Chicks On Anime
Fan Fiction (Part 1)

by B. Dong, C. Brienza, R. Sevakis,

About the contributors:

Bamboo is the managing editor for ANN, and writes the column Shelf Life.
Casey is a freelance journalist, and also writes reviews for ANN.
Robin is an illustrator, and also the creator of Anime News Nina.

While we were in New York, we got the great chance to really dive into the subject of fan-fiction with Natalie Baan, who spoke with us a couple columns back about the evolution of conventions. The author of many well-respected fan fiction works, which can be read on her website, Natalie has also done some freelance work with Tokyopop and Seven Seas. Our discussion was pretty intense, and a bit of a behemoth, so we're only posting the first part this week. Part two will follow next week.

Bamboo: Joining us once again is a very special guest, Natalie Baan. Natalie, can you tell us a bit about your background in fandom?
Natalie: I've been in fandom for a while. It started out with general science fiction fandom in the late 80s, and then I got into anime by watching it in some of the anime rooms at a local convention. From there, I went to anime conventions and got involved in online fandom, largely through CLAMP fandom. I got into writing fan fic with that as well, and it spiraled from there. It's also led me to do some freelancing work for Tokyo Pop and Seven Seas.
Bamboo: What kind of freelancing work?
Natalie: I've done some rewriting of light novels for them where they'll take a translation and give it to someone to spruce up the English a little bit. I worked on Good Witch of the West. And then I've done some proof reading and so forth for Seven Seas, for Shinigami no Ballad, and Strawberry Panic.
Bamboo: So you said your specialty was fan fiction, and in particular, yaoi fan fiction.
Natalie: Yes. *laugh* Actually, I'm starting a new fandom right now and it's the first one where I haven't a primary yaoi pairing. It's always been slash from the first fandom. Going back to, gosh, the mid-90s, I think.
Casey: And what were some of your fandoms over the years that you've been most attached to?
Natalie: CLAMP primarily, Tokyo Babylon… Actually, Please Save my Earth was the first one. I almost forgot about that one.
Robin: Please Save My Earth is the best!
Natalie: I love that one. So of course, I saw the anime and read the manga. The anime just stops, and has these clashing bits of what's coming in the future, and I finished and though, “That's it? This is how it ends? That sucks! What about Issei and Jinpachi and their relationship that didn't happen? It has to happen!” So I started writing my first fan fic and when I finished that one, it was like 20 chapters or something, plus the epilogue.

Actually, from there I went into CLAMP fandom, having already discovered online fandom through searching for Please Save my Earth stuff. I was on some of the early CLAMP mailing lists. Before the fandom went to Live Journal, everything was on the mailing lists, like all the fan fiction. Actually, I was the moderator for the CFML for a while. I've done some scattered bits from other series as well. Like Loveless, Gundam Wing, Escaflowne, Weiss Kreuz. That was a big one, on the yaoi side of it.

