Inside the Mind of a Fanfiction
A collection of scientific data compiled by Alex Barry
In the course of writing new material for Project AFTER, I
spend a great deal of time analyzing fanfiction and exploring
the many different factors that make it such a terrible plague
upon mankind. This has not only made me into a raging alcoholic,
but also a leading authority in the field of Fanfiction Science.
Unfortunately, because the only qualified scientist to ever
agree with my theories was recently arrested for "experimenting"
with the dead bodies of elderly people, the scientific community
has yet to acknowledge my credentials and give me the research
grants I keep requesting.
Because physical science has yet to recognize my genius, I've
recently turned my attention to the psychological sciences. I
believe, as I'm sure all long-time readers of this site do, that
there are a wealth of mental anomalies directly linked with
writing fanfiction, and I have made it my personal mission to
study and document as many of them as my remaining time on this
world will allow.
Having spent so many years reviewing fanfiction, it was a
difficult transition to go from studying written text to
studying the individuals who write those texts. Dealing with
people has presented a whole new set of challenges that I'm not
used to. I'm definitely not the first person to make such a
drastic change in my career, though, and I figure if Michael
Jordan can go from being a fantastic basketball player to an
average baseball player, my chances of going from a fantastic
literary critic to an average neuroscientist were just as good.
My original plan to probe the minds of fanfiction authors was to
literally enter their thoughts via futuristic virtual reality
equipment like in the 2000 film The Cell. Much to my
disappointment, however, further investigation revealed that
The Cell was not a science documentary as I had originally
thought, but a shitty rip-off of The Matrix that tried to
be all deep and philosophical but just felt really convoluted.
And Jennifer Lopez didn't even get naked, which made me feel
angry and betrayed.
Instead, I was forced to resort to a low-tech alternative method
of gaining insight into the complex workings of the human mind.
I decided I would contact several fanfiction authors via e-mail
and set up times to interview them over the phone. It wasn't an
ideal plan given my profound hatred for directly communicating
with people of lesser intelligence than myself, but it would
have to do until technology progressed to a point where I could
gather information about the mind in a more suitably trippy and
badass manner. Also, hover-boards. Still waitin' on those,
Luckily, my backup plan was a success, and I was able to
schedule and later conduct a series of one-on-one interviews
with several fanfiction authors. While I'm still in the process
of analyzing the results of these enlightening discussions, I
invite my readers to look over exclusive unabridged transcripts
of all six interviews, so that you may join me on my fantastic
journey into the unknown from the very beginning. As Sigmund
Freud once said, "Hang on, because holy crap, this shit is gonna
* * * * *
Case Study #1: Subject NDC03a -
"Jason H. Cullens"
Notes (1): For my first interview, I spoke with
FanFiction.net member Jason Cullens. With barely less than two
years of experience writing fanfiction, Jason has already made
quite a name for himself among his peers. He's completed half a
dozen stories so far, and is currently working on several more,
the largest of which was recently voted "Best WIP Fanfiction
Over 50,000 Words" by a popular Naruto-centric community on FanFiction.net. Being a prolific as
well as well-respected member of
the fanfiction community, I was hoping Jason would be able to
offer me some valuable insight into the thought process behind
his work that I could use to further my research.
Alex: Jason, let me start by congratulating you on the recent
publication of the twenty-fifth chapter of your award-winning
epic "Big Trouble in Little Konoha" on FanFiction.net.
Alex: Twenty-five chapters is quite a milestone... Doing
anything special to celebrate?
Jason: Not really. You know, I'm just happy to have made it this
far. I've put a lot of work into this story, and I think I've
come a long way as a writer, and I'm grateful to all the people
who've helped me get this far.
Alex: Ah, so you had help in writing this?
Jason: Well, you know, I had some people who would proofread for
me sometimes, and I—
Alex: [laughing] Wait, Jason, hold on man... Hold on. You had
Jason: Some people helped me with the spelling and grammar, and
some elements of the story, yeah.
Alex: [laughing] Oh, holy shit. Alright, man. I'm sorry, I'm
sorry, please continue.
