Although stylistically Aja’s Harry/Draco fanfic “Trajectories” could not be more different from V’s overtly unpublishable work, this story is equally deeply embedded within the specific world of the Potter series and fandom. “Trajectories” is, on the surface, more accessible, and Aja’s breezy writing furthers that impression. However, this story is a perfect example of the fanfictional pleasure of exploration of the details of the canon universe—in this case, wizarding portraiture, which provides a means for her to examine the larger effects of trauma following the final war with Voldemort among Hogwarts students—and to use that exploration to ground a fanonical romance narrative. Painted figures in turns tythe wizarding world can move, speak, and interact with living people; Aja expands upon this relatively minor detail in Rowling’s work to examine, thoughtfully and to devastating effect, the impact such portraits would have upon the recently bereaved.
The joy of an enemyslash pairing is in watching antagonists overcome their differences, at least long enough to have sex. Dislike is recast as sexual tension, and when the characters are both men, part of the pleasure is in seeing their negotiation of expectations of male aggres- sion (rather than friendship) in terms of desire. A scene in Aja’s “Pop Quiz” captures this tension nicely:
Whenever they pass in the hallways, Malfoy does his best to jostle Harry. He is scrawny and bony, so if Harry doesn’t feel like moving that day, their sides scrape together, and Harry’s hip might bruise a little. If that happens, he has the satisfaction of knowing that Malfoy’s is bruised a little, too. When he reaches his palm up, his hand connects briefly with the flat plane of Malfoy’s hip. He can only do this once, on the excuse of shoving Malfoy away–but it’s not bad, really. Just stupid, like the whole thing is to begin with.
Harry is careful to articulate his consideration of Malfoy as a combina- tion of violence and disinterest (“if Harry doesn’t feel like moving that day, their sides scrape together”), which underlines both the depth of his attraction and his denial of same. He then denigrates their enmity, and expressions of that enmity, as “stupid”—a disavowal that foreshad- ows their later romantic connection.
In 2010, Prof. Catherine Tosenberger of the University of Winnipeg taught a special summer class to high school students on the Harry Potter phenomenon. Among the course texts was my 2002 fanfic, “Monsoon Season.”
In the summer 2013 issue of YALS, Robin Brenner explains the world of fan fiction and fandom. In her article Robin talks about a panel presentation she took part in during theYALSA YA Literature Symposium in November of 2012. You can view Robin’s slides from that presentation titled Fandom and YA Literature.
“In Moffat’s universe, he gets rewarded, not punished, for his history of dismissive, problematic speech and writing.
He now presides over not one, but two of the most popular shows in the world. And far from being chastened by recent demands for his replacement, he remains as glib as ever, confidently declaring that women watch Sherlock only because they’re attracted to the main character, even as he’s describing his plans for the fourth and fifth series of the show whose popularity grew on the back of its massive female fanbase.
Clearly, Steven Moffat has a lot to be happy—or infuriatingly smug—about:
Moffat is happy his wife is no longer the size of “a boat,” because her pregnancy was a scary time in his life that left him “pretty frightened” and “disgusted.”
Moffat is happy he was able to hire Karen Gillan to play Amy Pond. He thought Gillan was “wee and dumpy,” but it turns out she’s “5’11” and slim and gorgeous.”
Moffat is happy he was able to “[shag] his way ’round television studios like a mechanical digger” and still wind up with a successful television career, married to one of the most powerful producers in the industry.”—
This time I chatted with my good friend Aja Romano, also known in the fannish world as bookshop. I first found Aja through the incredibly articulate and passionate meta she writes about fandom. (I mean, how could you not be roused and stirred in your soul by something like “I’m done explaining why fanfic is okay”?)
Since then, she’s gone on to write extensively about fandom for the Daily Dot, serving as a leading voice in a growing field of fan-journalists who are dedicated to treating fans fairly and respectfully in the press. Oh, and she’s also a stellar fiction writer!
Aja and I chatted about fandom, writing, genderqueerness, Georgette Heyer, her 10-minute research rule, and the advice she got from Naomi Novik.
Thank you again so much for agreeing to be interviewed!!
Are you kidding, I love this stuff! I love learning more about interesting people in fandom and creative communities and I love doing interviews whether I’m asking or answering questions.
There’s much that’s wrong with Lipsyte’s screed about gendered stories—starting with the fact that insisting that readers occupy a gender binary leaves no room for transgendered and gender neutral readers, or readers struggling with gender identity—but the most inherently offensive to me, as a writer, reader, and former tutor of kids who fall within YA’s mythical audience of “reluctant readers,” is that it perpetuates the awful idea that just having a good story isn’t enough. This argument ignores the success of books like Thirteen Reasons and pretends that they are isolated phenomena that have no relation to reality—a reality in which, according to Lipsyte, boys need “hard-core boy talk” about things like sports (girls don’t play those!), male bonds, and physical contact, while girls are presumably off standing in line buying Justin Bieber tickets. But all this argument does is further isolate boys inside of harmful gender stereotypes that we should be trying to dismantle.
A non-exhaustive list of books that would be considered fanfic except for the fact that they won the Pulitzer Prize (provided as a service to writers who believe that fanfic is “immoral, illegal, plagiarism, cheating, for people who are too stupid/lazy/unimaginative to write stories of their own” and who feel “personally traumatized by the idea that someone else could look at your characters and decide that you did it wrong and they need to fix it/add original characters to your universe/send your characters to the moon/Japan/their hometown.”) * Jane Smiley’s novel A Thousand Acres, a modernized AU (Alternate Universe) retelling of King Lear and winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Literature.
BoingBoing writeup by Cory Doctorow of a post I wrote in 2010 about the continuum between fanfiction and many acclaimed published works with similar aims.
“The truth is that teen culture is not homogenous—and neither is fangirl culture. Teenagers are complicated and complex, and they behave differently in different contexts. The average teenager who goes to a Five Seconds of Summer concert and screams her head off is actually capable of writing an essay on the political situation in the Gaza Strip the next day. She’s capable of liking Taylor Swift and disliking heels, of deploying a Twitter hashtag or helping out a charity drive, of loving Twilight and hating Fifty Shades of Grey. She contains multitudes.”—bookshop, in the fantastic “The teens on Tumblr are all right,” The Kernel (via elizabethminkel)