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Diana Gabaldon & fanfic followup
Diana Gabaldon has deleted the original post on fanfic that I referenced in my open letter and all three of her followup posts. There appear to be partial screencaps of the comments at Fandom Wank, but no public record of the posts that I can find quickly.

I subscribe to her blog in Google Reader, however, and the posts are still there. In order to provide context for the discussion surrouding these posts, then, I have copied & pasted the text below and taken screencaps (note: I redid the caps for readability shortly after posting this, which is why the timestamps are later). I have not edited them in any way.

FAN-FICTION AND MORAL CONUNDRUMS
May 3, 2010 6:48 AM
http://voyagesoftheartemis.blogspot.com/2010/05/fan-fiction-and-moral-conundrums.html

OK, my position on fan-fic is pretty clear: I think it’s immoral, I _know_ it’s illegal, and it makes me want to barf whenever I’ve inadvertently encountered some of it involving my characters.


Now, if I understand the arguments presented in favor of it, they run like this:


1) But I/we aren’t trying to make any money out of it!

Well, see, this is where “illegal” comes in. You can’t break into somebody’s house, even if you don’t mean to steal anything. You can’t camp in someone’s backyard without permission, even if you aren’t raising a marijuana crop back there. And you can’t use someone’s copyrighted characters for your own purposes, no matter what those purposes are. Really. I’m not making it up; this is International Copyright Law.


2) I want to write, but I don’t know how to make up characters, and it seems less scary to use some that already exist, and just make up stories for them. You know…it’s practice!

I have a lot of sympathy for people who want to write. I used to want to write, and I had no idea how to develop characters. Oddly enough, the notion of using someone else’s characters never occurred to me. I just tried to do it on my own. Surprise! It worked.

Suck it up, guys. If you want to write, write—and write your own stuff. It _does_ take courage, but that’s the only way to learn how, believe me.

(Now, if you truly think you can’t write something without using someone else’s characters as a crutch…well, OK. But if that’s really your motive, then you should keep the results to yourself. Not post them on websites as “your” work.)


3) But I enjoy the feedback I get—and lots of people say they enjoy what I write!

Of course you enjoy positive feedback; so does anyone who writes anything. The question is—are you getting positive feedback because you’re a really good writer…or are you getting positive feedback because some fans are so hooked on the characters that they’ll read anything involving those names (whether the writing accurately reflects those characters or not)?

One real easy way to find out. Write anything you want, using Jamie Fraser, Edward Cullen, Harry Potter _and_ Dr. Who….and then change the characters’ names before you post it. Simple. Find All: “Jamie Fraser”. Replace with: “Joe Kerastopolous”. No problemo, all your own work, and any praise you get is duly earned.


4) But nobody would read stuff I wrote if it wasn’t about characters they already like!

Possibly true, possibly not. Depends on how good a writer you are, and how you go about displaying your work once you’ve written it. But—allowing for the moment that this argument holds water—what you’re saying is that a) you deserve an audience, no matter what, and b) you’d prefer to exploit someone else’s talent and hard work, rather than go to the trouble of making your own way.

Now, it’s possible to do this without being illegal, if you feel you just can’t get noticed on your own merits (and that being noticed is worth whatever it takes): you just do it with characters that are no longer under copyright. I.e., characters whose author is dead, and has been dead for…it was 75 years, last time I looked (copyright exists for the author’s life plus 75 years). So if the author of your characters died before 1935, you’re home free!

And some writers do this to good—or at least profitable—effect. Note PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, for instance, or the many (many, many, many) imitators of Sherlock Holmes.

Some of these writers are great, and they produce really good stories. Some of them….oh, well. SCARLETT, anyone?

I actually have some empathy in this regard, because I once wrote comic scripts for Walt Disney—using, of course, the Disney characters. I wrote for Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, Mickey Mouse, and the others. I know what it is to use an existing character that you didn’t create, but use them creatively within the parameters already laid down for them. It’s fun. [g]

The difference is—it’s not illegal, and you aren’t abusing or offending the original author. Carl Barks (may his name be engraved in gold) created Donald, Uncle Scrooge, and the nephews; Walt Disney created Mickey—I didn’t. BUT the Walt Disney Corporation owned the copyright to those characters (still does, for that matter), and therefore had a perfect right to hire me to write stories for them—and I had a perfect right to write those stories _and_ make money from them (seventeen dollars a page was the going rate back then).