Jason: Well, yeah, I had help there, and I'm also thankful for
all the people who wrote reviews and gave me feedback for [the
fanfic]. It was really helpful in making the story into what it
Alex: I have to be honest with you, Jason. I kind of wish I had
all the people who aided you in the creation of this fanfic in
front of me right now, so I could just let loose and beat the
shit out of them. I don't care if it was like forty people. Even
if they overpowered me, just being able to take a few of them
with me would make my death worthwhile.
Jason: What? Why would... I don't understand.
Alex: Forget it. Moving onto my next question: Do you know how
many people's lives you've ruined through your work?
Jason: Huh? What are you talking about?
Alex: You don't have to give me an exact number or anything. You
know, just a ballpark.
Jason: [unintelligible mumbling] I don't... What?
Alex: We talking around four, five hundred? Maybe more? Six hundred?
Seven? Somewhere in that neighborhood?
Jason: I really don't understand what you're talking about. You
mean how many people have read my fanfics?
Alex: What I mean, Mr. Cullens, is how many lives your literary
abortion has destroyed through sheer force of pure, undiluted
evil. I mean, come on man, twenty-five chapters? What kind of a
pact did you make with Satan to shit out that much hackneyed
drivel with your name on it and not be banned from the internet?
Jason: Is this a joke?
Alex: The joke is that award you won a few weeks back. And may I
say that the people who frequent FanFiction.net have an
extremely twisted sense of humor. Like some guy who marches into
the cancer ward of a children's hospital and announces he has a
cure for the patients' diseases, then yells "Psych!" and shoots
the kids with a Super Soaker full of cold soup and sheep urine.
Jason: This is ridiculous. [hangs up]
Alex: What a pussy.
Notes (2): I read somewhere that psychologists are supposed to
wait until they've completely examined all available evidence
before coming to any kind of conclusion, but at the risk of jumping
the gun a bit, I'm going to go ahead and label Jason Cullens as
mentally unstable and a potential danger to society. Sometimes you just have to go
by your gut feeling when you're in this line of work, and if
that makes me a bad scientist, then I don't want to be a good
scientist. Which my gut feeling tells me I am.
* * * * *
Case Study #2:
Subject CHK05a - "Laura E. King"
Notes (3): The second author who agreed to record a Q&A session
with me was Laura King. While her work is definitely less popular than Mr. Cullens', she's remained a frequent contributor to multiple
fanfiction archives for over four and a half years. I had a
feeling that her extended history as a fanfic author would be of
value in helping me discern what kinds of mental decay an
individual may experience over prolonged periods of exposure to
Alex: Hello, Laura. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview
Laura: Oh, no problem. Thank you for interviewing me!
Alex: Have you ever done anything like this before?
Laura: No, actually, I haven't. I hope I don't say something
that makes me sound stupid! [laughs]
Alex: [laughs] I'm sure you won't. I'll even start off with an
easy question for you: How long have you been writing
Laura: Let me think... About five years now, I guess. Yeah,
about five years. The first fanfic I ever wrote was an Inuyasha
fic called "The Path of the Arrow" I wrote after I saw—
Alex: Okay, Laura, that's good! I'm just going to write down "five years" and nothing else, so let's cut your
biographical ramblings short to help save time.
Laura: [laughs] Oh, sorry!
Alex: Yeah... Now, let me see if I've got this right... In your
latest fanfic, "In Search of Aoi", you have—
Laura: Oh, no, sorry to interrupt, it's just that it's
pronounced "Aoi". It's two syllables. Like "Ow-ee". You said it
Alex: Oh, you know what, that's my bad for forgetting to tell
you that I'm not a faggot who watches sugary bullshit romance
series like Ai Yori Aoshi. I don't know how to pronounce the
damn characters' names, alright?
Laura: I'm sorry, I didn't—
Alex: By all means, by all means Laura, correct me if I fuck up
on a name that logic implicates I should actually know how to say
properly. If I mispronounce "Fred" or "Bob", yes, please tell me
so I don't look like an idiot.
Alex: If I screw up a Japanese name, though, I really don't
think anyone is going to give a damn. Especially when it's for
an interview that I'm going to type out, anyway!
Laura: I didn't mean to—
Alex: I mean damn, sister! [sighs] Alright, tell me what your
fanfic is about so I can get to the part where I verbally abuse
you for writing it.
Laura: Um, what?
Alex: Forget it. Just forget it. What a disaster this has been.
I hope you're happy.
