Electric Pink Hand Grenade is a seminal work of fiction in the Sherlock fandom. Written by BeautifulFiction on AO3, the visceral, intense, and marvelous story of love, a migraine, and picking up the pieces after, was recently turned into a hardbound book by its writer BD Strike.
Atlin Merrick talked with BD about the how and why of publishing Electric Pink Hand Grenade, and she shared some exciting news about what's coming next.
Of your extensive works, why did you pick Electric Pink Hand Grenade to publish?
EPHG got the dubious honour of being my first fic published for several reasons. Firstly, it was the one my readers chose in a poll when I asked them which of my fic catalogue they really wanted in print. Since it’s being done for them, it made sense to give them a say in the matter.
That said, I’m really glad they chose Electric Pink, because logistically speaking, it’s the easiest one to handle. It’s my shortest long fic, if that makes sense, so page-count, editing and formatting were all “easy” (for a given value of easy!), it was the ideal beginner’s project for me!
How did you feel about the process – layout, cover design, printing?
Nervous and overwhelmed, at first. There’s definitely a moment of “How on earth do I even start?” Doing a bit of research helped that. So did more polls. Things like the size of the book people wanted made a big difference in formatting, so I needed to gather than information first.
The more data I got back, the more decisions I could finalise, which thankfully made me feel more in control, and after a while it became almost enjoyable – with occasional moments of blinding frustration and drinking a bit too much wine. (Do not even get me started on gutter margins...)
Cover design was…an adventure, let’s put it that way. I’m not an artist by any means. I can’t draw a straight line even with a ruler. So, designing the cover involved a lot of sourcing images I was allowed to use and throwing them to the page while panicking.
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When I found the violin wrapped in fairy lights it seemed perfect for the idea behind Electric Pink Hand Grenade. I think that was a moment when “What do I DO?” became “I know what I’m doing!”
There was still a lot of agonising ahead, though. I think I spent about three hours dithering between two almost identical shades of coral pink at one point. However, the end result was immensely satisfying.
Printing, especially during a pandemic, was very much a “hurry up and wait” situation. Print-on-demand takes a while, but the end result? Holding an actual book of your work in your hands is just an ecstatic moment!
Will you do it again for other works of yours?
Yes! Midnight Blue Serenity is coming in November, and The Gilded Cage will be done in 2021 (providing the world doesn’t end before then). However, due to its length and the limitations of the print-on-demand service, The Gilded Cage will probably have to be broken into two volumes. It’s that or print it tiny, like the bible.
Has this mayhaps given you a taste for being a publisher?
Lol, no. It’s given me a new respect for what publishers do, but it has rather driven home the fact that I like writing more. As brilliant as it is to hold the finished product knowing all the work that went into it was mine, the “putting it into print” aspect is definitely not as fun as the “getting the words on the page” process!
Though frustrating at times, putting my work into print has been an enriching and rewarding experience. I was surprised by the validation I felt on holding it in my hands. In a world where the veracity and value of fanfiction is still called into question, I think it can be hard for fanfic writers to take themselves and the results of their craft seriously, at times.
By putting my work into print, not only have I provided fans with a physical manifestation of the stories they love and enjoy reading time and again, I’ve also given myself that reassurance that, just because it cannot be done for profit, fanfiction is as much of an art form as any other literary medium.
To me, that’s been pretty priceless.