Sunnydale After Dark
Scoobies of the Month Interviews!

Hi, y'all! Here are the Scoobies of the Month interviews for March 2023! Hope you enjoy reading them...

Commenter of the Month for March 2023, Dusty:

How did you come to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Through a podcast I listened to a long time ago! The podcasters were actually studying and dissecting Outlander, which I loved fervently. They were starting a new podcast about Buffy and I had enjoyed their analysis and trusted their judgment on what was good so much that I hopped over and started watching the show and listening to their episodes. Very quickly I couldn’t wait a whole week to watch along with them and blasted through Buffy. This was around 2015, so I was pretty late to the Buffy party.

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

At some point, I discovered that there were canonical comics continuing the series! Hallelujah! I borrowed those from my library and diligently read them up til season 11, which was current at the time. S11 had so much Spuffy and I just adored the thought of them holed up in that camp together, going through something dark trying but being a solid COUPLE. I used to write fanfiction for another show (The Pretender) and so I knew what it was and thought “oh I bet people have written all sorts of stories in this fun setting! I mean, he’s BITING her!! How thrilling!” It brought me into the world, but it turned out, I couldn’t find the story I was looking for! So I worked up my nerve and began writing what I envisioned myself. So really, I started reading and writing almost simultaneously because of that. 

Why do you love Spike and Buffy?

Oh boy. Well. Because they are formidable. I am a big believer that the most satisfying relationships are ones in which people really contend with each other and challenge each other to be better. It’s that old saying about throwing two rocks in a bag and they will scrape and knock against each other until they both come out polished and shining. Is that a saying? Pressure turns coal into diamonds? Something like that! Metaphorically! I just love how they challenge each other and they’re so honest and they don’t hold back because they’re strong enough to do that. They’re hilarious but also passionate. And something about them not getting a real coupley run on the show makes it all the more satisfying to read it in fic.

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

Just do it! You may feel your six words of encouragement are nothing or not good enough to bother sharing, but those six words actually mean a lot. As an author, I sometimes get comments apologizing for the “ramble” but that’s silly, too! Every word from 1-100 (or 1000, ahem GetItDone) means a ton to authors and comments are like little thank yous for writing. Sometimes just leaving a hilarious GIF will brighten someone’s day. It really doesn’t take much. And if a line or a word they used really stood out to you, share that! Authors love knowing what resonated. 

From honeygirl51885:

Did you start commenting on stories as soon as you entered the world of fanfic, or were you a lurker to start?  If a lurker, what made you write your first comment?

I did lurk a little at first! But not for very long because I have THOUGHTS to share! So I can’t remember exactly what drove me to make those first few comments, but I remember they were on Sigyn’s stories, so it was probably that I felt some sort of visceral feeling (since she’s so good at that!) from whatever she was writing at the time. It’s usually a powerful emotion or beautiful writing that inspires me to really ramble at an author and share my thoughts!

As someone who gives and gets comments, what is your favorite type of comment to write (i.e. general praise for the story, listing favorite lines, starting up conversations with the author, etc.)?

I feel like I try to do a little bit of both! If a line jumps out at me as being particularly amazing, I do tend to quote that and tell the author how much I loved it. I started doing that when I realized how much I enjoyed seeing what lines my own readers were responding to. It is fun to ask the author questions, but also I don’t want the story spoiled so I feel like I don’t do that as much. I just try to share my enthusiasm for whatever comes next, whatever that may be. And I try not to comment with or impose my vision of what I THINK should come next so that the author doesn’t feel pressure or guilt when they know it’s not gonna go that way.

Has a comment ever made you make changes to your story?

Ha. Ohhhh, you asked the wrong author this question… or maybe just the right one! ;)

In minor ways, yes! For example, in The Fairytale I had Dawn playing the role of Rapunzel (long, silly explanation goes here) and a brilliant commenter called her Radawnzel and I thought that was hilarious and had the characters do that from then on out. Other commenters joked so much about wanting a Spuffel threesome fic that I eventually just wrote Embers because of it! So I do listen and get infected by commenter ideas.