Likewise, if you want to write stories for the Silver Surfer or Superman, go talk to Marvel or DC, and see if they’re taking new submissions or would let you write a sample script. People write new TV scripts for Dr. Who and the Start Trek variants all the time—they have to. If you want to rewrite JANE EYRE as explicit Victorian erotica (and I read a very imaginative book of pornography that did _just_ that: AN ENGLISH EDUCATION, it was called)—more power to you.

But writing stories about characters whose creators are not only alive and kicking, but actively writing about those characters _themselves_...sorry, guys, it’s just not on.


5) I like the social aspects of being in a group of fan-fic readers and writers.

Well, again—who _doesn’t_ like being in a group of people with common tastes, interests, and ambitions? But so far as I know, almost all popular authors have groups of online readers who like to discuss their books, characters, etc.—and I don’t know any author who doesn’t value and encourage such groups.
If you want to talk about Jamie, Claire, etc., I can direct you to a number of long-established, long-running, _very_ friendly Outlander discussion groups who will be thrilled to welcome you…in multiple languages. [g]

Likewise, there are a lot of writers groups, all over the web. I only know one, personally, to recommend, but that’s because I don’t personally belong to any—the one I know is the Writers Workshop, in the Compuserve Books and Writers community. [http://go.community.compuserve/Books] I’ve not been a member of this workshop myself, but it’s been running for many years and I _do_ know a lot of the people who run and participate in it, and have heard nothing but good stuff about it.


6) But I just looove your characters! And isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery?

Weeeelll…let us just say that there’s a difference between someone dating red-haired men, and the same someone trying to seduce my husband.



7) But you write so slowly! We get impatient for new stuff!

Guilty as charged. [g] BUT….


A) If I whipped books out once a year, they wouldn’t be the _same_ books. It takes time, effort, and thought to tell stories and develop characters the way I do. (This is, btw, one reason why fan-fic versions of popular characters so often seem superficial; they lack the depth that the Real Thing has—the writer has merely grabbed at the broadest impression of the character, not built them in complex layers.)

B) Still, I understand the urge to take a story that’s fired your imagination and carry it on or explore other avenues that it might have taken. ¬_Everybody_ does this, when they’ve seen a movie or read a book that captured their imagination—I mean, who _didn’t_ take a moment to contemplate what it would have been like if Elizabeth Swann had kissed Jack Sparrow instead of staying with Orlando Bloom? Giving people intriguing possibilities is one of the hallmarks of good fiction. But what you do in the privacy of your own imagination is a matter of total freedom; what you do in public is not.

C) Besides, that’s one of the reasons (aside from just liking to spread the word about great books that I personally like) I keep The Methadone List. I mean, it’s not like you don’t have anything else to read, while you wait. [g]


OK, those are—I think—the principal arguments usually put forward in favor of fan-fic. Beyond the specific arguments against the concept remains the unfortunate fact that a terrible lot of fan-fic is outright cringe-worthy and ought to be suppressed on purely aesthetic grounds.

Now, I don’t go looking for fan-fiction written about my characters; in fact, I try _not¬_ to see it. But now and then someone sends me a link to a site displaying it, and because of the danger of precedent and implied consent (see below), I (or my agent) has to go ask the site-owner to kindly remove pieces dealing with my characters. So I’ve seen a certain amount.

Some of it’s just lame: poorly written pages of adjectival description, or a rambling attempt at historical fiction using people who just happen to be called Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall, but otherwise bear no particular resemblance to my people—or a try at taking an existing situation from one of my novels and either re-writing it or expanding on it. This is usually the result of well-meaning people who really _are_ learning to write, and using my characters as exercise. It’s still not legal, and I don’t like it, but it isn’t nearly as skin-crawling as the ones who equate fan-fic with personal porn.

About that “privacy of your own imagination” thing….[cough] While not all fan-fic is pornographic by any means, enough of it _is_ that it constitutes an aesthetic argument against the whole notion.

As I say, I’ve unwillingly read a certain amount of fan-fic involving my characters, and about three-quarters of it is graphic, badly-written (of the “his searing touch blazed its way up the silken skin of her thigh to the secret depths of her ecstasy” type) masturbatory fantasy. I mean….ick.

Now, look. Human beings are hardwired to be interested in sex. We just _are_. Any kind of sex, performed by anyone, anytime, anywhere. Bad sex, good sex, poorly depicted sex, elegantly drawn sex…it doesn’t matter. We have a genetic compulsion to _look_. We’ll look at _anything_ having sex, human or not.

