Lost Ate My Life: An Exclusive Interview with Amy Johnston

Posted by Michael Pinto on Nov 18, 2008 in Fandom, Lost |

Lost Ate My Life: The Inside Story of a Fandom Like No Other (Paperback)

There are two things we love at fanboy.com: The TV show Lost and people who write books about fandom! So we’re very honored to have an interview with Amy “hijinx” Johnston the co-author (with Jon “DocArtz” Lachonis) of Lost Ate My Life: The Inside Story of a Fandom Like No Other which is now out in stores. Amy is also currently hard at work on her next book which will examine the evolution and psychology of online fandoms for television shows, and it will be out sometime in Spring 2010:

Q. What was it about Lost that made you a fan of the show in the first place? And what makes it extra special to you?

I knew the show was being made by JJ Abrams and I was a HUGE fan of Alias. I knew he was an amazing storyteller who typically thought “outside the box” – breaking the rules of conventional television storytelling – which has always appealed to me. He has also been very character-driven with his shows – the characters are not just puppets playing a part. They live, they breathe, they make you FEEL something. LOST from the beginning has been that way – stories that break convention, characters that are unforgettable. Plus the show has always been this package deal – it’s the writing and it’s the acting, but it’s also the directing and the cinematography and the SFX and the score. Watching LOST is an all-encompassing experience.

What has made it “extra special” for me is that I have had the privilege of being a fan of the show since the premiere, and have seen it blossom into this behemoth – all the while seeing and knowing that those who have brought us this show each week have remained the same. They are busier now, obviously, but are still just as down-to-earth and amazingly humble as they have been since it first blew up. The people who bring us LOST each week are keenly aware of how once-in-a-lifetime this show is, and they do not take that for granted. Not one bit.

Q. What makes Lost fans so different from other fandom? And what got you into taking that extra step from just watching the show (and perhaps lurking online at websites) to get involved in Lost fandom?

I don’t know if I would say that LOST fans are “different” per se – but by observation, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show spawn so many websites that are not just dedicated to the spoilers or the actors/characters, but also to theories and discussion of the episodes in astounding detail. These discussions begin during the episode and continue well into the night, then go on for days on end. There is so much that can be derived from a single episode – and yet the show still holds up for its pure entertainment value for those who just want to watch the show week-to-week without coming online to discuss it. The book that I co-wrote with LOST blogger DocArzt is called “LOST Ate My Life!” – and there are many fans who relate to that declaration.

The storylines, the Easter eggs, the fantastical theories, the endless possibilities – all of those were factors that led me to poke around online a couple of months after the show started to air to try to find some place to talk about LOST with other dedicated fans. The show is so dense and so fascinating, I just needed to talk about it. What I found was The Fuselage – a fan-run site that has been sponsored and endorsed by JJ Abrams, and where it has been possible for fans of the show to break through the “wall” that separates them from their show, and interact one-on-one with the actors and writers. I clicked with a couple of the writers and one of the executive producers via the site, and I continue to function as an ultra-moderator there.

Q. What’s the craziest thing that a Lost fan has done to show their dedication to the show?

Now, now – I can’t go off and spill the beans on the crazies, especially since there are probably quite a few people out there who consider some of the stuff I’ve done to be indicative of a “crazy fan” – so I’ll tell you something that I have done as an expression of my fan devotion. I wasn’t alone in my endeavor, so that makes it easier to share. A couple of years ago, at Destination: LA 2 (the 2nd fan party held for LOST), we had what was called a “Dharma Disney Derby” at Disneyland. There were about 18-20 of us, split up into teams of 3 to 4, who ran all over Disneyland competing against each other to obtain certain photo scavenger hunt items and answer a packet of Disney-related trivia questions. Most of the photo scavenger hunt items were LOST related – including having someone take a photo of your group recreating a pivotal scene from the show. In my group’s case, we reenacted Ana Lucia’s shooting of Shannon (I played Sayid) – while in line for the Enchanted Tiki Room. Also, if the Derby organizers (who were dressed in white lab coats with the Dharma logo on them) came across your group, you had to perform whatever task they requested on the spot. My group had to sing “You All Everybody” at the top of our lungs, standing on top of a bench in a crowded part of the park.

