sheenaghpugh: (Anthony Gormley's Another Place)
I've just done a radio interview about fan fiction and in particular The Democratic Genre, nearly 6 years post-publication! That was a bit of a surprise. The radio station is Wisconsin Public Radio and the programme's called To the Best of our Knowledge. It's nationally syndicated and sounds Radio 4-ish. The interviewer is one Anne Strainchamps, who I think had read the book far more recently than I had; we recorded about 30 mins for editing down to 10. The programme will air on 2nd Jan 2011 and will also be online; they're sending me more details later.
sheenaghpugh: (Slartibartfast)
If you're into aca-discussion of slash and RPS, have a look at achille_heal's user info here. It's all about historical statues:
more )

As you see, he's up for responses in fictional form if anyone's interested.
sheenaghpugh: (Do somethin' else!)
I like Susan Hill in many ways. Apart from anything else, she's a good writer, she has given something back by organising a competition for new writers and publishing the winner, and she once shortlisted my daughter's novel, which proves she's a person of taste.

But I somehow doubt this Spectator article reads quite the way she meant it to; she seems to have written in heat, which rarely does much for one's train of thought. It came out sounding entitled and contemptuous, not to mention having one too many references to "asylum seekers" in a tone that could easily be misinterpreted.

And that's a shame, because I think I do know what she's getting at and she has a point, but she chose, IMO, slightly the wrong battleground here. more. Much more… )
sheenaghpugh: (Heslop from Porridge)
The appeal of the Fictional Swine

So I'm reading a proof copy of a forthcoming novel (Mike Thomas's Pocket Notebook) and something about my reaction to the hero begins to seem familiar. Jake, aka PC Jacob Smith, firearms officer and part-time foot fetishist, is an intelligent man, capable, sometimes, of genuine concern for others and he has a wicked but undeniably witty way with words. I can't help grinning as he bitches about the resented younger colleague on his way up, whose name he can't keep in mind, "I just referred to him as Seal Pup because all I wanted to do was club him to death", or when he and his mate Frank, on a dull shift, play police snooker (pulling cars over, first a red, then a colour; the game ends when they can't find a pink one).

But he's also an adulterer who drinks too much, has a steroid habit and beats up prisoners in the back of the van, and while part of him wants to protect every woman he meets, much of the time he's what they need protecting from.

In fact, as I suddenly realise, I am, once again, Forgiving the Bastard….
more )



Pocket Notebook, btw, is due out in February next year.
sheenaghpugh: (Critics)
The Guardian book blog discussion on The Damned United took an interesting turn when Johnny Giles unexpectedly joined in, somewhat bitter about having been used as a character in an RPF. I could understand his point of view, to some extent, but then someone else posted this:

It's a prime example of "fan fiction" really, and as such leaves that uncomfortable taste in the mouth whenever the facts are glibly massaged and scenes and conversations written to fit a self-serving tale.

- and that "self-serving" got so far up my nose that I felt obliged to jump in and point out that fan fiction is no different from any other kind of fiction in not feeling constrained to stick to the bare facts. I daresay I shall regret it...
sheenaghpugh: (Do somethin' else!)
Anyone who had a good laugh at Warrior Lovers needs to go to this post in which [livejournal.com profile] lauredhel links to a youtube vid of Symons expounding on slash and the strange creatures (known in the local dialect as "women") who write it.

Mind you, his sheer wrongness (and ignorance of same) isn't so funny.
sheenaghpugh: (Heslop from Porridge)
Did a quick slot on BBC Radio (Good Evening Wales) talking about this news story - thanks to Jen for providing the link!. Thankfully the programme didn't focus on the "porn" angle in the headline but on her complaints re the fix-it happy endings of the fan stories, which she had evidently taken as a personal criticism of her ending: "There are countless people out there who think the story is open range to explore their fantasies and to correct what they see as an unbearably disappointing story," she told The Wall Street Journal.

In the unlikely event anyone's that interested, the programme is here, for the next week I think. Must be about 3/4 of the way through.

I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, it was bloody silly, and slightly impolite, IMO, for the writers to send her their stories; did they think she had nothing better to do with her time than act as an unpaid critical service? Yes, some writers like fanfic and actively search it out, but that's for them to do; others would rather not read it for various reasons - possible legal problems. the wish to keep your own vision of your fictional world clear in your head, preciousness about what others do with "your characters" - and one might as well respect that.

But she could have reacted better. For one thing, the story is, of course open range for people's fantasies, and has been since she published it. For another, the fact that they created a different ending doesn't mean they didn't like hers; more that they were interested in exploring different possibilities.

