Editor's Note: With the exception of minor typographical or grammatical changes and the addition of pictoral content, the interview you see here is taken wholely from the Outside the Lines page, with the permission of Betamax and David D. Amaya.
An multi-award winning print journalist, David, a resident of Norwalk, California, USA (a suburb of Los Angeles), began this 'magilla known as Fan Fiction' in the early 90s, while earning his degree in Journalism, hooked onto the future Hall Of Fame story "Neon Hearts" written by OTL's ListOwner, The Neon Nurse, Susan Crites, "...when it was still being referred to as the 'Beast Romance story....' "

After many years away from the internet, a personal tragedy led him to return, with renewed interest, and a desire to be more active in Fan Fiction's close-knit community, finding an outlet for his desire, "... right back were it all started, and for me it began again..."

Recently, OutsideTheLines was able to keep our own Web Page Administrator in one place, long enough for an interview for the readers whom he has given so much of his time.



OutsideTheLines: David, thank you for taking the time to sit with us this evening. Well the first thing on my mind is that ... well I'm going to go out on a limb here, and assume that David D. Amaya is your given name at birth. Is there any special reason that you don't have a cool internet pen name?

David D. Amaya: Back when I was a journalism student at Cerritos College, the Editor-in-Chief for the campus newspaper, "the Talon Marks," for some reason kept calling me 'Davy Boy.' Not that I minded, but one issue, I was given a page-one assignment, covering the women's state volleyball championship, when he accidently listed my byline as "Davy Amaya." I was pissed off! That was my most important story, which had earned me three awards, all with "DAVY" on them!

David at Subrealicon 1999
After that I insisted that I use my full name whenever I wrote a story, because that is who I am. Even now as I have started Fan Fiction, I use my full name, with my middle initial, for the simple fact that since I am prepared to put my reputation on the line whenever someone sees my stories, they know that it is my stories.

I know it sounds conceited, but I've been David D. Amaya since I was born, I never learned how to write as anyone else ;)

Besides, an obsolete VCR was already taken! ;)

OTL: How did you first get introduced to Fan Fiction?

DA: Well, back to when I was on the Talon Marks, I found fan fiction back when "Neon Hearts" was still being referred to as the 'Beast Romance story....' "

I was assigned to the Tech desk, and had to do a piece on the brand-new Internet server on campus. Which in those days ran a Pine (text-based) backed server that only ran Newsgroups and a Gopher engine.

I did the usual Q&A with the head of the Computer Science department, when I made the suggestion, or mistake, to see for myself how a typical student would use this new system.

When I was at the keyboard, he said, "Type in something that you want, & that you like; skateboarding, surfing, comic book heros, boxing, ect..." Well, as I remember the old X-Men comics I used to read as a kid, I typed in "X-Men."

I have this funny feeling that if he had said 'Ice Hockey' instead of comics, things would be a hell of a lot different.

The first thing that popped up was a newsgroup post on alt.comics.fan-fiction, "Beast Romance Chapter 4." I read it and ... let us say I that's how Fan Fic got its meat hooks into me.

So I became a lurker, who popped up every now and again, with a comment, or asking for back chapters of stories, and of course, signing up for the new chapters of the Future Hall of Famer, "Neon Hearts." I mean If you haven't read it you'll flip over the cliff diver scene!!

After I graduated from Cerritos, I fell off the net, as the Web was not as popular as it is now, but a few years later, when the local library installed internet-capable computers, I decided to try to pen stories myself.

OTL: How would you describe your writing background?

DA: My Fiction writing? Well, as I has written in the Guide to Writing Fan Fic, I learned in a writer's workshop is that just about every plot has been used in one way or another, but since plots are not made of glass, you can't just recycle them like beer bottles. So I try to look at the same things as every one else and think about different ways the plot will go.

Also, I credit my journalism skills, which has come in handy in the research for my stories, texts, and even HTML I use for OTL!

OTL: Were you a writer when you were younger? That is, did you enjoy writing before you started to get involved in Fan Fic??

DA: Well, no, then yes. You see, the biggest roadblock I had growing up was, the then unknown-fact, that I'm dyslexic. I was not diagnosed with a learning disorder until I was in the 5th grade. But being the opinionated type, I landed a spot on my high school newspaper where I learned to harness my attitude into type.

