I never really felt the need to write fanfic based on books because, to me, if it's a good book, I don't feel the need to 'fix' anything. Since I read mainly romances, there are rarely any loose threads left hanging. This doesn't mean I don't read book-based fanfic. Ron/Hermione are a favorite pairing and I admit a fondness for the Edward/Bella Twilight AU fic Wide Awake. In addition, I'm fascinated by authors who make the jump from fanfiction to published works or vice versa.
I read R.J. Anderson because she posted some Sheldon/Penny fanfics. Evelyn Vaughn, a former Harlequin Bombshell author, was kind enough to compliment some of my fics and sent me to the moon. Nika Dixon, a great Stargate: Atlantis fic writer, has started publishing original materials. There's probably a ton more that I'm missing, but for every one of these fabulous ladies, there's a Cassandra Clare. For those who are not aware (and I wasn't until much, much later), Clare used to write an epic Harry/Draco fanfic called the 'Draco Trilogy.' The story is no longer posted, but it was the center of a major fandom incident, as Clare was accused of plagiarizing from multiple sources. You can read a very detailed account of the incident here.
The issue of plagiarism and fanfiction is a tricky one. The general rule of thumb is that, unless the creator has specifically said no (Anne McCaffrey and Anne Rice are two who come to mind), if you give proper credit, you can borrow the material to create a new work, so long as you aren't trying to profit from it. Allegedly, Clare not only quoted from multiple television shows & movies, but she took chunks of her plot from the books of author Pamela Dean. Lifting text from a published work is, ultimately, what did her in. In this day and age, it is incredibly easy to double-check everything.
This is not to say it only happens in fanfiction. Cassie Edwards, Janet Dailey, and Barbara Cartland have all been accused of plagiarism. Still, these authors either took chunks or details and wove them into their own works. It would take a special kind of balls to lift someone's story, word for word, and claim it as your own. And that's exactly what happened to Cynthia Eden.
Eden is one of my favorite authors and I was so disappointed that she wasn't at the RWA literacy signing, as she's on my autograph wishlist. So when I saw @SueGrimshaw's tweet, I immediately clicked on the link to read Eden's account of being plagiarized. To summarize, a fanfic author lifted the entirety of Eden's Deadly Heat and turned into a first-person Bella/Edward fic. While writing author notes about how hard it is to be a writer. I was dumbfounded. People were leaving a ton of scolding and angry reviews, but I knew from experience that a random fanfic reader only looks at the number of reviews, not the reviews themselves. I reported the fic and tweeted Eden that she should tell others to do the same. Then I was still pissed so I started PMing people who'd left positive reviews and who'd favorited the fic.
I only did a couple of people and one Twilight facebook community because I didn't want to exacerbate the problem (or risk being suspended myself), but I wanted these people to know about Eden. I got a couple of emails back, thanking me for alerting them to the situation, one of which read:
Wow that is just auwful. I have wish listed Cynthia's books. Wish they were not $8.00.Well, thought I, I am currently working at a liquidating Borders. A giveaway of Deadly Heat would let someone experience the story the RIGHT way and increase my blog traffic! Win win!
|The Pigeon approves of this contest.|
This contest is only open to continental US residents at this time. If by some miracle, I get a lot of entries (let's say 10), I'll spring for a second copy from the Book Depository. To enter, please share this entry somewhere (twitter, facebook, blog, whatever) and comment with a link to where you posted it. I'll randomly pick someone. Contest will close on September 1st, 2011.
Epilogue: the fanfic author deleted her fic (I'm pretty sure she did it & not FF.net because they would've suspended her account) and left a pretty dumbass message on her profile page. For more details, see Eden's blog entry.