I had a reader come up to me at an event this past weekend and ask me how I’d feel about someone taking THE ARCHIVED and continuing the story once I’m done.
“Like fan fiction?” I asked.
She shook her head. “No,” she said, “I mean, like, write more books with Mac and Wes. To sell.”
“Well,” I tried to explain, “I hope the story will feel done. And in the end, those are *my* characters. I’m happy for people to write fan fiction, but I wouldn’t want to see it on shelves.”
“But if other people want the story to continue,” she said, “and you don’t want to write more, why not give the world to someone else?”
This question is indicative of a mental state being developed not only by writers, but readers in the current book climate.
It’s no secret that the hottest books selling right now started out as fan fiction. It’s no secret because it’s plastered all over the internet, and in the stores. Some books own it, and some books would rather not. The latter claim that while they might have had the seeds of their story in another (and really, aren’t most books inspired by elements of one sort or another) their stories no longer resemble their inspiration.
But if the fan fiction truly no longer bears resemblance to the original work, then why call it fan fiction? The answer insofar as I can tell is to capitalize on the fan fiction’s *audience*. But then, if you want the audience, you must also take the stigma. You can’t capitalize on the audience without being attached to it.
By glorifying a story’s origins in fan fiction, we are encouraging a creative world without clear delineation, where an author’s characters no longer belong to them.
And I think it’s being complicated by other endeavors–such as the Cassie Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson collaboration–that encourage the communal nature of a story. It’s so hard because we as writers WANT people to feel they are a part of our worlds, that those worlds belong as much to them as us, but at the end of the day, we are the creators of them, and the intellectual property owners (I’m actually fascinated by that collaboration, but the primary difference at the end of the day is that Clare is collaborating WITH the other two, and has given them permission).
Back to the topic of fan fiction being pulled to print…
I don’t take issue with the stories themselves. I take issue with the glorification of their ORIGIN stories.
If the stories themselves are well-written and appeal to the masses, then let them do those things on their own merit. But the continuing emphasis on how those stories got started blurs what I still consider to be a very important line.
Fan fiction is fan fiction.