FanFic Reading at Bookstore?

The state paper in New Jersey is the Star-Ledger, and while there are smaller local papers for individual towns and municipalities, the Star-Ledger pretty much covers the whole state. And since NJ is a weird state of a few metropolitan-type areas that are also suburbs of other, larger cities located in other states, that’s a lot of news to cover. I’m forever reading about something cool to do on the weekend that’s, like, 2+ hours away. NJ is narrow but it’s kinda long.

Today’s Star-Ledger, and I can’t find a link to this info so you’ll have to take my word for it, had a whole section about Harry Potter (T minus a bunch of days until a book I’m not interested in reading will appear! Woot) with a promotional item about a reading at a local Borders this weekend.

What are they reading? HP Fanfic.

Seems a local couple who write a monster load of Fanfic regarding all things Potter are going to be hosting a reading of the best-ranked stories.

My reaction was along the lines of, “Srsly? Fanfic?” and then I realized I wasn’t substantially caffeinated to form a coherent thought.

Hubby, on the other hand, is a bit of a Potter fan, having started his pre-release tradition to read the series from book 1 anticipating the debut of HP whatever-is-next. His reaction was, “Please acknowledge that I am not as obsessive about this stuff as some people!”

“I don’t, like, dress up as the characters, and stuff,” he said as he wound his burgundy-and-gold scarf around his throat. *snerk*

Just kidding. Fanfic writers are not also necessarily dressing up as characters or living permanently in the fiction created world. But I actually had to explain that to Hubby, seeing as he is not too familiar with the world and concept of fanfic.

While there are many, many fans of the fanfic around these parts, I have to say, having a reading of fanfic in a bookstore for the promotion of a book that’s not coming out for two months is very, very bizarre to me. I’d be curious who came up with the idea – fanfic person who works at the store? Maybe it’s a multi-store promotion to create early buzz and activities surrounding the book, so that by the time the thing comes out, it’ll be like the release of Vista: a big giant non event.

Curious as I am, I’m not going to go. For one thing, my weekend is full of Really Important Tasks like getting the dog’s undercoat groomed out for summer, and sitting upon my behind and playing with the Toddler. I’m sure it’s not on the toddler’s top-five list of preferred activities, but then, he hates going to the grocery store. I do wonder though, if anyone else will be there specially for the fanfic reading.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Kerry Allen says:

    Comparing Harry Potter to Vista is like comparing apples to great, stinking piles of cow shit. Here’s my ad campaign for Vista:

    “Vista! The operating system that renders you unable to operate anything!”

    You may surmise that my Vista experience has not been a positive one.

    Though I think anyone who is not fascinated by HP is a big Vista head, I’m not hanging out with the rabid freaks at the book store at midnight to get my hands on the new HP a few hours early. Those kind online vendors will have it delivered right to your door on release day, no crowds, no parking hassles, no “sorry, we just ran out because we can’t comprehend our own pre-order policy.” Online shopping is a beautiful thing, people. Convert already.

    I wonder if any of the fanfic being offered is of the “bow-chicka-bow-wow” variety? My 11-year-old had to bleach her eyeballs after stumbling across a lovely little story about Snape and Hermione. That’d go over great at Borders.

  2. 2
    Eeyore9990 says:

    Speaking as one of the pervy authors of definitely-not-for-children (not even a little bit) HP fanfic stories, I would like to second the fact that we don’t dress up like the characters as a whole (though I’m sure people do at the conventions, but then I don’t attend those either).  But I do have to wonder which fanfic they will be reading?  Because, the highest rated genfic I’m aware of (A Year Like None Other) is 96 extremely long chapters long.  Something like a million words or close to that (which is so far outside of my range I can only sit back and laugh) with a sequel currently being written.  So… will they read something like that, or will they thrill the socks right off my feet and read (out loud) a story involving lots of sweaty, naked bodies and



    *snicker* My wordy thingy was zipper97.

  3. 3
    Karmyn says:

    I just hope they will be reading gen fic. I’m sure there is some great stuff out there, but like all fanfic, most of it is awful. Nothing quite like scarring the kiddies with graphic, urple, underage, fetish, slash porn. Or het porn.

