We asked you to share stories about how you lost your fanfic virginity, and holy crap, did we get a huge response! Sixty-one of you awesome people sent us your stories, so this is going to be a very long post. But it is really great to read everyone’s very different experiences with discovering fanfic, and some of you have really hilarious stories. I laughed a lot putting this post together, and I’m also overcome by fits of nostalgia for Usenet and mailing lists and eFiction archives.
Feel free to share your story in the comments if you didn’t get a chance to send yours in!
First up, we have stories from your discriminating fangirls.
Once upon a time, when I was a teenager back in the 90s, a coffee shop opened in my hometown. This was a momentous occasion, as my friends and I had decided that we loved coffee and these were the days before there was a Starbucks on every corner.
And the best part? This coffee shop had The Internet.
By which I mean it had computers connected to the internet. There were tables with glass tops, and the giant CRT monitors were suspended underneath the glass so you could browse the wilds of the world wide web in relative privacy. You bought a card and loaded time onto it, then inserted your card and the internet was at your feet.
So my friends and I, being completely and utterly obsessed with The X-Files at the time, went searching for stuff.
In one night, we had discovered shipping, fandom, and something that would be a big part of the next nineteen years of my life: fanfiction.
Specifically, fanfiction that was rated NC-17.
An accurate representation of my friends and me.
The first story we read was called “31 Flavors,” which you can still read on Gossamer. It was titillating, but the next fic is the one that really stuck with me (and probably influenced my writing habits the most strongly): Second Skin Satin. We promptly saved it to a floppy disk (which quickly filled up with X-Files fanfic), printed it out, and read it aloud to each other backstage during theater class.
And I’ve been writing smutty fanfic ever since.
Let’s see…I was in high school and I was really into the tv show Roswell (which now that I think about it, Roswell was my first fandom.) That was back when fan forums (the ones that used bb codes instead of html) were the thing, so I would get on the forums, and they had a fanfiction section. I started off reading the canon pairing of Max/Liz because it was canon, and I was on board with that for a little bit, until I decided to wander onto non-canon pairings because they were more interesting. That was also when I started writing fanfics too. And then after that Lord of the Rings came along and that was my next big fandom. I pretty much haven’t stopped being a fanfic reader since then.
Ta da! My boring little fanfic reading origin story. :)
I was in middle school at the time and just recently introduced to The X-Files by a friend. I’m not sure how long after she brought me an NC-17 fic where Scully ends up married to some other guy, but eventually begins an affair with Mulder (because OTP), and she ends up pregnant. To the best of my knowledge, she ends the marriage and raises the kid with Mulder (its real father) and happily ever after. It was the first time I had ever seen the word “clit” and being barely 13 and in Catholic school, I had no fucking idea what that meant.
I also wrote some of my own fic around that, one of which is still up on Gossamer. It was one that I’d accidentally emailed to my aunt and featured lyrics to a Tara MacLean song that had “breast” in it. That was pretty embarrassing, but I don’t think I got in trouble for it, just a “uh, what’s this about?” message from her. I’ve been careful about who I send things to since then.
And now, here are stories from our readers!
I was around 15 and started on the internet. I had been writing fanfics long before, though. I started writing my own stories for the old TV series S.W.A.T., later for Star Trek TNG. Then I found my old love He-Man and She-Ra on the internet and learned that fanfiction writing was actually a thing. Back then there were only some private websites that posted stories mostly of the same author, and mailing lists, so you didn’t find fanfiction that easily.
When I was in elementary/middle school, I was obsessed with Brian Jacques’ Redwall series. At the time, it had one of the first creator-sanctioned fan communities, with a messageboard for fic and even a text-based roleplaying game (RedwallMUCK). I wrote a few (thankfully since-lost) fics, but mostly read all sorts of stuff. Since the canon spanned centuries and had so many characters (each book was mostly self-contained within the larger universe) there was no shortage of fic. I specifically remember one story that was REALLY dark for both the canon and the targeted age group–I really wish I could remember the name!
My first romance fanfic, though, was Wolverine/Rogue from the X-Men movies. God, I was an obnoxious as hell, 16-year-old DIE HARD W/R OTP’er, and it was amazing. Diebin and DevilDoll and Victoria P. and Minisinoo (who did not write W/R, but Scott/Jean, so it was okay because it wasn’t Logan/Jean OH GOD NO)… I posted a few teensy drabbles, but mostly just read voraciously.
I was younger than 13 and I stumbled into FF.net. I also found some independent websites hosted on Geocities and Angelfire which stored fanfiction. Most of them are gone now, sadly, but I will always remember the feeling that hey, I wasn’t alone, I thought about my favourite characters the same way these authors did too!
I was about to be a senior in high school when I got my first computer with a connection to the internet – oh, and it was MY computer. My parents were slow to update with the times and I wanted to be able to talk to all my friends who had just graduated.
And I started to look around for things related to interests of mine and one day when searching BtVS related things I found a mailing list for fans of Giles. Since I adored the character, I joined. Not only was there regular gushing and episode commentary, there were fics and fic challenges. I don’t think I could name a particular one because they all tended to be short little snippets, perfect for checking in my computer class when I should have been coding. But OH so much fun. My fanfiction interest grew in college – I found some for shows I loved as a kid, and shows I still loved at the time. When the West Wing introduced a character I loved, I actually for the first time searched SPECIFICALLY for a fan group, rather than just stumbling across one. I wrote my first episode tag shortly later. When they killed the character, I wrote my first fix-it.
