Monday, April 08, 2002
In relation to the current burning topic in your blog, I want to ask how you feel about fanfiction. As a fan author, and a member of fandom, it concerns me; though I'm transitioning to writing only original fiction, much of my refinement as a writer came while I was writing fan fiction pretty much exclusively while my ideas for original work percolated in the back of my mind. And I'm quite proud of some of the work I've done as a fan author, and I'd hate to have to divorce myself from it to gain "respectability" (not that it's ever been high on my list of priorities). I do have my own rules as to what I will and won't write (I doubt I'll ever base anything off of your work, except perhaps an oblique reference here and there, for example), but I shan't get into those details, as I'm curious about what you think about fanfiction, both fanfic based directly on one of your works (even that owned by another legal entity), and fanfic as a whole.

To be honest, I don't really have much of an opinion on fan fiction. I don't actually have much of an opinion on people using my characters in fan fiction. For that matter I barely have an opinion on "slash" fiction (although I still find the idea of Good Omens slash fiction fairly mindboggling) (er, and Knight Rider slash fiction. I think that Knight Rider slash fiction is pretty weird, to be honest).

As long as people aren't commercially exploiting characters I've created, and are doing it for each other, I don't see that there's any harm in it, and given how much people enjoy it, it's obviously doing some good. It doesn't bother me. (I can imagine a time and circumstances in which it might. But it doesn't.)

Either way, it's a good place to write while you've still got training wheels on - someone else's character or worlds. I remember, as a nine-year-old, writing a Conan-meets-some-Ken-Bulmer-sword-and-sorcery-characters. And it's fun to head over into someone else's playground: I've written several stories over the years set in other people's worlds (including an episode of Babylon 5); and if I don't miss the deadline, I'm meant to be writing a Sherlock-Holmes-meets-the-Chulhu-mythos story very soon.

I do understand that there are grey areas, and I think of fan fiction as existing in them. I know authors who love fan fiction based on their stuff. I know authors who have formally attempted to stamp it out. I'm just sort of [shrug] about it.

I don't honestly mind if you stick (for example) Shadow or the Marquis De Carabas into a story intended for your friends, and not for commercial exploitation. I'd rather you put a note at the end saying who the characters belonged to, which most fan fiction people seem pretty good about doing anyway. But I'd hope you'd see it as a privilege and not a right.

(On a similar subject: Every now and then someone wins a local short story competition using a story or plot of mine, and I hear about it (often when they send me embarrassed notes, years later) and I try not to grin, and to look angry, but I haven't managed it yet. I keep meaning to tell Marv Wolfman that I won a school essay competition when I was twelve with a horror-comic plot of his....)