A lot of authors start in fan fiction, and I’m no exception to that. In fact, it’s because I wrote fan fiction that I met my wife, who then encouraged me to write and publish my books and now runs the business part of Pyland Publishing.
I wanted to write a blog about my time spent writing fan fiction. Why did I write it? What were the ships and shows I wrote about? And how did that lead me to later publishing my own original novels? I spoke very briefly about this in another blog, but I go into more detail in this one.
Years and years ago, there was a little show called Glee. You might have heard about it. ;) I watched the show weekly, like a lot of people, and since I had already watched Popular, Ryan Murphy’s precursor to Glee from years before, I was already familiar with his “unorthodox” approach to telling stories about kids in high school. I downloaded the music, and even had Glee karaoke on my Wii. I was just as bad as you probably imagine at that game.
Anyway, we all fell in love with Santana. And while some of us wanted her to be with Brittany, others saw potential for her to be with Quinn. Thus, a ship battle of epic proportions was born. I wanted her with Quinn. (Brittana fans, please don’t come for me.) When they actually hooked up in “I Do,” I wished that Dianna Agron was sticking around because I really wanted to see those two work out. That didn’t happen, and we got a gay double-wedding between Santana & Brittany and Kurt & Blaine. Anyway... This is about fan fiction.
Not long after “I Do,” I got an idea in my head for a story. Having only recently gone down my very first fan fiction reading rabbit hole over a weekend, and getting no sleep, I decided to write it. So, I wrote the story the following weekend and didn’t stop typing until I had an entire novel. I don’t remember sleeping or eating much, but I’m sure I did at some point. I titled the story Navigating After, and after formatting and editing it (while at work) the next week, I somehow got up enough courage to post chapter 1. I thought that I’d post that and see if I got any views or feedback on it, and if it was bad, I could always pull the chapter down and forget the story ever existed. That didn’t happen, though. I got not only views, but reviews, and they were good. People wanted to know what would happen next. So, I decided to post the next chapter.
This was the start of my fan fiction journey. I would wait to see what people thought and post the next chapter. I was posting one chapter a day at first, since I’d already finished the story. Then, I was posting two chapters a day just because I wanted to see what people thought. It was like an addiction, needing to hear what readers thought about the next chapter and to find out if they still liked the story. It was safer, in a way, to write about characters that weren’t my own and use the voices other writers had provided, but add my own plot and words.
I thought that would be the only story I’d write. It was the only idea I’d had, and people enjoyed it, but I really only wanted to write about Quinn and Santana trying to navigate their lives after they hooked up. And yes, get them together in the end. I wanted it to be realistic and not contrived, and I wanted them to maintain their true character voices. I felt like I’d accomplished that, so I returned to my normal life of not writing fan fiction for a bit.
Then, I got a review or message from someone who mentioned they wanted to know what would happen with these two characters if they hadn’t seen each other for a while, and then, did. My brain instantly said, “reunion,” and I thought about a ten-year high school reunion. That was it. I was off. The words came pouring out of me again, and I finished my second story and began posting The Reunion on fanfiction.net.
Later, I’d write my first AU in Becoming Unbroken. This was my first attempt at using characters in my own world, where I could make up my own rules, but still trying to keep the characters’ “voices” as much as possible. That was a scary place to be because people might like the characters, but not what I did with them in my own world. I consider this to be my step two at becoming a published author because each step was about giving me the courage to put my own original characters and plots out there. Step one, was posting fan fiction to begin with.
I then participated in a Quinntana Week one year and wrote 7 stories for that, including a couple of longer ones, like St. Patrick’s Day Experiment and NSA, and a couple of shorter ones, too. I wrote more AUs in The Internship and The Fame Killer, and all of those were posted on the same site, receiving positive reviews. By then, Glee was done, and I had moved on from Quinntana – in regards to writing, anyway. I still wish they’d been endgame.
