One of the most widely recommended fics in the X-Files fandom comes from this week's talented author dashakay. Take quick look around tumblr at lists of favorite fic and you'll find "Blinded by White Light" at the top of almost all of them. It's a gorgeous a/u that belongs on any must-read list, but if that's the only work you've read by dashakay you're missing out! One of my favorite stories around the revival is "A Bowl of Soup," which is a short but sweet take on how Mulder and Scully get back together. It's a story I can hear as I read it and you may find a happy sigh at the end, as I did. You can guess from the title that "Borrowed and Blue" is about a wedding, and it's a story that to me perfectly suits where Mulder and Scully should be in their relationship right now. The little details really bring it to life and a crossover character pairing opened up my mind for all sorts of new headcanons. These are just a few examples of dashakay's excellent work and your reading time would be well spent on any of her stories.
We talked with dashakay about writing, The X-Files, and being a long-time author in the fandom.
How long have you been a Phile?
Oh boy. I’d probably count 1998 as the year I really entered Philedom headfirst.
What was your first episode?
Believe it or not, it was “Home,” and it disgusted me and also scared the pants off me. I went to work the next day and said, “Do any of you guys watch The X-Files? It’s TERRIBLE!” Ha, little did I know...
How long have you been writing fic?
I posted my first fic in May of 1998, so eighteen years ago. Wow, I had no idea it had been so long! I’ve taken some long hiatuses from writing in those eighteen years.
For more questions read after the jump.
What inspired you to start writing?
I discovered fanfic when I stumbled onto the alt.tv.x-files.creative Usenet newsgroup and started voraciously reading everything I could get my hands on. After a few months I thought to myself, why not give it a try? I’d always loved writing and fanfic seemed like a cool creative outlet. My first fic was just awful but I was determined to work on my writing and get better, no matter what.
Who is your favorite XF character to write?
I love writing Mulder and Scully but my secret favorite character is Skinner. I love getting beneath the surface of his starched shirts and scowls to explore man himself. My headcanon is that he’s a sappy romantic at heart.
Are there any XF characters you dislike or find too difficult to write?
I’ll definitely give any character a try but Krycek isn’t my favorite. I just don’t understand his motivations and find it hard to get into his head. I’ve never even tried to write from CSM’s point of view. He’s an interesting guy but I’m not into pure evil.
Is there a story you're most proud of or that's a favorite?
Like many writers, I think my favorite stories are ones that aren’t terribly popular. I’m especially proud of "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" because it explores what some of the very real consequences of what giving up William and living as a fugitive might be for Scully. It was one of those weird out-of- body writing experiences where I sat down and banged the story out in less than an hour. It was almost as if I weren’t actually writing and was channeling the fic instead. I also like how "Honeycomb and Daffodils" turned out. The language is quite spare but beautiful, which is something I’m not always successful at accomplishing.
Where can people find your work, and what's the best way to send feedback?
Everything I’ve written that I’m not ashamed of is at Archive of Our Own. Readers are welcome to leave comments there or in my Tumblr ask box. Feedback is a real gift to fan writers. I appreciate each and every word I’m lucky enough to receive.
Do you take fic prompts from fans?
Anyone is welcome to send me prompts but I’ll be honest and say that I rarely use them. My brain just doesn’t seem to connect with most prompts. I wish I were a better prompt writer.
What inspires you to keep writing XF fic after so many years in the fandom?
My inspiration ebbs and flows over time. If I’m excited about the X-Files, like last summer and fall with the prospect of S10 to come, I’ll become slightly obsessed and write like mad. If canon disappoints me, like S10 did, it can definitely kill my inspiration. I’ve learned to not sweat it. If I want to write, I’ll write. If not, no big deal.
Have you written your own original characters outside of fandom?
I haven’t written anything original in ages. I’ve accepted that I’m primarily a fanfic writer and that’s just fine with me. I’ve been involved in other fandoms over the years, though, and that’s been fun.
Anything you’d like to share about your writing process?
It mostly involves caffeine. Lots and lots of caffeine and swearing at my laptop screen. And a lot of rewrites.
Do you have a favorite author? (fanfic or published!)
My all-time favorite fic writer is Plausible Deniability. His intelligence, humor, and love of language come through in everything he ever wrote.
William Gibson is, without a doubt, my favorite published author. He takes speculative fiction to a new level with the beauty of his words. Pattern Recognition is a must-read for everyone, even those who think they don’t like speculative fiction.
Is there any advice you'd give to aspiring writers?
Practice, practice, practice. The only way to improve as a writer is to write as much as possible. Find a beta reader who will push you to grow as a writer. Take risks—write that not-so-popular pairing you secretly crave, play with point of view and tense, tackle a casefile that will require a lot of research, do something you’ve never thought you could do. And definitely read a lot of good books, both fiction and non-fiction. Great writing usually grows from great reading.
Anything else you'd like to share that I missed?
I’m so grateful to the X-Files fandom for all the amazing friends I’ve made over the years. I feel lucky to know so many smart, creative, and talented people.
Thank you so much to dashakay for taking the time to talk with us!
Here's a taste of "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," check it out then add it to your reading list!
He smells like Ivory soap and bay rum aftershave. He has big, strong arms that hold her tight when the night gets too close. He wears clean gray tee shirts and plaid boxers to bed. He's a basketball fan and yells at the TV when his team scores. He reads magazines on the couch with his glasses on. He cheerfully eats her stir-fries and salads but he'd much rather be eating a big, greasy pizza. He sleeps with his gun in the bedside table, just in case. He wants to hold her hand in public. He blushes a little after he's kissed her.
He never, ever calls her Scully.
He doesn't call her Dana, either.
Sometimes when she's on her way to work she has to remind herself that her name isn't Dana, her name is Cynthia. She practices it at red lights. "My name is Cynthia," she says with a grimace. "Cynthia Ellingson." She hasn't been Dana Scully in a long time.
Four years of college, four years of medical school, two years of residency and she's a waitress. She's service with a smile, can I take your order sir, is there anything else I can get you. She's all efficiency during her shift, white shirt and black tie, gliding between the tables with trays of osso bucco and tiramisu. In the break room, she counts out her tip money and stuffs it in her pocket. She doesn't have to think when she's out on the floor, filling water glasses and recommending the special of the day.
She doesn't always recognize herself in the mirror. Cynthia is too thin, bordering on gaunt; she doesn't eat enough and probably drinks too much. She has long, dark brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. She wears glasses and red lipstick. On her days off she wears jeans and sweaters, tennis shoes. Cynthia doesn't own any suits or high heels.
She wonders if he's looking for her. She mostly hopes that he's not. He's spent his whole life having to look for somebody.