Ergo, including sex is by far the easiest way to get someone to look at something. I assume that that’s one of the reasons fan-fic authors so frequently write sex scenes or slash stories. (The other reasons are their own business, and I’m not going there.)

But…imagine opening your daily mail and finding a letter detailing an explicit sexual encounter between, say, your twenty-one-year-old daughter and your forty-eight-year-old male neighbor---written by the neighbor. At the bottom it says, “Fiction! Just my imagination. All cool, right?” This would perhaps prevent your calling the police, but I repeat…ick.

I wouldn’t like people writing sex fantasies for public consumption about me or members of my family—why would I be all right with them doing it to the intimate creations of my imagination and personality?

Right. Moving right along here, let’s close with a footnote regarding the legal considerations. If I learn about fan-fic and _don’t_ make any protest, I might at some point lose all control of what’s done with and to my characters. Practitioners could point to the fact that I knew about this stuff and didn’t object over a long period of time, ergo, I must think it’s OK, and so they’re doing nothing wrong, having my implied consent. That’s a specious legal argument, but I’ve seen it made—and the last thing I ever want to do is have to defend my right to my own characters in court. I'd do it, but I sure wouldn't like it.


I mentioned moral conundrums above. Here’s one for you:

Recently, a couple of people have drawn my attention to a person who’s been posting on various boards about fund-raising for an uninsured friend named Stacie who has breast cancer. Her (the poster’s) idea for fund-raising is to auction off a custom-written piece of fan-fic, involving Jamie Fraser and Emmett someone (who I _think_ is from Twilight; I sort of hope it’s not the willowy young “bottom” from the TV show “Queer as Folk”…). She hastens to note that it won’t be slash, but will otherwise take the bidder’s tastes into account—and of course, all proceeds will go to Stacie’s hospital expense fund.

She did not, naturally, ask ¬_me_ about this. What would I have to say about it?

Well, the question here, of course, is—what _do_ I say about it? Do I write to this person and tell her to cease and desist, and too bad about Stacie, thus seeming heartless? Do I give this manipulative project my blessing, thus opening the door to an endless parade of piously disguised fan-fic “charity”? Make it clear that I disapprove of what she’s doing, but stop short of forbidding her to do it, and turn a blind eye if she does?

I’m not exactly asking for a vote here [g], because it’s my concern, and I’ll do what I think is right in the circumstances—but I’d be interested to know what y’all think.

* * *

Fan-Fic II
May 4, 2010 4:35 PM
http://voyagesoftheartemis.blogspot.com/2010/05/fan-fic-ii.html

Well, thanks, guys. I appreciate the thoughtful and insightful posts on the question of fan-fiction. You’ve raised a couple of aspects that I hadn’t considered—or at least had not considered in the same light that you’ve suggested.

Before I discuss any of that, though, I did want to tell you that I’ve been having a nice conversation with the person who inadvertently started all this with her well-intentioned desire to help a friend.

Stacie apparently does exist, and is fortunate to have a lot of good people who want to help her. I’ll donate a complete series of my own books, autographed and personally inscribed to the winning bidder—if Stacie’s web-people will kindly let me know _how_ to do that. I have her website address:

http://supportstacie.com and a link to the auction thread
http://www.supportstacie.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=1956 – but there’s no apparent way to donate items or to talk directly to the website administrators. If anyone can put me in direct touch with one of them, I’d be most obliged.

OK, moving right along here. I’ll talk about stuff in discrete chunks, if you don’t mind, just to keep the conversation on track.

Intellectual Property Rights

OK. It’s obvious that the whole realm of intellectual property rights is one HUUUUUGE gray area at the moment, and getting murkier by the moment, as the internet develops. A lot of the situations that arise in the e-world either aren’t covered by existing law (because no one could have foreseen them or predicted their effects), and what law exists is largely ineffective, because the internet has no political boundaries, and law is largely tied to geography.

Now, this doesn’t mean that intellectual property rights don’t _exist_, or that they can’t or shouldn’t be protected. It just means nobody knows exactly how this stuff will work out, over time.

People in the book end of the trade watch these developments with a lot of interest—and some apprehension, knowing what happened to the music industry with the advent of Napster and file-sharing. The music industry still exists, of course, but it’s a lot harder for the creative people who _make_ music to make a living from it.

