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    “F” is for Fanatic

    Diana Killian Icon

    I’d mentioned on Crimespace (are you all logged into Crimespace now?) that I was looking forward to finally seeing The Professionals on DVD.

    The Pros was a British crime drama from the 1970s which has unfortunately never made it over to this side of the pond. But it turns out that you can buy a Region Free DVD player or get a patch for your laptop, and you can buy the 57 (count ‘em) episodes and enjoy them in the privacy of your own home.

    Anyway, I’d mentioned that I’d finally broken down and purchased the newly remastered DVD set from, and a writer friend contacted me and said I might be amused to check out The Pros fan fic sites.

    Now fan fiction, for those of you who have not previously come across this phenomenon, are stories written by fans of a (usually) TV show. The stories often fill in blanks between episodes or between ads or simply build on the characters and their relationships. One of the oldest fandoms is Star Trek (which will come as no surprise to anyone). The Pros is also one of the oldest and most venerable fandoms, but pretty much any popular show has its devoted fan fic writers and readers (X-Files, Highlander, CSI, you name it).

    Apparently, in the old days, they used to publish fan fiction in little mimeographed pamphlets and hand them around–or even sell them, I guess–but the Internet has changed much of that, and while you can still buy ezines with quality stories, you can also find all kinds of stories for free on the web. Granted, a lot of them are pretty bad, but it’s refreshing how truly excellent a few are.

    As I browsed for Pros stories (most of which are “slash” or stories where the heterosexual leads are written as gay lovers–often quite convincingly) I was struck by a couple of things. Many, many of these stories are AU, meaning they are written in an Alternate Universe: Doyle and Bodie (the show leads) turn up in Regency romances or ghost stories or novel-length tales of elves and magic. They are pirates or mercenaries or playing doctor. There are even death fics, where the main characters (that would be Bodie and Doyle) are killed off. There are also crossover fics where, say, The Pros solve a case with the characters from The New Avengers. Or with Starsky and Hutch.

    By the way, you might be wondering how the integrity of a character could be retained if he was turned into an elf, and that would be a legitimate question–the answer being (for the most part) he couldn’t. The only resemblance is a name and possible hair color.

    I remember a diatribe years back on DorothyL where Lee Goldberg (who came to fame writing Diagnosis Murder novels and now, I believe, does the Monk novels) was giving his unpleasant take on fan fiction and fan writers. I thought at the time, that this was more than a little ironic, but I can see it from Goldberg’s point–a couple of these unsanctioned writers are as good, or better, than him, and they’re offering it up for free. It is a little disconcerting.

    I don’t get the writing for free stuff myself, and more than a few of these writers profess to have zero interest in writing anything BUT fan fiction. Nothing else but these characters (that someone else created) truly captures their interest or passion.

    That’s so hard to picture, isn’t it? Especially when some of these versions of the characters have been remade into something that bears no resemblance to their original incarnation. From ruthless ’70s super cop to…shapeshifter?

    As I searched the web, I discovered that there are also fan fics written for…Lord Peter Wimsey, a couple of Georgette Heyer novels, and the work of Mary Renault. Most of them written in painstakingly imitative voice and style…though just not quite…right.

    Fascinating, as Mr. Spock himself, would have said–and undoubtedly did in billions and billions of fan fics.

    Reading over this stuff, I asked myself how I would feel if my own work were “fictionalized.” I think it would be pretty amusing–and flattering–but who knows. I might be annoyed if someone took it upon herself to change Peter Fox’s heterosexual proclivities–or killed Grace Hollister off (not that I haven’t been occasionally tempted, myself).

    So what do you think about this whole fan fiction thing? Have you come across it before? Have you written any? (And if so, you know I am so going to ask you a zillion questions!) What would you think about someone writing fan fiction about your characters?

    14 Responses to ““F” is for Fanatic”

    1. This is all new to me. I’ve never read any and life is too short and my TBR stack is too high to start now.

      But as long as the people who write fan fic don’t scare the horses I guess it’s harmless enough.

      How would I feel if someone wrote a John Harper story? Flattered at first and then horrified.

      by David Terrenoire on March 26th, 2007 at 5:49 am

    2. Before Star Trek, there was all sorts of fan fic/poetry for The Lord of the Rings. Ever heard of it? No? I think that says it all.

      by Cynthia on March 26th, 2007 at 9:26 am

    3. Way Back When, I used to write Dark Shadows (the 1990s version) and Zorro fanfic. Then one day I realized I liked the characters I created better and why didn’t I give writing original stuff a whirl instead. Of course, some of my stuff is fanfac with the serial numbers filed off, so to speak. :mrgreen:

      by Tori Lennox on March 26th, 2007 at 10:40 am

    4. Oh, I meant to say, too, that I never wrote slash. That didn’t appeal to me at all.

      by Tori Lennox on March 26th, 2007 at 10:41 am

    5. David! Why horrified? :P

      by Diana Killian on March 26th, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    6. Cynthia, LOT, yes, of course there would be! And there is now, but I’m guessing it’s based on the films.

      The weird thing is, when it’s based on a movie or a TV show, isn’t it maybe based as much on the actor’s portrayal as the character as written?

      by Diana Killian on March 26th, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    7. Tori, that’s so interesting! And what does “fanfac” mean? Oh, and what does “fen” mean? I’m guessing you will know.

      by Diana Killian on March 26th, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    8. Diana,

      I’m very close to that character. I know him inside and out. I don’t think another writer could get his voice right or his humor. If I saw Harper doing or saying something out of character, I wouldn’t be happy about it. Not happy at all.

      Is that wrong of me to be that protective?

      by David Terrenoire on March 26th, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    9. Of course, if someone wanted to option the book and hire a screenwriter, well, that would be just fine.

      The check would soothe any bruised feelings.

      by David Terrenoire on March 26th, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    10. I’ve written fanfic in a variety of genres and a variety of fandoms. Most of what I’ve done is AU and often has to do with points in story lines (like the Star Wars book series) that I just don’t agree with. So I write my own version and entertain myself and friends.

      For us, at least, it doesn’t take away from our likelihood to buy the books. If anything, it’s the exact opposite. It keeps us interested in TV series that have long been gone from broadcast and keeps us interested in books while we wait the lengthy time between releases.

      If anyone wrote fanfic of my books (provided I ever get published) I would take it as a sincere form of flattery. It would tell me that my characters had captured someone’s interest enough to inspire them to write. To me, that would be amazing. Even if the fan’s interpretation vastly differed from my own.

      by Heather Janes on March 26th, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    11. David, I agree, a check would go a long way towards soothing any authorial angst. :wink:

      It’s intriguing to me how possessive fans become about characters–then again, that was the whole point of MISERY, right? I feel that way myself when a character on a show I like behaves in a way I consider “out of character.”

      by Diana Killian on March 26th, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    12. Heather, I think I would find it flattering as well. And fascinating to see what fans pick up on and want developed or feel needed more explaining.

      by Diana Killian on March 26th, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    13. Diana, I have no clue what “fanfac” means. I’ve never heard the term. Back when I was writing my stories, I didn’t really have a clue what a huge world the world of fan fiction was. I think “fen” is a weird plural of “fans”. I suppose it saves you that extra letter of typing. *g*

      by Tori Lennox on March 27th, 2007 at 11:12 am

    14. Tori, it’s difinitely it’s own little world! Holy moly. The more I read the…uh…less I know. :o ops:

      by Diana Killian on March 27th, 2007 at 11:29 am

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