This interview with Cammi (better known as LAELA) touches on ficaholics, old reading habits, personal muses, and more. Read on to find out!
Name: Cammi Zhang
DOB: October 21
Contact information: cammizhang[AT]gmail.com
Online aliases: LAELA
Forums most frequented: Soompi, Ficaholics
Completed fics: Pocahontas
Current fics: None
Additional information: –
fancracked: Hello Cam–thanks for letting me interview you today ^^ As a general starter, how did you get into fanfiction?
cammi: What I Did For Love by Val was my first fic … and then my brother’s friend emailed him a link to read her story on Winglin, which he ignored but I took up. It was a crappy fic but I was totally enchanted. Just because it was cool to see what other people around my age were writing.
fancracked: haha Isn’t it funny how looking back, bad grammar, typos, and I guess…ill-plotted stories didn’t faze us?
cammi: Actually, it did faze me. I was always really anal about grammar and whatnot. I don’t know where it came from, but every punctuation and grammar mistake stood out like a sore thumb for me and I always felt the itch to edit it for the author (no disrespect to the author though). … But it was “okay” because nearly every fic I read from before 2005 or so always showcased such a strong sense of fandom that I didn’t really give a damn. The author loved their work and had respect for their readers. They cared about the celebrities they wrote about and that to the most literal point is what fanfiction is all about. … I read fanfics for the fan part so I never gave myself the right to really care all that much about grammar or redundant plots. … It wasn’t until fanfics were no longer about being a “fan” that I really started getting anal about grammar and all that good stuff. Since there was nothing left to pick at, I had to resort to picking at grammar and of course the overused plots.
fancracked: That’s an interesting way of putting it. To be honest I think those who didn’t care to notice (or those who weren’t around) wouldn’t understand the shift from “fandom” to “non-fandom.” Looking back, how do you think things got this way?
cammi: hm … well, there was a craze for uhljjang fics at one point. And those were fine even though uhljjangs technically weren’t celebrities. They were online celebrities and had fan bases, so for people to write fanfics about them was only natural. Then people started getting … uh, “creative” and made character charts and whatnot, which were cute, I suppose. They were also used for a majority of translated fics, which, as we all know, used emoticons and whatnot to express the characters’ feelings (which I thought was totally weird and not literally writing but whatever). So I guess we can safely assume that the way the translated fics were written (or translated, I can’t be too clear about that) were used as well for the uhljjang fics that also used character charts, which led to people using them for just fics without the fan part. By the way, I’m talking about the more recent translated fics that had no celebrities whatsoever. The older translated fics from before 2002 mostly featured celebrities. … Yeah okay, I don’t know what I’m getting at but I’m sure whoever’s reading this will be able to sum up a conclusion on their own hahaha
fancracked: Where do you think NG fics phased into this ? (although you kind of already hit on it ^^;)
cammi: I can’t really say anymore than I did already haha Just that … I guess people just decided they weren’t fans of anybody but wanted to write about Asian people because they were Asian themselves and liked the lifestyle in Asia of teens and young adults. For them, there was just no one to write about but their Asian fics didn’t fit in anywhere else. So to Soompi they went.
fancracked: Can you tell us about ficaholics and how you got involved?
cammi: I was approached by 4tAnG to become one of the moderators for her forum. She said she was tired of going to Winglin for Chinese fics, LiveJournal for Japanese fics, and Soompi for Korean fics. She wanted fics to be all in the same place. I liked her idea and agreed to it.
fancracked: Ahh, I see. Eventually you became an admin there as well, yes?
cammi: Actually, I wasn’t, contrary to popular belief. I was only holding the forum powers to take care of matters while 4tAnG was busy dealing with personal offline problems.
fancracked: I think ficaholics started up around 07 ?? Was it earlier than that?
cammi: I think it was 2006 haha
fancracked: haha hai hai ~ so in those four years, what do you think ficaholics stood for/what do you think people went to ficaholics for?
