Sunnydale After Dark

Time for the first Scoobies of the Month for 2023! Hope y'all enjoy them. :o) We decided to make the interviewing each other thing permanent but also voluntary (because pressure is of the bad). This month, both Scoobies chose to send each other questions! 

Commenter of the Month for January 2023, VeroNyxK84:

How did you come to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer? 

First of all, I must clarify that I’m from Italy and in my country BtVS first aired in 2000… don’t even get me started on the delay and the extremely poor dialogue translation/adaptation—that’s a very sore spot to this day. I could rant for hours, so I’ll drop it. 

Back to the show: I kinda had a rocky start with it. At first it had been recommended by a classmate in high school, so I remember tuning in one night and they were airing “The Pack” (1x06). The whole thing with the hyena-guys eating the principal upset me so much that I had trouble sleeping and I vowed never to watch that thing again. I stayed true to my decision and I almost forgot that the show ever existed for a while. 

Cut to… spring of 2004. I happened to stumble a few times on TV ads announcing a marathon rerun of BtVS S1-S5 to be aired in the afternoon with daily episodes. This marathon was supposed to introduce the release of the final season.

I don’t remember exactly what pushed me to give it another try… but I did and I was a goner almost instantly. I was quite late to the party, but I joined a couple of fanforums and avidly read news and info about the show and episodes as soon as they aired (my go-to site at the time for everything BtVS was an Italian website called “Buffymaniac”). I watched the whole marathon which left me heartbroken (the last episode they aired in September was “The Gift”) and craving for more. During the summer I had started buying the S1-S5 DVDs to rewatch (meanwhile discovering about the poor dialogue adaptation and the unjustified heavy TV censorship) and eventually I also bought S6 because the channel decided not to air a rerun for this season. Since they’d announced S7 for December and the DVDs went on sale in October, I bought S7 too and finally caught up with the show. I also rewatched when they aired it in December even though they basically aired it at night (11:30pm wtf?). Italian TV butchered this show in every possible way, but the fact that many people grew to love it so much despite their poor treatment speaks volumes about this TV masterpiece.

When and why did you decide to read fanfiction for the show?

I don’t know if I can call it a decision… it sort of happened by chance last summer. I’d started following a couple of BtVS/Spuffy accounts on IG because of some incredible art that popped up in suggestions and some day one of those accounts published a story with a link to SAD saying it was a new Spuffy archive. I clicked on it mostly out of curiosity, did a quick tour of the site and scrolled through some stories. I bookmarked it, then in the evening I started reading a couple of stories and I just kept coming back every day for more. It was a trying moment in my work and personal life and I truly needed to take a break from problems and worries… so that’s when I found my happy place in fic reading and after a couple of weeks as a guest reader I decided to register because I didn’t want to lose track of some great stories. Then I admit it took me a while to muster the courage to start leaving comments—I’m a very shy and reserved person and apparently the whole “hiding behind a screen” deal does not take that away, at least for me—but now I enjoy writing them as much as I enjoy reading the stories. 

Reading fanfiction is still my happy place, and I never miss my daily appointment with SAD: it’s a part of my morning routine before I start working… and whenever I manage to squeeze in some more reading!

Why do you love Spike and Buffy?

Let me start with a confession: I had a short-lived Bangel phase. Said phase started to waver during S2 (keep in mind that I watched S1 and S2 in the span of a month and a half, so the ‘short-lived’ is quite literal here) mostly because I found Spike and Dru to be vastly more interesting (I also had a deep fascination with Dru) and Angelus was so wickedly good that after him the mere idea of Angel just flat out bored me. Sorry. But the final nail in that B/A coffin was hammered in the day I was researching Spike and I accidentally stumbled upon some pics from “Something Blue”. My reaction was something along the lines of: Wait… WHAT? When? How? OMG who cares, I’m sold—GIMME! And that’s the short story of how I abandoned the Bangel ship and never looked back—and suffered throughout S3 hoping for Spike to return soon-ish after 3x08. Ah, I was young and naïve! 🤣

I love Spike and Buffy because they’re deep, complex and layered both as individuals and as a couple. Their journey from enemies to unexpected allies, to somewhat enemies again, to reluctant partners, to friends, to lovers… it was bumpy and tumultuous, at times unbearably painful but also undoubtedly fun, and it touched so many aspects in their relationship which I believe is part of what makes them so special. There are so many “versions” of Spuffy and just as many reasons to love them, although their snarky and banter-y ‘I love to hate you’ trait is still my biggest weakness and something I’ll never get tired of reading. 
They’re both very passionate and stubborn, which shows when they clash—or engage in bedroom activities while inevitably missing the bed—but they can also be soft and tender, and those are probably the moments I cherish the most because they’re so rare and precious and it’s a side of them they don’t show very often. 

