An Introduction to Swirl and Daisy

Once upon a time… in my early twenties… I fell in love with Edward Cullen and wrote a bunch of Twilight fanfiction. I’m not embarrassed by that. Really. Not even a little bit.

I think I’m all of 21 years old in this picture.

Okay. For reals… I’m actually not embarrassed. I’m also not exactly proud of everything I said, did, and read while in this community, but I met so many incredible people, including one of my very best friends in the world, that I will never regret all the crazy this fandom had.

The time was the years surrounding 2010. We lived in a world of made-up internet names with weird combinations of letters and numbers, and spent way too much time on Twitter oversharing the details of our lives under the cover of our super secret identities. We all definitely read and wrote a lot of taboo fanfiction. Some story lines definitely would not pass the Me Too era’s smell-check – but it’s not like Twilight itself has held up that great either. But all the same, we were a community of mostly women from across the globe who spent a great deal of time connecting over our shared passion.

This community gave me a lot of excellent opportunities in my early twenties. I was very well connected with a lot of smart women, take for instance my dear friend, Anna-Lisa aka: Just4ALE, who was a Harvard graduate. These women deeply influenced me and helped shape my adult life. Plus, I got to travel all over the place to meet some of these amazing, like-minded ladies. I even spoke on a panel at San Diego Comic Con! Come on! That is insane!

Oh, and that’s the author of Fifty Shades of Grey on my right.

I had these opportunities because I wrote a very popular fanfiction called An Introduction to Swirl and Daisy: The Non-Romantic Romance. If you are interested in checking it out, you can download the PDF here.

You can also find it here on

Description: A first kiss, a first dance, a first curse word shared between best friends. This is the tale of a boring, young geek and the social pariah who thought the world of him. A tale of growing up. A tale of a Non-Romantic Romance.

Swirl and Daisy is a very sweet comedy of two middle schoolers, Edward and Bella, who become sweethearts and grow up together. There are no vampires – it’s what we called an “All Human” fic. It still takes place in Forks, Washington and the character names are all the same, but the story is entirely my own and based on many of my own life experiences.

Side note: During my 6 years in the fandom, All Human fic was far more popular than vampire fic. Due to this, a lot of Twilight fanfictions have actually been converted into mainstream romance novels – most famously Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s not something I ever intend to do with this story, but I thought it might help to add some context for those not familiar with fanfiction.

What made Swirl and Daisy stand out to a lot of people was it’s T-Rating (kind of like PG-13 in movie terms). It was a sweet, innocent, geeky little story about teenage love and awkwardness, and people really gravitated towards it. During my time writing this story, I was blessed with thousands of messages and reviews from people, mostly women, who related to and loved these characters. Years later, I still get messages and comments from people telling me how much the story has meant to them, which in turn means the world to me.

One of the most amazing, touching stories from my time writing Swirl and Daisy was when a women named Whyuh reach out to me and asked if I wouldn’t mind if she doodled some illustrations of Swirl and Daisy. I immediately said, “HELL YES!” and what came out of her imagination still tickles me to this day and puts the biggest smile on my face. We had the amazing opportunity to meet in person late in 2019. We ate at an Olive Garden and got caught up. She showed me a few more sketches I had never seen before. It was definitely the best Olive Garden meal I have ever had.

It took me exactly 5 years to finish writing the story, which seems about right given that it spans 5 years of Edward and Bella’s life – from 8th grade to high school graduates. It morphed into something completely separate from what I had set out to write, but I couldn’t be more happy with the result.

I could talk for a very long time about writing this story, but below is a bit of crazy rambling that I think sums it up. I met one of my very best friends in the world, Dori, writing this story. Dori officiated our wedding – I just want to be clear about how close we are.

Dori was the editor of Swirl and Daisy and stuck with me through the entire thing. Below is mine and Dori’s version of a wrap-up interview after the 5-year adventure that was An Introduction to Swirl and Daisy. This story spanned the beginning of our relationship and the conclusion of our time in the fandom. Our friendship will span the rest of our lives.

P.S. Dori was known as xsecretxkeeperx and I was known as m81170 in the fandom. We all had super-secret code names to protect our real life identities. There used to be much more of a stigma around writing fanfiction than there is today.

