Episode 20: Inside Baseball

 
 
Episode 20’s cover: Derek Jeter smiles and points at the camera.

Elizabeth and Flourish talk to Cecilia Tan, who took her partner to a Yankees game in 1999 and ended up with the first baseball fan blog online—and eventually, a professional baseball writing career. Cecilia talks about her many fannish hats, from her erotic romance press to Harry Potter fanfic to the Menudo newsletter she mailed to hundreds of fangirls to nearly fainting in the presence of Derek Jeter. Plus Elizabeth and Flourish grapple over whether it’s possible to culturally appropriate fandom.

 

Show Notes

The cover of  Checkered Past  by Abby Gaines, featuring a handsome NASCAR driver. The tagline is “Caught in a matrimonial minefield.”
  • Oh, and if you want to read The Hot Streak, Cecilia’s baseball romance—here it is!

  • The music is “Magic Mountain” by Jahzzar, both here and in the outro.

  • Oops I guess we didn’t give Derek Jeter his just due. Here, have some Derek Jeter.

A gif of Derek Jeter with a sparkling “candy” heart saying YOURS 4EVER and I LOVE YOU on it.

Transcript

Flourish Klink: Hi Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Minkel: Hi Flourish!

FK: And welcome to Fansplaining, the podcast by, for, and about fandom!

ELM: Episode…20!

FK: Oh my God, is it Episode 20?

ELM: Episode 20, “Inside Baseball.”

FK: Featuring Cecilia Tan, who I am so excited to have show up on this podcast as our official first ever sports person.

ELM: OK, so you’re old friends with Cecilia, tell me in like three seconds or less about her. I know that she likes baseball and she’s an erotica writer? Or romance writer?

FK: Yes. Cecilia and I met when she got into Harry Potter fandom and started writing Harry Potter fanfic. She is also an erotica writer and she runs an erotic romance press out of Cambridge Massachusetts, where she lives. Notably some of the erotic romance that she writes, a lot of it features fandom in various ways, one set is basically Hogwarts except at Harvard and with sex magic—

ELM: Mm.

FK: And her most recent books are about rock stars and, like, not entirely rock star fandom particularly but definitely influenced by experience with fandom for rock stars. So.

ELM: OK.

FK: The reason that she’s coming on the podcast, though, these would all be great reasons to have her on, but the reason she’s coming on the podcast is because she’s also a baseball fan, specifically a Yankees fan—damn Yankees—despite living in Cambridge—

ELM: That’s hard for her.

FK: It has to be! And she’s written some books about it but she started off just being a fan of baseball, as I understand it.

ELM: It’s funny, it feels like cheating a little, like, we could have just gotten some super stereotypical fan—fan man—you know.

FK: Fan man.

ELM: [laughing] But we got a person who is in sports fandom but is also a fan of things the way that we are used to.

FK: We’re easing into it. We have to take little baby steps.

ELM: OK.

FK: It’s a scary world out there—

ELM: Full of fan mans.

FK: [laughing] Fen men?

ELM: OK, great. OK, so we’ll call her in just a bit, but before we do that we were going to discuss listener feedback but it wasn’t, it was just a tweet that we got.

FK: A single tweet.

ELM: A single tweet.

FK: Actually it was two tweets.

ELM: Well, splitting hairs. From Passeriform, @passeriform, who is someone who I have known on Twitter for several years now who is a really kind Twitter person. I think you met them IRL recently?

FK: Yes! I met them at Boskone.

ELM: Awesome. So Passeriform was talking about the episode with Clay Liford about the Slash movie. So this was a couple days ago, a week ago or so, and they said “Would it be a reasonable metaphor to say Clay culturally appropriated fanfic in the way that we’re beginning to know not to do to others? The fic community is not a metaphor.” And I thought this was a very interesting statement that was worth discussing a little.

FK: Yeah!

ELM: Yeah. So. I don’t know, I think I said in the response, I’m not sure I agree with this. I don’t know, I don’t know if they were saying—it was just a suggestion, it wasn’t an argument of a point that you necessarily need to disagree with. But, I don’t know.

FK: Well, I do think that there’s–I’m with you, Elizabeth. But I do think there’s one thing which is relevant to this which is the point is that Clay is not a member of sort of the “in-group.” That is he’s not a fanfiction person himself, and he is on some level getting a benefit from or explaining the community in a way to other people, representing the community, explaining the community and getting the benefit from being that representative, having that in-group knowledge, right?

ELM: Mm-hmm.

FK: And as a result, one could say, an actual member of the community is not getting that benefit. So, I guess that that is accurate, and I do think there’s some stuff about gender in there that’s relevant.

ELM: Mmhm.

FK: But it feels kind of heavy-handed to say that this is cultural appropriation.

ELM: Yeah, one thing about it that’s interesting is the way he talked about his own experiences as a youth, as a teen, and you know, talking about feeling like an outsider and wanting to find some ways to represent that, it’s interesting because one of them is fanfiction fandom is still a bunch of weirdos—he didn’t say that, but it’s a way that I got. The other one is queerness or questioning queerness as metaphor for feeling other or like an outsider.

FK: Mm-hmm.

ELM: And that’s complicated because he’s—I read an interview with him where he was described as the “token straight man” [FK laughs] of the Austin indie filmmaker scene. And that could be a problematic term, itself. And it’s interesting that these two things kind of went hand in hand, because I don’t think that we can make a blanket statement and say that fandom is queer.

FK: No.

ELM: But it definitely is true that for a lot of people these things are tied up together.

FK: I also think that it’s kind of unfair to say that—like, the queerness is metaphorical in—I don’t think Clay said that.

ELM: No, I’m reading into that as those two things kind of being in tandem.

FK: I felt like Slash was definitely not using queerness and questioningness metaphorically. I felt like it was actually a movie about that, and I thought it was very successful that way, regardless of who Clay is, but then the fanfiction part to me felt like it was put on something else.

ELM: Sure, but like, I don’t mean metaphor—I mean a metaphor for his life.

FK: I don’t know, saying it’s a metaphor for his life or whatever…to me this gets a lot into his intent, and I don’t really care about his intent, like, I do sort of care in that it makes me feel good about, better about him if he had positive, good intentions, but I don’t know.

ELM: Ok, well let’s take a step away from Slash for a second and talk about this question more broadly.

FK: Good idea.

ELM: Because this is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about recently too, you know, I wrote about it in the newsletter a few weeks ago—anyone who doesn’t know, or hasn’t heard, I have a newsletter. [FK laughs] tinyletter.com/elizabethandgav, that I run with Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, who is a reporter at the Daily Dot.

FK: And is not me, let’s be very clear.

ELM: Oh yeah, someone on Tumblr confused them and then it was the weekend that Tumblr was utterly broken and you got a notification every time someone reblogged something you got mentioned in.

FK: [deep vocal fry] Oh my God. It was a nightmare.

ELM: I felt bad that was the moment that you had to be mixed up with her. [laughing] Anyway.

FK: I, I like, I mean I like Gav, I could totally be Gav.

ELM: An exciting person to be mixed up with, honestly.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: You should be flattered.

FK: I am!

ELM: But I was writing about it because it was a couple weeks ago and it was the week that there was this big article in The Atlantic about Reylo, the ship.