Believe it or not I FAILED English each of my first two years of high school but, sneaked out with my diploma, then earned a writing degree! Ain't that I kick in the head??

OTL: What or who were/are big influences on you and your writing? Who gave you the push you needed?

DA: Now, this is going to sound weird, when I look back on who is responsible for me writing, all I see is an asshole.

It all really started for me, going back to the day I first heard the word dyslexia, in the 5th grade. We had a sub one day, and was given an assignment to write about a whale-watching trip off the coast of Catalina Island we had the day before. Now I was talking about that trip all day, even to the point of losing recess that morning, because I was talking about in class, I had never seen anything like a gray whale before, so I was hyped, and everyone expected me to write a 20 page report on them.

Well, my handwriting looked (and still does to this day) like two monkeys just had a food fight, and the sub had made a note about it to our teacher.

The next day when our regular teacher came back, he had the nerve to show my piss-poor handwriting off in class, I mean I had never been more humiliated before or since, so I walked up and snatched the paper from him.

He then grabbed me by the back of my hair, pulled my head back violently and yelled, "DON'T YOU EVER DO THAT SHIT AGAIN!"

...Just as the school's principal walked into the room with my dad to get me tested for a learning disability.

After that son of a bitch regained consciousness, he was fired, and I was learning how to learn.

A whole new world opened up to me once I learned how to keep most of what they were teaching me in my head.

When I think of all the influences in my life, I'd never thought of naming an asshole that I wasn't related to, but if I kept falling through the cracks, I'd be dead or in jail, just another loser from the wrong side of the tracks. So I think I gotta thank that rat bastard.

OTL: What was the first piece of writing that made you think "Yep, this is something I like to do!"?

DA: We move the clock forward to my high school years at Santa Fe, I was on the wrestling team that had won our 30th straight league title and our third CIF division crown. Now with the popularity of "Pro" wrestling, we weren't exactly drawing Forum-sized crowds. But with the football team being in the grips of the state's worst losing streak (45-straight losses), we were the only winners in town...

That is until the girls softball team won their first league title and claimed the division title as well.

The school paper ran an editorial bitching about the lack of school support for the new champs (I learned latter it was written by the team's starting shortstop!) But what was important was a line that went like this;

"Sure, the boys wrestling won league, and was undefeated, too, but they have always been great and are expected to bring another trophy to Santa Fe's case...."

I was so damn pissed off that I did the unthinkable...

I wrote a letter to the editor. A NASTY letter to the editor.

I lambasted on how we never even get our parents to attend matches, two of our teachers were wrestling officials for other leagues, and the vice principle was NCAA runner-up when he was wrestling for the Naval Academy, and none of them ever saw us kick ass for their school!

"...Yet after 30 years of a winning tradition, we should suddenly make way for an up-start team that lost half of its games and was LUCKY enough to squeak out wins, by only one run margins!?!?" I had written.

"We had a junior break his arm, two seniors suffer [a skin infection] and a freshmen get knocked out after being slammed off the mat this season. What do softball players have to worry about? Breaking their nails and running their make-up sliding into second!!"

As you can imagine, I wasn't very popular with the girls team, but our journalist advisor, Mr. Bustrum, somewhere saw talent and offered me a position of the "Chieftain" the next school year.

After that I decided that maybe I could enjoy writing, but in a twist of fate, or revenge, I had to cover the softball team later that year!

My junior year I had won three awards for my writing, All for my coverage of the wrestling team. My senior year I had received eight awards, one for wrestling, three for softball, One editorial, and three for page mock-up and design.

OTL: In your Guide to Writing Fan Fiction, you talk of the "Three Commandments of Storytelling," what are they and what do they mean to you?

DA:

  1. "If there is a story which you'd love to read, but is not written, then you must write it."

    You have an idea in your head, but it takes the resolve to write it down. The First Commandment of Storytelling, is the most important, otherwise you wouldn't be telling a story would you?

  2. "A bad story is as much a labor of love as a good one; it comes as sincerely from the author's soul, especially yours."

    
    I received this very important point from author Aldous Huxley. My stories and the hundreds, upon hundreds like it posted every month on the internet had to be written. Thanks to The Second Commandment of Storytelling, the tender loving care of the author, characters, plots, and scenes, all come alive to the reader. But, you know as well as I do that there are some stories that you will not like, but every story here is important for this reason.

