I started working on this issue because I was looking for a happy ending. It was the first week of April: I had been stuck at home, away from my university campus, for more than a year now, my grades were in the dumps, and I had lost close family that December and — I just did not know how to move on. I was sad; and I needed to—for an hour, a day, perhaps, if I was lucky, a week—not feel sad. And hence, I did what I always do when I’m sad: I read fanfiction.
Fanfiction always brings me joy. While, yes, an angst-riddled, hurt-no-comfort fic with a sad ending would make me curl up and cry, even then, the mere possibility of the existence of fanfiction makes me giddy. The opportunity to further immerse myself in worlds I already adore is something I cherish. However, being a heartbroken snowflake in the middle of April, I wasn’t feeling too inclined to further melt in the heat of angsty fics where my favorites hurt each other and/or die. As I said, I was looking for a happy ending. Therefore, like a seasoned fic reader I turned my eye towards the goldmine tag of comfort fics: Alternate Universe – Coffee Shops & Cafés.
For as long as I can remember, Coffee Shop AUs have had the image of being a warm, comforting space where all our darlings get a happy ending. In this issue, I wanted to question that idea and explore its veracity, and the reasons why this idea exists in the first place. I was interested in the genre as a whole; and how it plays out across mediums — Why does it signify warmth? How does it challenge the public and private binary? Which colours are most commonly used in these AUs? How does this trope play out in films? I had a lot of questions, but I was not looking for any definite answers. I was only looking for unique and different ideas which attempt to critically and creatively explore this genre in their own ways.
As the editor of this issue, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have received submissions from across the board in terms of thoughts, mediums, and methods. In this issue, you will come across fanfiction, fan art, poems, critical essays, personal essays, letters, mixtapes! It’s a wonderful collection, if I say so myself; and it’s been a wondrous journey. I’m very proud of how/where we’ve arrived, and the different roads we all can now see and travel from here on in our quests to further explore this genre, and beyond. Editing this issue has been the biggest source of pleasure for me this last one year. I hope it manages to bring you also a little happiness.
hoping you have a grand-day,
Anushka Bidani is a poet and essayist from India.