All that said, there _is_ such a thing as copyright, there is such a thing as copyright law, there _are_ international conventions (the Berne convention) regarding such laws, and the notion of copyright intrinsic in characters is _well_ documented, believe me. Ever read a film-option contract? I have—many of them—and without exception, they have reams of print tying up the rights intrinsic to specific fictional characters. Film production companies certainly think such a copyright exists—and will fight to the death to keep it. [g]

OK. The law is, as I said, constantly evolving and certainly going to continue to evolve. However, the shape of its evolution is going to be affected (if not entirely determined) by the actions taken by groups and individuals _now_, and what comes to be seen as customary usage. This is why many publishers seem reactionary in their attitude toward releasing e-books in different formats, publishing them along with hardcovers, or suppressing the text-to-speech ability (I’ve asked my own publisher to _allow_ text-to-speech, myself, but I can’t compel them to do it). They’re afraid to allow widespread usages that might erupt into unexpected wholesale use by people who expect everything on the internet to be free. (NOT saying anyone here feels like that. I’m saying that’s what constrains publishers at the moment.)

That being so, I think it makes sense to pause and consider just what-all might be the effect of allowing this, that, or the other—before we’re all overwhelmed by sheer _de facto_-ness.

Motives

As I said above, I very much appreciated the insights into fan-fic fandom provided by many thoughtful people—especially galael (sp? – sorry, I’m not wading back through the comments to find the message again, but I remember it), who puts the case for fan-fiction writers acting primarily out of love.

That particular aspect had _not_ in fact occurred to me—possibly because love is not real apparent in the examples of fan-fiction I’ve seen (reasonable, since people usually are only moved to tell me about particularly egregious examples—like the one Nikki cites below, where someone did in fact plagiarize (as in, lift it entire) a sex scene from one of my books, change the names, and post it as Janet Evanovich fan-fic). I’m more than willing to believe it exists, though, and I’ll tell you why.

People who read my books tend to be both intelligent (not just because they like _my_ books, but by and large, it takes a fair amount of intellectual resilience to want to take on 1000-page books of any kind), and creative. Many of them are inspired to create lovely, wonderful, and er…interesting (thinking here of the Jamie and Claire bobbleheads [cough]) things, many of which they share with me.

Most recently, the Old Wilmington Tea Company asked whether I would mind their naming a new blend of black tea (from the Earl Grey line of teas) after Lord John Grey, a character from my books. I said I’d be very flattered, and was both grateful and deeply entertained to receive a small chest of goodies from the Wilmington Tea Company for Christmas, including a package of the “Lord John Grey” blend—described as:

“A classic combination that brightens any day. Our artisan Earl Grey blend is highlighted by bright and lively black tea from Sri Lanka, a hint of orange, and blue cornflowers. The aroma of this tea is stunning and carries a lovely charm about it. We especially enjoy this tea slightly sweetened and with a good book. Here’s to you Lord John!”

Readers who are moved in creative directions by my work have made jewelry, art, toys, clothing, cosmetics, candles, quilts, and a lot of stuff that I seem somehow to have erased from my memory. [cough] These people are all motivated by love of the world in my books, and I’m both awed and grateful that they find inspiration there.

So yes, I buy the “love” angle, and thanks for drawing that to my attention.

Now, I do have more to say on all this, but unfortunately, I also have a doctor’s appointment, company in the house, and….I hesitate to broach so delicate a subject…work to do. [g] So I’ll be back later with the rest.

Thanks!

* * *

Fan-Fic III - The Final Word
May 7, 2010 5:09 PM
http://voyagesoftheartemis.blogspot.com/2010/05/fan-fic-iii-final-word.html

Moving on from the last post—

I’ve been having an interesting (and amicable) discussion with a couple of fanfic writers, and while I can’t say that our frames of reference overlap to any marked extent, we do at least adjoin on one point.

Universal Ownership of Art

There is a philosophical ideal that states that art, once created, belongs to the world at large—that it can’t be contained or constrained—and both as a philosophical premise and as a matter of simple observation, I think this is true.

The influence of art is evident and obvious. The movement of ideas is just as evident in the realms of science and technology, and works much the same way (not surprising, insofar as art and science are in fact merely two faces of the same thing). Scientific growth depends on the free exchange of information and the ability of new investigators to build on the findings of earlier ones. The evolution of art depends on the inspiration and influence of existing art—this is where all the great movements in art, music, etc. come from.

