c is for cat

Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
On Fandom
hat
catvalente
As The Orphan's Tales tour winds down and people have been finishing In the Cities of Coin and Spice, the question of fandom has come up a lot.

This came up after the first book, too, and I had the same feelings about it--so I should probably share those feelings, especially since they bear heavily on the larger discussion of fandom taking place across the internet.

I think when an author was a fan first, they often have skewed ideas about their own work--skewed with respect to conventional wisdom. For us, the existence of a fandom for one's books is a direct indicator of success, not something to be fought and hissed at from dark corners. Of course, ktempest's recent point is well-taken: for most authors, sticky points of copyright with regards to fan activity will never be the smallest issue. I often wonder why we aren't talking about how to inspire fandom instead of how to thwart it.

As far as Orphan's Tales fandom, I have been asked since the first book came out, and repeatedly, about fan communities, fiction, vids, etc. And my answer has always been the same: you have more than my blessing, but there is no community as things stand now, and I won't start one.

And this brings me to How I Feel About Fandom.

I love it. I love how a book or a movie can bring people together, I love the satellite activity that can spin off from a world, how it adds to the simple act of reading, how it is such an intimate interaction with a story. And for a book like mine, which had modest success but was no Eragon, it's not as though there were corporate forums a year before the book came out to give fans a place to gather. And I just can't bring myself to provide them on my own. Fanfic, wikis, vids, communities--these things are fan activity. It is the country of fandom, it belongs to you, and it should be your space. My space is between the covers of those books. Fan activity flourishes in the absence of the author's eye, and to set my sigil on a site is to imply that I am always watching it, that even that activity belongs to me, that it is somehow a performance for my benefit, and I think that taints whatever baby fandom might arise.

And the thing is, I signed off on this world a long time ago. Signed off on the idea that it is no longer mine, or at least not mine alone. It belongs to my editor, and Random House, and Michael Kaluta, Jon Foster and Michael Komarck, to copyeditors whose handwriting I know but not their names, and most of all it belongs to everyone who reads it. As long as it doesn't keep me from feeding myself on it, and little fan activity actually does, even less for an author at my level, any and all fan action is beloved and encouraged by me, in perpetuity. You can bookmark this page and in twenty years I'll still stand by it. This place, these tales, belong to you as surely as to me, and when I signed that contract three years ago, I gave them to you, with both hands and gladly.

But it is not my place to begin a fandom, or to moderate it, or to direct it in any way--because I am not a fan of The Orphan's Tales. I cannot be, by definition. Fandom is sacred space, and it is a reindeer game the author ought not to play, even if she might like to.

So, if you wish to make it so, you, in plural, in totality, have my permission, blessing, and encouragement to create whatever discussion-hub or fiction or vid or artifact you like--if you want a fandom, you have to be the fandom. Nothing would delight me more--but it is and can only be your space, your undiscovered country. I will smile on the sidelines, but call no plays.

All these worlds are yours.

Except, you know, my house. Attempt no landing there.

*laughs* We have to get in geographic proximity next year.

Really interesting .... thanks for posting it.

I'm really interested in the world of fandom, both from a theoretical viewpoint and as someone within fandoms. And I'm always giddy as a schoolgirl when an artist (orginial artist?) is enthusiastic about fan works, and thankful that people can be so generous with something they've put so much effort into.

What I have to wonder, though, is do you feel that fan art can be a misinterpretation? A lot of it is what happens after the story, or between scenes, but what about changing canon plot? For example, one of my favorite Harry Potter fanfics involves Hermione defeating Voldemort. Now, while I can give a long list of reasons why I would have preferred the story to go that way, the fact of the matter is that it's a major reimagining of the basic storyline. If you were in JK Rowling's shoes, how would you feel about something like that?

I feel that fan activity is fan activity. I am hardly one to look down upon changing the endings given how I have reworked fairy tales in this and other works. I'm pretty zen about my work no longer being the sole property of me me me. If people want to write those things, if it salves something in them, then I'm happy. My ending is, after all, in bookstores and on acid-free archival paper. ;)

My ending is, after all, in bookstores and on acid-free archival paper.

Touche. ^__^

PARTY AT CAT'S HOUSE! WOOOOOOOOOO!

This is a marvelous post.

You rock.


Except my house. Attempt no landing there.

Whatever.