I love them because through their many hardships they reached a level of mutual understanding and growth that was truly beautiful and touching to witness. They inevitably drifted apart but found their way back into each other’s life, cementing the bond they'd built and almost destroyed with the strongest adhesives: trust and acceptance

After quite literally seeing the best and worst of each other (shamelessly quoting Spike here) they became each other’s rock, sticking together through thick and thin and defying everyone’s judgment. I love when Buffy is fiercely and openly protective of him in the face of Giles’ betrayal; I love when Spike is fiercely and openly protective of her in the face of everyone’s betrayal. They're an unshakable team and they're fearless in their alliance. 

I love that they’re so in sync that sometimes they don’t even need to speak because a glance between them tells a whole story. 

They made me laugh and cry, feel sad and happy and furious, they broke me and then healed me. It was one hell of a ride, but darn it was ‘bloody well’ worth it in the end.
Last but not least, I think we hit the jackpot with the actors who portrayed them: their undeniable talent and on-screen chemistry made Spike and Buffy the iconic characters and couple that we’re still celebrating to this day with their perfect imperfections.

What words of advice would you give other fans who comment or are considering maybe commenting on fanfiction?

When writing a comment I think it’s important to tell the author what you liked most about their story and how it made you feel. 

I found it might be useful to jot down lines or scenes that struck you in a special way and mention them in the comments. Did something make you laugh, or maybe even cry—either happy or sad tears? Let the author know! Maybe it was their intention to convey specific feelings and they’ll be happy to know that they succeeded. Did you connect with the story or a character because of some personal experience? If you feel comfortable talking about it, share your experience and how it affected your feelings when reading the story. Did you appreciate some details, like a small gesture, a smile, etc… even if it seems small or ‘unimportant’ to you, don't ignore it: I believe that if it caught your attention and/or stirred up your emotions it’s always important and the author will surely be pleased to know.

Bonus Tip: I found it useful to enable email notifications when my comments get a reply: it’s easier to keep track of author’s responses and keep the conversation going if needed.

Last but not least—Remember to always be honest but also thoughtful and respectful—there’s constructive criticism, which aims to encourage improvement, and there’s something entirely different (and hurtful and useless) which is bashing. Personally to this day I’ve only had positive experiences with commenters on SAD, who have always been super kind, supportive and welcoming, but I know that sadly it happens pretty much everywhere on the internet. 

Remember that behind every story there’s always a real person with feelings, most likely a job, a family… and that they took hours from their free time writing that story for you and everyone else to enjoy—so if that story brought you happiness in any way, consider letting the author know, even if it’s a very short comment telling them just that: knowing that their story made you smile might put a smile on their face as well. 😉

Questions from bookishy:

What BTVS episode do you feel is an underutilized starting point for fic?

Before answering I feel the need to point out that I’ve been reading fanfic only since July 2022… so please keep in mind that my knowledge of the incredibly vast FF library for this show / pairing is quite limited. So if my answer leaves you with a “Gurl, I’ve read no less than 50 fics with that starting point” feeling… please bear with me, to this day I’ve only read one (1).

The episode in question is “Dead Things” and more specifically the infamous scene with the brutal beating that gets sweeped under the rug and treated as if it never happened, even with Spike showing up at Buffy’s BDay party the following episode all battered and bruised. I’m still baffled to this day by how they failed to properly address this scene, which has so much potential, imo. 

This particular thought has been inspired by “Undertow” written by Niamh. If you missed it, look it up, you won’t regret it. 😉

What are your go-to comfort fics in the Spuffy fandom?

I confess I don’t usually do the “re-read” thing… I’m more likely to have go-to comfort episodes, and I do have quite a lot of those, for a bunch of shows. 

Anyway, if I had to name a few fics that could work as comfort fics for me… just off the top of my head I’d say “Last Christmas” and “Ties to the World” by honeygirl51885, “What Willow Saw” by violettathepiratequeen, “Hands” by Chelle, “Christmas Without You” by Dusty and "Seeing You" by Grief Counseling—they’re not mentioned in a specific order. 

Most of them are recent readings tbh but there are at least three in this list that I read twice. So the concept applies. 😉

What non-Spuffy characters do you feel could use a little more fic love?

That’s a tough one. Once again, my answer might be affected by the fact that I don’t have an extensive knowledge of the gazillion fics that have been out there for decades… but out of my recent experience with writing her character for the first time, I’d say Tara. There was so much emotion and potential in her scene with Buffy at the end of “Dead Things”. I think she could’ve played a pivotal role as Buffy’s non-judgmental confidante with everyone else being so estranged from her. Hey, looks like I've found another underutilized starting point! Maybe?

Outside of the Scoobies I guess I’d enjoy seeing more stuff with Clem, he seems to be a nice demon-guy and he probably would make a good friend for Buffy and Dawn too, other than for Spike. 😊

Thank you everyone for making me feel at home here from the get-go.