I thought I was done with fan fiction again, but I still wasn’t writing my own novels yet. I’d started a few over the years (from birth, really; I’d always been writing), but I wasn’t actively working on any of them. Then, I watched another show we are all very familiar with: The 100. The first season had just appeared on Netflix right before season 2 would air, and I hadn’t heard much about it, but I was bored, so I binged it one weekend and loved it. That was before Lexa even appeared. From there, weekly, I was watching the show, and when Lexa did show up for the first time, I saw the same subtext as the rest of you. Because I’m used to how TV works most of the time, I suspected it to remain subtext and hadn’t thought about writing fan fiction about it. Then, they actually kissed, and I couldn’t believe it. Of course, Clarke said she wasn’t ready, so it “ended” there, but at the end of the season, I couldn’t get “What happens after Mount Weather?” out of my head. I like challenging myself, and I thought the writers had really put those two characters in a very tricky situation involving massive betrayal. People had died, and I wasn’t sure they could ever get them together, which made me want to write how they could. So, I did. I wrote New City: New Hope. It takes place right after the end of season 2, and I posted it before season three began.
Here’s how I met my future wife. She’d messaged me about a year before this because she was a Quinntana fan as well and had read my stories. I’d messaged her back, of course, but it ended there, like a lot of those messages do. When I posted my first Clexa story, she messaged again and was excited because she was a Clexa fan, too. The messages didn’t end this time, and later, I married her. You knew that already, though.
Again, I thought that would be my only Clexa story. But, months later, after the episode we all know too well, Lexa died, and I was devastated. I was actually devastated and didn’t sleep at all that night. I’d been on the phone with my wife (we were still long-distance then) when I watched the episode, and after we hung up, I stared at my bedroom ceiling for hours, trying to process what had just happened. I could write a whole book on Lexa and Clarke’s relationship and its importance. Maybe I will one day. I was trying to figure out how to get Lexa back, because that just couldn’t be the end of it. At this point, we didn’t know Alicia was coming back for the season finale, and we hadn’t been in the City of Light yet, so I didn’t know what the writers were planning. I began typing That Day Has Come, which starts with an alternation to the scene where Lexa gets shot. I wrote a full novel from there. No one dies, and there is eventually peace. I posted it almost right away because I needed to get it out there. Others read it and seemed to need it, too, because Lexa and Clarke get their happily ever after.
I stopped watching The 100 then, and to this day, the only other full episode I’ve seen is the finale where Lexa returns in the City of Light. I still can’t believe they didn’t let her say that she loves Clarke when Clarke says the words. Not long after I wrote That Day Has Come, I got another idea and wrote Forever in the Flame, which is my last fan fiction story. I think it might be my best out of all of them. It deals with the grief and loss of Lexa for Clarke, and how she has to deal with that while also still trying to fight for her people. In my own way, I was able to give them their happily ever after, and I was very proud of that piece. I needed to process my own grief over the loss of a beloved character who could’ve been so much more.
By this time, I had a little more courage, and I had an idea for an original novel – I wrote Fresh Start. Next came The Best Lines, Just Tell Her, and Love Walked into The Lantern. I sent them chapter by chapter to my future wife to read, and she seemed to like them. She was still in another country, but we were closer to getting her here, and soon (although, it didn’t feel that way to us), she was, and she needed a job. I think I’ve told this story before, but she is the one who came up with the idea of me self-publishing. I’d written more books by this time in our lives. All the Love Songs was done, and the San Francisco Series was mid-flight, so to speak. She did the research and got to work. Fresh Start and All the Love Songs got published, and we were off.
It all started because of fan fiction. Not only did it allow me to meet my wife, who then started publishing my books for me, but it gave me the courage as a writer that people wanted to read the words I wrote. Are they my best-works-ever? Probably not. And some are far from it. Many are ten years old or more now, and I hope I’ve gotten better at my craft since then, but they were part of my process and helped me get here.
If you’re interested in checking out any of those old pieces, I’m listing all of them below. Be gentle. They’re old, and I haven’t looked at them in years. They are only on fanfiction.net, and I don’t plan on moving them or copying them elsewhere. Nor do I intend to write more fan fiction at this time, since I’m more than busy with my original novels.
Happy reading if you choose to do so.
Quinntana: (each story is 69,000 - 136,000 words, depending on the title)
Quinntana Week: (one-shots, 2.5k to 14.5k)
Clexa: (103,000 - 147,000 words)