Sunnydale After Dark

We have new Scoobies of the Month Interviews! :o) Hope you enjoy them! 

Commenter of the Month for September 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 became obsessed! I read episode recaps and info. on BuffyGuide, so I’d be completely prepared for anything that could possibly happen when season six aired, but of course I wasn’t. I was flipping out when Spuffy had their kiss at the end of OMWF. Luckily, I recorded the episodes (even back in VHS days!), so I could watch it again and again.

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

I started reading fanfiction for BtVS during the summer I binged the series, so that would be 2001. Even though I was watching the show non-stop, I couldn’t get enough and started searching for more. I don’t really remember what all I read back then, since it was twenty plus years ago, but I do remember being on a Spuffy site called the Bloody Awful Sandbox. That and were my go to for stories.

When I came back to the show during the pandemic, I ventured onto again because that was familiar to me. I then found Elysian Fields and that opened up a whole new world to just Spuffy fic. When SAD launched, I immediately joined, knowing it would be another lovely Spuffy-only haven.

Why do you love Spike and Buffy?

When I first started watching Buffy, there were already five seasons in existence and Angel had his own show. I knew Bangel wasn’t end game, so I never really got invested in that ship at all. When Spike and Dru came to town, I fell in love with them. I just adore how he loves with his whole heart, even as a soulless demon.

I also knew that he had rejoined the cast as a permanent character in S4 (well, as permanent as you can be on Buffy). That made me really focus on him and I couldn’t get enough, especially when he and Buffy had scenes together. Even when they’re trying to kill each other, they’re mesmerizing.

Buffy is my favorite character on the show. She has her flaws and there are definitely times where you want to scream at your TV when she makes silly decisions, but she’s human and she’s trying her best. You can see that in every episode and SMG is able to give her such strength and vulnerability in her portrayal. You never have to wonder if Buffy is just phoning it in, because she gives 110% every day.

Spike is the character that really makes the show stand out for me. He has some of the best lines in the series and JM took that character above and beyond I think what anyone had imagined for him. I seriously could not picture anyone else standing beneath Buffy’s tree smoking a cigarette and think it was sweet rather than insanely creepy!

When Buffy and Spike are together, that is just TV gold for me. Sometimes on re-watches, I’ll skip through scenes just to get to them. I really appreciate how much these two have been through in the series and I think their journey together is one of the best relationship arcs I’ve seen. I remember watching S7 when it aired and was just waiting for Spuffy to get together, then being disappointed when they didn’t even get a kiss. Now, being a lot older, I truly love S7 and think that it was the healthiest and best relationship either of them had ever had, hands down. And that’s why I love post-series fanfic. I want to see that relationship grow into what we all know it could have been if we had more seasons.

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

I was a lurker for the longest time. I never left comments back in the day, and when I returned to fandom, I didn’t start commenting until March 9, 2021. I had read some truly amazing stories, but I had just read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Twinkles, which is a smutty Spuffy poem with art. It was so amazing, I just had to let the author know. It was a super short note (Fun, festive, and beautiful!!), but that began my obsession with commenting. I now comment on every chapter of a story I read, even if the authors are no longer in fandom.

So, my advice would be just to break out of your shell and leave some love for the amazing authors whose stories we get to read…for free!  It really doesn’t matter how long your comments are, even getting a little emoji is enough to let them know that you like their work and want to see more.

From ashcrashed:

Is there a genre you enjoy reading, but wouldn’t necessarily want to write?

I’d say the historical time travel genre is one that I absolutely love reading, but I find it very intimidating to write. Now that I’ve said that, I do have a time travel piece that I’ve been sitting on for over two years, for that very reason. I do a fair amount of research when I’m writing my fics to make sure things are as accurate as possible, and with historical time travel that would be lots of research and I just haven’t had time for that. But, I do love reading Victorian William stories!

What draws you to a particular story?