Ideas _do_ flow freely from creation to creation, and for this reason, ideas _as such_ cannot be copyrighted or trademarked. (I say “as such,” because you can in fact patent an idea, provided that it’s embodied in a tangible form. I.e., you can’t patent a process for performing X, unless you have a prototype of the machine or object that performs the process.)

HOWEVER…

Creation, Origination, and Originality – the Nature of Story.

A seminal work of any kind is called that because it inspires other people to take something from it and grow with their new endeavors. Stories can certainly be seminal. New, original stories generate new genres, sub-genres, twists—and often morph further into new mediums, no matter where the original story began. Book to movie? Song to video to movie to book?

A strikingly original piece of work may stand alone; it may give rise to wide-spread “movements” in art: Impressionism, minimalism, Cubism, post-modernism, etc. Innovation becomes convention, and eventually that convention gives rise to new innovation.

Creative people take from the maelstrom of ideas what they need, and they give back to it. People ask me all the time—where do ideas come from? Where do you get your ideas? Every writer gets asked that, and the answers range from “The Sears Catalog,” and www.ideas.com, to a shrug. The answer is simple, though: everywhere. You get ideas from everything you see and think and feel and experience.

Returning to the more specific realm of writing, an active writer may, can, and does “borrow” things from everything they read—themes, imagery, emotions, settings, archetypes. I’ve undoubtedly been influenced, whether consciously or unconsciously, by everything I’ve ever read, from SEE DICK RUN to MOBY DICK.

(You’ll know Joseph Campbell of course, and his valuable analysis of myth. All our stories are to some extent based on our collective consciousness of myth, and the degree to which a story resonates with its audience is directly correlated to the degree to which that story is built with the elements of myth—the archetypes of our humanity.)

OK. To this point, the fan-fiction community and I are on the same page. However…

The thing is, though, that the central—the only truly vital part—of a story, and what makes it unique, is the character or characters. Everything else springs from that. In essence, a story _is_ its characters. Therefore, while all kinds of things in a piece of writing can flow throughout the collective consciousness and inspire new work—theme, style, form, setting, mythical archetype, ideas of any kind….a character is _not_ merely an idea. He or she is a real thing, and no less real for having no bodily presence. They do exist, even though they are embodied only in words.

(I’m not going on about copyright law here, but the US copyright law—as well as thousands of precedents in contract law, entertainment law, trademark law, and others—explicitly recognizes a “fully described and developed” fictional character as a “thing,” (NOT as an idea—ideas in fact can’t be copyrighted or patented unless embodied, as noted above), recognizes the value (intrinsic and trangible) in that thing, and protects the rights of the creator of that thing.)

So…where do characters come from? That’s another question writers are always asked. One _I’m_ always asked is, “So…how much of you is in Claire?”

I always answer—straight-faced—“15.3%.” But the fact is, of course, that I’m all of them. Jamie, Claire, Ian, Lord John…Stephen Bonnet.

There’s a local group of fans that take me out to tea every so often, in hopes of picking my brains about the newest book. On one of these occasions, they got started on the character of Black Jack Randall. “Oh, he’s so loathsome!....I just _hate_ him!...Oh, he makes my skin crawl, he’s so disgusting…!” And all the time, I was sitting there smiling pleasantly, sipping my cup of Earl Grey, and thinking, “You have no idea that you’re actually _talking_ to Black Jack Randall, do you?” (You might want to bear that in mind, btw.)

Characters—good characters, “real” characters—derive their reality from the person who created them. They _are_ the person who created them, refracted through the lens of that writer’s experience, imagination, love, fear, and craft. Another writer seeking to duplicate that character might equal—or conceivably surpass--the craft; they can’t touch the essence.

When you mess with my stuff, you’re not messing with my characters—you’re messing with _me_.

Right. Descending from the sublime [cough] to the mundane, here—fan-fiction practitioners often claim that they aren’t hurting the original work or writer in any way—and I’m willing to believe that they don’t intend to, and in many cases, don’t (putting aside the feelings of the original writer, which a) vary, and b) aren’t of concern to the fan-ficcers in any case). In the case of my particular books, though—yes, actually, fan-fiction can do some damage.

The fan-fiction community professes a semi-religious respect for “the canon,” and insist they don’t and wouldn’t harm or interfere with this. In the case of works that are complete (Harry Potter, say, or Tolkien) or that are single works rather than ongoing series, that may be the case. My books are a) very long, b) extremely complex, c) ongoing, d) interconnect between two series and multiple short works published in anthologies, and d) take several years between books.