P.P.S. This was written in 2015, when everyone was talking about how the NSA was listening in on our phone calls. We thought we were being clever.

Top Secret
Office of the Inspector General
National Security Agency

Case #: 862734
Transcript #: 5,923
Date: January 10, 2015
Transcriber: Percy O’Flanagan
Subject Names: Identities Redacted. Referred to only as Subject M and Subject X.

Transcriber’s Notes: You don’t read these notes. I KNOW you don’t, because this is the 5,922 time I’ve written that I do not understand why we’re still recording and transcribing every phone conversation between Subject M and Subject X. It’s been five years. FIVE YEARS, people, of nothing but in-depth America’s Got Talent analysis, drama stemming from minor grammar differences, and innumerous bits of random conversation that led to absolutely nothing.

Worst of all is the Twilight fanfiction. For five bleeding years, I have transcribed THOUSANDS of conversations revolving around a story about Edward and Bella, but whom Subject M insists on calling Swirl and Daisy. I will never understand this. Why does Subject X take Subject M’s calls at four in the morning, when all she has to ask is whether “her” Bella could feasibly score higher on the SATs than “her” Edward? Who cares how much a fictional website started by middle schoolers is actually worth? Why does it matter if Edward likes Lord of the Rings and Bella likes Harry Potter?

I. Do. Not. Care.

I came to work at the NSA to make a difference, not to listen to silly girls debate over whether Robert Pattinson looks better clean shaven or with facial hair. It is my recommendation that we close Case #862734 and move on to subjects of actual interest.


9:07 PM — Subject X calls Subject M

Subject M: What up, yo?

Subject X: Ow! Wait! Don’t talk! I can’t hear you! I dropped the phone! I dropped the phone! Okay, now I can hear you. Hi.

Subject M: Hey. I’m just reading through Senior Year on the Swirl and Daisy PDF. Fixing typos is f–king killing me. No offense.

Subject X: (laughs) None taken. It’s your fault anyway. There’s really only so much saving a girl can do.

Subject M: True dat. At least we got better as we went along.

Subject X: Seriously. Swirl and Daisy was one of the best learning experiences.

Subject X: If your readers heard you talking, they’d think you were writing a sequel.

Subject M: A sequel would kill me. I’d be dead, and then the sequel still wouldn’t get written. So no sequel. Ever.

Subject X: I actually really love the way you ended it. Swirl and Daisy can be anything, do anything. They could move to Washington D.C. and be all presidential or take their millions and backpack through Europe, growing hair in places people have forgotten hair grows.

Subject M: I totally agree that they could be anything. But not hippies. Swirl and Daisy never become hippies.

Subject X: What about genius hippies, like–

Subject M: NO HIPPIES!

Subject X: Fine then. In my future, Swirl and Daisy seclude themselves in their mansion and build baby robots that drive them crazy and they start to think they’re real and they happily chase them around the property for the rest of their lives.

Subject M: Baby robots, I can get behind.

Subject X: (laughs) I love the handwriting in the PDF, dude. I always thought it would be cool if we could see everyone’s different handwriting, especially with the yearbook signatures.

Subject M: Better yet, I can actually write email addresses out without being a little turd and deleting them.

Subject X: (laughs)

Subject M: Anyway, if that’s all, I’m gonna get back to work. I’ll call you after I watch Downton.

Subject X: (laughs) Cool beans.

9:10 PM — Subject M and Subject X end call.

9:11 PM — Subject M calls Subject X

Subject X: (laughing) Hello?

Subject M: I remembered Sophomore year! I had just finished reading The Hunger Games. That’s why the writing is a little different. Sorry, I just had to call and tell you.

Subject X: Like when you forget a word, and you can’t stop thinking about that word you can’t remember, and then at two in the morning you remember that word, and even though it’s two in the morning, you call the person you couldn’t remember the word with, and they don’t even care that it’s two in the morning.

Subject M: “Disorienting!”

Subject X: Exactly.

Subject M: Anyway, that was all. I’m going to get going.