  4. 4
    Chicklet says:

    I’m not very familiar with the HP fic fandom, but I do know there are many, many people in it, and several boatloads of stories. My guess is the reading will consist of gen (“general”) fic instead of stories that are focused on a pairing (canon-based or otherwise).

    I’ve never heard of a fanfic reading before, except for the ones the Lost cast used to have before their weekly dinners. (The actor whose character was the fic’s focus would read it aloud to the other cast members.) I’d be interested to see what it would be like; normally fanfic, and especially the slash-centric stuff I read and write, is kept to websites and blogs, with the occasional informal convention.

    But with fanfiction writing and reading (via being touted in Good Housekeeping magazine as a good hobby for imaginative teens, I guess anything is possible. (If you want to read it, I transcribed the text of the article into my livejournal, here. Didn’t want to clog up the comments thread here with it.)

    My spam-block word is england72; totally appropriate for a Potterian discussion, no?

  5. 5

    Mmmmm…slash fanfic.

    Uh…sorry!  Got a little sidetracked.

    It’s interesting because I’m a fan of fanfic.  I think that it started when my 9th grade English teacher had us write a new chapter for “Of Mice & Men.”  It was so much fun to take the existing characters and what we knew of them and give them an adventure of our own.

    To my knowledge there was nothing so interesting as slash that came out of that.

  6. 6
    Charlene says:

    I love fanfic (although I have to admit I prefer stories featuring, you know, GROWN ADULTS, to teenagers). I don’t understand people who laugh at it. I especially don’t understand people who think fanfic writers and readers are all dress-up fanatics. I wouldn’t cross the street to see one of the actors in my favourite show, but I love the stories that come out of it.

    90% of everything is crap. Look at Microsoft. Even they have some good software – Flight Simulator, even XP.

  7. 7
    --E says:

    I don’t understand the fanfic thing very well myself, but I have A LOT of fanfic-writing and -reading friends.

    Teresa Neilsen Hayden once called fanfic “a force of nature.” She’s right, and that point made me change my mind about it.

    Fanfic was around for decades before Harry Potter, but the overwhelming popularity of HP, combined with the revealing nature of the internet, let all the fanfic writers and readers out of the closet. They have been there all along; it’s only in the past 5 or 10 years that they’ve realized that not only are they not alone, they’re not even weird.

    I bet there are as many fanfic people in the US as there are avid sports fans. (Note: this is a totally made-up-out-of-my-ass assumption.)

    Fanfic is published professionally. What is Wicked but Wizard of Oz fanfic? What is Ahab’s Wife but Moby Dick fanfic? How about the endless Bible retellings? Don’t get me started on Arthuriana, which is, in essence, a thousand-year-long fanfic community.

    The only practical difference between professional “inspired by earlier literature” novels and modern internet fanfic is copyright. One might argue “quality” is also a factor, but consider that professionally published books had to go through editorial selection, and much fanfic is written by teens and other novice writers. Eventually some of those writers graduate to writing more original, less derivative work. Some of them create their own worlds…and some spin off the original worlds in completely original ways.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean for this to become a big rant in defense of fanfic. I don’t write the stuff myself, but given what I’ve seen of the fanfic community, I desperately want to write something that inspires fanfic.

  8. 8
    Karmyn says:

    I love fanfic. I really do. I’m probably a bit weird in that I don’t read slash. Male/male pairings don’t appeal to me.
    My experience with Harry Potter fanfic is mostly in making fun of really bad fic.
    I prefer gen or non-adult situations when it comes to Harry Potter fanfic. I prefer adult and ship fic in other fandoms and even write ship fic for Avengers. Never forgave Diana Rigg for leaving.

  9. 9
    Sara says:

    Honestly, I’ve been getting crap for reading/writing fanfic since I was 16. While it is highly derivitive, it’s also highly addicting, interesting, and, above all- FREE! (If you have internet)

    There’s just something about booting up the internet and reading a good story by one of your favorite authors and not paying for it. Especially as I don’t have a lot of money for real books or e-books anymore. I could go to the library, but I am so busy and the internet is just more convinent for me.

