DMEB Interview: Siubhan
The very first fanfiction from the DMEB that I read was Siubhan's 'Darth Maul gets PMS'. I was reading it while drinking tea and in some point tea was coming out of my nose because I laughed so much. I remember thinking "I must find out more about this writer." I found her homepage at www.siubhan.com and there was the whole Sith Academy full of funny stories. There was also a page for clues to Siubhan's personality, but let's give the arena for Siubhan so she can tell about herself.
K: Your Web page says: "I'm a loud, obnoxious, bisexual, pagan, almost-30, radical feminist Star Trek fan with an attitude problem." How about explaining that a little?
S: Sure. Well, I was raised to be a feminist and speak my mind, and I come from a family where we're all very direct and to the point. So it comes across as loud and obnoxious to many people, because society trains people, especially women, to be "polite" and quiet instead of honest and loud.
I figured out I was bisexual when I was in my final year of college. I was necking in the back of the college van with Jenny, and figured that this probably meant something :D Oddly enough, I didn't feel traumatized or anything. I just shrugged, thought, "Well, I guess I'm bi," and went back to kissing her.I also became pagan my senior year of college. It was a week before graduation and I hadn't found a job yet. Neither had two friends of mine. We thought we'd tried everything, but then one of us said, "We haven't tried Witchcraft!" so we grabbed her copy of "The Spiral Dance" and made job hunting amulets in the middle of the arboretum on campus that night. I really liked the way it felt--the connection with the Earth, the concept of a goddess as well as a god, and the importance of personal responsibility--and I've been a Witch ever since.
Almost-30. Well, I'm 30 now. Alas.
Radical feminist--you know, that term has been misused so much that I made a conscious decision to use it with pride. Radical means "to the roots." So a radical feminist is simply someone who thinks that the only way to make effective change is to dig to the roots of the problem and work from there. We can't just pass a few laws that say "Oh, and women get these rights now too," we need to dig deep and change society. Being a radical feminist does *not* mean that you support anti-porn censorship. It does *not* mean that you think women are better than men. It does *not* mean that you think women and men will never be able to get along, so you'd better protect women from men. It means that you think that the world can be changed for the better.
As for the Star Trek fan, I should probably take that out. I finally stopped watching Voyager this season. But for about 5 years, I was heavily involved in Trek fandom, so that really defined who I was. I was active in some fan clubs, drew a comic strip, wrote fanfic, did a newsletter. But I'm recovered now
K: When did you have your first contact with Star Wars universe?
S: I was 7 when the first film came out. My dad, who is a big science fiction fan, took me and my little sister to the expensive theater to see it. We never went to the expensive theater. We always waited for movies to go to the cheap theater at the corner of my street. So I knew this was important. I still remember thinking that Vader and all the Stormtroopers were robots.
K: Compared to first three episodes, how well you think that this new Episode 1 carries on the SW legacy?
S: I think it's doing a good job. It's taken the simple and depressing Imperial universe we saw in the original trilogy and made it rich and vibrant. It's a nice contrast. Okay, so I have issues with midichlorians, but I can live with that.
K: When did you start to write Star Wars fanfiction? Was it the first fanfiction you wrote or had you written something else before?
S: I was heavily into Voyager fanfic before switching to Star Wars fanfic. Before that, I'd written a couple of really awful pieces of Next Gen fanfic. The Voyager stuff I wrote was either Chakotay/Paris slash, or extremely silly (or sometimes both). My first Star Wars fanfic was a short pre-slash Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan piece.
K: Your first expression of Maul?
S: The first time I saw the film, I thought he was amazingly cool and grossly under used. I felt totally cheated. The second time I saw the film, I made sure I watched his parts very carefully, since there were so few of them. The third time, I started admitting to myself that yeah, he was sexy. The fourth through fifteenth times I saw it, I was just totally drowning in a puddle of my own drool every time he came on screen.
K: Where did the idea for The Sith Academy come from?
S: A heat-wave. The air conditioning broke at work, and I was probably mildly delirious. As I sat in the company cafeteria, watching the cars whiz by on the highway, I came up with the idea for the first story. I was amused enough by it that I wrote the second one the next day, then the third right after that. I didn't think anything of it. Then a couple other people wrote Sith Academy stories. 151 stories later... I didn't plan this. It just happened.