Subject X: Question. What were you thinking of doing for the PDF’s cover?

Subject M: I’m just playing with some of the art Whyuh drew at the beginning of the story.

Subject X: I love that art.

Subject M: It’s amazing how she managed to capture both characters perfectly. It’s like she took a picture of the inside of my brain. Can you believe that was over four years ago? Can you believe it took me five f–king years to write that story? It slays me.

Subject X: I think it’s a good thing it took that long. You were so new to writing. Without that time for your talent to mature, Bella wouldn’t have had such a profound transformation.

Subject M: I don’t think she would have had a transformation at all. I’ve grown with Daisy, and became more aware of myself and the issues women still face in our society. From about two years ago and on, my mission has become to break down gender stereotypes through my art. I remember having my own epiphany while re-reading the story. I remember calling you up and telling you, “I just realized, Daisy is f–king awesome.” From then on, the story became less about Edward and Bella’s relationship, and more about how to be an individual in a relationship.

Subject X: And that’s what makes Swirl and Daisy so great. It’s about this great love between two souls, but it’s also about two people coming into their own. It’s about growing up and loving the journey.

Subject M: Remember the Lord of the Rings/Angel crossover fic Daisy was going to write as a present to Swirl? I think I still have a draft of that lying around somewhere. That would have been a travesty.

Subject X: Are you kidding? A hysterical travesty!

Subject M: True. It’s the murder mystery party that would have been the dull travesty.

Subject X: (laughs) I’m really glad we stuck with the book club theme.

Subject M: Me too. I loved that Bella and Edward went as Sherlock and Watson. Because, seriously, in some universe those characters needed to hardcore make-out.

Subject X: (laughs) Yes!

Subject M: Anyway, I’m going to get going.

3 seconds pass.

Subject M: (strangled, weird chuckle)

Subject X: Wait, what was that?

Subject M: I’m reading The Weekly Funnies over on ADF.

Subject X: You’re such a stalker.

Subject M: Whatever. Lurking is totally different from stalking. You totally have to go check it out. There’s this great Rebel Wilson meme about the gym.

Subject X: Okay, okay. One second.

Subject M: (strangled, weird chuckle)

Subject X: What?

Subject M: Seriously, you just have to go read these. SpongeBob. Thigh gap. Hilarious.

Subject X: Okay. I’m here. I’m here.

The next twelve minutes – seriously, twelve minutes – are spent in silence, only punctured by the intermittent giggle and vague description, such as “Napoleon Dynamite. Zumba.” “Patrick Stewart.” “Grumpy cat.” This is the only point in the entire conversation where Subject M and Subject X could possibly be speaking code. I’ve monitored, and the only spy work going on there is on Robert Pattinson’s dating life.

Subject M: Anyway, I’m going to get going.

Grinding, growling noise comes from the background of Subject X’s line.

Subject X: (laughs) Did you hear that?

Subject M: Yeah. What the hell was that?

Subject X: My dad is itching my mom’s back. She’s all “Grrr grrr grrrr.”

Subject M: There was a time in our relationship where I might have found that weird. That time has passed.

Subject X’s Mother: Dori, you shouldn’t be drinking beer while editing.

Subject X: I’m not editing! I’m being awesome.

Subject M: I concur. With your mom. Don’t drink and edit.

Subject X: I’m not editing!

Subject M: You’re always editing. I own you.

Subject X: (to mother) M—- (name redacted) agrees with you.

Subject X’s Mother: (laughs) Of course she does. Can you go on CastleVille and send me a Speed-Up?

Subject M: TELL HER TO SHUT UP! I’m just kidding; I love her.

Subject X (to mother): She says to stop bothering me. We’re working.

Subject X’s mother laughs.

Subject M: Ugh. There’s a smell. What is that? Ew. I think the dog farted.

Subject X: I have to pee.

Subject M: Then go pee.

Subject X: Be right back.

1 minute, 13 seconds pass.

Subject X: I’m back. OWWWW! OW! OW! OW!

Subject M: What did you do this time?

Subject X: Raja tried to trip me and I stubbed my toe. OW!

