No, it’s not Buffy. Or Bella. But it’s someone who knows her B’s very well – not to mention the E’s. In fact, she judged the Eddies & Bellies Awards for two years running. She is known throughout the fandom as the author of one of the longest and most original complete works in the Twilight universe, and can be found on any given day helping out the young’uns in the field get their sea legs.
Please welcome… no, not Stephenie Meyer (though Ms. Meyer is a great sport in not shying away from fan-fiction in ways most authors feel constrained to).
I’m talking about the one and only BookishQua, who has graciously agreed to be our lab-rat-for-a-day.
Our goal was to showcase fan-fiction as a viable artform that is gaining the recognition of mainstream media, not to mention authors themselves. In approaching one of our all-time favorite fan-fic writers, we got way more than we bargained for…
CQ: What prompted you to pick up a pen and paper – or, for that matter, a keyboard – and start writing in this specific fandom? Clearly, considering the number of classical references, you are extremely well-read. Why Twilight? Why now?
When I saw the trailer for Twilight, I went out and bought the first three books. I read them in three days. Then I got online at Amazon.com at the discussion forums and met FantasyMother. We were discussing the story, and I was joking around and told her that I thought that Edward faked the whole wedding night. That he knocked Bella out, disemboweled the feather pillows and set the stage to make it look like they really had consummated the marriage. With FantasyMother’s encouragement, I wrote a one shot satire of the honeymoon in Breaking Dawn. I was floored with the reaction that the piece received. It made me want to write more. From that one-shot, Cullenary Coupling – a satire of the entire Twilight Saga using a completely different plot – was born.
Why Twilight? Well, I was new to the whole idea of fanfiction, but it meant a lot to me that Stephenie Meyer had no problem with people writing it. I also never intend to make any commercial profit from it, and in a strange sort of way that made it less daunting to me. I knew I was writing as an experiment – doing something that I’d never be able to make a dime off of and that helped the muses come and pay me a visit for a few years. For me, it proved to be a rewarding experience. I found that I did indeed have the discipline and dedication to write. I found that I could write in different genres. I met many people who helped me grow as a writer.
CQ: Currently, Twilight ranks just under Harry Potter in number (and length) of fan-fiction written in this fandom, just going by fanfiction.net alone. What do you think will happen to the fandom once the last movie airs? Does it have legs, or do you see the community slowly migrating away to greener pastures?
CQ: Since you begun writing Cullenary Coupling, do you feel that the face of Twilight fandom has changed?
CQ: Would you consider one of those who has influenced it?
CQ: What about the perception and stigma of fan-fiction?
CQ: How has your outlook on the fandom and writing in general changed since you began Cullenary Coupling back in 2008?
CQ: Now that Cullenary Coupling is done, do you feel it has helped you accomplish what you set out to do? You mentioned this is almost an exercise in finding out if you are a “little train that could”. Clearly, you are. Are you relieved, disappointed, missing your characters?
CQ: One of the gifts of all-encompassing fandoms like Twilight and Harry Potter is the ability of readers to find a creative outlet, without any commitments and responsibilities of starting their own writing career – or for that matter, continuing their work once interest runs out (hence the many incomplete WIPs that were abandoned). You made sure that Cullenary Coupling didn’t leave its fans hanging, so looking towards the future, would you be willing to take on such a massive project once more? Or would you be content to return to your “day job”, having shared your talent and vision with your fans?
CQ: If you’re still itching to write, are you currently investigating other fandoms? What’s next for your fanfic work? Any plans for original fiction, now that you have gotten your sea legs?
Regarding original fiction, I have two novels that so far are about 55k in length. One is YA, and the other – at least for now,– is aimed at an older audience. I plan on going the traditional route in publishing, although I might try to publish one electronically and see how that goes. I won’t make up my mind until the books are finished. Neither novel has any connection to CC.
CQ: Recently authors have emerged from fandoms, ascending from fans, to rabid contributors, and finally to premier voices in their respective group – only to completely take down their fanfic work once their original writing has taken wing. Do you see yourself withdrawing from the community if you were to “ascend”, or would you use your Twilight acclaim to continue building your following at the expense of independent success?
CQ: Currently, the original fiction community is in the throes of growing pains. With traditional publishing recently having shrunk by 20% in its hardcover market, and almost halved its paperback output, ebook publishing has exploded across the genres – especially Young Adult, Romance, and Thriller genres – with all of which you are intimately acquainted, thanks to Cullenary Coupling. At the same time, books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, that have proven to be a hot commodity in the traditional publishing world, not to mention the Twilight series itself, are being bought by the Big Six in literally millions. It’s clearly too early to discount traditional publishing as behemoths of the past, so in light of that – should you want to pursue an independent career, have you given any thought as to which publishing route (if any) seems more attractive to you personally? Or do you seek something entirely different?
BQ: Speaking of itching to write, are there any literary resources or tools that you wished you had access to but didn’t, or did, and could recommend to others?
I found The Grandiloquent Dictionary through her Tweets; The Encyclopedia of Chicago History; Victoria Mixon’s blog is also a valuable tool. This is one of my favorite postings of hers; The Ultimate Character Page; If you are interested in learning more about YA and the publishing process, I’ve found YALitChat to be very useful; Finally, I am not the best speller out there, so I like this page that lists the most commonly misspelled words in English.
As long-time Cullenary Coupling aficionados who had been waiting for the recent resolution with baited breath, we can honestly say after our candid and thought-provoking interview that fans of this Twilight fandom staple are very luck to have BookishQua be part of the online community.
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