An Evening With The Te
Posted by S.R.B.
So, back when I started my series on The Te’s work, we had a chance to sit down and talk about fanfic and fanfic communities. I said in the beginning, that I would be posting interviews with fanfic authors, and I hope for this to be one of many.
Now, I am an informal person, and my interview style is exactly that: informal. It’s done through gchat, and involves both serious questions about writing and fan communities, as well as fannish squeeing and flailing. You’re getting all of it, including telling hints of both my personality, and The Te. The only editing was format editing for easy reading. Don’t you feel lucky. 🙂
I present to you now, raw and unedited, my evening with The Te.
Te: How are you?
Wait, no, I hate this, I have to change chat programs right now. Gimme just a few.
Te: Okay, then.
me: welcome back
Te: How are you?
me: I’m good. Excited. Having a bit of that “Ireadyourblogandthereforeknowmoreaboutyouthanyouknowaboutme!” feeling that I get at, like, ComicCon
How are you?
Te: ahahhahahhaa. You certainly know more about my vagina than I know about yours. And that’s… okay. FOR NOW.
me: hahah. muahaha
Te: I’m goodish. Finally recovering from the stupid cold, dealing with the messiest period to date, fighting a migraine… but somebody sent me ridiculously awesome fb.
me: goodish is good. periods are the cruelest joke ever played on a living being. and Feedback is awesome. I realized I spent enough time raving about you to my friends, that I should share with people who would actually care…
Te: giggles Spread the gospel of Te?
me: always and forever, amen
Te: hands you my ego to massage It likes the sesame-infused oil best.
me: cracks knuckles just relax
me: hehe. seriously, though. I found your work at an impressionable age. and it inspired me
Te: cackles I totally write for people At That Age. Because fuck knows I could’ve used more than the Story of O, the Carpetbaggers, and cadged Hustlers when I was a tween.
me: heh. truth.
Te: Sometimes I wonder what it’s like for teenagers now, when all of their questions about kink have answers right there. Answers that can be accessed in perfect privacy, even.
me: I think, no matter what information is available, it can be overwhelming. Becuase it’s there, but you need to search for it. And if you don’t know to search…
Te: nod nod Very true. I also wonder… well, I wouldn’t have found fandom without the help of a bad search engine.
Te: There has to be room for “tripped over this while searching for something else”
me: always. which, if you are amenable, leads me to my First Official Interview Question: When/how did you discover fandom? and a follow up, which was your first?
Te: December 1997. I was lonely, sick, depressed, sick, horny, and also sick. I’d recently been told I had an incurable disease (FMS), and I felt like crap on a number of levels. My friends were all able-bodied — and in school. The usual thing. I turned to the internet for some relief, and remembered — vaguely — a Batman/Robin story (one of the first m/m things I was ever exposed to) I’d found on the original alt.sex.stories back in ’94 or so, and tried to find it again. Webcrawler sent me, instead, to R’rain’s old Trekslash archive, and after staggering around in shock, I started reading. With torch’s “Too dear for my possessing.” I gibbered and came all over myself multiple times, sent feedback that was probably ridiculously creepy, and kept reading. torch wrote back, and I realized that I had found the holy grail: a community of women as perverted — if not more so — as I was. I was hooked immediately. Torch’s archive led me to X-Files fiction, and that was even hotter for me — despite the fact that I’d never watched the show. I started watching in early ’98, and, in March, “The Red and the Black” aired. Krycek kissed Mulder, and I decided it was time to get involved. I posted my first story on or near March 21, 1998, and never looked back.
me: did you find that happening often? That one fandom would lead you to another?
Te: ponders Yes…? Ish? Back in the days when I was devouring other people’s fic right and left (I read very little these days), I would often find an author I liked and read everything s/he/ze put out, and thus find new fandoms. But there would also be things like me sitting in front of the television and randomly flipping to TNT just as CKR walked onscreen shirtless. (due South)
me: Funnily enough, I know exactly the scene you’re talking about and it had the same reaction with me
Te: hahahhahaa Yes. God, that man is sex on legs.
Te: I watched a lot of random movies and television shows just to get my CKR fix. I’m still very fond of ‘For Those Who Hunt The Wounded Down.’
me: I haven’t seen that one. I’m still trying to get my hands on Hard Core Logo– I think it’s the third(?) one down on my Netflix queue.
Te: Ohhhh, HCL! SO GOOD. I always wanted to be able to write good stories for that movie, but the voices utterly escaped me.
me: there is nothing more frustrating and I thank the internet that youtube exists now.
me: you mentioned before that “Krycek kissed Mulder, and I decided it was time to get involved.” What made you decide to write as opposed to read?