Everything went down hill from there really. For the record though, it was the SG1 fandom that took it beyond a mild diversion to a full blown “I list this in my hobbies/interests section” obsession. Was also my first major slash pairing too.
My friend introduced me to fanfiction at 12 when she showed me a terrible Yu-Gi-Oh parody on FanFiction.net. It was called “Yami in Blue’s Clues Land”, written in script form, and was a strange fusion where the Yu-Gi-Oh characters were sucked into the Blue’s Clues show and the only way out was to cooperate and follow the rules of the show. It was also a slash fic, but I don’t remember it being explicit. It’s definitely one of the worst things I’ve ever read, but I have fond memories of it for being my ‘gateway’ fanfic. Plus everyone needs that one bad fic they adore.
I’m in the Wrong Story (AO3 and tumblr)
From the age of 7, my best friend and I spent most of our playtime making up stories in the fictional worlds of Star Wars, Sweet Valley, and My Little Pony. (It never occurred to us to have crossovers, though, which would have been awesome.) This was Before Personal Computers; we never shared our stories with anyone else.
The first piece of fanfiction I ever read that I didn’t write was a second-person, reader-insert RPF of the New Kids on the Block, published in Bop Magazine around 1989. I was 11 or 12 at the time and considered it the absolute stupidest, most ridiculous thing I’d ever read. It involved going to the mall and probably to a concert, though the only specific memory I have is the secondhand embarrassment I got from the idea of being serenaded in a clothing store.
I didn’t encounter fanfiction again until 1998, when I joined the online fandom for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. At that point it was all message boards, private archives, and Geocities/Angelfire sites. (Coincidentally, that was also when I was taking a grad-level sociology and media class that discussed the original Star Trek slash fiction.) I wrote my first story that summer and uploaded it to the Buffy Fanfiction Archive, which I’m pretty sure no longer exists.
I came to fic pretty late. I’m not a people person and had never had much interest in fandoms of any sort. I am somewhat active in SF academia, though, and someone I knew in that community wrote Jayne/Simon (Firefly) slash. I didn’t even know the term “slash” and had to ask her what it was. I’d been reading m/m erotica and watching m/m porn for years, though, so was intrigued. I asked her to send me her stories and I thought they were fantastic (I still recommend them, she’s kylielee1000 on AO3).
I watched due South back in the 90s and thought then that Ray Kowlaski and Benton Fraser sure seemed like they had something going on, but I didn’t know anyone else who watched the show and so I never had an opportunity to talk about that. Reading Kylie Lee’s fic, though, I realized I was probably Not Alone and I started looking for due South fic. Through miraculous good fortune, I first stumbled across Speranza’s fic, and then Resonant’s, and I realized that fic was the most wonderful rabbit hole I would ever find. I’m now in a few different fandoms and although I’m still not a terribly active fan, I love having the connection of fanfic with so many people all over the world. Bless the internet. Bless fic writers. I love you all.
Back in high school I lived my life on Chamber of Secrets, the forum connected with Mugglenet, which was one of the top Harry Potter fansites back when the HP fandom was king. It was post-Cassandra Clare, but only just, and I knew people who had seen that all go down; weren’t involved but watched from lj on the sidelines, or had a friend of a friend take part, that kind of thing.
But there were still fanfics that got hugely popular, even if on a smaller scale than before, and in my little corner of the internet, tons of fan-made signatures and banners and icons and art were dedicated to a pair of fics called “Always Remember What You Can’t Forget” and “A Mild Shade of Perfection.” These were written by a girl named Becky, who at the time she started “Always” was around 16, and they were epics. They were Next-Gen AUs that had, as so many fics do, started as a little one shot and bloomed into a huge, complex universe. The first chapter of the first fic was an attempt, one that many made back in the day, to write the final chapter of the series, back when JKR stated that the last word would be “scar.” It was Harry, in the hospital room, holding his first born son. As far as timelines go, she wasn’t too far off, although she put them a little older than they would be in the epilogue, but she got the name – James – right, and from there it just flew. For only being a teenager she was an pretty incredible writer. Sure, the stories were filled with a lot of tropes and were super cheesy and very very gen, but they were beautiful to my teenage self, who wanted nothing more than for Jo to call up Becky and say yes, you are correct, these are canon now, well done.
As far as first fanfics go, I was totally and completely spoiled by the quality and immensity of “Always,” and for years I refused to read anything other than those two fics (ultimately, the second one went unfinished when Becky went to college and fandom changed post Book 7) as well as her Marauder’s era AU, and similar ventures of the other members of her fanclub. I’m still friends with Becky on facebook, as well as another one of the big writers from that time, who has actually gone on to get some original works published. Becky no longer writes, as far as I know, finding other paths in college, but I’ll never forget when those fics of hers ruled that forum and my heart.
My first experience with fanfic involved my best friend, tiny dragons, Star Wars, and the greatest lampooning of Phantom Menace I have ever seen. I didn’t know it was fanfiction or even what fic was, at the time. All I knew was that I enjoyed the fact that she’d turned Luke Skywalker into a tiny, whiny dragon. It had to be at least 40 pages, single-spaced, in script format. I think I still have it somewhere.
