and bring a different take on something.
All you can do is continue to write what speaks to you.
That’s what kind of drew me to the idea of talking about the community in a podcast. Because if you have a community that isn’t reflecting on itself, then I feel like that’s kind of how some of these loud and large feedback loops start to happen. We have to be able to be a little bit self-reflective and think critically about why we’re writing the ships that we are writing.
That’s a great segue to talk about how you started the OTPodcast.
I’ve wanted to do a podcast for a long time because I’ve always been a fan of podcasts. I’ve seen the Nerdist podcast live a couple of times, I’ve followed a lot of comedy podcasts, and I love history podcasts like Sawbones and Stuff You Missed in History Class. I’m constantly listening to different podcasts and excited about the possibilities of the medium, and I was just kind of waiting for something that would just feel like the right thing for me.
Then, the convention that I was the head of programming for took a temporary hiatus and I had all these panel ideas that were just sitting there that I had no use for. So I looked at the list and I realized that the panels that I would miss the most at the convention were all the after dark fanfiction panels that we used to do. They were really fun and really thoughtful and people had really interesting opinions. Then I put two and two together and thought these panels are really just a podcast waiting to happen. Why couldn’t I put together a bunch of panels and get together via Skype and essentially do this same kind of late night talking and just put out as a podcast? Within ten minutes, I had brainstormed fifty topics about fan fiction and then I started talking to a few people from different convention’s fanfiction panels and on the kink meme and before I knew it I had thirty people who all were like, “Yes let Skype, let’s do this!” Once I started doing the recordings, I realized that if the people listening enjoy it half as much as we enjoy talking about it, then it’s good.
Curious: Fanfiction encompasses such a diverse range of topics, and ideas, and dynamics, some of which people might find controversial, or have extremely different opinions about. How do you approach topics like that?
EG: I’m still trying to figure it out. I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing that I haven’t gotten a lot of comments at this point. I’m not getting necessarily a lot of actual negative or positive comments yet to really know if I’m engendering that kind of controversy. The second episode was about gender, and I was a little nervous about that one because there was some talk about trans characters, and A/B/O, and gender swap. I got one comment from AO3 that I read on my third show. It was from a male reader of fanfiction who called BS on the idea that more fanfiction isn’t written about female characters because they’re not complex enough. I think he made a comment to the effect of “Well, your listeners should really know that men don’t like to read slash fic, so tag properly because we don’t like it.” I read it on the show and said I that I appreciated the comment but I take issue with the idea that you could say that all men don’t like slash, to me some gay men might possibly enjoy slash and there’s probably some straight men who like it too. But some women also don’t like slash, so don’t lump all women in the same boat.
I’ve made it a point since then to make sure that the slogan of the show is the slogan of kink memes, which is “Your kink is not my kink, but that’s okay.” We talked about the topic of consent at one point, and did a show on warnings and triggers and squicks, and I make sure that I put a warning at the top of the show that let people know what the topic is about, and that if they’re are not interested in hearing about this topic they should come back next episode. I make sure that I’m really upfront with people about what they’re going to get when they listen to this show, and I try to be inclusive of all aspects of the topic. Even with the gender topic I had to preface it by saying, “If you listen to this, and you’re thinking to yourself wait there’s no CIS men on a show about gender, it’s not intentional”. I’m very conscious that what I’m talking about may squick people or people may disagree, and I make sure that the conversation is as balanced as three people with their own opinions and biases can make it. I try to be very conscious of the fact that when you’re talking about any particular fanfiction trope there are people who are really gonna love it and be mad if you spend the whole time dissing it, and other people who hate it and will be mad if you try to defend it
Because of the fact that participants are talking about their point of view, I let them all be as anonymous as they want to be. Even I use my handle Enthusiasm Girl. Some of them have said “That’s fine, use my name”, and a couple of them some of them say no, they would never want anyone to know that they were on the show because they’re talking about things like sex and porn or triggery things like rape or miscarriages or even our opinions on feminism and transgender issues or the LGBT community, and those things can be really sensitive for people to actually give their opinions on.
I stand by what we do and our right to talk about those controversial topics, and I stand by our right to make those statements and have those opinions and that’s what they are, just opinions and they’re all valid. I’m hoping that going forward we can keep the conversation civil.
I know I’m potentially courting controversy, I know that we may get trolls at some point, but to be honest I’m more worried about the controversy of the show being exposed outside of the fanfiction community than within. I trust fandom. We have this really nice community that doesn’t currently attract a lot of MRAs, or trolls. When a woman writes a rape fic, she doesn’t get a bunch of guys harassing her in the comments. I don’t want to be the podcast that suddenly makes the mainstream realize that we’ve created this safe space and descend on it. Even 50 Shades of Grey kind of exposed that a little bit and I get really mad when I see any kind of mainstream media make out fanfiction to be an object of scorn. I’m super conscious that if the podcast is heard by people outside of the fanfiction community and goes viral, how is that going to go over that we talk about rape fic, and how women can have rape fantasies. I mean that kind of keeps me up at night, thinking about me and the podcast defending the idea of a really bad rape fic. Does that mean that I’m going to get really bad tweets and nasty comments about that?
At the same time I feel like it’s a conversation that needs to be had, there needs to be a place to have that kind of meta-conversation about fanfiction and be that self-reflective. If I’m putting it into the world, I can control what I put into the world but I can’t control what happens after. I can just stand by what I’ve done and try to be conscious of what I’m saying.