OTW Guest Post

OTW Guest Post: Lauren Rouse

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.

Lauren is a PhD student at the University of Central Florida in their Texts & Technology program. She’s been writing fan fiction since age 11, has recently become an avid indoor gardener, and probably can be found with a cup of coffee in her hand. Today, Lauren talks about her recently completed research on fan responses to fanworks.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

I first found out about fandom through the Harry Potter fandom. I hated how Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (the book) had ended, so at eleven, I took to my Word document to rewrite the end of Dumbledore’s life and Harry’s time at Hogwarts. Because this was 2006, I ended up stumbling upon Fiction Alley a few weeks after writing my ending and started reading fanworks there (I spent all my time in Schnoogle because the romance fiction scared me: I was 11, boys were disgusting).

From there, I was hooked on fanworks. My mom limited my computer usage to an hour a day, but I probably spent that whole hour on the computer reading updates and new fics. I’ve been a part of many fandoms (Harry Potter, Twilight, One Direction, Kingsman, Star Wars, Teen Wolf, Fleabag, the MCU, and Sherlock) and have written in many of the fandoms.

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This Week in Fandom

This Week in Fandom, Volume 126

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! With NaNoWriMo in full swing, how are your projects going? Feel free to groan, commiserate and celebrate in the comments!

First up today, the long-anticipated His Dark Materials TV series debuted on 3rd November, and the internet is in uproar over everything from Mrs Coulter’s outfits – worn by an exquisitely villainous Ruth Wilson –

to the surprise drop of a particular actor’s image in the most recent episode, indicating a future appearance (minor spoilers at the link!). Some commenters found the hustle to get this actor on board relatable; it seems like the “hot priest from Fleabag” label is going to be following Andrew Scott around at least until he makes a longer appearance in the HDM series.

Other fans were less happy about this character being introduced so early because it suggests there may be changes in the order of plot events from the book, but it looks like these differences were green-lit by Philip Pullman and the show will stay largely faithful to its source.

Meanwhile, Phillip Pullman tweeted about the 2007 film The Golden Compass and hinted that the new series won’t shy away from the book’s more challenging themes:

And lastly on this topic, despite the controversies around the Game of Thrones series and co-creators, it seems that its success may have cleared the way for more television with an epic scale and budget. In a press conference launching the show, His Dark Materials’ Executive Producer Jane Tanner discussed how the success of Game of Thrones allowed her to finally get her ‘passion project’ off the ground:

“I am a great believer that the timing often is right when it’s right…And I really had to wait for television to go epic, and for Game of Thrones to happen, and for myself to be working in Los Angeles for eight years, and to really see how you could build a large-scale television show.”

While we’re on the subject of book adaptations, Samantha Edmonds wrote for SyFy Wire about Good Omens, queer subtext and how adaptations can improve on the original in ‘How Fandom Made The Good Omens Miniseries Better (And Gayer) Than The Book’. Regardless of whether the book or the series is your personal favorite, it’s certainly noticeable that fandom spaces have been full of new Good Omens content since the series’ broadcast, as fans have responded to the showrunners’ decision to canonise the books’ queer subtext.

For those seeking even more of the internet’s favourite Ineffable Husbands, it’s worth noting that Neil Gaiman has published his original script, including many scenes featuring Aziraphale and Crowley that didn’t make the final cut.

And finally, GeekGirlCon was held this weekend in Seattle. Social media is full of cosplay photos:

The fandom podcast Fansplaining also recorded their first ever live episode at the convention (keep your ears pricked for it soon!), and we really hope someone does a writeup of the Research & Data Science in Fandom panel:

You can find more recaps on GeekGirlCon’s blog in the coming week.

Did you go to GeekGirlCon? Tell us all about it in the comments!

10 years of AO3

Ten Years of AO3: Michele Tepper

Michele Tepper’s contribution is the final post in our series celebrating 10 years since the launch of the Archive of Our Own. Michele was a founding member of the OTW and helped create much of AO3’s “look” in her role as head of design in the early days. Her contribution provides a nice conclusion to the series, emphasizing the importance of working together in order to make such a big project a success.

I got involved with the OTW because I knew some of the other founders already. I had designed a discussion board for Buffy fans (buffistas.org) a few years earlier, and so I had an understanding of the challenges of working with a remote team of volunteers on a project for a fan community. Also, I was working for a digital product design studio, where I saw the wave of commercialization around “user-generated content”, and I liked the idea of doing something that helped keep transformative works in the hands of the creators. So I told Naomi Novik I was interested in helping out, and that’s how I ended up as a founding board member for the OTW!

What I remember most about the early days of the Archive was the collaboration. Naomi, cmshaw, and I spent long hours coming up with the core functions of the archive; technologists and user experience designer collaborating to find the best solution. We built out a roadmap that saw the Archive through its earliest years, as well as an experience that people point to as exceptional, and I’m proud of that.

My favorite thing about AO3 is the tagging and the tag wranglers. I have the tag page for “feels” as a bookmark on my phone, and when I need an emotional boost, I go and look at all the different ways people have tagged for feels, all listed out and merged by the wranglers. It makes me ridiculously happy every time.

I don’t pretend to know what the OTW’s future will be, because I couldn’t have predicted its past! Fanworks are much more accepted in the mainstream than they were 10 years ago, and the OTW and the Archive are a big part of the reason why.

So that’s all for our series from behind the scenes at the AO3. We are so appreciative of all our contributors, as well as the other volunteers who have been working hard since the OTW was founded to make the Archive a haven for fanworks of all types. We agree with Michele that fanworks and fan culture are much more widely accepted than they were 10 years ago and we are proud to think that the OTW and the AO3 have contributed to that. Cheers to 10 years of AO3!