Later, after I moved halfway across the country, my friend would send me Harry Potter fanfiction over AIM. This was back in the days the section on the Pit only had 22 pages (and we were fighting Digimon for dominance). Eventually, I branched out into reading fic on my own, though I didn’t start writing it for another year. Boredom during a Driver’s Ed class* that lasted for several hours a day inspired me to write my very first fanfic, which was a short, introspective piece about Remus Lupin.
I was fifteen. I try to not to think about how that was half my life ago.
I swear, I’m actually a pretty decent driver, I promise.
I was probably 11 or 12 at the time I had just finished reading the first Heroes of Olympus and was suffering from serve lack of Percy and Annabeth ( My OTP before I even knew what an OTP was). My poor underdeveloped brain convinced itself that the next one in the series had been published and with some intense Google searching I would be able to find it for free on-line. After many hours I found a deviantart link that claimed to be the next in the series, because clearly Rick Riordan has a deviantart account were he posts his stories,so started to read it. I can’t even remember the plot of the fic or how long I was fooled into believing that Rick Riordan himself had wrote it. I do however distinctly remember sitting in the dinning room thinking ‘ Wow Mr Riordan has certainly changed his writing style this time round’ and ‘Um why is Percy with Nico and not Annabeth all of a sudden????/’.
I want to say I’d logged in to the X-Files forum on AOL before the first episode had even aired. It was 1993. I was almost fifteen. Quickly became a lurker, and at some point in that first season people started talking about the new Usenet group people were using to discuss the show–away from the official forums and eyes. I was already using Usenet for celebrity gossip (most of which went right over my head), so I added alt.tv.x-files to my reader and transferred the bulk of my lurking there. When alt.tv.x-files.creative spun off, I either didn’t notice or didn’t think I’d be interested. About a year later, I don’t even remember how now, I was forwarded a fic from a friend–Mulder and Scully on a case somewhere, not an episode fic, something totally original where they also made out whenever they weren’t doing official X-Files-y things. So much kissing and other adult activities!
When I found out it came from atxc, I was completely hooked. Totally obsessed. Read everything I could. Neglected homework in high school. Sometimes I even skipped drinking at college a few years later to hike across campus at eleven at night when no one would be on the console in the basement of another dorm so I could print stories to read in my room. Made abortive attempts at writing my own. I’d already roped most of my friends into watching the show, but for whatever reason never tried to get any of them interested in fic writing or reading.
Bless whoever it was who started archiving the fics to Gossamer. Bless them forever.
In the mid to late eighties I wrote little stories based on my favorite TV shows, Young Guns, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, and Remington Steele, not knowing it was called fanfiction. It was a solitary pursuit and I shared them with no one. I would even write them in the diaries I would occasionally receive as gifts since I didn’t use them for their intended purpose.
In college, I would see Brady Bunch and Batman erotica on a few BBS groups I belonged to but didn’t make the connection that what I wrote–which were more plot driven, imitating the episode structure and these straight up porn stories–were the same thing. I was mainly there for jokes and discussion of Star Trek.
Post college in 1996, I stumbled upon someone’s X-Files fanfic archive webpage looking for information on when the next Mary Russell Holmes book would be released (the connection was “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” and bees being a big plot point in the X-Files movie). The headers in those stories pointed me to usenet alt.tv.x-files.creative then later to Fanfiction.net. I read everything on that writer’s archive which had 4- 5 . I read everything everyone wrote on usenet at first. I was reading for hours a day but I had a dial up connection so I would copy and paste everything into a large word document to read offline. Eventually I started skipping Krycek stories which meant most of the slash stories and the later the rest of the slash stories mostly because of lack of Scully and because they were extremely explicit compared to the het stories which tended to be more soft focus fade-to-black when it came to sex. MSR, Mulder!Torture, Scully!babies and Action!Scully were my jam. I never paid any attention to ratings on fic because I never paid any attention to them at movies either. They are equally meaningless. (plus you will note I came to fic after age 21 so nothing was restricted for me)
The X-files fiction fandom seemed pretty linear and it was easy to find a lot of fic. It was originally posted on Usenet which was automatically archived to ephemeral and then individual writer’s had their own sites to bundle their series together and rec other writers fics.
As the output slowed down in the X-files fandom, I jumped into the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom and discovered it was not as organized. There was no master archive, only a small percentage posted to usenet and stories could be found in very specialized pairing archives. There seemed to be way more output but it was harder to find. Especially since I didn’t involve myself in show discussion much as I found it distracting from the canon material and blurred the line between canon and fanfic too much for me. Crossovers galore (Twisting the Hellmouth) Willow-centric stories both het and femslash, Xander-centric post-show and YAHF(Yet Another Halloween Fic).
Since I read offline in ebook format, cut-and-paste into a document or saved html pages, I unfortunately never got into the habit of not leaving comments or feedback regularly because it inconvenient to go online and search for the story all over again. Now that I read live on broadband/cable internet I try to leave feedback more often but it’s fighting a twenty year habit.
The first time I read fanfiction, I don’t even think I knew that was a thing. It was in 1998, I was thirteen, and I was my friend Halle’s house for a slumber party. Being typical teenaged girls, there ended up being drama, so we splintered into factions and ended up in various areas of Halle’s house in order to keep a girl war from breaking out. I ended up in Halle’s bedroom along with another girl, Meagan. We were angry that Halle had let things get so out of control at her party, so we decided to snoop through her things, trying to find something for petty revenge. It didn’t take long for us to find a notebook hidden in a dresser. Meagan and I looked at each other like we had won the lottery, a diary! What could be better for revenge than a diary? But once we opened it, we found that it wasn’t a diary at all. It was a notebook that was filled with story upon story about the crew of the starship Voyager. Yes. That Voyager.
