Fandom is full of transformative works. Despite protestations from gatekeeping authors (Anne Rice, George R.R. Martin), and derision from the writing world at large, fan fiction persists as one of the most popular forms of internet media. The Archive of Our Own boasts thousands of stories written by fans, for fans, as well as works of fan art, “podfic” (audio recordings of written fan fiction), and more. Beyond AO3, Livejournal, Tumblr, and DeviantArt host their own wealth of transformative fanworks, each a little different from the last.
I have been actively engaged in fandom for nearly 15 years. In that time, I’ve read a fair share of fan fiction. I’ve also written hundreds of thousands of words exploring my favorite characters, relationships, and concepts for fandoms including Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, and Harry Potter. I’ve squeed over fan art depicting my favorite characters in new or interesting ways. I’ve commissioned work from artists to give as gifts to my partner for holidays.
Fandom and the fanworks contained within it has been an integral part of my life for more than half of the time I’ve been alive. It helped me figure out my sexuality. It introduced me to books, films, music, and culture giants I likely wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.
Among the thousands of fanworks I’ve engaged with over the last decade and a half, there are a handful that have significantly changed my life. To pay them homage, I’ll be writing this column, aptly titled Fandom Love Letters. Every month, I’ll share a fanwork that has had an impact on the way I think, the way I interpret canonical works, or the way I engage with fandom as a whole.
The goal of this column is to introduce you to works I think are special. It will also serve as a space to share personal anecdotes, critical essays, and fandom tidbits that I’ve gathered over the years. It will span across fandoms and feature fan fiction, fan art, and fan videos. It will be a nostalgic, wild ride, and I hope you take away from it at least some of the infatuation I’ve held for these works, some of them for years.
Samantha Pearson is a freelance writer, editor, and social media manager who currently writes for Rogues Portal and Culturess. Her work has also appeared on Femsplain. She occasionally blogs about vegan food and her life as a cat parent on her personal website, The Verbal Thing. Samantha likes comics, Shakespeare, cephalopods, space babes, MLPCCG, and dismantling the patriarchy. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.