I started writing fanfiction at the age of fourteen, because I saw my sister doing it and I wanted to try it too. At age sixteen, when anime was just starting to become popular in the UK and I was getting involved in online fan culture, I started writing a fanfiction based on the English dub of Beyblade. (We didn’t have a lot of choice for what anime to watch in Britain back then.) It was a self-insert fic about my “Mary-Sue” character moving to New York—a glamorous city to a teenager from a small English town, becoming friends with the characters, and dating the character I had the biggest crush on. Looking back, the story was every bad fanfiction cliché and more. But it meant a lot to me back then as the only means I had to express myself, so I obsessed over it in the way that teenagers do. I didn’t realize at the time that a silly little fanfic I wrote after school would lead me to meet the guy who would eventually become my fiancé.
It started when he left a comment saying that he liked the story. Since I had included original characters in the fic, some of them based on my real life friends, he asked if his self-insert original character could be in the story too. I thought “What a cheek!” but we started talking anyway, which led to us exchanging e-mail addresses and IM screen names.
We started chatting frequently, and I discovered that his real name was Joonas, he was a year younger than me, and he lived in Finland. As well as fanfiction and anime, we had a lot of the same interests which we talked about obsessively.
The two of us became friends quickly, and those chats became the best part of my day. I couldn’t wait to get home from school and see if he had replied to my e-mail yet. Eventually I grew to like him enough that I did include a character based on him in the story and met his wishes of hooking up his OC with one of my other OCs. He even wrote a side story based on mine with his own original characters. He was writing fanfiction of my fanfiction!
When I told my friends at school that I had an online penpal, they asked when I was going to make him my boyfriend, as I hadn’t shown an interest in dating any boys at my school. I told them that we were just friends, and besides, he lived far away in Finland. But even back then, something was changing between us.
In my self-insert anime fanfics, I would cast my favorite characters or boys I had crushes on as my love interests and Joonas as my supportive friend. Gradually I realized that I didn’t want him as the friend and some made up anime bishounen as my love interest. I wanted him to be the love interest. After some not-so-subtle hint dropping he transitioned from my “friend” to “sort-of boyfriend” to “boyfriend” and my fanfic had some hasty re-writes.
A lot of things have happened between us since then, and it was hard maintaining a long distance relationship for so many years. Our writing and love of fandom has always kept us closer even when we were far apart.
He eventually moved to the UK to attend university, and now I have moved with him to Finland to pursue a career as a writer—another part of my life which all started from writing fanfiction.
I can look back at the fanfiction I started writing when I was sixteen and feel embarrassed at how bad it was. But the story I wrote about leaving home to find a new life and an epic romance actually did lead me to find a relationship and a life that I am happy with—so it couldn’t have been that terrible after all!