cammi: Good stuff LOL I mean that literally. A lot of the stuff said on the forum were about what I covered above. Bad fics, what happened to being a fan, blah blah blah. And most of us were pretty mean about it so we were dubbed as elitists. But as mean as we were, we were just honest to the point of being a voice of representation for the people who thought the same exact thing but didn’t say them as publicly as we did for some reason. Call us assholes but we weren’t fucked up, just to the point. And if anything, I think we knew our shit.
fancracked: Gahh the dreaded elitist label!
cammi: haha yeah, it sucks… it sucks to have people think you think you’re better than them. And you know what, we probably did. I mean, we did point out all the negative stuff, which in a sense implied we thought what we were doing was better. We spoke out loud because we appeared to think we knew what we were doing and that you didn’t (if you didn’t think like us). So even though I didn’t think I was superior to anyone else, I can understand why people thought this way of me or the others like me.
fancracked: Even though ficaholics is gone now will we ever be able to get our hands on your fic library again? AKA the Request Thread where you uploaded all those fics haha
cammi: haha my fic library … it’s backed up on an external hard drive right now. I got a new macbook about a year ago and I haven’t uploaded them to my new baby yet. It’s very nostalgic to touch those particular files … I guess to avoid the nostalgia part, I haven’t retrieved them yet.
fancracked: Do you have any last thoughts on ficaholics? I think you’re be one of the few who can give a really detailed account of it ^^;;
cammi: haha um … I dunno. I miss it. LOL it was just a good go-to place for me before it died.
fancracked: hai hai I’m sad it’s gone because I think the Request Thread was one of our last links to kind of old school stuff and I think the atmosphere was good/laid back.
cammi: I totally would put that stuff back up if there was a place for it.
fancracked: I wonder if there is a place for it now… I guess things are different now that there seem to be fewer and fewer sites aside from Soompi/the WA.
cammi: Yeah. I feel stupid hogging it all to myself especially since it’s put away. Soompi’s popularity will never die down but the quality has definitely ceased to exist. But people only look for the popularity so yeah, it’s never gonna disappear.
fancracked: hai hai
cammi: Soomp!’s intentions were wonderful but I can’t say I’ve liked the direction it’s taken … maybe it just has to do with too many people, which sounds stupid, but it does have a lot of contributing factors to the lack of quality.
fancracked: I think it’s true… just a few days ago people were talking about how it’s hard to find fics on Soompi. I definitely understand where they’re coming from although in a way there are directory threads to help out and stuff like that.
cammi: We used to read everything [regardless of the number of fics]! Like literally everything!
fancracked: LOL I know right?!
cammi: I never PICKED. I CLICKED and I READ. It was eff-ing amazing. Even if it was not of literary merit, it was wonderful all the same.
fancracked: There was a time where we did know what everyone was up to… it was crazy but it was real. Before I learned about that little search engine function I used to have this HUGE list of favorites haha
cammi: haha omg me too. I couldn’t even keep track of what was what. I just wanted to read everything.
fancracked: hahaha yeah ~~ I’d read for hours at a time back when I’d have loads of free time (especially during middle school) haha
cammi: Oh god, yeah. Middle school years for me were all about reading updates.
fancracked: In your profile you only listed one fic but I know you’ve posted quite a few over time. Tell us a bit more about your writing process/journey ^^
cammi: hm … I don’t know why but my fics aren’t even as memorable to me than the other ones I read that I loved so much. The only one I remember clearly right now is Breakfast at Soeun’s and that’s because I went and reread it the other day when I was bored.
fancracked: When I think of your writing it mainly breaks down into DBSG and Big Bang, but I think the thing that remains constant is your focus on social groups—especially friends of course :p Why is that?