Author of the Month for January 2023, bookishy:

How did you come to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

I’m old enough that I watched the first two seasons when it originally aired on the WB. I was immediately drawn in by the humor and the pop paranormal-ness of it all, and then became really impressed with the larger high-drama plotting, especially the “Angel turns evil” twist and Spike’s truce with Buffy.

Tragically, however, the next year I had something to do on Tuesday nights and couldn’t watch live anymore. Since these were the dark times before streaming, when I had to fight both my basketball-game-loving father and also the capricious nature of the VCR itself when it came to record things, I didn’t watch seasons three and four at all. (A decision that baffles me looking back, as it feels very well-adjusted of me to just delay media gratification like this!)

I didn’t start watching the show again until halfway through Season 5, when I was babysitting a kid who went to bed at eight, and caught “Crush” on TV, where Spike was of course not only no longer with Drusilla, he was chaining Buffy up and professing his love, which lit up the lobe of my brain I keep reserved for enemies-to-lovers media.

From that point I never missed another episode; I even got my first credit card the second I turned eighteen so I could order bootleg VHS tapes to catch up on the whole series off eBay.  

When and why did you decide to write fanfiction for the show?

The first time I watched the show, I stuck to lurking on message and spoiler boards, then drifted away from fandom after it ended in 2003. In 2016, I watched the show again in full as part of a project I was working on, and was surprised when the Spuffy bug re-bit hard. At this point, I had dipped my toe into writing for and engaging in discourse for other fandoms that had waxed and waned, so when I saw that this community was still thriving, I went for it—and remain very glad I did!

Not only have I made great, talented friends, the BTVS world remains the best sandbox to play in, as pretty much anything you want to do? There’s a way to make it work, and readers who will try it.

Also, at some point I had inhaled practically all Spuffy content on the internet, including that only accessible via Wayback Machine, and ended up in a "If you want more content, lady, you have to make it" situation.

Why do you love Spike and Buffy?

 Spike and Buffy are essentially all the romantic tropes I love combined into one package. There’s enemies-to-lovers, but also a few personal ones I like to call leading lady + hot, semi-reformed lieutenant and oh no, he/she’s an idiot and I love them and the couple who banters together, stays together.

 But even beyond that, their dynamic has so many interesting edges to explore, and I love the quicksilver shifts that can occur in even a single scene because they both are such bundles of complementary contradictions. There are no two characters that are more fun to write together in a room, which is why I think we all conspire to trap them together in rooms so often.

Which three fanfics that you’ve written are your favorite? Why are they your favorite?

Welll, Shot Through the Heart because it’s a multi-chapter fic that’s, uh, finished.

*coughs politely, avoids locking gazes with the elephant in the corner*

Unfavorable Odds because it began with such a wild premise and seemed counterintuitive to a lot of things that make readers excited about Spuffy fanfic in general. (“So, it’s extremely slow burn and also multiple Spikes and Buffies die, and I’m working in some stuff that traumatized me in the Buffy game for Xbox, circa 2001.”) The idea started with Elysian Fields’ “Big Bad” challenge—which made me start thinking about remodeling an unexpected character as a villain—but back then I was very good about not starting anything new when I had existing WIP. But the idea wouldn’t leave me alone for a whole year, and when EF’s next challenge was about Spuffy being “Trapped,” I decided that was the permission I needed.

My goal this year is to hit the completion mark on this, as it remains the most ambitious thing I’ve tackled, and I’m really excited about where it’s going.

Ex Magic, because it is a more serious premise for me and it’s always a challenge for me to settle into serious, angsty mode, especially when the subject of wanting to save a loved one from serious health threats often hits close to home. But this is another fic I am dedicated to finishing, and excited to see pay off.

What words of advice would you give other fans who write or want to write fanfic?

For me, the pleasure from writing fanfic is that it’s designed to be resistant to the pressures that can come from other types of writing. It’s really about enjoying the creative process and the engagement of other readers who already love these characters right along with you. Concepts that would be hard to do anywhere else are absolutely doable in fic.

With any writing endeavor, there’s always going to be a temptation to bring Old Writing Friends like self-doubt or imposter syndrome or perfectionism or competitiveness or regret to the table, but don’t let them crash the party.

Questions from VeroNyxK84:

As a writer, what was most challenging for you when you started and what is most challenging now?

When I started out, it was just working up the gumption to post and join the “official” fandom conversation via sharing fanworks. (There is a GIF out there of a businessman standing by a watercooler laughing by himself as he listens to a conversation happening between his coworkers eight-feet away, and this remains my biography in GIF form).


Now, it’s pushing on through the middle parts of fics, which is always the time when I regret all the fictional choices I’ve ever made and all the pins I set up so Future Bookishy could knock them down.

