My FanFic Confessions – Yes, Tessa has yet another pen name!
Thanks, Gillian, for letting me know the RWR article was already available! I’d been planning to post on my blog about it. They really got the issue out early this month!
For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, I have an article in the April issue of Romance Writers Report about fan fiction and the romance community. It’s a very general overview of fan fiction for those who may be unfamiliar with the topic, and I also write about how I and several other authors wrote fanfic before getting published.
So yes, before I wrote historical romance, I wrote Pride and Prejudice fan fiction. And I guess it’s only fair to give you all some links to it. With caveats, of course.
First, by writing and enjoying P&P fanfic, in no way did I ever mean to insinuate that Austen’s original novel could be improved, equaled, matched, lengthened, enriched, etc. Admittedly, there’s a certain amount of hubris inherent to writing JAFF (Jane Austen fan fiction), and I enjoyed challenging myself to come up with scenes and dialogue that might be worthy of her magnificent characters. Of course, I didn’t – but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun trying.
Second, there are many, many instances in the stories where I use Austen’s lines verbatim–this is not plagiarism, it’s intentional allusion to the original work. In the places I posted these stories, the readers are all very familiar with the original text, and re-using (or tweaking or reattributing) lines from P&P was often a sort of “inside joke”. I wanted to have fun with Austen’s original words amongst fellow fans who would recognize them, not try to present her words as my own.
Third, please take historical inaccuracies with a grain of salt. I’m still learning now, years later, about the historical period, and at the time I wrote these stories (purely for fun!), my understanding was cursory indeed. This is evident in that my very first fanfic came out of a challenge posted on a fansite to write a story in which the P&P characters play a variant of hide-and-seek called “Sardines”. If you’ve never played this, all the players end up squeezed together like sardines in a tin. Of course, they did not have tinned sardines in the Regency – they did not have tins at all. But we were just having fun, because we’d read that the actors in the 2005 P&P film played Sardines in the house that served as their set. And when I wrote Goddess of the Hunt, I couldn’t resist writing a hide-and-seek scene to pay homage to that story, my not-so-illustrious beginning.
Last, my voice in these stories is very different from my voice now. I was consciously striving for an Austen-esque voice, and as a result, these read more like a traditional Regency than the single-title historical romances I’m writing for Ballantine, which are faster-paced and have a more modern feel to the dialog and syntax. There’s also no sex in the fanfic. None whatsoever, sorry. A tiny bit of kissing. Whereas my forthcoming novels are pretty sexy.
These were amateur stories I wrote for fun, to share with a few friends. Fanfic was one of the ways I found to connect with other people who love and admire Austen’s work as much as I do, and through writing fanfic, I came to appreciate Austen’s genius in an entirely new way. It really allowed me to crawl inside the book and learn from it as I never had before–much like art students make copies of masterworks. Of course, these are bad, bad copies. Like, if I’m an art student copying the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, I’m working in Crayola fingerpaint. But it was all in good fun, and you’re welcome to read the stories if you like.
My fanfic pen name was Vangie, and I posted stories on a couple of different sites.
Here’s the one long fanfic I wrote: In Essentials (Much as it ever was), which is a sort of alternate retelling of P&P. I started by changing two premises to P&P. When the story opens, Elizabeth has already visited Pemberley with her Aunt and Uncle (and therefore seen Mr. Darcy’s home, heard the praise of his housekeeper, etc.), and Georgiana (Darcy’s sister) never went to Ramsgate and was never urged to elope by Mr. Wickham. So basically, Elizabeth is predisposed to like Mr. Darcy, and no one has reason to suspect Mr. Wickham. Basically, I tried to take P&P and put it in a blender, then rearrange all the pieces to make a new story-one in which Elizabeth got to play a more active role. The whole story is posted at the Derbyshire Writers Guild on Austen.com. If you’d care to download and print it out for your very own, there’s a lovely JAFFer named Ellen who makes beautiful PDFs, and you can download In Essentials from this site (scroll down, they’re alphabetical). There are lots of other great stories there, too – if you care to explore, some of my favorites are Intermezzo by Abigail R and Curiosity and Correspondence by MariaFaith.
Before I wrote this longer fic, I wrote some short stories on a fansite for the 2005 movie version, called Longbourn Loungers. The site is not very active anymore, and as I’m writing this post tonight, the server is not responding consistently. But if the link works for you, you can see all the stories I posted there by going to this page. This board was my introduction to fanfic, and these were some of my very first stories I’d ever shown to anyone. There’s some very purple prose on display, as well as some stilted dialog and a strange proliferation of exclamation marks. !!! But there were also some settings and phrasings I still really like and have found ways to tweak for my novels. Anyhow, you can see how much I was learning. For example, if you read the story called, “A Most Invigorating Afternoon”, you can clearly see I’d never heard the term headhopping, LOL. But I still like that little vignette. The very first one I posted (the Sardines story) was called, “Two Unwilling Participants”.
So anyway, there it is for you to read, laugh with, laugh at, or completely ignore as you please.
Goodness, that was long. I will only add, God bless you.
So, who else reads or writes fanfic? Care to post links?