The Author Is Dead. (Not Literally. Though I Do Have Sore Arms.)

Here’s something that happens to me all the time: someone expresses an opinion, and I have this feeling in my gut that I don’t agree, but I can’t figure out why not, or how to express it.

This is only one of the reasons I’m happy to have smart and articulate friends.

If you write or read fan fiction, or maybe even if you don’t, you might have noticed the recent explosion of posts on the internets about the relationship between authors and fanfic, especially authors who don’t want people writing fanfic about their characters. I’ve said before on this blog that I don’t write fanfic. And I would never read fanfic about my own characters or worlds, for legal reasons and because it could interfere with my process. Please note that if you send fan fiction of my own books to me, I will not be able to read it!

But — all that being said — I like the concept of fanfic, and I’m glad people in the world are writing it. I’ve got no problem with fanfic writers writing about my characters, as long as I’m not reading it and as long as they’re not making money off of it. The author is dead, you know? Once I put my characters out in the world, yeah, they’re still mine, in the sense that I created them, they are my livelihood, and only I can decide what will happen to them officially in print, in the books I haven’t yet published… but they’re also yours to interact with and interpret, and if you want to write non-commercial fan fiction of my work, you’re welcome to.

I’m going to link you to the post of an online buddy who wrote something recently about the relationship between fan fiction and literary criticism. When I read this post, I had an Aha! moment. “Aha! This is why there must be fan fiction!” After all, as authors, as book lovers, and as intelligent, curious explorers of the world, shouldn’t we consider it a GOOD thing when people engage intellectually with our books? Check out fox1013’s post here.

(Note: the links in that post no longer work because the author to whom fox1013 linked took down her original posts. Sorry about that! Also: if you’re not a LiveJournal user, you’ll get an “adult content notice” when you click on the link to fox1013’s post. Just click on through. There is no inappropriate content in her post; this is a routine LJ thing. *growls at LJ*)


In other news: next week I’ll be in Épinal, France for Imaginales, a book fair all about imaginary worlds in writing and illustration. I’ve updated my Appearance Schedule — go there for details.

I am still on a blog break. Sort of. 🙂