If I’m being honest, the first thing I look at is the rating. I mostly go for NC-17 stories because I love my romance to eventually lead somewhere physical. But, that’s not saying that I haven’t read lots of lower rated stories that I love.

I’d say it really depends on my mood. I love a good baby/kid fic, historical time travel is always delightful as I said above, I thoroughly enjoy some AH Spuffy, post-series is definitely a favorite, I’m always looking for romance with a bit of angst lurking around, oh and I definitely need that HEA tag. I have so many stories on my bookshelf and the only common thread among them is that they’re all Spuffy!

Author of the Month for September 2023, ashcrashed

How did you come to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer? 

Initially, I watched a few episodes of S1 when it first aired. I wasn't fully invested, mostly because I was only 10 years old, but I liked the show and thought Buffy was so cool. She had the flyest outfits and was funny, and that was enough for me. I missed a good chunk of s2, but I caught a few episodes here and there. I vividly remember watching School Hard and liking Spike and Drusilla. And also Kendra’s appearance. I think her death was the first time I’d ever really experienced a character’s death on a TV show (which, being 11 at the time, is understandable). But in the midst of that was the Spike and Buffy team-up in the finale, which was fun, even though I didn’t expect it at all, and was totally confused about how the hell it happened. 

I skipped around s3 too, seeing more of the back half of the season, and by the time I managed to catch up (either on summer re-airings or syndication), s4 was well underway. I didn’t start to regularly keep up with the weekly eps until S5, but thanks to FX’s consistent BtVS blocks, not to mention the Best of Buffy Thanksgiving marathons, I was locked in and keeping up regularly. It’s safe to say I grew up with the show, which is wild to think about. It was with me through my formative years, and something I felt like was a major part of my childhood, and it’s always held a special place in my heart because of that. I also gravitate more to the latter seasons of the series than the high school years. BtVS as a whole is a great show, and I do enjoy the early seasons, but I was a bit older and able to really follow the storylines with the later ones. I graduated high school the year after Buffy ended (same year AtS finished), and I pretty much left both shows behind.

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

During the pandemic I did an actual BtVS rewatch, my first since the show went off the air. Even with the marathons and syndication airings, I knew of and seen all the episodes but wanted to experience the seasons in a seamless watch, now as an adult. My thoughts on the show as a whole haven’t changed drastically, I just gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for the things I liked, and a more seasoned way to express my thoughts and critiques. 

It’s fascinating, returning to things you loved as a kid as an older person and seeing if it still hits the same. In some ways, it did. In others, not so much. Which is what I expected.  I've always been a writer, and my stories were original character romancelandia-type stuff.  I never really engaged with fanfic in general until a few years ago, though not for BtVS.  I’d always been on the periphery of the Buffy fandom. The interactions I’d had online in various spaces over the years weren’t positive, and I figured it was best to stay within my bubble of real life friends who enjoyed the show. I hadn’t read any Buffy fanfiction until 2020, only doing so after starting the spuffygifs blog on tumblr. 

Making gifs and edits and seeing how incredibly active the fandom still was, was pretty cool. BtVS has always been popular on tumblr, but the early days were a mess. Spike and Spuffy fans were in the trenches, and it was the same old fights you’d see anywhere Buffy fans gathered online, but things had quieted down considerably. I hadn’t expected the blog to take off, or for people to be so chill and enthusiastic, but it was nice, creating that space and getting to appreciate the show and ship in a different way. I’d see fic rec lists all the time, and decided to dive in and I was blown away at just how much there was, and that people were still writing and sharing new stories. Which is amazing, especially for an older show. 

I hadn’t been writing, fanfic or otherwise, feeling a bit blah and uninspired, but going through years of stories was like a jolt. I wanted to challenge myself, to write anything, wanting to feel that excitement again about creating things with zero pressure, get back to writing just for fun and non-work reasons, and why not, for two of my all-time favorite characters? It wasn’t about satisfying a particular need to see a certain plot, at least not initially. It was more like ‘I want to do this, to see if I can do it’. So I pushed past feeling blah and dove right into writing my first fic.

