An Interview with Lynne Thomas, Co-Author of Whedonistas

We sst down as well with Lynne Thomas, co-author of Whedonistas to also get her perspective on how this book came to be!

1) Gotta ask, what exactly does the term "Whedonista" mean and how did you settle on it?

I came up with it in the shower. We thought "Chicks Dig Whedon" sounded a bit...skeevy, since the book was about Whedon's *work*, not Joss as a person. Whedonistas sounded playful, and kind of like fashionista, so we went with it. We weren't the first to use the term to the best of my knowledge, but our googling didn't turn up a direct lineage to its coinage, either. 


2) Ms. Thomas, you mentioned in the book that you're primarily a Who fan but also have been wooed by the Whedon side. How did you come to the Whedonverse?

My love for the Whedonverse is due to my friend Julie, whom I worked with about a decade ago. She saw my burgeoning fandom tendencies, and handed me a stack of DVDs. She was right. Also, as a librarian, I thought that Giles was awesome (I still do). 


3) For Ms. Thomas again, do you see any commonalities in themes between the Whedonverse and Who that both draw female sci-fi and genre fans to them?

I think the theme that stands out to me is that everyone can and should try to make a difference, even when it doesn't seem like you should be able to. Powers aren't strictly necessary to save the universe, but having a group of friends that you can rely on is key. That's how we win -- by trusting one another-- even when winning is just surviving. I would argue that these themes appeal to all SF and genre fans, regardless of gender identification. 


4) Okay, so maybe this is mean, like making you all pick a favorite child, but which essay included in the book was a favorite of yours?

 There are some really powerful essays in there, and I'm proud of *all* of them, but several really connected with me personally, particularly Jenn Reese's, Heather Shaw's, Kelly Hale's, and Emma Bull's. All of these touch on the theme of "found family," which is a favorite of mine. 


5) Conversely, were there any "runners up" or essays that caught your eye but you just didn't have room for in the collection?

This was an invite-only anthology, so we didn't really have to reject submissions, but the essay about the Buffy Season 8 comics just didn't quite fit the tone of the rest of the book, and we ended up not using it, unfortunately. 


6) What does being a feminist fan of Whedon's work mean to you all?

To me, it's about loving an oeuvre of work that comes from an initial grounding in (and assumption of) feminism, rather than having to meet a minimal level of awareness that women watch television. It's not perfect (few things are), but I won't need to work as hard to find the feminist traits in the storytelling, or to insert my own perspective than I might with other shows.


7) How do you think Whedon fandom differs from other internet fandoms? I know this can be hard cause that would span from Buffy fans to Browncoats to Dr. Horrible aficionados, but, in general, do you seen similarities?

The bulk of my fandom experience is grounded in the convention circuit. I'm not terribly active in internet fandom.


8) What's your favorite fandom experience with "those internet people"?

When my google alert turns up someone who found the book, loved it, and they express joy at this thing that exists *just for them*. I'm very proud of that, because we made it just for them.


9) What do you honestly think can be problematic with Whedon's works from a feminist perspective? For example, many fans in Buffy season six were angry at the dead-evil lesbian cliche portrayed onscreen.

I had a hard time with Dollhouse, personally. I couldn't connect enough with the characters to get to the point of the story that Joss was trying to tell in that case. But overall? I feel confident that my headdesk-per-minute ratio for a Whedon show is going to be lower than for some other series that are out there. I also enjoy the fact that Joss's work typically spans a range of male and female characters--there isn't one way to be a woman, or a man, in the Whedonverse.


10) How did you find/solicit the essays for your compendium and how did you decide which ones made the cut? 

Deb and I worked very closely together to find writers, between her contacts in Whedon fandom, and my list of SF/F writers that I worked with. Our associate editor (who is also my husband) helped us figure out who liked which shows, and then we worked with the writers to determine topics and essay directions. 


11) What do you think makes your book unique among the growing group of Buffy and Whedon Studies books out there?

It's personal narrative that functions as a grounding for analytical thought.   We aren't academic, and we don't pretend to be. (Not that there's anything wrong with that--my day job is as an academic librarian!)  It's much more about giving fans of Joss's work a chance to express their love for it in a particular way. Some of those fans happen to be professional writers, but they are side by side with women who just happen to be fans of the Whedonverse who aren't professional writers. That combination of voices, of shared fandom experiences, are what reflect back the amazing things that we get up to when we work together as a community.


12) Finally, if you could talk with Mr. Whedon, what would you say to him?

I'd thank him for making television that makes me happy, and express my hope that some day he can stop answering the question about why he writes "strong female characters."