Karin Kallmaker, the Queen of Lesbian Fiction, mentioned a panel topic for the Golden Crown Literary Society Annual Conference. The panel idea deals with fan fiction and copyright. It sounds like it could be a very interesting panel if some folks put it together.
The idea got me thinking about fan fiction, in general. I’ve read fan fiction pretty extensively in the Xena and Buffy universes. It’s how I became familiar with many of the published authors I now read – and, in a lot of cases, call my friends. I’ve even written in the Buffyverse – specifically Willow/Tara stories. (It’s out there, but I’m not going to tell you where. You can ask if you really, really want to know.)
There are many, many types of fan fiction out in the world. Wikipedia has a pretty extensive list. But I group them into three man fan fiction “types” (for lack of a better word): canon, alternative, and uber. Everything else can fall into these three. Again, this is as I see them and in no way constitutes the “rules” or even understood guidelines of fan fiction. I fully believe that anyone and everyone can group fan fiction however it works in their own minds. So, please, don’t judge me or say I’m wrong. It may not be how you do it, but it’s the way I do it. Not wrong, just different.
Here’s how I define them: Canon fan fiction takes place in the actual universe – Buffy is the Slayer in Sunnydale, all of the Scoobies are who they are in the TV series, etc. Alternative fan fiction puts those characters in a different time/place. So, Willow and Tara aren’t witches who fight evil…instead they are a couple of small business owners who, say, meet at a consumer’s bureau meeting. In uber fiction, the protagonists have the characteristics of, for example, Xena and Gabrielle, but they aren’t Xena and Gabrielle. (Readers of lesbian fiction: ever wonder why so many of the main characters consist of a tall, blue-eyed brunette and a short, green-eyed blonde? Now you know.)
I’m not particular when it comes to choosing from canon, alternative, or uber. I have favorites in all three. Some that I’ve read multiple times. The ones that went on to be published in some way are now sitting on my bookshelves. The ones that weren’t published are bookmarked in my browser. Sometimes it’s just nice to go back to those stories and once again lose myself in the fandom.
I’ve often asked myself why I like fan fiction so much. I mean, quite honestly, a lot of it out there is downright crap. And there are so many published books that have gone through the benefits of editing, type setting, and cover design. Wouldn’t those be the stories I would want to go to?
Well, the truth is, there are some fan fiction stories floating around the internet that are AH-Mazing! They either haven’t been published because it’s just not something the author wants to do, or because they are canon and can’t be published due to copyright issues. One such set of stories is by an author called Antigone Unbound. She wrote three excellent stories in the Buffyverse that focus on Willow and Tara. I consider them canon because they remain in the world created by the TV series. However, in the first story, On Second Thought, the author asks, “What if Willow ended up initially going back to Oz?” The following stories, Gods Served and Abandoned, and As Time Goes By continue the timeline set by the TV series, but imagine them in different ways. These are wonderful stories! Honestly, if there is ever a Buffy reunion movie, Antigone Unbound should be hired as a script writer.
Still, why am I so enamored with fan fiction?
I think, for me, a lot of it has to do with loving a the world, stories, and characters in a TV show so much, that I don’t want them to go away. How many times have we – readers – asked authors we know to please write a sequel to a favorite novel? And it’s because we want to stay in that world with the characters and see what else happens in their lives.
There’s also a sense (for a lot of us) that our favorite characters or pairings were ended too soon. These endings get “fixed” in fan fiction so that their stories can go on. Such is the case with Willow and Tara. This pairing showed one of the first healthy, happy lesbian relationships on TV. And it did so right from the meet-cute, progressing through the evolution of attraction. But, boy-howdy, did fans go kitty-bonkers when Tara was killed in the 6th season! Suddenly this progressive TV show fell into the Dead/Evil Lesbian trope. The relationship had to end tragically. Willow went dark and evil because of Tara’s death. Etc., etc. There’s one fan fiction group out there – The Kitten, the Witches, and the Bad Wardrobe – that won’t even allow fan fiction that takes place in the timeline following the episode “Entropy”, when Willow and Tara reunite and kiss. Everything after that is episode non grata. They are so vehement about this that the name “Kennedy” (the potential slayer that Willow has a relationship with in Season 7) is not allowed. “Kennedy” is automatically changed to “JFK” if it’s used. So, too bad if you want to mention Bobby or Ted Kennedy in your story.
Folks out there also want to see the pairings that weren’t explored in the series. There’s a LOT of Buffy/Willow, Willow/Xander, Rizolli/Isles, Buffy/Faith, Faith/Tara, etc. fan fiction out there. And, goodness knows, I haven’t even come close to listing all of the possibilities. (Some of the threesomes and foursomes are pretty interesting – if not logistically perplexing.) The Xena/Gabrielle pairing is the one that I haven’t seen breached – Xena and Gabrielle are rarely paired up with others. (At least, I haven’t seen those other pairings.)
I could go on and on an on with this particular topic. But my hands and wrists are starting to ache. So this might be the time to stop.
But, what about YOU? Why do YOU like fan fiction? What are YOUR favorite pairings? What are YOUR favorite fandoms? What are YOUR favorite stories?
Share in the comments below.