Author has written 33 stories for Thunderbirds, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Blakes 7, Man From UNCLE, IT Crowd, and Sherlock Holmes.
The unquestionably marvellous Arnold Judas Rimmer and the glorious treasure that is Scott Tracy...voiced by the fantastic Shane Rimmer of course!
As the memory of Arn is somewhat sacred, I have to write about Scott, among others. That, if you will, is my reasoning.
...on the other hand, you might spot that most of my fics are Hitchhiker's. That's because my brain goes all fluffy when I think of Arthur and Ford, and if you've been sent here by me in response to any comment you may have made, see below for a ludicrously unnecessary essay to explain what I'm on about!
Ho hum, I'm English, stuck in that rather nasty, romping-towards-thirty age-group they call the mid-twenties, self-employed doing lots of theatrical and arty things and really staying up far too late after a show has finished in order to do things like this when I really ought to be sleeping or finishing commissions!
Now that I seem to have a little more time again (hah!), I am free to get reading properly again, and I am happy to beta for you. In fact, I'd adore to beta for you. I'll take on Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Red Dwarf, Thunderbirds, Blake's 7, Man From UNCLE, Harry Potter (in moderation), Star Trek TOS, Brideshead Revisited, Marx Brothers, Galaxy Quest, LOTR (also in moderation), Blackadder, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Yes Minister, Carry Ons, Jeeves and Wooster, The Brittas Empire and Doctor Who. I'll also read other fandoms if all you want is a spelling, grammar and making-sense check!
Since my profile really needed updating, and I find that I have replied to rather a lot of people regarding why I write slash almost exclusively and particularly why I do it to their fandom, I thought I'd plonk a little essay in here to explain so that I can just point people to it!
I write slash because it makes me feel warm and fuzzy. I get a kick out of writing and reading slash that I just don't get from reading or writing het. I know there are plenty of people out there (a lot of them very happily married women,) who feel the same way. As a sexually unconfused and comfortably straight(ish) gal, who has snuggled up tight to her lesbian and gay friends on many occasions, brought up not to feel the need to be promiscuous or to try to fit in too much, I think I'm in a position to suggest politely that I am not suffering from a deep, soul-destroying perversion. In addition to this, I'm a clever girl. I know I am because I've been told so right the way through school. I was put up a year and I got through school, sixth form and university with very good results (and I read archaeology, not philosophy or psychology or media, in case you're wondering). Now that I've been working for a good few years, I'm still learning a language every two years, picking up new instruments, new theories and reading my socks off. I never stop reading. I'm on committees, I have taken on nearly every type of task at my local am dram theatres. I make costumes, I do musical direction and I paint and write children's holiday clubs for a living. I'm not trying to boast here about anything. What I'm saying is that I have above average intelligence and I think. I think a lot.
The point of this is that I have thought through my obsession (and that is a fair description) with slash, and I've come out of it knowing that it's okay for me. I've also thought about whether it is a fair use of another person's creation, and although inevitably I am providing corroborative evidence only (Read 'The Black Swan' by Nassim Taleb if you want to know why I say this – excellent book on the human mindset), I can state clearly why I think it is fair.
All fanfiction is a twisting or an extension of another person's work. It provides an opportunity for us as fans to get out of our systems and share with other people, the fantasies we have about our favourite characters, characters which have been released into the public domain and are therefore the public's to do with as they will, so long as they're not making money from it and thereby robbing the original authors of a livelihood. Only the original author can know everything about a character, and sometimes even they are a bit shaky on the really deep aspects of that character. They are the only ones for example, who can take a fanfiction story and say, perhaps, that Character A would not ever be found cleaning the bath because they have a deep phobia of the way cleaning fluid runs down white enamel; unless of course, this phobia was mentioned in canon. There may be other things which are more controversial about the characters that never came to light in canon, but which the original author knows to be incontrovertibly true. As a writer of original stuff too, I can guarantee this. It's like J. K. Rowling's revelation that Dumbledore is gay. Okay, it's canon now, but she knew that before, without ever bothering to tell the fanfic writers about it. Therefore, everything one writes about a canon character that is not expressly dealt with in canon is potentially completely wrong when held up to the creator's original vision, and any part of it might appear deeply offensive to them. However, this is why fanfiction is written, for the most part: to delve into those parts of the characters' lives which are not dealt with in canon, by putting them in new and different situations and by looking at scenes from the point of view of characters whose reaction we usually only see through the observations of others. This is half of the reason why we take characters into the bedroom; in the bedroom people behave differently. We expose ourselves mentally and spiritually to lovers in a different way to that in which we reveal ourselves to the world. Some of my favourite pairings to read are Blake's 7 - Avon/Blake and Avon Vila, because in order to get Avon into bed at all, you have to peel off a vast and prickly layer of reserve and coldness. However the transformation is managed, whether he becomes sulky or sultry, he must inevitably reveal something about himself that is different to what the writers of the series could describe except in the briefest of screen moments. If the writer manages to do this and keep him in character, you've got one hell of a good story.
