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Back to the Beginning by Cari Hunter

I blame Agent Scully for all of this.

In the nicest possible way, of course. (She carries a gun so you have to tread carefully.)

It started about 27 years ago, one young soul tuning innocently into a new TV show called The X-Files. Fast forward a few months later, and said young soul is completely obsessed, spending obscene amounts of money on magazines, T-shirts, and knock-off I Want To Believe posters. Okay, so the young soul is me (I was young once!) and off I went to university to study Film and Literature, coincidentally at a time when the internet was in its first flush of life. Every student got access to the computer lab, someone showed me the basics, and down the fandom rabbit hole I went.

I know this is going to be difficult to fathom for non-fans, but early online fandom was an amazing place to be. After years of being an isolated geek, I now had contact with actual fans all over the world who were chatting away in Usenet groups. Fans who knew episode titles without looking them up, who wrote reviews, and argued about their favourite ships, and sent me blooper videos. Fans who wrote fanfiction.

OMG, fanfiction.

While everyone on my degree course was busy discussing the finer points of The Bicycle Thieves and The Yellow Wallpaper, I was pulling all-nighters in the computer lab reading fanfiction, chatting about fanfiction, and printing out fanfiction to read later. During a television module on my degree, I pecked my lecturer’s head until he loaned me his copy of Henry Jenkins’ Textual Poachers, and suddenly fanfiction became more than just a bunch of fans writing stories for their own entertainment. It had history and cultural significance, and goodness me, it was so very, very gay.

Fanfiction has always embraced and been embraced by the marginalised. Queers, women, people of colour took hold of television characters largely aimed at straight white blokes (a demographic that’s advertising gold) and did whatever the hell they wanted with them. If they wanted to pair Mulder with his nemesis, Alex Krycek, there was a ship for that. If they wanted to pair Scully with an original female character (because early X-Files had fuck-all options for other strong female leads) they could do that as well. I was reading Radclyffe’s Scully slash fiction years before I became one of the authors at her publishing house. With this gleeful queering of otherwise straight characters, it’s little wonder that so many lesbian fiction authors came from fanfiction origins. Nor is it a wonder that people – myself very much included – discovered their sexuality through fanfiction. I’m not saying that Dana Scully made me gay, but Scully slash fiction certainly brought out my latent lesbian, helping me to acknowledge and then become comfortable with my sexuality.

With so many recent WLW stories starting out life as fanfiction, it may be odd to hear that writing fanfic almost put the mockers on my fledgling WLW writing career. I blame Sarah Connor for that, also in the nicest possible way. I was so busy rewriting the Terminator TV show that Snowbound – my debut Bold Strokes book – was put on the backburner for a good year. But it was a very good year, and I will never regret the time I spent with Ms Connor, nor the months I spent with Rizzoli and Isles – which was a terrible TV show but great fun to write fic for.

It’s been nine years since I last wrote fanfic, for no reasons other than being rather busy and not having a fandom to fic. In its place I’ve written nine original novels, but the fanfic genres and tropes that I love – hurt/comfort, forced proximity, action/adventure, mystery/thriller, all featuring strong, capable, independent, and feisty women – are front and centre of everything I’ve published with Bold Strokes. Without fanfic, would I have had the impetus or the guts to write original stories? Probably not. Fanfic and its readers, and their feedback, gave me the kick up the bum I needed to make that jump. So when I say I blame Scully, really I mean, I owe her.

Cari’s fanfiction can be found at Archive of Our Own (https://archiveofourown.org/users/cj2017) and fanfiction.net (https://www.fanfiction.net/u/1923345/cj2017 ) , and her ninth novel, Unbreakable (which hits a lot of the tropes mentioned above!) will be published in October.

Unbreakable:

Dr. Grace Kendal never stands a chance. The injured woman comes out of nowhere, bleeding heavily and holding a gun. Compelled to help her, Grace is dragged into Elin Breckenridge’s nightmare. Their fight to survive will take them across the country and to the limits of their endurance. But who is Elin running from? As Grace struggles for answers, one thing becomes clear – Elin is somehow connected to a dead man, and Grace could be next.

For Detective Sergeant Safia Faris, the case should have been easy: one dead body, one suspect. But the deeper she digs, the more obvious it becomes that the murder was only the beginning. The investigation sets her on a collision course with Grace and Elin, and she’s forced to re-evaluate everything she knows. Because nothing is quite as it seems, and Grace’s and Elin’s lives aren’t the only ones on the line.

6 thoughts on “Back to the Beginning by Cari Hunter”

  1. Hi Cari,
    Love this post! I was (and still am) a huge fan of Dana Scully as well. Her strong, seemingly unbreakable character, laced with so much mystery and intrigue was incredibly powerful for me. I have to admit to being a bit of a fanfic reader myself and have really enjoyed some of Radclyffe’s SciFi fiction. I was so pleased, not to take away from Dana Scully’s character, to see Gillian Anderson in The Fall mini-series, where they explored her character in a much more explicit manner than a mainstream TV show ever could. Again, really looking forward to your upcoming book!
    Brooklyn Graham

    1. I was an ardent Mulder/Scully shipper for the first few years before Mulder began to irritate the pants off me but the show was circling the drain by then as well. We still watch our favourite episodes every now and again and wallow in lovely nostalgia. Oh, I met my wife through the show! We were both on that newsgroup I mentioned and we’ve been together for 22 years now 🙂 I have a ton of fic I printed at uni and a load more I printed for a fanzine I used to run (I was a very committed fan!)
      If you like strong, complex female characters, try Mare of Easttown with Kate Winslet. It is brilliant and she is amazing in the lead.

    1. I’ve been a fan of something for as long as I can remember, but there was no easy to reach community until the internet came along. Then boom! Fan fic is a great way for writers to find their feet, or just to write for the love of writing and reading. It doesn’t have to go anywhere (and I’m dead against fan fic being published for profit because I’m old school and that’s just the way it always was.)

  2. I had a group of queer nerd friends and we would use an e-mail listserv (I know, I know) to basically re-write each episode of Star Trek Voyager as we watched it, with our different crew, queering it up all the way home. Fanfiction was such a wonderful place to find queerness *and* the shows you already loved. *sigh*

    (Also, Scully deserved way better than Mulder.)

    1. You should try to find that Henry Jenkins book, it’s a great read and very Trek/Dr Who focused in its discussion. I did a degree module in creative writing and wrote one of my essays on slash fiction. Goodness knows what everyone else chose as a topic, but I managed to introduce two respected authors to the concept of Kirk/Spock and queer fic.

      As for Scully, oh she totally did! Mulder turned out to be such a twerp. But I blame Chris Carter all the way for that.

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