Transcript: Not Now, I’m Reading Fanfic on AO3

CHELSEA: Welcome back to episode 11 of Not Now, I’m Reading, your one stop shop for all things genre. My name is Chelsea.

KAY: And I’m Kay.

CHELSEA: And today we are doing Not Now, I’m Reading Fanfiction. Which is our chance to not only recommend you some really great fanfiction we’ve been reading recently, but also do a little bit of a nerdy deep dive into the fanfiction site AO3. Archive of Our Own. Talk about what it is. How we use it. All the different bells and whistle and fun stuff that has to do with that. But, as always, before we get there, we are going to talk about the things we’re currently reading.

KAY: Yay!

CHELSEA: I also want to apologize in advance. We are doing a podcasting after dark and I am in the middle of a sinus infection. So if things seem a little fuzzier or a little bit more stuffy on my end, that is my apology and it’s, what, like 100 million billion degrees or something in Arizona right now?

KAY: It’s only 117 degree Fahrenheit right now.

CHELSEA: Oh, okay, only.

KAY: At seven o’clock in the evening. So my air conditioner’s definitely gonna be kicking on and off. I love you guys, but not enough to sweat to death while we record the podcast in a house with no A/C.

CHELSEA: We don’t want anyone here suffering from heatstroke.

KAY: No.

CHELSEA: You’ll have to bear with us, we were so excited to talk about AO3 and fanfiction that we decided that the show must go on. So. First. Kay. What are you reading?

KAY: All the things, Chelsea. I’m reading all the things. As per usual. I just finished up The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare.

CHELSEA: [gasps] It’s so good.

KAY: Which is the first in her new series. It released August 22. It’s the first book in her Girl Meets Duke series and it is amazing.

CHELSEA: It is so good.

KAY: It is her self-described dirtiest book she’s ever written and hell yeah it is. [laughs]

CHELSEA: And that’s saying something, man. Cause Tessa Dare? Her shit is yummy. It’s good.

KAY: I don’t wanna, I really don’t wanna spoil this book cause I think it’s great, but you’re gonna get marriage of convenience. You’re gonna get some Regency Batman vibes. You’re gonna get an adorable boy sidekick. You’re gonna get awesome female friendships. I’m super excited for the ladies who are clearly going to be the heroines of the next books. There was some excellent, excellent —

CHELSEA: She drops the Elizabeth Warren line in there. It’s just muah. It’s perfect. I just love it. I have a little bit of a weak spot for Tessa Dare so I was pretty on the track to love it anyway, but it definitely did not disappoint at all.

KAY: And I love most of her books and this is probably my new favorite by her. And I also just started the new Andy Weir book, Artemis. I have no opinions yet, I’m just starting. I don’t know if I’ve talked about my Martian feelings on this podcast other than I enjoyed the movie and didn’t like the book very much. I think his stuff translates really well to screen and Artemis has already been optioned for a movie that I think is coming from the same production team that did The Martian. And this one definitely looks like it has a more diverse cast and a female main character which are both things I really wanted out of his next book. So I’m looking forward to that. And that’s all the time I’m going to dedicate to that, cause I don’t really know anything else yet. And then I’ve been reading some really great fic, as always. And we’re gonna get into the best ways to find fic a little bit later in the podcast, but for now I’m just gonna tell you the great things I read. Did I talk about Every Witch Way But Up yet? So this is on AO3, but it is not fanfiction. It is an original work by one of my favorite fanfic authors, mklutz. It’s called Every Witch Way But Up. It’s an urban fantasy murder mystery novel set in Toronto. It’s amazing. There’s a really lovely kind of slow build romance in the background. And lots of great female friendships. A really diverse cast. The writing is excellent. The pacing is amazing. And she is already working on the sequel so I’m super stoked to read more of that.

CHELSEA: Good, that’s good.

KAY: It’s 72k so it really is a full length urban fantasy novel that she threw up on AO3 for you to read. So go check that out. As per usual, we’ll have links to everything for you in the show notes.

CHELSEA: God bless creators.

KAY: God bless creators.

CHELSEA: Who put stuff up like that for free.

KAY: Y’all are such gifts. The next one is a life of smoke and silvered glass by dirgewithoutmusic. If you have ever been in Harry Potter fandom in the last few years, you’ve probably heard of dirgewithoutmusic and their awesomeness. They basically post headcanons in story form constantly.

CHELSEA: It’s like what if x, y z and it’s so good.

KAY: They’re beautiful. And this one basically posits that Snape is not a good guy, but he’s a slightly less terrible guy who maintains his friendship with Lily, but still becomes a Death Eater spy. So he’s mostly still Snape, but slightly less awful.

CHELSEA: And the reason I love their fic is for this reason: they don’t change a ton, but the little changes they make are just like.

KAY: They show how you take that tiny step to the left and that cascade effect changes everything. And they do it in so many different directions and ways and I just kind of blanket recommend all of their fic. But this one is definitely a new favorite. It is 27k and it’s just really good. I’m really mad about having positive Severus Snape feelings, but this fic definitely gave me positive Severus Snape feelings, so take that how you will. And I think I’m gonna kick it over to you, Chels.

