I've been reading a lot lately about fanfiction - articles on what it is, how it came to be and where it might be going. For research purposes (ahem), I'm also reading one or two examples of it. 
It's probably all Margaret Atwood's fault. She shouldn't have encouraged me in response to my tweet that I wanted to write some fanfic based on her dystopian sci-fi world, MaddAddam
Is there any major cultural work that doesn't have a fandom and, consequently, fanfic and fanstrations? (I've just made up this last word as I don't know what people call fan illustrations.) At first, I couldn't find anything related to MaddAddam
, the final book in Atwood's trilogy, but as soon as I looked back to the first book, Oryx and Crake
, I came across illustrations
, and even movie trailers
I thought the essays in Fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World
particularly interesting and even eye-opening. They look at Harry Potter fandom (the first biggie), Twilight
, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
, and what it all might mean. They discuss controversies I had no clue existed: that people like the author of Fifty Shades of Grey
(known to you and I as E. L. James; known to them
as Snowqueens Icedragon) broke unspoken fanficdom rules by profiting from their work. I was also surprised to find out that Naomi Novik cut her teeth with Master and Commander
fanfic before securing a lucrative publishing deal with her Temeraire
series.This other collection of writings
is a good introduction to Wattpad, a site based in Canada that's starting to amass the most fanfic and original stories out of all sites out there. Some of its more popular users have already been snatched by literary agents and big publishing houses. It seems to be a good place to share fiction though I've already learnt that anything too long, demanding too much attention, is not popular...
I've been thinking a lot lately about my own writing - about this year of living in Brasil and how I could be usingmy spare time to work on stories and novels. The main thing I'm taking away from all these thoughts on fanfic is that it's OK - it's OKAY!
- to indulge in these types of stories because, at the end of the day, it's all writing - it's the honing of craft, it's the learning of what audiences want from a type of story, it's (mostly) healthy communication with the outside world. Whether you want to put that sort of writing under your real name is another story...
Have I ever written fanfiction? No, not that I can remember. I did write some Dynasty
and Agatha Christie
pastiches when I was a kid, but the characters and settings were all my own. It sadly never occurred to me that I could steal those beloved characters and bend them to my will.
Would I write any fanfic today? Well, I've been toying with a few ideas. One is based on the TV series Revenge
(I'm just waiting for its 3rd Season to conclude so I can use the cliffhangers as writing prompts); one is a horror story involving One Direction (think Hostel
meets 70s horror Race with the Devil
); and one is a love story of sorts set in Atwood's dystopian world. I'm lucky to already have a few Beta readers willing to help - even design book covers for my stories! Atwood's incentive a few months ago was somewhat crippling because it made me jump ahead of myself and worry about something polished that I'd have to eventually share with her, and which would exist as a solitary example of MaddAddam
fandom. But all these articles on fanfiction, and the examples I've read so far, have made me realise that it's writing meant to be dished out quickly and pulpy, more for the fun of it than anything else. I can't seem to stop myself from reading this creepy One Direction fanfic where girls are sold to rich men, becoming their Baby Dolls. One ends up in Harry Styles's mansion. Reminds me a little bit of The Stepford Wives crossed with The Handmaid's Tale.