Have you ever struggled with “writer’s block” and what have you done to overcome it?

Hmm. Yes and no. I’ve never faced a blank page and not known what to write—part of my problem is that stories tend to unfurl in whole the second I start putting them together—but my brain will sometimes seize up in editor mode and it will be hard for me to do anything other than perseverate over a single sentence or a stretch of paragraphs for an hour. It can sometimes last days or even weeks, and the best solution I’ve found is just to delete whatever it is I’m getting stuck on and start fresh as it’ll kick me back into “writing” mode.

Do you have one or more favorite settings for the setting of your stories?

Looking at the work I’ve posted, it popped out at me that I really love trapping them in places after-hours! Malls, bars, carbon-copies of Sunnydale that have been turned into a death arena, etc. etc.

It’s fun to let them explore new worlds together.

--sandy_s, Dusty, Chelle on 01/08/23 09:52 am 12 Comments


This was fun! I really enjoy these author and commenter interviews. 

-- Tessa on 01/08/23 10:24 am

It makes me so happy that you discovered your Spuffy fic love via SAD, Vero! Our worlds crashed together at just the perfect time! Thank you, Instagram!

And, bookishy, this is so wonderfully true and you, as usual, articulated it perfectly:

 For me, the pleasure from writing fanfic is that it’s designed to be resistant to the pressures that can come from other types of writing. It’s really about enjoying the creative process and the engagement of other readers who already love these characters right along with you. Concepts that would be hard to do anywhere else are absolutely doable in fic.

There is such a joy and freedom and community to writing fic! It's good to remember that.

Reading these interviews is always so fun. Big thank you to Sandy for organizing it every month for all of us! heart

-- Dusty on 01/08/23 11:12 am

These are great! Congrats to Vero and bookishy again - well deserved!

-- scratchmeout on 01/08/23 12:14 pm

Awww I love these, congrats to you two, thank you for the fun interviews!!

-- violettathepiratequeen on 01/08/23 02:07 pm

I really like the dual questioners!  Can't resist this @VeroNyxK84

-- Slaymesoftly on 01/08/23 04:28 pm

Lovely insights into how you both got started in fandom!  Thanks for sharing!! 

-- honeygirl51885 on 01/08/23 05:50 pm

These were a great read!

Vero - I also had a bangel phase. It must be a rite of passage before we move on to the real deal. 

Bookishy - Ex Magic was the first fic I’ve read of yours! It was love at first read, so let me know what I need to bribe you with to finish it. 

-- VioletMoon on 01/08/23 11:32 pm

@Dusty - Finding SAD when I did has been a blessing. It helped through a difficult time and it'll always be special to me. 

@VioletMoon - You're probably right, but the best thing about it is that there's no going back! 

@Slaymesoftly - See? I told ya I've missed a ton of stuff. Thank you for the fic tip, it's already in my bookshelf! 😊

Thank you everyone and sorry for the lengthy answers. I'm always too wordy for my own good. 😂

-- VeroNyxK84 on 01/09/23 12:06 am

Hey, Vero, that wordiness made you commenter of the month! No apologies allowed! wink

-- Dusty on 01/09/23 08:13 am

Oh, you ladies slayed these questions! I'm so happy about this tradition, it's wonderful and such a lot of fun and beautiful community building. hug

-- MaggieLaFey on 01/09/23 09:47 am

Color me shocked, amazed, and pretty damned chuffed.  Thank you for the shout-out. I honestly never expected the response to Undertow.  I don't really even know what to say, because, if you read it, you know that I had a momentary pause about how to approach the prompt.  I stared at the mention, my mouth hanging open and complete amazement and disbelief coursing through my head.  

Sometimes, as authors we get really lucky and the words just seem to flow, like rivers, slowly, meandering and then there's the rapids, the jerky, shock filled ride that leaves you breathless.  I've been lucky enough to experience both.   

Thank you.  Just . . yeah.  Thank you.

-- Niamh on 01/09/23 08:47 pm

VeroNyxK84 - I always love hearing how people first came to the show, but international experiences are especially interesting. I totally agree that the fact that so many Italians fell in love with BTVS despite what you say was terrible treatment of it is certainly a testament to the awesomeness of the show. And I was gonna quote part of your reason for why Spuffy is so great, but realized I love it all! You hit on all the important things about them and why they are so special, individually and together.

Bookishy - "so I could order bootleg VHS tapes to catch up on the whole series off eBay" - wow, what a time! This almost makes me glad I didn't watch when first on because I'm sure I would have frustratingly missed some of it and not had an easy way to catch up. And "oh no, he/she’s an idiot and I love them" is a truly fantastic niche trope and way of describing them, lol! And this can definitely go both ways with Spuffy, depending on the moment.

-- bruskiboo on 01/10/23 11:56 am