The Msscribe Story, Preface and Chapter One
I hope it is all right for me to post this here. I'm afraid it is quite long, but here is the beginning...
The primary purpose of this fandom biography, as with any story, is to provide entertainment and amusement for its readers. Msscribe is a fascinating person and I believe that many people will find her eventful fandom life interesting. My secondary purpose is to preserve fandom history that is in danger of being lost -- for instance, I rescued the Fermatojam pages originally captured and posted by anatsuno from Google cache. Msscribe's story includes or touches upon many scandals and conflicts of the past five or six years in a certain sector of the Harry Potter fandom. My third purpose is to try to explain events that were complicated and hard to understand when they happened. I hope this account will provide a coherent explanation and clear up many misconceptions.
All posts, comments, and webpages quoted or shown as exhibits in this narrative are public, or were public when they were captured, or else I have explicit permission from the writer of the text to quote them. Much of my narrative is based on downloads from public posts on Msscribe's Live Journal captured on June 6, 2003 by fandom member dianora. Most of those posts are now friends-locked, but they were all public when downloaded. The same is true of the handful of other formerly public/now friends-locked posts that are included here. They were public when they were either downloaded, screencapped, or quoted by a fandom member or captured by Google, the Wayback Machine, or LJ Seek. Msscribe's real-life full name is not mentioned or linked in this account.
Occasionally, the narrative includes quotes from friends-locked posts and comments, and emails. All of these are quoted with the permission of the writer of the text quoted. This will always be noted in the text, as well.
This story is as complete and accurate as my research skills and my own memory and that of my sources could make it but I realize that there might still be inaccuracies in the story and chronology, and I welcome any corrections and additions you might have. Please leave a comment or send me an email at email@example.com. My goal is to achieve 100% accuracy, and I will edit the text if I receive new information. All speculations and conclusions expressed in the narrative are my own, and are true to the best of my reasoning ability based on the information I have.
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the many people who have generously shared their memories, links, downloads, screencaps, locked posts, emails, IM transcripts, beta suggestions, and encouragement. I must especially thank angua9, dianora, narcissam, and tartanboxers, without whom this fandom biography would not have been possible.
CHAPTER ONE -
An Unauthorized Fandom Biography
To understand the Msscribe story, you have to know a good bit about the Harry Potter fandom before Dionne aka msscribe aka light_music aka delawarean entered it. Feel free to skip any parts you're already familiar with -- this is meant for those who are new to the fandom.
Early 2001 -- The Websites Are Founded
In the beginning, there was the HP4GU (Harry Potter For Grownups) list on Yahoo (well, it was somewhere else first, then Yahoo). One of the first (of many) disturbances to the peace of HP4GU was the great H/H vs. R/H shipping war, featuring "listmom" Penny Linsenmeyer, Ebony/AngieJ, Cassandra Claire, and Heidi on the Harry/Hermione side (even though Heidi shipped Draco/Hermione, she was loyal to her H/Hr-shipping friends) and Cap'n Kathy/Eleanor Gamgee, Zsenya, Moey, and Firoza on the Ron/Hermione side. The disputes started nice and quickly grew nasty. This was around 2000-2001.
In January of 2001, Zsenya and Arabella founded the Sugar Quill website to
To a certain extent, FictionAlley was designed to be different from SQ -- where SQ demanded strict adherence to its "canon pairings," FA would welcome all ships; where SQ deleted posts and banned people at the absolute whim of its owners/admins, FA would have an elaborate system of mods, ombudsmen, rules, points deductions, etc. and prided itself on not deleting posts; where SQ interpreted its target audience of 13-and-above fairly strictly and allowed no fics over a PG-13 rating and no teacher/student, incest, chan, or bestiality, FA would interpret the same target audience fairly liberally and allow fics up to a strong R, with teacher/student, incest, chan, and bestiality welcome. Both sites were heavily staffed by HP4GU veterans, and relations between the two sites were... polite but strained.
A few months after that, I believe in September 2001, Gryffindor Tower was launched. Unlike SQ and FA, GT was not mainly staffed by HP4GU veterans (though some admins had been members of that list). GT shipped Harry/Ginny, period. It was different from SQ despite supporting the same ships because where SQ said essentially "these ships are going to be canon, and we like them" GT said "we love H/G, and it'll probably be canon but either way, we love it." Also, unlike both SQ and FA, GT archived smutty stories in a separate section behind a password.
Relations between SQ and GT were fairly good -- there was no overlap or friendship that I know of between the admin groups, but there was much overlap among the members (not surprising, considering the ships). Due to the preferences of the admins, SQ soon added Remus/Sirius to its approved pairings despite its somewhat questionable canon-likelihood and the site attracted many active and vocal R/S-loving members. Therefore, SQ did not attract many slash-haters. GT, on the other hand, attracted a good number of members who were uncomfortable with the slash and smut that was so prevalent in the fandom, including on FictionAlley. Perhaps this was because the GT site had such an emphasis on the H/G ship that slash wasn't discussed as much (even though the archived fics often had R/S in the background) and because all the smut was safely locked away. This was a bit ironic, because I don't believe most of the GT admins had anything against slash -- some of them wrote it -- and I know they were quite fond of smut, but they allowed the site to become a refuge for some whose sensibilities had been shocked by fandom mores (as long as they loved H/G).
Relations between FA and GT were not so good, I think partly because the founders hadn't interacted much on HP4GU and therefore didn't know each other as well as the SQ founders and FA founders knew each other, and partly because some very influential people at FA -- Cassandra Claire, in particular -- HATED the Harry/Ginny ship and said so often and loudly. Which is how the whole thing started...