  3. "Every writer has to be his own best enemy. To tear apart a paragraph that even an Pulitzer judge would have left alone is what a good writer must do."

    In the section of re-writing "How to be Your own Best Enemy" I stress that the first draft of ANY story is no good. The Third Commandment of Storytelling, seeing your story another time, is the place the real writing begins. It is, as my English professor callers it, the "... golden opportunity to make the not-so-good, good, and the good, even better."

OTL: In the Outsiders Survey, and in your signature line of your E-Mails you have the line, "Questions, Comments and Cusswords can be sent to ... Me!" Is there any special meaning to that phrase?

DA: Yes, When I was going to Cerritos, We had a first-person column called "CC Falcon" which was a reflection on what happens around campus, everyone wrote a piece and at the end of each one we ended it; "I welcome any questions, comments and cusswords you may have." We used to get get index cards in CC's in-box with cusswords on them. Not insults, just cusswords! It used to be a fun way for us in the newsroom to pass the time trying to guess which language some of them came from! It always stuck with me and I have been using it ever since.

OTL: About your fan fiction stories "Opening Night," and "First Mutant," You have very different takes of the X-Men in both. What was your inspiration for those stories?

Like she'd ever go to a hockey game willingly...
DA: Well, like I said earlier, I have to look as the same things differently that everyone else, so "Opening Night," my very first fiction piece that I had written that was not an assignment for a class, had to be unique.

I took a well-used fan fic idea, recruit new members to Generation X, and dumped it on its ear, by making the X-Men have to enjoy my favorite hobby, watching a hockey game.

There was a scene that got the most responses, when Storm had won a chance at winning a new car. People asked me if she intentionally missed the winning shot. I never never thought about that aspect of that scene when I was writing it. In reality, that had happened to me at a game, I missed a brand new Lexus by three inches and if I had to lose, so did Ororo!!!

As for "First Mutant" I was watching the Disney movie 'First Kid" and thinking to myself "What it the President's kid was a mutant?" and so that story started to take shape.

Originally it was supposes to be an UN-common People story, only six pages long, but the more I tried to cut that story off, the more it wanted...., no..., NEEDED to be written. But I had to write the Secret Service detail with more humanity than they portray in real life, risking their life to protect the president and his family, so I reverted to my journalism training, rolled up my sleeves, said good bye to the daylight, and dug thorough every resource on the President, The Secret Service and the White House! I had never spent so much time researching one subject!

It was right then and there, I felt like a true writer again.

OTL: On the SubrealiCon page, it mentions that you had a run-in with the Secret Service while doing research on "First Mutant." It this true?

DA: At the time I was hoping it was just a daydream, but yes, I was politely requested to be in the Federal Building on Temple St, in Downtown LA over that yarn!

I was writing the first 10 chapters and posting them to ACFF on the fly, as I was gathering info on the principals, when I ran across a book that said that President Clinton enjoys reading the E-Mails he receives, so I decided that Bill could use something to take his mind off the Whitewater Scandal (Pre-Monica-gate!) so I was sending chapters of FM to the President's E-Mail address!

What I didn't know at the time is that the President's mail is read by staffers at the Pentagon and he only reads cute messages from kids, or what they feel is important messages, and that, like letters and phone calls to the White House, threatening E-Mails to the Commander-In-Chief is a federal offence.

Busted!
At the end of Chapter 8, I begin the kidnapping sequence and it is around chapter 11 that two men in dark suits came knocking on my door and ask me to meet them at the local Secret Service office, but taking the backpack that contained all my notes, the story up to the rescue mission, and a then unread-copy of Laersyn's "Devil's Due." (GULP!!)

Well, after having my life replayed by federal agents with simi-automatic pistols, (and being on probation at the time for assault did not help any,) I was judged to be a not- threat to the President (or most specificly, Chelsea!) But, as I they had me sweating while they ran my arrest jacket, one of the two agents had made some very helpful comments that helped shaped the remainder of the story.

OTL: Changing gears to your web page, or rather this page, OutsideTheLines.MainPage.Net How did the page get it's start?

