**CAUTION! ONE SPOILER FOR STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI AT THE END OF THIS POST**
OK, I admit it. And I’m sure this will come as a total surprise (not). I have always been a bit of a fangirl. Back from the time I first encountered the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon as an eight year old, to journeys through film, novels, television, theatre, and back again, I’ve been someone who grabs hold of a text, falls in love, analyses, obsesses, imagines and then reimagines. Fandom has been with me, in one form or another, for my whole life, and it makes me deliriously happy that the internet now means that fans like me, of whatever age, can take part in it, and share their thoughts and ideas with others. Back in the day (well, pre 1996, anyway!) fandom was quite a lonely place if you didn’t have anyone to share the obsession with, but the internet changed all that.
For a long time now, I’ve been working on my original writing (as two and a half Little Somerby novels will attest), but every so often I take a little break to play in fandom again, when I feel that itch to play with someone else’s toys. There has been nothing more satisfying than creating my own world, with my own characters, but I still like to retreat back into fandom when I feel that tingle of attraction for a new text. And the best thing about it is that I never know when fandom will happen. I’ll watch film after film, show after show and…nothing. But then, like the first flip of the stomach that occurs during love at first sight, it happens. The tingle, the fannish neurons firing, the rush of adrenaline…the fandom romance begins.
First I’ll have a long think. What has caught my eye this time? Why? And, most often, who? Because I’m a hopeless romantic, it’s usually a relationship that will push my buttons. From Hank and Sheila to Mulder and Scully to Arnold Rimmer and Yvonne McGruder, through James May and Jeremy Clarkson, Guy of Gisborne and Marian of Knighton, Jim Prideaux and Bill Haydon…you get the picture. Occasionally it’s a solo character (like my recent John Wick obsession), but usually there’s a pairing involved.
Then, there may be fanfiction written, or, if I’ve got time, fanvids made. Playlists for characters or pairings might be created. And, thanks to the internet, I’ll google the hell out of the film, characters and pairings until I’ve read every story, looked at every piece of fanart, watched every fanvid and followed every parody account on twitter (Emo Kylo Ren, anyone?!).
So what is it this time that’s grabbed my attention? Well, in short, it’s Star Wars. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved the franchise for a long time – and even wrote some fanfiction about the original trilogy back in the day and read a fair few of the novelisations, but I’ve never seen the prequels, I missed Rogue One and the cinematic release of The Force Awakens passed me by, too. However, when TFA popped up on Netflix last weekend, I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce Star Wars to my daughters. And I’m so glad I did! There will be another post sometime about my pride that my two girls wanted to be Rey all the way through the film, but for now, let’s think fandom.
The minute the Rey/Kylo Ren arc began, I was sold. Strong yet vulnerable heroine? Check. Conflicted, tall, dark, handsome antagonist? Check. Chemistry between them that nearly melted my eyeballs? Oh hell, check! They don’t have a lot of screentime, but what they do have is worth its weight in C3PO’s golden shell. And I understand it gets better in The Last Jedi. Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver sparkle so brightly in this film, that I’m driven to write, vid, playlist and generally squee over Reylo (which is what the pairing is known as online) until I lose my voice, my fingers go numb and my eyes are square. Yup, if Kylo/Ben is Mr Darcy crossed with Professor Snape, and Rey is Lizzie Bennet with more than a sprinkling of Princess Leia, then I’m shipping with the best of them.
Both of them have that incredible mix of toughness and vulnerability, of not knowing truly where their place is in the world, and the fear that actually that place may be by the other’s side. Oh, the angst! And their connection confuses, arouses and terrifies them both. What more could a fangirl ask? Of course, in the real world, boys with issues as huge as Ben Solo’s would be terrifying to date, but in the fictional world? Bring it on, baby.
So I’m fully on board this ship, and I’m looking forward to seeing TLJ to see what Rian Johnson does with it. I’ve prepared myself thoroughly with spoilers (because, frankly, I couldn’t not), and I can’t wait to see where these two go next. Oh, Reylo, you are my Christmas ship, until work begins again on book 3 in January. and I’m going to love every last sparklingly angsty moment of you. Especially when I’ve got this sequence to look forward to in TLJ….look closely at exactly what Rey does with her hand, and you’ll see why the Reylo shippers of twitter are currently coming over all unnecessary (including me!)…