cammi: You know how they say that much of a writer’s character or story is just a reflection of the writer’s own life? … well, I guess that totally applies to me. I have very strong opinions about friendship and whatnot. I used to have this thing where I went around saying that I had no morals just to justify that I’m not hypocritical whenever I did a fucked up thing, but that phase is so long gone now because I have to accept that I do have morals that I preach to others, and the only way to make what I believe come across to another is to act on it myself. So if you’ve ever read one of my fics and noted how loyal a particular character is, chances are that I put that part of myself into the character because I try to be as loyal as I can to my best friends. … Most of the stuff I posted before were about people in high school, which made sense because those were written when I was still in high school myself. So all of that is very much reflected in what I’ve written.
fancracked: If you had the opportunity to do the following activities with your characters (1) who would you pick to spend a day with (2) have coffee with (3) take a walk with (4) have as a classmate/coworker (4) lastly have as a lover? And then (5) be in another life time?
cammi: GD GD GD! for all of them. :D
fancracked: HAHA well is he the “same” Jiyong in each fic of yours then?
cammi: The version in Breakfast at Soeun’s. HAHAHA.
fancracked: For those who didn’t get a chance to read that, what was he like?—and why would you choose him for all of the above?
cammi: HE IS MY MUSE LOL … [in the fic] he was a lovable son of a bitch. Although what I’ve posted before didn’t reflect too much just yet of what he’s really like, I can safely tell you that he’s a good guy who just comes off as a dick because he doesn’t like to be too forward with his good intentions.
fancracked: Ahh I see.
cammi: I wouldn’t pick to have spend the day with him, have coffee with him, take a walk with him, have him as a classmate or coworker, or have him with a lover. He’d decide all of it for the girl he likes and he’d get the girl in a totally non-creepy and stalkerish way.
fancracked: LOL this has become a Jiyong-centric interview! Whatever the case can you extend your thoughts on him? ^^;
cammi: Just that … he’s my muse. Everything I’d want to be if I were a dude. I love how gritty and more “hardcore” his music’s become. He’s changing and we’re all changing but it’s his paaaassion that gets to me so much. He’s just the type of guy that would throw his entire life into something he loves, and he does, which is music. When I watch him and see him in videos, I just get all giddy because even if I don’t actually know him, it’s okay to pretend I do. This guy. He’s just. So special to me. I don’t know how to explain it but I just want to write about him all the time. Of course, not so much since I don’t really write like I used to but when I do, he’s mostly all I can think about. He’s just great… there are just so many things that come up when I think of him.
fancracked: Although you say your writing has changed, will you be working on any of your older works? i.e. What If? (featuring Jiyong and Suzuki Emi)
caemee: haha I’m trying to continue that, actually! I like Suzuki Emi a lot as a model too. To be honest, I don’t really look at compatibility when I pair them up … it’s just that if I like them, I’ll throw them together. No questions asked. It’s like how they say no matter what good-looking people wear, they’ll look good anyway because they’re good-looking enough to be able to pull off anything. So for me, if you’re talented or beautiful enough, you can do whatever the eff you want. Including being paired up with a random ass person in a fanfic!
fancracked: haha the liberties of fandom and fanfiction at work (;
fancracked: Alright we’re almost through with the interview ^^;; As a lead up to the end… if you could address anyone in the fic world (past/present) what would you say?
cammi: haha umm I’d address you, actually.
fancracked: LOL what?!
cammi: Call it unprofessional or whatever to be talking to the interviewer as a friend but I guess I don’t care. … Just wanted to say thank you for trying so hard to keep what my ideal fanfiction world is together. Even though it wasn’t your intention to cater to what I want, what you’re doing happens to be for what I want. And I thank you for that, for trying to keep Soompi together. Thank you for always having hope even though I pretty much left the world bitter and cynical. You’re honestly a god-send to the fanfiction world, to everyone from the past who still cares and from the present who needs saving from themselves.
fancracked: How sweet!!! haha<333 but yes — as a wrap up just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to do this interview because I know you aren’t as active as you used to be. All the best (:
–> Previews for more to come will be posted on tumblr. ^^* & apologies for the hold up but I promise there’s more headed our way (;