This week, @thevioletjones gets to have a candid discussion with the lovely and talented Karen aka @palepinkgoat aka pink_ink (on AO3), author of fandom classics like Restoration, Life, or Something, Reveal, and Proof.
Violet_Jones: I'm really excited to be doing this with you, because I legit always put you among my list of top 5 writers in the fandom. I think Restoration was among the first fics I followed while it was still a WIP, and it was an instant favorite. :))
Pink_Ink: Aw you are so so nice!! I hope I don’t disappoint lol
VJ: Lol. You won't. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Whatever you'd like the fandom to know. Can be large or small. Even abstract. Lol
PI: Oh gosh! My name is Karen and I live in Atlanta. I’m originally from the Midwest but I’ve lived here for 10 years. I have two kids and a husband and a cat and a house. I’m currently working on getting into a program that would teach me how to be a mental health counselor. I’m really hoping that works out because mental health advocacy is a big passion of mine. If I’m not writing I like reading and food gardening. I’ve been writing all my life and it brings me a lot of joy. I’m so grateful to have Gallavich for an outlet!
VJ: That's awesome. Counselors are vital, and it's important work. Good luck with your program!
I've been writing since I was a kid too. I had an amazing 1st grade teacher that I always remember as my initial inspiration and encourager. Did you have an early mentor like that?
PI: Yes! Mine was my 8th grade English teacher Ms. Topp. She would write such encouraging things on my stories. She was a badass, too. She rode a motorcycle! At the time I was being bullied a lot, so having her as a safe place was a godsend. At the end of the year she wrote me a card and told me to keep writing. I still have it.
VJ: Omg, that's awesome. Miss Ottavianni in Miami was this hippie, cool surfer chick. Our class adopted manatees, had pet guinea pigs, did environmental clean-ups, etc. She put me in fairs and competitions and I had a halloween story published in the paper. It's crazy how one great teacher can really affect you and leave a lasting impression.
PI: That’s amazing!!! She sounds so cool too.
VJ: When it comes to fanfiction, when did you first read it and when did you start writing it? (For any fandom.)
PI: I first started reading fanfiction in 2014. Shameless is actually the first fandom fanfiction I ever read. I wrote my first fic later in 2014.
VJ: Oh wow. Is that right when you discovered the show, or had you watched it for a while first?
PI: I started watching at the end of 2013, just before season 4 started.
VJ: What made you ship Ian and Mickey?
PI: I was bed-bound after a freak accident and had lots of surgery, etc. YouTube showed me the kiss in the van and immediately I was like “I need this in my life.” I ended up buying the seasons on Amazon prime and that’s basically all I watched for months 😆
VJ: Just the van kiss? That's so cute! Lol. I'm sorry you had to go through that, though.
What was it that inspired you to start writing fanfic?
PI: I started to ship them because the chemistry and dynamic was so magnetic. I had also never seen a gay relationship—or any relationship really—portrayed in such a raw and captivating way. It sounds so dramatic kind of, especially given the slim screen time the first three seasons, but they stole my heart.
Yeah YouTube showed me the wedding kiss [from season 3] next and I was like WHAT IS THIS WHAT IS GOING ON
I hadn’t written anything in years. I don’t know if it was being busy with kids or what, but I just didn’t have the brain space or something. But I got inspired reading fanfiction and was like “Maybe I should give this a shot and see what happens.” It made me fall in love with writing again.
VJ: Man, me too. In terms of not writing anything in years, and then suddenly wanting to after reading fic. Funny how that happens. Lol. And fortunate!
VJ: What's the story behind your fandom usernames (on AO3 and here)?
PI: Oh lord, it’s so nerdy but my tumblr name palepinkgoat is a twist on that yodeling song from The Sound of Music. They are doing a puppet show and it’s simultaneously about a girl’s pale pink coat and goats so I combined them. It’s one of my favorite movies. See? Nerdy.
Pink Ink was just to tie the pink and I liked the easy rhyme. I like the way it looks written down.
VJ: That's hilariously unexpected. Julie Andrews was important to me when I was a kid too. That and Mary Poppins and Victor/Victoria were big for me growing up.
Pink Ink really does have a nice ring to it.
PI: Mary Poppins is amazing. Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke have amazing chemistry too.
VJ: What's the most fun or interesting thing about writing Ian & Mickey?
PI: With the exception of a few early stories, I write from Ian’s point of view. He’s always been such a hopeless romantic, and his longing for Mickey is palpable. It’s fun to write that. I can also relate to his mental illness. Exploring that is interesting to me.
