Fanfiction — the stories we wanted but didn’t get

Getty Images Hulton Archive — because pictures of Xena always get your attention

For me, it all started with Xena: Warrior Princess. I watched every minute of every episode hoping to see onscreen something I knew was running rampant when the cameras turned away — romantic love between Xena and Gabrielle. Instead I got 134 episodes of subtext with wink-wink deniability, and a studio vehemently proclaiming this wasn’t a lesbian show. Fanfiction fixed all that.

Over its six-season run, the show gave us many things we didn’t want: men like Perdicus (weak) and Ares (rapey) interrupting our love story; betrayals we could barely forgive; and the coup de grâce — the tired cliché that lesbians don’t get a Happy Ever After (because they’re dead). Fanfic took care of that too.

Looking at today’s television landscape, it’s laughable that two women traveling the ancient world together and perhaps sharing a bedroll was once considered controversial. Such was the state of “mainstream TV” 1995-2001. Though Xena: Warrior Princess ended its run 16 years ago, it lives on today in fanfic with fresh stories of Amazons, campfires, and best of all to this reader, visions of Xena and Gabrielle finding each other again in a future life.

I’m so very proud to claim the Xena fanfiction community as my online hometown. One of my greatest honors was getting the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 from the Royal Academy of Bards. I shudder to think that without the faithful nurturing, appreciation and encouragement of the fanfic community, I might never have found this joy for telling stories of lesbian lives.

Why this, why now? I was asked a few months back by Dana Piccoli, author of the Bella Blog, to help judge a contest called “From Fanfiction to Published Novelist,” in which the winning writer gets not only a publishing contract with Bella Books for an original lesbian novel, but all the necessary resources to help polish her manuscript and bring it to market. I confess that I haven’t read fanfic in years — and I had no idea what I was missing! The biggest surprise was seeing how many of today’s femslash fanfic stories are based in actual canon. The romantic couples aren’t derived from subtext or imagined chemistry between a pair of female characters; they appear in fanfic exactly the way they’re portrayed on the show — as couples openly in love.

After reading dozens of entries, we’ve selected three finalists we think have the potential to deliver a kick-ass original book. They represent these fandoms — Carmilla, Wynonna Earp, and The 100 — and each entry is an excerpt of about 3,000 words. We’re asking YOU to help us choose a grand prize winner. Simply go to our contest page, read the entries, and cast your vote. Here’s the link:

From Fanfiction to Published Novelist

Just don’t blame me if you find yourself addicted to this treasure trove of exciting stories and have to quit your job so you’ll have more time to read.

3 Responses to “Fanfiction — the stories we wanted but didn’t get”

  1. Thanks for explaining fanfic. I finally get it!!!!

  2. Online fan fiction was where I got my daily fix of stories with characters I could relate to before there was a proliferation of published works with the same subject matter. I greatly appreciate all the hard work the fan fiction authors put into writing stories for us mere mortals who cannot write but enjoy a good story.

    • Everyone in the fanfiction community had something to contribute. Authors, website builders, cover designers, reviewers, and especially the conference organizers who did a TON of work. But the greatest of all was the readers who took the time to dash off a note. Feedback is what made us all want to keep writing. At GCLS, I want to bop over the head those who say, “I’m just a reader.” Readers are glorious!

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