Featured Super Heroine: Jennifer Gallinat

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be a Super Heroine.

jgallinat_laurell-k-hamiltonI’m originally from Michigan and lived there for 27 years before moving to St. Louis.  I actually moved to St. Louis pretty much on a whim, and based – in a large part – from how Laurell K. Hamilton described the area in her Anita Black, Vampire Executioner series.  Previously, my dream city was Boston, based on the Veggie Tales song, “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.”  Pop Culture is sort of a huge influence on my life.

One of the most exciting things I was able to do shortly after moving here was attend a book talk and signing by Ms. Hamilton.  When I explained that she was the reason I moved here, literally her entire entourage – significant other, bodyguards, herself – stopped (you could almost hear the needle scratch on the record), eyed me funny, and then apologized.  I told her I loved the city, and she signed my copy of Strange Candy as follows:

“To Jennifer, I’m Sorry and You’re Welcome.”

It’s still the best and most intimate inscription I’ve ever received, and I’ve given plenty of other authors loads of prompts!

I don’t actually recall when I became a Super Heroine; to quote Mr. Darcy, I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”  I had attended a few SHE in the Pub talks and some craft nights, but I think it was the Screenwriting Workshop for Women that really reeled me in.  As a shy extrovert (or an extroverted introvert), I can perform well in large social settings, but I do much better in smaller groups with a common topic/project.

 

You have been a Super Heroine for a few years now and attended quite a few events. Which one has been your favorite and why?

Given the range of events that SHE puts on, it’s difficult to pick one out of all the different styles.  I enjoy the regularity of SHE in the Pub, while still providing a diversity of topics.  I thought last year’s “Drinks & Curios” was a fun smorgasbord style of a fundraiser.  But if I really had to pick a “fav,” it’d be the Screenwriting Workshop, for the reasons listed above and also because it provided me with some resources and information about that style of writing.

 

jgallinat_alice-2This month’s theme is Winter Fandom Fest. What are your TOP fandoms?

Probably my biggest fandom is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  BTVS aired my junior year in high school – meaning Buffy and I were only a year apart – so she and I sorta grew up together.  I hold that show very dear in my heart, and I really resonated with her and the “reluctant hero” archetype she had going on.

I also have an obsession with Alice in Wonderland (no, seriously, like someone should probably host an intervention for me).  Years ago, at a pretty illogical work place (aren’t they all?!), I had an experience that echoes the scene where the Cards are painting the roses red to avoid the Red Queen’s wrath.  I realized I could write an entire roman á clef novel casting my colleagues, supervisors, and partners in the various roles from the novel, and the love for (and application of) Alice… only grew as time went on.

jgallinat_j-fforde-pic-2I’m also a HUGE fan of Jasper Fforde’s various book series.  I know most people put Neil Gaiman as one of the top Nerd/Fandom authors, and while I adore his Sandman series, it will always be Jasper who gets the most Nerd Love from me.

My first real love though is /The Last Unicorn./ I think even as a small child I resonated with not feeling like I fit in, and I grew up on the film (and it’s soundtrack).  It’s still my go-to movie when I’m feeling down AND I have a tattoo of the Unicorn.  I’ve since read more of his work, and even named my cat after a character from one of his other novels.  It was a real coup then when I was able to meet the author, Peter S. Beagle, a few years ago during a film tour.

Otherwise, I have love for a lot of other popular fandoms – Firefly, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Game of Thrones, Marvel (if the Science Center has hosted a First Friday on it, I probably like it) – but I’m not sure I’d claim them as my fandoms.  Mainly because when I compare myself to other “fans,” I don’t seem to have their same level of knowledge and passion as they have.  I mean, I love those franchises, but I won’t be winning any trivia contests on them.  In fact, I think the last contest I won from pop culture knowledge was my freshmen year in high school over my love affair with The X-Files (I seriously kept a “case file” on the first season’s episodes and had a whole “X-Girl” outfit for Fridays, which is when the show aired initially).  I do like dressing up for various events associated with the fandoms (book and film releases, First Fridays).  But it also extends to really anything where dressing up is encouraged (or I think it’s encouraged).  The History Museum hosted a “Step Into History” photo-op each month during St. Louis’s 250th celebration, and I had way too much fun dressing up to fit in for those.jgallinat_step-into-history

I think I’m more a fan of Fans, if that makes any sense.  I really enjoy (and admire) how the community (of whatever fandom) supports and welcomes one another, and how their dedication and enthusiasm to their fandom leads to all sorts of amazing things, like new genres of rock, or festivals and conferences, or websites.  I definitely feel like a dilettante when I’m around a hard-core fan, but the great thing about fandoms is as long as you’re willing to respect and embrace their love for it, it doesn’t really matter if you know all the episodes (or books) by heart.  Just revel in the magic.