Mickey’s way of speaking is so funny and perfect and it can be challenging but fun to try and nail that down.
They are both so specifically different yet somehow similar, and that makes for such an engaging dynamic that I want to try and capture as much as possible.
VJ: I agree they have a great dynamic. That's definitely what drew people to their relationship. It's so unique in the tv/film fictional landscape.
I also relate to Ian's struggles with mental illness, but I tend to stray away from making his bipolar a big part of my stories, mainly because I feel like other people have done it way better, and it doesn't have to affect every universe? But I do like to give him elements of depression and anxiety, maybe because that's my thing.
In Restoration, and other fics you've written, you've explored some of the darker aspects of mental health lows. Can you talk a little bit about what writing about those issues means to you? And what's important about getting right.
PI: I’m bipolar, like Ian. Bipolar gets a reputation for presenting either deeply low or extremely high. In truth, there is a curve. I once pointed out the existence of mixed states, which are kind of like depression and mania colliding in the middle. Energized depression, or dark energy. It is sadly a time when bipolar people are more at risk for injuring themselves or having suicidal urges. I brought that up in a story because not a lot of people know about that type of episode, even though a LOT of bipolar people really struggle with it.
Another thing I included was self-injury, specifically cutting and burning. Ian doesn’t actually cut himself in Restoration, but he gets really close, and having that moment in limbo can be a scary one. I wanted to show that moment where it all slows down, because halting that train can be difficult. I wanted to show that sometimes you can be triggered but not hurt yourself. That element of growth.
He also feels shame about his scars. Revealing that shame with Mickey and being accepted for who and what he is was important for me to explore. Not every element of mental health is cleanly diagramed and the same for everyone. I do have an self-injury history and although I accept myself, I know it can be a really big deal to let someone see behind the curtain, physically and emotionally.
Writing about mental health is a great way to be honest about stigma and also can help educate. Research is very important, as is sensitivity. There are other bipolar writers and readers who can help be a resource. My door is always open.
VJ: Thank you for being so candid about it. That's very true that it can be portrayed fictionally as being very cut and dry or black and white, and I understand that writing the nuance of it is key. I think it's interesting that so many people gravitate towards fic that is cathartic for them on these topics. Like, maybe there's no other safer space to do it? And there's a slight anonymity to it.
PI: Oh, absolutely. There’s an understanding. The people who have written to me share all sorts of things they connected with. Listening to each other’s stories helps us see ourselves better.
VJ: That's a great way of looking at it. I think you'll make a good counselor. ;))
Walk us through what your writing process looks like, if you will.
PI: Aw thank you! I hope so!
I often have the last line in mind when I start, or the last image, so in a way I am working backwards to get there from here. Then I just start typing. This might sound weird or pretentious, but I almost feel like I get in a trance when I write, just letting my fingers walk around. I always listen to music in earbuds when I write. I have different mixes, and sometimes the same song three or four times in a row. I just get in my flow and go for it. Depending on the length of it, I won’t edit until I’ve written the whole thing or chapter. If I slow down too much, I start second guessing things and getting in my head. Writing for me is much more instinct than outlines, but I do have an idea where I want the story to go. Getting there is fun. 😊
VJ: Wow. I'm always impressed by good writers who don't outline, because if I don't write certain things down when I think of them, before I'm ready to write them, I will completely forget. Do you have even like some reference notes or anything? Some stray paper or notepad doc? Lol
PI: Nope! Sometimes I’ll write a scene out of order if I can’t wait, but mostly I just plow ahead. The only exception is Reveal, which I made a few notes for later on. That was still mostly in my head, though.
VJ: I understand what you mean about flow, and I do tend to do that with dialogue especially, but I guess I don't trust myself not to have guidance (from myself) about the overall path. Anyway, you're certainly not the only writer who doesn't outline, but I commend people who can do that.
Do you research a lot, or at all?
PI: Oh, definitely. I learned a lot about construction during Restoration in particular. I watched a lot of YouTube videos! And read a home repair book my dad gave me for Christmas one year.
VJ: Lol. What about for Life, or Something? I'm sure I probably talked to you in the comments when I first read it, but was any of the inspiration for that from Six Feet Under?
PI: Oh yes! That one too! I actually was mostly inspired by my lifelong dream of being a funeral director or mortician. I’ve since moved on logistically, but I’m still very interested in death. I did take inspiration from Six Feet Under in the sense that I had siblings running it, but mostly it was just my own interest.
VJ: Interesting. Lol. You're just full of curve balls. 😂
Speaking of siblings, who are your favorite characters aside from Ian and Mickey? And who do you enjoy including in your fics?