Late 2001 - The Stalking War
It was in late November of 2001 that Cassandra Claire decided to give her most hated ship -- Harry/Ginny -- a chance. She asked for people to recommend the best H/G fics, and the one most recommended was Alpha and Omega, by Imogen, who was one of the "Queens" (or admins) of Gryffindor Tower. This is a fic where, briefly, the prophecy says that only a Potter can defeat Voldemort, so Dumbledore gets Harry to marry Ginny and sire a kid before he goes off to fight Voldie. So, basically, a teen pregnancy fic with lots of schmoopy sex at Hogwarts. I tried it, but I couldn't get through it. Well, neither could Cassie -- she was REVOLTED by the teen pregnancy and went around FictionAlley and her own LJ ranting about how horrible, disgusting, disturbing, and puke-inducing this terrible fic was. Here and here are some examples.
The admins at GT didn't like this. At all. The ones who didn't like it the most were Imogen and a woman named Chryslin who had written another fic in Imogen's Alpha and Omega universe called (I believe) Deconstructing Harry. Anyway, there was turmoil, flame wars, angry emails, etc. Chryslin had a husband named Jeff, and Jeff, bristling in defense of his wife, her friends, and their beloved ship, sent Cassandra Claire and a teenaged girl named Emily some exceedingly nasty emails. To Cassandra Claire, I understand that he claimed that he knew her real name, knew where she lived, etc., with a definite implication that he might Do Her Harm. Cassandra Claire, not surprisingly, contacted the police, while her legal advisor Heidi and technical advisors such as Stacey (phatphatkitty) from FA worked diligently tracing IP's, etc., to try to identify who this nasty e-mailing threatening stalker was.
One of the avenues Heidi pursued was to contact the SQ admins. I should tell you that in an attempt at "fandom unity," representatives from FA (Heidi, Cassandra Claire, and a girl named Ashley) and SQ (Arabella, Moey, Moey's husband, and GinnyPotter) had had a polite, stilted lunch together in New York City. At that lunch, Cassandra Claire had revealed her real first name, something that she apparently rarely did. Jeff used Cassandra Claire's real first name in some of his communications, so Heidi initially charged that the SQ admins must have told him Cassie's name -- a charge they vehemently denied. Using this as pressure, Heidi requested help from SQ in confirming Jeff's IP and also requested that they make a statement about the stalking on their website. Reluctant to be dragged into the mess, but agreeing that Jeff's letters were truly disturbing, the SQ admins made the statement, and confirmed an IP from Jeff's or Chryslin's posts at SQ. SQ also removed Chryslin's fic from their archive at this time.
After this, Heidi and Cassie, I believe also in communication with the police, contacted GT and Jeff with their demands. These included that Jeff stay away from the HP fandom completely, and that Chryslin be removed as a GT admin so that her husband wouldn't have access to her admin powers on their home computer. My understanding is that Jeff agreed to the terms fairly quickly in return for Cassandra Claire's agreement not to press charges against him, but that GT resisted, first calling the IP evidence into question and doubting Jeff's guilt, and then not wanting to remove Chryslin as an admin, since she actually owned part of the site, and offering instead to block her home computer and allow her admin access only on her work computer account. However, I believe that at this juncture Chryslin decided to leave the fandom and the point became moot.
Here is Cassandra Claire's "official statement" on the event. She also discussed the matter in her next four posts. I don't believe the GTers ever released their version of the events, but here is a very brief description from GT admin ladymaidmarian, years later:
Imogen... was attacked, harassed, ridiculed and blackmailed by the upper crust of YOUR ship community.
As a result of all these events, relations between SQ and GT grew cooler, relations between FA and SQ remained about the same, and relations between FA and GT were damaged beyond repair. Heidi and Cassandra Claire and their many friends now hated GT and its admins with an understandably virulent hatred, and the feeling was fully returned. Being publicly (and, in their view, unfairly) disgraced for harboring a stalker was the last straw for the GT admins and they became isolationists, vowing to enjoy their pairing in peace and not interact with the rest of the fandom -- or at least any part of the fandom that contained Heidi and Cassie. Somewhat amusingly, Heidi and Cassandra Claire's circle at FA fed their anger into increased and oft-expressed hatred of the Harry/Ginny ship, and the GT admins fed theirs into increased and oft-expressed hatred of Draco Malfoy, a favorite character of both Heidi's and Cassie's. Each side deeply resented the other side's attitude. Both sides expressed their mutual loathing in a number of public, private, and semi-concealed ways too numerous and ridiculous to detail here.
It was now December of 2001, The Fellowship of the Ring movie had just come out, and Cassandra Claire was becoming famous thoughout all the internets for her Very Secret Diaries.
2002 - The Uneasy Peace
Time passed. The fandom grew like crazy. FA, SQ, and GT all flourished, but FA flourished the most. Everyone started keeping LJs. Cassandra Claire lost interest in H/Hr and befriended the Intellislashers. Fandom Wank got started. Nimbus got planned. The Aja/Ivy conflicts began. And every little fandom newbie who joined FictionAlley wanted to be part of the "Inner Circle" -- the legendary group of friends and FictionAlley mods who supposedly ran everything, decided what was in and what was out, and got to be PERSONAL FRIENDS with the coolest of the cool, the famousest of the famous, the bestest of the best -- Cassandra Claire. It's hard for you kids today to realize how big Cassandra Claire was back then. I'm telling you, she was BIG. Way, way bigger than any BNF could possibly be now. Colossal.
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