K: In almost every fanfiction you have written, Maul and Obi-Wan are more or less a couple. Why?
S: I 'm a slasher at heart. I really like watching two beautiful men together. And Obi-Wan and Maul are the two most beautiful men in TPM (in my not so humble opinion). Besides, they're both apprentices, they're both dumped on by their masters, but they're so totally opposite in personality that it's funny to make them a couple. So it's a combination of being funny and being pretty.
K: You also wrote darker stories like 'Requiescat'. Tell us about it. What does the title mean?
S: The title means "A prayer for the repose of the souls of the dead." When I first started writing it, I intended for Obi-Wan to be converted to the Dark Side and to help Maul strike Sidious down. I called it "Requiescat" because he was doing it to avenge Qui-Gon's soul, but ended up needing to save his own instead. But Obi-Wan refused to cooperate, and the story turned out quite differently, but I liked the title so I kept it. And the way I came up with the title? Flipping through the dictionary. I get my best titles by flipping through the dictionary. Whenever I get stuck on a title, I just flip through the dictionary and see what pops out at me. I've gotten some of my best titles that way.
K: From what well do you pull those kind of stories? I find it fascinating that the same person has written 'Everyone loves Yoda' and 'Requiescat', because they are a world apart.
S: Well, I could blame it on the fact that I'm a Libra :D
I've always had a very goofy side and a very serious side. Back when I was writing Chakotay/Paris, I'd go from the pathos of "The Left Hand of Madness" to the horror that was "Sex, Lies, and Neelix." The goofy stuff is really fun to write, and very easy to write as well. The dark stuff takes a lot more work, is much harder, but feels so much more rewarding when it's done. I basically started this story because I wanted to write another Maul/Obi-Wan story, and when I started fishing around for ideas, this is what came to mind. Getting the two of them together plausibly is *not* easy in the least.
Requiescat was harder than the C/P pathos I used to write in many ways. For starters, I wasn't just writing about a relationship. I was writing about opposing philosophies--hell, you could call them opposing religions. The Jedi and the Sith are both very absolutist in their beliefs, and the more I wrote, the more I realized that both were wrong. I'm not a fan of absolutism in any form, and once I realized what I was dealing with, the story took on a whole new importance for me.
It was also made harder by the fact that Maul barely had any screen time in TPM. We got three lines out of him, a few minutes of him standing around, and then a really cool fight scene. That's not enough to get a good sense of exactly what the character's all about. I mean, we learn that he's incredibly focused on the job, and we figure that he must spend a lot of time training to be that good with a double-bladed lightsaber, but that's all. I mean, Sidious leads a double life. Does Maul? Does Maul have a public persona, like Palpatine does? Does he have a day job? Does he associate with other people? Does he have sex? What's he like when he's not on duty? Or is he always on duty? We don't know any of this, so I had to make a lot up and hope that it seemed consistent with what we saw on screen.
Add to that the fact that Obi-Wan is basically a petulant brat through large chunks of TPM. I'm sure that I filled in his personality with Ewan McGregor's, which isn't good writing, unfortunately, but there you have it.
K: I think you managed to describe extremely well how two man with different point of views found common path.
S: This story ran away from me more than any other story ever did. I plotted out what I wanted to have happen from start to finish. I really did. But once I started writing, Obi-Wan refused to let himself get turned to the Dark Side. And then Maul started getting dragged away from the Dark Side by that uncooperative padawan. So the story started rewriting itself. I couldn't figure out where it was going. I'd try to plot something out, and then the boyz would throw me another curve ball. At one point, I had them killing each other and ended the story that way, but my beta readers screamed bloody murder, so I ditched that ending and kept writing. I am pleased with the results, but I don't think I've ever written a story that's been so bloody difficult.
K: And you write beautifully of love making between two males.
S: Thanks, although I did put the sex as a separate part of the story, for people who didn't want to read it. I also think that keeping it as part of the narrative flow would have ruined the pacing of the story. I learned how to write male/male sex from a gay male friend of mine. I loaned him a slash zine of mine, and he read it and told me, "I can tell this was written by women." I asked him to show me how, and he pointed out all the mistakes in the sex scenes--all the things that just didn't work when two men had sex. So when I started writing my own sex scenes, I'd have him look them over for me, give me tips, tell me what was working and what wasn't. It was really helpful.
(copyright, the Darth Maul Estrogen Brigade, 1999)