Laura: I don't think you're being—
Alex: I don't think people like you should be allowed to live in
the same world as people like me, that's what I think, Laura.
Laura: [brief pause] Why—
Alex: STOP! TALKING! NOW!
Notes (4): Upon completing this interview, I was thoroughly
fascinated by both the behavior of the subjects I was studying,
and how damn good I was at this scientific research stuff. I
realized that, at the rate I was progressing, I'd be able to
clean out every possible award the APA gives out within two
* * * * *
Case Study #3: Subject LNA03a - "Gregory N. Anderson"
Notes (5): One of the individuals I was most looking forward to
interviewing was Greg Anderson. Not only had Mr. Anderson been
publishing his work on the internet for over six years, but he
was the webmaster of his very own story archive focusing on
Blood: The Last Vampire and Blood+ fanfiction. If anybody could
tell me about fanfiction from an insider's point of view, I
figured it would be him.
Alex: H-Hello? Is that you, Mr. Burleigh?
Greg Mr. Burleigh: Alex?
Alex: Oh, sorry, I was trying to call someone else and I must
have accidentally hit redial.
Mr. Burleigh: Oh, that's alright. I thought maybe you were
calling me to ask for another extension on that deadline for
your paper. [laughs]
Alex: No, I'm pretty confident this latest guy I hired to write
it won't flake out on me.
Mr. Burleigh: What?
Alex: Never mind. Hey, listen, as long as I've got you on the
phone... You're an English teacher and everything, so you
probably know a few things about writing.
Mr. Burleigh: You could say that.
Alex: As a professional, what's your opinion on fanfiction?
Mr. Burleigh: Fanfiction? Well, as I understand it, that's a
form of prose where the author incorporates characters of
another person's creation into their own work.
Alex: Right. So, what do you think about that?
Mr. Burleigh: Uh, I haven't read too much of it myself,
Alex: No, I mean, like, do you support that kind of writing?
Mr. Burleigh: Well, when it comes to writing, I try to encourage
all kinds of artistic expression in my students.
Alex: Yeah, you would... Cocksucker!
Mr. Burleigh: Excuse me!?
Notes (6): At that point in the conversation, I hung up the
phone, turned off all the lights in my house, and hid in the
hall closet for about five hours. Exhausted and unable to stop
crying, I decided to call it a night. I had used up roughly half
of the tape in my audio recorder, so I thought it would be a
good time to stop, anyway. After a good night's sleep, I would
resume conducting interviews with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
* * * * *
Case Study #4: Subject TKP09b - "Kenneth L. Perez"
Notes (7): Day two of my career as a psychoanalyst got underway
in the early afternoon when I placed a call to Kenneth Perez.
While there was nothing extraordinary about Ken's record of
fanfiction-related accomplishments, I felt he was someone I
could learn a great deal from. "If you want to know the truth of
a kingdom, ask not of the royal guard, but of the peasants in
the fields and the streets outside the castle walls." Ken was
exactly the kind of writer I had been wanting to talk to: A
regular Joe who could tell me about fanfics from the casual
writer's point of view.
Alex: Alright then, let's go ahead and start this up. Today,
I'll be speaking with Kenneth Perez. Ken, how are things going
Ken: Fine, thanks.
Alex: That's great! Great... So tell me, Ken, are you familiar
with Project AFTER?
Ken: No, I'd never heard of it before you contacted me. What's
the site about, anyway?
Alex: It's... [long silence]
Ken: You still there?
Alex: Uh, yeah! No, um, the site's about... Pornography.
Ken: What? You manage a porn site?
Alex: No, actually... Well, no. Actually, it's a site dedicated
to paranormal investigation. Uhh, within pornography.
Ken: So, does that—
Alex: Like, y'know, people will send us pictures of topless
cheerleaders making out, but there are like faces and people in
the background that weren't there when the shots were taken.
Because they're ghosts. We take those kinds of images and
document them and shit.
Ken: Wait, so then why—
Alex: Damnation, man! Who's interviewing who, here!?
Ken: Uh, sorry.
