Can you trace your changing tastes as a reader back to the beginning?
Most definitely. I started off as a firm Harry/Ginny shipper on SIYE. All I read were missing moments of the last two books, particularly between the penultimate chapter of the Deathly Hallows and the epilogue, and once, a couple of rather interesting post-OOTP (as in, disregarding HBP and DH) stories. I'm sure I've read at least thirty versions of what Harry and Ginny did when they left the portrait hole after their first kiss. (Some were light and fluffy, and others were... not-so-light and smutty ) All of them featured Harry/Ginny as the main pairing, and I read little else. I wrote only Harry/Ginny as well, because that was all I read, and I'm a firm believer in that you are influenced in what you read and it tends to show in your writing. Also, SIYE only allowed Harry/Ginny stories, being, well, a Harry/Ginny site.
Then I joined MNFF, and I no longer had the restriction of that pairing. I could branch out into different pairings, and into poems as well. As I started betaing, I read more of a variety of stories, and as I slowly began to immerse in the diverse range of subject matter in the stories on MNFF, I discovered my love for Marauder Era. So I started writing James/Lily, because I had read some excellent ones, namely by Gina/Gmariam, and I wanted to try my hand at something different, set in a different era from Harry's. For inspiration, I read a lot of James/Lilys, including MagEd's, Equinox Chick's, hestiajones's and others.
After this, as I watched an episode of the Mentalist and the Mysterious May challenge, a Next Gen plot bunny bit me, and I had warmed to Next Gen by then anyway. So again, it was about what I was writing at the time that led me to read more Next Gen, but also, the other Next Gen stories that I had read over that time -- like The Vindication of James Potter That was when I realised that not only did I enjoy fluff, but I also loved angst and romance and dark!fics. Then I got into SSP and rarepairs, and I'm still really into it even though I can't write it very well, lol, judging by the appalling mess of my Secret SPEW story
TQ: When you first discovered fan fiction, where did you start? (Did you immediately divulge into a pairing or genre, float around, check the top tens, or most recent?)
As I said, I started off with Harry/Ginny, then I moved on to other canon pairings such as Romione and James/Lily and Remus/Tonks. Then I started reading non-canon pairings that could still fit into canon, and then I began secretly liking non-canon ships like Lily/Alice, Hermione/Luna and Harry/Draco D:
Now, I just look at the Most Recent, especially if an flister writes something. I also keep up with the WIPs I'm following
TQ: What is one genre/cliché/pairing did you loved at one point that you shudder to read now?
Hmmm. I don't know. I used to love cliched Marauder Era stories (before knowing it was a cliche) and then I realised how stupid some of them were, like not having Peter or whatever, and now, I shudder at that. Also -- Mary-Sues drive me up the wall, but I'm sure I'm not alone.
New TQ: How much have your reading experiences changed your writing?