CHELSEA: The most recent book I’ve read is The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean. It’s the first book in her Scandal & Scoundrel series. Which is I first kind of heard about it because it was pitched to me as a romance novel based on the Kardashian sisters. I can see how it is. It’s based on a family of five sisters who are all named with the letter S as the first initial of their name. They’re very scandalous, they’re new money. One of them takes artist as a patron. One of them is rumored to have written naked on horseback. That’s where the comparison really ended for me, but I still really enjoyed this book. This book did the thing I really like where the hero is very determined to prove to his shitty father that he is never going to be in love and that the family line will die with him which, I mean.

KAY: Is a thing in several books we’ve read, lately.

CHELSEA: For good reason, it’s a thing I thoroughly enjoy. But there’s a particular scene in this book that I really, really loved. Which is very, very verbal participation in having sex. I really enjoy talking. Not only do I think it indicates enthusiastic consent, but it’s also super hot. So that happened in this book, which always gets bonus points from me. But I really am excited to pick up the second one, because the second one is about Scottish…I think he’s a duke or a marquess. I’m not entirely sure, but I love me some Scots in my romance fiction. So I’m really excited for that. And I just am five pages away from finishing this book that, like, ohmygod. Kay, did you ever do debate or forensics? Was that ever a thing for you in high school?

KAY: I know what you’re talking about, but no.

CHELSEA: Okay. Well, that was my thing. I got my high school letters for debate and forensics.

KAY: You and Jenny need to chat about that.

CHELSEA: The book is called The Duke of Bannermen Prep by Katie Nelson. And it’s a young adult book. This, when I describe it to you, you will probably know exactly why I picked it up. It’s a Great Gatsby adaptation that takes place in a California high school focusing on a private school debate team.

KAY: Literally everything about that makes me want to set myself on fire. It sounds like something you would love.

CHELSEA: It literally checked all my boxes. We talked in our adaptation episode about how I have a soft spot for Gatsby and I read it every summer. I already read it this summer over the Fourth of July weekend and it was great. The people in that book are still horrible, but I love them and it’s fantastic.

KAY: [groans] I hate it so much. [laughs]

CHELSEA: I know you do. I know you do.

KAY: Everything about that book made me full body cringe.

CHELSEA: I think I deluded myself for are really long time that everybody really liked that book, when it turns out most people who like that book are —

KAY: Pretentious douchebags you wouldn’t want to be friend with?

CHELSEA: But I really like that book. I have a really soft spot and that book it goes to my love of asshole rich dudes and things that I have for them that’s probably, like, there’s layers to that we don’t have the time or space to get into right here. I didn’t love this one as much as I wanted to as an adaptation. The whole thing I love about Gatsby is like, spoiler alert if you’ve never read Gatsby, the whole reason he creates his fake identity is to win his lady back, or to prove he’s worthy of the love of this totally vapid and horrible human being. Whatever. I don’t have opinions. But this book–

KAY: Literally everything about that book makes me sad.

CHELSEA: I know. I know it does. The people in that book are gross, man. That book is not great, but I love it so much. I’m trash for it. I didn’t love this one as much. I did love it because I imagine that people who played football in high school and then read football novels, this is how they feel. Cause this book really got into, like —

[Kay laughs]

CHELSEA: — the nitty gritty of debate and forensics because it’s written by former forensics teacher. The person who wrote it used to be an English and debate teacher. And this book took me back to the insufferable intellectual superiority I used to feel over every person I went to high school with along with my other debate friends. Which is awful. I was a horrible person in high school.

[Kay’s still laughing]

CHELSEA: But this book took me back to that. And all of the stress of competition. And stuff that comes with your field of competition being an academic one or one that is largely more intellectual than it is physical. So that’s the book. In terms of fanfiction, so, if you —

KAY: I know exactly what this is gonna be. [laughs]

CHELSEA: If you follow me at all on twitter for any amount of time in the last few months, I have fallen into this Hannibal hole that I am both unwilling and unable to pull myself back out of.

KAY: Sorry not sorry.

CHELSEA: So I did not know that this was a thing that exists. I had never seen the show Hannibal. All I knew of it is it’s about Hannibal Lecter cause it’s in the name.

KAY: Guys, it just like. I don’t think you understand how much my mind was blown when I realized Chelsea hadn’t actually seen this show. Because it’s the platonic ideal of a show for Chelsea. [laughs] And it’s a show that would, like, you would never guess I would like it because it’s 100% not a thing I’d normally enjoy, but even I love this show.

CHELSEA: Cause we have very different ideas of platonic ideal for perfect media.

KAY: Yeah.

CHELSEA: But this is checking all of my deeply homoerotic but also creepy but also angsty and disturbed check boxes.