_Because_ there’s a long lag between books—and because I like to—I often post excerpts of what I’m working on. Now, these excerpts are posted—legitimately—in only three places: my website (www.dianagabaldon.com), here on this blog, and occasionally in the Compuserve Books and Writers Community forum. People do pick them up without permission and repost them on fan-sites, though. Because of this, readers occasionally _do_ stumble over bits of fan-fiction, and—while they realize they’re reading fan-fiction at the time— still incorporate these _faux_ stories into their comprehension and memory of the real series.

My assistant had a long argument recently with a fan who belongs to her book-discussion board, about an encounter between Lord John Grey and Stephen Bonnet, which the fan _insisted_ she had read in the books. Now there is one encounter between these two characters in my books, but I tell you what, it sure wasn’t the one _this_ lady was remembering. [ahem]

Eventually, the encounter the woman recalled was tracked down—to a (properly labeled) fan-fiction site. This isn’t the only such instance; just the most recent one. There’s a wealth of detail and incident in the books, new ones are constantly being added—some accessible between books, in the form of the excerpts I post (and just to add to the confusion, occasionally an excerpt I’ve posted does not in fact end up in the published book, either because I decided that it didn’t work—or more frequently, because I realized that it belonged in another, later book)—and I can’t blame people for getting confused as to what they’ve read where. But it’s one really good reason for not wanting fan-fiction to intrude—however innocently—on “the canon.”

(I understand—from the fan-fiction proponents I’ve been talking to privately—that the fan-fiction community abjures plagiarism, so I don’t hold them responsible, but I have also had people directly lift scenes of mine, delete the character names, insert others—and publish the result online as fan-fiction of some other author.)

There is also the issue of a fan at some point writing a piece that inadvertently picks up a plotline that I have myself written, but that hasn’t yet appeared in print—and then turning around and claiming that I’ve stolen it from him/her (which raises the interesting point as to whether plot, as such, is merely an “idea”—and therefore free for universal use, according to fan-fic philosophy—or not, but we’ll leave that for another time).

Now, I don’t go looking for fan-fiction, as I said—and with things like this in mind, I plan never to read any again; I’ll send my literary agent to deal with sites that post it contrary to my request—but there’s no way of absolutely proving that someone has not read something. I think the contingency is remote (for one thing, the folk that speculate endlessly about what’s going to happen in my books are _never_ right [g]), and I don’t think a fan-fic writer would have a leg to stand on, legally, but it would still be a huge nuisance if it _did_ happen.

Anyway, one of my new advisors on Things Fan-Fic has told me that if I don’t want fan-fiction written using my characters and universe, that I must put a “fan-fiction policy” statement on my website—since lacking this, the assumption must be that I’m OK with it. (This seems a rather self-serving assumption, given that many writers aren’t even aware that fan-fiction exists, and that the expectation that it’s a writer’s responsibility to prevent fan-fiction—rather than a fan-ficcer’s responsibility to ask permission (no one ever has asked my permission to do something like this, btw—though the very courteous people who read my books routinely _do_ write to ask my permission for all sorts of things that they really needn’t, such as permission to name a racehorse “Dragonfly in Amber,” or a show-dog “Brianna”)—is not, so far as I know, noted in any fan-fic venue, let alone some more accessible place where writers might reasonably be expected to see it.

Be that as it may, I thank my advisor for the information, and I have put up such a notice, which I repeat here:

FAN-FICTION POLICY
You know, I'm very flattered that some of you enjoy the books so much
that you feel inspired to engage with the writing in a more personal way
than most readers do. Both for legal and personal reasons, though,
I'm not comfortable with fan-fiction based on any of my work, and
request that you do not write it, do not send it to me, and do not
publish it, whether in print or on the web. Thank you very much for your
courtesy and consideration.

And I think that’s about all I have to say. Regular programming will resume tomorrow. [g]

* * *

P.S.
May 8, 2010 3:24 PM
http://voyagesoftheartemis.blogspot.com/2010/05/ps.html

In the recent discussion re fan-fiction, art, etc., I hadn’t actually been able to read more than the first few comments posted here—though I caught the general tenor of the remarks.

As I said, I’ve said all I need to regarding the matter—both my intial reactions, the evolution of my thoughts in light of talking to some of y’all who do fan-fiction, and my eventual conclusions.

Looking over some of the comments now, though, I see that some of you were not responding to the discussion of fan-fiction as such, but were under the impression that I had called you all rapists, was making fun of people who’d been raped, etc., etc.