Subject M: You know, there was also a time in our relationship when I would have spent ten minutes sympathizing with you. After five years of this happening at least once per phone call, I can’t even muster an, “are you all right?”

Subject X: (laughs) The romance is dead.

Subject M: No. It’s just all in Swirl and Daisy. Now that it’s complete, what would you say is your favorite scene?

Subject X: You make me pick just one? Cruel, evil wench! Uhhhhmmmmm…. Intervention. Funny line after funny line and Jasper finally gets his just desserts. What’s yours?

Subject M: Bella, bare-ass naked on the balcony, being epiphanized and singing “I Am Woman.” I think that excerpt is the best thing I’ve ever written. Though, by far, my favorite story from cover to cover is still Iteration: The Perks and Pitfalls of Talking Too Much.

Subject X: Ugh. Iteration. That story is part of my soul.

Subject M: Your soul, huh?

Subject X: The feels! I laughed, I cried, I was absolutely disgusted! Seriously. I couldn’t look at pancakes for weeks.

Subject M: Oh, my God. YOU couldn’t look at pancakes for weeks? I’m the one who had to research what they tasted like with ketchup. Disgusting doesn’t even come close.

Subject X: (laughs) I feel like Edward and Bella are so real in Iteration.

Subject M: Oh, yeah. So real. Edward speaks like

Subject X: Puh-lease. Edward is a man after my own heart. Words are my thing, man.

Subject M: I thought that too… until I met that guy off of who emailed exactly like Edward spoke – puns, rhymes, and the occasional big word. No chemistry.

Subject X: (laughs) I had high hopes for him! This is why fiction is better than reality.

Subject M: And to think, it all started with you saying, “I have a plot bunny I’m never going to write. Alice is a computer.”

Subject X: To which you screamed, “STOP! That’s mine. You can’t use it anyway, because I’m stealing it.”

Subject M: It was a more concrete start than Swirl and Daisy. That one came from a night of drunken fun with Aeri and Anong. First came Swirl in defense of “boring” people, then came Daisy in teasing overly-cautious drivers, then came a title – thanks, Aeri – and the rest is herstory.

Subject X: (laughs) Herstory?

Subject M: Well, it’s about Daisy!

Subject X: (laughs)

5 seconds pass.

Subject M: Anyway, I’m going to get going.

7 seconds pass.


Subject X: (laughs) I’m reading!

Subject M: You have to say something, so I know you’re still there. What are you reading?

Subject X: The reviews of your last chapter of Swirl and Daisy.

Subject M: For realsies, I adore my readers hardcore. Whenever I’m in a total slump or think I suck monkey-balls, I’m going to go back and read those reviews as affirmations. I still can’t believe how many people stuck with me until the end of the story. I could talk for hours about how much I appreciate the support, encouragement, and strength they’ve given me these last five years. How they’ve bolstered my confidence. How they’ve inspired my creativity. How they’ve touched my heart. They are truly the wind beneath–

Subject X: I love how many people love Swirl and Daisy, quote, “despite the T-rating.”

Subject M: Oh, my God. That T-rating became the bane of my existence. I only rated it T because it felt wrong to mark a story about eighth graders as M. I figured I could always change the rating if they got frisky. But then the T-rating kind of became part of the story’s identity.

Subject X: Remember when the Perv Pack Smut Shack reviewed it and censored the pictures in their header with X’s over all the naked body parts? I died.

Subject M: The Perv Pack Smut Shack’s review is still one of my favorite memories about this story! After that, I knew I could never change the rating, so I had to work around it. doesn’t do a great job of defining what you can or cannot do under the T-rating. Pain in the f–king ass. But I digress. Do you have any favorite fandom memories?

Subject X: By far, my favorite memory is coming out to visit you in Colorado and editing Senior Year on the couch on the bottom floor while you wrote it in the loft above me, and calling back and forth to you when I needed to talk about something that needed to be changed. It was like talking on the phone, but better, because I didn’t have to wait for the phone to ring.

Subject M: Awww! I love that memory too. It’s almost as if we’re better at communicating without seeing each other’s faces. The thing I’ll always love most about Twilight, even more than Edward Cullen, is that it’s how I met my best friend and writing partner.

