If you've been in the fandom long enough to remember the Spooky Awards for outstanding fanfic you know this week's author Syntax6. She is widely regarded as one of the best casefile authors of the fandom. The epic "Scavenger" has taken home awards both inside the fandom and out. The story has been, as Syntax6 put it, "de-X-ed" and rewritten from the ground up as a novel which won the 2016 Minotaur/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award. Now called "The Vanishing Season," the story will be released in hardcover next year. "All the Way Home" and "Head Over Heels" are a deliciously disturbing series about a serial killer with a creepy taste for shoes that's guaranteed to terrify. "20" is a wonderful collection of short stories that looks at Mulder and Scully's relationship over 20 years. But these are just a few of Syntax6's excellent works. Do yourself a favor and take the time to read through her entire site, you won't be disappointed.
We're delighted Syntax6 took the time to chat with us about writing and The X-Files!
How long have you been a Phile?
I came to The X-Files fairly late, around mid-season six, so that’s 1998/1999, I think? I’m a bit unusual in that I did this whole Phile thing backwards. I fell in love with the fanfic first and the show second. I had a vague understanding of who the characters were when I started reading the stories, but I was blown away by the quality of the writing I found. I had to go check out the source material for myself to see what was inspiring all these amazing authors!
What was your first episode?
It was “Soft Light,” from season two. I had some friends who were gushing about how awesome the show was, but I remained deeply skeptical of mystery/sci-fi as a hybrid. No need to plot out a cohesive story! Just get to the end and say, “Oh, it was aliens or ghosts or something,” so the plot need not make sense. But I had a free Friday night and decided to check out an episode to see what the hype was about. It confirmed my worst suspicions about the laziness of the plotting and I did not tune back in again for several years, when I had a roommate who was watching in 1997. She watched. I read my book. (See, I told you I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into this show. I swear I’m a convert now!)
How long have you been writing fic?
I started in 1999 sometime. At that point, I had seen only a dozen or so episodes, plus the movie. I had read about 500 different fanfics, though, so the versions of the characters I started writing were probably more of a fanfiction amalgamation than those we saw on the screen.
For more questions, read after the jump.
What inspired you to start writing?
All those amazing stories! When I found the fandom, popular authors included MustangSally and RivkaT, Karen Rasch, Kipler, Plausible Deniability, Blueswirl, MD1016, Khyber and so many others. The mailing list, ATXC, moved incredibly fast in those days, with animated discussion on everything from how to plot to best fanfic kiss scenes. It looked like a really interesting, invigorating community, and I thought it would be fun to be a part of it. Because I had always had a passion for writing, it felt natural to join in.
Who is your favorite XF character to write?
It’s a tie between Mulder and Scully. I love Mulder’s humor. I identify with Scully’s skeptical nature. They are both so smart and interesting, which makes them a joy to write.
Are there any XF characters you dislike or find too difficult to write?
No, but my main interest was unabashedly Mulder and Scully, and so they are the focus of all my stories. I didn’t dislike the other characters—quite the contrary, they added to the depth of the show—but neither did I adore them the way I did our dynamic duo.
Is there a story you're most proud of or that's a favorite?
Oh, they’re all my children, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. “Universal Invariants” was a lot of fun to write because I enjoy the innocence of season one, especially when you can view it through the lens of all of the tragedy that came later. I get a kick out of playing “peek-a-boo” with canon, writing just off the margins of the TV screen, and then rejoining seamlessly later on—possibly having pried open a new interpretation of the events on screen. “Split the Lark” was my most personal and most difficult story. Writing that one was six months of emotional turmoil. What I am pleased about is that the resulting story is very much the one I meant to tell, so the angst was worth it.
Where can people find your work, and what's the best way to send feedback?
Do you take fic prompts from fans?
I admire authors who can do this, but no, alas, my brain does not work that way.
Have you written your own original characters outside of fandom?