FK: Mm-hmm.

ELM: And then there was the stupid, stupidest article in the LA Times about Batman vs. Superman is fanfiction and I don’t even wanna bother with that one because it was just a garbage fire. [FK laughs] But the Atlantic one was interesting because it was frustrating to see because it, it was kind of, it was meant to be a deep dive, it was a bit surfacey about Reylo the ship, kind of about Star Wars shipping and fanfiction in general, talked to a couple people but not very many, definitely written by someone who was an outsider to the community.

I think it was respectfully reported, but it was kind of a frustrating thing to see because it was like, I don’t want to be too protective and precious about fandom and say “Oh, you have to be within it to write about it,” I think that journalism can’t work that way, but in a way I do feel very protective and precious about fandom. And like, how dare you come into this scene and try to write about it, guy?! You know?

FK: Well there was, there was a moment I think when we were, when you and I were talking about that article and there was a moment where you said, you said something about how “He just dismisses slash, and slash is clearly the important thing—”

ELM: No, I said—

FK: This is clearly not a direct quote. And I do think that he doesn’t, he doesn’t deal with slash, he doesn’t properly deal with slash in the article, but there was definitely a moment where I was like, “But wait a minute!”

ELM: You’re mischaracterizing what I was saying—

FK: OK.

ELM:—because I was disappointed with him for saying, and other people were too, the line was something like that it was “confusingly popular.”

FK: Yeah, that was not a good line.

ELM: Like, he didn’t have to mention slash at all.

FK: Right.

ELM: So Flourish take that back, because that was a total mischaracterization of what I said.

FK: OK.

ELM: Do you take it back?

FK: I take it back.

ELM: YES!

FK: I didn’t mean to mischaracterize what you said. I think I understood—

ELM: No, I hate that, I just hate that line from the media where they’re like [dopey voice] “Slash is just this kind of weird thing! It’s weird that people like this!” Like, you know. “This gay fanfiction! I don’t know.” IDK. Just either don’t mention it or don’t sit there and scratch your head over it.

FK: OK. That is a different critique than I had understood you to be making and it is a critique that I agree with.

ELM: [joyful] OK! I win. I’m so proud!

FK: This is not a—! Elizabeth, I love how everything for you has to be a fight.

ELM: I WON. I WON IT.

FK: And somebody has to win.

ELM: FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT.

FK: You’ll talk about “Are we on the same team.”

ELM: YEAH, IT’S IMPORTANT.

FK: For ships? And I’m like, I don’t know that there are teams! I don’t feel team-y!

ELM: I’m writing an adversarial ship right now so this is really all that matters to me.

FK: Teams?

ELM: Yeah, what side are you on?

FK: I do think that the “what side are you on” piece, I think this is one of the dangers of the cultural appropriation narrative with regard to fanfic, to bring us back to the point.

ELM: Sure, OK.

FK: Because I think that sometimes, not trying to touch what cultural appropriation means in a broader sense because I think this is a can of worms that is very large to open, but with regard to fanfiction, fanfiction is something that people can be involved in or not, right? Like, it’s not something you have to be born into. Somebody who gets involved with it, like Henry Jenkins for instance, right? Like, when he started writing about fanfiction, he was not a fanfiction person. And he became one, like, over time, and got really involved and people trust him and like the things he’s written about it.

ELM: Sure.

FK: I mean, not universally and not in every case because everybody’s human, but you can become part of the community.

ELM: That’s the same thing with Anne, Anne Jamison. She was drawn to fic because she found it interesting. As a, conceptually. But then she had all the squee elements as she came into the medium.

FK: Right, and I don’t think anybody would accuse someone who…I don’t think someone would consider it cultural appropriation if somebody came in initially thinking they were going to do something metaphorical and sort of paid their dues in the community and got involved. And I think that that’s different from what cultural appropriation sometimes means otherwise. There’s some cultures that you cannot join, or that it’s really difficult to join, in a way that it’s not difficult to join fandom.

ELM: Right. You mean like biological identity markers.

FK: Right, or—

ELM: Like race or gender or sexuality.

FK: Right, or, or, religious groups that are very strict. Like, realistically I am not going to become Amish no matter how much I like Amish. In fact there are Amish people fans. Like, people who are fans of Amish-ness.

ELM: Are you in the Amish fandom?

FK: I am not. But there are people who are. Right? And like…so you know. And that is a community that you can technically join, but it is very hard to do, and fandom is not like that.

ELM: Right. Right.

FK: So it’s a bit different because saying it’s cultural appropriation, I don’t know…it’s a different beast. Because it’s sort of something where if you do your research then it’s not anymore, because if you’ve done your research then you’re part of it, in a certain sense.

ELM: Right, and I don’t think that—I guess I wrestle against, I got in this exchange with someone I went to college with because I was kind of feeling bad about when I had to write about the Pottermore terrible Native American thing that she wrote, which we’re not going to describe at length right now, but everyone probably knows what we’re talking about—

FK: Again, can of worms.

ELM: That’s a, like a bucket of worms.

FK: A sealed bucket that we’re not going to open.

ELM: No, literally never. But I, not literally never, we can discuss it, but not in passing. Anyway, I was called out on Twitter because there were some activists saying that people who weren’t Native American shouldn’t be writing about this in journalism. I think that’s pretty hard, I definitely understand and I think it’s hard especially with very marginalized groups to put all of the pressure then, you know, it needs to be a balance. You know, there needs to be a full representation of voices in the media, but also, people needed to be able to report. That’s my perspective as a journalist.

FK: Right.

ELM: And I was talking about this in my college blog network, and this guy wrote, he said “Yeah, whenever anyone writes about the tech industry it’s total cultural appropriation. They don’t know anything about our culture.” [FK gasps] And I was like Jesus Christ! And I was like, I can’t engage with this right now. But yeah, I’m sure that he feels that people get everything wrong, or he watches Silicon Valley or The Social Network or something and feels it’s just nothing like what he’s experienced. But we really can’t just be tossing this term around.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: At just every—especially when it comes to, when we’re talking about reported journalism, I think that there’s tech journalists and some of them don’t know their stuff and some of them do.

FK: Right. Yeah. And obviously this is, this is different to having a fictional story, but within there it’s also dangerous. Because even people who—I don’t think that anybody, just to go on the Pottermore thing, I don’t think anyone thinks it’s a bad idea for J.K. Rowling to be interested in having a wizarding world that’s not super white and super British.

ELM: Well—

FK: A few people maybe! But many people don’t think that. The normal thing is like “Why didn’t you actually do your research.”

ELM: Because I wrote about this I was looking around looking at some Twitter discourse and I saw some Native American activists saying no, I don’t want, stick to your own background. You know. So I saw people saying a variety of things, people from within and without the communities.

FK: Interesting.

ELM: Yeah and I mean that’s why I got called out in the first place was because I was literally looking for that. I was like, I see the same posts going around, there were a few big blog posts that were shared, but I every day read, you know, opinion pieces from people who are in my identity groups that I wildly disagree with and I would hate anyone to say, you know.

FK: Right.

ELM: All women feel this, or whatever. And that’s a great thing about it, is if you really have a diversity of voices—true representation means you don’t have just one representative at the table, you know.

FK: Right, right.

ELM: From your background.