She, OTOH, seems to have as much trouble seeing alternatives as her character Ennis does. When she says "They certainly don't get the message that if you can't fix it, you've got to stand it" there seems to be a certain Proulx-Ennis confusion going on... Ennis's fatalism is part of his character (and the plot) and he's entitled to it. But for the author to endorse it quite so heartily is a bit odd, because his mantra "if you can't fix it, you've got to stand it" depends on a very big "if". Ennis assumes it can't be fixed, and it really doesn't take that much imagination to see ways in which it could, if he wanted to enough. This was a criticism of the story among some gay people when it came out, that its vision was so unremittingly and unjustifiably bleak. Within the story, that's her choice, but to object to others trying it different (provided they are neither out to make money nor to pass off their work as hers) is misconceived, I think. (Though not quite as daft as saying the film has caused her "constant disruption" - constant income, I think she must mean.)

The BBC producer seemed to think fix-it fic had never happened before this date, so I told him about the ones for His Dark Materials. He later phoned Pullman and asked what he thought about his fix-it fics. PP said he was completely unworried about them.

The lady who did the interview, Felicity Evans, was very nice and quite clued-up on the subject, certainly very interested.
sheenaghpugh: (Heslop from Porridge)
- "Man Bits and Woman Bits: the discourse of sex in fanfic and litfic", for anyone who's interested. I put the papers from the other two SSD's up on my site but I don't want to do so with this one, because by its very nature it contains a lot of what my granny would have called Language. My site gets a lot of GCSE-student visitors and while I doubt they'd mind, their parents and teachers might.

I toyed with the idea of sending it to the OTW mag but they wanted too much done to it, including "lose a load of examples" (well now, I kinda thought the examples were what it was about) and "add images". That did baffle me - the whole thing is about how words work. And what would these images be exactly - willies at the ready? I can't imagine what else would be relevant and didn't fancy googling them.... Anyway it sounded like Hard Work of an Academic Nature and let's face it, we come into fandom to get away from that sort of thing. So in case anyone does want a print version, it's behind the cut. I haven't yet found a way to import the footnotes but will try to later. adult themes and language, but you knew that already )
sheenaghpugh: (Heslop from Porridge)
Slash Study Day was great, as ever. (Incidentally the young folks who organise it don't get paid; they are doing arts admin degrees so it's part of their course and they get marks for it. It's always been impeccably organised and was again this year, so I've fired off an email to young Mara saying so, in hopes she can use it as evidence come marking time.)

And [livejournal.com profile] altariel had a great idea for continuing the merriment at Redemption!

I enjoyed everything I saw, but the afternoon panel "Slashing the Academy" was just brilliant, the most informative session I've ever been to there. The split was very neat: words v pictures, so all the vid and comic fans went one way and all us wordfreaks the other. And we got three fascinating talks about how authors appropriate and shape other people's ideas to their own purposes. First Dorothea Schuller from Göttingen Uni talked about HD, whom I knew as a poet but not as a prose writer, concentrating on how, in her prose, she subverts classical motifs to express her own bisexuality.

Then, by happy chance, Gemma Bristow went on to HD's husband, Richard Aldington, and his "Myrrhine and Konallis" poems, a classical pastiche f/f idyll he was using as an escape from his imminent enlistment in WW1. The story of the genesis of this, and his use of a French original which itself claimed to be translation, was mesmerising - it suddenly occurs to me that James Elroy Flecker's deeply homoerotic poem The Hammam Name also claims to be a translation (from a poem by "a Turkish lady"); this ruse was clearly in vogue! As a bonus Gemma passed round her copy of the beautiful book in which Aldington had bound the M & K poems together with his First World war poems - it would have been worth the trip just to handle that.

Last, Hanna Rochlitz of Kassel Uni discussed textual and autobiographical influences in Forster's "Ralph and Tony", which was totally new to me, and RTD's "Queer as Folk" and New Who, making a persuasive case for seeing QaF as a queer riff on Old Who and a sort of tryout for New Who - I can't believe I had never noticed that Vince and the annoying Rose have the same surname!

I feel my brane has been stretched....
sheenaghpugh: (Me with Lotus)
- and for once that's a Good Thing cos it's Slash Study Day 3! Anyone want me to bring book copies? I don't usually bother but will if anyone's after one.

Who's going? Since it's the Last Ever I shall try to stay until the very end. They've been immense fun so far, a brilliant idea by [livejournal.com profile] dr_porn.
sheenaghpugh: (worldword)
Who could resist? Behind cuts, for length, a flyer )

and a draft programme )

from which I note that I get to hear the Aldington talk (good!) but not the HD one, which is at the same time (rats!)