Te: Well, it was… that moment? I mean, I was sitting in a room with all my guy friends — I was visiting my old school that weekend — and we were flipping back and forth between X-Files and a hockey game, and then the kiss happened, and I literally yelled. “It’s true! OMG IT’S TrUE! IT’S ALL TRUE!” And at that point I had to explain slash to some very confused (if open-minded) young men. And I was just… itching inside until I could get home to my computer and find some place where I could talkabout how amazing this all was. I found the AOL slash forums, made some friends, and went on from there. One of those friends just happened to want to write a story that sounded like fun to me, and we co-wrote a silly little thing involving Pendrell. And then we wrote more. And then I wrote more than that.
me: This is the second time you’ve mentioned finding others “like you” online. I’ve talked about fandom in terms of community on my blog. How do you view fandom? How would you explain it to the uninitiated?
Te: Heaven? ahahhaha It’s hard to say. Fandom saved my life, so even though there are horrible people, and people who have never escaped middle school — no matter how old they actually are — and racists who don’t know they’re racists, and misogynists who don’t know they’re misogynists and refuse to admit it… well. To me, it’s a nation made up of many smaller states (individual fandoms), and within those states are various smaller cities, each with their own characters and neighborhoods — and some of those neighborhoods are horrifying… etc., etc. We’re all one, though, and I think most of us know that, and do our best to advance the various causes both great and small. And that marks me as about as American as they come, I think. ahahaha
me: haha! That’s a great analogy.
What’s do you love best about fandom? least?
Te: What I love best about fandom is, without a doubt, the way it allows sexuality — specifically various non-standard-to-Western-media sexualities — to burgeon and thrive. I’ve known for years that I would never be able to put up with a non-fannish lover again, and that’s true for many reasons — from the fact that I’d have nothing to talk about with a mundane to the fact that most mundanes don’t have any idea how to talk about their kinks. I mean, it takes so much time with a mundane just to get to “you know, sometimes stories with golden showers can be hot,” whereas Jan Q. Fancreature probably read that story. And maybe everything else by that author, too. It’s not that I need to have wildly kinktastic sex every time — I can’t even move that much — but I like having the options.
What I like least… well, fandom reflects what it’s given in terms of the media… and the media fucking sucks when it comes to issues of race. Many — many — fancreatures have no fucking clue what to do with characters of color, and the ones who would be thoughtful about it are often too terrified to give it a try. And, even when the media does give us interesting characters of color… shakes head. The “two pretty White guys” trope is — still — pretty huge in slash. Basically, you’re far more likely to get slash of two pretty White guys than of the brown guy — whoever he happens to be — no matter how much slashy background the brown guy has. It’s pathetic, and depressing, and it’s one of the reasons why I’ve set up shop for so long in a fandom where brown people are thin on the ground. It doesn’t matter that there’s hardly any Black Lightning slash out there — to me — because I don’t know anything about the character, and neither do most of the rest of us reading the comics.
me: i used to work in a comic shop. And I remember very clearly having a conversation with my coworker about characters of color in comics…and how if their name is “Black —” chances are good they’re not white. It took him ten minutes to realize he couldn’t argue with that. Black Canary never occured to him. Because she’s a woman, and that’s a whole nother area are “argh”
Te: Yarrrrrrrrrrrgh. Yeah. That. And? Black Manta was just Manta until they took his helmet off.
me: you know, for a community that’s supposed to be for the “outsiders” comics kinda suck at it. sometimes. currently. And that’s why we have fandom.
What’s your favorite fandom to write in?
Te: Well, I think a very, very large number of comics fans never wanted to be outsiders in the first place. I mean, you get storyline after storyline where the outsider characters are punished and/or “normalized.” From the Morlocks to Jason Todd and beyond. And these storylines are hella popular… with a very, very large number of fans. And… I’m going to be diplomatic here and leave it at that. By far, my fave fandom is DC. I identify with huge stacks of characters, which means I can write huge stacks of characters, which means that very few things get old. When I want to write something new, I just leave Tim out of it, you know? There are het pairings I like. There are femslash pairings I like. There are threesomes and foursomes and moresomes I like. That just didn’t happen in my other fandoms. The only one that came close was Buffy, and the number of available characters there seems paltry compared to what I have to work with here.
That said… heh. I miss being a part of fandoms where I could count on thirty or more pieces of feedback per story.
me: DC fandom is woefully small
Te: That said… I don’t even manage to answer all of my feedback in a remotely timely fashion now. I used to spend fewer hours writing. I used to have more hours to do fannish things. It all makes it… hmm… just fine that I’m where I am.
me: I, for one, am very glad that you are. You mentioned Tim, so I have to ask. Reading your Tim is what made me follow him in comics in the first place. What attracted him to you in the first place?