FK: Which sort of gets us back to this thing about…and maybe this gets us back to “nerd culture,” right. Being—different voices within sort of nerdiness. This is a terrible transition to make, obviously, for a variety of reasons, but it is the transition that we have been asked to make in this tweet so I will do it. This probably gets back to Clay talking about how he’s a con kid and therefore he’s talking from his own experience. And then people’s response being, “No, that’s not the same experience as being a fanfic writer. We’re both nerds, but we’re not the same kind of nerd.”

ELM: Yeah and it’s obviously hugely different scale of importance. You know.

FK: [laughing] In every possible way.

ELM: But yes, despite it being, like, a mountain and a…small mound…that was a very awkward—

FK: A mountain and a molehill, Elizabeth?

ELM: Hmm?

FK: [very slowly] A mountain and a molehill?

ELM: Molehill! [chortles] There’s an actual expression!

FK: There is an actual—anyway, I think we should call Cecilia now because we’re getting incoherent.

ELM: So yeah. If anyone has any thoughts about this, I would be very curious to hear people’s perspectives, you know.

FK: I would too, although I’m a little scared.

ELM: No, I don’t know, I actually—because I’ve been writing about this, kind of idea of outsiders writing about fandom, and people have been sharing their feelings about me, it’s tricky to navigate. And it also, like, I’ve been taking a step back from writing recently because I’m not sure what story I’m supposed to be telling anymore about fandom. I feel like I did a lot of heavy lifting already and now I kind of feel adrift on this front, you know? Everything’s just changing quickly and all I want to do is work on my Harry/Draco story, so.

FK: And that’s OK.

ELM: Anyway.

FK: So yeah, let’s call Cecilia.

ELM: I want opinions. Don’t tell Flourish. Just tell me. fansplaining@gmail.com.

FK: You can tell me too, I’m interested also.

ELM: Yeah right. Let’s call Cecilia.

FK: All right.

[Interstitial music]

FK: So we’d like to welcome Cecilia Tan to the podcast!

Cecilia Tan: Hello!

ELM: Hi Cecilia!

CT: Thank you, thank you!

ELM: OK, we are super excited to have you on.

CT: I am super excited to be here! I’m a fan of fandom, so you know.

ELM: Perfect, perfect. Sorry to make you be the first sports person, but someone had to do it.

CT: No, that’s excellent! I’m, I’m always the first in a lot of ways, there’s so many times when I’ve been the person who’s kind of kicked down the closet door between two things, and… [laughs] Sort of the story of my life.

ELM: Wait, talk about that a little. What doors? What doors are you kicking down?

CT: Among the things, sort of in fandoms as a whole it used to be, I’ve been going to just regular science fiction and fantasy fan cons for a long time. Since the very very early 90s, and for example, I had a really good friend who also went to cons, and we did not know that each other liked baseball until we went to a baseball related convention and saw each other. It was like “What the hell are you doing here?!” [laughs]

ELM: That’s amazing.

CT: Because everyone in science fiction/fantasy fandom was so in the closet at that time about liking sports because of course sports is the thing that the jocks are supposed to like and nerds are supposed to be anti-sport. You’re just like, oh my god. And of course at this point in my life I’m actually the Director of Publications for the American Society for Baseball Research, which is the deep deep nerddom of baseball fandom, so. It was a SABR convention where this friend of mine and I were like “What are you doing here?” And I literally did not know he liked baseball and he did not know I liked baseball. And so I thought, this is a closet door that needs to be kicked down! And next thing you know we’re having baseball-and-science-fiction panels at Worldcon and whatnot like that. So. I am traditionally put onto that panel, then, obviously.

ELM: And so—I’m just curious, what is that? Is this like depictions of baseball within science fiction, or…?

CT: Sometimes, I mean, cause there are—a lot of the great American magical realist novels are all baseball-related novels, and that kind of a thing. Field of Dreams, all those kinds of things, those are all, that is American fantasy. And our “ancient history” isn’t medievalism or whatever, it’s the founding of the Minor Leagues and the finding of the one hero and all that kind of stuff. So Robert Coover and just all those great American novels are, they’re all baseball fantasy, basically. And also there’s a fair number of people who write, like, what would it be like if we had baseball on other planets where the gravity was different and they’d have to have a heavier ball or whatever. That kind of stuff. So, you know, you see short stories popping up in Asimov and so on. Would robots play it? Whatever. So.

Baseball is always all about how do we keep moving forward? The whole thing with technology and performance enhancing drugs and whatnot like that, it’s something straight out of science fiction. So that’s our reality. [laughs] So, yeah. This is the thing, though! When I went to the first SABR convention, it was like I discovered a whole parallel universe of nerds that I didn’t know existed where it was like, I had been to Worldcon, I had been to Lunacon, I had been to all these different cons, and I show up at the SABR convention and it was like, you have the cosplayers and the SCA type recreationists and whatnot who put on the 18th century baseball uniform—

FK: Wait.

CT: —and they go out and they play by the 18th century rules, and you know, whatnot.

FK: Wait, what? You have these things?

CT: Yeah yeah yeah! So there are people who do 18th century baseball games where they play with the ancient style of ball that looks like a lemon, kind of, because of the way it’s sewed, and they put on the old, you know, it’s like Civil War recreation kind of except it’s baseball. And they play actual games! And they tour around the country and play each other and whatnot like that, so those are like the SCA of baseball people, and then you’ve got the gamers, of course, who are sort of staying up all night in the lobby of the hotel playing stratomatic baseball, which is Dungeons & Dragons except for baseball, predates Dungeons & Dragons—

FK: No really?!

CT: —you roll dice to see where the, whatever. And fantasy baseball of course is sort of an extension of that, except instead of rolling dice you take what happens in the actual season but then you apply it to your own, whatever, stuff like that. And I was just like “These are all the people that I know but they’re in a parallel universe where they’re all humans that I don’t know!” But they fall into all of the same categories as all of the other fandoms! So, yeah, I was just like,
“Where have you guys been all my life,” basically. The same experience that I had when I first walked into a science fiction convention and there were people running around dressed as elves and playing Dungeons & Dragons and so forth and so on. There’s a very small crossover, or there was a very small crossover then, between those two communities. Cause it was like Earth One and Earth Two. So.

ELM: So this is blowing my mind.

FK: Mine also.

ELM: When I think about baseball…what is the overlap between the baseball fandom you’re describing and men without shirts, well, they keep their shirts on at baseball games right? I’m thinking of football. But you know, like, bros…

CT: Well, some of them actually don’t. They take their shirts off and they paint things on their chests and stuff, or they paint their faces and—

ELM: That feels like a football fan. But still. Or ESPN.

CT: So in baseball the high holiday, right right, the high holiday’s opening day so there’ll be guys who, mostly guys but there are women, who go to their job wearing their uniform pinstripes or their, whatever, their team’s jersey, and leave early so they can go to that day’s opening day game or that kind of thing, and that’s considered totally normal in American society, right? When I was growing up on the other hand it would not have been considered normal to show up at your job in your Jedi robes, you know, or your Harry Potter robes on the day of the new movie release and then leave work early so you can go to the, you now, whatever, the movie premiere. Whereas now it is. So.

ELM: You really think it is?!

