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Saturday, March 22nd, 2008
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?

13 comments to “My FanFic Confessions – Yes, Tessa has yet another pen name!”

  1. Gillian Layne
    Comment
    1
      · March 23rd, 2008 at 5:17 am · Link

    I’m glad you blogged about it!

    I was floored when I realized how huge the fanfic world is. Enormous amount of work out there, and of course the quality varies accordingly.

    As I said, Harry Potter is our favorite, although we don’t read widely. We adore Snape, and when we found an alternate world where he was treated properly (as in, NOT dead! :)) then we pretty much stuck with that. As with all things internet, it can really eat up your time if you’re not careful!

    The site is this: http://www.harrypotterfanfiction.com/
    The author you search for is greengecko, and the stories are a series, Resonance, Revolution, Resolution.

    My daughter and I often wondered why she wouldn’t just write a publishable book. We decided her love for the characters was such that she simply didn’t care to do anything else.



  2. Lindsey
    Comment
    2
      · March 23rd, 2008 at 7:08 am · Link

    Congrats on your article, Tessa! And lol – like we need this many caveats to enjoy something you wrote. I know I hunted down & read In Essentials after FanLit and really enjoyed it.

    I was quite a devotee of JAFF before I started reading romance, though I never got around to writing any. And I used to read the occasional HP fic, though there’s so much of it out there, I found it too overwhelming to keep up with.

    I think I’ve mentioned this before, but coming from the FF community to the romance community, it’s always surprised me that there’s not much romance FF. Where’s all the Bridgerton FF? I guess we’re all too busy writing our own stuff?

    But cheers to FF and the community that brought us Tessa Dare!



  3. Tessa Dare
    Comment
    3
      · March 23rd, 2008 at 7:38 am · Link

    Gillian – thanks for the recommendation! I adore HP, and I know there is an enormous amount of ff out there, and for that reason alone, I’ve never explored it much. I’m afraid I’ll just fall into the vat and drown, never finding my way out. So I’m really glad to have your recommendation, so I can go straight to the good stuff – because I do so heart Snape.

    Lindsey – you never told me you read that! I know, I know, it’s a ridiculous number of caveats, but I put something at the end of the article (I think) directing people here if they wanted to learn more about the fanfic I wrote. So it’s for the benefit of anyone new who might wander by and get a case of the vapors at the very notion of Austen fanfic. Plus, I don’t want people to think it’s an accurate preview of my forthcoming books – the tone is just so different from what I write now.

    As for romance fanfic – there’s some, but you’re right, there’s not nearly as much as there is in other fandoms. Although I did mention the EJJQ bb and the drabble forum there. I think it may be because so much ff is about resolving unresolved romantic and sexual tension- and in romance, it’s resolved already.



  4. Santa
    Comment
    4
      · March 23rd, 2008 at 7:56 pm · Link

    I was wondering when that article was coming out. Thanks for posting all that information about FF. I can see myself getting immersed in it all. Do you think it was easier writing FF before you started writing your own books? In other words, was there a certain degree of freedom in what and how you wrote? Do you think that if you were writing FF now, it would conflict and ‘seep’ into your own work?

    I guess you could say that the Halloween story you participated in over at the Manuscript Mavens is a mix of FF and drabble. That was a great story you guys created over there.



  5. terrio
    Comment
    5
      · March 24th, 2008 at 6:49 am · Link

    I knew you wrote Austen fanfic in the past, but not to this degree. That’s amazing. Two of the ladies on our Pirates blog come from Stephanie Plum fanfic. I believe what they wrote in fanfic highly influenced what they chose to write for their own original work.

    Tessa – would you have written historicals even if you never jumped into Austen’s world? Or might you have gone in another direction?



  6. Tessa Dare
    Comment
    6
      · March 24th, 2008 at 7:35 am · Link

    Santa asked: Do you think it was easier writing FF before you started writing your own books? In other words, was there a certain degree of freedom in what and how you wrote? Do you think that if you were writing FF now, it would conflict and ‘seep’ into your own work?

    I only wish I had the time to keep writing FF now! Really, it is so much fun. I don’t think it would conflict, especially since I write in the same historical time period. But yes, one of the great things about FF for me (and some of the other authors I interviewed said the same) was that the pressure was off–I was writing just for fun, not with any goal of publication, simply to amuse myself and some friends. And the friendly, positive feedback one gets from posting on a FF board is great encouragement. I had also wanted to write before I found FF, but I was never able to see my projects through. I had a half-dozen beginnings to novels, but nothing complete. Writing a novel-length FF was the confidence boost I needed, to prove to myself I really could do it.