Halle had written stories about Janeway and Chakotay that were so detailed, they almost read like episodes. They explored strange new worlds in true Rodenberry style. They fought the Borg endlessly. When she wanted things to take a more romantic turn, she wrote herself into the stories in place of Janeway. And the romps she had with Chakotay were…..vivid, to say the least. Meagan and I laughed our heads off. We had never seen anything like that before. We wondered who would write stories about characters from a teevee show. And we just couldn’t fathom that anyone would write a story about themselves being involved with someone that wasn’t real. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that what Halle had written was fanfiction, and how ahead of her time she really was.
Okay, scroll up. Remember back when bored.com was a manually-maintained list of links to “fun places” around the “world wide web”? I was–I had to have been 15, at my grandmother’s for a summer vacation I didn’t want to be on. She had a computer and 14.4kb/s dialup, and I had ten days (twelve? two weeks?) and not a lot of things to do. I was, in a word: bored.
One of the links led to fanfiction.net, with a dubiously-convincing description. (A place with stories about stories: written by you! Or something.) Fifteen-year-olds, being renowned for their judgment and time-management skills, are just the kind of folk who end up there. I sure did.
Because I could write, was the thing. I had been too afraid to sign up for an elfwood.com account, and I craved the gratification of illustrating things without putting in the work. But writing came easy. But flailing at people came easy. I started writing concurrently with reading, with running out of book. My home fandom, the one that will always have a place in my heart, is Tamora Pierce’s Tortall; in eighth grade I read John Peel’s “The Secret of Dragonhome”; which was shelved, in my public library, near Pierce’s work. I was looking for a sequel; I found Keladry of Mindelan.
And behind Kel, I found Daine Sarrasri, who mashed every button I had at the time. And while Kel is my longstanding favorite today, Daine mashed every button I *had* at fifteen, and Daine was the girl I went looking for more stories about. (Romance stories; adventure stories; stories that reflect canon and bend the light they catch like a funhouse mirror. )
I met the people I think of as my “high school friends” in that fandom: we’re in our 20s and 30s and 40s now; we were in our teens and 20s and 30s then. We were scattered across the world–California-Arizona-Ohio-Virginia-Canada-Australia-England; some of us have never met. Some of us have hugged for nine years at a time. I remember the fanfiction.net columns–I read one obsessively, printed it out and kept it in a binder, never spoke to the columnist.
I met columnist almost ten years later, in Star Trek fandom after the 2009 reboot; I moved into her house in 2011, got a job at her work that same year. Hands down the best friend I’ve ever had, one of the best people I know. She’d come up through gargoyles by way of half a dozen others: Smallville, NCIS, Doctor Who, Star Trek. I’d wandered through Tortall; Avatar: the Last Airbender; Stargate SG-1 (where I connected with a *different* friend from Tortall, who modded a different message-board from the one I wound up at.).
I picked my college because I had a fandom friend in my school’s city (this was a mistake). I fell into my career because of who I knew in fandom (one of the best choices I’ve made yet). I’ve watched my IT manager block-unblock livejournal-dreamwidth-tumblr in a period of about 20 minutes when we changed net nannies, warned her that I’d posted porn under my ravelry name, so don’t go looking if you’re not up for what you’ll find there. A fandom friend from Star Trek invited me to stay with her while my mom was missing, suicidal, and armed.
I picked up gaming because of my friends from Tortall, spent ten bucks over Christmas on a discounted copy of Dragon Age: Origins, and am sending out tender shoots of friendly overture toward people I think are nifty. Because fandom’s not *all* about the stories. It’s mostly about the people telling them.
But if you’re looking for the first story I remember, the first one to stick with me, well. Kaprice’s Tears, by Krizsta. She’s what I found when I went looking for more stories with the flavor of Tortall; she’s the reason I will go to battle over fourteen-year-old-girls’ right to write the mary sue of their heart, of the complicated-realistic OC they can’t help but love a little too much. Here’s a link: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/249767/Krizsta
So that’s my story, for what it’s worth. I’ve been here since the middle, and I’ll stick around, most likely, until my end.
I first discovered fanfic when I was 18/19- the internet was quite new back then, 1996-8, and I fell into fandom via webrings and just being glad that there was someone else out there in the world who liked the same things I did.
We had access to computers and dial-up in the computer labs at medical school, and I remember paying lots (in student terms) to print out fics and posters and episode lists etc.
I suppose my actual fanfic virginity I lost when I discovered ‘La Femme Nikita’ and found some websites which had fanfiction. I can’t remember the exact fics though- it’s been such a long time. I probably have the printouts still up in the loft ;-)
After that it was just a Smörgåsbord of tempting fandoms- I discovered SG-1 fanfic (SamJack shipper) and also X-Men fanfic (I was a Wolverine-Rogue aficionado), then moved onto Alias.