DA: Well, as I mentioned earlier, I had fell off the net for some time, when a personal tragedy had led me back to fan Fiction, originally as just a hobby, I wasn't planning on writing, and as it is I was back on the net for over six months before I had the guts to start to write one of my own. Then I had made my personal home page fearing that I would need a place to house my stories. I'd never thought that anyone would WANT to archive my stories! Let alone by Lori McDonald who at the time had the biggest, and most respected, archive on the net!

But it was just after Mirage had closed the old Untold-L Mailing List when I realized that what I was supposed to do, now that I was back on-line, was right back were it all started, and for me, it began again.

The replacement for Untold-L, Untold@grass.org, was as mismanaged as the Transit Authority here in LA County, and when the owner had announced that he was bailing out after only a few weeks, I was prepared to try to launch my own mailing list.

That was until a note from the first Fan Fiction author I had ever read, announced that she was starting OutsideTheLines.

I had offered to help Susan, and OTL, out by creating a web page, in the spirit if Hawk's old archive.

Originally it was to serve as the archives of past OTL posts, but it evolved, as I found myself answering posts about tips on writing, how to come up with a catchy title, and so fourth. So in a way I was modeling OTL as almost a latter-day CFAN, but with different materials suited to the Outsiders, like a page to post their own archives and pages, then a listing of the better resources for writers, and so on I even wrote a text on how to write fiction! Not bad for a dyslexic kid from across the tracks.

OTL: Recently you had told the Fan Fiction community that a serious medical condition may force your premature retirement from Fan Fic. What prompted this statement?

DA:Just before Thanksgiving, I was in in the hospital for two weeks, I had passed out inside an elevator and when I came to in the ER, I learned I am a Type-I diabetic. I was suffering from headaches, blurred vision and my balance was shot to hell, but the one main thought was a fear of falling out of sight on OTL.

Some of my best friends have told me that I should've worried more about getting my blood sugar down, than straining my damaged eyesight to update the Feature of the Month, but the minute I got home I made sure to tell OTL was was going on, and pledged that I wouldn't let THEM down.

As it turned out, it was Fan Fic that didn't let ME down! I received dozens upon DOZENS of letters, all generally telling me the one thing I didn't realize at the time.

The fact that OTL and Fan Fiction can accept losing David D. Amaya, the author and Web Page Administrator, but they are far more concerned about losing David, the person, their friend.

I always knew that fan fiction held an important part of my life, but it wasn't until I finished reading each one I realized just how big that part really is. To each of you who wrote, I thank you all in ways plain words just can't do justice. ((HUGS TO YOU ALL!!!!))

As for my plans for early retirement, well, let's just say that I received more than enough motivation to help me beat my diabetes, and that resolve easily parlays to my writing.

OTL: What was the hardest part of starting a hub site, and what can other fan fiction fans expect to find on OTL.MP.N in the months to follow?

The alternative to Usenet
DA: Well in the beginning, I had to get people to come to OTL's page, especially with CFAN being the undisputed champion when it comes to the all-in-one site that I had envisioned, so the first dumb-assed scheme I came up with, was to start a teaser campaign on the old Gen X Page message board saying that "IT is coming!" The problem was that I misspelled the last word, and... well, I had to convince people that IT was NOT porn Spam!!

But in the first few weeks after the launch of the OTL Home Page I had received some great positive feedback! From; "Looks pretty comprehensive and well made!", "I like it! I like it a lot!" "This site is definitely going to be bookmarked!" "This is one of the friendliest and most interesting lists on the net." and "It's about bloody time someone did this, Amaya! Kudos!"

Well, I guess all the work is paying off, a year-and-a-half and five grey hairs later, OTL has earned four internet awards for web page design!!! And I still feel lighter than air each time I think about them!!!

As for the future of OutsideTheLines.MainPage.Net? Well, I had tried some things before that did not have the response from the fan fiction public as I anticipated, like Le EnDehorsDesLianes Galerie Comique D'Art, OTLs Fan Fic Art gallery, which I am planning to try to reopen, and a new styleguide on techniques of writing Sexual Fiction, and I plan to add some more languages to the Dictionary of Foreign Phrases, as well as the most important step...

FINISHING FIRST MUTANT!!!!!

Arg!! I've been stuck on one chapter for two months now!!