CT: Yeah, I think so! I feel like in a lot of ways science fiction/fantasy fandom, now we’re all out of the closet a little bit more because it’s more mainstream acceptable, can do the things that mainstream sports fans were always allowed to do. They were always allowed to paint their faces and run through the streets, you know, or whatever.

ELM: Sure.

CT: So now that Comic-Con is so huge and when a new movie franchise launches or whatever it’s considered a national event, I mean, Star Wars was an international event on the same level as the soccer World Cup as far as I was concerned. So you know.

ELM: But I’ve never worked in an office where I would have felt comfortable wearing, like, a—a full set of Harry Potter robes. And I don’t think it’s just me. I have a really cute Doctor Who dress that’s really subtle, and I’ve worn that to every office I’ve worked in, and no one’s ever said anything, but I think that’s just cause they can’t tell what it’s a reference to.

CT: They can’t notice, right.

FK: But you also work in, you also work in publishing, which is snooty as hell.

ELM: I work in a variety of industries, Flourish!

FK: Yeah, OK. I just like to tease you about being snooty.

CT: If I worked in a New York publishing office I would not hesitate to wear my full Harry Potter robes. I might stop short of doing the full Draco cosplay, but I definitely would not hesitate to wear my robes. Because let’s face it, Harry Potter saved the publishing industry.

ELM: Hm. Sure.

CT: OK, but Star Wars, but Star Trek, but whatever.

FK: I think there are offices where it wouldn’t be OK to wear a baseball outfit, too.

CT: But I’m talking about, I’ve seen the photos from law firms and financial institutions and whatever where everyone, where like, they had Star Wars dress-up day or whatever, and you’re just like, “OK.” This is a mainstream enough thing now that it’s not like, only those complete weirdos would do it and you’ll never get a promotion if you act this way, or whatever. Whereas sports fans were expected to act that way in a lot of places and it was all right. It’s just interesting to me that I feel like there is a normalization going on of fandom stuff. It’s no longer seen—I mean every place is slightly different. My brother still works in an office where it’s like there are two colors of shirts allowed here, white and blue, and that’s it. So.

ELM: He’s not dressing like Draco.

CT: Like no one wears beige, no one wears pink, of the men of course. He’s in an old-school industry so it’s different. But we’ll see.

ELM: Sure.

CT: We’ll see how long that lasts, too. Certainly in tech companies where it’s so competitive to get young talent in people are not wearing the three piece suit or the button down shirt and they haven’t been since the 90s.

ELM: Exactly…so here’s a question. Like, well, maybe my office experiences have skewed me, because I’m still having trouble believing this is normalized across the board, but one of the things I’m thinking about is a lot of the offices I’ve worked in, every office I’ve worked in does March Madness. Right?

CT: Uh-huh.

ELM: And the behavior that is sanctioned during March Madness is the most fannish fan behavior, you know, people are like “I need to watch this game now! And I can’t function!”

CT: And exactly, and they’re watching it in the middle of the day because there’s so many games in the beginning—

ELM: Yeah! And like—

CT: Not only that, but March Madness office pools are illegal, aren’t they? [laughs]

ELM: Wait, are they really?

CT: I think they are in most states, but that doesn’t stop people from doing it, because it’s so normalized, you know? I remember watching, not this year but a couple years ago on ESPN they had Obama himself came in and give his picks and you know, show his bracket and stuff like that. And you know, that’s about as normalized as it gets. [laughs]

ELM: So the distinction I wanted to draw though is I’ve also worked in offices with Oscar pools around the same time.

CT: Right.

ELM: It’s similar in concept, but there’s something different about it to me because there’s something deeply unfannish in the kind of sheer enthusiasm way that you see in Oscar pools. People are like “Well, I’ve seen all those films and I have strong opinions about what’s going to win.” And it’s not like, “Gotta watch ‘em all! I can’t wait to see all the Best Picture contenders.”

CT: Maybe because it’s partly that the Oscars are not as much of a real time thing whereas in sports it’s like, you have to watch at the time to catch the excitement of it and that’s part of it, whereas with the Oscar films you’re supposed to have already seen them before you make your picks or whatever, but. What’s funny is the very first Oscar pool I was ever in was a pool among the beat writers for the New York Yankees, because I was in spring training—I was writing a book on the Yankees in the early 2000s and I was basically in the press pool for all of spring training, so you know, which is when the Oscars are going on.

So it was like day after day hanging around with these, you know, like 15 to 20 guys mostly who are obviously these deep sports guys who have gotten a full time day job—beyond full time; they travel with the team, they go everywhere, they’re devoting their lives to writing about every bit of minutia of what happens with this team, and then what do they do in their off time? They have an Oscar pool. Y’know.

FK: So it’s really interesting the way you talk about that because I realize that people who…I guess in science fiction universe people think about folks who have devoted their lives to science fiction in that way, but in TV universe if you’re a journalist who writes about TV I don’t think that, people wouldn’t be like “They love TV so much they dedicated their whole life to scripted television.” Do people say that? That’s interesting.

CT: Yeah, I don’t know.

ELM: Do you mean TV writers or TV critics?

FK: Critics, not writers. People who write about TV.

ELM: I think people say that. I’m a book critic and I think people say…

FK: That you love books so much that you dedicated your life to books in a fannish way?

ELM: Well. No. Because I think there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of assumption around fans and whatever that means.

CT: When you’re talking about love and devotion, where something touches you so deeply that you will defend it against all reason, you know, OK, that’s fandom, but at the same time, part of the way a lot of us get there is through the analysis.

ELM: Absolutely.

CT: I mean, when I first fell into Harry Potter fandom, when I was resisting writing fanfic, what I did was write critical essays that I had nowhere to publish about it. I’m not a film critic, I’m not whatever, and I’m writing these essays about the symbolism of the way flight is used in the films. It’s like I kept giving myself excuses to reread the books, “Oh, well, now I need to reread all seven books to track the symbolism of the—” I don’t remember kind of a thing. In a great books/AP English kind of way. And finally I just started writing fanfic, which you have to reread constantly, you know, in order to figure out and get things right.

ELM: Guess what I’m rereading right now, speaking of? Half Blood Prince!

FK: I’m in the middle of the Sacrifices arc by Lightning on the Wave and it is ruining me.

ELM: I haven’t read any of the books in almost a decade, so this is really something. I’ve forgotten what’s canon and what’s not in a way that’s making it hard for me.

FK: I’m gonna enjoy how angry you get when you get to Book Seven.

ELM: [chortling] Get ready!

CT: I do have friends ping me still, I’ll be on IM and they’ll be like “OK, was this something we made up or was that in the books?” and I’ll be like “No, there’s not a point in the books where Draco gets scarred by Greyback. There’s lots of foreshadowing that something terrible is going to happen between Fenrir and Draco and nothing ever happens, at least not on the page.” You can assume that some terrible things happen to Draco in Year Seven when he’s stuck at the Manor, but we don’t know what they are. There’s barely a hint.

ELM: Wait, is your fanfiction about Draco?

CT: Most of it is.

ELM: Do you have a pairing, or is it just about him?

CT: So I wrote a lot of Harry/Draco, I wrote a lot of Harry/Snape, and I wrote a lot of Snape/Draco.

ELM: Alright.