Alex: Alright, so you write fanfiction... What motivates you to
Ken: Well, I guess it all started a few years ago when my friend
and I were talking about things we'd like to see happen in our
favorite shows. It was something I spent a lot of time thinking
about. Then, awhile later I just happened to be surfing the
internet and I came across this fanfiction site. There were lots
of stories, you know, and lots of people were reading and
writing these things. And I was sort of like, hey, these people
are doing what—
Alex: That's a beautiful story, Ken. What I was really
interested in finding out, though, was why you write the kinds
of things you do.
Ken: Oh, I see. I guess my main inspiration for my fics would be
a combination of things that happen to me in real life mixed
with stories that I hear from other sources. It's kind of like I
Alex: Whoa, whoa. Hang on man, let me see if I can explain this
in a way that your underdeveloped fanfiction author brain will
understand. What cruel anomaly in your psyche drives you to
compose such fiendish attacks against popular anime and comic
book series and then distribute them over the internet, as if to
take the beloved characters you so callously bastardize in your
work and publicly exhibit their mutilated corpses in some kind
of macabre, nightmarish parade?
Alex: I know what you are, Kenneth Perez. You are a monster
walking among men.
Ken: Dude, you're the sick asshole who runs a site about dead
people doing each other!
Alex: That's not what I said, dumbshit! Although, I think I
actually like that lie better.
Ken: You say I'm [the] monster, but you're the one with problems!
Alex: Will you shut the fuck up already! This has been the best
interview I've done so far, and your bitching is ruining it.
Notes (8): The most interesting thing about this interview is
the way the subject makes repeated attempts to dodge my question
about what motivates him to write fanfiction. Was he avoiding
giving me an answer on purpose, or was it some kind of
subconscious reflex he was unaware of? I have a strong feeling
that the answer behind that could be significant.
* * * * *
Case Study #5: Subject INR02b - "Amanda K. Richards"
Notes (9): The next name on my contact list was Amanda Richards,
who I was very much looking forward to speaking with. In
addition to publishing fanfiction on a regular basis, she also
maintains a long list of friends on multiple fanfiction
communities, which told me she was quite skilled when it came to
socializing. Using the facade of friendliness and forging
relationships with people has always been one of the ways that fanfic authors increase their numbers and seduce new people into
accepting the dark ways of their craft. Since her success as a
fanfiction author was undoubtedly the key to her social
networking skills, I knew that anything I could learn about Ms.
Richards' writing technique would aid my research immensely.
Alex: I've just been looking over your online profile, and may I
say this is truly an honor. It's not every day that I get to
talk with someone who's written Death Note fanfiction!
Amanda: Why, thank you! [laughs] It's nice to be appreciated.
Alex: That was sarcasm, actually.
Amanda: Oh! [laughs] Well, there do seem to be a lot of Death
Note fanfics popping up nowadays. It's kind of funny in a way.
[Death Note] wasn't always such a popular target for fanfiction.
In fact, prior to when the first chapter was previewed in the
American version of Shonen Jump, it seemed like only a small
Alex: Amanda, Amanda, let me stop you for just a second here. I
just guzzled like a third of a bottle of Jim Beam while you were
talking, and there's a couple of questions I really want to get
to while I'm still coherent. First question: Have any of your
fanfics featured yaoi parings?
Amanda: Um, yes, actually. I wrote a couple of Raito/L slashes,
because that's my favorite pairing, and I don't think you see it
enough in fanfics anymore. It seems like everyone is doing
Raito/Misa or Near/Mellow pairings.
Alex: Holy shit. You just said so many things that made me wish
I'd emptied a few capsules of cyanide into this whiskey.
Amanda: I... What do—
Alex: First off! "Raito"? What the hell? The character's name is
Amanda: Well, you see, in Japan—
Alex: Oh fuck me! Here we go! Ah yes, because the Japanese
pronounce something a certain way, all the good little otaku
have to mimic a poor handle on the English language and an
inability to pronounce certain letters of its alphabet to
reaffirm their everlasting love for the magical land of ninjas
and catgirls, even though the individuals who create these
series don't intend for people to mispronounce the names of
Alex: You ever watch One Piece? Huh? You ever write fanfics
about Captain Roofie!? Or maybe you've played Final Fantasy 7?
