By Dee Donavanik, Publicity Director
Has fan fiction officially become mainstream? The buzz over Fifty Shades of Grey has finally died down a bit, but with an upcoming movie in production it’s still making the occasional headline. By now it’s well known that the book had originally developed from a Twilight fan fiction. As much as critics want to poke fun at it, there is clearly an audience there, as evidenced by the millions of readers who have made it a #1 New York Times bestseller. We can laugh all we want… E. L. James is probably laughing all the way to the bank - but she may just be the pioneer of a trend that is about to take over.
It makes sense that works originating from fan fiction could become hugely successful. From a recent Wired article: “Literary publishing’s uneasy relationship with fan fiction has been complicated by the realization that fandom is a huge potential market… But tapping that market is a dilemma few publishers seem quite prepared to engage.” There is already a large established fanbase, and while the details on who owns the rights to the characters and storylines can become blurred, it seems to be something worth pursuing from a financial perspective.
Perhaps a notable story that demonstrates the difficulties with the legalities of fan fiction is that of L.J. Smith, the original author of The Vampire Diaries Young Adult book series who was fired and replaced by a ghostwriter several years ago. This development caused a great divide between fans, several of whom chose to boycott anything not written by Smith herself. The Wall Street Journal details her strange comeback and how she “is independently resurrecting her stories… publishing her own version digitally on Amazon, as fan fiction,” and how “the fact that Ms. Smith can now legally publish and sell her unofficial Vampire Diaries novels highlights a dramatic shift in the way publishers and entertainment companies view fan fiction.”
I am neither defending nor renouncing fan fiction, and am sure just like anything else there are things out there that are very well written and perhaps some that are not. Rather, I want to know… Where do we draw the line? When should something be kept to internet message boards and when should it be brought to the masses? Just because a One Direction fan fiction about a young college girl “with a simple life, excellent grades (who) always has things planned out ahead of time, until she meets a rude boy named Harry, with too many tattoos and piercings who shatters her plans” has over 650 MILLION readers, does it really need to be turned into a movie?
Related: Meet Our MC Team: Dee Donavanik