CT: As far as I’m concerned, Snape/Draco is in the canon [laughing] so…

ELM: I’m writing Harry/Draco right now, so I just wanted to know if we were on the same team. And I’m glad to know we are.

CT: Yeah, yeah.

ELM: Flourish, get out of here, we don’t need you.

CT: Yeah and then I’ve written a lot of the three of them together, the threesome.

FK: I have no problem with Harry/Draco! Harry/Draco is one of my favorite secondary pairings to Snape/Hermione. [ELM laughs] They’re two great tastes that taste great together! [CT & ELM make doubtful noises]

CT: But yeah, there was one point where I wrote 50 Harry/Draco fics in a month to fill out a challenge prompt list that was 50 prompts.

ELM: Wow.

CT: Ah, the good old days. That was like 2007.

ELM: Look, those times can be back! I’m leading a revival. I got Flourish to start thinking about writing Snape/Hermione, it’s gonna happen. Everyone’s coming back! 

CT: There are still people, communities trucking along on Livejournal too you know! It’s not all Tumblr these days.

ELM: Yeah it’s been really great to see! I left this ship a long time ago and it’s been delightful to see how much has been written even in the last two years, so.

CT: And I feel like there’s been a huge explosion in Draco/Hermione over the last five years. I feel like there was almost none when I was really really active, and that it’s really since the canon closed that I’ve been seeing tons and tons of Draco/Hermione.

FK: I think there’s been less Harry/Hermione and more Draco/Hermione. Partially because I think people like Ginny better. There used to be more Draco/Ginny.

ELM: Draco/Ginny?! Flourish, your strange het world, I don’t wanna hear about it. [CT laughs]

CT: It’s true, I don’t see as much of het pairings overall just because of the circles I’m in.

ELM: Barely know those exist, so.

FK: OK, but here I have a question for you, Cecilia. As a person who is totally not in any sports fandom. I mean, I love the Huskers because I’m forced to love them because of my family—

ELM: And you like punching, right?

FK: I like boxing…OK, I guess I’m sort of in sports fandom. But boxing is really different, it’s not a team fandom or anything like that. It’s just me hating Manny Pacquiao. [CT laughs] I hate him.

ELM: Baseball and boxing are the two sort of serious sports fandoms that you’re allowed to be a literary writer about.

FK: I know.

CT: And horse racing. [All talk over each other in excitement at this idea for a minute.]

ELM: But horse racing not anymore, but boxing and baseball you still can.

CT: The American—think about it, the history of American pop culture, it was before there was much in the way of, I mean there was no television, there was no radio yet, whatever, and what there was was newspapers, and boxing, horse racing and baseball were the three entertainment things, really. And vaudeville, but people didn’t really write about vaudeville so much. It’s like with vaudeville you went around on tour and whatnot. And in fact sometimes jockeys and baseball players went around with vaudeville troupes during their off season, and sang and danced and whatever because it was the only way to see them.

FK: Right.

CT: They were celebrities; that was pop culture of the time.

FK: Right.

CT: And so all the best writers, you look at Grantland Rice, they were considered the best writers of their time, were sports writers, and that’s not necessarily true anymore.

FK: But with baseball, do you ever have those moments where you were compelled to write fifty Harry/Draco fics or whatever they were all at once? Do you get that with—you’re a writer and you write baseball things, but do you have the same kind of compulsion to write?

CT: That was how I got started baseball writing, basically. I had fallen kind of out of baseball fandom, I was in it as a kid, you know, I grew up in the New York area so I was a big New York Yankees fan, and I moved to New England for college and it’s the Red Sox here and the ancient rivals and whatever, and I just kind of fell out of it and wasn’t that connected to it. Then in ’98 there was a big home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. And it was such big news that it was in Time magazine, it was on all the TV news whatnot. Non-baseball and non-sports outlets were covering it, and so I got interested again.

By 1999 I was like “OK,” said to my partner, “We’ve been together several years now but you’ve never been to Yankee Stadium; we need to go.” So we went and did a trip to New York where my parents at the time were still living in the area and we stayed with them and went to the Jersey shore and went to the stadium and he was a convert from the first game. Thank goodness, because after that we just went straight down a rabbit hole where I started a blog called Why I Like Baseball.

It was so long ago that this was before “blog” was a word. I started a website. I got an ISSN number because I started it as an online baseball magazine for which I was the only writer. [all laugh] Which is why I called it “Why I Like Baseball.” Because you know, when you’re 10 and you write your essays about “what I did over the summer,” and I was just like “why I like baseball.” And I wrote an op-ed piece about baseball every day for months. I couldn’t stop myself. It was not paying work in any way; I hand-coded the HTML because that was the days before Wordpress and before any of that, before blogs! So it’s the oldest baseball blog on the internet, it’s still there.

ELM: Really?

CT: Yeah! It’s at WhyILikeBaseball.com.

ELM: That’s amazing.

CT: Now I update it very rarely because now that I actually have a professional interest in baseball writing, usually when I write something now it’s for a place like Baseball Prospectus or Fangraphs or whatever and then I’m so busy right now being a romance writer that, in fact, I don’t have much time to do baseball writing, and most of what I’m doing with baseball is editing, cause I’m editing the Baseball Research Journal. Half my income comes from baseball now, though, because I started this blog way back when and that led to—like all freelance gigs, you know, it leads to other things.

So that’s how I ended up writing this book on the Yankees and spending all this time with the press corps and whatever. Things lead to things lead to things. None of them had to know that I came to it from this, like, I’m just this super excited fan who started my own website. By the time I was credentialed press, none of the press members knew where the Hell I came from. They’re like “whatever.”

ELM: This is interesting, it reminds me of something Flourish was getting at earlier, but—do you think the baseball journalists you’re around, they’re probably similarly fannish to you. Right?

CT: Well, yeah, they get into it because they love it. Journalism’s not a high paying job.

ELM: Nope. [all laugh]

CT: Long hours away from your family, et cetera. Being a baseball beat writer is an incredibly tough job, especially nowadays where newspapers are closing, and there are only so many slots for national columnists or people writing for ESPN or people writing for Sports Illustrated or whatever.

ELM: Sure.

CT: Which are like the top tier gigs, right? And a lot of people are trucking along at the bare minimum they can pay them because the reason people do the job is because they love it. So.

ELM: But I guess the distinction I’m kinda getting at is—I’ve written about this a bunch but I got a press pass to the season premiere of Sherlock while I was at the height of my Sherlock fandom. BBC Sherlock. And I—Flourish, you’ve heard this story before, right? Sorry. She’s nodding.

FK: Yeah, but I never get tired of it.

ELM: And so I’m like, flipping out, and there’s a press reception beforehand, and so I’m talking to this girl and I’m so excited. I basically used the fact that I’m a journalist to get a ticket to the premiere of the show that I’m currently in the fandom of. And there was a bunch of people who waited for hours or even overnight to get rush tickets. Bunch of fans, they all had deerstalkers, they looked like fangirls. So I was talking to this girl, this other journalist, and she was like, “I love this show so much so much this is why I really wanted a ticket,” and I was like “Haha me too!”

CT: Uh-huh.

