The second answer

Andrea asks:

I tend to discover new fandoms via fan fiction that has been written for them, so I wish there was more Liaden fan fiction so more people like me could discover this wonderful universe, but I know that that is only one simple reader’s perspective and am honestly/really curious about how you feel about fan fiction in general and for your own universes in particular. Is it strange/uncomfortable to have other people interpret one’s own characters, or …? Thanks!!!

I’m obliged to you for the information that there is so little Liaden fanfic out there, though, frankly, I wish there were none.  I don’t want “other people interpreting” our characters. Interpreting our characters is what Steve and I do; it’s our job.  Nobody else is going to get it right.

This may sound rude and elitist, but honestly, it’s not easy for us to get it right sometimes, and we’ve been living with these characters. . .for a very long time.  I created the prototypes for Val Con and Miri when I was 12 — so that’s almost 50 years together at this point, and there are still misunderstandings.

So, my position with regard to fanfic of our work?  We built our universes, and our characters; they are our intellectual property; and they are not toys lying about some virtual sandbox for other kids to pick up and modify at their whim.  Steve and I do not sanction fanfic written in our universes; any such work that exists, exists without our permission, and certainly without our support.

I know that some of my colleagues think that having their stuff fanficed is swell, and actively encourage derivative work.  So my advice, for people with a yen to write fanfic, is to work in the universes of those authors who permit and encourage it — and to respect the wishes of those of us who do not.

Thank you for your question.

4 Responses to “The second answer”

  • Doc Coleman:

    I know some authors set up a sandbox for derivative works: a designated area away from the actions of the main characters where others can explore the setting. That seems to work for them.

    As complex and interwoven as your worlds are, I don’t blame you for discouraging fanfic. You don’t need the headache of people confusing someone else’s story as canon.

    Doc

  • The most successful fanfic I know of is in Eric Flint’s “1632″ series. They publish the best of them in the “Grantville Gazette”. And the stuff that gets in there is very good. This works well because most of it is tangential to the main characters.

    But Sharon has the right of it: only write fanfic with permission. Unauthorized fanfic is a form of theft, and probably vandalism as well. I’ve seen fanfic that horribly distorts the characters. And then it is like trying to un-see something.

  • Saruby:

    The other issue with fanfic is that it has the potential to cause copyright problems for authors. A fanfic writer could claim that an idea came from them. This is one reason most authors do not read fanfic of their own work. Even those who do not restrict fanfic won’t read work in their own universes. In the case of the Liaden universe, any fanfic actually violates trademark, as well.

  • Patti L.:

    Saruby has a distinct point; that’s why it’s “Liaden Universe” with the circled R after it!

    Mike Briggs put up a good answer about what the issues are for fanfic on his wife Patricia Briggs’ board, and since then even the starting writers section there has had a “no fanfic nohow” rule.

    Asking questions, fine, pushing your own interpretation onto other people’s people, no.

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