Many thanks to Petra for the translation and the scans
(Dutch SF Magazine)
#16 - August/September 1999
Fan Fiction, a phenomenon with unexpected possibilities by Ferry Bovet
Two issues ago we printed our first article on the hugely popular phenomenon, fan fiction. We also wrote out a competition, with the best stories appearing in SF Report 18. We will now show you what can result from writing fan fiction. We talk to two American women who saw their lives being changed by it all.
In the first article we mentioned how hard it is to find good fan fiction with the tremendous amount of fan fiction out there. People who love Xena fan fiction are lucky, they can check out Lunacy's site. Lunacy is an American fan who has dedicated her entire site (lunacy.simplenet.com) to reviews of Xena fan fiction (but she also reviews Star Trek Voyager stories). We asked her where her fascination came from. "Years before I started reading fan fiction I was already writing it - I just didn't know that it was called that way. As a little girl I already wrote new endings to a movie when I didn't like the real ending. I have also spent lots of hours writing adventures for my favorite television heroes. I always thought I was the only one, until I came across Xena and discovered that there were thousands more like me. The weird part is that I have never written Xena fan fiction: I'm too busy reading and reviewing it. I first read fan fiction at the official site in 1995. Soon after that I started writing reviews because I wanted people to start reading the really good stories.
In May MaryD, who's the webmaster of one of the biggest and most popular Xena sites, asked me if I wanted to publish my reviews on her site, and that's how the Lunacy page came about. Nowadays I work from my own site, where more than 1200 stories are, and with guidelines for people who want to start writing stories."
Quality Fan Fiction
A series as Star Trek is one of the most popular when it comes to fan fiction. Not surprising if you look at the worldwide popularity of the show and the fact that it already exists for 30 years. Xena is the other show that generates an amazing amount of fan fiction. And that is surprising, considering the fact that the show is just 4 years old. The fact that you can watch the show on many levels (from great action to the hidden lesbian eroticism) apparently speaks to the imagination of people worldwide. New stories are posted to the web on a daily basis - a tough job for Lunacy. "There are 3 sites I check regularly and I automatically get e-mails from certain sites when they're updated. That way I can keep an eye on what's new with regard to stories. I used to read everything word by word but that's impossible now: 100 new stories hit the net each and every week. My criteria for a review actually is quite simple: do I like the story or not. That doesn't automatically have to say that a story has been written well technically. I'm very subjective and I say as much. The quality of the Xena stories though, is very high in general. I've been reading books my entire life and until two years ago I read up to 4 books a week, which cost me a lot of money. Since I started reading Xena fan fiction I have hardly bought a book. There are so many good stories on the net. Some write stories that encompass hundreds of pages and the quality of those stories often is higher than those books you find in the store. So it's not that weird that some stories are being published. There really is a lot of talent. I put those writers in my special 'highest recommendation' section of my page."
One of those recommendations is Melissa Good. This lady had written lots of stories and is known in the world of Xena fan fiction as an author one should really read. Not bad for someone who started writing by accident. "I accidentally saw the Xena episode The Quest and that episode intrigued me enough to start surfing the internet for more information. There I discovered the fan fiction pages and one month later I decided to write out an idea I had, just to try it. When I had finished it I decided to put it on the net. I didn't expect much but I just kept getting positive reactions and that was encouragement enough to write some more. And I never quit! That I'm now being seen as one of the most respected Xena authors was totally unexpected. I'm a network analyst and had never planned on starting a writing career. That people love my work so much really was some kind of shock to me. That people want to have my autograph on conventions, that surprises me again and again."
From the old saying 'from one thing comes another thing' also applies to fan fiction. One of her stories - Tropical Storm - not only appeared in print but will also be a movie. Not bad for someone who put a story on the net, just to try it out. "Tropical Storm is an Uber-story (a story with made up characters in the present time with the character traits from Xena) that I wrote at the start of the 4th season of Xena. I have always used elements from the original story line in my stories and I wanted to wait and see where the series would be going. To keep writing I wrote a two part uber story which I put on the net to see what the reactions were. The two parts got more and the feedback was positive. After a break, in which I wrote normal Xena stories, I started a sequel to Tropical Storm, when the publisher Justice House contacted me with the announcement that they wanted to release it as a book. Almost at the same time Ladyhawke Productions contacted me because they wanted to have the movie rights. I was shocked and that probably is an understatement. That my life would go that way is something I had never expected and it took some time before I got used to the idea. The book has been released now and more than a 1000 copies have been sold. I'm very happy with that. But just to see my name on a book was very impressive. Ladyhawke is now working on the finances for the movie and a couple of months ago I have made the screenplay. A totally different way of writing, I can tell you that. It is very fascinating to see the producionprocess up close and personal."
Melissa's page can be found at www.merwolf.com. If you want to buy the book you can go to amazon.com . If everything goes well the movie will be released in the fall of 2000 and it seems that Robert Trebor (see SF Report 12) will play a part in it!
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