KAY: Really beautiful and there’s serial killers and —

CHELSEA: It’s just so good. It has thrown me for a little bit of an existential loop. Cause I consider myself a mostly optimistic person, but it has just really pointed out to me that for as happy as I am most of the time and for as optimistic as I try to be, I live in some very, very dark places in fandom.

[Kay laughs]

CHELSEA: and the ships that I sail.

KAY: The thing about Hannibal is it has the most delightful, cheerful fandom of any TV show ever.

CHELSEA: They’re so nice, but the material is so dark.

KAY: But the source material is darkness, death, and despair. The most beautiful darkness, death, and despair you’ll ever see.

CHELSEA: It’s gorgeous. Which brings me to my recommendation. That thing that I’m gonna recommend it called Consenting to Dream by emungere. This is a piece of Hannibal fanfiction, duh. It’s Will Graham/Hannibal Lecter. It is this long fic, it’s like 32k, and it is sugar daddy but not and it’s tagged praise kink, but it’s very subtle. And it’s slow burn and it is literally just about Hannibal wanting to buy Will really nice things and Will learning to let Hannibal do that. And —

KAY: And I never read daddy kink. It’s really not my bag. And even I really, really love this fic. It’s really good. That aspect of it is super subtle and it’s more of like, uh, he wants Will to have nice things.

CHELSEA: Cause there’s this psychology that Will has of his own value and he suffers from a lot of issues with self-esteem and there’s a lot of stuff that happens in the show with being gaslit that goes into that. So because Hannibal just wants to give him all this stuff, he has a lot of problems with acceptance of the stuff. I loved it. The fic does with clothing what the show does with food. In that it got me to actually really deeply give a shit about the detailed description of the kind of clothing that is being purchased.

KAY: And neither of us give a shit about clothes.

CHELSEA: I gave birth to my son two and half years ago and I still wear my maternity pants all the fucking time. All the fucking time.

KAY: That’s cause that shit is stretchy and comfortable and you should wear it till it falls to pieces.

CHELSEA: Why would you wear anything with a zipper if you could literally just wear sweatpants that aren’t sweatpants? Anyway. I loved this fic so much that after I finished it I went out and actually commissioned somebody to draw me some fanart. I commissioned Ira. @justira on Tumblr. We’ll link them in the show notes. They do absolutely amazing work. And I reached out to them and commissioned them to draw me some fanart and I am salivating waiting to see the first sketches and to get this fanart from Ira cause it’s gonna be so amazing. But that’s it. That’s all I’m gonna recommend.

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

CHELSEA: Because we’re gonna keep going with our fanfiction talk and talk about AO3 as a site and fanfiction. How we find it on there. How we go about it. How we use it. This came up in an earlier episode we were recording. And we realized we both have, or had, very different styles of using AO3.

KAY: Yeah.

CHELSEA: I mean, I guess, do you wanna explain a little bit what AO3 is, in case people are unfamiliar?

KAY: So for the uninitiated, if you are even a casual fanfic reader, at this point, you’ve probably heard of AO3 or you’ve been linked to a story there. It’s basically a fan organized, run, maintained archive run on donations.

CHELSEA: Is it all volunteer?

KAY: I think it’s all volunteer except there’s a tech team they’ve hired on. We will link to all of that information. Also where you can donate to the archive to help with maintenance and improvements.

CHELSEA: Yeah, I donate money. They’re on my donation list every year. They do great work. It’s largely fan-run. It’s a labor of love. And it’s basically just a huge assembly of fanfiction and fanworks and different kinds of transformative works.

KAY: It’s all different sorts of transformative works. It’s great.

CHELSEA: Fanvids, podfics. It’s great.

KAY: It is mainly an archive for fanfiction. And it, by far, has the most user-friendly search functions and various other functionalities of any fanfiction archive ever. I’m just gonna say ever. It is the best. There might be some niche archive out there that I don’t know about. But.

CHELSEA: Ever of the ones we’ve run across.

KAY: This is a massive multi-fandom space. So before AO3, fic tended to live either in people’s personalized archives and journals or in a specific fandom or ship’s archive. And you would have to go find a specific site for whatever you were looking for. AO3 has really help centralize that. I know, fanfiction.net. The Pit was there first, but The Pit is The Pit and don’t go there.

CHELSEA: That’s where I got my start, was at The Pit.

KAY: Leave that place alone. Don’t touch it. The search functions are shit.

CHELSEA: I mean, there’s a reason it’s called The Pit. It’s real bad.

KAY: We’re gonna link to some Fanlore pages if you wanna dig into some fandom history, cause we don’t need to get into that.

CHELSEA: If you wanna go trolling you can rock your world, my old horrible user name Dead Poets Society fanfiction from 14 year old Chelsea is still living on the internet.

KAY: That’s so beautiful. I’m really angry you haven’t linked me to that before.

CHELSEA: I can’t bring myself to delete it. It’s like a time capsule.

KAY: Oh, that’s amazing.

CHELSEA: Some kind of my tiny horcrux just chilling in The Pit for forever.