ELM: You know? And then she was like, “But did you see these people in the lobby? That’s crazy. I would never wait for hours just to get to see this.” And I was like, “OH NO, ME NEITHER.” [all laugh] And I just felt so awful, because I was like—

FK: Sellin’ out your people.

ELM: —I don’t like this the right way. Everyone else here I’m sure they like it, I’m sure they’re happy to be here, but I like it the other way, and that feels, that’s embarrassing, you know? This was like a revelation to me, and after that I was like, fuck it, I don’t care anymore. So that’s the question, is like—

CT: I feel like people always wanna make this big division between fans and pros. We see this all the time in science fiction where there are amateur writers, and then there’s professional writers. And I’m like, no no no. Every professional science fiction writer knows that they started out as an amateur writer and they worked their way up to being a professional writer. That it’s a continuum, and it’s like, OK, well, after you’ve sold that first short story, now you can join SFWA, but basically you’re still a fan but you haven't—it’s not like there’s one day where you wake up and you’ve transitioned from being a fan to being a pro.

ELM: Like a butterfly.

CT: You got into writing science fiction because you read Tolkien or you saw Star Wars or whatever it was and you were like, “That’s what I wanna do!” There isn’t a moment where that stops. There were a lot of people who thought, I think especially in the past, “Now we have to act like we’re not fans anymore,” and I was like “Yeah, screw that.” Obviously I’ve never ascribed to that. Like I said, closet door, I kick it down. What you guys don’t know is my first serious interaction in a fandom when I was a teenager was with Menudo fandom.

ELM: Ooh, that’s right!

CT: This is going way way back to the 1980s where there was this Puerto Rican singing sensations, these 5 Puerto Rican kids—and talk about a weird fandom for me to be in! Like any fandom, you fall into it, you don’t know why. You have love at first sight, it fits your life at the time. So here I am in suburban New Jersey, and it’s like people fall into One Direction fandom now, for example.

ELM: That’s Flourish! She’s pointing at herself right now like an enthusiastic person.

CT: It’s the ultimate squee experience, right? They were on cable TV and you had to watch the Spanish channel at certain hours to see them, so it was kind of mysterious in a way. But they were in the teen magazines and here I am, I’m a teenager, I knew I wanted to be a professional writer, and I just started something. I started a newsletter about them. I started a fan club, basically. And it was in the days when in the teen magazines—cause we didn’t have the internet yet. You went and people would be your pen pal, so people would put little ads in the back of the teen magazines that would be like “Be my pen pal! I love Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell, and Menudo.”

ELM: OH!

CT: And I would photocopy off a copy of my little two page newsletter, which I was writing on a manual typewriter, and mail it off and I would say “If you love Menudo and you want another copy of this, it’s a dollar a month dues to join the fan club.” And within a couple of months—of course each one of those had 10 pen pals, and she would tell all of them, “Send a dollar to this girl and she’ll send you this thing.” So hundreds of pieces of mail start coming to my house.

FK: How’d your parents like that?

CT: I sent out two newsletters a month every month for years. So I ended up building the largest Menudo fan club in the United States.

ELM: That’s incredible!

CT: And then I parlayed that into a gig where I had a live radio report on WPLJ, which was the largest radio station in New York at the time, which made it the largest radio station in the United States. And they were trying to capture some of this diverse fandom because they wanted more Hispanic listeners, whatever, and it was like—and I was mailing the newsletter to them at the time. I mailed it to them, I mailed it to Z100, I mailed it to the record company, whatever. Somehow I knew as this budding 15, 16-year-old PR person, I just knew, write this newsletter, but then send it everywhere.

And stuff started to happen, like albums would arrive in the mail. Or posters and whatnot. No note, no nothing, just 200 posters would arrive at the door with an RCA Records return address and no explanation. And I’d be like “Huh, okay.” [laughs] Or at one point a radio station called me up and they’re like, “If we give you T-shirts with your fan club name on the front and the radio station’s name on the back, will you hand them out to your fan club members to wear at concerts?” and I was like “Yeah, of course.”

ELM: Wow.

CT: 100 people were all at Madison Square Gardens wearing shirts that I had given them. That sort of stuff happens, you know, because this was the early days of media companies trying to figure out how do we hook onto fandom.

ELM: You were an influencer!

FK: A social media influencer before social media.

CT: In the days when social media was “You send me a self-addressed stamped envelope, and I’ll send you back a thing.” [laughs]

ELM: What was in the newsletter? What would you write in there?

CT: God, the newsletter was stuff like, Robi got his braces off and—I’m not kidding.

ELM: How were you getting the information?

CT: I knew a lot of this information because, as I said, I lived in the New York area so I got the Spanish language TV channels. I got Channel 47 and we got Telemundo. And I was bilingual English-Spanish just from school, so I had access to a lot more information than the whole English speaking fandom that was sort of starved for information. Because what would be in Teen Machine or Tiger Beat or whatever would just be like a picture and maybe two lines or something. So they were literally starved for information. And then of course once I started doing this, I started getting the official press releases. I was like a one-woman press bureau, basically.

So the next thing that happens is at one point this radio station asks me to be on, I got on for a morning interview. And I had been in the closet at my high school. No one knew, other than my best friend, that I was into this. And then, now they all knew, because by the time I got to school that morning they had all heard me on the radio. [laughs] That morning, talking about it!

FK: Talking about how much you love Menudo.

CT: And the thing that was interesting is they were all like “Wow, that is so cool.” Because I did it in this—they couldn’t really be like “Wow, that’s so weird and you’re such a weirdo,” when here I had been, I was the only one of them who had ever been on this radio station. So I got into rock music fandom and rock music journalism that way. Because next thing you know I’m getting press credentials to different things.

ELM: Sure.

CT: And I had to make the choice of, well, but do I present myself as a fan or do I present myself as a professional.

FK: And you’re, like, 16.

CT: And I’m 16, exactly. So I quickly learned all the rules of being a fangirl and also how to talk your way into backstage at Madison Square Garden, for example. And I worked in radio, then, after that I went on to working in radio at college, whatever, and I parlayed it into writing a monthly column for Super Teen magazine; that was my first actual paid freelance writing gig. One thing led to another led to another. But there was never, like, this moment where I stopped being a fan and started being a professional.

FK: It’s funny, Cecilia, because I always knew you were a person who’s been a fan and a professional writer but I guess I only ever knew that in the context of baseball and Harry Potter. I had no idea that this was the story of your life.

ELM: Your entire career!

CT: Story of my life! Exactly.

FK: In every different fandom you’re like “All right…”

CT: Everyone else “leaves fandom behind” because they’re told they have to and I’m like, “No you don’t. I’m sorry, you don’t have to leave it behind.” You have to comport yourself, you know, professionally. In the locker room you can’t ask for autographs, for example, and you can’t take selfies with the players. That kind of a thing. There’s a way that you act, and you learn how to act from the other people who are doing the job. It’s sociological training, really: what to wear, whatever, so you’re not breaking the mold, but at the same time you go home and write your blog or write your newsletter or whatever it is, it doesn’t dampen your enthusiasm for it, really.

ELM: I wonder, have you ever encountered—you have so many different examples and they’re so varied and this is so fascinating, but one thing that strikes me and I wonder if you’ve ever encountered this in any of these places is my anecdote about this. Part of the problem is that in the very same—are you familiar with the Caitlin Moran BBC Sherlock incident, did you catch any of this?