I love Lip. I really do. He fucks up a lot, but he’s a great character. I actually struggle using the siblings. I loved writing Amanda into Restoration, and fleshing out Sully from the little we saw of him. I did like writing Fiona in Life, or Something. She was so controlling in her worry.
VJ: I honestly can never remember who the hell Sully is in canon. Lmao
What types of fics do you like writing the most, both in terms of length and genres or tropes?
PI: Just some random construction guy of Tommy’s who Lip works with for five seconds. 😂
I like writing longer fics for sure. I love ABO fics so I wrote one of those. I do have some canon ones but I liked writing AUs. Very freeing!
VJ: Yes. I'm a big proponent of AUs, obviously. Lol. As long as it still feels like a version of them, that's the best stuff for me.
What's your favorite Gallavich fic that you’ve written so far and why?
PI: I like Proof. It’s a Season 2 canon fic. I think season 2 is my favorite. It includes the time Frank catches them in the cooler and the aftermath.
VJ: I was actually perusing your Works page and made a mental note to re-read that, because I don't remember it.
Do you have a favorite episode from the entire run of the series?
PI: 4x11: Emily. The one where Mickey comes out. It’s such a great episode all around.
VJ: That's what I said. Lol. You and I have always felt simpatico when we touch base.
What’s your favorite Ian x Mickey scene?
PI: We totally are.
My favorite scene is them talking in the dugout, season 2.
VJ: Sigh. Yeah. They actually just had a normal conversation for once. Lol. That's one of the most frustrating things about what we've seen of them onscreen. The lack of little quiet moments, having so many conversations and events seem to happen offscreen, and so much of their story being ruled by hard dramatic experiences. Dugouts were carefree in a way they rarely got to be.
PI: It’s so true!
VJ: If you could go back and change one thing in canon, what would it be?
PI: It’s hard since every action leads to something else, but I think nothing is as terrible as Terry’s corrective rape and the horror inflicted on the two of them.
VJ: So true... yet, I wonder what other way it could've gone, tbh, in terms of Terry inevitably discovering them. That was always a matter of when. So as horrible as it was, how would it have played out differently? If you want to indulge. Lol
PI: Oh Jesus I have no idea. It would have been terrible and violent no matter what. I just have a hard time moving beyond that when I think of canon changes.
VJ: Yeah. It's a tough turning point. I'm sure someone has written those fics though! And I'm sure I've read some. Lol
What are your favorite fic tropes as a reader?
PI: I’m not sure! I don’t know if I have favorites. I love ABO, and I’ve enjoyed Enemies to Lovers. But really if it’s a great story, I love it all. Maybe that’s a cop out but it’s the truth!
VJ: That's fair. How about fanfic pet peeves?
PI: You know what? This is the only thing I can think of. It’s when people refer to the cooler in the Kash and Grab as a freezer. It’s a refrigerator. Hence the rattling beer bottles and milk containers and Gatorade around them. Maybe I’ve just worked in too many commercial kitchens! In walk-in freezers you can hardly breathe or touch anything let alone take clothes off. Such a small thing, but I always notice it.
VJ: Bahahaha... that's either very sweet of you or very diplomatic of you.
What are some of your favorite fics and/or writers in the fandom?
PI: I love anomalously - Britt was one of my first loves. Loftec. BeckyHarvey29, Mellow_Yellow. Grayola. My favorite new author is Chat Noir. She’s absolutely incredible! “Is There Somewhere” by andchaos. “Starlight” by anythingbutgrief. “La Vie En Rose” by anothergallavichlove. “Casanova Catering Conflict” by horror_business. I could go on. So many great writers.
VJ: Do you think you might write more IxM fic, or is that door closed?
PI: I go back and forth. I thought Restoration was my swan song and it wasn’t. I have two ideas I might use for Ian and Mickey, but we’ll see. I don’t see myself writing for another fandom.
VJ: Last question! Now that Shameless has canonically ended, do you have any fandom memories you'd like to share, or any parting message?
PI: The creativity in this fandom is astounding. Fanfic, videos, gifsets, aesthetic sets, it’s just unreal. I’ve made some really good friends via Shameless. It sounds dramatic, but the show saved my life. I found it at my darkest point and it really helped me find my way out of it. I’m forever grateful for everyone I’ve met and everyone who has ever read my fics. You truly don’t know how much it has meant to me. Thank you.
VJ: Thank you for everything you've given us. 🙂
PI: My pleasure ❤️
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