Monday 9 November 2020

Fanfiction and Romance

According to Rukmini Pande, fanfiction is a genre of amateur fiction writing that takes as its basis a “canon” of “original” material (like books, TV shows, movies and, on occasion, the lives of celebrities).

Fanfic origins (or at least fan communities) can be traced back to the late 1960s and 70s (mostly around science fiction shows). I fell down the rabbit hole in the early 90s, avidly reading Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and The X-Files fanfic. In fact, I still have a plastic bucket filled with about four or five reams of paper worth of X-Files and Lois & Clark fic in my garage. Back in the day I did not have the interwebs in my pocket so I printed stuff. A lot of stuff. I recycle to make it up to the trees I killed. I also started dabbling in writing fanfiction, and published a few X-Files stories around that time. Pretty sure they were terrible… but I had a thing for Scully and Skinner that just wouldn’t die.

Fanfiction itself can be controversial. There are valid arguments around copyright infringement and/or plagiarism but it seems that some/most creators are going with the flow. Reports say that Stephanie Meyer never read Fifty Shades, but she has graciously congratulated E. L. James on her success. J. K. Rowling has reportedly said that she is flattered by the interest, and by the fact that people take time to write their own stories.

On the other hand, George Lucas has apparently previously said that Lucasfilm wouldn’t take action against Star Wars fanfiction writers and editors but stipulated that fans should avoid publishing sexually explicit Star Wars stories. The company doesn’t seem to have pursued that (given there are plenty of sexually explicit Star Wars stories out there if you want them) but the whole issue of copyright (and moral rights) remains an open legal question. One blog reports that Fifty Shades was 89% identical to Master of the Universe (its fanfic origins). Frankly, I’m not sure this copyright question will ever be legally resolved as, generally, the fans of the source material are often also fans of the fanfiction and closing down the fanfic might be a little to much like biting the hand that feeds you…

As an aside, the seed of this blog was planted while listening to Fated Mates talk to Christina Lauren
about their journey from fanfic to publishing. You too can listen to the podcast here.

What horrified me in Christina Lauren’s discussion with Sarah MacLean and Jen Prokop was that, at the time that Christina Lauren were on submission with their first manuscript, Christina’s original story The Office (which was later reworked by both Christina and Lauren into Beautiful Bastard) was being shopped around to publishers by someone else as their own work. Maybe I’m a Pollyanna, but this is a ballsy move.

Anyway, so why did I want to touch on this topic?

Because there are some FABULOUS books out there which started life as fanfiction. There are also some BRILLIANT authors out there who cut their writing teeth in others’ playgrounds, plucking characters out of one world and dropping them in another (alternate universe fanfiction), taking them in another direction or developing the story beyond ‘the end.’ And, clearly, fans are hungry for the stories. Romance publishing does just fine thank you very much, even with there being so much free content available (although, yes, the free content can be hit and miss in respect of quality) because romance readers are voracious readers.

Which means that, if you’re a romance reader, you’ve probably read (or seen) something that started its life as fanfiction, often but not solely in the Twilight or Harry Potter fandoms. There are plenty of Pride and Prejudice retellings out there, as well as Disney and other fairy tale retellings and other versions on a theme. As noted above, the Fifty Shades trilogy started life as Twilight fanfiction, as did Christina Lauren’s Beautiful Bastard (one of my ALL TIME FAVOURITE books). Anna Todd’s After series started out as Harry Styles/One Direction fanfiction. And Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series appears to have started life as Harry Potter fanfiction.

Then there are some of my other (now published) favourites:

  • the Gabriel’s Inferno series (now being made into a moving on Passionflix);
  • the Submissive series by Tara Sue Me (personal view, this series is better than Fifty Shades and I wish someone would make these into a movie);
  • Wallbanger by Alice Clayton;
  • Pucked by Helena Hunting (which is hilarious, and spawned an eight-book series, with some further spinoffs); and
  • Clipped Wings, also by Helena Hunting which is more angsty but still a great read.

If you want to dive into the fanfiction world, there are plenty of places. was my entry point but now there’s also Wattpad, an Archive of our Own and Commaful. Be careful, these are wonderful sites for procrastination… it’s easy to get carried away! Some of these stories are LONG (Wide Awake, referenced above is 400K+ words).

Here are some of my personal faves from the Twilight fandom because, sadly, most of my West Wing faves appear to have vanished:

  • I was pretty excited to see that one of my favourite, but long unfinished, fanfics, Business Class Girl was being updated again (although damn slowly!);
  • Everclear and its sequel and Everclear Revamped which mixes Twilight and Evanescence fandoms (but beware, the third part of this trilogy, Everclear Reunited remains incomplete);
  • Wide Awake which is highly angsty, and appears to be being reworked for publication but remains online here;
  • Departures, ThePracticum and The Purple Banana Hammock by the FicChick.

That said – don’t think you’re limited -pretty much if it’s been a TV, book or movie you’ll find some measure of fanfic out there.

Go, explore! And don't blame me when you're at the bottom of that rabbit hole... 😆

Kristine Charles writes sexy tales where coffee (and red wine) is abundant, designer shoes and handbags are cheap, chocolate has no calories and men always put the toilet seat down. Find her at or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I love to love... fanfiction

I love to laugh... at great romantic comedies (see Pucked, above)

I love to learn... about US politics. Anyone else been caught up in US election fever?!


  1. Wow, Kristine! I had no idea there was so much FanFic out there. Thanks for all the links. Will definitely have to chase some of these up (hopefully without falling down that rabbit hole).

    1. There is definitely A LOT available! Some better than others... but there are some absolute gems around.

  2. Gosh! No idea! And...X-Files fanfic? WHY DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS?! To be honest, Kristing, I thought at first that I didn't really 'do' fanfic, but now I've read your post and thought about it, I do. I love things like fairy tale retellings (Beauty & the Beast or Cinderella, anyone?), and some Jane Austen and Charles Dickens spin offs. I'm steeling myself up to watch Pride & Prejudice and Zombies - I hear it's good fun! But it was a book before it was the movie... So much to explore in this new world for me, thanks Kristine! Will be interested to see what other things people comment on.

    1. Pardon the typo on your name, Kristine, I fully know it isn't 'Kristing'... Should have proof read, sigh...

    2. Ah yes, X Files fanfic... resolving the UST well before Chris Carter ever did! There are definitely some fun stories around ;-)

  3. This is fascinating, Kristine. A whole new genre I knew nothing about. Thanks for introducing me to Fanfiction.

  4. Thank you Kristine. I have to say that I've never really had a good understanding of Fan Fiction. I have a better idea now!


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