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A Porthole to the World of Fanfiction

In 2020, those who weren’t inundated with extra work or battling it out on the pandemic frontlines suddenly had a lot more time to read. The question is—what did they read? Book sales have been thriving over the past two years (two years…*weeps*), but apparently those mountains of books have been collecting more dust than ever before. No judgment. I myself am only just now getting my book-reading groove back.

Notice I said “book” reading.

This batch of statistics from the fanfiction website Archive of Our Own, however, indicates folks flocked to fanfiction in droves. And when I say they were reading fanfiction, what I mean is we. Yes, late bloomer that I am, I too joined the chaotic world of ships, fixits, and wish fulfillment, eventually writing a book-length fic of my own, and no you cannot read it. Yes, I am on a Discord server where most of the time we talk about how much we all love a single fictional character who only appears in less than 3% of canon content. I regret nothing. Do what you need to do to cope, amirite? 

Despite the surge of new users and my own, personal late adoption of the habits of fandom members, fanfiction has always been relevant. There is a ton of overlap with people who write and read original fiction and people who write and read fanfic. As someone who loves books and is part of the process of creating and selling them, it would be foolish to ignore the movement and the intersections. People who consume media consume it within many different formats and mediums (and if you want to hear more conversations about omnivorous media consumption, listen to our interviews with Dr. Rachel Noorda And Dr. Kathi Berens and literary agent Dongwon Song). 

Fanfiction readers are often writers, and many of them are big name traditional authors, including one of my favorites, N.K. Jemisin. And if that doesn’t convince you that the land of fanworks is worth paying attention to, hopefully we’ll see you back in a couple months!

Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • I sit down with a friend of the pod and a new friend who is both a traditional YA author and a veteran fanfiction writer to define fandom terms and discuss the experience of writing fanfiction.
  • We grace you with a dramatic reading of one of the most notorious fanfics of all time.
  • I interview a communications representative from the largest platform and preservation project for fanworks on the entire internet—and damn does she know her stuff.
  • A marketing professional from a popular reading app joins us to talk about how their platform’s way of presenting serialized fiction has a kinship with the way people read and interact with fanfiction.

Do you love fanfiction? Don’t be shy! You’re in good company, and I look forward to introducing you to some smart, creative folks who are in the same boat.

—Emily

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