If you’ve ever needed help finding a fic you’ve read but can’t remember the full title or author, chances are this week’s author has helped you find it. Meet mimic117! She’s a wonderful author and also a prolific beta who helped shape some of your favorite stories. Mimic117 also runs The X-Files Lost and Found which is a great resource if you ever need help tracking down a story.
Look through her extensive list of work and you’ll find everything from casefiles, Mulder Torture, and heavy angst, to humor, family fic, and even an X-Men crossover. And there’s a little *ahem* adult activity as well if that’s what you’re looking for. One of my personal favorites is the “Chip Off the Old Block” series which brings Charlie Scully back into the picture shortly after the start of Season 9. But don’t let that S9 throw you, Mulder is still there. If terror is more your thing, “Only Skin Deep” dives into the mind of an obsessive stalker and it may just keep you up at night.
I could offer more recommendations of her work but this week I prefer to let our author do the talking. Mimic117 is a long-time member of the fandom and has done a lot to preserve many of the stories we first read on geocities and other sites that are now long-gone. We talked about writing, fandom, and how fanfiction has changed over the years and I hope you enjoy her perspective as much as I did.
How long have you been a Phile?
I didn’t start watching the program until season 4 because Friday was always grocery shopping night. We only had one car so I didn’t go shopping until Mr. Mims got home from work. Then we’d eat supper, throw the kids in the car, and not get back home until after 9 PM. I distinctly remember #1 son running inside to watch as soon as we pulled in, which is why he never helped unload groceries because “The X-Files is on!” He kept telling me how good it was and that I should watch. I finally got the chance when they moved to Sunday night and watched all the way through to the bitter end.
What was your first episode?
“F-Emasculata” – the one with the exploding boils. ~gag~ I have no idea why I continued after that but I did. I’ve always been more of a MOTW fan than the mytharc but I do wish they hadn’t written so many with exploding boils and maggots.
How long have you been writing fic?
I actually had to look it up on Gossamer. LOL, I posted my first story in 2000. It seems like I wrote for a much longer time than that but I think overall it was almost 10 years. I just posted the second half of a story last year that was actually five years overdue, but nothing between about 2009 and then.
What inspired you to start writing?
I came to fanfic late too, and read obsessively for a good three years, encountering a lot of frogs in with the princes, before I said, “I can do better than that.” I’m not really sure I did considering how out of character Mulder is in that first story, but the fire was lit and I just kept going. I like to think that leaving my oldest immature/flawed stories up helps to show how much my writing has improved but I have to admit it’s kind of embarrassing when somebody recommends one of those.
Who is your favorite XF character to write?
Mulder. Always. I love his snarky dialog and the way he views the world. I was a lot less comfortable with Scully early on, although giving her the flu in “Getting By” was great fun, and using her POV in “Unfolding” felt very natural. I became more comfortable with her the older I got. I did a short piece from Frohike’s POV in “Bare Ruin’d Choirs,” which I really enjoyed, and I’ve got a decent start on a long piece from Doggett’s POV. I’ve enjoyed being in his head and hope to get that one done some day.
Are there any XF characters you dislike or find too difficult to write?
As much as I like Skinner, I’ve never tried his POV because I’m not sure I understand him well enough. I’d be too afraid of getting him wrong. I’ve always disliked CSM and would never even consider writing from his POV. I’m not even sure I want to write about someone else encountering him. ~brr~ There are so many XF authors who do both beautifully that I’ll leave these guys to them. I’m not sure I’d ever write Reyes either, for the same reasons as staying away from Skinner. She never appealed to me as a character.
Is there a story you’re most proud of or that’s a favorite?
Geez, that’s like asking which son I like best. In general, I tend to like my original-character stories best. Maybe that’s because *everyone* writes M and S and Sk, but only I write my OCs. Out of the stories I’ve done, I think I’m most proud of “Only Skin Deep,” the stalker story. That was a very intense piece to write for many reasons, most of them having to do with getting inside the head of an obsessive psycho stalker. I loved it in there! It also scared the crap out of me. I’ve always read mysteries/casefiles, both in fanfic and RL novels, and I’ve wanted to write one for years. This story gave me the chance to try, even in a short format, and I found out how hard it is. I had to figure out all of the mechanics of the casefile, set the pacing, deliver the thoughts and dialog, make sure there weren’t any loose ends – it took close to a year to complete. I’d have to say it was worth the work and this is probably my favorite story as a result. I’ve had a sequel planned for years but now that I know what to expect from getting into Julie’s head, I’m finding it hard to commit.
