Fan Fiction - A Few Thoughts from a Fledgling Author
Recently one of my favourite authors, Diana Gabaldon had a bit of a public lash out against fan fiction. I read her blog and the responses to it very carefully and quite attentively as I was, once upon a time, a fan fiction author. *Shock, gasps of disbelief from the audience.*
I am not going to touch on the legality of fan fiction, intellectual property rights, the many societies devoted to protecting transformative works, or the Fair Use legislation. I am only going to write about my personal experiences in writing fan fiction and my viewpoints on it now that I’m a published author (Check out my book, ‘Dead Girls, Dogs and Ponies’, available exclusively at xoxopublishing.com)
Oh my forays into the art of writing fan fiction started innocently enough. I loved the Brady Bunch madly as a young child and I would write little stories where my own little Mary Sue persona would have mad adventures with Marcia and Jan (but not Cindy, because she was annoying) and then Greg would... well, I was only seven at the time, so I think my imaginary Greg probably took me out for ice cream. And then there was the time I was the new girl on the Facts of Life and everybody liked me, even Blair. And then I discovered Star Wars (and, oddly enough, about the same time, puberty) and my stories became a bit more... interesting and very Han Solo-specific.
Once I entered high school and the 80's, fan fiction became a way to escape daily life for both myself and my friends. I wrote ream after ream of fan fiction, both solo and in tandem with one of many writing partners I had at the time. The main topic most of the time was the British pop band Duran Duran. I still have most of that fan fiction, squirreled away deep in the depths of my basement.
Fan fiction took a break for me when I entered university and Duran Duran faded quite a bit from the public eye. I was busy getting educated, and then after that getting married, having kids and so on. Along the way I kept writing my own original work. There weren’t any fandoms out there that really seized my imagination... until my brother gave me this little book for Christmas one year. It was called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. You might have heard of it. I devoured the books, and then found fan fiction online to read. A lot of fan fiction. Some of it is quite good... some of it not so much. Along the way I discovered and began reading a few other fandoms. There are quite a few talented fan fiction writers out there. At least one of them that I know of has actually branched out to publish her own original works. Fan fiction asks the question ‘what would happen if’ and it answers it. Sometimes the question appears to be ‘what would happen if the fan fiction author smoked a whole lot of drugs before she wrote a story?’ Either way, it’s a lot of fun to read both the good and the bad.
That’s my perspective on fan fiction as a fan and as an ex-fan fic author. My viewpoint on it as a new author is still being formed. Many authors, such as Diana Gabaldon, Anne McCaffrey, Laurell K. Hamilton and Ann Rice are vehemently opposed to fan fiction in any form. They do have a point. When you put so much time and effort into carefully crafting a world and populating it with interesting, vivid and memorable characters, it is upsetting to have them taken and put into situations you hadn’t intended to have happen, such as romantic entanglements or character deaths. To use an example from my own writing, Justin who is my main character has a friend Gord who he spends a great deal of time with. Justin and Gord are both straight. I would definitely not enjoy reading a story where they were not so straight as that was not my intention when I wrote ‘Dead Girls, Dogs and Ponies’.
On the other hand, there are authors, notably J K Rowling, Stephenie Myers and Jim Butcher (no relation, honest!) who don’t mind their characters being used in fan fiction. I admit, it is quite heady to think that your characters are so awesome, your plots so well written, your setting so compelling that you inspire others to create works of fiction based on your own world. It’s kind of like having a legion of ‘Mini Me’s’ all over the world.
So for me, for right now, I’m still on the fence in terms of fan fiction. But while I’m sitting here, I have this nifty little Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Brady Bunch crossover I’m working on...