I’ve always been a voracious reader. I read every single night, within reason. I take a book to work with me for when I get the train there and back and to occupy myself during my lunch hour. I find nothing more than relaxing after that day at work to unwind in the evening with a book. I try to dedicate a full day every week to just read straight through from page one to the end. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember, of course, with variations on time and setting and situation, but when I was in my mid-teens, my reading changed a little.
I would continue to read novels at bedtime and during the weekends, but afternoons and evenings were dedicated to something else: fan fiction. There are very strong opinions towards fan fiction, both writing it and reading it, but it kept me going. Around the time I began delving into the beguiling world of Harry Potter fan fiction (Dramione all the way in case you were wondering) my mum started to get sick for the first time. That’s a difficult thing to deal with at fourteen while simultaneously trying to start your GCSEs. Sp I buried myself in the Harry potter world while I waited for the Half-Blood Prince and then the Deathly Hallows to be released. It was a real high of production at that time – no one knew what was going to happen.
I found some trash. There were so many stories were the authors used text speak or no punctuation or they were just really terrible. But there were some seriously good ones. Stories of fifty+ chapters, each about 3000/4000 words which were uploaded every week and were brilliantly written and absorbing. I particularly liked AU (Anothing Universe), non-cannon and set after the Deathly Hallows (which hadn’t been released yet so people were free to speculate on the outcome) where Voldie had won and Draco and Hermione were pushed together in increasingly awkward and dramatic situations. Admittedly, looking back, Draco’s character was never really Rowling’s Draco, but Hermione was always believable and I really liked that ship so I went with it! There were some stories I would check every single day waiting for an upload. And even now there are some I still remember fondly, particularly one that was never finished where Hermione just disappeared one day, leaving behind Draco and her little girl. I was hooked.
Then the final books came out and the fuss started to fizzle out a little in the world of Harry potter fan fiction, though it is still being written now which is brilliant, and I started to bury myself in novels again. Then I moved onto college and A-levels and my reading changed with the introduction of big, heavy texts that I had to read multiple times and I eventually forgot about fan fiction.
It wasn’t until my final year at university when my Tumblr usage and love of the Vampire Diaries was at its height where I heard about a fandom favourite Delena fan fiction, Bourbon in Your Eyes. I couldn’t imagine going back to fan fiction for anything other than my beloved Dramione, but the fandom would NOT stop talking about it. So one night, when I couldn’t sleep, I thought I’d just read one chapter and see what it was like. Heh. I read about 35 out of the 50 chapters. It was brilliant and I was hooked. Once again, AU and past the timeline of the series (I only read up to book four as I thought they were crap so I can’t comment on how it fits the timeline of the books) and at the time, a non-canon pairing.
I was reminded just how good these stories could be. How they encapsulated everything you love about an existing world, relationships and characters and make it their own. And really just how good some of the writing was. Then a few ago my sister became obsessed with TVD after seeing me fall apart due to the ending of season five and I recommended her read it too. She devoured in it one night.
Amy is also a regular reader of fan fiction. In fact, she reads it more often that regular fiction, though she tends to read fics based around Supernatural: often Baby Winchesters (this was totally unexpected), injured Sam, Destiel and Sam and Lucifer. She’ll read it on her iPod for hours. For her it satisfies the craving to read without investing in something super long and in her own words “means I don’t stay up all night reading”. But there are many mixed opinions on fan fiction:
Neil Gaiman has a lot of things to say about it.
Author of the Song of Ice and Fire series, George RR Martin, in a post about the legal side of it: “My characters are my children … I don’t want people making off with them, thank you. Even people who say they love my children. I’m sure that’s true, I don’t doubt the sincerity of the affection, but still… No one gets to abuse the people of Westeros but me.”
Interview with a Vampire author Anne Rice errs on the legal side, and very severe, too: “I do not allow fan-fiction. The characters are copyrighted. It upsets me terribly to even think about fan-fiction with my characters. I advise my readers to write your own original stories with your own characters. It is absolutely essential that you respect my wishes.”
And there’s a great post on Oh No They Didn’t! quoting lots of famous authors who feel strongly about it, and I think I actually agree with Stephenie Meyer the most...
Now I am not an author and I have never published anything that would warrant fan fiction, but I see it as an honour to that author, those characters and their world that fans feel so strongly about it that they need more of it. Obviously, that’s taking advantage of the fact that no one abuses that privilege and makes money from it or commercialises it in any way. What do you think?
Do you think it’s a compliment, or a crime? Have you read any fan fiction? Have you written any fan fiction? Trash or treasure?