Abusing the People of Westeros: Famous Authors on Fan-Fiction

Recently, we read an article over at The Millions about the state of fan-fiction — a genre of writing written by fans that uses worlds and/or characters from already published fiction — and dissecting its stigma. While some authors support, or at least tolerate, the practice, others vehemently oppose it, citing monetary issues as well as feelings of personal violation and another sentiment that roughly translates to “if you were really creative, you’d make up your own characters.” Funnily enough, of all the big-name fantasy and science fiction authors that have spoken out on the subject, J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer seem to be the most comfortable with the idea, though perhaps that’s only because they’re the two biggest authors among the teen girl set right now — and let’s face it, there’s no real way to stop a horde of rampaging teenage girls when they set their sights on something. You may as well just accept it.

In his Time article on the subject, Lev Grossman points out, “When Virgil wrote The Aeneid, he didn’t invent Aeneas; Aeneas was a minor character in Homer’s Odyssey whose unauthorized further adventures Virgil decided to chronicle. Shakespeare didn’t invent Hamlet and King Lear; he plucked them from historical and literary sources. Writers weren’t the originators of the stories they told; they were just the temporary curators of them. Real creation was something the gods did.” However, with today’s strict intellectual property and copyright laws and the advent of the Internet, things have definitely changed. Click through to read what some of the most popular and oft-borrowed-from authors have to say about fan-fiction, and let us know your own feelings about the genre in the comments!

George R.R. Martin

Martin has always been against fan-fiction, which must be a little sad for the fan-fiction writers out there, seeing as how very many delicious characters he has created. He writes, “Every writer needs to learn to create his own characters, worlds, and settings. Using someone else’s world is the lazy way out.” But more importantly, in a very articulate and informative explanation on the legal and monetary problems with fan fiction, he explains, “My characters are my children … I don’t want people making off with them, thank you. Even people who say they love my children. I’m sure that’s true, I don’t doubt the sincerity of the affection, but still… No one gets to abuse the people of Westeros but me.”