    I already know I like the characters of the particular fandoms I read, but if I don’t like the author, I don’t feel like I’ve been gypped when I have to stop reading it because it’s a steaming pile of crap.

    Fanfiction is not for everyone, and there is a lot of crap out there, but I’ve found a lot of authors in the mix that are as good or better than some pubished authors I have read.

  10. 10
    Janet Miller says:

    Fan fiction for newbie writers is like writing with training wheels…you don’t have to build the world, you only have to come up with a story that fits inside. I’ve known quite a few authors who got their start doing fan fiction of one kind or another.

    They don’t necessarily talk about it publically because they are concerned it will make them seem less “professional”, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t spend a lot of time making up their own stories about My Little Pony, The X-files, or Star Trek.

    Janet Miller/Cricket Starr

  11. 11
    Julie Elizabeth Leto says:

    I object to fanfiction when the writer who created the world is still alive and still writing and still using her world.  I want to tell people, “get your own damned characters and do the work it takes to create them so vividly that other people want to borrow them.”

    Fan fiction based on old television shows or novels in the public domain—that’s harmless.  But the rest is infringement on an author’s creative property.  In my opinion.  And I know it’s not a popular one.

    I, too, cut my teeth on Star Wars fan fiction way back in the day in when it was only published in newsletters by sci-fi geeks I didn’t know.  I never read anyone’s fiction but my own and I never shared mine with anyone, either.  It was just for me.  So I understand the value.  Posting it on the Internet is a whole different ball of wax.

    So I wouldn’t be going either.  I think it’s hilarious that authors who have legitimate books out have trouble organizing a decent booksigning and reading, but here a bunch of amateurs will get a lot of attention because its related to Harry Potter.

    And I love Harry Potter.  I’m getting my book from a friend who runs an online bookstore from his house.  He has a party at said house on release night…not a huge crowd.  We’ll play Harry Potter Scene-It and other trivia games until midnight, when he’ll give us the books.  It’s great fun.

    (And no, I don’t dress up, though I do covet McGonegall’s snappy green robes.)

  12. 12
    Amanda says:

    So, will Barnes & Noble be asking me to do a reading of Prince of Tennis slash fanfic to celebrate the release of the next volume of the manga?

    Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

  13. 13

    Given that JK does not endorse or encourage any fanfic at all, and has sent cease-and-desists to some writers this strikes me as a less than brilliant idea.

  14. 14
    --E says:

    Julie Elizabeth Leto Said:
    I object to fanfiction when the writer who created the world is still alive and still writing and still using her world.  I want to tell people, “get your own damned characters and do the work it takes to create them so vividly that other people want to borrow them.”

    —>That’s pretty much the reason I never wrote fanfic (on paper. I of course daydreamed interactions with my favorite characters, and often the neighborhood kids played a Star Wars version of hide-and-go-seek). I was inspired by my favorite authors, but it never occurred to me to write about their characters—I had a ready supply of my own.

    But it was TNH’s “fanfic is a force of nature” observation that made me back off a bit from my rather absolutist stance. Because in the end, railing against fanfic is useless. Should a writer protect her copyright and trademarks? Hell, yes. But to try to get people in general to stop writing fanfic? Never gonna happen.

    If the books are really, really popular and spawn an enormous outflow of fanfic, the question of how much time one wants to waste trying to hold back a flood becomes a non-trivial one.

    The most brilliant solution I ever saw to this was the syndicated TV shows (e.g. Xena) that created specific websites specifically for their fans to post fanfic. It was gonna happen—may as well have it happen where you can keep track of it and work with it. Get all those target-audience customers in one place where you can market to them.

    The Nile floods. The Egyptians have used this for thousands of years to irrigate their crops. They don’t build a lot of levees, they don’t build large permanent structures on the floodplain, they don’t try to tame the river. They know what they’ve got, and they work with it.

  15. 15
    Sandra D says:

    I’m just twisted enough that I read the first post and perked up at the mention of Snape/Hermione fanfic. *wanders off to Google…*

  16. 16

    They don’t necessarily talk about it publically because they are concerned it will make them seem less “professional”, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t spend a lot of time making up their own stories about My Little Pony, The X-files, or Star Trek.