Why do you love Spike and Buffy? 

I can’t remember for sure, but I don’t think I shipped them from the start. I think I just enjoyed the antics of their dynamic and the bickering between them and never thought anything of it, until 'Out of My Mind' happened (watching that live was an experience, talk about shook!). I don’t think I was for sure like ‘yeah, this is the one for me’ until 'Intervention' with the Buffybot fake-out and kiss because what a game-changing moment. And that’s the power of Spike and Buffy (and good writing, thank you Jane Espenson) because having that kind of axis-shifting honesty after an entire episode of him gettin’ busy with a Bot is wild, but they’re just that good.

They’re extremely compelling characters. It says something about just how fascinating and full-bodied they both are, that I can return to BTVS years later after putting it all aside and still love them both. And I do, separately but of course, together. I’m drawn to complex and multi-faceted characters, and while the show isn’t short on them at all, Buffy and Spike are, to me, the standouts. They are flawed and interesting and just fun. I liked them both from their very first scenes, and even when I’ve disagreed with their choices or cringed at their decisions, they’re still characters I enjoy and want to watch.

Their individual arcs are so rich and interesting. They’re both, at their respective cores, characters who feel deeply, who think too hard, and who love fiercely. They’ve been hurt, and they hurt each other. That they come out on the other side of the messiness and violence and self-hate and they’re able to grow, not for one another but because of each other, is why they’re so damn good together. 

‘The Second Love’ stories just speak to me. The idea of not being the ‘first love’, of coming into something a little bruised and jaded, and still finding a connection. You see their whole journey, from enemies to reluctant allies, to lovers, and not-quite exes, and the in-between and after. It’s not neat, nor nice, but it is honest. 

And beyond the seriousness and drama of their relationship, they’re also so deeply unserious about one another. There’s a level of comedy and antics that I appreciate about their relationship. ('embarrassing freak couple' is one of the funniest and accurate script notes to describe their relationship). They get drunk together. They crack jokes. They roast each other, they bicker, they know the other’s bullshit and call it out. They fight a lot, with each other and also fight well together. 

They’re a team, and they understand each other. And it isn’t instant or easy, but earned through their respective solo journeys and the progression of their relationship. Because there’s something so interesting and compelling about characters seeing the ugliness and vulnerability in someone else and growing to forgive and accept those parts of themselves, and loving it and one another.

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

I am totally choosing fics besides Swipe Right because it’s my first one and a consistent, expected favorite and I gotta give the others some love.

“Bloom” has been a surprising recent favorite. I say ‘surprising’ because it bothered the hell out of me for so long, for no reason other than it took forever for me to hammer out the direction I wanted to take it. I knew I didn’t want to do a full season rewrite (that is far too much commitment), but worried about the story either meandering or feeling incomplete. When I finally stopped stressing over the plot, and let it write itself out, it became what it is now, and ultimately it ended right where it should have, all along. I think I was even surprised at how sweet and romantic it is, because I feel like straight-forward romances are a challenge for me, sometimes. But I’m really proud of myself, and it. 

“Big Night Out” is just fun and a little ridiculous (as all season 4 era fics should be). It’s one of my favorite seasons to write in, because the possibilities are endless. Spike and Buffy hate each other, but there’s enough canon chaos that brings them into each other’s orbit, that their animosity can easily shift into something else, and BNO totally takes advantage of that ‘what if’. Plus I love adding in the Scoobies wherever I can . And I got to write not only Buffy and Spike trapped in a phone booth and being too damn close, but also Buffy riding with Spike on a stolen motorcycle and that’s always a good time.

“Stars for Wars Like Ours” because I love post-series reunion fics. And I like the idea of the issue between them not only being the stretch of time but also physical distance, with both Buffy and Spike moving beyond Sunnydale, growing while they’re apart, and living their own lives for a bit, and how to make their feelings work in each other’s lives again. It was fun, getting to do my own world building, too. I have a sequel in the works, with an idea that I’ve been mulling over since I returned to the show and I’m excited to finally be working on it. Plus, Sandra Cisneros’ poetry is so gorgeous and the poem the title is based on is so angsty and romantic and very fitting for Spuffy.