KAY: Yeah, I didn’t post anything as a wee baby fanfic writer. That all just lived on my hard drive and died a merciful death. Anyway!

CHELSEA: So anyway, yeah. These days, odds are entirely good that if either of us have linked you, or if anyone has linked you a piece of fanfiction, it’s probably been to AO3, the archive.

KAY: And we just want to give you our tips, tricks, rundowns of the best ways to utilize the functionalities of the site to find what you want. And to keep finding what you want. And how to store things properly.

CHELSEA: Yes. [laughs]

KAY: So, first off, it is an invitation-only archive. But they’ll invite anyone. You just have to put your email in the list of people waiting for invitations. It’s just their way to keep spam accounts down. It usually takes less than a week for you to get your invitation.

CHELSEA: I was gonna say, I think I requested one and had it four days later. They’d sent me back a confirmation.

KAY: You can still read, I think, at least 90% of the fic on the archive without an account. But some people do lock their work so only people who have accounts can read it. It’s just a privacy thing.

CHELSEA: You won’t be able to track or store your fic if you don’t have an account, which is a big part of the great functionality of the site. Is the ability to organize and track and recall all those super great pieces of fandom disparate fiction.

KAY: Personally, my favorite things about the site are: the advanced search function, the ability to bookmark fic, the ability to subscribe. These, I think, are the most useful things about the site as a whole. Would you say those are probably the big things?

CHELSEA: I would say so. I’d say the advanced search features, especially the ability to search by both ship and just general character, those are two distinctions that I really value. Because sometimes it can really help.

KAY: I wanna let you guys hear the rundown if you are doing the advanced search function you can search by: general any field, title, author/artist, date (you can give a date range, specific dates like less than three years old), if the work is complete or not, if it is a single chapter or not, you can give word counts (you can do a word count range or just greater or less than a certain length).

CHELSEA: Which is super great cause I love long fic.

KAY: Same.

CHELSEA: So I can go in and because I’m into long fic, I’m usually very reluctant for uncompleted work. Cause I’m not here to invest my time in something that hasn’t been or isn’t gonna be finished.

KAY: Yup.

CHELSEA: So to be able to filter for both in advanced search is helpful.

KAY: You can also search by: language, fandom, by rating (as in general audiences, teen and up, mature, explicit), you can sort by warnings (so if you wanna make sure there are certain things you don’t want to appear in the fic, like major character death, graphic violence, underage, noncon), you can also sort by category (so female/female, male/male, gen, multi, other, etc.), you can search by character, you can search by ship, and you can search by additional tags, of which there are tens if not hundreds of thousands. Thank you AO3 tag wranglers, y’all are doing amazing.

CHELSEA: Y’all are doing the Lord’s work with that.

KAY: [laughs] And you can also sort work stats. So if you wanna make sure something has a certain number of hits, kudos, comments, or bookmarks before it shows up in your search results, you can sort by that, too. So it is amazing. You can basically find anything you ever wanted. So like, let’s say, you want to find a Singin’ in the Rain fic. And you want it to be greater than 5,000 words. And it has to have at least twenty kudos. And…my results, I have 60 results. And the top three are all the ones that I was thinking of. So, uh, top result is And Write That Symphony by cimorene. It is a Cosmo/Don/Kathy OT3 fic. It’s wonderful. It’s so cute. Um, anyway. We’re gonna link anything that we talk about in the show notes as per usual, but I mean. That gives you an idea of how specific you can get about things you’re searching for in the advanced search function. It’s A+ if you have a hankering for a specific anything. Trope, ship, show. You wanna look for something a specific length. You wanna look for something that’s only been written before whatever episode you’re up to. Let’s say you’re not current with the show.

CHELSEA: Let’s say you’re only halfway through season 2 of Hannibal and you don’t wanna be spoiled for the first time ever.

KAY: You don’t wanna be spoiled, you can search from before then. That’s, I don’t think a lot of people think about how handy that is to have in the era of nobody is watching things as they’re airing. We’re streaming them or binge-watching them later. It’s super fucking handy. It’s great. So that is one of our favorite, one of our very favorite functions.

CHELSEA: Since we’re talking bout searching function. Do you have a, I follow a fairly typical pattern. I tend to like similar things across all of my ships.

KAY: Okay.

CHELSEA: When you go in to search in a new fandom do you go search and I want this and this and this because period? Or do you just go in and you’re like I’m gonna sort by bookmarks and see what pops up and go from there within my ship? Or what do you do.

KAY: I very rarely use the search function when I’m just coming into a new fandom or ship. Because I usually come to that from a different angle. Usually someone I follow has started writing in a fandom or someone whose taste I trust started reccing in a fandom. And I don’t start searching for stuff until later. But I do use the search function when I’m looking for more specific things, which is why I tend to get into the really nitty gritty of I want to be able to search for this specific trope of this specific length for this specific pairing on this show. Which is why I find the search function really handy.

