**WARNING** This post contains politicians, some allusions to sexual situations and discussion of and links to Real Person Fiction. Proceed only if you are comfortable with such concepts.
I spent many, many years writing fanfiction before I eventually started working on my first piece of original fiction. I learned my craft playing with established characters, established settings. I wrote mainly romantic fanfiction. I’ve always been a ‘shipper’ right back from the days I watched Dungeons and Dragons as a child and wanted Hank the Ranger and Sheila the Thief to just kiss (I actually got the chance to put this on the record when I took part in the audio commentaries for the DVD box set release), and my fanfiction has always leaned towards this as an angle. So I suppose it’s no surprise that I’ve written a novel with a central theme of romance.
This tendency to see narratives in everything does mean I look at the world in what could be perceived as a skewed, or odd way, though. While my forays into fanfiction were, for a long time, confined to fictional universes (X Files, D&D, Red Dwarf, Robin of Sherwood, Doctor Who etc), in more recent times this storytelling fixation has spilled across into more ‘real’ areas. This started around ten years ago when I stumbled across some Lord of the Rings Real Person Fiction (RPF) shipping Viggo Mortensen with Orlando Bloom. Sean Bean might even have been thrown in there for good measure. I was simultaneously hooked by the narrative and rather unsettled. Surely there has to be a line over which fanfiction does not cross? Wasn’t it a tad ‘off’ to be writing fiction about very real people? However, I had to concede that a lot of what I read was extremely well written, and obviously written with great affection for the protagonists.
Of course, with my aforementioned tendencies to tell the hidden story behind everything, it wasn’t such a great leap for me to dip a toe into the murky waters of RPF. And for a long time, I had enormous fun reading and writing fic in a couple of RPF worlds. Top Gear was my first RPF love; I produced some of the best writing I’ve ever done within that arena, and written an analysis of my impressions of the subgenre. Drowning, a post Series 9 Episode 1 story that deals with my interpretations of what went on after the filming of Richard Hammond’s first episode back since his near-fatal crash in 2006, was one I adored writing. Not least because I had an excellent critical friend in my dear friend Sealgirl, who pushed me and pushed me to get it right, and who wrote her own response to the fic, which tells the other side of the story. I also mused quite a lot on the ethics of RPF, in a Livejournal post here.
I’ve posted a link to the other piece of RPF I’m proud of before; called Caesura, it’s an imagined conversation between Richard ‘Guy of Gisborne’ Armitage and Lucy ‘Marian’ Griffiths on the eve of shooting Marian’s death scene. Conversations, what ifs, speculative fics all answer unanswerable questions, and when it’s RPF, I think there’s an added frisson.
However, the reason I’m riffing on fanfic in general, and RPF in particular again is rather more political than creative. Now, bear with me, this will take some explaining! In May 2010, I was the new mother of a two month old baby. At that same time, there was a General Election in the UK. A coalition of the Conservative (Right) and Liberal Democrat (Centre) parties resulted when there was no clear parliamentary majority. The two party leaders, David Cameron and Nick Clegg became Prime Minister and Deputy PM respectively. Forgive the egg sucking, those of you who are native to the UK, or to whom this is very old news.
Immediately the coalition was formed, the press, notably Adam Boulton of Sky and the BBC’s own Nick Robinson, started to play the shipping game. There was a press conference in the Rose Garden at 10 Downing Street that reeked of marriage vows, and many a joke was made in the print and television media about civil partnerships and the like. Shortly after, I discovered the UK Lolitics community on Livejournal, and realised that I wasn’t alone in my create-a-narrative-and-perhaps-we-can-all-forget-how-shit-the-economy-is stance. Clameron was born, and Prime Minister’s Question Time became my new favourite radio show. I loved being able to speculate on the Westminster psychodrama. Somehow, turning it all into a story made the bleakness of the economic and political outlook more bearable, and I did hope that, with Clegg by his side, the unmitigated evil of Cameron’s Tory party might be diluted somewhat. Time, and history, and various newspapers will illustrate that this optimism has been betrayed a fair bit over the course of the parliament, but I have no wish to make this an overtly political post; more a narrative one.
Five years on, and the marriage is soon to become a decree absolute. There won’t be any more fluffy fics about cosy coalition evenings. After a particularly heated PMQs back in October 2014, just after Douglas Carswell had swapped from the Tory party to UKIP and some twat named Freud (no, not that Freud!) made some really crappy remarks about people with disabilities not being worth the minimum wage, my narrative senses twitched, and I started to write Clameron fanfic. Now, I’d read plenty, obviously, and I’d even written an article for the English and Media Centre’s Media Magazine about Politics as the new fandom. And there was this, of course:
I blame the post natal hormones for that. And my liking for posh boys ;). I had, however, stopped short of writing my own fic.
I decided that I needed to get it out of my system. So I wrote Clameron angst, with a good dose of blowjobs on the side. This is my farewell to the pairing that sustained me through so many night feeds with my elder daughter, and, for a little while at least, gave me hope that there would be a new era of co-operation in British government. Yes, I know it’s not real, and yes, I know there are far more serious issues at stake than who’s shagging who at the top of the Westminster tower, but, with my insatiable desire to imagine the story behind the situations, it’s been a blast. Fandom will never see the likes of Clegg and Cameron again…
And if that’s not enough to put you off reading, then here it is: Ashes and Roses