In Spring of 2000, my friend Aja sent me an email with a link to a website. It was my introduction to fan fiction and more specifically N'SYNC fan fiction. I began to read a chapter of a story about an ordinary girl who somehow met the group and one fo the guys fell for her and she for him and things happened. Drama and hilarity and romance ensued. Initally, I wasn't impressed. It seemed so contrived, so formulamatic, so ridiculous. I can remember sitting my/Garry's bedroom in Moraga, writing Aja a resonse that somewhat expressed that. And then I promptly forgot about FictionLyn.
About a month later, Aja came to visit me in CA and "No Strings Attached" dropped and we both went from N'SYNC fans to some form of fanatics, as did a large chunk of the 12-24 year old women of America. We bought tickets to their tour stop mid-June in Portland and by summer, I'd moved back to Vancouver and we were reunited. The summer of 2000 (Summer of N'SYNC Lovin' as I will forever think of it as) began. Aja met this girl online named Lauren and soon she became our third leg in our pop music loving tripod. When I asked Aja how she'd met Lauren online, she told me again about FictionLyn and this entire discussion forum linked from her website. All of these N'SYNC/fan fiction people hung out there and chatted about stories, pop culture, shared pictures of the guys and other various pop/celebutants, as well as their own personal lives and such. It was there that Aja and Lauren had connected and made plans to meet offline. Lauren was awesome, so I was quick to log on, sign up and discover that the world of fan fiction wasn't just this one chick who called herself FictionLyn. There were so many websites with all these people trying their hand at writing and living out a fantasy on paper - or rather, on the computer screen.
Of course, I had to try my own hand at it. I mean, I was in college to become a novelist. It was so up my alley. Yes, I had a website. Yes, it is still online (why, I don't know. I'm lazy.) No, I will not link it. And while it may not have had the following that FictionLyn did, where hundreds of girls waited with baited breath for the next chapter to be posted, I'd say my stories were pretty damn good. And at least five people were on my update email list.
The thing about FictionLyn was that she hid behind her pseudonym. Sure, she'd post on the forum, she'd respond to people's questions and comments, she'd even got as fas as to personally email you and if you struck her right, she'd even name a (minor) character after you (ME), but no one really knew her. Lauren not only was a fan and a phenominal writer herself, but she was also a moderator on the FictionLyn forum. She knew FL better than anyone that I knew and she still didn't know all that much. You have to remember that this was 2000. It was before 9/11, before Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, before camera phones, iTunes and iPods and everyone having their own digital camera. It was a time for avatars and homemade graphics, Napster was in it's hayday, and a whole lot of Photoshop love. We all hid, to a certain extent, behind our screen names, mostly because we didn't have the courage or the means to post pictures of ourselves. But she was FictionLyn. If anyone I knew should be posting at least one picture of herself on her page, it was her. And she did, occasionally, but they were generally pictures from her childhood - brown and faded and fuzzy - just how I imagine the 1970's were.
She was a mystery, which definitely added to her allure, but also made it easy for her to walk away when she was done. It also helped to support the fantastical world that her sagas (because, truly, that was what they were) created. Her stories, like all the really good ff stories, took these unobtainable, unreachable celebrities that we drooled over, dreamt of and dedicated hours of ourselves to and made them a bit more tangible. Well-built imagery could put you in that room with JC as he leaned it for that ever-so-sweet first kiss and make nearly grown women swoon.
FictionLyn wrote four or five stories. Painstakingly perfected sagas that she wrote drafts of and edited and typed up herself and posted. And then, she was done. She tried to move from fan fiction stories that included our beloved boyband to stories based entirely on the fictional characters she'd created to support her stories. I don't know if she ever finished that story. Her stories remained online for awhile, but they were taken down. FictionLyn faded away, as did the group of N'SYNC and the FictionLyn forum turned into a community sounding board for the diehards that never left and the newbies who caught on at the tailend of it all. I personally was sucked into my sophomore year of college and my relationship with Z and drifted away myself. I can't even remember how to find the forum.
I started reading Twilight this week and though I am only a handful of chapters in so far, I am enthralled. The feelings the author stirs up with her imagery and first person narration already has me twitterpatted and last night, as lounged in my bubble bath, I was there. I could feel what Bella was feeling and blush at the idea of a devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful boy staring at me. Rescuing me. Suddenly making an unbearable place interesting and somewhat worthwhile. Three chapters in and I am already sad there are only four books.
I feel that an amazing author is someone who can create a world that I would want to live in. And my favorites have all done that. I tried to explain this sensation once to Aja, but she didn't grasp what I was trying to tell her. And though I fancy myself a writer, I still to this day, have yet to be able to describe it. But between the imagery and the storyline and the setting itself, my favorites are the ones that make me want move in. Envelope myself inside it's world - regardless of what sorts my personal life is in. Lisa Carey does this nearly every novel of her's she's written. Judy Blume did it in Summer Sisters. And Stephenie Meyer is totally doing it with her Twilight series.
I never knew FL's full name. For all I know, she has a Facebook or a Myspace page. She could be married now, with kids and a dog or she could still be living with her cats, teaching school and hopefully looking for "Mr. Right". Does anyone know whatever happened to FictionLyn?