CHELSEA: That’s fascinating to me. I’m completely different to that. I just want to say up front —

KAY: Do you just go into a new fandom and sort by kudos?

CHELSEA: No. I use more parameters than that.

KAY: A lot of people do that and it’s totally fine if that’s what you do! I’m not mocking you. It’s just not what I do.

CHELSEA: For the record, there is no wrong way to use the internet or AO3.

KAY: Absofuckinglutely not.

CHELSEA: As long as you’re not hurting anybody else. So all we’re saying is this is what works for us. Just gonna throw that out there.

KAY: And we obviously have very different AO3 habits.

CHELSEA: Very different, which is kinda why we wanted to record this episode. But I am very blessed that I have, uh, Miss Kay the fic sherpa to lead me most of the time through fics that I’m just learning. So I will usually say hey I’ve started —

KAY: I think she means I drag her kicking and screaming into new fandoms by bombarding her with fic recs.

CHELSEA: I don’t know if you can call it kicking and screaming. Like, right now if you tried to pull me out of Hannibal fandom I’d bite you. It’s not kicking and screaming. I’m making my summer home here and I’m gonna timeshare it. I usually have, and you know, it’ snot just Kay, there are other people on twitter who I reach out to and am just like hey. I know you are in this fandom, please point me to things you really like. But after that I will just go to the fandom. I will search by whatever ship I am in. And then I will search for angst, hurt/comfort.

KAY: Of course you do. [laughs]

CHELSEA: And slow burn. Sorted by completed works then sorted by kudos.

KAY: You guys should be really impressed I managed to recommend to Chelsea ever. Because we have such polar opposite tastes in, like, everything. I want fluff. Or I want really long case fic. I hate angst. I’m not a hurt/comfort person. And my fandoms are usually rainbows and sunshine. It’s just a mark of how widely I will drag the net once I run out of all the things that are clearly my catnip, but I still wanna keep reading.

CHELSEA: And that’s, and that’s. I greatly, actually, greatly, greatly appreciate that we tend to have very different styles. Because as very recently happened, sometimes in this trash fire world that is our current fucking monkey circus existence that we are living, my really dark angsty beloved fandoms of hurt/comfort are maybe not the best for me. As much as I love them. And as much as I wish I could actually live there all the time. For my own, sometimes self-care is acknowledging what’s gonna take care of you, and it’s stopping things that are maybe not the most healthy thing at the time. So I reached out to Kay. And I was like, Kay, I need to hang out somewhere where the sun shines that is light and fluffy. Please give me this thing. And she was able to provide. Hands down.

KAY: What’s even better about this is you were like, I think Hannibal is not a great headspace for me to be in. You did not have to ask for anything. I immediately was just like, can I give you some fluff? And started spamming her with twenty fics that would be fluffy.

CHELSEA: Which, by the way, they were all Sterek fics in case you were curious. Because I think the show Teen Wolf is trash except when I’m really sad and I want to read fics about Sterek being adorable together.

KAY: Fluffy as fuck.

CHELSEA: But yeah. So anyway. I have a much more, kind of, general way of searching. And then usually I will find, doing kind of my general parameters, I’ll find pieces that I really like, and then I’ll do deep author back dives. That’s why 90% of the fanfic I’ve been reading in the last two months has all been by emungere. Because they write in Hannibal fandom. H-h=hannidam?

KAY: Hannigram. Hannigram is the ship portmanteau. Like an anagram, but with an H at the beginning.

CHELSEA: See, I get it, like it’s funny!

KAY: Ohmygod, did you not know that’s why they call it that? [laughs]

CHELSEA: No, I absolutely got it, I just think that portmanteau name is so stupid.

KAY: Your face for a second, though. I was like did she not realize? [laughs]

CHELSEA: I have told Kay before, I think that is the stupidest portmanteau ever.

KAY: I’m not a big fan of portmanteaus, but Hannigram I find charming.

CHELSEA: I find it charming because I’m pretty sure Hannibal Lecter would rip your skin off if you dared to portmanteau his love for Will Graham, but whatever. Fictional person.

KAY: He would not do anything so gauche. Rip your skin off. He would probably tastefully flay you and serve you to Will.

CHELSEA: But anyway! So then I will usually do author deep dives on pieces that I really like and I’ll see what else they’ve written in. Other fandoms they’ve written in. I will admit I am shit about bookmarking, not bookmarking. Subscribing. I don’t subscribe to pretty much anyone. I’m very bad about subscribing to authors. I’m subscribed to a couple of series I wanna make sure I don’t miss. For some reason that was never part of the AO3 experience that I had until I ran into Kay. And now I find it’s something I’m doing slightly more often.

KAY: I mean. I am an AO3 power user and the way that I use the subscription function is I am fairly sure not the way most people use the subscription function. First off, I do recommend when you are making your AO3 account, not for fandom shame reasons, but just for practicality reasons, make a separate email for it that it’s basically the only thing you use that email for. So all your subscription notifications will come to that email. And then subscribe to anyone who has ever written a story you enjoy. I know that sounds really fucking ridiculous. I am subscribed to, like, 800 accounts. So you can subscribe to authors, works, and series. I never subscribe to works or to series. I only subscribe to authors.