Te: ahahahhaa Well. eyes Jack
Te: Okay, no, go back a bit: I fell in love with DCAU Tim Drake as soon as his episodes started airing. Just — madly in love. I wasn’t ‘shipping him at all back then — I was young enough to be woefully ignorant of my own kinks — but he twisted my heart right up and I wanted everything for him. Just — everything. So, when I started writing DCAU fic in 2003 or so, wee little Timmy started popping in. My stories with him that took a sexual turn were all about the abuse, so, when I put him in a happy story — Sing we joyous all together, I believe — that was meant to be wholly Bruce/Wally and people started clamoring for Bruce/Tim slash, I was stunned. I mean, when I wrote it I recognized that there were slashy lines in, but they were anything but intentional, and I edited them out. And I was all “Bruce and Tim’s relationship isn’t like that! At all!” And they were like “it is so! In the comics!” And I was all “I don’t know anything about the comics!” And Jack was all “MWAHAHHAHAHAHAH!!!”
Jack and I had been casual friends for a couple of years — since Smallville fandom threw us together via Jenn/seperis — and Jack just… profiled me. Ze went through hir comic collection for the Timmiest issues likely to catch my interest, packed them in a box, and sent them to my doorstep. At right around the same time, my computer died hard and I couldn’t do any writing or chatting with other people. Jack and I started talking on the phone. I read the comics. We told each other stories about the characters. The stories got heated. By the time I had a computer again — this was right around January 2004 — I was well and truly a comics and Tim Drake fan, and Jack and I were rather more than just friends.
me: okay, I tried to say several things, but all I can think is “aww!” That’s romance! Fandom bringing people together.
Can you tell me a bit about your writing process?
Te: giggles Yesss. There really ought to be fannish matchmaking services. So many people who don’t even realize that they belong together!
Process. Process. Uh… okay, there are a few options:
1) I dream something, and it’s so damned cool/porny/cracktacular that I have to write it. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does — purr.
2) I’m wanking, and I come up with something so perfect that it has to go in a story. And then I damned well build a story around it. I figure out how the characters got from point canon to point fucking, I sketch in a universe around them, and then I start writing. This happens pretty damned often, as these things go.
3) I’m chatting with my pre-readers or other friends, and we’re just talking shit about the characters, and they say something so brilliant that I lose my mind and start writing as soon as I’ve interrogated them a little and gotten permission. Most memorably this happened with “Sport us while we may.”
4) My pre-readers plot and scheme for some terrifying length of time about how best to get their bunny to lodge in my mind. They slip it into conversation. I fuss and fight. I whine. I bitch. Some time later, I damned well write it anyway. Pixie and Mildred are the masters of this. They do this shit to me all the time, and I love them for it.
5) Random fancreature out of the blue says “I’ll pay you money if you write this!” Te says “cha-CHING!”
But the process itself…
Hmm. I come up with a first line. This can take anywhere from three minutes to years. Once I have the first line down, the next lines usually come fairly easily. I never write out of order — that fucks me up something awful, because I almost never outline and have only successfully outlined (meaning, figured out what would happen in the story when and then was right about that) three or four times. Lately, I’ve had a lot of trouble with… hmm… call it “staying power.” I have something like 2400 pages worth of WIPs. Only a few stories, but they all run up to a certain point and stop. I believe in my soul that I’ll finish them eventually, but I miss the days when I could count on my ability to finish anything I started without extended breaks. Hmm. Does that answer the question? I’m never sure how to talk about ‘process.’
Oh, yeah, I have to have the right music.
The presence or absence of just the right song can change a given story hugely. If, for example, I’d had the song “Mama” by Genesis while I was writing “A single man of good fortune,” Bruce would’ve fucked the unholy hell out of Martha, and never mind all the screaming from the pre-readers.
me: ha! That answers the question wonderfully. And brings us to the last. What is your favorite story that you have written?
The answer to that question changes all the time.
But. As of right this instant, my favorite is “A single man of good fortune.”
1) I always love it when a story sprawls in natural, “neat,” and unexpected ways, and that story was supposed to be about half as long as it turned out to be… with less than half as many characters.
2) It has actual character arcs for several of the characters in it. Almost all of them progress.
3) It is, to me, laugh-out-loud funny in parts.
4) It’s got Dinah and Harvey in — and they’re my sweethearts of the moment.
5) It’s got a believable Jim and a believable Alfred — and those two are fucking hard to write.
6) The porn is pretty damned porntastic, if I do say so myself. My id played merry hell with my writer-brain, and it all worked out well.
7) It helped me work out several more of my myriad issues.
There are other reasons, but I think it’s pretty damned great, overall. It’s not one of my more popular stories, but I’m okay with that. I know it’s awesome.
me: Excellent. Thank you so much for agreeing to this
Te: You’re welcome. This was a lot of fun.
me: I’m glad. I’d have hated for this to be painful
Te: You can always count on my willingness to talk about myself and my stories.
me: excellent Mr Burns hands.
me: Thank you again to talking with me
I hope to chat with you again
I had fun, too!
And that’s it, Ladies and Germs. My evening with the Te, filled with fannishness, writing from/for the “other” and fan communities.
See you next time, and I have to tell you, I’ve been reading this story…