I suppose I had been primed to read fanfic, having been a reader of the Star Trek ‘verse novels from an early age (Price of the Phoenix being one of my earliest reads)
I was a major Star Trek fan growing up, thanks to my dad, and the summer before I started the fifth grade we got an internet-capable computer and a subscription to Prodigy, which had a BBS with boards for Star Trek, The X-Files, etc. People would sometimes post snippets of fanfic or round robins on the BBs, but for the most part the character limits weren’t conducive to writing anything substantial. But another poster frequently referenced something called “The Secret Files of Mistress Janeway,” so I eventually used P*’s built-in browser to look it up…and that’s how my introduction to fanfic ended up being hundreds of thousands of words of hard-core multi-pairing BDSM. ::jazz hands::
Friend saw me reading the Harry Potter books. She told me she had a fun story for when I finished what was out (6 of 7 released). She introduced me to Crumbling Pedestal and many others. Damn it.
My first encounter with fanfic was actually writing it, but I didn’t realise that it was called fanfic at the time. I think I was 11 or 12 and I remember writing out (long hand oh my gosh) an alternate/extended ending to a movie that was about Robin Hood’s daughter. It was complete crap and when I found it in three notebooks in my closet at my mom’s house years later I immediately shredded it. Bit embarrassing, honestly. Anyway, a few years later I started shipping Sara/Grissom from CSI and found fanfic for that pairing linked on some fanvids on Youtube. I don’t remember being very impressed by the writing, so I let it go for a few years. Then when I was in university studying abroad with no access to American/British television, I used AO3 and FF.net (and tumblr to an extent) to satisfy my need for my then-current ships. I’ve been lost down the rabbit hole ever since, and haven’t regretted it, although I’m solely a reader of fanfic, not a writer.
I remember I was in seventh grade, maybe 12 or 13 years old (I’m not sure) when I googled “percy jackson” to try and find out the release date of the next book. I found that and also stumbled on Percy/Annabeth fic on fanfiction.net and was hooked for several months. Then, I kind of forgot about it for some time until ninth grade when a friend mentioned that she enjoyed fanfic. That rekindled my love, and got me reading fics for new fandoms!
I’d written fanfic – and imagined it without writing it – ever since I was little, but I had been under the impression that I was the only one. In school, writing about other people’s characters wasn’t permitted, and I had no writing community outside of it. I was vaguely aware of such things as Tolkien societies, but thought it the dominion of people who learned elvish and had read the Silmarillion (rather than people who just liked hobbits).
As I entered my teens, the World Wide Web was becoming a thing. I didn’t see the point, really. In school, we tried it out, and it was fun enough, but nothing I felt a need to try on my own.
Not until I was 17-18 and down in the basement computer room with my friend, who was playing a MUD, and I needed to spend the time somehow while I waited for her. So I tried searching for Road to Avonlea, and found a fanfiction site. The story I read was called something like “Then Comes Felicity With a Baby Carriage”, which rather tells you the plot, though I can’t remember any details. I can’t even remember if it was good, but I remember being mesmerized that it existed.
A few months later, I found a fansite for Quest for Camelot, and took the whole thing a a steps further: I made friends with the webmistress, and actually started writing fics in English to be published online. After Q4C it was The Young Riders (I still keep in touch with some of those friends), and then Angel, and X-Men… at which point we’re up to the year 2000 and my fannish life was in full bloom.
I was pretty much writing fanfic before I new fanfic was an actual thing, so it was less ‘here is this cool new thing’ and more like’…other people do this too?’. But yeah, I was 12, I think. One of my friends was writing a story about our trio in a magical land, not fanfiction. Like people do. And she published this on Xanga.com. She also filled out a bunch of quizzes from each ‘characters’ perspective on quizilla.com. Which meant we all did too. This was about when people were starting to publish fanfiction on quizilla.com. I haven’t ever seen anyone else in fandom mention quizilla (seriously ever), so I’m going to explain. Later quizilla would make lots of different categories for like, quizzes, stories, poems. But not in 2003. At that point you could only publish stuff in quiz form. So a lot of these quiz fictions were written in second person and gave you multiple choice answers for how ‘you’ replied to other characters or situations.
What I’m saying is, I lost my fanfiction virginity to terribly written 2nd perspective Harry Potter marauders quizfic. With OCs. Like, this was not that far off from My Immortal. There was also no ratings system (quizzes) so you had no way of knowing what you were in for ever with these things. But my first one was pretty innocent, so it was all good. I can’t link it because quizilla doesn’t exist anymore. Conveniently that also means no one can find my early publications without a lot of work.
My friend and I first discovered fanfic when we were 12, in the school computer room, googling Harry and Ginny, because we thought they were perfect. We found a story, on its own website, giving them their story after Hogwarts. I can’t remember what it was called, or what it was about, but I remember the beautiful drawing of Ginny holding Harry’s head on her chest on the top of the page, and the many lunchtimes my friend and I sat reading it. It was about a year until I finally found fanfiction.net, and then finally shuffled my way onto AO3.
staranise at dreamwidth
I read my first fanfic way before I ever got into fandom. Two years after this story I surfed from bored.com to fanfiction.net and that was history. No, instead I was nine years old and my older brother found this site called The Barney Reich.
The Barney Reich was all about how Barney was an evil crypto-Nazi, with a long fanfic about how he subliminally convinces all the children of the world to murder their parents so he can start a post-apocalyptic regime where he murders anyone who turns 13. It was SO DARK and tropey and it LOVED it–I was the older kid who sighed when all the kindergartners at my babysitter’s watched Barney again, I loved post-apocalypses and stories about people fighting evil (especially Nazis) and even though it was disturbing as heck, I was a huge fan.
