Thursday, August 25, 2016

Interview with Pam Cooper of TGstories.com


I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to have a chat with Pam Cooper of TGstories.com. She has been active in the TG Fiction community for a long time and runs a very good TG Fiction site!

Courtney: 
What started your interest in TG Fiction and/or gender transformation in general?

Pam: 
I think, like a lot of CD,TG, people, the lifestyle came first. I started crossdressing at an early age. Discovering that there were stories written for CDs was shocking and thrilling to say the least. I should say, that when I started TG stories there were no such thing as TG fiction. It was stories written for TVs and CDs. I had to take a leap to call it TGstories. At the time I was going out dressed a LOT… so the fiction sort of dove tailed into the life I was living at the time. 

Courtney: 
TGStories.com started in 1997, making it one of the longest-running TG Fiction sites on the Internet. What was the scene like back then and what caused you to start the site? 

Pam:
A lot of factors came together at the same time. People forget that back in the mid 90s getting a good connection on to the internet was hard. So there was not that much demand. As we headed into the late 90s a lot of the technical aspects came together. I had spent a lot of time on AOL in the early days. It had this great CD TV chat room called the Gazbo. Here is a link with some information toward the middle of the page: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/05/15/opinion/editorial-transgender-timeline.html?_r=0

But early on there was only BBS boards. There was this great one called Fnet (I think). There were a number of us who all sort of came to the same place independently. Many of the TG fictions sites that are still running all started within months of each other. 

I started to think about an online place to read TG fiction. I think the community for TG fiction was starting to grow…and the Trans movement was starting to see the light of day. It happened that I like tech stuff…so this was sort of natural. But there were a lot of pieces that had to come together to make it all work… Really, what motivated me the most was just my desire to see stories that I like online. One of the things that I take the most pride in is that I have been able to give a financial reward to so many writers and artist. Getting paid for something you love is a great motivator to do more…

Courtney:
I've heard from other people that fiction kind of evolved as time went on. It's interesting that you say it wasn't called TG Fiction back then. I'm assuming it mostly revolved around realistic rather than magic stories?

Pam:
Magic has always played a big part in the fiction. But there was more focus on the day to day of female life. So there was a lot of learning how to put on a corset and lacing it up and that sort of stuff... Because the roles of men and women were more defined, the transformation seemed to make a point of stripping away at all the male attributes. This still exists...but the difference is less. Also, women seem to play a greater role in helpers of transformation rather then the controller...

For example, there were a LOT of stories of wives deciding to force their husband into the role of the woman. Now there are stories of the husband falling into the role of the female and wife teaching him...

(Old Empathy Press book that is now owned by Sandy Thomas)


Courtney:
How old is that book?

Pam:
1993

Courtney:
What trends have you seen in themes over the years in TG Fiction?

Pam:
This is a great question, because I think there are trends. The first trend is that everything is more visual which allows new ways to tell stories. Your CAPS is a great example. Also, the web has allowed graphic artists to be much more involved in storytelling then they ever have been. 
Also, the world has changed. The role of women has changed. And TG fiction reflects that. If you look at some of the CD/TV fiction from the 50s and 60s there is a lot of bobby socks and girdles. Well…those things don’t really exists anymore. So when you have a transformation story, the transformation will be into a much stronger version of a female. Also, the web has allowed niche genres to thrive. So, if you want to write a story about a super hero being transformed, there is someone out there who wants to read that story… This also goes back to your question of what makes a good story.

Do you know about Lee Brewster?

Courtney:
The name sounds familiar. I think it was someone in NYC back in the day?

Pam:
Yes... TG fiction as we know it really owes Lee Brewster a lot! Lee started Lee's Mardi Gras which catered to CDs. Lee did all the stuff for Tootsie. Before lee, there really were very few outlets to buy TG fiction. Lee had TWO huge spaces in NYC. Hundreds and hundreds of TG fiction titles. Lee also published many many stories... which are now lost... 


Lee was publishing before anyone really knew there was a market.

Courtney:
Not too get too dark, but that seems to be an issue elsewhere with people passing away and leaving many works uncompleted. Especially if the subject matter isn't something they are open about to their next of kin.

Pam:
Yes... There are many issues in this area. While I am happy to see all the free work on the web, I am always concerned about the rights issues and the protection of the writer. And, of course...things just disappearing into the void. But on some level there is only so much you can do. This is true of any writer...not just TG fiction.

