My daughter and I bonded over Harry Potter fanfic

Guest post by Kell Fearon

Kell on the right, with her daughter Sioned.
When my nineteen-year-old daughter, Sioned, approached me last year saying she felt there was unexplored subtext in the relationship between Draco and Hermione (of Harry Potter fame, for those who have been hiding in a galaxy far, far away) I jumped at the chance to introduce her to the wide world of fan fiction, or fanfic, as it’s more commonly known.

I began reading and writing fanfic just a year or so ago. I had always known it was there, but in its early days it seemed to be badly written and boring — I would rather read a proper book, thank-you very much. Then my obsession with Doctor Who began, and along with it, the search to find the whys and hows and what ifs. Fanfic exists to fill in those gaps between episodes — to make plots make more sense, to carry on a beloved series of books after the author has abandoned it. And, let’s be honest here: to let the characters do what their creators never would — have sex. Lots and lots of sex.

Together, we scoured the internet, pouring over the most popular fanfic sites; AO3, fanfic.net and livejournal. While I wasn’t terribly interested in reading Draco and Hermione pairing stories, and Sioned had no interest in writing them, I loved that I could introduce her to something entirely outside her realm of experience.

Sioned quickly grew frustrated, as Draco/Hermione was not one of the more popular pairings — or “ships,” as they are known in the fanfic world, short for relationships — and most of the writing she was finding was sub-par. Despite not having read the Potter books in years, I told her I’d write her something to satisfy the hunger for now, if she would give me a prompt to get me started. What resulted was a silly little ficlet (a short fic with no real back story) based around the words she gave me, “blue, cake, and (professor) Umbridge.” Draco was annoying, Hermione was utterly confused for once in her life, and a cake was eaten on the Hogwart’s kitchen floor by candlelight. There may even have been a kiss. But first there was me staring at my computer thinking “I can’t write smut for my daughter. Can I even write a sexy kiss? Oh, for fuck’s sake, she’s nineteen, it’s not like she hasn’t seen the internet!”

I don’t think I’ve ever been as proud of a piece of writing as I was when I received her emailed response the next day.

My daughter is generally fairly reserved and a bit of a skeptic. I expected at best an “um, okay, that was… interesting.” And at worst an “OMG that is weird.” Effusive enthusiasm and the demand that I drop my boring job and write a book, because she loved it, loved it, floored me.

Thus began the cycle that all fanfic enthusiasts fall into at first. Forgetting that books exist for a while, staying up reading until five a.m. when she had to be at her barista job at six. I would text her at midnight; “Stop reading fic and go to bed.” (I should mention that she lives on her own, a town over from me; we were not texting from the next bedroom — although we had been known to do that.) She would jokingly reply that no, she was going to finish the fic she was reading even if her eyes started bleeding.

Her renewed interest in the Harry Potter fandom and the dynamics of the Draco/Hermione (or Dramione, as they are known in fandom — we love to smush names) ship had more practical effects. She started a Tumblr and began creating graphics, teaching herself techniques in between school, work, and reading until her eyes bled. She developed a following of three thousand people within a few months. I can’t say for certain that she’ll apply all of the coding and graphic design work to her chosen career, but I applaud anyone who takes the initiative to learn something new based simply on her passion for the subject matter.

So here we are a year later. Sioned is still searching for and recommending fics to her thousands of followers, while also, I’m pleased to say, reading books again and going to bed at a reasonable hour. She has finally conceded to watch Doctor Who, which had less to do with my pleading and more to do with her envy of the beautiful graphics on Tumblr that Who fandom was creating.

As for me; last month I started up a fanfic community based on the newest incarnation of the Doctor, which has received an overwhelmingly positive response. Next week, as this season of Doctor Who draws to a close, I suspect people will have more questions than answers, and writers will come out of the woodwork. To that end, the community is hosting a “first time writer’s ficathon.” My goal is draw out all writers, of course, but I’m especially hoping to bring out teen writers that may be less than confident in their skills. We have beta readers standing by to edit their stories for them and offer them some guidance and constructive criticism.

Oh, and I finally started writing that book. So, thanks, kid.