    I have never written or read fanfic but I think it’s a wonderful idea. I totally understand the motivation behind it. If I were to do it, I would fix X-files or Star Trek: The Next Generation. These shows were soooo good, almost perfect. Almost!!! So close that I found them extremely frustrating. Writing fanfic could help exorcise the frustration. X-files is incredibly sexy but WHY is Chris Carter such a misogynist that the aliens are forever stealing Scully’s ovaries and putting them back? And we got a glimpse of the sexy on STNG when Troi got together with Worf, but WHY couldn’t Crusher get together and stay together with Picard, and WHY would the hairdresser persist in cutting her bangs too short??? Don’t they have What Not to Wear in space?

    *deep breath*

  17. 17
    Eeyore9990 says:

    Sandra D, email me.  I’ve got links galore.  Whole websites full, actually, but I can guarantee the quality on the links.

  18. 18
    Jana J. Hanson says:

    I don’t read HP fanfic but have some friends who do.  I’ll agree with Emily Veinglory that it’s odd considering JKR’s stance on the subject of fanfic.

    We’ve recently been discussing this ( since the fanfic author in question is now a best selling author.

  19. 19
    shaina says:

    i love fanfic for my favorite tv show, Queer as Folk, but only because it’s OVER and the only way i can get new stuff is from fanfic. i havent really gotten into the HP stuff yet, but i’m sure i will eventually. i have friends taht are addicted, and when i say addicted i mean like they can’t go a day without it. eep. i’m not quite THAT bad with my QAF fics yet!

  20. 20
    Estelle Chauvelin says:

    Well, theoretically speaking, amature writers groups meet every week at the bookstores around here, so why not fanfic authors?  But it seems to me that publicly hosting a reading specifically for a fandom in which the author of the canon is strongly against fanfic, is rather stupid.  (Is JKR against all fanfic, or just above a certain rating?  It seems odd to me that would have an HP catagory, when they forbid works about books by other authors who disapprove of fanfic.)  That’s the kind of thing that you keep on your own hard drive or in your own notebooks and don’t make public.

    I tend not to meddle with fic. where the canon is still growing.  My favored one to write in is Les Miserables, novel-based and decidedly public domain.  But legality doesn’t really worry me (like I said, if the author or other copyright holder is against fanfic, then I just won’t share it).  It’s the fact that I try to keep it so my stories fit within the holes in canon, and if I write something that’s AU, I want to know about it.  I’ve got an idea for a POTC/Peter Pan story, but it takes place before both, so I’ll probably wait on it until I’ve seen POTC3 and am confident I’m not contradicting any canon backstory.

    But back to Harry Potter: I don’t read the books, I have seen the movies, and I’ve read exactly one fic. which I liked, a rather hilarious take on Snape being forced to teach sex ed.  So all I can say is, I really hope this store makes it clear up-front what the maximum rating level on stories to be read is.

  21. 21
    Karmyn says:

    I thought JKR’s stance was she didn’t mind as long as it wasn’t adult. There’s plenty of that out there and I don’t blame her for going after that since it is a children’s series and has lots of young fans.
    IMO, there is a difference between fanfic for a movie or tv show then for a book or book series. With a tv show there are sometimes things that we don’t get to see that we would like to see, such as a relationship between certain characters. Or we want to see something more detailed in the relationship then we see on the screen. This is why I enjoy reading and writing fanfic for The Avengers. I get to read and write about things that weren’t allowed to be shown on TV in the 1960s. Or even now in some cases.
    I think if the creator of the tv show or book or movie doesn’t want fanfic written, then people should obey that. You can make up stuff for yourself, but not put it online.
    For me it’s a fun hobby and it’s not hurting anyone. I don’t think I would ever attempt to write Harry Potter fanfic because it’s such a complex world and I could never even begin to do it justice.