It’s when the comments are negative that it gets tricky. Only you as the author know where the story is truly going, so you have to consider that when comments are inadvertently (or not inadvertently) pressuring you down another path. Be strong! I know personally I get a really defiant “dig my heels in” kind of feeling when my choices are being questioned. I get the urge to prove myself and that’s not always good because I know I’ve overcorrected, too. Sometimes I’ll want the readers to have a certain reaction like “be mad at Spike! He’s doing something wrong here!” and when it feels like everyone’s okay with it or forgiving him too easily because we love him so much, I will just want to push things further until they’re in the emotional place I want them to be. Which is maybe not always pure to the story or what should happen! But it’s hard not to do.

So while I don’t think I’ve ever made major changes because of comments on my stories, I have felt the pressure of them and their expectations. I have worried that I’ll disappoint people. And I think the worst thing that ever comes of that is it makes me sometimes rush through what I know I want to do (which then doesn’t do the moment justice) because I’m just tired of fielding backlash and am ready to move onto something else that’s more fun. Luckily, these instances are definitely the exception and this community is so supportive overall. I cannot complain. I only share the negative experience to illustrate how powerful a comment can be and how those little criticisms can slither into authors’ brains and grow big trees of doubt. Um. Just go with the mixed metaphor there and remember to be kind with your comments. That’s all I’m trying to say!

Author of the Month for March 2023, honeygirl51885:

How did you come to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

I discovered Buffy while the end of season five was airing. They were showing reruns on another station and my mom and I binged seasons 1-5 that summer. I then tuned in for seasons six and seven as they aired. I became obsessed that summer in between seasons five and six. I read episode recaps and info. on BuffyGuide so I’d be completely prepared for anything that could possibly happen when season six aired. That’s also when I discovered the world of fanfiction. 

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

I started writing general fiction when I was in fourth grade and really got into writing when I was in seventh grade. Buffy was the first show that I read and wrote fanfiction for.

I started writing during season seven because I was so desperate for some Spuffy togetherness that just wasn’t happening on air. I was a senior in high school at that time and very much an introvert (haha, I still am). I never posted any of my work, but I still have the two stories that I started writing back then. They are actually handwritten on notebook paper. I reread them when I came back into the fandom during the pandemic and boy oh boy were they some schmoopy, sweep you off your feet romances. I’m still very much into the romance, but I like to think that I’ve come a long way from those super sappy days.

When the closures happened, I revisited the fandom like so many people did and I fell in love with BtVS and Spuffy all over again. I did most of my reading on and then I discovered Elysian Fields and joined Sunnydale After Dark when it kicked off. I was always a lurker, even back in the day. Then finally on March 9, 2021, I left my first comment. I started coming out of my shell and soon the writing muse was pounding on my door.

I hadn’t written any fiction or poetry since I was an undergrad in college, so it was very daunting to come back to this style. I had tons of ideas rattling around in my head and that’s where they stayed for months because I was positively terrified that I wouldn’t be able to write fiction again. When I just couldn’t contain my ideas any longer, I sat down one day in May 2021, and started writing. It was literally like opening the flood gates. The words just poured out of me and it was such an incredible high. I haven’t stopped writing since.

Why do you love Spike and Buffy?

Watching the first five seasons on fast-forward and with the added insight of knowing Angel left and Spike was there to stay, I saw the Bangel relationship develop and it just didn’t do anything for me. Plus, Evil!Angelus and Poor-Me!Angel were total turn offs.

When Spike came to town and stayed permanently, I fell in love. His character was just so original, witty, and…COOL! I was 16 at the time and totally down with the bad boy persona. Who am I kidding, I still am, but only if he has bleached blond hair and happens to be a vampire.

Spike is my favorite character, apart from Buffy, and I love his development throughout the series. I was on the edge of my seat when the season six finale aired and he got his soul, and I love the fact that he got it for Buffy of his own volition. That being said, I don’t believe Spike needed his soul to love Buffy. He is truly a unique vampire in this verse and that makes him such an interesting character to read and write stories for.

