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From E.L. James to Neil Gaiman, these authors are blurring the distinction between fiction and fanfiction.
Fanfiction authors often come under attack for writing plots and characters taken from someone else’s world when they could be writing their own stories. Many people believe that fanfiction writers aren’t original enough to come up with their own premises and that fan authors would never keep writing fanfiction once they graduated to the “real” world of publishing.
But the truth is that many authors of fanfiction have written original fiction, and vice versa. In fact, some authors even “graduate” from original fiction to fanfiction once published or keep writing both at the same time.
The Daily Dot presents the Top 10 writers who write, or have written, fanfiction.
1) R.J. Anderson
This U.K.-based Young Adult author publishes both her original work and her fanfiction under her own name. She recently blogged about being an “out” writer of fanfic; the lack of scandal may surprise you.
2) Lois McMaster Bujold
3) Meg Cabot
The author of The Princess Diaries and the Airhead series tells her readers on her fanfic policy page, “I myself used to write Star Wars fan fiction when I was tween. I think writing fan fiction is a good way for new writers to learn to tell a story.”
4) Cassandra Clare
Author of the wildly popular Mortal Instruments series, Clare’s history as perhaps the most wildly popular fanfic writer the internet has ever seen is well-documented. Her fics included early viral hit The Very Secret Diaries, a Lord of the Rings parody whose catch-phrases (“Still the prettiest!” and “Cannot cope—off to Mordor”) still linger today.
5) S.E. Hinton
Not only does this legendary author playfully indulge in mocking some of the more bizarre fanfiction written for her classic Young Adult novel The Outsiders, she also writes Supernatural fanfic herself.
6) E.L. James
It’s no secret by now that the mega-bestselling Fifty Shades of Grey, which is poised to become the bestselling series of all time, began life as a Bella/Edward Twilight fanfic called “Master of the Universe.”
Photo via Blogspot
What’s perhaps less well-known is that James is only one of dozens of other Twilight fanfic authors to do what she has done in openly publishing her Twilight fanfic.
7) Neil Gaiman
This iconic author has published multiple works of fanfiction: a Chronicles of Narnia fanfic, “The problem of Susan;” an H.P. Lovecraft fic, “I, Cthulhu;” and the Sherlock Holmes fanfic, “A Study in Emerald.” When asked about the resemblance of his stories to amateur fanfiction, he replied:
“I’m not sure where the line gets drawn — you could say that any Batman fan writing a Batman comic is writing fan fiction. As long as nobody’s making money from it that should be an author or creator’s, I don’t mind it. And I think it does a lot of good.”
8) Naomi Novik
Bestselling author of the Temeraire series, Novik is a founder of the Organization for Transformative Works, the first fan not-for-profit dedicated to the preservation and protection of fanwork. Novik has publicly owned to writing fanfiction, and fandom legend holds that her first novel, Her Majesty’s Dragon, began as a Master and Commander fanfic.
9) John Scalzi
At first the iconoclastic Scalzi called his novel Fuzzy Nation, a work of H. Beam Piper fanfic, a “reboot.” Many fans pointed out that there was no substantial difference between his description of how “I took the original plot and characters of Little Fuzzy and wrote an entirely new story from and with them” and fanfic authors writing fanfic. So Scalzi responded, “[T]o the extent that people are saying ‘Hey! You wrote fanfic!’ my response is ‘I suppose I did. And I had fun doing it.’
Scalzi seems to have wholeheartedly embraced this category of creative work ever since. His latest novel, Redshirts, is unabashed Star Trek fanfiction, along the lines of Galaxy Quest.
10) Orson Scott Card
Card’s well-known anti-fanfic stance is puzzling, considering how often he writes it.
In the afterword to his book Maps in a Mirror, Scott Card writes, “Writers should not waste their time or talent trying to tell stories in someone else’s universe.” He then goes on to explain why it’s OK that he immediately went on to participate in an Isaac Asimov fanfic anthology because, “like all laws, this one can be circumvented if you work hard enough” and because he “had a compelling story of my own to tell.”
Card has also written Old Testament fanfic and a Shakespearean fanfic of Taming of the Shrew and Hamlet, with bonus flagrant homophobia in which “Old King Hamlet was an inadequate king because he was gay, an evil person because he was gay, and, ultimately…murdered by Horatio, in revenge for molesting him as a young boy—along with Laertes, and Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, thereby turning all of them gay.”
Professionally written fanfiction, as we can see clearly from Card’s noble efforts, has many faces and complex nuances.
What it doesn’t seem to have is a chance of stopping anytime soon.
Correction: S.E.. hinton has written Supernatural fanfic starring Sam and Dean Winchester, but not slash stories pairing Sam/Dean, better known as “Wincest.”
@laurabush_x no I have never written Wincest it creeps me out I have written a couple of SPN fanfics
— S. E. Hinton (@se4realhinton) January 16, 2014
Photo via Goodreads
Aja Romano is a geek culture reporter and fandom expert. Their reporting at the Daily Dot covered everything from Harry Potter and anime to Tumblr and Gamergate. Romano joined Vox as a staff reporter in 2016.