OTL: Alright. Now, without answering with any of your own stories, what are some of your favorite fan fics and authors??

DA: You have two choices,

1) We can take all night and I list them all, or
2) I shorten the list, A WHOLE LOT, and risk getting in trouble with those whos' titles escape me..

But, I'll go with door #2 and say Raven Adams' "Marpiya Wakankdi na Kimimi" series, Lady Seraph, Laersyn and Kielle's TCP stories, David J. Warner, and A WHOLE LOT MORE!!!

.... Oh, by the way, did I mention The Neon Nurse??

OTL: All outstanding choices from this angle. Well, now comes The Speed Round. You know the drill. We got 20 questions, you give us 20 answers. Ready, set.....

20: Who are some of your favorite super heroes & villains?

DA: Well as for the good guys I'm kinda partial to Jubilee, Spider-Man, and the Tim Drake-Robin. As for the cool villains, I enjoy the mayhem of the Joker, the Hobgoblin, and Harley Quinn.

Is It me, or does it seem that I lean towards flashy, impulsive, loud-mouths??

19: If you could have the power of ANY super being, who would you be?

DA: I think I'd like the ability to fly.

18: Seen any good movies lately?

DA: Well, I had to sit through Pokmon, which was a little disappointing, but I also saw Toy Story 2 and Any Given Sunday. Both were very good.

17: How about your favorite books?

DA: I don't read as much as I used to, but my favorites have to be stuff written by John J. Nance, John Grisham, and William Dehl.

16: Do you have any hobbies besides Fan Fic writing?

DA: I am the Vice President of the Lake Center Middle School Performing Arts Booster Club, (my old Jr. High School Band) and am in charge of Publicity, I rather enjoy volunteering my time, even though it can cause as much headaches as writing does!

Oh, BTW you'll want to know what instrument I played in school? The 8-Track player! I never played, but I help out anyway.

15: What TV shows do you watch?

DA: I've come to enjoy "The West Wing," and "Stargate: SG-1" but my favorite show has got to be "The Sopranos."

14: If you were stranded in the Savage Land, what is the one thing that you would take with you?

DA: A jet plane.

13: What 3 CDs?

DA: The Best of the Doors, Metalica's S&M Live, and my Motown boxed set, (OK that's eight, but these are MY questions.)

12: Do you have a secret talent?

DA: When I was 13, I was a regional air hockey champion.

11: What was the biggest thrill in your life?

DA: I don't know. I've had so many lows in my life I can't tell.

10: What's your favorite Radio Station?

DA: Mega 100.3FM here in LA.

9: Favorite band?

DA:That's easy, Metallica RULES!!!

8: Favorite Actor?

DA: Harrison Ford.

7: Actress?

DA: Angela Basset.

6: What is your favorite food?

DA: Mind you this was before I found out I was diabetic, but I used to love Chilli Beans.

5: Fast Food?

DA: There's this chain here in SoCal called In-N-Out, that serves the best burgers on the West Coast, the Double-Double. But now that I have to watch my blood sugar, the only fast food I can have is Instant Cream of Wheat.

4: What was your favorite subject in school?

DA: Media Studies.

3: What is your favorite non-super powered cartoon character?

DA: People this this is weird, but I like J. Jonna Jameson, the publisher of the Daily Bugle. Sure he's a First Class asshole to Spidey, but he wears the First Amendment like Superman's cape, defends it like Captain America's shield, and wields it like Thor's hammer, THAT is a consummate journalist.

2: What is the best advice you ever received?

DA: Sweat the small shit. The smallest answer can solve the biggest of problems.

1: "If I could have done it differently, I would have ..."

DA: .... taken the wheel."

OTL: Thank you, David, for giving us some of your time, but before we let you go just one more question.

In the year 2100, when your great-grandchildren ask their computer for a one-sentence summary of the writing career of David D. Amaya, what will the computer say?

DA: A writer who succeeded, only as much as he failed.



Note from BetaMax At the time of this interview, David's bloodsugar count was still high, but with the thanks to the support he has received by his fellow Outsiders, it is now down from a near-fatal 1147 milligrams per 1/10th of a liter of blood a week before Thanksgiving to 98mg/dL on New Year's Eve!! Thank you for your support of a great friend.

tMX


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