 

What drew you to your fandoms? And how do you feed your interests?

Well, continuing on the idea of being a fan of Fans, I think the biggest draw for me is through fan fiction.  I’m really intrigued by the different ‘ships that fans bring together, as well as the ways they continue or alter the stories.  I think it’s also a great way for the community to form around even more niched narratives within the fandom as well as providing a social group and support system.  The very first fan fiction I wrote was an attempt at the 8th book in the Chronicles of Narnia when I was about 9 years old.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t realize that it was fan fiction I was crafting as I banged the story out on my mother’s old typewriter.  It was just a way to continue living in that world.

jgallinat_spikeA few years ago I stumbled upon a Drarry fan fiction Facebook page (which led to months on AO3 and fanfiction.net).  Not only was it my first time returning to fan fiction since what I read when Buffy first aired, but it also taught me a lot of terminology about that community of fans.  I mean, I read Spike/Buffy fan fic, but I didn’t call it my OTP, nor did it have a smushed-name for that pairing at that time (it was certainly not called Spuffy back then, and also, to whom do I speak to about re-naming that pairing?).  It’s really interesting to think about how the fan fiction community and enterprise has grown with the introduction of the internet.  Not only can fan fic be written, beta’d, and shared more quickly, but some of the terminology and branding has grown, to say nothing of how fan fiction leads to other franchises (e.g., 50 Shades of Grey)  It was actually my exposure to Drarry fanfic that led me to a more recent fandom: that of Jane Austen.

jgallinat_jane-austenAfter ready Drarry for a while, I learned that Cassandra Clare had written a pretty iconic trilogy about Draco (under a pen name) before turning to her Mortal Instruments series.  I think I had seen the first movie – without realizing it was a book series – so I was intrigued enough to check it out.  I was about half-way through the series when the library I was using didn’t have the next book.  I was pretty bummed.  Once I get into a series, stopping in the middle is a bit like torture.  I was also in need of a book to read on my commute/over lunch, so I happened to notice a graphic novel version of Pride and Prejudice.  I’d never read the book, but had seen the Kiera Knightly 2005 version of it several times.  So I checked it out.  The graphic novel was a pretty faithful interpretation of the book, which meant there were scenes that were new to me because they weren’t in the film.  I decided to read the book, and from there, happened upon the online “Lizzie Bennett Diaries.”  As I watched them, I started thinking how Pride & Prejudice could have been received had Austen lived and written now.  How would fans approach the story, especially if it was told in a serial form like the online diary vlogs?  Would fans fight over #FitzLizzy or #LizzyWickham (#Wickzzy?) as their OTP?  Would they rail against Charlotte’s betrayal by accepting Collin’s proposal after Lizzy had turned him down?  That then led to a several month campaign to expose myself to as much P&P as possible, from watching every film version I could (including modernizations like Bride and Prejudice) to reading published fan fiction sequels and alternative versions.  Which eventually led to me becoming aware of the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, which I finally attended this past July.

 

Are you part of any fandom communities? Do you think it’s important to find a supportive fandom community?

No, I’m not officially part of any organized fandom community.  I really like being on tumblr because of the range of fandoms I can find, but I wouldn’t consider myself active in any one specific community.

That said, I do think it’s incredibly important to find a supportive community to feed your fandom soul.  One of the saddest things I’ve seen in the fan fic community was the growing apart of two fellow Drarry shippers/moderators through the archived postings on their site.  It was clear that these two young ladies had been working collaboratively on this shared love for several years (I think before the final couple books were published), but as they grew (older), their lives started taking them in different directions.  It went from the two moderators leaving short but frequent posts of praise and love for one another to just the one lamenting the fear of losing the other, to admitting they had grown apart, to finally archiving the site and leaving.  I wanted to write her and tell her that this is possibly only temporary: that in 5 or 10 years time she and the other girl may again be fast friends. Or that she’ll have found other people with whom she can share her deepest passions.  But even if she never did again, the fact that she had an opportunity to share and collaborate and build upon her passions with another person is amazing.  But that’s a hard lesson to grasp when it’s happening to you in your early 20s.

If 2016 has taught us nothing else, it’s that the world can often be cruel and random, that there’s no guarantee for how long we’ll get on this earth, and one of the best things about this life is the connections you can form with other living souls.  So, go out, fly your freak/geek/nerd/dork/YOU flag, find your people, and celebrate all the things that make this Life so amazing and enjoyable.

SHE has certainly made that possible for me and I’m so happy to have found them!

Author: Carolyn Noe

Carolyn is the Founder & Executive Director of Super Heroines, Etc. She is a recent transplant to Cincinnati and lives with her husband and her dog. She regularly nerds out about Parks & Rec, Firefly, and Pride & Prejudice.

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