Recently, I had the great pleasure of speaking with Ms. Aragon about her co-authoring experience with Katie Davis on a book about how fanfiction has helped shape young lives. See the PODCAST LINK at the bottom of this page.
Fanfiction, Youth, and New Forms of Mentoring
Cecelia has co-authored with Katie Davis, a book said to be ” An in-depth exploration of the unexpected ways young people learn from writing fanfiction online. “
About the Book
Over the past twenty years, amateur fanfiction writers have published an astonishing amount of fiction in online repositories. More than 1.5 million enthusiastic fanfiction writers–primarily young people in their teens and twenties–have contributed nearly seven million stories and more than 176 million reviews to a single online site, Fanfiction.net. In this book, Cecilia Aragon and Katie Davis offer a detailed examination of fanfiction writers and fanfiction repositories, finding that these sites are not shallow agglomerations and regurgitation of pop culture but rather online spaces for sophisticated and informal learning. Through their participation in online fanfiction communities, young people find ways to support and learn from one another.
About the Author
Cecilia Aragon is Professor in the Department of Human-Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington, where she is also a Senior Data Science Fellow at the eScience Institute.
Recently, I had the privilege to get an interview with a Professor Emeritus and James Tair Memorial Book Prize-winning author. Brian has written 8 nonfiction books, but our interview focused on his first NOVEL, Money Matters, a literary detective tale.
The main story of Money Matters is narrated by its protagonist Jenny, 27-years-old and a little lost in life. She is still just getting by with two part-time jobs. Asked to look into the disappearance of the CEO’s girlfriend, Jenny reluctantly turns amateur detective and soon finds herself up against a range of powerful and sinister forces, including big money, a corrupt politician, and a Mexican drug cartel.
So the novel is part (late) coming-of-age, part amateur sleuth, part social issues. Immigration, one such issue, permeates both the main plot and subplot featuring an undocumented young Mexican-American. Jenny’s search leads to her meeting the young, handsome director of an immigrants’ rights organization to whom she is strongly attracted. So the novel has elements of romance(as well!).
In our interview we learn more about Brian, his work, and interests.
– Can you share a little of your current work with us? (short synopsis)
Money Matters is my debut
suspense novel that combines a number of genres. Its narrator and major
character is Jenny, a 27-year-old woman who hasn’t got her life together. She
still lives in her sister Tricia’s Venice apartment and survives on two minimal
paying part-time jobs – one doing plant maintenance for Todd, the CEO of a
mutual fund company, the other for a large detective agency replaying
She is persuaded to investigate the disappearance of Todd’s
girlfriend by his Mexican-American housekeeper. Her amateur detective work soon
brings her up against the interests of big money, politics (the novel is set
during the 2010 mid-term election), and a Mexican drug cartel.
It also brings into her life the attractive director of an
immigrant rights organization. The reader is left unsure to the end whether she
will overcome the powerful and dangerous forces opposed to her search for the
– What inspired you to write your first book?
I spent much of my adult life
teaching university students how to read and analyze works of fiction. When I
retired I felt free at last to write a work of fiction myself. Also, the novel
raises questions about immigration, and I emigrated from England over thirty
years ago; so I felt a natural bond to my immigrant characters and their
– Do you have a specific writing style?
I have written seven nonfiction
books (including an award-winning biography of Christopher Isherwood) and in
all of them I have tried to develop as colloquial style as the genre allowed.
Once I turned to fiction I had unlimited use of colloquial language and
developed the voice of my female protagonist to exploit this stylistic trait.
– How did you come up with the title?
Waking up one night it came to me.
Its ambiguous meaning encapsulates so economically Jenny’s fight against the
monetary society she is a part of which accounts for her lack of money, and the
realization that you can’t ignore the role and power of money today. Her
endless fights with her wealthy sister give this dual theme dramatic substance.
– What book are you reading now?
Currently, I am on vacation and
reading travel literature pertinent to places I am visiting. Just before that,
I read Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte, an update of Cervantes Don Quixote set in
contemporary America. It’s a wonderful hodgepodge of buffoonery, literary
parody, social satire, and much more. I have written a long review of it for
the Los Angeles Review of Books that will be published in late October.
– Are there any new authors that have grabbed your interest?
I loved Laila Lalami‘s The Other
Americans, a novel that, like mine, focuses on immigrants’ experience, though
her focus is almost exclusively on an immigrant community. The novel is
short-listed for a National Book Award.
– As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Early on I wanted to be a train
driver as I was under the influence of an elder brother obsessed by railways
who eventually did become a train driver. I soon grew out of that obsession
once my brother left home.
– Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I find I can write with ease,
which doesn’t mean I don’t then have to do a lot of deleting and revising. With
this novel, my biggest challenge was stopping myself from weighting the scales
in favor of Jenny whose views I largely share. I had to spend much time and
effort making Tricia’s arguments as convincing as Jenny’s. I hope I succeeded,
as conflict is at the essence of narrative.
– Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
This book was set in Los Angeles
where I live. But writing my biography of Christopher Isherwood brought me to
Southern California to interview him and his friends, and that in turn led to
my immigrating there.
-Who designed your covers?
Carl Graves at Extended Imagery, a talented book cover designer, as you can see from the cover of my novel.
which is a Finalist in the American Fiction Awards, is now published as an
e-book, paperback, and audiobook. It is available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07W62XLY6/
I also have a website with details of all my books and other publications: www.bhfinney.com
Thanks very much to Brian, and his excellent PR team for getting us in touch. IF you want an interview on Writer Groupie, or a podcast segment, just let us know by leaving a contact form!
Randy has just gotten back from a conference and he tells us all about what happened there, and if it was a good one for you to plan on attending.
We also discussed the latest book Mann in the Crossfire and how Randy hopes it is well received as it may be the last in the series. We talk about how to know when a series has reached its natural end, and what may be coming in the future.
There is a lot of good discussion about writing and the writing life in this video and I hope you will enjoy it.
You can get R Weir’s previous work, Front Range Butcher here at Amazon – this IS an affiliate link.
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Sean Ellis has authored and co-authored more than 20 action-adventure novels, including the Nick Kismet adventures, the Jack Sigler/Chess Team series with Jeremy Robinson, and the Jade Ihara adventures with David Wood. He served with the Army National Guard in Afghanistan, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources Policy from Oregon State University. Sean is also a member of the International Thriller Writers organization. He currently resides in Arizona, where he divides his time between writing, adventure sports, and trying to figure out how to save the world.
To get Sean’s books simply click the cover!
Interview with Sean Ellis
In this episode we learn:
All about Sean and his writing career and how Indiana Jones influenced his writing.
How he got published through small presses and how networking worked for him.
What co-authoring is like for Ellis
Insider info about his latest book, Camp Zero, a futuristic thriller that teaches about survival skills
Discussion about the imagery on the cover and what it means – pitch for our NEXT guests Jerry and Sharon Ahern
Details about categories and how our books get put there thanks to algorithms-where Ellis’s books are listed and why he thinks they are there
How many books are planned for this series beginning with Camp Zero.
Insider info about being a serial writer and whose series has excited Ellis.
Discussion about readers and how they operate with a series, beginning with book one and going forward.
Problems with writing series of books (great info for authors!)
Details about Sean Ellis’s process of writing.
and so, so much more, including his BEST advice for aspiring authors
Listen to my writing news info, personal update, and the AUDIO ONLY version of the interview here:
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Did you enjoy this episode?
If so, please do one (or all) of the following:
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We appreciate you taking the time to check out WGP! And we look forward to providing you with more content in the next episode!
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