I’d like to apologize to anybody who thought that. I’m not sure why you _did_ think so—really, go back and look at what I said, not what someone else told you I said. There’s no mention whatever of rape or rapists, none—but if you did, then naturally you’d be hurt and offended, and I regret very much that you should have been made to feel that way.

I don’t mind offending people on purpose, if it’s a matter of principle, though I try not to go out of my way to do it. I _never_ want to offend anyone unwittingly, though, and I’m truly sorry that this happened.

--Diana


I've said my piece about the first of these already, and do not feel it necessary to respond to the rest. Therefore, I'd prefer that you use this post as a reference and not a place for discussion. Thanks.

mswyrr

2010-05-11 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)

Thanks.

ladysanjou

2010-05-11 09:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you for providing the content of the blogs. Some people have missed the whole thing and are still interested in reading it.

kurage_no_hone

2010-05-11 01:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you for this. I posted on DG's shenanigans on my lj a few days ago, and I've edited the post to include a link to this -- I hope you don't mind.

kate_nepveu

2010-05-11 01:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

That's what it's for, linking and reference.

inu_spockya

2010-12-03 08:47 am (UTC) (Link)

thanks! found a link to this on a friend's journal, and it's pretty much made my mind up: my life will do just fine, without bothering to read this silly woman's novels. She hates fanfic, fine, I'm'a dis her right back.

so be it!

loved the great big list of all the published works that are purely fanfic; grrrrreat!

sartorias

2010-05-11 01:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks--I'd missed the last two additions.

ithiliana

2010-05-11 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you! Linking back!


montoya

2010-05-11 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

So, I understand the impulse toward archival, but... I mean, if she decided to take her posts down, isn't that a decision that she has a right to make? I mean, it'd be one thing if she were an evil, toxic person and preserving this record of perfidy against her will was important against her attempt to whitewash history, but I don't think that's the case here, is it?

kate_nepveu

2010-05-11 02:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Straw man much?

If someone said something foolish at a con panel, would you support them trying to get all accurate quotes of their statements removed from con reports, videos of the panel removed from YouTube, etc.?

What she said is newsworthy. I can (and do) like her books and not think she's an evil toxic person, while _at the same time_ thinking that she does not have the right to pretend that what she said never happened.

If she's taken them down because she had changed her mind, or because Blogger wouldn't allow her to disable comments without deleting the posts--which I don't think is the case-or if she'd offered some other explanation for deleting, the case might be different. I'm honestly not sure. But it's not.

montoya

2010-05-11 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'm not straw-manning, I'm saying that unless there are very exceptional circumstances, I'd work on the general principle that people own their words and can legitimately decide not to publish them (or, to the extent it's possible, unpublish them once published) if they want.

skwidly

2010-05-11 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

People can, of course, decide not to publish, but unpublishing? That's not anything that is guaranteed by the principles dictating that people own their words, IMNSHO. You own what you say, so you'd best be damned careful what you say and how you say it, because you can't unsay it.

salazar_quinn

2011-11-21 09:46 am (UTC) (Link)

I just wanted to mention that I think both sides have points, although ultimately I support kate_nepveu *. Diana Gabaldon has the right to delete a post, the same way I have the right to delete one of my fics if I think it's too old and embarrassing, or want to leave ff.net, or whatever. ;)

However, she did write it, and she did post it, and if someone copies and pastes it, or posts it to -their- blog or site, then that's their right, as long as it's properly credited. So thanks for doing so!

*Sorry, idk how to make LJ do it's linky name thing... I'm a total noob, can't you tell? :)

Unholy Thread Necromancy, Batman!

skwidly

2011-11-21 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

I can tell, actually!

kate_nepveu

2010-05-11 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Excuse me, I thought by "an evil, toxic person" and "perfidy" you were edging up on Godwin's Law.

I assure you that I did consider what I was doing and I decided that since speech is action, to restate my prior comment more briefly, it was appropriate. I respect your disagreement.

arachnejericho.myopenid.com

2010-05-11 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

An accurate record of what actually happened is better than to have none of it---for all parties involved, including Diana.

After all, it's not like the rest of the discussion (which now spans Fandom Wank, a whole lot of LiveJournal posts, many unsympathetic but a few very sympathetic from Big Folks like GRRM, Whatever, io9, plenty of blogs outside of LiveJournal, Twitter, etc) is going to go away.