When I found fanfiction.net two years later, everything I found there seemed practically normal by comparison.
My friend told me about it. We were both really into Percy Jackson at the time (REALLY into it), so of course I tried that first. It was on fanfiction.net… And I still consider that first to be one of the best fics I’ve ever read.
My best friend (at the time) and I stumbled upon Quizilla. We loved doing the stupid fandom quizzes (hell, I admit I still do). Then one day, we discovered people were posting reader insert fics up in a ‘choose your own adventure’ format. It was Yu-Gi-Oh! (generally you/malik & you/bakura), we were 10, and we were in love. We’d take turns reading them outloud, and all was great until a few months in, when we discovered for the first time what a “lemon” was. It was my chapter to read, and to this day my face has never been redder, nor my throat drier. Oh, but boy did I power through.
It was all downhill from there.
One of my camp friends told me about an amazing Sailor Moon fanfic. He (yes, he!) described an fabulous and intricate extension of canon that included vampirism, het, femslash. The standout in my memory is quiet Ami being turned into a vampire, as a result of and leading to her having a hella awesome long distance relationship with a dude from the Negaverse.
It sounded awesome, so he emailed it to me, and I read it as .txt files on my Powerbook 100 that was a hand-me-down from my brother after he graduated from college.
This was like…1996. It was absolutely rated full lemon.
I had just gotten involved in Doctor Who fandom (1983) and the group I was with talked about publishing a “fanzine”. I had no idea what one was but there were people who were MORE than happy to share! I can’t recall specifically which story was my first but I’ll go with “Trapped to Death”, a Doctor Who parody in Time-Log. So yeah, blame them. :)
I honestly don’t remember the story’s title or plot, but it most definitely was about Sailor Moon, which I was obsessed with for my entire childhood. This was a pre-fanfiction.net, pre-google(!) world and I had to yahoo search for Sailor Moon fansites that had fanfiction….there were so, so, so many that were never updated…and I was still pretty young…this may have been how I learned about sex 0.o
Bethany the Martian
My first introduction to fandom (and, through that, fanfiction) was through the Animorphs book series. I was probably 12, though I might have been 13. There was a forum I became part of, we were all big fans of the books and talked about upcoming books and how we thought plot points would resolve. The friends I made there were my first exposure to fanfiction. The website that hosted the forum also hosted some fanfiction, and was part of a larger webring of Animorph fan sites. This would have been about 96 or 97, back in the wild west days of Geocities, in the days before fanfiction.net was a Thing, and so one had to do broad internet searches or go through webrings and recommendations for friends.
The first fic I remember reading was a Rachel/Tobias songfic, and I believe the song used was “Take These Broken Wings”. It was angsty and ended sadly, but I remember feeling like there was a sudden surge of possibility, and there were all these new avenues open to read about characters I loved. I had sort of looked down on fanfic before this, and I can’t say that this fic immediately changed my mind, but I can say that it opened me up to having my mind changed. (This led down the road to a Janeway/Chakotay I can’t find at the moment, and writing my own secret TNG and Labyrinth and Dragonriders of Pern fanfics, and into more and more fandoms. I still don’t publish my fanfic, but I have written it since I read that first fic.)
Ok so. I was 12 I think. It would’ve been around 2005? I was in that middle school phase where you’re obsessed with Hot Topic and vampires (Twilight was just getting popular). So I started reading Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series, and I became obsessed. I was googling stuff about the books I hadn’t read yet and stumbled on Anne Rice’s wikipedia page which has a sub-heading about fan fiction. And I was so confused. This was a thing? People who loved stories wrote their own what?
So I went to ff.net and started browsing. I think the first story I read on the website was for Holly Black’s novel Tithe (there were maybe 7 fics total in the category), because I was also obsessed with that. A few days later I went into the Harry Potter category and was blown away. There were so many things to read that I had never even imagined could exist (what the fuck is a lemon? a lime? severitus???)
I had a sudden burst of inspiration and realized “Holy shit there’s probably gay stuff on here.” Lo and behold, there was. I think the first slash fic I read was Ron/Harry (I have no idea why; I’ve never shipped it). It had one sexy scene involving a blowjob in a bathtub and I think I died a little I was so embarrassed.
I started to read really long slash fic (Checkmate, a Drarry story is a prime example of this), that were like 200k words long and not even very smutty. Slowly as I got older I read more and more fics with actual sex in it and moved away from what was on ff.net.
I spent 5 years of my life reading only Harry Potter fic, and I still read Teen Wolf and other fic on AO3. But it all started with Tithe and that Harry/Ron bathtub blowjob fic.
Ironically enough, I have Anne Rice’s hatred of fan fiction to thank for all of this.
I first stumbled upon what we would call “fanfic” at the very old age of eight. I really liked vampires and “dark” stuff and was just messing around on the internet. I was looking for vampire related dress up games (I think. Vampire related something) and somehow ran into an angelfire site with tons of vampire related stories and games. I clicked on another link and was transported into the world of Forever Knight. The show about the “800-year-old vampire working as a police detective in modern day Toronto.” He had so much guilt he figured by solving murders he’d be cool with some higher power again. Plus there was the romantic drama between him and the medical examiner Natalie who he totally loved. What else could you want from fanfic?
Then I found out what fanfiction.net was and started reading Danny Phantom and I’ve been reading fanfic ever since.
