As many of you know, Fictionmania is an online repository of transgender/transformation fiction, a no-frills, anyone-can-post bank of 35000 stories by hundreds of authors over more than two decades. When I first logged on in my late teens, the site’s mid-90’s origins probably seemed more distant to me than my own brief time posting stories there, in 2005 and 2006, does now.
I posted a total of six entries comprising four stories; one was serialized in three parts to guage how people reacted to the way it unfolded. (Although each post represented “two parts” so it was really a six-parter.)
Two of these were “Altered Fates” Stories featuring the fictional (probably) Medallion of Zulo, which can be used in-story to evince a transformation between two people, or into a duplicate of a person who had worn an item of clothing, or – supposing you had somehow acquired an article that had never been worn by a real person, I guess – a version of yourself that would fit the article. It is an open universe anyone could play with, and I liked the concept because it was extremely versatile and lent itself to a lot of different premises. Plus I enjoyed working with a concept people had already been familiar with.
Although anyone would cringe at writing they had produced at 18 – and therefore I haven’t read these stories in over a decade – they were both met very positively in the site’s reviews, despite one or two fair nitpicks. One, “The Director’s Cut”, told the story of an aspiring director who is forced to find a replacement for his missing leading lady. The other, “The After-Effect” explored a character who had been transformed into male virtually at birth and given a chance to experience the life he had missed. (Perhaps unconsciously, I was recalling the story of Ozma, which I had seen in the form of an animated adaptation of the Oz series.) They were praised for being different from the usual fare, and one commenter even declared mine their favourite AF story!
The other two stories were much more unconventional by the standards of Fictionmania: “Fugue” told the story of a woman who woke up in a hospital convinced she was a man who had been transformed into a woman, only for the doctors to assert she had only suffered an episode called “psychogenic fugue,” where one’s entire sense of identity is erased. This was my way of toying with expectations and flipping the usual formula on its head, by not even definitively delivering the expected physical transformation. Similarly, “Tableaux” told the story of a single soul torn between two possible lives – a male and female one, seen in snippets through their entire development, knowing that whatever choice it makes, the other will die. These touch on some of my pet themes, the total loss of identity, and rebirth/reincarnation.
My recollection was that neither of these were warmly received, but that’s not exactly accurate – from the small sampling of responses, many were impressed by my intentions, and some by the execution, with only a small number left scratching their heads. I feel about my writing from back then – and even today sometimes – a tendency for my reach to exceed my grasp, which combined with certain readers not getting what they wanted from a FM story into a negative recollection of these stories overall, but the truth is a lot kinder.
It was, and is, important for me to expand and explore the possibilities within and beyond the self-imposed limits of genre, the same way as I am fixated on trying to get beyond the limits of the body and the mind – in between providing hopefully really enjoyable examples of conventional transformation stories. It cam be a hard balance to strike when also trying to give people what they want and expect.
Just the other weekend, while promoting my story “The Fish in the Desert” on Twitter, I commiserated with another author about how important it is to push oneself and live up to your ambitions. And of course, while you’re doing that, there’s always still room for straightforward and lighthearted material, as long as you give it your best.
Even though I may wince at reading stuff I wrote 15 years ago, I haven’t exactly asked FM to take the stories down, or hidden the fact that I wrote them. They’re quite good for an 18-year-old, and the ideas are not only viable but still completely in line with what I want to be writing today. Someday, you may see total updates of each of them on this site.
So go ahead and click the above link and read them if they sound OK to you, just remember to be kind. Don’t forget to read my current-day writing, subscribe/follow the site, find me on Twitter, comment, or e-mail me if you like.
Have a great weekend and be kind