If her words are gone, all that's left for people who want to learn about this is the impressions of others. This is likely not fair to Diana in the end. (Indeed, self bahleetion just makes people assume even more unsavory things about the original words than were there in the first place.)

alice_brune

2010-05-13 02:20 am (UTC) (Link)

You speak the truth here, my friend.

arachnejericho.myopenid.com

2010-05-11 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you for this.

I passed your link to Fandom Wank. Someone has also managed to take "freeze pages" of all the comments (http://www.journalfen.net/community/fandom_wank/1246633.html?thread=214081961#t214081961) (although up until what point, I do not know), though that's not been linked in the main entry yet.

usomitai

2010-05-11 10:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

That link has the first three pages of comments to the first post Gabaldon made, which I hadn't been able to find elsewhere. I also have the second page of comments to the second post, and the first page of comments to the third post. I also have the contents of her fourth post.

As you can see, I'm trying to get all the comments back! :) If anyone wants what I have, I will gladly share. Similarly, if someone has something I didn't list in the paragraph above, I'd love to get it. ♥

Edited to add more information

Edited at 2010-05-11 10:30 pm (UTC)

imagines

2010-05-14 04:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

I hadn't seen the last two, so thank you for the record.

insane_duckfish

2010-05-16 04:44 am (UTC) (Link)

Oh hey, I missed her "apology" when it was up - thanks for this.

ot

animefiend_176

2010-05-16 09:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Would you mind terribly if I friended you?

Re: ot

kate_nepveu

2010-05-16 10:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Open friending & defriending any day here, no need to ask.

owashinoken

2010-05-25 10:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks for archiving her blog posts. But I have to admit that I've lost all respect for this author even_before_her hissy fit when she posted in a previous blog that she would be publishing "offensive letters" that she had received and her responses to them in her upcoming Outlander Companion II. I left a comment at her blog, saying that it would be very inappropriate for her to publish said "offensive letters" in her book without considering the feelings of those people who had written these letters. Having been once a member of the forum where she frequents, "offensive" usually means topics/opinions that she and her diehard fans deem "offensive" (this would include any discussions on any "slash" scenarios between her characters, fanfics, etc.).

I really, truly hope that she would not take her diatribe over into that book. As much as I love her books, my interest in them is gradually diminishing because of her offensive attitude.

hyarrowen

2010-06-11 02:54 am (UTC) (Link)

Here via metafandom, rather late, and I'm sorry I didn't get here before.

There's a wonderful book called "The Flight of the Heron." It's set during the 1745 rebellion, and is the story of a friendship between a tall, red-haired Highland chieftain and a captured English officer. There's a female love interest too, and a hint of the supernatural... And it was written in 1925.

There's an article here:

http://www.collectingbooksandmagazines.com/broster.html

which covers it, and the author's other works, in some detail - though it includes massive spoilers. The article's author points out the parallels between FotH and the Outlander series, and points out that DG cites it in "Through the Stones."

Which kind of puts a whole new slant on DG's attitude to fanfic, doesn't it?

More Authors Who Think Fanfic Is Teh Evil

pingback_bot

2010-06-15 11:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

User kayay referenced to your post from More Authors Who Think Fanfic Is Teh Evil saying: [...] ns please not write it, but they frothing foamingly despise it with a passion, and anyone who writes it is one of the lowest forms of reprehensible life out there. I'm not exaggerating.

Last month author Diana Gabaldon -- whom I'd not heard of before -- created a kerfuffle by comparing writing fanfic to breaking into someone's house,

Well, see, this is where “illegal” comes in. You can’t break into somebody’s house, even if you don’t mean to steal anything. You can’t camp in someone’s backyard without permission, even if you aren’t raising a marijuana crop back there. [1] [...]

chemonro

2010-10-14 09:09 am (UTC) (Link)

When you're messing with my characters, you're messing with me...

By this logic I shouldn't be allowed to write a story about Odysseus or Priam or Iphigenia and the Trojan War because these things not only belong to Homer, they are a /part/ of Homer.

Maybe the politest rule is to say "No fanfiction till the author has passed on."




kouredios

2010-12-02 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Kate, would you mind if I cite this post and your screencaps in a paper I'm writing about fic and ethics?

kate_nepveu

2010-12-02 06:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Course not, that's what it's for, a reference.

kouredios

2010-12-02 07:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks! (I'm just making sure I ask for every LJ and fandom citation I make, as this is my first foray into scholarly writing on fandom, and I'd rather err on the side of caution when it comes to permission to cite.)

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