A decade before e-books and self-publishing shook up the publishing industry, an author faced a dilemma: When you've written stories in a genre that is rarely published, what do you do?
At the beginning of 2002, Dusk Peterson (a journalist, history writer, and aspiring professional novelist) stumbled across the fan fiction community, where tens of thousands of readers and writers enjoyed gay genre fiction, which publishers rarely published.
Peterson's Muse didn't want to write fan fiction. That didn't matter. Gleefully, Peterson began posting male/male stories with original fantasy settings and characters to "slash" fan fiction e-mail lists, at the same plunging into fanficcers' world of online fiction, "songvids," conventions, celebrations of movie premieres, and endless discussions of literature, history, sexuality, and ethics. In the process, Peterson became part of a community that was taking advantage of the Internet's power in order to distribute stories, art, and videos that couldn't be professionally published.
This first volume in the Pixel-Stained series includes reminiscences, stories, and art from yaoi author/artist mdbl; Steve Berman, founder of the gay and lesbian speculative fiction publishing company Lethe Press; J. M. Snyder, founder of the queer fiction press JMS Books; and m/m romance author Emily Veinglory.
About the series:
The president of a speculative fiction organization once described writers who post their works on the Internet as "pixel-stained technopeasant wretches." The Pixel-Stained series publishes Peterson's memoirs in the form of e-mail, posts, and other documents. These accounts depict life at several electronic literature communities connected with gay genre fiction, as witnessed from the inside of those communities. Many members of these communities were pioneers in popularizing electronic publication, paving the way for the e-book revolution and the massive wave of self-publishing.
Depicting the rise of blogging, social networking, web fiction, e-zines, e-books, and print-on-demand publishing, this memoir series shows how readers and writers in the twenty-first century have used computer technology to reshape culture and society.
Volume One contents:
0 | Introduction.
1 | Stumbling Across the Fan Fiction Community, and Diving in Headfirst.
Interlude & fiction | Tropes. With excerpts from The Fool, Life Prison, and Tops and Sops.
2 | Discovering the Joys of Fan Mail and Cons.
Interlude & art | Headers. With an illustration.
3 | Warnings and Websites.
Interlude & art | What Was Happening in the World of Original Yaoi Publishing during 2002. By mdbl, founder of Private Parlor. With illustrations.
4 | A New "Star Wars" Film Comes Out, and the Fanficcers Go Wild.
Interlude & fiction | What Was Happening in the World of Gay Speculative Fiction Publishing during 2002. By Steve Berman, founder of Lethe Press. With a story from Trysts.
5 | Discussions of Litslash and Disabilities.
Interlude & fiction | What Was Happening in the World of Original Slash Publishing during 2002. By J.M. Snyder, founder of JMS Books. With an excerpt from Operation Starseed.
6 | The World of Darkfic is Explored.
Interlude & fiction | What Was Happening in the World of M/M Romance Publishing during 2004. By Emily Veinglory, m/m romance author. With an excerpt from Alas, the Red Dragon.
7 | Grumbles About the Lack of Original Slash, Mere Days Before That Subgenre Takes Off.
E-mail to Jedi Clara, March 2002
This doesn't seem to be my year for computers. First, my computer crashed in January for the fourth time in six months (I've been putting off taking it in for repair since then, as it involved two six-hour round trips). Then my backup computer (which had been showing signs of wanting to go belly-up) died a few days ago. Then when I checked my backup backup computer (won't do anything but word processing), I found that its disk drive was no longer working. So I've resorted to my backup backup backup computer (yes, we have a lot of half-functioning computers in this house), whose mouse won't work.
Fortunately, my family member's computer (now renamed Old Reliable) is still working. Equally fortunately, the choking sounds my backup computer was making (multiple error messages) caused me to be backing up hourly any file I worked on – I'd just finished backing up on disk a scene I'd written when the computer went, "Pop!"
So the only thing I lost that's a pain to reconstruct is my last letter to you. I'd written a lengthy letter that was along the lines of "OH MY GOD, THE PHANTOM MENACE ZINE ARRIVED, IT'S SO ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS, I'M ABOUT TO HAVE A HEART ATTACK, YOU'RE AN UTTER SWEETHEART TO SEND ME THIS, KISS KISS KISS—" and as you can imagine, it's a bit hard to reconstruct that type of letter.
I've spent the last couple of days working on what was supposed to be my first PWP [First Time], but my characters decided to get all chatty on me. I can't figure out why my characters get the yen to stop in the middle of having hot sex in order to discuss the moral implications of what they're doing. I certainly never did anything stupid like that. (Alas.) To make matters worse, my protagonist declared that we weren't going to write about my sexual fantasies; we were going to write about his sexual fantasies. And since I find his tastes a bit squickish (whatever other problems I may have, I am not into strappadoes), I ended up discovering that erotica is not a genre I'm good at writing. My characters are too darn bossy.
Mind you, I had other problems with sticking to erotica as well. I remember when I first started reading slash erotica; it seemed to me to bear as much resemblance to real sex as cotton candy does to real food. Wonderfully sweet, but oh my goodness . . . Slash characters never have problems getting aroused. They never have to stop to argue over what type of furniture they should use for the positions they want. They never make costly errors in bed and have to beg their partner for forgiveness. And they never have to get into a cold car at three a.m. in order to drive five miles to the nearest open drugstore to buy the right supplies.
So you know the convention for First Time stories? Two pages of agonizing over whether to go to bed together, followed by ten pages of blissful sex? Well, I've turned the convention on its head and suggested that the real agonies of First Time encounters are most likely to occur in bed.
Just writing a realistic "Where the hell are we going to find lubricant at this time of night?" scene did me good.
Having thrown my characters into each other's arms and let them drone on about sexual ethics to their hearts' content, I've now sternly told them, "You're going to engage in a little action next time, damn it," and have sent them off to hell. Literally. That's what they get for foolin' with the Boss.
¶ Available as a DRM-free multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Fan Fiction Fan.