this is gonna be weird

Katarina Hjärpe head_overheels at hotmail.com
Sun Nov 21 06:30:54 EST 2004


>There are some secondary characters in some books whom I feel need 
rescuing
>and giving their own stories.  I shan't give examples because it 
wouldn't
>be fair, but it sometimes feels as if there ought to be a Society for 
the
>Protection of Spear-Carriers (to take the word from Alexei Panshin's 
*Rite
>of Passage*).

Oh yes, I love doing this. I rarely bother with the main characters - 
they've gotten their time in the sun - but I'm a sucker for sidekicks and 
minor characters. They're often much more interesting, and one is guaranteed 
to know a lot less about them.

>I think what bothers me is probably the potential for self-importance,
>combined with a sort of "it's as good as anything else" 
attitude that
>simply is rubbish: some of it may be but most of it isn't.

Well, having read some of "anything else" as part of the staff on a literary 
magazine: most of fanfic *is* as good as anything else, but most of 
"anything else" never gets read by anyone but the family and the poor people 
at literary magazines.

Fanfic has no slushpile, which is why it seems to contain less talent than 
original fic.


>I'm sure DWJ and you both really mean *Through the Looking Glass and 
What
>Alice Found There*, not *Alice in Wonderland*, when putting it in the 
same
>category as *Coraline*.  She says she thought that was what she had 
said,
>and that they changed it for the back-cover blurb and got it wrong.

Actually, I meant "Wonderland", but you're right, there are parts of both. 
The mirror and the way people cahnge into new things is more Looking Glass 
and the main characters of the otherworld - the despotic female ruler and 
the snarky yet ultimately benign cat - are Wonderland. With a whole bunch of 
Labyrinth thrown in there too, and the whole thing warped into a horror 
story.

But nevermind Coraline; the only reason it came to mind was because Alice 
like Peter Pan has gone through the Disneyfication, and once that has 
happened, to me the story no longer belongs to one person, because millions 
of people the world over are going to think of the Disney version anyway. 
Or, in Peter Pan's case, the Hook version, or the new film version.

What I mean to say is, they're in the public mind in different incarnations: 
another incarnation won't hurt. I wouldn't fic something like "White Teeth", 
where the story is doubtlessly *that* story and no one else's. (I don't know 
if Zadie Smith would mind, though. She prides herself on having written the 
best PG Wodehouse not actually written by PG Wodehouse.)

DWJ falls somewhere inbetween – she's using genre conventions and fairy tale 
types to the point where fanfiction is *theoretically* possible, but she's 
so blasted good that there's really no point.

Katta

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