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.
The Romance of Fanfiction, part 1 by Jude Sierra
I recently did a teaching module for other teachers on fanfiction as a site rich with creative possibilities, and as one teachers could use in creative writing courses. Writing fanfiction teaches writers how to capture voice and character; as a writer within a world, you’re trying to capture an existing character well enough that your audience is convinced this story could be a continuation or alternate version. This takes skill and insight.
To my surprise, several of the teachers had never heard of fanfiction at all. Earlier in the year, when I’d had the amazing opportunity to meet Judith and spend a day with her at #BookCon (which was a fabulous day, I had an amazing time, our cheekbones were on point in every picture we took), we got to talking about the ties between romance and fanfiction – I was surprised to hear that she was completely unfamiliar with fanfiction as well.
I realized that this is a conversation many people aren’t familiar with: it also made me really want to talk about it, particularly in our community. Many authors we know and love have come from fan communities; many authors were discovered in fan communities. Many of us still participate in fandom and write fanfiction; it’s a very different emotional input and output experience.
Even when the beautiful high of BookCon faded, the desire to have this conversation did not. When Judith put out a call for story ideas for Binge on Books, I was all over that. And what better way to talk about this than with authors who have come from fan communities?
So I sent out a simple tweet asking authors who do or once did write fanfiction to drop me a line. It was the most engaged tweet I have ever had. NO JOKE. 50 responses, and 37 retweets (I’m tiny potatoes, that’s exciting in my world). When I say a lot of your favorite authors come from fanfiction communities, I was not lying.
I don’t want to assume, as I did before, that everyone is familiar with fanfiction or fan communities. So here’s the tiny Prof. Jude Fanfiction 101:
So, at its simplest, fanfiction is fiction written by a fan that continues, alters, or reexamines existing canon. This could be for a TV show, a movie or series, a book, games, etc. Fanfiction can be canon compliant (existing within and working within the constraints of the story we have been given), canon-divergent (diverging from canon but within the realm of what happened) or AU (Alternate Universe), in which we take existing characters and put them into different world, scenarios etc. For example, taking characters from the Hunger Games and putting them in a contemporary high school setting.
Fanfiction is part of what I’ve always described as a gift culture; it is written for no gain or expectation of profit. Fanfiction is written out of love or inspiration. It is a community oriented writing experience. Other fans give a lot feedback; often writers meet and work with betas and with each other collaboratively. It’s a very interactive experience, and often that interaction and gifting of time and love leads to an enrichment and development of writing process.
I am a deep believer that the more you write, the better you get. As did the authors I interviewed.
Upon my approach about an article centered on fanfiction and romance authors, Judith, lovely soul that she is, gifted me with the following — four weeks in which to explore romance roots in fanfiction and what it means for authors and for readers. In the upcoming weeks, watch for conversations with several authors about their roots, their writing stories, and what fanfiction and fan communities continue to mean to them.
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.