Subject X: You’re talking about me, right?

Subject M: The biggest of duhs.

Subject X: (laughs) You know what’s crazy? That we were both on the same plane of existence, we could have met so many times, but it took this crazy fandom and our passion for it for us to finally meet.

Subject M: Uh huh.

Subject X: When you sent me that fan banner for Lessons in Forbidden Love I just about died I was so flattered. And then I went and stalked your banner thread and you asked my opinion on a few of them.

5 seconds pass.

Subject X: Come to think of it, that was probably the beginning of our Beta/Author relationship. I was a little nitpicky. (laughs)

7 seconds pass.

Subject X: WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I know you’re not listening.

Subject M: I am! I’m just trying to figure out what my password was to the Twilighted forums. I want to find the first PM I sent, asking you to look over Swirl and Daisy. I was so nervous.

Subject X: Aw! My heart is a puddle of goo. Twilighted. Those were the days.

Subject M: Got it!

Subject X: Yay!

Subject M: Okay, one second. Looking, looking, looking. Ah! Here we go. “Hey girl!” Ugh. I’d forgotten the phase in my life where I started every f–king email with “Hey girl.”

Subject X: (laughs)

Subject M: “Can you do me a huge favor? I randomly started this FF yesterday and I could REALLY use some constructive feedback. I seriously need someone who is brilliant to tell me what I could do to make it better. And I need honest feedback, which I think some people are hesitant to give. If you have a chance to look at it, I would really appreciate it. It’s only two chapters in and about 2,000 words. Completely understand if you’re too busy – I’ll still adore you anyway!”

Subject X: I hated you for asking me. I was sure I was going to have to lie and say I never read your really awful story, but then… I freaking loved it. It was the cutest damned thing. Even when you were a noob writer, you still had this way with your characters. Inspiring.

Subject M: I think you’re remembering it wrong. I literally wrote the first chapter and posted it that same night.

Subject X: Which proves even more how talented you are because you weren’t even trying to be awesome.

Subject M: Oh, shut up. You know the only reason it’s any good is because you came along and made it good.

Subject X: I couldn’t have done anything without the foundation. You built the house. I just decorated it.

Subject M: But without you there to tell me which ideas were good and which ideas were rubbish, it’d be a f–king craphole.

Subject X: You don’t give yourself enough credit.

Subject M: Pfft. No one has ever accused me of being humble.

Subject X: If we had never met, I could not have edited Swirl and Daisy, but you would still have written it, and it would have been adorable with or without me.

Subject M: I would have never finished it without you. It took me five years, and that was with your help. You’re the Sam to my Frodo.

Subject X: Without me…. Never mind. I’m depressing myself. There is no universe in which we did not meet.

Subject M: Damn, this is turning into a f–king sapfest.

Subject X: (laughs) Wait! I got it. I’m just the godmother to the child you birthed.

Subject M is indignantly silent. Subject X laughs for 22 seconds.

Subject M: You know how I feel about the idea of idea of my womb being invaded by a tiny body snatcher. It makes my ovaries shrivel up and hide. Literally, my ovaries hurt.

Subject X: (laughs) If the NSA were listening in on us right now, they’d think we were crazy.

Subject M: Oh, please. If anyone’s listening to us, they’re totally having a blast. Plus, we’ve been especially eloquent tonight. We don’t normally speak so good.

Subject X: Or compliment so heftily.

Subject M: Or banter so wittily.

Subject X: Or sound so coherent.

Subject M: Or talk about Swirl and Daisy so much.

Subject X: Actually, we talk about Swirl and Daisy a lot.

Subject M: Not anymore. It’s time to move on to bigger and better things. At least, I hope so. Anyway, I’m going to get going.

Subject X: Are you going to–

Subject M: Stop! Don’t say another word. I’m leaving.

Subject X: But–

Subject M: Nope! You’re going to say something and we’re going to be on the phone another hour. That’s how it always happens.

Subject X: (laughs)

Subject M: Goodnight! Love you!

Subject X: Love you too!

Subject M: Bye.

Subject X: Bye.

Subject X and Subject M end call. Finally.

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