CHELSEA: That’s so weird to me! Why wouldn’t you subscribe to series?

KAY: Because if I’m subscribed to the author I’m going to be getting all of the updates for the series.

CHELSEA: Yeah, I guess that’s true.

KAY: But some people switch fandoms. They don’t write for three years and then they’ll start posting again. These are actual things that have happened. I spend maybe twenty minutes a day just going through my emails from that account to see if there’s anything I’m even remotely interested in. It’s how I find most of my new fandoms. Some writer I really like will have started frantically producing all this amazing looking material in a new fandom. I’m like I don’t know what the fuck this is and that’s how I find new stuff to be consuming.

CHELSEA: That is so crazy to me. I think it’s just the difference in how you and I approach fandoms. In that I. I feel like you approach fandoms from the inside. In that you have these people you follow and you’re like what is this new thing they’re writing about? I’ll discover it from the inside out. Whereas I don’t do that. I just find fandoms externally. I’ve been seeing enough people tweet, on twitter, cause that’s where people tweet. [laughs] About Black Sails now that I’m like well, what is this about? What is this thing? Because of that I’m late a lot, to a lot of fandom things.

KAY: Well, so here is my thing. Is most fanfiction is written for visual media fandoms.

CHELSEA: Yes.

KAY: And I am never gonna come across those organically. I almost never watch TV. I almost never watch TV and that’s most big fandoms, now. Are TV. That’s just where people are producing.

CHELSEA: TV or Marvel.

KAY: Which, I don’t even need to watch Marvel stuff to follow most of the fic, anymore. And I was a longtime Marvel comics reader and so I have a background in the characters so I just don’t need to know.

CHELSEA: And maybe that’s why I have a hard time getting into fandoms from the fic side. You’re right, if I were trying to read this Hannibal fanfiction without having seen the show it would really bother me. It distracts me to the point of not being able to read it if I don’t have a mental point of reference what these people are supposed to look like.

KAY: Okay, but.

CHELSEA: Like when I first started reading hockey rpf

KAY: [laughs] That was my question.

CHELSEA: I made the background of my phone a picture of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin so I could look at their faces and know what they look like.

KAY: Y’all, I came so close to an in real life spit take. I just. My camera and my microphone and my laptop just came this close to an ignominious death. I just. [laughs]

CHELSEA: Ignominious, that’s a good one. But I had to.

KAY: I think we’ve talked about that story, about me accidentally dragging you into hockey fandom before.

CHELSEA: Yes, we have. Because I’ve recced, pretty sure, that same fic several times.

KAY: I did not mean to do this to you.

CHELSEA: I’m not sad that you did.

KAY: You’re supposed to live your life better than me, Chelsea. Learn from my mistakes! Do not let me drag you down with me.

CHELSEA: See, I feel as though I was fucking Jack hanging out in the frozen water of the Titanic, and you were Rose that decided to scoot your fat ass over on the board and bring me into salvation and freedom. That was the worst and most convoluted metaphor. But I think that that’s another reason. Because I, it distracts me to not know what these characters are supposed to look like. That’s why with books it’s not a thing. I can go into almost any book fandom with my search parameters and find something I’ll like cause I can imagine them the same way. But if I’m going in one that’s based on visual media, like most of the things we’ve discussed.

KAY: You wanna know what they look like. Have we had the conversation where I will occasionally read Supernatural fic that’s AUs that people will have recced to me or are by authors I like? Literally never seen an episode of that show, right? I’ve only ever seen pictures and stuff of that and I don’t watch live TV enough to have seen promos or anything. So literally just gifsets. The first time I heard Jensen Ackles voice I was like wait, WHAT.

[laughter]

KAY: That’s what that guy sounds like? And I almost died laughing, cause that’s surreal as fuck.

CHELSEA: I noped out of that show the fourth time someone got resurrected.

KAY: Literally never seen an episode of that show. But there are some complete AUs you don’t, it’s basically an original novel they used the names for. You don’t need to know anything! Which you can do in a lot of fandoms.

CHELSEA: That’s the thing. I have a thing about —

KAY: Stargate: Atlantis fandom was really like that.

CHELSEA: I feel like any fandom if you don’t know it going at it from an AU is a good place to start. It’s an AU you don’t really need — depending on how far the AU goes from the established universe.

KAY: I basically never read in fandoms I’m not at least passing familiar with, so the Supernatural thing is just one of those it’s such a fucking huge fandom that basically everyone I follow has probably dropped a Supernatural fic at some point so I just figured I’d read a couple of them.

CHELSEA: Well, like, I don’t watch Sherlock but I am passingly familiar enough with the Tumblr gifsets I could pick up a piece of Sherlock fanfic and know what’s happening. Also it’s based on Sherlock Holmes.

