From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.
Malory Beazley (Editor, FAN/FIC Magazine) is a writer, editor, and university instructor. She’s written about fan culture for FAN/FIC Magazine, published a Master’s thesis on the political potential of Harry Potter fanfiction, and taught a feminism and popular culture course at Acadia University. Today, Malory talks about how she came to run a magazine and what she’d like to publish more of.
How did you first get into fandom and fanworks?
I’ve always been a late bloomer when it comes to fandom. Much like my kindred spirit Hermione Granger, I was much too focused on homework to discover fan communities. However, I distinctly remember feeling a fannish affinity for a few things: the original Star Wars trilogy, the King’s Quest videogame series, and the Backstreet Boys (still my favourite “manband”). My whole life changed when I was given the first Harry Potter book for my twelfth birthday. As I stood in line to pick up my preordered copy of Goblet of Fire, I suddenly felt like I was part of something bigger, even though I didn’t have a name for what that was.
It took me until my university years to discover fandom proper. After the Twilight books came out, I must have done a Google search for “Why didn’t Bella end up with Jacob?” which led me to this thing called fanfiction. I started writing my first fic that night. When I eventually published it on Fanfiction.net, the generous feedback made me more confident in my writing.
At grad school, I finagled my way into writing a Fan Studies thesis in a Film Studies program. It was called “Out of the Cupboards and Into the Streets! Harry Potter Genderfuck Fanfiction and Fan Activism.” In it, I discussed how fanfiction can make contemporary debates about gender theory accessible without compromising the affinity for the source text. I recently taught a Gender Studies course at Acadia University and assigned fanfics as required readings. I think my students enjoyed (and were surprised by) that.
I’ve been playing fangirl catch-up ever since. At the moment, I’m gleefully working through Star Trek and Supernatural. I’ve become hugely active (some might say obsessive) in the Harry Potter, Sherlock, and Thor fandoms. I’m currently writing three novel-length Drarry fics, which will be released as a trilogy on AO3.
How did FAN/FIC Magazine get started and what has your role been?
FAN/FIC Magazine was founded in September 2015 by a seriously awesome person named Susan Pi, who had always been drawn to thought-provoking, well-informed articles about fan culture. Susan’s background is in publishing and freelance writing, so she cleverly identified the need for an online publication that celebrates brilliant fanworks.
I stumbled upon the site shortly after that. I pitched Susan a series of articles based on my thesis research and became a regular writer for the site. I was immediately drawn to the site’s mission to celebrate great fan writing and, I must admit, to the name “FAN/FIC,” which I thought was rather clever. Then, in June 2016, Susan reached out to the regular contributors and asked if anyone was interested in taking over the site.
I’ve been owner and editor of the publication ever since. I have big plans to expand this little nonprofit project into a thriving, influential, sustainable publication.
FAN/FIC Magazine has some interesting feature ideas, such as Flamboyant but Forgotten. Where would you like to see the magazine go?
One thing I want to focus on is publishing more reviews of novel-length fanfics. There are so many beautiful fics out there that get lost in the shuffle. I want to highlight the best writing across all fandoms. I also want us to take a more active role in fan communities. On September 1st, we’re hosting our first ever Flash Fic Festival, which will be based on prompts relating to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I think the act of sitting down and writing ficlets, one-shots, and drabbles can be great motivation for starting a larger project.
Another one of my goals is to publish interviews with fan creators: writers, artists, vidders, cosplayers, etc. We’re so lucky our first published interview will be with the incredible fan author firethesound, who penned the exceptional All Our Secrets Laid Bare. I think interviews with fans about their creative processes can help those who may want to start making things but don’t know where to start.
Last but not least, it would be my wildest dream to publish occasional print editions of our magazine, each focused on a theme or fandom. But first we have to become financially sustainable. I’m currently on the hunt for funding – whether it’s via Patreon or an independent media grant – so we can commission people to write for us. Paying writers a fair wage is a high priority for our publication.
How did you hear about the OTW and what do you see its role as?
I first heard about the OTW when I was doing research for my Master’s thesis, which involved a lot of fic reading on AO3 and finding meta-posts linked on Fanlore. I was also exploring the Transformative Works and Cultures journal and familiarizing myself with its board members — Henry Jenkins, Anne Jamison, Catherine Driscoll, and more. In fact, Alexis Lothian was one of the Examiners for my thesis.
I think the primary role of the OTW is for fanwork archiving and preservation. Online communities, particularly fan-driven spaces, are constantly shifting with the emergence of new social platforms. The nature of online fan spaces is, itself, transformative. Maintaining an archive that preserves these nebulous communities is a tall order, but one the OTW is working on every day. It is remarkable how much the AO3 archive has expanded since its foundation. When I first started my thesis research, there were 1656 fics under the “Trans” tag on AO3. Now there are more than 10,000. That is incredible.
What fandom things have inspired you the most?
Fandom is where I’ve been inspired to learn more about the world around me and the wonderfully diverse people in it. But, I’ve been most inspired by the compassion and generosity of fan creators. I’ve read incredible fics that have shifted my view on what makes great storytelling and inspired me to be a better writer. I’ve seen fan art that has moved me on a profound level and ignited my creative spark. I’ve watched fan films and theatrical productions that remind me that joy is the best motivator, not “shoulds” or “oughts.” I am constantly awed by the exceptional talent of fans. And their profound humility inspires me to be a better creator.
Catch up on earlier guest posts!