This week's author once tried to 'Boldly Go' ...while writing fic for a different show. We're sure glad she beamed over to the X-Files fandom instead. Meet Mangokiwitropicalswirl! I'll give you extra points if you remember where the name comes from. Mangokiwitropicalswirl is newer to writing for our fandom, but has writing chops that go way back and it shows. While everything she's posted is worth your time, one of my favorite works is "How He Asked" which starts during the cancer arc and explores the times Mulder asked Scully to marry him. Yes, that's times, plural. It's thoughtful, and lovely, in a way that suits Mulder and Scully so well.
"Pine Bluff Variant" isn't an episode that comes up often in post-ep fic, but "Calling Bluffs" would be special even if the episode were as popular for post-eps as "All Things." The story looks at Mulder's distress after dealing with the Spartans and the fight feels so real you'd swear it was a deleted scene from the episode.
I think I've recommended a few WIP's lately, so please don't throw anything at me for suggesting another. But this is another that's worth the investment. "Paging Dr. Scully" is an AU set in Season 1 where Scully isn't with the FBI at all, but a doctor who ends up treating a "smart ass FBI agent" every few weeks. Scully finds herself dragged into Mulder's cases and I love this universe where despite being a doctor, Scully can't help but be intrigued by Mulder's mysteries. A recent tumblr post suggests a young kiddo with a resistance to bed time may be preventing more chapters at the moment, so if you know Mangokiwitropicalswirl in real life may I suggest volunteering to babysit so we can get new chapters!
We talked with Mangokiwitropicalswirl, about writing, process, and of course, The X-Files.
How long have you been a Phile?
Since Season 4, so 1996. During my freshman year of college, watching X-Files in the common room on Sunday nights was the place bookish sci-fi fans like myself found friends.
What was your first episode?
I’m pretty sure it was the "Tunguska"/"Terma" two-parter. That was enough to get me hooked, and then I had to get caught up on the earlier myth episodes by contacting a Phile we referred to as “the Oracle” who had most of the earlier seasons on VHS. She would only loan me two tapes at a time, so it took awhile! But I remember being a devoted fan by the time the “Leonard Betts” episode aired after the Super Bowl because I have a vivid memory of watching that ep with my younger sister, curled up in bed in our parent’s room, absolutely freaking out when his reanimated corpse rose out of the tub of iodine.
How long have you been writing fic?
Technically, just over a year. I wrote and posted my first story in response to an X-Files Fic Challenge on Tumblr in August 2016, and then got actual traction with my story, “Stealing First,” that I posted just after Labor Day.
I did once write a Star Trek: TNG fanfic in the early 90s, but I didn’t even know what fanfic was when I was doing it. It was a terrible time-traveling excuse to get my character (a shameless Mary Sue) on the ship with Wesley Crusher. Also, I wrote the humble beginnings of a tropey X-Files one-bed fic back during the original run in 2000, but I never finished it, so it doesn’t count!
What inspired you to start writing?
When I rediscovered the X-Files fandom on Tumblr after Season 10 aired in 2016, it became clear to me that the best way to participate and make friends was to create something for others to enjoy. Fans were making videos, paintings, gifsets, manips, and of course, writing stories. I don’t have the skills for anything else, so I started writing fiction. Plus, there’s the obvious allure of filling in all the gaps in the narrative that The X-Files is known for. There is a lot of room for emotional development that apparently took place off screen, and I wanted to make sense of where the characters find themselves in the later seasons.
Who is your favorite XF character to write?
I like delving into Mulder and Scully equally (and most of my stories are just the two of them), but I think I enjoy writing Mulder quips and jokes best. I generally feel like I can hear David’s delivery, so Mulder’s voice comes more easily than Scully’s. Plus, Mulder tends to be a bit more emotionally open than Scully (not that she’s cold, just reserved), so when I’m trying to write romantic scenes, I can more easily imagine what Mulder would say or do.
Are there any XF characters you dislike or find too difficult to write?
I have never tried to write CSM and I imagine he would be a difficult one to pin down, mainly because so many of his lines and speeches in the show are highly mannered and pontificating (sorry XF writers!). He doesn’t have a very natural way of speaking, so I think I would struggle to capture that.
Is there a story you're most proud of or that's a favorite?
“Stealing First,” which is a post-ep for “The Unnatural,” is still a favorite, and it’s the first major story I wrote. Because it was my first, I worked it over and over, much more than I do with pieces now. I think it holds up.
As far as one I’m most proud of, I feel like I did some of my best writing in “The Gift,” which is a post-ep for “Tithonus.” I was very conscious of using my literary writing tools when putting that story together, and I also really wanted to deal with some of the underlying philosophical questions raised by the whole “Scully-is-immortal-now” concept that the episode raises.
Where can people find your work, and what's the best way to send feedback?
My work is on Tumblr, and recently added the tag "My Writing", but everything is also on A03. I buzz for days on feedback, so Tumblr comments, reblogs, anon messages and kudos on A03 are all great.
Do you take fic prompts from fans?
Yes, I take them. And then they sit in my inbox forever. Ha! I have started a couple stories that took on lives of their own because of prompts, but in general, I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to fic writing because my boys are 1 and 4 and demand all my energy! When I have time to write, I try to make headway on projects I’m most interested in.
Have you written your own original characters outside of fandom?
Not yet, but now that fiction writing has proven to be so much fun, I have ideas for a couple stories rumbling around.
Anything you’d like to share about your writing process?
It’s sporadic. I wish I could say I was one of those disciplined writers with a consistent routine, but I have to go where my energies take me. If I’m not feeling into one story, I’ll work on another one. And, I tend to rotate what I’m working on in a given month. I’ll work on fanfic for a month and then take the next month to work on my real life writing projects. It has been a good routine for me, but I’m sure it frustrates readers of my WIPs at times.
Do you have a favorite author? (fanfic or published!)
The fanfic writers I love are leprus-articus, BaronessBlixen, how-i-met-your-mulder, and sunflowerseedsandscience, who’re all on Tumblr.
Published authors I love are Alice Munro, Ann Patchett and the late poet, Jane Kenyon.
Is there any advice you'd give to aspiring writers?
Read a lot. Read good stuff. Then, practice by imitating the writing style of those you like. People get worried that imitation will interfere with having an original voice, but what copying or mimicking allows you to do is try on different patterns or practices and figure out what comes naturally to you. Eventually, you’ll have developed your own habits that end up being a mixture of your influences. We learn by copying.
Anything else you'd like to share that I missed?
Just that being part of this fandom and writing stories for the readers here has been some of the most fun writing I have ever done -- and I do write quite a bit in other genres in my real life. Fanfiction is a gift economy, and I think that is some of the purest kind of creativity there can be.
Thank you to Mangokiwitropicalswirl for talking with us!