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

Write what you want to read. It seems simple enough, but I think it’s easy to get intimidated by the legacy of the fandom and the sheer number of fics already present that starting out can feel like ‘why bother’? . And sure, there might be something somewhere written by someone else with a similar idea, but it’s not your story. So write yours. Don’t feel like you need to emulate a certain style, or follow a particular trend. If you’re a 10-chapter fic writer, who struggles with consistent weekly updates (I’m calling myself out right here)  write your ten parts at a workable pace, and make them your best. I can guarantee someone out there is enjoying what you’re putting out, and is so appreciative.

From honeygirl51885:

Where do most of your ideas for stories come from? 

It really depends. But if I can make something into a one-shot or two part fic, I will absolutely take that route. It’s low commitment and I’m forced to finish it. Otherwise, I tend to take advantage of the challenges or events, because they’re a great way to kickstart the brainstorming. And then other times, I’m listening to a song or reading something and a line will stick out and I’m like, huh. That has the vibes for a good story idea. And I’ll make bullet notes that eventually morph into a plot.  Bloom was inspired by a JM quote. Unintended (You Could Be), Falling, Nights Like This, Just to Keep You (Satisfied), they’re all song-inspired, either lyrics or titles. The Longest Day came about because of SAD’s drabble event, which allowed me to try something new because I’d never written drabbles before. Swipe Right is based on a movie. I’m never worried about an idea being overdone or anything like that, because my writing style is my own.

Do you ever get stuck writing a story (either writer’s block or characters aren’t doing what you want them to)? If so, how do you get yourself back on track? 

Definitely. Music helps though. I write linearly, despite all efforts to attempt hopping around from scene to scene. And if one piece isn’t working out, I stop completely, which can be frustrating. So I take a step back from my work, take a break, then come back and re-read what I have. 

Clearing my mind and literally leaving the writing alone for a few hours or days works well. If it’s a character issue, I ask myself why am I forcing it one way when the plot obviously wants another? Usually, if it’s not working out the way I intended, it’s because I need to shift gears. I outline a lot. Me and bullet points are besties, which can be very helpful in organizing my thoughts, but it also means me trying to stick to the bullet points and making sure I hit every beat, which can be why I’m frustrated, because the story is calling for a different direction. I’ve been learning to be more flexible, to appreciate the art of changing my mind and just letting the writing do what it does. I try not to plan so far out that I don’t leave myself room for growth, because being too rigid right out the gate is usually what gets me stuck in the first place.

Do you have a favorite and least favorite genre to write? 

Favorite, is probably angst or dramedy. I think there’s a lot of potential with both and they’re malleable enough that I don’t feel the need to stick within particular parameters. Like angst can be romantic, and dramedy can have heartwarming moments. I would love to do a BTVS-style dark horror comedy like “You’re Next” or “Ready or Not”. Least favorite, maybe fluffy? Like intentional ‘this is going to be a full fluff-fest’. I have to be unintentionally sweet, like caught off guard in a sneak attack, because otherwise when it’s on purpose it feels too…saccharine. But I think that’s just me, overthinking my work like always. 

--Dusty, Chelle, Getitdone on 09/13/23 04:56 am 8 Comments


Honeygirl, it's amazing to me that you lurked for so long and didn't comment because I truly think of you as such a standout commenter! That natural gift inside of you was dormant for so long! And I so relate to your love for Buffy as a character. She's my favorite, too.

Ashcrashed. I'm sorry, wait. What. YOU are the Spuffygifs Tumblr account?!? My favorite Tumblr account?!?!? I'm dying right now. THANK YOU for all your gorgeous gifs. And I'm sorry this factoid completely distracted me from other things you said like my excitement over a possible sequel to Stars!! I adored that one! And Swipe is still on my bookshelf. I WILL be coming for it...

