Hello all! Happiest of Novembers to everyone. This month we wanted to welcome Jude Sierra for two exciting reasons: first for a very first look at her upcoming novel and second, for a four part series she wrote for Binge On Books. Jude will be spending the month of November discussing the intersections between some of her favorite things: fanfiction, romance novels, and authors you know who play in both sandboxes! Jude will be talking with some of your favorite romance authors throughout the month about their fanfiction to original fiction publication stories and just how important fan communities have been to them.
Before we get down to the nitty gritty, there’s one more order of business. It’s been a little while since we’ve seen a new novel by Jude, and we’re excited to announce the details of her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater.
Blurb: Reid Watsford has struggled with his cyclothemia his whole life. When his grandmother offers him a place to stay at her condo in Key Largo, he decides to leave Wisconsin, his ex, and his family to try to make a fresh start. There he meets Joaquim, a Brazilian wanderer who came to the US looking for adventure, and ended up an intern at the Key Largo Dive Shop. When Reid signs up for his introductory dive classes, it seems an adventure has come to Joaquim—but Reid has a lot of secrets, and a past he can’t quite escape. As their relationship deepens, so do Reid’s complications, something they both must learn to navigate—on their own and with each other.
Coming from Interlude Press on May 17th, 2018.
For us Fanfictioners (Fanficers? anficionados?) the road to publishing fiction or writing original fiction looks different. I mentioned in my last blog post how some of our published fiction began as fanfiction or was conceptualized as fanfiction and reworked as original fiction. Sometimes that fiction was previously published as fanfiction and then changed. This is where many beautiful, well crafted and beloved books in our genre come from. One of my favorite things about this sort of transition is the idea that authors love a story enough to know that it will work better as original fiction.
For many of us, fanfiction came first, and it became a comfort zone. Fanfiction readers are wonderful: in fandom the feedback you get is positive, helpful, and comes from a place of love for a common interest. This is how many of us learn to write and craft – through the feedback we get in those spaces. Fandom is much more immediately interactive than publishing spaces. In fact, this is one of the hardest aspects of transition to publishes spaces for us – the distance from your readers.
Fanfiction readers and authors love to imagine their characters in completely different scenarios than the source material (for example, as I discussed last time, the time I gave a character wings as a part of a writing challenge). It is in these spaces that authors often realize that the characters they’ve written don’t necessarily fit the characters in the show, book, game, etc.
Jordan Brock once responded to a simple prompt from a reader in the BBC Sherlock fandom: John is Canadian. In 18 days she completed a 98,000 word story in which so many things were different than the source material she decided to rework it. Through NaNoWriMo participation, Jordan was contacted by Sourcebooks about publication. This book received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, and yet she told me that she “was nervous about revealing the origin of the story, especially when it got starred reviews in places like Publishers Weekly. I worried that people wouldn’t take me seriously as an author if they learned I got my start in fanfic.”
This narrative isn’t unusual – for many of us, the potential stigma or judgement makes it challenging to know if we should address our fanfiction roots. And yet, many of us are award winning, critically acclaimed and successful authors.
For some authors, learning to write through fanfiction made it initially hard to envision an original work. Lynn Charles spoke of this: “…all three of my published novels were at least conceptualized as fanfiction, but never were finished or made it off of my computer into the ether of the internet.” For Charles and other authors, that transition, support, and encouragement came from publishers who understood the potential and quality being created within fandom. “The transition from fanfic to novel happened through…Interlude Press and their initial commitment to giving quality fanfiction authors a chance to publish original novels.”
For some, reimagining of fanfiction to original fiction didn’t initially work, or weren’t workable. And yet that attempt, that work in recreating, helped them learn how to craft original characters and hone the skills necessary for writing original novels. Amy Stilgenbauer’s first attempt at an original novel was a rework of a Sailor Moon story which she knew, in the end, wouldn’t work. Although she published poetry going forward, it took her a while to transition to original published fiction. Community was a big part of this transition. “I switched to creating my own original work when I lost contact with fandom friends for a while and felt weird writing it without them. I had to create new worlds out necessity, but I still brought the skills honed in fandom forward with me.”
This is not to say that all authors who have written fanfiction and original fiction took these paths, or that their trajectory was from fanfiction to published work: some authors did them concurrently. Sometimes, for those who have made that transition, it is accompanied by anxiety or worry that our roots might somehow lessen our accomplishments, skills, value of our work, etc. But all of these authors are gifted, with readers who will attest to how wonderful their books are.
About the authors:
Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007. In 2011Jude was introduced to the Glee fan community began writing fanfiction, where her stories garnered thousands of readers.
Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews. Her novels include Hush, What it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater will be available in May of 2018.
Jordan Brock is the author of Change of Address, published by Riptide Publishing. She currently publishes fanfiction under the name Kryptaria. She has written in many fandoms, including Dungeons to Dragons, World of Warcraft and Sherlock.
Amy Stilgenbaur is an archivist by day, writer by night. She has published 2 novels, The Legend of League Park independently and Sideshow with Interlude Pres, as well as having published a number of poems and short stories. Additionally, she is a professional ghost writer covering various subjects from history to abstract mathematics. I wrote in the Sailor Moon, Harry Potter, and Newsies fandoms.
Lynn Charles is the author of Chef’s Table, Black Dust, Beneath the Stars as well as the short story, Shelved, in the upcoming holiday anthology If the Fates Allow. She wrote in the Backstreet Boys and Glee fandoms.