J.M. Frey’s writing has been featured in the Bedside Press books The Secret Loves of Geek Girls and The Secret Loves of Geek Girls: Redux. We catch up with her to discuss storytelling and the difference between fiction and non-fiction writing.
Writing my chapter “How Fanfiction Made Me Gay” in The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, I had to curb my tendency to Tell Stories. As a writer who started in fiction – well, fanfiction, as the chapter explains – I found myself overindulging.
Non-fiction is not the same beast as fiction, and you can’t always write it the same way. Moments have to connect, little stories need to be told as examples, but the texture of the scene you set doesn’t need to be as thorough because you’re not asking a reader to live wholly within a character, the way you invite the reader into a main character’s head.
Deciding to write first and edit second, I let my flowery prose side run rampant and found myself at about eight thousand words – way too many! Putting on the Editor Hat was painful, too, because I liked the tale I told. Yet, at the same time, it didn’t actually work for what we had been asked to submit.
After I let the chapter rest for a few days I realized what the problem was – I had told a story, but not talked about myself. As an academic, I had always been told not to show the self on the page, and that first person POVs were only for fiction.
But a non-fiction memoir like this demanded talking about myself in the first person, to be present on the page and to address the readers directly. It was strange. It was new. And when I finally figured out how to do it, it was awesome.
(And for those wondering what’s happened since the publication of “Time To Move” in Redux; I eventually moved because I needed a more accessible apartment, not because of my neighbor. But, uh, I was also put in touch with this actor by a production company to discuss producing one of my screenplays. Help!)
J.M. Frey is an author, fanthropologist and professional smartypants. She’s appeared in podcasts, documentaries, and on television to discuss all things geeky through the lens of academia. Her fiction stars girl vigilantes with rocketpacks, clever younger brothers to great epic heroes, polyamory and aliens, and redeemed arch-villains. Her novels has been nominated for CBC Bookies, Lambda Literary Awards, and been awarded grants, stars, and named one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly. You can find her at www.jmfrey.net | @scifrey.
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