That is one of the reasons I like to pay people... I think it gives worth to their efforts!

Courtney:
Yes! I've said it before, but some free sites are kind of like Wal-Mart. You can find what you need there, but the quality will be questionable and sometimes they will be out of stock.

Pam:
Yeah... I am always torn about this. I love the fact that writer can get their work out there for people to read. But, it troubles me that people put so little actual value on their hard work. I think if you are a good writer, you should be compensated.

Courtney:
What advice would you have for new writers on the scene?

Pam:
You know... I think writers are driven to do what moves them. When you started your CAPS site I am sure you didn't think it would go this far...but it was a medium that you really enjoyed. But I do think, as with anything, if you want other to read what you write you need to make sure that you have a story to tell. I guess I would say be honest in your writing and see where it takes you... 

Courtney:
Good point, part of what made me start was because most of the stories I liked were sweet "clean" long transformation stories with a forced nature... which at the time made up for about 5% of TG land. The other 95% being some guy who turns into a girl after getting cursed or someone turning into a bimbo 3 minutes after transformation.

Pam:
The void was there...and you filled it... I think that is all anyone who is an artist can do.

Courtney: 
It's kind of funny when a story that takes place nowadays has a scene with boys taking shop class and girls in home economics... or a story with teens and not one mention of a cell phone. But sometimes cultural ideas run a little deeper. We have found that there are also cultural differences in preferences with some readers, however people in UK seem to have a preference for french maids while Americans are into cheerleaders, Have you noticed this? It also seems like most TG authors and artists are from either America or the UK.

Pam:
Yes... I agree with the first point..but not the second. The Brits do love their maids. The Brits have a long history of very straight-laced lifestyle...so I think in their fantasy life things like maids and knickers come into play. American cheerleaders represent the perfect girl... So I think that role becomes an easy device to use for transformation. You say cheerleader and an image pops into your mind.

As for where the artist come from... I think they are now starting to come from everywhere. You see this more in the graphic artists because they don't have to worry about the translation. But I am working with illustrators from all over...

Courtney:
I have noticed a good amount of people coming out of Australia,

Pam:
I think that has more to do with the fact that the web is now reaching everyone... The community is growing because the access is better.

Courtney:
Speaking of growing, it seems like in the past, a lot of people wanted to remain secret about the scene. Since in the last few years society has been becoming more acceptable and there have been multiple high-profile news stories lately about transgendered people, do you believe this will cause an expansion into the mainstream or at least reaching a broader audience?

Pam:
Yes... But I think it is more shift on what people are interested in who the audience is. If you look at Netflix , Amazon, HBO, Showtime...etc... They are all willing to deal with subject matter that was once taboo. So, I think the lines between TG fiction and mainstream are just starting to blue a lot more.

A really good example of the is Anime... It is now everywhere... And there are a lot of gender fluid characters there.

Courtney:
Yes, it also seems like there is a movement into more visual forms such as short films, animations, and comics in the community. I've also noticed a growing amount of these on your site, although there have been illustrated stories on there for years, such as the work of Valarie Hope.

Pam:
Yes... An you will probably see more... Although the written word will always be the center post.

Courtney:
Where do you see the future of TG Stories and fiction in general going? 

Pam:
I really try to let the material that comes in front of me guide which way things go. Clearly, the tools to make visual stories are getting better. I think you will see more multimedia stories…which you already do. Different ways to mix the visual with the written.. In the real world the role of the TG is changing rapidly…this will affect how people write and what they write about.

The way we "read" a story is changing... We are all getting accustomed to reading something and see a video that goes along with it. So I think the experience is going to be less straight forward...

Courtney:
What is your favorite TG story of all-time?

Pam:
Obviously, I think that TGstories has some of the best authors currently writing TG fiction. I have worked very hard to bring, what I think, is some of the best writing ever. But, if I have to single out a story that really works for me, it would have to be BEST FRIENDS by Valle. Strangely, this writer only has one story out there… There is just something about the transformation that is both erotic and at the same time very real. This story is about 22 years old.

Courtney:
Last question: What would you like to plug?

Pam:
Ha... Well... I always want to plug TGstories.com Also our lulu store http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/tgstories


I really do think we have mix of stories that are great and unique and some amazing authors!

Thanks again to Pam for doing this interview. Be sure to check out her site!

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