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Author Interview: ImogenLee

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Rosann’s Writing Room with Imogenlee

April 2024

This month I’m featuring Imogenlee! She has burst onto the fandom fanfic scene like a hurricane, holding the record for the Larry fic with the most hits in 2023. 

This is a regular installment of No Stunts Magazine, so if you’re excited about authors and peeking behind the curtain in their brains, I encourage you to look at the last few issues for profiles of BananaHeathen, ItsMotivatingCara, CuckooTrooke, _LilyBlue28, Green_Feelings, BoosBabyCakes, KingsOfEverything, Jacaranda_Bloom, Sunflouwerhabit, Outropeace, LoveLarry10, and Superglass. 

If you like this feature, want to chat, or give me suggestions for future profiles, please hit me up on X. @Rosann_1986.

Handle: @ImogenLeeWriter on X and Imogenlee on AO3

Pronouns: She/Her

Works: You Can Hear It In The Silence, You, Me (and everyone we know)- WIP, Save Me (from myself), You’re Not My Type (still I fall), Get Out Of My Head (and I’ll get out of yours), Pitching A Plotline (if you want to play along)

Rosann: Thanks for being with us today. First off, what do you like people to call you? 

Imogen: Imogen

Rosann: Welcome, Imogen! How did you decide to get started writing fanfic for the 1D/Larry fandom? 

Imogen: At the start of the pandemic, I downloaded TikTok like the majority of the population. I experienced the well-documented phenomena that a lot of other people seemed to experience, where almost overnight, my FYP turned into a One Direction stan page. I still have suspicions that 1D actually owns Tiktok, and this was their mission all along. Anyway, the 1D rabbit hole connects to the Larrie rabbit hole, which led to me continually seeing videos of a creator recommending Larrie fanfics. One day I gave in and decided to read one in an attempt to see what the fuss was about, and I immediately fell in love and have been stuck on ao3 ever since.

Rosann: Great origin story! How long did you write before you published for the fandom?

Imogen: I was an avid reader growing up. My stepdad was a primary school teacher, and my mum worked nights. I think he didn’t know what to do with me, so we went to the library several nights a week. Somewhat naturally, my interest in literature translated into a desire to write.

My first memory of writing anything of substance was at 17, when I wrote some original fiction on Quizilla. It had a bit of success, I suppose. I remember on my 18th birthday, I made a bucket list and ‘Publishing a book’ was at the top. 

After that, I wrote intermittently without much purpose or direction. I completed a manuscript once, which was/is absolutely horrendous. It took me at least two years and was only 60,000 words. However, I’m really glad I did finish it because when I was drafting You Can Hear It In The Silence if I ever got really overwhelmed or defeatist, I was able to remind myself that I had finished a manuscript before, so I’d be able to do it again.

Rosann: I love that. Great mantra to get yourself motivated. What’s your favourite fic that you’ve written, and where did the idea come from? How long did it take you from the first idea to publication?

Imogen: I think You Can Hear It In The Silence because there was so much of me in there. I had been drafting Larry fics for a little while and always losing focus or motivation halfway through. 

We were away in a cabin without internet for a weekend, and I finished reading a fic and decided that I was going to finally finish one. I realised the reason I could never finish any of my drafts was that I didn’t care about the story enough. I wrote out a list of everything I had firsthand experience and knowledge on, and another of things that I knew enough about to write about or knew people who could easily give me information to help me write about the topic.

I went through the list and worked out which ones I felt like I could speak about in a way that would be meaningful to both myself and others. I started the draft a couple of hours after that and wrote 5,000 words that night. 

It took me a month to write the 100k-word draft. I had planned to let it rest for a few weeks, edit the entire thing and then upload it completed. I think I let it rest for four days, edited a chapter and a half and then started uploading. So just over a month from the conception of the idea to uploading the first chapter.

Rosann: I am in complete AWE at your ability to write so fast. I’m a slooooow writer and I’m jealous of your word count! 

I don’t want you to out your anonymity, but can you tell us if you’ve written under other names or if you’re perhaps traditionally published? Are you professionally trained?

Imogen: I haven’t really written anything of substance under any other names. I wouldn’t say I’m currently professionally trained. I did do English Literature, Creative Writing, and Linguistics as electives at Uni but for unrelated degrees. 

However, I’ve just started a Graduate Diploma of Writing and Literature. Once complete, if I want to, I can study for another year and get my Master of Writing and Literature. I’m not sure if that’s what I want to do, but I like having the option.

Rosann: That’s amazing. Good luck with that! What’s your favourite trope (if any) to write?

Imogen: Probably (definitely) ‘Enemies’ to Lovers and Exes to Lovers. While it could be seen as me loving angst, it’s not really. I think there is something really beautiful about someone knowing, seeing, and even looking for all your bad qualities and then falling in love with them. I also find the necessary character growth arcs in those tropes especially rewarding.

Rosann: I love enemies to lovers. Such potential with that trope! How do you handle writer’s block (if you experience it)?

Imogen: After crying a lot, I try to work out what is causing it. Generally, it’s one of the following going from the smallest problem to the biggest:

– I haven’t planned out the events of the chapter well enough, so I don’t know where I’m heading.

– I’ve forgotten the goal of the plot point or the plot of the fic as a whole.

– The plot point I am trying to continue is no longer relevant or viable to the fic.

– Whatever I’m attempting to do doesn’t make sense in relation to the characters.

– I’ve somehow ended up in a place I hadn’t intended to be in, and I either have to write myself out of it or make major changes to the rest of the fic.