I truly love the character of Buffy. She is strong and compassionate and works her ass off for absolutely no reward other than knowing that she saved the world…a lot. She is the very definition of selfless and I think that is an amazing character trait to have. I also love that she does not wallow or complain—ever. She’s had more than her fair share of hardships in her life, but she takes them all in stride and keeps fighting the good fight.

In the end, I truly believe Spike and Buffy are a perfect match and they belong together. 

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

Oh boy. This is so hard because I love all of my stories. I know that sounds conceited, but I think all writers love their work, otherwise we wouldn’t spend the time on it. But since I have to choose three, here goes.

  • Come Back to Me – This was the very first thing I started writing on that day back in May 2021, although I didn’t really get into it and start posting it until October of that year. When I originally outlined it, I was trying for a story with about twenty chapters and hoping to hit 75,000 words. This ended up being an epic with 175,000 words. It’s the longest thing that I’ve ever written and I posted it weekly without interruption until it was complete at thirty-two chapters. I was so proud of myself when I finished this piece and it holds tremendous sentimental value for me.
  • From Here to Eternity – This was a birthday gift fic for the lovely violettathepiratequeen. It’s an angsty AU fic that I find myself revisiting anytime I need to get into that mindset. It stemmed from the idea of Spike and Buffy living hundreds of years alone in the world and then finding each other. I fell into such a trance when writing this piece and I slip back into it anytime I reread it.
  • Ties to the World – This is another angsty story and one that I actually didn’t like at first. I came up with this idea that I liked well enough for a Road Trip Challenge. When I started writing this story though, it felt like a very sluggish process (I think because there isn’t a lot of dialogue in it until the end) and I just wanted it to be done. It came together, but I didn’t feel a real connection to it like I normally do when I’m writing my stories. In fact, when I sent it to my beta, I told her, “Here it is. I like it, but I don’t love it.” She came back telling me how much she enjoyed it and I thought, “Ok, I’m glad it’s working.” When I posted it, I got so many comments from people telling me they loved the piece and wanted a sequel for it. I actually had to step back and say, “Really?” I went back and read it again, this time with the comments fresh in my mind, and I fell in love with it too. 

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

I know it’s been said before, but that’s because it’s true. Just do it!

I know firsthand how terrifying it can be to start writing, but if you take the step, you unlock all these doors to so many wonderful worlds. I write because I constantly have ideas buzzing around in my brain, but the benefits I get from writing are tenfold. I find it to be a form of stress release and that’s so important to have in your life. It also provides me with an emotional release that at times I really need. We all go through reading phases where we’re craving something light and fluffy, or dramatic and angsty. Writing is the same way. I find my stories develop based on my current mindset and that can be very cathartic. And finally, it allows me to connect with others who share my interests and passions. Yep, I’m talking about all you Spuffy shippers!

Questions from Dusty:

Which character is the hardest for you to write? Which one is the easiest?

When I read this question Xander and Willow were the first to pop into my head as the hardest to write. Then I thought about it some more and, yeah, I think I’m sticking with them. I find that all of the characters have their easy moments to write and their difficult moments, it just depends on what you’re having them do. But, I think Xander and Willow are the most difficult for me because I don’t include them a lot in my stories, so their voices are harder to find.

I find Spike to be the easiest to write and I often write from his POV. I think it’s because of the accent. I love a good accent and I love hearing his voice in my head. I also really like to swear and Spike is more likely to do that than Buffy, haha! I write a lot of sex scenes as well, and Spike is definitely the easier POV to write because he’s more comfortable with the sex talk.

What would you say to other authors when they're feeling discouraged from lack of feedback or interaction with their story?

I write first and foremost for me. I either have an idea bubbling inside my brain that I need to get out, or some challenge was issued and I HAVE to complete it. Obviously, we all post our stories because we want people to read and enjoy them, and the best way to know that that is happening is through likes and comments. But, at the end of the day if I’m happy with what I wrote and I want to read it, then that is all that matters to me. I have stories that I really love that haven’t gotten much attention. It is a bit sad, because you want all your stories to get the love, but it’s going to happen. You can’t get bogged down by that aspect of writing and posting, because it will most definitely affect your desire to write.