If you want the abstracts, they're here )

All adds up to a grand day out....
sheenaghpugh: (Default)
not a thing I would normally say, but [livejournal.com profile] dr_porn just accepted my proposal for a paper for the final Slash Study Day at de Montfort next Feb 25, and this is it:

Man bits and woman bits: the discourse of sex in fanfic and litfic

Modern (unlike ancient) writers who wanted to include sexual relations in the world they wrote about have always had a problem with terminology - what do you call parts and acts which by their nature are not much discussed in polite society? Those writers, both in fanfic and litfic, who do not simply choose to lock the bedroom door behind their characters and leave all to the imagination have always the problem of whether to use plain words or euphemisms, straight description or metaphor, in order to avoid causing the reader either embarrassment or hilarity. This talk will try to outline various approaches (if not solutions) to an ongoing problem on both sides of the litfic/fanfic divide.

I've been vaguely thinking of this ever since I read Rosemary Sutcliff talking about "woman bits" and recalled all the posts I've seen from fanfic writers (and readers)who had real difficulty with Certain Words when they started. Some of the attraction of the theme is also that I can give D H Lawrence a kick in passing. And I can revisit all those lovely compendia of misguided slash euphemisms etc... - tell me if you know of any new ones.


If anyone's got personal takes on this they would like to pass on, especially connected with their own writing experiences, I'll be most grateful. Send 'em to sheenagh @ gmail. com - unless of course you want to contribute to the gaiety of nations and entertain the general public, in which case do post here! Remember, the more you contribute now, the funnier the eventual talk will be....
sheenaghpugh: (Default)
Lately there seem to be a lot of posts on [community profile] metafandomlike the one from [profile] emory_leeabout "making fandom an honest business", and what they all have in common is the notion that making money somehow legitimises the activity. This is starting to bug me slightly. In the first place, writing doesn't need to be legitimised and in the second, if it did, money is not how to do it. Jilly Cooper, Dan Brown and Jeffrey Archer make money; it doesn't mean they can write worth a damn. As a professional writer, I don't mind making money (I should rephrase that; I wouldn't mind making money; it's never going to happen in my Cinderella genre). But neither I nor any writer I know would regard that in itself as legitimising anything. What they seem to care about much more is pleasing (a) themselves and (b) readers. And even there, you see a difference with time and progress: when a new writer starts out, any positive feedback is pathetically welcome but after a while, they get more discerning and think, like Mary Renault, "there is praise, after all, which makes you wonder what you did wrong, to catch the fancy of such a fool". You end up valuing a review by someone whose good opinionyou know is worthwhile and not lightly given, far more than you would money (except in such obscene quantities as are not likely to happen). The real problem for profic writers, indeed, is the almost total lack of feedback from people who may have liked the work but either can't be bothered to say so or don't know where to address their words.

And I don't think the situation is different in fandom. I never seem to hear fanfic writers complain that they aren't making money. I do hear them, often, complain of insufficient feedback.  There does seem to be a degree of dissatisfaction and self-questioning around at the moment, at least if the debates on [community profile] metafandom are not atypical,  but I would guess that whatever the reason for, and solution to, this is, it has nothing to do with money. There does seem to be a question of status; people seem to be exercised, not for the first time, about the fact that fanfic writing is undervalued as derivative. But again, making money out of it won't solve that. All genre fiction is undervalued in the litfic world; if it's the critical approval of those outside the fanfic world that people are seeking, it doesn't depend on earnings either.

All this seems to be happening at a time when the mundane world is getting more conscious of fan fiction and writing more about it, though in the case of most journos very inaccurately. Perhaps fan writers feel beleaguered; perhaps they have started wanting the approval of the non-fan world as well as that of their own. Maybe the best thing that could be done about that is to set up an archive that isn't fanfiction.net and has some standards, so that said journos would see some of the best in the field without having to trawl through the worst. Though you would then come up against the well-known problem of who, in such a democratic world, decides  which is which.

It's also a fact that as soon as you offer money for something someone has been doing for fun, you turn it into work, which can soon become bitterly resented.  All profic writers have times when they loathe the whole business of writing. Again that isn't something I've very often heard a fanfic writer say - having writers' block, yes, or being discouraged by lack of feedback, but seldom not actually wanting to write. That's something worth keeping.

Honest business - (a) that's an oxymoron (b) writing isn't dishonest (c) business is no bloody fun....

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