Robin: So, when were you first introduced to yaoi slash pairings? How long ago and what were your first thoughts on it?
Natalie: Actually, I was sort of a spontaneous yaoi person, or a spontaneous slash person.
Robin: It just happened?
Natalie: It started with Duran Duran.
Bamboo: Duran Duran?
Natalie: Before the internet was on anybody's radar, especially me. I was 15 years old and totally in love with John Taylor, and wow, he and Nick would be so perfect together. I had this whole story in my head and actually, I did not write it. Thank goodness I did not write it. It would have been really frightening and really horrible with the telepathy and the mind sex and the aliens and all the rest of that.
Bamboo: At that young age, then, how did you get into the mind set of yaoi pairings. I mean, was this something that mimicked a lifestyle you saw on TV? Did your friends talk about it? Or was it simply, “These two men are attractive and would be nice together?”
Natalie: It's really interesting to try to think about that. I think part of it might have just been watching a lot of behind-the-scenes type videos and seeing them hanging out, being on buses together, and I just kind of liked seeing them relaxing with each other and thinking that those two particularly have a friendship that goes way, way back. They are very close. And I just like building on that idea of closeness. It'll always start out with them being strong friends, and they would get their minds linked or crazy stuff, and they'd get closer and closer together, sharing their thoughts as one. It was very non-sexual in the beginning. Very much on the level of lime. Just emotions fusing. Then over the years, it gradually got more and more graphic. It's very hard to articulate where it came from because I didn't read fan fiction at that point. I wasn't on the internet, I wasn't reading fan fics. It was not anything I was exposed to ever.
Robin: So you almost combined your fandom for Duran Duran with sort of your sci fi interest when you thought about telepathy and that sort of thing, and in a sci fi way explored that link between people.
Natalie: Kind of like all the tropes that turn up in fan fics. You'll still see people with the uncontrollable telepathy that links to somebody else, and you have to deal with it. Or the love potion that forces then to get closer to each other. Those were things I was doing with Duran Duran in the mid-80s, having never been exposed to it. It must be some kind of unconscious thing. *laugh*
Robin: Interesting, because yaoi is seemingly so popular now and you kind of wonder where that came from. I mean, now a lot of people have seen it because the books are out on store shelves, but they were still doing that with Star Trek and stuff from the beginning. You know, Spock and Kirk or whatever. Where did that come from, you know? I know they always did that in Japan, but…
Natalie: I didn't start going to conventions or get into the science fiction fan community until I was in college. So, the slash entity didn't stem from that and I don't think I was even reading science fiction that had themes like that, although I have read Ursula Le Guin and Left Hand of Darkness, where there was the gender ambiguity and that was interesting to me. But that was in high school, so there were latent interests there that found the visual stimulus of the Duran Duran characters. It was always those two; the others never got involved. Guns ‘n’ Roses was my next step.
Bamboo: Oh my gosh, I can't even really wrap my mind around it. I remember having a conversation with someone a while back, and them saying that there was fan fiction for every single possible fandom out there. There is Erin Esurance fan fic. At the time, I was thinking, “Why would anyone write Erin Esurance fan fiction?” I guess like Duran Duran, I never really thought that you could take any kind of fandom and slash people together. I mean, I'll listen to a band's music, but I've never thought, “Wow, that guy from Fall Out Boy would totally be hot with the guy from My Chemical Romance.”
Casey: I had a roommate in college who was not into anime at all, but sometimes saw some of the things I was watching at the time. She commented to me that a lot of the anime I was watching looked like a boy band cast.
Natalie: The pretty boy character.
Casey: Right, like the characters from Gundam Wing, for example. She said, “Ah, it looks like 'N Sync or the Backstreet Boys.” She would stare at the shows and explain to me how a character in Gundam Wing related to one of the members of the Backstreet Boys, and how they were the same five. I think it was the Backstreet Boys. They had five guys, right? But with the show and the band, it was the same five types of personalities, the same archetypes.
Natalie: Well, you kind of have that with the band. They have their own little world; they aren't part of everyday life. They are together as a group and they go to shows, and it's the same kind of group dynamic that you get with Gundam Wing, where you have five boys. What the fans in fan fiction usually deal with isn't the missions, but them backstage, in a way. They're at school, between missions, in recovery, at the safe house. You get it in Weiss Kreuz a lot. It's the same thing, where they are home and just hanging out, so it does have a lot of connection to the boy band thing. And there's the androgyny element too. Duran Duran certainly had that going on. Nick always wore make-up. For his wedding, he was wearing a powder pink tuxedo with a top hat, and more make-up than his wife. It was really… wow. I've actually seen a fan fic which had Duran Duran as Weiss Kreuz. John Taylor was Aya, and it had the band Japan as Schwartz and it cast all the guys. Why? Why?? It was so strange.
Robin: It's like all these multiple crazy fandoms are piling on top of each other in an Akira blob of fandom.

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