    Terri asked: would you have written historicals even if you never jumped into Austen’s world? Or might you have gone in another direction?

    I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be writing (or reading!) historicals if not for Austen FF. I’d always enjoyed historical fiction and romance, but I’d never tried writing either. My half-dozen finished novels were all contemporary YA.

    And I was totally just a flash in the JAFF pan -I really didn’t produce much FF, compared to some, and probably no one remembers them, except for a few of my friends. There are some writers who’ve written several novel-length stories, over the course of years, and have huge fan bases of their own.



  7. Lindsey
    Comment
    7
      · March 24th, 2008 at 8:32 am · Link

    I’m surprised I never told you – I guess it was before we started corresponding regularly. I may have read the Sardines one, too – that sounds vaguely familiar. I do remember liking your Austen voice/characterization and feeling the story moved well. The serialized nature of FF causes some stories to start meandering after the first frew chapters.

    Someone recently did an academic study of FF that I’ve been meaning to read. It does talk about JAFF and I heard it talks about how unique it is because readers are so picky about the JA voice.

    I’m sure you’re right about resolved tension, and I suppose with most romance, there’s still hope. I mean, we know we’re not getting anymore Austen and we can be pretty sure JKR isn’t going to write the stories of all our favorite minor characters, but if you love a secondary character in romance, there’s a pretty good chance he/she will get a story someday.



  8. CM
    Comment
    8
      · March 24th, 2008 at 9:30 am · Link

    I admit to a serious yen for Slytherin-postive HP fan fiction.

    Most particularly, I have to say that the absolute freaking best fanfic ever is Maya’s. AKA Sarah Rees Brennan, who has a debut book coming out in 2009. Warning: the following links are post-Hogwarts, and contain mild references to sexual situations. This is a romance. A *brilliant* romance. It’s the best kind–worst enemies become much more.

    Also, the h/h (in this case, that would be hero and hero) are Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter. No, no! Don’t run away! It’s freaking brilliant.

    Drop Dead Gorgeous Part 1: http://mistful.livejournal.com/93520.html#cutid1

    Part 2: http://mistful.livejournal.com/96408.html#cutid1

    Part 3: http://mistful.livejournal.com/96560.html#cutid1

    Part 4: http://mistful.livejournal.com/97399.html#cutid1

    Part 5: http://mistful.livejournal.com/98858.html#cutid1

    Part 6:
    http://mistful.livejournal.com/106589.html#cutid2

    Part 7: http://mistful.livejournal.com/106948.html#cutid2

    Part 8: http://mistful.livejournal.com/108801.html#cutid2

    Part 9: http://mistful.livejournal.com/109800.html#cutid2

    Part 10: http://mistful.livejournal.com/110012.html#cutid2

    And it is not yet done, but that last scene at the end of part 10 just about breaks my heart. It’s so perfectly done.



  9. Tiffany Kenzie
    Comment
    9
      · March 24th, 2008 at 12:48 pm · Link

    I never knew! I love fanfic… I only did it a bit, and not very well, on the EJ board. there was a 5K sex scene, or work up to a sex scene for mayne and josie (cause I am a bonbon)… but that’s about it.



  10. beverley
    Comment
    10
      · March 24th, 2008 at 3:09 pm · Link

    Well now that I’m a HUGE Austen fan (Thank you PBS and Devon for buying me the entire collection of her books), I must go off and read your retelling of the classic!!



  11. Alyssa Goodnight
    Comment
    11
      · March 28th, 2008 at 4:05 pm · Link

    What a fascinating other side to you! Can’t wait to read the article!



  12. Linnea
    Comment
    12
      · October 11th, 2008 at 3:14 pm · Link

    Tessa, you have not been forgotten in the JAFF world. I learned today that you were writing for pay and I was so pleased to see you made it! JAFF has been the training ground for several publish authors. It’s a great place to learn the craft without pressure. Obviously, you are a perfect example of this.

    Best of luck on your upcoming books.



  13. Sarah
    Comment
    13
      · August 26th, 2009 at 8:41 pm · Link

    Oh, you’re Vangie? I read ‘In Essentials’ and thoroughly enjoyed it; it was definitely one of the better Austen fanfics I’ve ever read!
    Congrats on being published in your own rights! A success story to give me hope…



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