Monday, June 11, 2012

From Fanfiction to Mainstream

The latest SummerQuest is a really fun challenge involving creating a map of an imaginary place. You have to be a true fan to be that inspired by an imaginary world. Some are inspired to make maps, while others are inspired to write stories. So between that, and the fact that the controversial Fifty Shades of Grey continues to be one of our most-requested books, this seems like a good time to recommend some other authors who, like E.L. James, started out writing fanfiction. (You probably know already that that book started out as Twilight fanfiction...le sigh.)

 There's a good chance that you've seen the multitude of pink, sparkly books we have by popular child, teen, and adult author Meg Cabot. But did you know that she started out writing fanfiction, and is still an active member of that online community? Find out what the heck fanfiction is, and check out some more popular authors who started out writing it, after the jump!

Fanfiction can be broadly defined as writings by fans of a particular fictional universe (or perhaps more than one). Often it incorporates elements of romance, but that is by no means a requirement. It can be a way for fans to explore fun ideas: what if Harry Potter had been sorted into Slytherin, instead of Gryffindor? What happened after Lizzie Bennett and Mr. Darcy got married...was it really happily ever after?

Some authors encourage fanfiction, some grudgingly tolerate it, and some emphatically request that their beloved characters and plots be left alone. Since it exists in a bit of a legal gray area for now, I'll just suggest that perhaps fanfiction is a longstanding, honorable tradition. After all, where do you think most of Shakespeare's plots and characters came from? I was surprised to learn in school that the original ones are the ones that stand out as exceptions!

Without further ado, here are some more authors you might not have realized came from that community:

If you're a fan of both the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik and the Master and Commander series by Patrick O'Brien, perhaps you made the connection that the former started out as fanfiction written about the latter. When she realized that she'd created an alternate universe so far removed from the original (with different genders, places, and y'know, dragons), she decided just to take a shot at original fiction instead.

One of our most popular teen authors is Cassandra Clare. Last year, her books were top picks when we asked teens what their favorite books were during the Summer Reading Program. (Will they keep that prestigious title? We'll have to wait until this summer's over to find out!) She actually got her start writing fanfiction about Harry Potter, as did another up-and-coming YA author, Sarah Rees Brennan. (If you haven't read her series, well, it has magic, demons, and a lot of action, so what are you waiting for?

Know of any other authors I missed? Want to sound off with your opinion? Feel free to leave a comment below, and happy reading!



  1. Here is an article I wrote a few years back about fan fiction:

    FanFiction 101
    What is Fan Fiction? Would you believe it all started with Star Trek?
    Fan Fiction (fanfiction, fanfic, or FF) is a term for stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the work’s original author*. (*Taken from Wikipedia’s detailed article on Fan Fiction, it’s origins and many other aspects of the genre.
    There are a lot of acronyms or unfamiliar terms. What do they mean?
    1. FF – short for fan fiction
    2. Beta-Someone who proofreads a story. They may also advise the author on changes to make it better, etc.
    3. In Cannon – Everything in it matches with the world and rules of that world as established by the original author. Non-cannon is therefor, not in the cannon of the author’s original story.
    4. Pre-(Insert book's name) – This refers to the time period before the beginning of the first book in a series.
    5. Post (Insert book name)– Refers to stories that take place after the conclusion of the series or book.
    6. AU – Altered Universe. Something is changed from the universe defined in the series.
    7. OOC – Out Of Character – Something in the character of the people in the story is different from the original books.
    8. POV - Point of view, who is telling the story
    9. Angst – A story that makes you feel anxious or afraid for the character.
    10. Fluff – Light-hearted romance , happy stories with no angst!
    11. Lemons/limes. Lemons -explicit sex stories. Limes have sexual themes but is not necessarily explicit.
    12. A/N - Author’s notes, asides posted by the author.
    13. One-shot- A short story with no chapters.
    14. Ships – Short for “relationships”, ie, who is with who romantically and can be an in-cannon “ship”, or a non-cannon relationship.
    15. Slash – Refers to homosexual encounters in the story.
    16. Who writes FF? Anyone can.
    What about legal issues?
    Here are two great articles addressing that:
    Where do you find FF stories?
    There are many, many sites that contain Fan Fiction.One of the biggest FF sites is FanFiction.Net.
    According to the Encyclopedia Britanica, FanFiction.Net has 1.2 million authors and readers monthly. Twilight-related stories are the 4th largest group there with over 108,000 stories.

    How do I know if it is appropriate for my age?
    Fan fiction is generally rated by the author. On they are rated K(inder),T(een) M(ature), etc
    How Do I know if it is any good?
    In general, reading FF is kind of hit and miss. You can hit some really bad ones and you miss some really good ones if you go it on your own.
    On you can click on the link to "Communities" and get some advise there.

  2. Thanks for the comment, PM! Yeah, there certainly is a lot of jargon involved, isn't there...



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