CT: No.

ELM: Do you know Caitlin Moran?

CT: I do know who Caitlin Moran is.

ELM: She was doing the Q&A and all the actors were there, and she whipped out a piece of paper and handed it to them—

CT: OH! Yes yes yes, I do remember this.

ELM: And it was an actual nightmare. For anyone who doesn’t know, she wanted Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman to read some fanfic. Not even erotic, just romantic. It was like pre-slash. No, slash. But it was like pre-sex.

CT: Right, right yes.

FK: I like how you adjusted that in your head.

ELM: It was like a foreplay kinda scene and I remember there was like some kissing and there was a wall.

CT: Yes, I do remember this now. Yes. And it was sort of like, was she doing it as a gotcha for the actors, to see whatever? And many people didn’t appreciate slash fandom being outed that way.

ELM: No, it was mortifying! And this very same girl, this girl that I bring up as an example, turned to me and she was just like, “Oh God.” And I was just like, “I feel the same way but for a different reason. I’m embarrassed as a slash reader and writer and you’re embarrassed about this.” So I guess my question would be like, that was a stark example of how you could be as enthusiastic about this show as you wanted to be, but I was enthusiastic in the wrong way. Because what I want out of the show is to go and read slash about it. So there’s just still some—I think the attitudes are continually changing, but it’s not all sanctioned in the same way, you know what I mean?

CT: Right. I feel like now, since that, I didn't—I definitely did not agree with her tactics there, and I think she did it to try to shock or embarrass, or stir things up, which was not cool. She essentially outed someone and humiliated them who was not—nonconsensually. It might have been something else if it was something she wrote herself, or if she had—

ELM: Probably would have been a different kind of shitty joke then, right?

CT: God, I know. Exactly. Gotten permission or something? Meanwhile, since then, though, you see a lot of different actors on different shows who are highly aware of what’s going on and who are clearly reading it themselves, some of whom are very happy to engage with it and some don’t, you know, in the same way as some people are happy to engage with the fact that queer people exist overall and some are not. [laughs] So I feel like slash overall is much more out of the closet now than it was. Fanfic overall is much more out of the closet than it was. But at the same time, it’s still not cool to out people against their will. And it’s a little different—I would not as a fangirl even today run up to Daniel Radcliffe and be like “Read this thing I wrote!” or whatever. [laughs]

ELM: SO MORTIFYING. Can you imagine?!

FK: But has anything like that ever happened in the baseball part of your life? I feel like we’ve talked a bunch about music fandom and we’ve talked a bunch about sort of TV fandom but—

CT: So I have an erotic Derek Jeter story that I do not know if Jeter has ever read, but I know no one in Yankees PR department had ever read because they probably would not have credentialed me if they had read it! [laughing]

ELM: Wow.

CT: But I wrote it so far back that it was before I ever thought “Oh, someday I’ll be standing next to his locker talking to him.” [FK laughs] I’ll tell you the very very first time I met him I almost passed out.

FK: You’re giving a million One Direction fangirls life right now, by the way.

ELM: Just wanna be next to Harry’s locker.

CT: So I’m one of those people who’s not super emotive in person, I’m very calm looking, I’m very calm inside most of the time. The very very first time in spring training, I had press credentials not from the Yankees but from one of the other teams, because the Yankees were very very difficult nut to crack. So it was like the Phillies or something, these little teeny tiny stadiums where they would sometimes play in the spring. They take a bus and they take the whole team from place to place. And at that time, the Phillies played in a park that was the high school stadium. So you could just walk in there, whatever. And I’m sitting in the dugout with the other writers during batting practice, and it was like every time Jeter came near me, my head would almost explode, and then as he would walk away, my blood pressure would drop and I would almost pass out, and I was like “OK. I’ve met Michael Hutchence of INXS, I’ve met some pretty high powered stars who I was very attracted to, and I have never had that experience.”

After batting practice was over I went and sat in the stands where my dad was sitting, and he was like “Are you OK?” and I was like “I don’t know!” He takes my pulse and he’s like, “You’re in shock.” My dad is a doctor.

ELM: Oh my god. Wow.

CT: [laughing] Derek Jeter almost sent me to the hospital! And I didn’t even say anything to him! This is just him walking near me and walking away. [ELM sighs] I was just, OK, that’s terrible. The next time I met him was in a fan context where I was not credentialed, whatever, I was in total fan mode wearing my pinstripes. And autograph hounding, at one of the stadiums. And I ran up to a place where people were trying to get Jeter’s autograph, and I was like the third person in line. I told him, while he was signing a thing for me, I said, “You know, the last time I met you I almost passed out.” And he looks me straight in the eyes and puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “Are you OK now?” [all laugh] I’m like, “Yes, I’m fine now. It was just that one time. I’m used to you now.” And then I did not tell him that story the next time I met him, which was in a totally professional context.

ELM: You just played it totally cool the third time?

CT: The next time was another year after that and I was just like, “OK, now we’re cool.” [laughing]

ELM: That’s so good.

CT: I had never had that experience in my whole life. In all my years of fangirling whoever, Derek Jeter is the only one who almost made me pass out. My mother’s reaction to that was “Well, it’s nice to know you’re not jaded.” [all laugh]

ELM: That’s really funny.

CT: I can tell you guys stories about baseball all day long. So now my “day job” is I’m a romance writer, so what did I do? I had to write an erotic romance about baseball. So there’s one of those out there called The Hot Streak. So I have not tried to get press credentials since publishing that. So, I don’t know what are they going to think about it? Because the two sides don’t really meet. The romance writer job and the baseball job just don’t cross over ever.

FK: When are you really gonna kick down that closet door, Cecilia? When are you gonna kick it down and be like “Hey guys! Signed copies for everybody in the dugout!”

CT: Here’s my dream: some years ago, I don’t know if you guys saw this, but there was a line of romances done that were licensed by NASCAR, and they were all about NASCAR drivers.

FK: I remember this.

CT: And it wouldn’t be a real driver. It would be, like, Nancy Warren or a fairly well-known mid-list romance writer would be sent to meet a NASCAR driver and his team and observe the place, whatever. And then she would write a fictional hero, for our heroine to fall in love with. So it wouldn’t actually be Dale Earnhardt Jr. or somebody. But then the driver would have a cameo, the real driver would have a cameo in the story, of course.

ELM: This is incredible.

CT: And they did a whole line of these licensed NASCAR romances!

FK: I remember that I read one of them and it wasn’t half bad, surprisingly.

CT: I really liked the Nancy Warren one that I read. And I was just like, I really really hope that at some point in the future—I don’t know who would be the person to make this happen, cause it’s probably not gonna be me, it probably has to be someone higher up than me—to try and make a line of Major League Baseball licensed romances. MLB always talks about how the female fan is so important to them—

ELM: Sure.

CT: —it’s wives and mothers who make the decisions on how to spend the money to go to games, all that kinda thing, and actually more than 50% of hardcore baseball fans by MLB’s own demographic data are women.

FK: Right.

CT: And they realize that this is super important, blah blah blah—women baseball fans have been super important since all the way back when they would have Ladies’ Day to make sure there was a day when ladies felt safe coming to the ballpark, when there wouldn’t be too much cussing and spitting. [laughs]

ELM: Classic dude things.

