He might be departing as our Literature Editor, but fear not, dear reader, you’ll still be able to get your LP Mills fix. He’s collaborating with Jim Sharpe to start Trash Fic, a regular night celebrating the best and worst offerings from the bamboozling world of fanfiction…
What in the name of all things holy is Trash Fic?
Liam: Trash Fic is a comedy night to celebrate all of the weird and wonderful aspects of user-created content – things like fanfiction, fan parody and fan music. There’s a lot of really weird stuff on the internet, and we’re celebrating that stuff in the best way possible – by performing it with 100% sincerity and seriousness.
Jim: There’s nothing cynical about it as a night – we’re not there to poke fun. It’s very easy to do that, and I say that as someone who has written plenty of fanfiction worth making fun of. A lot of the time it comes from people who are marginalised in some way, a lot of queer folk, and it was primarily young women during the time I was becoming aware of it in the early 2000s.
Liam: The first fanfictions that were published online were Star Trek gay fanfiction written by women. That was the most prolific form of fanfiction for quite a long time.
Why do you think it got so much stick?
Jim: A large part of the reason it got so much stick for such a long time was because it was an outsider art form. And with any outsider art, especially that created by women and queer people, a lot of the mainstream just saw it as an opportunity to make fun of it. It’s the same thing with boy bands that teenage girls are in to, or Twilight. I started obsessively writing fanfiction when I was about twelve, and it was my primary creative outlet as a writer. After going through that cynical teenage period of thinking it was embarrassing, I realised it was something to be celebrated. Especially when you consider that it’s probably the most accessible form of outside art on the Internet right now. Everybody knows who Harry Potter, Captain Kirk, Garfield and Sonic the Hedgehog are. It's weird, but it's very publicly accessible.
Liam: A big portion of it is gonna be semi-ironic – not that we're mocking it and saying "oh isn't this great," we genuinely do think it's wonderful because of how weird it is. Readers might not necessarily know how weird fanfiction can get, but if you think about a person who has been marginalised for a great deal of their life, they will eventually want to start writing stuff that is super, super weird because they don't see their personal needs being represented. Like First Encounters, which is a Harry Potter fanfiction in which a squid has sex with Hogwarts castle.
Jim: Harry Potter is always a great place to go. One of my particular favourites is when Ron and Hermione are present during the 9/11 terror attacks. The other thing is, there are no editors for online fiction and there's no oversight, which means you do get the weird stuff, but you get stuff that's weird that you'd never get anywhere else. I like to think of it as a kind of reflection of the underground film festivals, where they show Birdemic and The Room. People love these films because there's nothing else like that.
Like most art, it’s entirely possible to feel more than one emotion while experiencing fanfiction...
Liam: As humans, we don’t like being silly and we don’t like feeling shame, but those are both very natural, normal human emotions. And I want to see that! Let’s all be weird!
Jim: We’re so excited for people to come out and share their fanfiction. I’m excited to see if we can create a Nottingham fanfiction scene. I want to sell t-shirts!
The inaugural Trash Fic will be held on Monday 12 August from 7pm-9pm at Jam Cafe, and on the third Monday of every month after that.