With so many archives to choose from these days, where is the best place to find your work?
I’ve still got my own site, recently stripped down, renovated, and moved off Wordpress (I HATED the way the stories were displayed there!). Mimicsmusings.com. I decided the overhaul was needed when Gossamer stopped updating and I realized that I’d forgotten how to post at Wordpress. LOL, I know a lot of authors are gravitating to Archive of Our Own these days, but I prefer to keep as much as I can in one place. That used to be Gossamer, but my newest stories were missing from there and my old site, so moving it seemed like a good idea. I may get around to adding my stuff on AO3 when I need a new challenge. I do have a Live Journal but there’s not a blessed thing on it. In fact, the screen even says, “Nothing to see here. Move along please.”
You’ve been well known in the fandom for a long time, do you still write for XF or have your skills been focused elsewhere?
As I mentioned before, I haven’t written anything in about 6 years, other than to finish something that was due 5 years ago. When I hit my senior level of college around 2008, I started having less time and motivation to write fic. Then I went on to grad school in 2011 and lost what little urge I had left. All of my writing was focused on my thesis, but I often looked longingly at my stash of WIPs and wished I could work on them instead. I’ve been out of school for almost three years now and have only picked at old stories every so often. I suspect if other things in my life ever settle down, I’ll definitely go back to it. I’ve got a solid dozen WIPs on my hard drive and new ideas aren’t gone, just the urge to write them down.
Is there anything in particular that caused you to stop writing?
Grad school, plus Mr. Mims needing two major surgeries in as many years, were the first things to put a real crimp in my fic writing. Trying to come up with ways of earning a living so that he can retire without having to worry about bills. Branching out into photography, which didn’t go quite the way I’d hoped but did satisfy my creative urge. Just kind of life, in general, some days. In an old interview that’s up on my website, I said I didn’t see myself stopping. Ever. Boy, when I get it wrong…!
Have you written your own original characters outside of fandom?
I’ve had a supernatural mystery/thriller in process for a good 20 years now. The heroine is weak and I haven’t even written a hero yet. The best thing about it is the bad guy and the secondary characters. I’ve written an entire scene with the villain and another with the bit players but other than that, the novel is going nowhere fast. I suspect I’m not cut out to be a best-selling novelist.
Anything you’d like to share about your writing process?
I’ve never been a very efficient writer, but grad school taught me a lot about what works for me and gave me a couple of better habits. I’ve only ever written one outline because the research paper I was doing would have been hell to keep straight without it. For most other pieces I write what comes to me, as it comes to me, then stitch it together when I’ve got enough. Sometimes this means that I’ve written something good but put it in the wrong place, so moving text “Legos” is a big part of the process. If things get too complicated, I’ve even printed out a piece, cut it apart, and then taped it in the right order. I often finish the end first, because I have to know where I’m going. Sometimes it changes, most of the time it doesn’t. Many stories come to me through the title. The right one will tell me what the story is about, so I usually have the title before I even start writing. Other than that, it’s a question of not pushing it. Trying to force myself to write often means not being able to write, so if I’m not in the mood or the words won’t come, I do something else unless that changes.
What do you find most difficult about writing?
Getting started. I’m always beginning pieces in my head, then something comes up so that I can’t write it down. I frequently get great ideas/lines as I’m trying to fall asleep, which means I either have to get back up and write it down or accept that it’ll be gone in the morning. Getting started is a daily struggle when actually in the process too. Our brains are lazy and will find anything to avoid doing what we want. The Internet is great for wasting time so when I’m writing, I can’t even go online for a few minutes or I’ll be there for hours.
Do you have a favorite author? (fanfic or published!)