Comments on My daughter and I bonded over Harry Potter fanfic

  1. I started out on Harry Potter fanfics when I was 12! The sight for the movie had forums that people would post stories on, and that was it! I was hooked!

    Now while turning 21 in a week and with a little boy who will be 3 at the end of the month I still pursue some HP fanfics, but have cut back considerably from my pre-kiddo days. I also read a bit of Doctor Who, but since we don’t have BBC we are only caught up to the last episode of season 5, Big Bang, on Netflix, so I have to be careful of what Who stuff I read, so as not too spoil the series too much!

    I love this post, my sister and I bonded over fanfic, though our mother thinks we’re crazy, lol.

  2. Love this post! I never wrote fanfic myself but was active in HP fandom for a good few years. Great to see a topic like this on OBM!

  3. LOTR fandom/fic writing is what saved me when my family moved me away from my friends to a new state. If your teen is lonely/isolated, the fandom world on the Internet is a nice little haven. It gave me something to pour myself into, and it motivated me to DO something with my love of the books (aka, write more)!

  4. this is pretty offtopic, but I’m interested in creating my own fun little graphics and don’t have a clue. what program(s) did your daughter use?

  5. I love Harry Potter fanfic! I’ve made a lot of friends through HP communities on LiveJournal. I’m a Doctor Who fan, too. My English husband introduced me to Old Who a few years ago, and we’ve watched all the New Who together, too. I haven’t delved into New Who fandom yet, but my love for the current cast of the TARDIS means I should probably try to find some.

    I love seeing my type of nerdy on Offbeat Empire!

  6. I think you two should look at Mark Reads Harry Potter. Mark runs two blogs now, Mark Reads and Mark watches. (He also is watching Dr.Who)It’s a chapter by chapter or episode by episode review of a book or show he’s currently watching. Harry Potter was his second project and it was like going back to that third grader state of mind where you were looking at the books first time around and you stayed up until 2 on a school night because you HAD to know if Snape was trying to get the Philosophers Stone or not. The reviews are very funny and insightful, but there is a lot of language and possible inappropriate content, so anyone with a young fan may want to look first.

    • Oooh, I see he’s about to read the Hunger Games and watch Firefly. These are both very relevant to our interests! I will pass this on to my daughter, thank you.

  7. I got into fanfic through anime and then my roleplaying games – which in a way is fanfic itself.

    My sister loves anime now and I’m glad it’s something we can share.

    As for my son, we bond over some of the books he reads – Rick Riordan. I haven’t looked for any fanfic, but I’m sure Percy Jackson has some out there.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. This is awesome, but what I really want are links to your Doctor Who fanfic. Love Doctor Who, I still miss David Tennant, but of course it took me awhile to get over Christopher Eccleston. I do like Matt Smith, I’m just not attached yet. I am finally embracing my love of fantasy/scifi. 😀

    • Aw, it took me a while to get over Nine and Ten too. (I’m still not sure I’m over Ten.) Our shiny new fanfic community is here: http://eleven-fic.livejournal.com/profile

      My personal fic is anonymous or under a pen name so I can’t link you directly to that, sorry!

      You can always find more by searching the sites I mentioned in this post too.

  9. My step-sister and I bonded over fanfics, too! Our fandoms are in anime, with a smidgeon of HP thrown in, too. I don’t know if I would go out of my way to try to get my son into it once he’s old enough (I’m more into gay slash), but it’s always a wonderful way to get children to start writing, by using the literature they already read and care about.

    • Oh, I’m mostly into slash too. Sherlock is my fandom of choice for reading. I write just about any mixture of anyone (or any thing) for Doctor Who. Sioned tends to stick with het.

      Fanfic seems to be dominated by females, doesn’t it? I wonder if a son would have shown the same interest as my daughter.

  10. Haha this is awesome! I got into fan fic originally because of Vin Diesel (I know weird right? It was the voice and Pitch Black, mhmmm), but this was waaaaay back in the day. Originally I read some pretty crummy stuff but then I started finding good recs in other fandoms, and finding writers and artists that I absolutely adored who wrote EPIC tales that made my eyes bleed and my grades suffer. Ah, those were good times.