KAY: Like, I’ve taken a class on Sherlock Holmes, before.

CHELSEA: Benedick Cumberbitch. Ugh. Sorry.

KAY: Bendydick Cucumberdick?

[laughter]

CHELSEA: Oh my god.

[laughter]

KAY: I didn’t mean to actually kill you.

[laughter]

CHELSEA: Oh my god, that was so good. That was perfect. Okay. So we’ve talked a little bit about searching and we’ve talked a little bit about subscriptions. Let’s talk about once you’ve found all this great fic, once you’ve tracked down your perfect fic and you want to keep it. What do you do? This is actually the first point of diversion in style that led Kay and I to record this thing. Because she learned that I just bookmarked everything.

KAY: I made an unholy screeching sound when she told me this, by the way. I could feel my soul dying in my body after she told me this. Again, there’s no, there’s no wrong way to use AO3. And I did tell her that several times. But also I was dying inside just thinking about trying to use the archive like that.

CHELSEA: There may not be right or wrong, there is kind of a general standard. There’s kind of a general pattern in how people use it, but I didn’t pick up on it. Here’s the thing. When I joined AO3 I wasn’t on twitter, I didn’t have fanfic friends, I didn’t have a handy dandy podcast to walk me through how to use it.

KAY: What a dark life you led.

CHELSEA: I was just cast into the deep end to learn how to swim. And the very first button I saw was bookmark. And I was like. I know what bookmarks are. I have bookmarks on the internet. I know what those are. So I just started bookmarking everything.

KAY: To clarify, she is talking about bookmarking things not because she wanted to keep them forever and ever. She’s talking about bookmarking things she was planning to read later.

CHELSEA: Basically. Which is to kind of make another analogy, would be similar to going to goodreads and putting everything from your TBR on your four star and up shelf. On your read shelf and on your recommends shelf.

KAY: Because! There is a marked for later button. So when you go into any individual fic there are little buttons at the top. They’re wonderful, okay? And the buttons are, if it is a multichapter fic, there are options to go either the next chapter, to view the entire work at once, or you can pull up the chapter index. You can bookmark. You can mark for later. Or, if you’ve already marked it for later, that button turns into mark as read, so you can check it off when you’re done. There’s a comments button. There’s a button for the creator’s style. You do have an option when you are posting fic to have a specific style. Which is great when people are doing multimedia stuff, like mocked up pages and that sort of thing. There’s also a share button, which will generate links for you. There will be a subscribe button if you want to subscribe to the work. And there’s another one of our favorite features, the download button. Which will automatically generate a PDF, an EPUB, or a MOBI, or an HTML file for you.

CHELSEA: So if you have any accessibility issues, or issues reading for long periods of time on the internet or in browsers, I download almost every fic I read in EPUB form into Google Books and then you can mess with the font size and layout.

KAY: You can also change default font size on AO3 which is something I have done. I have vision issues. I crank the size up pretty high.

CHELSEA: And because it’s fandom-led I think the archive does a really good job of trying to account for accessibility issues. But so as Kay said on the top there is a button on the top that says mark for later and also one that says bookmark. The kind of standard practice, the general practice, is that you would put anything you wanted to read later on your mark for later. And after you’d read it, or anything you already knew you loved and wanted to keep forever and have kind of on your visual bookshelf of AO3, so to speak, you would bookmark.

KAY: And you can also add notes or your own tags to things you bookmark.

CHELSEA: Cause I was gonna say, you take quotes from the fic, right? From what you read?

KAY: When, we’re not gonna link to our personal accounts, but personally, when I am bookmarking, I will usually take a chunk of text that just feels like a good example of what the vibe of the fic is. I know that sounds really weird. It helps me remember what the fic is if I just have a little snippet of it in the bookmark. I know a lot of authors really hate when you have excessive notes in bookmarks, cause it shows up for them to see unless you set your bookmark to private. Which I don’t. All of my bookmarks are public. I don’t have any private ones. So when you’re scrolling through someone’s bookmarks you can see any notes people put in there. So if you’re saying something derogatory about someone’s fic and you don’t have it marked private? Just know the author sees that and that’s not very kind. Maybe rethink that.

CHELSEA: Keep your not so nice notes to yourself.

KAY: You can do whatever you want, but maybe rethink that and just don’t.

CHELSEA: Also I think that’s hilarious. Because I know you don’t necessarily track your fic other than just words you read. I have a tab in my reading log where I catalogue the title. I link to the author. I put what series it’s in. What’s hip it is. I copy the AO3 tags. I leave a description of the content. And then I put down the word count.

KAY: [shocked] What the actual fuck. That would take me 500,000 years.

CHELSEA: Yes.

KAY: I would die sitting here at my laptop cataloging fanfic.

CHELSEA: But I don’t read as much fanfiction as you do! In fact, I was just gonna tell you, I’m gonna break a million words when I finish Ladders!

KAY: Yay! Wait, you mean for the year?

CHELSEA: Yeah, for the year so for.