Another “pick a favorite child” question! I think I need to split this up a bit. Published authors: Since I’m a huge mystery/thriller fan, right now my favorites are Sandra Brown and Mark de Castrique. I got free books by both through daily download sites and I’m hooked. Sandra does really good romantic thriller characters, and Mark has two incredible thriller series set in NC with amazing characters and settings. I’ve read every book he’s published and I’m jonesing for more.
Fanfic authors: This one is really really tough. For overall quality of plot, dialog, characters, settings, etc. it’s gotta be aka “Jake.” Her casefiles are so spot-on I can see them as if I’m watching the show. Brandon Ray is right up there, too. He really understands Scully and writes her so well a lot of readers didn’t realize he was a guy. David Hearne is the master of humor and quirkiness. dee_ayy, Jo-Ann Lassiter, and Peggy did medical Mulder!Torture that isn’t over the top. Yeah, picking one ain’t gonna happen. LOL, I’ve heard of some really good newer authors, too. I need to check out some of them.
Is there any advice you’d give to aspiring writers?
Go for it. If you sit around wondering if you should, you can save time by just jumping in and doing it. Don’t try to figure the “right” way to work. Do it your way, and do it whenever you have time, even if it’s just a few minutes in between doing something else.
When you’re not writing, think about what you want to write. Go over it in your mind, set up the dialog, see the scenes, then consciously put it away. When you sit down to write again, something will be there. It might not be exactly what you were thinking of, but you’ll have something. This is what your brain does best. It’s often called the “Eureka!” effect, but it’s really just your subconscious working in the background. Trust it and learn to rely on it.
Don’t fight the story. I think the biggest mistake fic writers (especially) make is asking “What do I want these characters to do?” If you’re working with canon characters, the question should be “What *would* these characters do?” All characters have their own personalities, motivations, moral sense, background, especially characters that were created for a show. Know who your characters are, even the ones you create yourself. You’ll only use a tiny portion of their background, but you have to know it ahead of time so you’ll know how they would react in a particular situation. I found many times that a story I was having trouble with came from not listening to what the characters wanted to do. That usually meant I was trying to go in the wrong direction, and once I listened to the character, the writing became easier.
Do you think fic has changed over the years? You run a popular message board, X-Files Lost and Found, that helps track down missing fic….has the demand for that changed at all?
Oh, fic has definitely changed! For one thing, NoRoMo was the accepted standard back in the early days of the fandom. Shippers were the minority, and not necessarily well thought of. After the first movie, things started to swing the other way until the ‘ship was the primary genre for XF fic and UST fell by the wayside. The advent of binge watching the series on DVD/Netflix/whatever resulted in a new genre of fic based on M&S-were-meant-to-be-together-and-have-a-baby (or a bunch of them). The newer writers didn’t experience the weekly relationship struggle and sort of just skipped right to doing the wild thing and having William. The fic coming out of this viewpoint is radically different from the previous 15 years or more of Phile fic.
All of the message boards are seeing less traffic these days, although Lost & Found can always count on someone showing up with a description or title for us to hunt down. It appears the action is now on Tumblr and AO3 rather than L&F or Haven, but there’s still enough interest to make it worth keeping the board open. My only problem is that I haven’t read a lot of the newer authors so my rep as a fic-finding guru is suffering.
Anything else you’d like to share that I missed?
I’d like to extend a challenge to all Philes – help us save the stories. Yes, AO3 is doing a fantastic job of archiving these days, but they can’t possibly hang onto everything out there. It seems like it’s mostly new stories being added, while a lot of the older fic either languishes in obscurity or disappears into a black hole. Slash and Doggett fiction have always been the ugly ducklings in the fandom, which makes those kinds of stories much harder to find. Something that each of us can do is to create collections of fic on our computers, in a cloud storage device, or elsewhere. If you like a particular story, save it, then track down the rest of what the author wrote and save that too. A few of us are still gathering old sites to rebuild and we always need people who can either find a fic or have a copy to share. Some day the fandom may be mostly on peoples’ hard drives, but at least it would still exist. This is one of the longest-running fandoms out there. Let’s do our best to keep it that way.
Thanks to mimic117 for talking with us!