    This is an awesome way to bond! And to improve skills previously unknown. I have a son so I’m not sure we’ll be able to share this kind of stuff… Maybe the het stuff I read.

    Kudos to you and your daughter. Totally going to lurk on your LJ. Yay nerds on OBM!

  11. I was aaaall about the Sugar Quill for a solid year. There was a fanfic called “After the End” that grabbed me so completely I forgot what actually happened in the first six books by the time JK wrapped things up in book 7.

    • I love getting lost in fanfic like that, were you have to re-read the old books in order to know what’s cannon before you read the new stuff!

  12. My problem is my boyfriend doesn’t’ seem to regard fanfics as really reading, which I don’t get because he has even written a few back in the day(I think Dragon Ball Z or FF, I’m not sure). So I don’t tell him what I’m doing on the computer and he thinks I’m just surfing all day, not reading. It just stings that he puts more weight into the act if it’s on paper, as opposed to the screen 🙁

  13. Oh the BEST Draco/Hermione fic I have ever read is called “Draco Malfoy: the amazing bouncing… rat?” by Maya. If you look it up it should still be about somewhere. Its so funny and she actually grew up and became a published author. There is hope for us fic kids after all 🙂

  14. oh my goodness! except for your kiddo, you are embodying me in this post! I am a completely obsesive fan of both hp fanfic and hp cannon (the originals)…i grew up in a off-white tower (my bedroom) and hp was how i learned about the world…so everything i do now is seen through wire-rimmed glasses (!)hehe….enjoy this wonder with your daughter and i would love to read some of your work, whats your post name?

  15. Harry Potter fanfic is something I obsess over. With the series over and the last movie being released soon, it’s a great way to keep the magic going. And I am a HUGE Remus/Sirius shipper. Now there’s the ultimate UST pair (‘unresolved sexual tension’ for those of you not familiar with the lingo).

    Anyone a fan of restrictedsection.org? Smut central. 😀

  16. I have a very strong need to reply to this post because after reading it I was all like:

    “There is ‘unexplored subtext in the relationship between Draco and Hermione!'”

    That was four days ago and needless to say I am addicted. Seriously addicted. My bf thinks I’m a weirdo, but I am as happy as can be : ) Can’t wait for the last movie to come out next month!

    LOL Thanks!!

    • Oh, I’m pleased! If you want more Dramione, on my daughter’s Tumblr (linked above) she has a rec list. I am *really* interested in writing them but all the fan comms seemed to be closed or extremely restrictive in their rules. It really is a subtext I’m certain J.K. Rowling didn’t intend, but she is an author who is ok with fanfic and letting us explore these things. 🙂

  17. Oh my god, so awesome! I hope so, so much my future daughter is as nerdy and awesome as yours and that we bond as wonderfully!

  18. This made my day! My sister and I bond over our geeky love of fic and roleplaying, especially of the slash variety, and I think it’s amazing that you and your daughter are able to do the same 😀

  19. I’ve been writing fanfiction for years now and Rping. (roleplaying, as the characters from my favorite books, shows and video games, or as my original characters I’ve injected into those series) My 18 year old brother loves to rp with me as well. I think its a great way for someone to express themselves and their fandom.

  20. I started reading Harry/Draco slash fiction when I was about 14, and haven’t stopped since then. My newest fandom is Sherlock (which is how I found my way here).

    I mostly just lurk, though, so no bonding for me.

    • My favorite place to lurk for Sherlock fic is here in case you weren’t aware of it. The further back you go the better the recs get, we are sort of running out of material after a year!

  21. OMG fanfic! I’ve had flings with various fanfic genres over the years, depending on what I happen to be most obsessed with at the time (I got started when I was maybe 12, writing fanfic about the Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. Cuz I’m awesome). I’ve been away from it for a few years, but I’m sure at some point there will be a new obsession that will bring me back again. There always is.

    Love that you guys could bond about this!

  22. I love this! I am a huge anime/Harry Potter/Star Wars, (etc) fan, and fanfic is an amazing thing if you do it right. It is a great way to bond with my sisters, and I look forward to introducing my children to it one day, should my fiance and I be blessed with them. ^_^

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