The second half of the reason for getting people into the bedroom is of course for the eroticism of it all. I always keep a wonderful quote by Stephen Fry in my head when I'm writing sex:
“I yield to no-one in my admiration of the erotic capabilities of the human body. The contemplation of the erotic is a joyous frame in life's rich comic strip. But let it not be supposed that there is anything erotic about coition. A walk, a smile, a gait, a way of flicking the hair away from the eyes, the manner in which clothes encase the body, these can be erotic, but I would be greatly in the debt of the man who could tell me what could ever be appealing about those damp, dark, foul-smelling and revoltingly tufted areas of the body that constitute the main dishes in the banquet of love.” (The Tatler and sex, in Paperweight, 1992)
I know what he means, and I always try very hard not to rush things and not to assume that there is no way of making a scene highly erotic without (a) actually getting your characters to have sex or even kiss, and (b) writing a thorough and descriptive sex-scene, mentioning by name the body parts directly involved in it, or using bad euphemisms! (This is one reason I am personally very proud of my fic 'What the Dressing Gown Saw', there isn't a single rude word or direct euphemism in it (though I think Ford says 'Belgium' once) and everything you read into it is your own problem. I know this because my mother is a straight-up moral Christian woman and, in a moment of counter-homophobic mania, I let her read it and she wasn't shocked.) There is a good way to explain what I mean in a physical sense. Unless you actually loathe your own body you can try this one, it works. In the privacy of your own home, stand fully clothed in front of a full-length mirror. Now place one hand, palm against the base of your stomach with your fingers pointing down at a natural angle. You should have your hand so that it rests inside your hip bones and so that, were you to take off your clothes, your fingertips would just touch the top of your pubic area. Now move your hand down so that it is resting over your groin. If you change nothing else, you will get a fair comparison. Which position looks sexier? Unless you are a bit peculiar, I will almost guarantee that it is the first one. The second will tend to make you look like you are either covering your genitals protectively, or preparing for a hard-porn shoot, which I don't find all that erotic. That is why I try for the former in my writing: pointing, not touching. I do write sex with graphic descriptions from time to time, because it is fun to do and it is a turn-on, of course it is. It's just that a lot of the time you don't need it.
On the other hand, it is sex, and the problems surrounding it that can make writing fanfiction psychologically compelling. Which brings me back to 'why slash?' The above arguments fit very well for both het and slash. Either way, an original author might object, and one of the reasons I don't think that slash is a disrespectful thing to do any more, is that in our modern society, at least in my milieu, homosexuality is not really a matter for comment so much any more. Of course there are people who disapprove, and that's fine. It is a personal choice for them. On the other hand, if gay men can get civil partnerships, and be considered as normal human beings by the rest of society, then we have surely levelled the playing field between gay and straight. If you criticise slash writing for 'debasing' or 'warping' characters, then surely you must equally criticise adult het fics. Indeed, I have read plenty of het fics which are far more degrading to the characters involved. It all depends on how they have been written.
