My MISTI-Con Literary Guest Interview

MISTI-Con asked all the literary guests to answer 5 interview questions and they said instead of answering in email, we could video reply. So I did!

As part of MISTI-Con‘s slate of literary guests, Cecilia Tan will be speaking on panels, reading from her work, and autographing books at the con! In this video she talks about what she found so inspiring about the Harry Potter books and Harry Potter fandom, gets into her Hogwarts robe and tie, and discusses how the freedom to be a fan is important to her life as a professional fiction writer.

Among the many topics: the desire to create original fiction that is as addictive and delivers the same emotional “kick” as fan fiction, how Draco Malfoy took over her life, incredible and amazing things her fans have done for her, and what she’s looking forward to the most about MISTI-Con!

A Few Short Excerpts (in text, not video):

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

The thing about being a fiction writer is that being inspired is extremely important. Anything that stirs my imagination is a good thing. Just like anything that makes an athlete healthier is good for them, anything that makes my brain more excited is what I’m after, and of course that include READING!

When I got into Harry Potter fandom I had no idea how deep I was going to get in. At this point I’ve written fan fiction, I’ve done fan art, I’ve done costuming, I’ve played in Harry Potter related role playing games, I’ve run fests on Livejournal… And none of it has taken away from my professional work at all. It’s all added to it.

Fandom for me is a playground for my imagination, and anything that gives my imagination a workout comes out in the end in my fiction. [Various examples ensue, including both the content popular in fandom such as fantasy, slash, and romance, and fan media like WIPs.]

WHAT MAKES YOUR FANS UNIQUE?

My fans have always had a lot of direct contact with me. I go to a lot of [non-Harry Potter] conventions. I’ve always been on the Internet, I’ve always had email and a blog. One fan of the Magic University series is a maker of steampunk accoutrements (Soiled Doves Mercantile), and she made me a miniature top hat decorated with the four Tarot cards (that Kyle draws as part of his first Tarot reading ever when he arrives at school and which become an important part of the plot). Another example is the bears that EternalEponine made representing the three main characters in the Magic U. books: Kyle, Frost, and Alex. [Video shows the hat and bears.]

My fans are unbelievable awesome is what I’m trying to say! They supported the Kickstarter of Daron’s Guitar Chronicles, and the best thing they do by far is they participate, by leaving me comments on the ongoing serial, they leave me questions in my blog, on my Facebook page… That’s what makes my fans unique. I don’t hold back showing my love for them and they don’t hold back showing their love for me.

WHO ARE YOUR WRITING INFLUENCES?

I used to ride my bicycle to the little local bookstore in the town we lived in. My best friend and I would ride our bicycles there. We would buy anything by Roger Zelazny.

Another author I read everything I could get my hands on of was Marion Zimmer Bradley. The Darkover books were all set in the same planet, but you didn’t have to read them in any specific order. You didn’t always follow the same characters. It was great for me to see that as a young writer that you could world-build and then populate all different corners of that world. One of the other series that was good with that was the Dragon books by Anne McCaffrey. You had the main dragon series but then there were the Harper Hall books which was “oh and then also on this dragon planet we have this music school.” That’s great!

One of the reasons I was drawn to science fiction and fantasy was that I myself am Chinese-filipino-Irish-Welsh, I am like Mr. Spock, I’m a half-breed, or a four-quarters breed, I guess. There were not a lot of kids like me when I was growing up. I also knew I was bisexual and even liking science fiction and fantasy I was really not like everyone else. And science fiction was one of the places where I could see a place for myself. There are gay dragonriders! The Darkover books have the Free Amazons and a bunch of sort of proto-feminist stuff in them. I felt like there was room for me in these worlds, and one of the reasons I created my own worlds was because I didn’t feel I fit into the real world all that well.

WHAT IS YOUR FONDEST HARRY-POTTER-RELATED MEMORY?

It has to be from the night of the release party for Book 7. A local science fiction bookstore called Pandemonium had a party and we went there so I could play the part of Draco Malfoy in a trial of Severus Snape in absentia, for the murder of Dumbledore. [Watch the video to see the full cosplay and hear how it turned out.]

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST ABOUT MISTI-CON?

Be with my PEOPLE! Harry Potter fandom has become like my church. It’s where everyone knows the same songs as me and the same stories as me and have this shared history with me and cultural connection. I don’t just mean slash fandom. I mean Potter fandom as a whole.

I’ve found Potter fandom to be a place that is extremely welcoming of difference. A lot of people talk about how “[SF/F] Fandom is so white!” Well, Harry Potter fandom is NOT so white so far as I’ve been able to tell. The first HP con I went to I was surprise how diverse the fans were.

I think part of it is that a lot of us met online and you couldn’t tell–people would be represented by their avatar of Harry or whoever. And so people were able to participate in a space where they weren’t instantly judged by their gender or their sexuality or their color or their accent. And THEN came together in real life and realized, “oh gosh, we’re an interesting cross-section of humanity” — as opposed to a [previous] convention fandoms that started with people getting together and have perpetuated the cultural biases. Because it’s so welcoming of diversity, for me Harry Potter fandom has been a really perfect world.

We are fans and we make our own fun. You could put us in an empty room with a pipe cleaner and we would make something happen.So the fact that MISTI-Con is going to provide this fantastic environment to let our imaginations loose in is all to the best. I cannot wait!

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