Holding Art in Your Hands:An Interview with Samantha Costanilla

Emily

Author’s Note: Some of the works of fanfiction mentioned in this article are rated E for explicit adult material and should only be read by those 18+ years old. All pictures courtesy of omfgreylo’s Tumblr.

Fanfiction has long been an avenue for writers, artists, and readers to play in the sandbox of their favorite fictional and non-fictional works. Fanfiction allows for countless pairings, new alternative universes, gender bends of characters, exploration of themes not available in the canon (or not fully realized) and new environments. The possibilities are only limited to the words on the screen. 

Yet there is something about holding a physical copy of a work that makes it feel so much more real. Scrolling through  Archive of Our Own,  a fanfiction site that houses over 6.8 million works, never truly gives you the scope of some of these works. How many pages is a work that is 229,765  words and 32 chapters long? Well, if that work is the series Sword of the Jedi by diasterisms, the answer is 577 pages long, bound in a single volume. 

The gorgeous binding book is the work of Samantha Cosanilla, also known as @omgreylo, who owns and operates Worlds Between Bindery. To date, according to her Tumblr account, she has bound 72 individual works (some multiple times, like SOTJ), 15 fics that have had the typeset completed and are almost done binding,  and a further 21 that are in progress at various stages. This was in March 2020.

Sam first came to the Star Wars fandom during the prequel trilogy, specifically Attack of the Clones. Last year around October, she dipped her toes into the fanfiction area of fandom. She came from the Harry Potter side of fandom, and when an author who writes in both fandoms recommended she try some Reylo (Kylo Ren/Ben Solo and Rey) works, she jumped in. The enemies-to-lovers trope crossed over nicely between Reylo and Dramione (Draco/Hermione). 

Sam found that she wasn’t great at leaving comments on her favorite author’s works. She wanted to express how much the fics meant to her, and a comment seemed not to fully express how the works made her feel. So, after reading landscape with a blur of conquerors by diasterisms, she decided to bind the entire 362,850 word, 70 chapter long fic into a single volume as a gift for the author, Thea.  It started as a love letter to one of her favorite works and is rapidly approaching 100 fics bound with no end in sight. 

Sam has a Patreon account, where she houses her content and extra items, like foil postcards and bookmarks for her supporters. Creating art other than her books gives her an outlet for her creativity, pushes her limits, and helps her to avoid burnout. She frequently posts on Instagram and Twitter, and uploads videos of her work to TikTok and Youtube

For September, she bound 11 copies of Sword of the Jedi. That is 6,347 pages worth of work. Usually for her commissions, she requires the word count to be under 160,000. 

Her process for commissions can be found on her website and all works must go through her Ko-Fi site. She has a tier system based on word count. This determines the cost of the work, which includes flat rate shipping in the USA. International shipping prices vary. As long as USPS ships to your address, you can commission a fic. 

Per her website, the tiers are: 

Tier 1: <50k^-70k words ($50 US, $40 Int’l)

Tier 2: 70k-100k words ($55 US, $45 Int’l)

Tier 3: 100k-130k words ($60 US, $50 Int’l)

Tier 4: 130k-160k words ($65 US, $55 Int’l)

Anything under 50,000 words can be bound in a mini-format book.

Sam will bind fics for the following ships: Reylo, Dramione, Damerey, Harmony, Grishaverse (except Malina), Folk of the Air, Spuffy, Sparrabeth, Delena and Romanogers. These are pairings she is familiar with, and if it is not on the above list she will not agree to bind it. 

Each commission includes the following: hardcover typeset and handbound by Sam in cream-colored paper (flat back spine for thinner works; backed and rounded spine for thicker works), and fic title in vinyl lettering on the spine or the front cover. Also available as add ons for an additional fee are satin bookmarks, laminated bookmarks, and up to 3 colored artworks. 

Commission slots open the second Friday of the month, unless it is postponed due to a backlog or full time work requirements. At 12 pm PDT/PST, slots open with a code word for Tier 3 Patreon backers. At 6 pm PDT/PST, any remaining slots go live to non-Patrons. Slots are available on a first come, first served basis and no reservations are allowed. 

Per her website, the requirements to take one of the commission slots are:

1. Author’s permission for the fic and any artwork you wish to include.This must be uploaded at the time of commission.  If the fic has been done before, you must still obtain permission. The only blanket permission that has been given is by diasterims (excluding landscape, as it is a massive work). Dark Fic author MalevolentReverie does not allow her works to be bound. 

3. Your first and last name, and your complete mailing address, including apartment/unit number in the order form on Ko-fi. 

4. International orders only: your PayPal email address so a request for the shipping fee can be sent.

All above information is current as of this publication, but readers should visit Sam’s website or other social media accounts for the most up-to-date information and timelines. Sam also announced recently on Twitter that she is expanding her word count later next year, and will split works over 160K into two volumes. Pricing has not been released at this time. 

When asked what keeps her working, Sam said that while bookbinding is a niche hobby, it is very rewarding. 

She views it as “a gift economy. You take something in from an author, then you can give it back, as a bound book. It is a give and take.” Sam wants to encourage other bookbinders to keep working on their craft, saying,

“I want to keep the cycle of giving alive. With the reylo fandom, there is always new talent appearing, new works being written. We lift each other up. I see people giving art, words, other things to each other. I want that to continue.” 

Seeing the photos of Sam’s work, some of which are included in this piece, really brings home what a labor of love the craft is. It is hard work, extremely time consuming, and takes a lot of materials and skill to do correctly. Sam does this as a hobby, outside her normal full time job and life, as a gift to the fandom. Seeing what she creates is a joy, and I am looking forward to seeing what she creates next.