Yes! I reworked “Scavenger” from the ground up and entered it into a mystery novel writing contest last year. The resulting story, about a junior police officer who suspects she has a serial killer on her hands, and her reunification with the FBI agent who rescued her years ago, won the contest. It will be published next year. Please come follow along with me as I flail with excitement on Facebook!
Anything you’d like to share about your writing process?
It probably looks really boring. I sit at a computer and type a lot. About the only slightly unusual thing about me is that I do almost all of the hard work in my head, away from the keyboard. By the time I sit down in front of the screen, I am merely downloading from my brain, so I can write as much as 30 pages in one day.
Do you have a favorite author? (fanfic or published!)
I have really way too many to name for both. I read about 100 books a year, and there was a time I devoured fanfic at a similar pace, so this will be a seriously abbreviated list. I adore “Arizona Highways,” by Fialka; “Fathoms Five” by Penumbra, “Malus Genius” by MaybeAmanda and Plausible Deniability; “The Tourists” by Discordia; “All the Mulders” by Alloway; “Bone of Contention” by Michelle Kiefer and Kel; “Arcadia” by Rivka T; “The Other Man” by Jess M.; “Cell Phone” by Marasmus; and “Strangers and the Strange Dead” by Kipler.
For traditionally published authors, I’ve loved “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson; “The Concrete Blonde” by Michael Connelly; “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Bachman; “A Girl Named Zippy” by Haven Kimmel; “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn; “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell; “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; “This Is How You Lose Her” by Junot Diaz; “Faithful Place” by Tana French; and “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty.
Is there any advice you'd give to aspiring writers?
Write. There is no substitute for practice, and it’s the only way to learn and improve. It’s hard but keep going. The crucial part is to stick with it. Also read. This way you can see what good writing looks like.
Thank you to Syntax6 for talking with us!
Here's a taste of "Universal Invariants" if you haven't added it to your reading list yet.
At the sink, Scully tore up spinach leaves with special ferocity. "Did I tell you he had a copy of my senior thesis? I don't even have a copy of my senior thesis."
"You told me." Ethan lounged against the counter, popping the occasional cherry tomato in his mouth and looking like he'd lived in her kitchen forever instead of just for two months.
At some point she was going to have to come clean to her parents about Ethan's new address.
"I didn't even know I was getting this assignment until ten minutes before I met him, but someone sure tipped him off. I'm surprised he didn't want to discuss the spelling bee I won in third grade."
"You won a spelling bee? I didn't know that."
"Ghosts and goblins and little green men. I can tell you that's not what I had in mind when I joined the FBI." She carried the salad bowl to the table. "Still, I guess it's nice to finally get into the field."
"What was the word?"
"The word you won the spelling bee with."
He grinned and shook his head as she removed the salmon from the broiler. "I think it's kind of hot."
"That I won a third-grade spelling bee?"
He came up behind her while she garnished the fish with fresh dill. "That you're in the field now," he said, looping his arms around her. He kissed her neck. "My girlfriend is a bad-ass FBI agent. After dinner, you can show me your gun."
Scully laughed. "You've seen my gun plenty by now, I should think."
"So you can tell me war stories. What's out in Oregon that warrants attention from the FBI?"
She wrested free of his arms. "You know I can't talk about it."
"Aw, come on. It's not like Oregon's my beat, so what does it matter? You know I won't tell anyone."
"I know. But I'd rather not set the precedent."
He sighed. "There goes all the fun dinner conversation."
"We can still talk about your work. What did you do today?"
"Filmed senate testimony on the new environmental bill. Let me tell you -- the only thing less exciting than watching grass grow is listening to the suits talking about the grass growing."
"Dinner's ready. I'm just going to grab a couple of fresh candles."
"So, is he cute?"
Scully stopped and turned. "What?"
"The imperious Fox Mulder. Is he cute?"
"Does it matter?"
Ethan shrugged. "Instead of going away with me this weekend, you're going to Oregon with him. I figure I should size up the competition."
Read the rest here.