I was a young little thing, I think 13 (and for reference I’m 23 now so its been a decade) when I started reading fanfic. I found it on livejournal. It was hetfic with an OFC and it was in the Fall Out Boy fandom. I don’t even remember the original fic I read but I was entertained because it was about my favourite band and it kind of gave me the ability to imagine myself in the story cause the main character was a young girl. This led me to my journey to finding m/m fics and changing my life forever. My first gay fanfic was a Panic! at the Disco fic, pairing Brendon/Ryan obviously but again I don’t remember the fic specifically (I would’ve been maybe 15 at the time). I was young and discovering my sexuality and this opened me up to a new world of masturbation material. I also learned a lot about gay sex which was fun too.
your fandom grandma bucky-thevampireslayer
I can’t even bring myself to be embarrassed about this. I first came across fanfiction because of the WWE. You know, wrestling.
I was a HUGE fan of Edge, and at the time – it was 2007 – he had a batshit crazy storyline going on with the WWE Diva Lita. Now, there were a lot of shit going on, but the point is that, they were together both on screen AND off screen. So because I wanted to know more, I googled Edge and came across this fansite [http://www.adam-on-the-edge.net/] which recapped Edge’s appearances on WWE shows, posts screencaps, AND THE MODERATOR ALSO WRITES FANFIC. I had no idea what they were then, only that they were a) well-written and b) insanely hot, because Edge and Lita were insanely hot, so y’know, that kinda followed.
I don’t even remember what was the first Edge/Lita story I read from that site, but I think I started with a one-shot because, y’know, it was shorter, and I wanted to see what I was getting into.
So anyway, that was the first time I’ve ever read fanfic. I was amazed. I had no idea that people cared that much about these celebrities to create so many stories about them. And this author went HARD, too. She had one-shots, she had AUs, she had in-character fics – sometimes updating three stories a day. To this day I still had no idea how she did it.
After that, I just researched fanfic and came across FF.net, which opened up a whole new world. Y’all can probably tell my age because yeah, FF.net.
The good thing about this is, once I started getting into other fandoms – specifically Buffy – I had a good starting point. I started searching for fics on FF.net, but soon I was looking into other websites. At the time, there were still Geocities sites dedicated to fanfiction. Fuck, I am old.
I first found out about fanfic when I was in 7th grade. I had just started going on Harry Potter fan websites a lot, and I was really into checking out fan art. Then, I saw a piece of fan art that was a cover for a fic. It turns out, the fic was incredibly long and took me at least a solid month to get through – it was called “Dumbledore’s Army and the Year of Darkness.” Being as naive as I was, I didn’t try to hide it at all from my family that I was reading fic. Granted, it wasn’t dirty (I didn’t discover dirty fic until a few months later), but looking back I’m appalled that I was so blasé about it. [link https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4315906/1/Dumbledore-s-Army-and-the-Year-of-Darkness]
I was about to be 15, and at the time, I was completely obsessed with all things relating to Harry Potter. I can’t quite remember if the first website I went to was fanfiction.net or portkey.org, but the first fic I remember reading was a Mature, 500k+ novel length fic with the main ship of Draco/Ginny. I was fascinated that someone had taken something I had known so well, and just show me an entirely different world. I loved it. Here is the url, and I’m so glad it hasn’t been removed: https://m.fanfiction.net/s/2063014/1/Flight-of-the-Thestrals
I was a 15 year old American Star Trek fan living in Iran in the mid 70s (because my dad had a job there) and I found copies of Star Trek: The New Voyages and New Voyages 2 in one of the English language bookstores. They were authorized anthologies of Trek fanfic published by Bantam and included plenty of what we now think of as cliched tropes–there was more than one Mary Sue for example. And I can remember at least one story where it was kind of obvious, even to a 15 year old who didn’t know what slash was, that some m/m scenes had been cut out. I read those books to pieces.
It was February 2002. I had just turned twenty and was in the middle of a depressive episode, which meant I was spending most of my time online trying to find anything that pulled me out of myself. Somehow or other — I think I may have been looking for LotR movie art or reviews — I stumbled across Cassandra Claire’s “Very Secret Diaries” and thought they were funny. In her notes at the end of one installment, she mentioned she was also writing Harry Potter fanfiction.
I had never heard of fanfiction before, but the idea didn’t seem weird to me. I mean, who doesn’t wonder what happens to characters before and after their published adventures, or speculate about turning points that might have gone differently? So I went off to investigate whichever installment of her Draco trilogy Cassandra Claire was writing at the time… and fell down a rabbit hole from which, thirteen years later, I have yet to extricate myself. (Not that I’ve tried very hard. *wry*)
I was on tumblr, and I was looking for good pics of Penguins players. One of the people I stumbled across on there wrote a really good Breakfast Buds (James Neal/Paul Martin) ficlet, which introduced me to AO3. I’ve been hooked ever since.
I could be entirely wrong about this, but the first fanfic I vividly remember reading was on the website Quizilla and it was titled “I Admit This Could Be Love, But Love Can Always Wait.” It was in the Simple Plan fandom, and the pairing was David/OFC. I’m fairly certain that until I stumbled across the fic side of Quizilla, I didn’t even know fanfic was a thing. I started writing stories with a friend of mine in middle school right after Lord of the Rings came out about us meeting the cast (these fics will never, ever see the light of day because they’re incredibly embarrassing), but I never thought it was a legit thing. But after finding/reading the Simple Plan fic, I was hooked and I’ve been reading fics ever since.