KAY: Okay wait, hold on. We’ll just go ahead and.

CHELSEA: Don’t, don’t, don’t. It’s gonna be way bigger.

KAY: I’m only at 37,000,000 words for the year. For the record. I don’t know if we’ve mentioned this on the podcast before. I watch basically no TV. I work from home. And whenever I go anywhere I am listening to an audiobook or have an audiobook on hand. So I basically read during all of my free time and I don’t have a tiny human to take care of.

CHELSEA: Yes. I’m just jealous I haven’t had the time to fit that many millions of words into my life.

KAY: Babe, I know.

CHELSEA: If this Hannibal hole keeps falling out from underneath me. It’ snot gonna be 7,000,000 cause that’s an ungodly amount of words to read.

KAY: You know I said 37,000,000, right?

CHELSEA: God. Are you fucking serious? How is that a number?!

KAY: That’s why I’ve only read 62 books so far this year!

CHELSEA: That’s still insane. I mean, that’s fair. I’ve read 115 so that’s probably a fair differential.

KAY: I don’t speedread, but I do read fast.

CHELSEA: So that led us to, and now I’m to the point where, although there’s no wrong way to do it. I do understand the general thought process behind wanting a way to kind of figure out the interests and style and kind of likes a person has. And the easiest way to do that on a place like the archive is to look at the things they’ve bookmarked. Because people’s marked for later lists aren’t public.

KAY: Marked for later is not public is a subset of the history function, basically. It’s totally private to you. That’s another really great function. Even if you don’t mark for later or bookmark something, you can go back into your read history. And you can delete things.

CHELSEA: Which has saved my butt so many times.

KAY: You can delete things out of your history. They don’t have to live there for you to see forever. But I don’t ever delete anything, cause you can always scroll back and see what you were reading. You accidentally closed out a tab, oh fuck. Go to your history, it’ll be there.

CHELSEA: There are so many times when I’ll have read a thing and thought I’ve bookmarked or marked for later and I cannot find it.

KAY: Oh no!

CHELSEA: And that history function is right there hanging out for me.

KAY: It’s a lifesaver.

CHELSEA: So yeah. The only way you kind of have of gaining understanding of the kinds of fic that a person might like is often looking at their bookmarks. Like on goodreads you’d go to someone’s books I’ve read list or favorite list and see what they enjoy. It’s a very similar thing. So for that reason I went back through and went from having 280 bookmarks to only have 66 bookmarks.

KAY: I have…

CHELSEA: Way more than that.

KAY: So I clean my bookmarks out every quarter cause your tastes change and you may completely lose interest in a fandom for various reasons.

CHELSEA: There’s some stuff I deleted going back through.

KAY: I have over 1200 bookmarks. It’s close to 1300. But I have been using this AO3 account for like six years. So that’s not a huge number for six years. For how much I read.

CHELSEA: I didn’t join AO3 till 2015.

KAY: [shocked] What? What?!

CHELSEA: I know! Telling you man. When I was young it was fanfiction.net and then I went to college and I was still participating in fandom just not the fanfiction side.

KAY: God, fuck The Pit, man. [laughs] Fuck The Pit.

CHELSEA: The Pit is bad. But then I joined twitter and my whole world opened up. And I joined AO3. And we rode off into the sunset together.

KAY: There are lots of really great things on AO3 that we’ve not even touched on. We’ve really only touched on some basic things that are gonna kind of help you get started in using the more important functionalities. If you are actually writing and posting fanworks that’s a whole nother thing we could get into. I don’t think we’re planning on having an episode about that, but feel free to hit either of us up on twitter or email us at the podcast We’d be happy to talk you through any questions you have.

CHELSEA: That is just about everything on AO3 that kind of gets into the basics. Anything else might be a little insider baseball.

KAY: Please feel free to get in touch with us if you have any further questions. You can either email us or hit us up at our respective twitters. My direct messages on twitter are open permanently until someone starts sending me dick picks. So just know you are welcome in my DMs with anything but your obscene images.

CHELSEA: Same, also. That’s a good general life policy.

[laughter]

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

CHELSEA: But yeah! So come back and join us. We’ll be here in a week talking about The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian.

KAY: [gasps] Yessss.

CHELSEA: Which is a male/male Regency romance that we both loved super hard. And are really, really excited to come back and talk about. But that’ll be next week. Join us and like Kay said, you can always find us at our internet homes. If you have questions, comments, anything about AO3. We’d love to hear them. And we’ll see you guys in a week. Bye.

KAY: Bye!

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

Outtakes:

KAY: You can go ahead and say there was some real great communicating during their fucking.

CHELSEA: I’m a lady. I can’t even say it with a straight face. I’m gonna take another drink of this beer I’m drinking. It’s not actually beer. It’s alcopop. I hate beer. Beer is piss water. [laughs] I’m an attention whore and have been from the beginning. Give me all the praise. Done. Cut it. That’s a wrap. Podcast end. Come back in a week.

 

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