We tend to think of the fanfiction writer as an obsessed amateur, pounding away at the keyboard for sheer love of the subject. But professional authors are fans, too, and the following successful novelists have dipped their pens in the fic inkwell. Here’s what they had to say about the experience.
S.E. Hinton (The Outsiders)
I’ve written three or four stories for Supernatural, which is my favorite TV show. And a few years ago I wrote three Outsiders stories to see what kind of a response I would get. I use a different name, naturally. People would say, “Wow, you really got the characters down right!” And I’d be like, Glad to hear it. The feedback from fanfic readers tends to be really simple. Along the lines of, “Oh my God, I love this! Keep going!” Nothing specific, like what you’d get from an editor. But it is immediate, and there’s something to be said for that.
I seldom spent more than a day writing a fanfic story, sometimes less. It’s something I did for fun, and none of the stories are really meant for more than a few minutes of enjoyment. For The Outsiders fanfiction, I will say that I set the characters in a different time period. And I mean reallydifferent. This story would have been historical even when The Outsiderscame out. The boys face their first Christmas after the end of the novel, and the death of Ponyboy and Darry’s parents. I was amazed at how incredibly easy it was to get back on the page.
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Meg Cabot (The Princess Diaries)
I started writing fanfiction before there was the internet. I loved Star Wars, so that was the fanfiction that I wrote. Until my mom was like, “Just to let you know, you’ll never make any money doing that.” And then she explained the whole thing about copyright. I was 11. Even then I was interested in making money off of writing, and I was like, Oh, crap. I’m not going to do this anymore! But I do encourage it for young writers, because I think it’s a good way to learn. You’re using somebody else’s world to play around in. However, I always strongly encourage people who are serious about writing to leave that world as soon as they feel confident. Clearly that’s somebody else’s stuff, and you want to go out and earn your living. I loved doing it, but then I grew up.
I was actually really surprised and pleased when I found out that there was a ton of fanfiction based on my own books. But I definitely don’t read it, for practical reasons. You don’t want to subconsciously end up copying somebody else’s ideas about your own work. My lawyers told me that.
Link to the rest at Vulture and thanks to Dave for the tip.