  22. 22
    Estelle Chauvelin says:

    There are things that we don’t get to see in books, too.  Secondary/minor characters have to be doing something when the narrative is following action somewhere else.  We don’t know everything that happened before teh book started, and we don’t know what happens after it ends.  That’s what I love about Les Miserables: Victor Hugo will tell you enough about a character that you get to like him and have a good jumping off platform, but will tell you comparatively little about his background, and shows you just a few hours of his life spread over years of narrative time and comes back just in time for him to die.

  23. 23
    Estelle Chauvelin says:

    Stupid typos I catch as soon as I press submit!  I promise, I never use the word (if it is one) “teh” on purpose.

  24. 24
    Danielle says:

    psst, Jennifer, XF was one of the biggest fandoms out there for years, and there are tons of great fics (some novel-length) that address its gender issues.

    If you want the top of your head blown off, google “Iolokus”.

  25. 25
    R. says:

    Fanfic of public domain material or of extinct characters/universes aside, when it comes to fanfic-ing the works of a living writer [while trying to make a living at what the fans claim to love] who clearly states their wishes for respect of their intellectual property, fanfic is trespassing and just plain rude.

    About a year ago we had a cocktail-party sort of gathering in our home.  It was going pretty well until one bozo [a drag-along of an invited guest] began to rearrange our furniture.  When I tried to politely question his actions, he replied that he liked our house but he didn’t care for the manner in which we had placed our couch and chairs.  I ain’t making this up, kids—he saw nothing wrong with his actions and felt he was doing us a favor by ‘making it better’. 

    Every time I hear a writer lament the trespasses of fanfic wannabe’s, I think of this guy.

  26. 26
    Estelle Chauvelin says:

    R., the difference is that canon isn’t actually changed by fic. being written.  The guy actually was rearranging the furniture; fanfic would be more like if he went home and drew a picture of what your house looked like with the furniture in different places.  The only artistic comparison I can think of for a guy rearranging somebody else’s furniture is a movie being re-edited to the point where it no longer matches the director’s intent, like the two different versions of Brazil.

    If I wrote a fic. set in one of Robin Hobb’s universes, I’d keep it to myself because I know that she doesn’t want people writing it.  But her universe wouldn’t actually be any different, even in my eyes, for my having written it.  Fanfic is “what if?” in narrative form, not an actual change.

  27. 27
    Miriellie says:

    HP fanfic – definitely going to have to echo that not only is there a lot of crap, but a lot of really long stories. I think it’s a great push that echoes the PBS Frontline [a href=“ of Cool[/a]. It’s taking what’s “cool” and turning it into a marketing tool. Get people in the store and they’re more likely to look around and buy.

    As for fanfic in general, the discussion shifts when the timeframe does. Consider the book on my shelf, The Afterlife of Character, 1726-1825, which demonstrates how there was essentially fanfiction without any concern back then. People had to be convinced that authors had “rights” to their characters.

  28. 28
    Marianne McA says:

    FWIW, Wikipedia says that J.K.Rowling loves all kinds of fan fiction, but not the sexually explicit stuff.

  29. 29
    DS says:

    I liked the Nile comparison.  I became interested in fanfic as a phenomenon after reading Enterprising Women by Camille Bacon-Smith.  (She writes good fantasy and good socio-anthropological studies.)  However she was dealing with fanfic as it stood pre-internet and in one small area, television.  I had no idea that there was a active Miami Vice fandom at one time until I read her book.

  30. 30
    Chicklet says:

    I had no idea that there was a active Miami Vice fandom at one time until I read her book.

    Trust me, DS, there is fanfiction for everything, especially for properties with characters who work in pairs, like Miami Vice (I’ll bet that was an active slash fandom!) or Bones (which I think is mostly hetfic, because of Seeley and Booth, and Hodgins and Angela—that last one is canon, but Seeley/Booth is not [yet, anyway. *g*].)

    As for debates over the propriety of writing fanfic, I see fanfic (of either movies/TV or novels) as an ancillary activity that doesn’t hurt the canonical universe of the source material. It’s just people playing what-if over on the sidelines; we don’t actually change the canon in any way. It’s not like my Sheppard/McKay stories are going to make Stargate Atlantis suddenly look a lot different. *g*

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