You ever play that game and get the urge to write your own
stories about Crowdu and Sephu'ayrothu!? You ever write any
stories about them having crazy butt sex, like in your deranged
Amanda: ...Actually, I—
Alex: NO! I don't even want to hear it! No! Just no! If you tell
me anything else about your sickening yaoi obsession or the
god-awful homoerotica you've written because of it, I will kill
you. I will kill you! I will find your information, and I will
hunt you down and I will murder you as revenge for the crimes
you've committed against good taste!
Amanda: [hangs up]
Alex: That's right, just hang up! Just hang up, you whore! Just
hang the fucking phone up right when I'm talking to you! Fuck!
Notes (10): What I learned from my discussion with Ms. Richards
proved to be quite enlightening, and I'm excited to see what
other clues to the mind's true nature I can uncover upon further
examination of this conversation. With each session I complete,
I feel as though I'm one step closer to a major breakthrough.
* * * * *
Case Study #6: Subject RMT04b - "Gabriel C. Tasman"
Notes (11): The last fanfiction author I set up an interview
with was Gabriel Tasman. His online alert ego, MogMan, appeared
to be very popular within several fanfiction circles focusing on
the Final Fantasy games. As my final subject during this initial
research phase, I was determined to gather all the information I
could from Mr. Tasman. Being well aware that I wouldn't have any
more chances to interview fanfiction authors until after I had
completed the task of analyzing the data I had already
collected, I took special precautions to ensure that this last
interview was as productive as possible.
Alex: Good afternoon, MogMan! Let me start off by thanking you
for agreeing to speak with me, today. I really do appreciate
Gabe: No problem. Also, you can call me Gabe.
Alex: Alright, Gabe. Well, I'd like to begin this interview by
asking you about the process that you go through when
preparing to write your stories. How do you usually get ready to
write something? Are narcotics involved?
Gabe: [laughing] No, no, nothing like that... No, I just usually
try to chill out a bit to clear my head so I can think clearly.
Sometimes I'll listen to some music, or watch a few clips—or
play through a few areas—of whatever game I'm basing my fic on
before I start [writing].
Alex: Fascinating! So, you'll essentially immerse yourself in
whatever source you're using for your story before you begin
Gabe: Yeah, it helps me to sort of familiarize myself with the
Alex: And that doesn't instill you with a deep sense of guilt?
Gabe: Um, what? I'm not sure I understand what you mean.
Alex: I don't know, I just thought it would be kind of like
watching an animal play for awhile before you shoot it. Wouldn't
it be easier to avoid risking forming any sort of emotional
attachment and just kill it outright? Or do you get some kind of
sick pleasure from doing it your way?
Gabe: I... I still don't understand. Are you saying writing
[fanfiction] is like hunting?
Alex: [laughing] Oh, heavens no! No, not at all... Hunting takes
Gabe: And just what's that suppose to mean!?
Alex: Sorry, that didn't come out right... What I meant was,
writing fanfiction is nothing like hunting, because when you go
hunting, there's always the chance that your prey might get
away. Or even fight back, depending on what you're after.
Fanfiction is more like gunning down a household pet in a
Gabe: What the hell is this!? I don't shoot anything!
Alex: Well, not literally, no. What you and your fellow
fanfiction authors do to the creations you target is basically a
form of murder, though.
Gabe: This isn't an interview, it's harassment! Goodbye!
Alex: Wait, Gabe! Please don't hang up the phone! Please! I have
one last question I want to ask you.
Gabe: [sighs] What?
Alex: What time is it?
Gabe: Huh? What do you mean? It's... 3:51.
Alex: That late? Hmm. Shouldn't Jessica be home from school by
Gabe: [brief pause] What?
Alex: You know, Jessica. Your little sister. Isn't she usually
home by 3:30?
Gabe: How... How do you know...
Alex: Just see if she's home for me.
[Several minutes of silence ensue.]
Gabe: What the hell is this!? You son of a bitch, if you know
where my sister is and—
Alex: Don't worry, Gabe. Jessica's fine. She's with me.
Gabe: [brief pause] You're lying.
Alex: You want me to put her on?
Gabe: Oh, if she's there, you'd better let me speak to her
right now, or else I swear to God I'll get—
Gabe: Jessica! Jess, are you okay!? Where are you!? Are you
Jessica: It's okay, I'm with Uncle Alex. He said you wanted me
to ride home with him. We're gonna stop and get ice-cream!