And beyond the seriousness and drama of their relationship, they’re also so deeply unserious about one another. There’s a level of comedy and antics that I appreciate about their relationship. ('embarrassing freak couple' is one of the funniest and accurate script notes to describe their relationship). They get drunk together. They crack jokes. They roast each other, they bicker, they know the other’s bullshit and call it out. They fight a lot, with each other and also fight well together. 

And big yes to ALL that.

-- Dusty on 09/15/23 10:20 am

Thank you for these interviews, they were a joy to read! It's always so interesting to hear these "Buffy fan origin stories", get some insights into people's creative processes and hear their reasons for loving Buffy and Spike. And because you're all authors it's all worded so well too! Honeygirl51885, I am totally in awe of your commenting goals. I also started out as a 100% lurker and am trying to do better now, but I'm nowhere near to achieving what you are doing commenting-wise! And ashcrashed, my first response was the same as Dusty's: so YOU're the person behind spuffygifs on tumblr? That's awesome, many thanks for all the giffy goodness! And if by "edits" you mean that you also make or have made fanvids, I'd be really interested in seeing them! (But maybe that's not what you meant, I always get confused by this term.) In any case, it's clear you're a multi-talented person.

-- Double Dutchess on 09/15/23 04:37 pm

Ahhh I'm really so so happy that you both won this month, because you are WAAAY up there on my list of favorite authors and commenters-- both categories for both of you!

Honeygirl this really should come as no surprise to me but OH MY GOODNESS the way you describe why you love Buffy and Spike so much. I was reading your answers just crying and nodding my head vigorously, like yes, YES, YES!!!

Ashcrashed I loooove your writing process, because I can definitely appreciate the lower committment of writing a shorter story rather than a full season rewrite. And I get really frustrated when I get stuck and have to abandon a story for awhile, but the way you wrote this was actually really inspiring, that it's a good idea to take a break and walk away and come back when it's ready to be written. (That's not quite what you said, but that's how I took it, lol!)

Thank you for your interviews; I really loved reading them!

-- violettathepiratequeen on 09/15/23 07:31 pm

Thanks for these interviews, I always look forward to reading them. You both are such a joy to read in comments and stories. So glad to have you both in this fandom.

-- Tessa on 09/16/23 06:04 am

I love this monthly feature of getting to know everyone a little bit better! <3 And I'm with Dusty... SPUFFY GIFS IS MY FAVORITE TUMBLR hahaha!

-- Grief Counseling on 09/16/23 10:33 am

I've really enjoyed reading the interviews each month and getting insight to so many amazing writers and readers, so thanks to whoever nominated me! It was great to ramble a little bit about how much I love this show and ship, and I'm very appreciative for SAD, the vibes here are so chill and encouraging.

@violetta, that's totally the point I was trying to make, about breaks, so you're fine! taking that step back really does help. sometimes the biggest hurdle with writing is your own frustration!

And yes! Spuffygifs is me (feels like I buried the lede with that one, just a little bit lmao) I'm happy to provide the gifs and content (though I haven't mastered videos just yet @Double Dutchess, but hopefully soon). 

-- ashcrashed on 09/16/23 05:06 pm

Good luck with the vidding efforts @ashcrashed -- can't wait to see what you'll come up with!

-- Double Dutchess on 09/17/23 04:04 pm

Thanks @Dusty!  Yeah, I’m a super private person, so I had this hang-up with commenting and leaving a footprint behind.  I guess that’s out the window now.

Thanks @Double Dutchess!  It’s hard to stick to with stories that really draw you in because you just want to click to the next chapter and not pause to comment.  That’s why my comments for completed pieces tend to be shorter.  With WIPs there’s no next to click on, so I can really dig into the chapter.

No surprise at all @violettathepiratequeen!!  And thanks for the love!

Thanks @Tessa and @Grief Counseling!

-- honeygirl51885 on 09/17/23 07:01 pm