I first found out about fanfic when I was bored in my 9th grade English class. We were supposed to be learning how to look up and source things on the web (my teacher recommended we use Webcrawler, if that helps to date this at all), and I, deciding to do better things with this unexpected computer time, decided to look for any results “X-Files” might give me. Long live The Gossamer Project. I preferred to use Gossamer Fluky for some reason. Probably because I couldn’t reliable spell Krycek. The story from the X-Files fandom that has stuck with me over all this time (because fandoms come and fandoms go) is The Magician. You can still find it at http://tooms.gossamer.org/display.php?Magician1
Harley, @crimsonkitty88 (twitter)
I discovered fanfic at the tender age of 10/11 years old. I was in fifth grade and the internet was still running on aol dial-up. Fandoms gathered on geocities and angelfire and other such now extinct servers. I was neck deep in Nsync fandom at the time and had been writing self insert fic (though I didn’t know what it was at the time) for a couple months. I don’t remember the very first time I discovered that I wasn’t the only one who wrote imaginary scenarios about their favorite bandmembers but I remember knowing that I needed more. Everything I read in the beginning was either original character/bandmember or self-insert, as the concept of shipping was still pretty foreign to me, but I devoured it all. Those stories and that fandom were an introduction to a whole new virtual world. They were my first real sex-ed class. My first intro to the concept of writing and publishing for others to see. I remember I had a piece of printer paper that I would write down the links of the stories on if they were unfinished, and I would painstakingly type in each one every single day to see if they were unfinished. I took great care to hide it all from my parents, a difficult task considering the dial up tone every time I logged onto my account.
Anon Older Than Dirt
I don’t know the name of the first fanfic I read. It would have been in a Star Trek fanzine in the very earliest days of Trek fanzines. One of us found a flyer for fanzines at a science fiction convention. And which story it was doesn’t really matter. The concept of fanfic was a blissful revelation that had a profound effect on me and my friends. More stories! Stories the shows didn’t tell! New things to discuss with friends! I could tell new stories. We all could.
My three best friends and I were in high school together all three years of Star Trek in the sixties and we watched every episode and discussed them in detail for days. One episode was also a class discussion when my English teacher brought in an audio recording of The Galileo Seven the week after it aired for a discussion of the choices made by the characters.
The four of us were thrilled when one of our families got a color TV. The first TV program I ever saw in color was Journey to Babel the first time it ever aired.
I was maybe 12-13 (unsure), and OBSESSED with Farscape. I went looking on fansites for John/Aeryn anything, and stumbled on my first fanfic. I wish I could remember anything really concrete about it, but all I really remember was that the author had broken up the story with bits of original poetry. I thought it was so cool that someone could just take a story that was someone else’s and do something with it. I was writing my own fanfic within two years, and I’m fairly certain my first published piece (for The Matrix of all things), is still floating around the ether at ff.net, although I’m slightly terrified to check.
I was 18. I had just read Harry Potter, and I was googling “Severus Snape” one day, just looking for other fans of him. One of the results was a character shrine with a bunch of fanfic recs. I read them all. I don’t remember which one was the first, but I do remember that one of them was a “Hermione gets detention, sex happens” PWP. Right then and there I fell into the black hole of fandom, and I haven’t been able to find my way out even now, 11 years later.
The only other story I specifically remember from that rec list was a Fred/Snape/George fic. That was my first introduction to slash, and I loved the idea (if not the specific ship) at once. I bailed on that story when it started incorporating twincest, but I remain a huge slash fan to this day.
I got thoroughly sick of the HP fandom after a year or two, but I’m grateful that it introduced me to fandom.
I was 11 years old, and completely obsessed with Cardcaptor Sakura. The local TV channels only ever aired half the show (and out of order at that!), and then dumped it for something else (Pokemon? Sailor Moon? I forget now). I was /heartbroken/ and turned to this new thing called “the internet” to find out more about it… My parents only let me use the internet for 15 min at a time because dial up internet blocks the land line phone from being accessed (and my mother was and is a social butterfly who is on the phone a /lot/).
So I spent two 15 min sessions a day (before and after dinner) desperately searching for closure to the story of Cardcaptor Sakura. I learned that it had originally been a Japanese cartoon, and that many, many things had been edited out and the show had generally been dumbed down and mangled so it was “more appealing to boys” in the English version.
I set out on a quest to find anything about the original I could… I wanted video clips most of all, but these proved almost impossible to access. I had to a) find a video file someone somewhere had uploaded onto their own server, b) download and install Windows Media player on dial up speeds, c) work out where the hell I’d saved it, and then I could finally have 30 seconds of video or music.
I eventually figured out that the best way to consume the story was to find detailed synopses where fans recorded every plot point per episode, with extra focus on any changes in the English adaptations.
Being 11 years old, and using the shared family computer for only half an interrupted hour a day, I did not know that bookmarks/favourites were a thing. They might not have been a function back then actually, tabs certainly didn’t exist. I used Internet Explorer on Windows 98, and there were a billion useless toolbars because we didn’t have an antivirus.
So every single time I wanted to find something, I had to remember the link click trail all the way from Google. I entered this search term, then clicked on the anime shrine, then in the affiliates page I looked for the picture of the lady with black hair, then I found the comment where that one person complained about something and left a link to a forum, where there was a link to their webring… and so on. I went through this song and dance every time I wanted to find something.
One day I click