Gabe: Oh God, oh my God! Jessica, I want you to get out of there
right now and come straight home as fast as you can! Tell me
where you are and I'll meet you!
Jessica: Gabe, Al... I mean Uncle Alex said you were doing bad
stuff with your computer.
Jessica: He said you were hurting people who work hard to think
up good stories to buy food and feed their families.
Gabe: Jessica, I want you to come straight home right now! Don't
listen to anything that— anything he says to you. He's doing a
very bad thing by keeping you with him!
Jessica: But we were gonna get some ice-cream...
Gabe: Jessica! Come home IMMEDIATELY!
Jessica: Um, Uncle Alex says he wants to talk to you.
Gabe: No, keep talking to me! Jessica!? Are you still there!?
Alex: Uncle Alex speaking.
Gabe: Oh God! Holy shit! You gutless bastard! I swear, if you do
anything to her, I'll—
Alex: Oh, come on now Gabe, I'm not going to hurt a defenseless
child to further my own gains. I'm not you.
Gabe: To hell with you anyway! You tell her to come straight
home right this minute or I'm calling the police!
Alex: I wouldn't bother if I were you, Gabe. We're already over
state lines. They wouldn't even know where to start looking.
Gabe: Oh God! Oh God, no! Shit!
Alex: Hey now, don't be stressin', Gabe. You give me what I want
and your sister will be home safe and sound before bedtime.
Gabe: Oh my God! You— What the hell do you want!?
Alex: Alright, listen carefully. I want you to go to your
computer and check your e-mail. In your inbox you'll see a
message from me with a subject line reading 'Chapter X'.
Attached to the message is a text file of the same name. I want
you to copy that text file and upload it onto every fanfiction
website where you have an account, and label it as one of your
Gabe: What the hell!?
Alex: You needn't know the details, but the short version is
that this is all a part of my research. Chapter X is a Final
Fantasy fanfiction I've composed in the style of your own
writing, but I've infused it with numerous subliminal messages
denouncing fanfiction itself! It should be quite interesting to
see how folks react to that, don't you think? Once your sizeable
audience has read it, I will catalogue their reactions for the
purpose of discerning whether—
Gabe: I don't see the e-mail!
Gabe: There's no message from you titled "Chapter X" or anything
like that. I'm looking right now, and it's not there!
Alex: It should be... What's your e-mail address, again?
Gabe: It's email@example.com.
Alex: Okay, um, let's see... My advice to you would be to go
ahead and get in contact with whoever uses firstname.lastname@example.org
and ask them to forward you the file.
Gabe: You can't be serious! This is insane! Let me speak to
Alex: Sorry, we have to go get some ice-cream now. You've got my
number, so give me a call back when you get that fanfic posted,
and we'll go from there.
Gabe: No, you bastard! Do not hang up the phone! I swear I'll
kick your ass when I find you! This is not cool at all! Don't you
dare hang up!
Notes (12): After hanging up, I drove around for several hours
discussing the topics of cartoons and stuffed animals with young
Jessica while waiting for Gabriel to call me back. I never did
hear back from him, possibly because I had forgotten to give him
my cell phone number... Regardless, I decided I had gathered
enough data from Mr. Tasman and returned his sister to their
house later that evening under the cover of darkness. All in
all, I was pleased with how this latest investigation had
unfolded, and was ready to leave the field and return home to
begin piecing together all the information I had collected.
* * * * *
As you can see, the mind of the fanfiction author is no easy
puzzle to decipher. For every answer I have found, many more
questions have been raised. I hope to have a better
understanding of this enigmatic subject after evaluating this
data more thoroughly, but until then, I hope that my fellow
psychologists can benefit from this groundbreaking collection of
And to all my regular readers who read through this editorial
out of sheer curiosity, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the
strange and wonderful realm of the human mind. Even though I
don't expect most of you will fully understand the significance
of this data, I hope you've learned something from it
nonetheless. It would be unprofessional of me to say that all
fanfiction authors are "crazy", but, well, I think you can see
where I'm going with this.
Thus concludes my first project in the field of scientific
journalism, Inside the Mind of a Fanfiction Author.
...Which, now that I think about it, probably should have been
titled "Inside the Minds of Fanfiction Authors"
since it deals with more than one subject... Ah well, fuck it.
Alex Barry - 4/07/08