To work out what the issue is, I generally go through the options one by one. 

Usually, I look at the plan for the chapter, and either that’s enough to reorientate myself, or I see that I need to flesh it out a bit more, and that fixes the issue. 

Occasionally, it’s just my ADHD/ENFP personality getting bored and needing variety, so I’ll either take a break or start something new.

Rosann: Great suggestions! Do you read other things while you’re writing? Why or why not?

Imogen: When I wrote my first fic, I didn’t as I was worried I’d get too confused. I wrote and published 230k words in just over 2 months, so I barely had time for anything else. 

I’ve since realised that the best thing you can do as a writer is to read. This year I’m attempting to read a novel a week, and I’ll read fics if I have time and they pique my interest. I will stay away from fics (and books) that seem to have similar themes to what I’m writing or what I’m planning on writing at some point.

Rosann: I call that ‘feeding the muse.’ I think it’s important to consume other art while you’re creating…

A lot of times, the “real world” frowns on fanfic in general. Have you had this experience? Do your friends and family know what you write–and how do you deal with questions about it?

Imogen: Because I’m too open about everything in my life, a whole lot of people know. To be honest, besides some playful teasing, everyone has been supportive. My mum is arguably too supportive and told our whole extended family about it. That’s really the only time I had to field questions about it. I only gave very basic answers because there was absolutely no reason for all my cousins, aunties, uncles and grandma to read it, but their questions only came from a place of interest. I’d say everyone has varying ideas of what I write. My friends, husband, and mum know it’s Larry based. Other people know it’s 1D related, but I think they probably assume it’s het or Y/N. In some respects, the fact they probably think that I write about throwing my hair in a messy bun and getting sold to One Direction is probably worse than the truth.

Rosann: That last thought made me laugh out loud. You often drop your fics a chapter at a time, do you plot/outline before you write or do you just fly by the seat of your pants?

Imogen: I would love to be a pantser and it definitely fits my personality a lot more, however, it just doesn’t work for me. I get too lost and muddled. I also like to add in breadcrumbs and foreshadow and that’s difficult to do without a plan. I’m always flexible with my outlines and plots and am happy to change and abandon them if necessary, but yeah, in general, I plot/outline/draft everything.

Rosann: I so want to pick your brain about how you do that! You do it so well. What are your thoughts on writing/consuming smutty smut for people not in that same community and (assuming) they haven’t been in those situations? i.e. Can non-queer authors write smut?

Imogen: My thoughts on this topic are quite nuanced. I think that representation in media and literature, especially of marginalised groups, is something so incredibly important. If everyone only writes based on their personal experiences, that will hinder progress. 

On top of that, if a writer is queer but hasn’t had any sexual experience and therefore hasn’t been in those situations, it would be wrong to say that they couldn’t write smut. I identify as queer. However, I’m a cis woman and therefore write about a lot of things that I haven’t had experience in because I’m simply unable to have those experiences.

Based on that, I do think that it is okay for everyone to consume and write smut. However, I think there are a few things that still need to be considered regarding that. 

Firstly, I personally believe I have a responsibility to research and portray everything I haven’t experienced so that I can represent it accurately and in a way that doesn’t cause harm.

I also think, on a personal level, it can be helpful to reflect on why you consume the smut that you do in every aspect. I think there are a lot of valid reasons that people non-queer, and cis women are drawn towards M/M smut. But I do think identifying them can be helpful, and then you can assess whether that’s something worth working through.

Lastly, as with most representation, we should amplify the voices of those that we are representing and respect their experiences and knowledge. Obviously, one person cannot speak for a community as a whole, but if it is safe to do so, we should ensure we provide space for and listen to those who we claim we are trying to represent.

Rosann: That’s an amazing answer, thank you for that. The idea of amplifying marginalised voices is so important. 

I’ve noticed that a lot of writers include people from the boys’ real lives/situations. What are your thoughts on including personal things like that or not? 

Imogen: Personally, I tend to stay away from their real-life situations. I will occasionally use family members’ names purely to streamline the process. However, if I intend to portray them in any way that isn’t positive or, at the very least, neutral, I will use original characters as family members. 

Rosann: Lately, there has been some discussion on stan Twitter about what authors of fanfic “must” do (for example, provide trigger warnings). What do you think a writer has responsibility for to their readers? Conversely, do you think readers have any responsibility to writers (for example, leaving kudos or comments)?

Imogen: As per ao3, there is actually a mandate in place regarding trigger warnings, and at the very, very, very least, I think it should be followed. As below:
Warning Tags

The Archive of Our Own has chosen, for legal and other reasons, to mandate that users either warn for—or explicitly choose not to warn for—a short list of common warnings: Graphic Depictions of Violence, Major Character Death, Rape/Non-Con, and Underage. 

As per other trigger warnings, it’s…tricky. I think it’s in everyone’s best interest to provide warnings when appropriate. I don’t want anyone to be harmed because of something I’ve written if I can prevent it. 

As for readers, all I ask is that they understand that they aren’t entitled to fanfiction. If you’re not enjoying something, click off. If you can’t handle WIP’s because of the unpredictability of writers’ lives, don’t read them.

As for everything else, I don’t think they have a responsibility to do any of that, but it’s really, really lovely and appreciated when they do. 

Rosann: Great answer. Fanfiction is such a gift and we appreciate you sharing yours with us! Thank you so much, Imogen, for taking the time to answer my questions!

Please follow Imogen on X at @ImogenLeeWriter and see her works at Imogenlee on AO3.

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