-S. Claus

Oh, S. You know you're always an exception.

I thought I was the only person who geeked on the 2010 sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I was linked here by Cofax. I haven't heard of your books before, but I'll be investigating them in the future, believe me. :)

Bless you. This attitude is both sensible and gracious. And, having stumbled across your journal (and indeed your good self) via a friend of a friend, I'm going to be looking for your books now as a direct result of the post (er, not in a "...and then fanfic! there must be fanfic! She said it was okay!" kind of way, but rather in a 'Go Team You!' kind of way) - because, damn it, you are clearly a Good Egg.

Welcome!

Also - holy crap, your books sound ABSOLUTELY my cup of tea! And then some! What serendipity!

I shall hie me hence and see if I can't pick them up while I'm in London - failing which, once I'm back in Bangkok, I can always order them from Kinokunya. Excellent.

Merry Christmas! (Or festive season of your choosing!)

They usually carry them at Forbidden Planet.

And sweet--Kinokuniya! I shopped there when I lived in Japan!

I do this sort of thing too. While being a lovely person doesn't always mean Good Art (thankfully for us, it does in Cat's case), it's occasionally a pointer in that direction, and I love supporting the kinds of things that I want to see in the world.

I got here from the lovely and talented zoethe, and I'm very glad I did. I think this post is brilliant.

Okay, I have nothing else to add. :) Except that I might just have to take my Borders giftcard and seek out your work. And maybe read your journal more often.

This gave me something to think about. I've been reevaluating my stance on fan fiction ever since I decided to get serious about writing two or three years ago. What you said about fairy tale retellings really hit home with me, and springing from that was the notion of playing pretend as a kid. Children take their favorite characters from books, TV shows, movies--wherever--and move them in new directions, often in ways the authors might never have intended. Yet I have never met anyone who sees this as wrong. From there, it's only a step or two to writing fan fiction.

And on a practical level, authors can't stop fan fiction, really, even if they wanted to. I know someone who continues to write and secretly post her Anne Rice pieces, for example. As you said, once it's out there, it's no longer solely yours. I think might finally agree with that idea.

I hope you are well, Cat! I've been listening to Sooj's CD, the one I bought at your reading, to and from work, and it's inspiring me in my own stories. I've also started your book, and I look forward to getting the second one. Your words really are made to be read aloud.

Love and lotuses to you,

Shveta

You sound completely awesome.

Because of this, I am going to at least find your books in a library, if not buy them.

(here via metafandom

The perfect author attitude! You're absolutely right. Have a very happy New Year.

*makes note to find these books*

[Here from metafandom. [wave]]

Yes, exactly. [nodnod] I feel the same way. I really don't have enough pro material out yet to inspire any kind of fandom (three shorts and a novelette) but if anyone ever did start writing fanfic based on my fiction, I'd be delighted. I won't guarantee to like the products [wry smile] but just the idea that someone liked my work enough to want to invest their own time and effort and creativity into fanworks of whatever type based on it is an incredible compliment.

And I also agree that it's not the producer's task to start the fanwork, or to provide a space for it when it doesn't exist yet. I've seen a lot of comic producers provide space on their web sites for fan art and fan stories and such, and I can see doing that once some piles up -- if fans send you some art, putting it up on your site to show is gracious. But creating a page on your web site for fanworks and saying, "OK everyone, send me stuff!" is sort of... tacky. :/

Having fans produce fanwork is a compliment, and providing a space where there is no work yet is like fishing for compliments. It's like asking for an award, you know? Rude and entitled.

At any rate, I agree with you all the way down the line. [nod]

Angie

Here via pickwick. Wonderful post. :-)

Fan activity flourishes in the absence of the author's eye, and to set my sigil on a site is to imply that I am always watching it, that even that activity belongs to me, that it is somehow a performance for my benefit, and I think that taints whatever baby fandom might arise.

Huh. I agree that it might be a little weird to host a fandom site for your own books. OTOH I know of webcomics whose authors do put up fanwork that is sent to them. And in fandom, people sometimes write spin-off stories or make cover art for each others' stories. Maybe the gap is too wide with pro fiction - and I know sometimes there's legal concerns. (And then, some authors don't *want* to see fanwork even if they're okay with it existing - nothing wrong with that.) But there are forums in which fanwork is sometimes seen as a gift or tribute to the creator.