CT: Yeah, that kind of thing, because they knew that—so that’s my dream, that there should be a line of MLB licensed romances and that I would get to write one.

FK: An excellent dream.

ELM: So the question to me is, I’m a football fan, that’s the sport that I like. And I have noticed in advertising in the last few years, it’s been a lot more gender—it’s getting closer to gender parity. Women will be in the ads. Female football fans. But it often feels like it’s partly women being celebrated cause they’re, like, as chill as the dudes. It’ll be like “I have the best wife!” and they’re both wearing jerseys and high-fiving. And it seems to me, it’s very interesting to hear that—I get the sense that professional people running professional sports acknowledge that women are a big fan base, but maybe don’t want to necessarily acknowledge that women might bring different cultural perspectives and desires to the game. Right? So, like, MLB can say “It’s great that women want to be fans of this,” but they might not wanna say “Women also would like some romance novels.” Do you think that’s cynical?

CT: I don’t think it’s cynical. I think there’s institutionalized sexism in our culture and that’s gonna show itself in many different ways. And you can take a really cynical view of it where it’s like, “Now you can buy pink hats and pink jerseys and that just means you can spend twice as much as you could when there was just the one official team color.” But it hasn’t felt like that, at least from MLB in the fifteen or so years I think it’s been since the Bud Selig gender fandom report. I don’t remember exactly what it was called.

And they did a lot of things, too, where they wanted to make sure that of all the subcontractors that get licenses for baseball trademarks, for example, some of them would be woman owned companies and things like that. Of course, the result was there was more baseball-themed jewelry, because a lot of the woman owned companies were these kinds of things as opposed to, I don’t know, sports equipment or something. So it was just interesting that it’s gone in that direction. And I’m not exactly a girly girl; you’ll never see me in a pink jersey. I’d rather be in the official team jersey. But that’s cause I’m that kind of nerd, too.

ELM: Right! You’ll be in the official jersey writing erotica. That kinda girl. [all laugh]

CT: Exactly. So there have been a lot of other baseball romances out there too, it’s interesting the direction it’s gone.

ELM: Super interesting.

FK: It’s been such a pleasure to have you on the podcast, Cecilia. Best possible first sports person.

ELM: For sure. 100%.

FK: Easing into it a little bit? Dipping our little toe into the water. Being like. Sports people? Are they gonna bite us? No?

ELM: Thank you for not biting us.

FK: Thank you for not being a shark or a piranha or…

CT: Right right.

FK: A crocodile.

CT: I’m an eel!

FK: Too undulant!

ELM: Just say you’re the Giant Squid, that’s all Flourish wants to hear.

CT: Yeah, yeah. [all laugh] I’m a sea snake! I don’t know.

ELM: Thank you so much, Cecilia!

CT: Thank you for having me.

[Interstitial music]

FK: Oh, it was so much fun to talk to Cecilia!

ELM: Oh my God, she’s been a fan of literally everything.

FK: Not literally everything.

ELM: A lot of things.

FK: I admire her very much for every time she becomes a fan of something, just sort of being like “OK, where’s it gonna take me?” And then it takes her somewhere big.

ELM: Full on, every single time, right? Gonna be going into the radio station, the giant radio station, to be the number one Menudo fan!

FK: And I’m gonna show everybody at my high school and they’re gonna be cool with this.

ELM: It’s like, ohhh, what am I a fan of?!

FK: I don’t know.

ELM: Coupla shows?

FK: I don’t know.

ELM: Books about wizards? I didn’t even pick a new fandom! I just went back to the one I was already in.

FK: At least I branched out.

ELM: Yeah you did! That’s true!

FK: But I am not the number one One Direction fan. And I’m never gonna be.

ELM: Look, I don’t think we should have these fan hierarchies.

FK: You’re probably right.

ELM: Just FYI.

FK: You’re probably right, it’s not healthy to think in those terms. But it was really great to talk to her and maybe we’ll even find a man fan to talk to next time about sports. Now that we know that sports people aren’t gonna hurt us.

ELM: But next time, we’re talking to a lady.

FK: In fact we’re sort of fleeing back into our comfort zone a little bit.

ELM: It’s in fact very much my comfort zone because it’s a friend of mine.

FK: It’s your comfort zone.

ELM: So her name is Anna Breslaw and she’s a journalist, she used to be the sex editor at Cosmo, she’s written for all sorts of publications. Her debut novel came out yesterday, it’s called Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here, and it’s a YA novel about a girl who writes fanfiction. I don’t know, I forgot the word for a second. Fanfiction.

FK: What do you call that?

ELM: Flourish is going to be reading the book, I read the book when it was still a Word document, and you know, it’s kind of—it’s exciting for me and not least because it’s a good friend of mine. So full disclosure on that. But it is exciting for me that, you know, we spent a lot of time comparing Slash and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I’m very excited that there are more books coming out, especially in the YA space, because we just need more fangirl books. I’m curious to talk to her about it.

FK: I’m excited about it too, I’m interested to find out how I feel about it. Will I relate to it better than I related to Fangirl, I don’t know.

ELM: I wonder if you will? We’ll see.

FK: Watch this space for breaking news.

ELM: Oh and can I just say, this is kind of an aside but this relates to what I just said—as of this past week, I agreed, I had been kind of dragging my feet and been like “yeah yeah maybe.” But I have now very enthusiastically agreed to go to Leviosa con, which is a new Harry Potter convention that’s being put together by some old school fans in Las Vegas in early July. I am going to be doing a panel about this very topic with Aja Romano and I’m not sure if anyone else, but definitely two of us, talking about Fangirl being the first.

And there’s a bunch of books aside from this one coming out this year, one that Aja just lent to me is called Gina Slash Finn, and it’s all just done through a series of comment threads and text messages and private messages and Gchats and stuff, and that’s about fandom too. So we’re gonna be talking about these books. So, if you are coming to Leviosa you should totally come see that, but if you are interested in Harry Potter here’s a plug for the con. And Flourish should be coming. But she’s not.

FK: I don’t know, it’s hard, I’ve been traveling so much.

ELM: But Flourish. It’s gonna be really fun.

FK: [doubtfully] I don’t know. I might be a surprise guest. Or I might not.

ELM: OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD.

FK: No, I mean I really might not, so don’t, like.

ELM: It’s leviosa.org, and I know there’s still tickets and there’s day passes for the whole thing, so you should come!

FK: And with that we should probably say goodbye until the next episode.

ELM: We should. And as always if you wanna get in touch with us, fansplaining at Gmail, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook.

FK: We love getting mail, and you should also review us on iTunes if—

ELM: Oh my God, everyone who’s reviewed us on iTunes is literally the nicest person on the face of the earth. They made me cry.

FK: How can they all be the nicest?

ELM: They are amongst the nicest people.

FK: There we go.

ELM: Look, I’m an English major, Flourish, are you trying to Englishsplain me?

FK: [snickers] All right, I will talk to you later Elizabeth.

ELM: Flourish. OK bye.

FK: Bye!

[Outro music]

FK: The opinions expressed in this podcast are not those of Stratus Media Ventures, Chimera Media Group, Chaotic Good, or our clients, or our employers, or anyone’s except our own.

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