Last week, Anna von Veh wrote of her love of the television show Castle, which has become the basis for a series of novels "written" by the fictional lead character. The success of the written work has inspired a host of fan-fiction imitators, some of whom von Veh found to be quite good.
Still, she started out a bit troubled:
Fanfic sits at the margins of mainstream creative endeavour, and interrogates established views of what it means to be a writer; the meaning of intellectual property, creativity, originality, ‘ownership’, boundaries, and the nature of ‘public’.
Over time, the writing of a once-anonymous fan fiction author drew von Veh in, and her firm, Say Books, is now planning to publish the writer's novel, Fences.
In a comment to von Veh's post, I noted that we sometimes forget as writers that we all started out as readers (credit to Richard Nash and William Patry there). We build our own voices by imitating others before striking off on our own.
There's some tension, of course, in situations where homage and practice feels like stealing. But even the original Castle books borrow from well-established writers and writing. The concepts are seldom new. At least in this fan-fiction case, a rising tide carried many boats.