Q. Many folks in fandom become the unsung heroes of a show by spreading the word and creating a community in the process – from your point of view, who are some lost fans that deserve some credit?

Karri and Artie from The Fuselage. My co-writer, DocArzt, who ran The Tail Section and now has another site where he continues to blog about LOST. Gertiebeth from Lost-Media. Maurice Tift from Lost.com. An early site that I think was very important to the growth of LOST on the internet was Lost Links, which was run by carpeoccasio, but it isn’t around any more (sadly). Sledgeweb. Podcasting-wise it would be The Transmission and Jay & Jack.

Q. If one hasn’t been following Lost all of these years, what’s the best way to get started? Should one start watching the current season or would you need to go back to episode one? And in your humble opinion what are the best websites for fans of the show?

You really need to watch it from the beginning. It is the only way to understand everything that is going on – plus, it sucks you in so quickly that most people plow through the DVD sets until they catch up (and then get massively frustrated during the season when they have to wait for new episodes). Buy the DVDs, borrow them from a friend or rent them from the video store or library. Even better – G4 is showing the earlier seasons as “enhanced” episodes (calling it “Lost in 2.0”) which give extra info during the episodes themselves. If you are a brand-spanking new fan of the show, the G4 site is a great place to get your feet wet. The best forum is The Fuselage – though I am admittedly biased. Good blogs to follow the show are my co-writer’s. The best online LOST resource, hands down, is Lostpedia.com. ABC’s official site for the show has improved greatly with its content over the past couple of years. That is where you can easily find all of the official podcasts by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.

Q. In your opinion who is (or was) your favorite character from Lost and what do you think is the best episode?

Wow – I don’t think I can narrow down either of those into one answer. I don’t have just one favorite character – it would be easier to list characters I didn’t connect with, and that list would be very short – but I will say that one of my favorite storylines is the Jin/Sun relationship. The arc for them has been so incredibly interesting to me and what happens to them affects me the most when I’m watching. As for episodes, pretty much every premiere and finale has exploded my brain to some degree. Regular season episodes that stand out off the top of my head would be “The Man From Tallahassee,” “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” “Walkabout,” “The 23rd Psalm,” “Ji Yeon” – I could go on and on. I believe one of the most important episodes – and it was stated to be as such by Carlton during one of the podcasts – is “The Constant.”

Q. It’s been announced that Lost is coming to an end in 2010, as a fan of the show are you fine with that (i.e. you don’t want them jumping the shark) or would you like to see them do more?

I am 100% fine with that. In fact, I think it is the best thing that could ever have happened to the show – second only to Damon being brought in to co-write the pilot with JJ. This show needed an end date so that it could be given the best possible ending – a fulfillment of what the writers have been building up to for all of these seasons. Getting that end date – a couple of YEARS in advance – was an incredible gift to be given to any fan of LOST.

Q. What would you say to a Star Trek fanboy who was nervous about J.J. Abrams taking a stab at their all time favorite show?

I had a feeling you would sneak a Trek question in on me. But I’m okay with that. As much as you and MANY others are massive fanboys of Star Trek, I am just as massive of a fangirl of JJ Abrams and his production company Bad Robot. So from the JJ Fangirl to the Star Trek Fanboy, I would tell you this – trust JJ. It is impossible to please every Star Trek fan on the planet, and JJ knows that. He’s not going to try and please everybody, which should give you some comfort. What JJ is setting out to do is make a great movie. A bonus to making the movie great would be reinvigorating the franchise, which I would assume most Trek fans would also want. I know the Trek fans are picking apart every interview with him, Bob Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and everyone else affiliated with the movie. I know they are picking apart every still that has been released and I know the trailers will be picked apart as well. There are going to be those who can’t forgive what the bridge looks like or what the uniforms look like or what actors are or are not in the movie. I can make one promise that I know to be true – JJ and his team have done everything in their power to make this the BEST MOVIE they could possibly make, while doing their best to respect the Star Trek universe and its fans. I believe the movie is going to be AMAZING to watch.

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