I know that’s easier said than done, but you can’t control how people will respond to your work. You can control how you feel about it though. And if you love it, then nothing else matters and you’ll keep wanting to write more.

Do you plan your stories out in detail, just wing it, or something in between?

I’ve done both, but I pretty much fall right in the middle. Got Your Six had an incredibly detailed outline, complete with some dialogue and pre-written scenes. It’s one that got tabled until later, and then when I decided I was finally going to write it, it was really hard to get into a groove. My plan was so detailed that I felt like I knew everything that happened and there were no surprises left to write. It took a while to get into the writing process with that one, but once I did the detailed plan was nice because I knew exactly what I had to write for each chapter and used it like a checklist.

I’ve also just sat down and written a story that popped into my head with absolutely no plan whatsoever; Off the Page and One Good Day are examples of that. For the most part, when I get an idea, I create a new Word doc and jot down some notes. I’ll add ideas and dialogue to it when inspiration strikes and then just let my muse take me wherever it decides to go for that story.

--sandy_s, Dusty, Chelle on 03/05/23 12:21 pm 15 Comments

Loved these interviews, thank you ladies for sharing!!

@Dusty: I love all you said about encouraging and not-so-encouraging comments. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience with us. But can I also add that your “be mad at Spike! He’s doing something wrong here!” urge truly reminded me of the show's authors in s6... lmao. I really get that!! 100%, for real.

@Honeygirl: I really appreciated more than anything your words on writing for yourself and cherishing your own stories beyond any feedback you do or don't receive. Aaahh it's so hard but you're so right. hug

-- MaggieLeFay on 03/05/23 01:36 pm

I enjoy these interviews so much, there's always something to learn seeing the same universe (fanfic world in this case) through someone else's experience! 
Many things you both said definitely resonate with me, too. ❤

@honeygirl: I remember "Ties To The World" like I read it yesterday, it's a masterpiece! I'm glad that all the great feedback made you fall in love with it too, what's there not to love? And I have "Come Back to Me" in my bookshelf... sooner or later I'll get to it!

There are too many talented people here, I can't keep up! 😜 

-- VeroNyxK84 on 03/05/23 02:27 pm

I totally relate to reading and lurking until you have a visceral reaction and you have to comment... and that's what happened when I read @Dusty's fic, Safe. The thoughts just started pouring out! And they never stopped.... thousands and thousands of words later, and I just can't stop reacting! (And swearing a lot! But swearing with LOVE!!



-- GetItDone on 03/05/23 05:14 pm

Great interviews! And as a new author I really connect to what you’ve both said about comments, and how they can be so discouraging. What happened last year to the Fairytale must have been heartbreaking in a way. And Honeygirl I was so happy to join you on your “Got your six” ride rooting a long very Thursday waiting for the new chapter. It was such a fun way to connect to you as an author. And I LOVE Ties to the world, I think I was one of the sequel askers haha. As I usually do when I read your stories. 

Thanks so much for these great answers. It’s always so much fun to find out how people came to the fandom. 

-- Teuntje on 03/05/23 05:59 pm

Oh and I didn’t mean to say that comments on my story are discouraging not at all, I meant in general. 

-- Teuntje on 03/05/23 05:59 pm

I love these interviews. So fun to see how people came to Spuffy, and I like to see the questions people come up with for each other.

-- Lady Emma on 03/05/23 06:40 pm

@maggie you're not wrong at all! I've always been kind of sympathetic to the show writers in that way! I just can't stand for my beloved Buffy to be deemed a bitch when she holds Spike to a standard or something. He gets better because he rises to the challenge again and again. So she's gotta challenge him!

-- Dusty on 03/05/23 07:24 pm

"I write a lot of sex scenes as well, and Spike is definitely the easier POV to write because he’s more comfortable with the sex talk."

This is so funny, honey!! I find Buffy POV much easier for sex scenes for exactly the reason you find Spike easier. 

Thanks for sharing all your thoughts! I love what you said about writing for yourself first and foremost. Ab. So. Lutely.