My other reason for writing slash is a back-hander to the above statement. I write it specifically because in many cases it gives me a vast and fascinating range of problems and awkward situations to overcome before I can even let the two characters feel love. In any fic set in a society where homosexuality is not explicitly regarded as the norm or as absolutely acceptable, you have a chance to pit your desires for the characters against what their friends and colleagues will think of them. Most slash writers will tell you that this is part of the reason they write it. We are living in an age where homosexuality is only just becoming widely acceptable through the media and the pressure of equal rights and anti-discrimination laws. Therefore, most of us know what it is like to be part of a society (even thinking back five or ten years,) where you could not talk about it in polite conversation, and you could not express positive views on homosexuality without fear of being punished for it in some way. In many parts of the world, including parts of America and some neighbourhoods of Britain's inner cities and rural areas, it is still an uneasy or downright dangerous subject. So if you've got a background to your fandom which is uncertain as regards social acceptance of gays and lesbians, you have an excellent opportunity for some really good working-out of emotions and technicalities that you just don't get with het unless you introduce a tribal or Romeo and Juliet-type scenario. You have questions of how your characters will ever find out or dare to let slip that they have feelings for each other, how they get together for the first time, whether or how they tell friends, colleagues etc, and how they continue their relationship. You have the point of view of those friends and colleagues: how do they react, does it change anything for them, will they force your characters into secrecy, or force them out of a job? Then you've got my personal favourite: the individual character's battle with their own conscience. Are they happy to be gay or does it disturb them? Will they cover it up, or tell everybody, or just the object of their desire? Will they be able to enjoy themselves, given the constraints. How will they react if their colleagues are hostile, or if they are incomprehensibly (to the character) understanding? This is one of the reasons I absolutely adore writing Hitchhiker's fic. You've got essentially three characters to play with, because I don't go in for het or robot-sex, who have very distinct personalities and conceivably very different approaches and attitudes to sex. You've got Arthur who is your average man who comes from a middle-class English background which is now a product of another time, in which he would not have been comfortable discussing sexuality with anyone, certainly not his male friends, and when discovering you were gay would have been much more of a disaster. He has also been after girls, so he's not really (as far as we know) been building up to this. He is also a very nice man who will try very hard not to cause offence to people and who cares passionately about fair play and solid lawfulness, and who will, moan though he might, look after his friend through thick and thin. Then you've got Ford who is by all accounts a man out for himself. He has alien concepts of what is right and wrong and he does not have many of the basic tools for surviving in British society, such as the use of sarcasm and reciprocal giving. Reading through the books, you discover that although he has friends throughout the galaxy, he would happily abandon most of them if he thought his own life was in danger. Yet he does not abandon Arthur, even though he gets dangerously near the line of being on Earth when it is wiped out due to his determination to save him when he keeps running off. He clearly loves Arthur dearly. Now it doesn't matter whether this is a purely platonic love as most people would hold it to be, or a sexual love (whether fulfilled or unfulfilled is up to you). The fact is that he has deep feelings for this person, he'd probably never admit it, because it's not a cool thing, and it gives slash authors a great starting point for a relationship between him and Arthur. He loves drink and girls, which is fun, because the girls too need explaining away in a convincing way if at all possible. He could just be bi, he could have been pretending, or he could just like their company – oh the agony of choice! Finally, you've got Zaphod. Whereas Ford is self-centred most of the time and hardly cares about anybody but himself, Zaphod is self-centred all the time and doesn't care about anybody but himself. He is arrogant and firmly believes himself to be the best at everything. To take someone like that to the bedroom is fun, and the best thing is that you can prove Eccentrica Gallumbits right or wrong as you please!
The possibilities are endless: who approves of what? Zaphod doesn't seem to like Arthur, but would he sleep with him? Does he or would he sleep with Ford? Can Arthur overcome his natural inhibitions to sleep with either of them, and why does he give in if he does...in fact, whose idea is it? Ford's or Arthur's? That's why I like slash, it is a richer and more satisfying ground on which my plotbunnies can graze.
The best thing for me is that if I want to write sex, I can write loving sex. Even if I am writing a PWP, I can make it friendly and loving. This is one of the reasons that female fanfic writers abound: Women in general like a story behind their sex. I like a nice story behind my sex. If someone finds offensive, simply because it is slash, a piece in which I depict two characters falling deeply in love and consummating that love in a fun and friendly tumble between the sheets that makes them both happy and doesn't hurt anyone, then I'm sorry, I don't understand how your brain works. I was brought up in the Church and I stand by most of its precepts, but with that one I cannot agree. I cannot understand how something that is borne out by everything I see around me to be natural and inborn, can be in any way wrong. Maybe I missed something.
As a final note (because you're bored now), I would like to take umbrage against the people who say that I obviously don't realise what a frequently occurring and beautiful, deep thing a platonic male relationship can be. I do. I know, because I have lots of male friends, both straight and gay, who have just that sort of warm platonic friendship with another man of either persuasion. I know that the likelihood of Arthur hopping into the sack with Ford would, in the normal way of things, be negligible. I know that there is no need for him to do so in order to have a meaningful friendship with him, and that in fact, the relationship is likely to be more stable if it keeps its toes out of the muddy waters of sex. The fact remains that I like my men gay. I like to see what happens when I send them skipping off into the sunset together, and I don't give a pair of dingo's kidneys whether or not the characters were ever intended to be gay. It is a fantasy, it keeps me happy, and I get favourable reviews for the most part, so clearly somebody agrees with me.
Rant over. I thank you for your attention. I am off now to put on my dressing gown and run Arthur's fingers through Ford's hair.
I know where my towel is...most of the time...
"Try to remember that John Wayne was not soprano." - La Cage aux Folles - very important message, that.
Don't worry, Pluto: I'm not a planet either.
"I plan to live for ever...or die trying." - Vila, Blake's 7 -Did anyone ever get a better line? (Originally Groucho's of course, but I think Harpo got better lines than Grouch!...)
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