-- Dusty on 03/05/23 07:29 pm

Amazing interviews! Dusty, the KINDNESS and awareness of the author in your comments has always blown me away, and honeygirl, I love your reasons for loving Buffy and Spike so damn MUCH! I adore you both and was so happy to read these from you!

-- violettathepiratequeen on 03/05/23 07:30 pm

@Teuntje, Fairytale was a weird and difficult situation. Heartbreaking in ways for sure. But I want to be clear that I wasn't just referring to that! Backlash can be big and public but sometimes it's not so obvious and just as discouraging. I'm sure every author has their struggles and it speaks to our love for these characters and this world the we truck along anyway. 

-- Dusty on 03/05/23 07:32 pm

Aw, @Violetta!!! I'm so happy you feel that way. I try! heart

-- Dusty on 03/05/23 07:34 pm

Ahh, I’m late to the party as usual!  Thanks so much for all the lovely comments though.

@Maggie - I’m so glad you liked what I said.  It’s nice getting comments and I do love getting the notifications of a new comment, but it’s most important to make sure your happy with your work.

Thank you so much @VeroNyxK84! ❤️ I absolutely adored your comment on that fic (I adore all of your comments)! 

@Teuntje - Yes!  I loved your comments on GYS and that was so much fun getting to connect with you each week.  Yep, you were one of the TTtW sequel requesters, lol!  And I do have a sequel planned for that, got a title and a plot and everything.  Now, I just need the time.  My March projects are being tabled for drabble writing and reading!

LOL @Dusty, that is too funny!  We all have comfort zones. blush And that made me sad that you’ve gotten negative comments or have felt pressured into changing things in your story.  That’s good that you hold to your plan though!

Thank you my sweet @violetta! airkiss

-- honeygirl51885 on 03/05/23 09:12 pm

I love these interviews so much and learning about my favorite authors. I adore you both - I mean I'm legally married (in fandom) to one of Dusty's fics so you know, it counts.

I was introduced to Honey's work with Got Your Six which I enthusiastically read and have enjoyed the yummy smutty oneshots. Come Back to Me is on my read immediately list to tackle. I can't wait to read what you come up with for the drabbles!

Congrats to you both :)

-- scratchmeout on 03/06/23 11:53 am

More great interviews! I always love learning more about our peeps and all the different ways people come to BTVS and fic.

@Dusty, like Maggie said, your sharing reminded me of the writers' views during season 6. And honestly it makes me feel a little more empathetic toward them. It has always been hard for me to understand how in getting those reactions to Spike they wouldn't better understand how what they did contributed to that and possibly shift to embrace this different idea of Spike. But you're right - as creators, our own intentions don't always come through, and also audiences can be different from us and interpret things differently than how we would. I have a background in dance and one of my great fails was choreographing a dance where I was trying really hard to be funny - like actually studied funny dances, picked them apart, and tried to utilize similar elements. And the end result was not funny at all! No one laughed! Now that was just simply a fail but also a good reminder that the intention of artists does not always equal the takeaway of audiences, and that's okay. I just hope writers never feel too pressured to cater to the interpretations of readers - a writer should feel free to make the story as they want.

@honeygirl, I totally agree - I definitely write stories first and foremost for myself and hope that others do as well. I'll reread my stories plenty, cuz usually the reason I wrote them was because it was a story I wanted to read and it wasn't written yet! I'm really glad you've found this joy in writing again and I hope all our writers are able to feel accomplishment in just writing at all, even if it doesn't always lead to the feedback you hope for. (Though we commenters can also work more on making all our writers feel loved.)

-- bruskiboo on 03/06/23 09:31 pm

Aww, thanks @scratchmeout!  I loved getting your comments on GYS and I’m so glad you’ve liked the one shots. heart I’m definitely digging your rom/com right now!

@bruskiboo - I agree.  I often go back to my stories in order to get in a certain mindset, or if I’m feeling nostalgic for a certain scene.  When I get a comment on an older story I’ll often go back to it and do a little reread so everything is fresh in my head for the reply.

-- honeygirl51885 on 03/09/23 03:12 pm