Monday, November 28, 2011

On the Uses of Fanfiction

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you guys that sometimes I write fanfiction.

I haven’t done it in a while, but it’s out there. I’ll even link to it at the bottom of this post.

If you think about it, everyone writes fanfiction at some point in their lives. When you’re a kid, you play with toys, and these days- even when I was kid, 25 years ago- it’s hard to find non-branded stuff. Everything ties back to some TV show or movie or, much more rarely, a book series. So when I was making up stories about my massive collection of My Little Ponies (which I still have, by the way, in my mom’s attic), or when I wrote and illustrated epic tales about G.I. Joe characters or Shirt Tail animals- remember those?- I was, in essence, writing fanfic.

Some people just don’t stop making up stories about other people’s creations, even when they grow up. And you know what? That’s fine.

I’ve heard that certain authors don’t like people writing fanfic of their stuff, or at least they don’t like seeing it published on the Internet. Friends, if someone liked my stuff well enough to make up supplementary stories, I’d be thrilled. I might even read it (once at an R.A. Salvatore signing, he said he didn’t mind people writing Forgotten Realms fanfic, but he never read it because he was afraid he would start mixing it up with his own writing. I will never have this problem because I am not nearly as prolific as R.A. Salvatore and won’t have as many geek fans writing stories about my characters).

Personally, I feel guilty writing fanfic these days. I don’t have all that much time to write since my boy was born, and writing fanfic is, frankly, a waste of that scarce time. It’s not publishable, and since my goal is to build a real writing career where I get paid and everything…well, you see where this is going.

However, if you want to write fanfic as a hobby, more power to you. Doing anything creative is better than watching T.V. all night, and if it’s writing, even better.

And if you want to become a published author, fanfic isn’t a bad way to cut your teeth. Naomi Novik, author of the awesome and way fun to read Temeraire series (start with His Majesty’s Dragon ), began writing fanfic. You just have to remember, sometime you have to stop writing in someone else’s world and create your own.

Don’t feel ashamed of writing fanfic. Don’t feel ashamed of reading fanfic; I’ve read more than my share, and I am a perfectly intelligent, literate individual. And I may still write some fanfic in the future, when I feel like a need a break and want to live in someone else’s world for just a bit.

And you know what? I’m totally not ashamed of the fact that once I asked my friend to send me some Duncan/Methos Highlander slashfic. I read the Hell out of that fanfic, and I loved it. So there.

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the link to my fanfic:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ha Jin's "Nanjing Requiem"

Today I listening to NPR, as you do, when to my delight I heard Diane Rehm talking about a new novel by Ha Jin, Nanjing Requiem. I have the book on my nightstand (the greatest thing about working at a bookstore: advanced reader's copies!) but haven't read it yet, but it's definitely next on my list now. Dr. Jin only talks a little about his writing process- he wrote the novel initially from one character's POV, but found it didn't work so he rewrote the entire novel from another character's view- and spends most of his time detailing the things that happened during the Rape of Nanking, but it's a fascinating interview from a great writer.

Protip: listen to the interview instead of reading the transcript; strangely, in this case the spoken word makes much more sense than the written one, which almost never happens.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Daily Flash 2012: Buy It This Tuesday!

Daily Flash 2o12, the Pill Hill Press anthology in which I have two stories, should be available beginning November 22nd. You can get it on their website ( or through Amazon. Rock.

My second story is for December 10th (I previously posted that my first story in that anthology was on November 6th). December 10th is even more boring than November 6th, according to Wikipedia, except it is the birthday of Mako, who played the wizard in Conan the Barbarian. The first one, directed by John Milius. The good one.

I've read through about half the anthology so far and some stories are great, some are good and some are decent, but I haven't found a bad one yet!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On Caterpillars and Picasso

So I have a 2-year-old, and I stay at home with him.

Today at library story time the kids were making a craft, a caterpillar glued together out of cup-out circles (today's featured story time book was Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It's a great book until you have to read it approximately 6,784 times in one week). One mom told her toddler, "No! Not like that! That's not how caterpillars look!" I hope she didn't look at my kid's caterpillar, which looked like it had been hatched near a nuclear plant. I just kept thinking, "Pablo, don't paint like that! That's not how people look!"

I guess what I'm trying to say is, ignore the haters. You can do whatever you want in your art, whether it's writing or music or painting people made of squares or making freakish construction-paper caterpillars. You have an imagination. USE IT.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

This is Me.

Being a famous writer is probably the best kind of being famous. You can go to signings and conventions and what-have-you, and see all your fans and bask in their adoration. But you can also go to Frisch's Big Boy and have lunch without being interrupted, because no one really knows what you look like, unless you have super-distinctive features like Stephen King or you are already famous for acting/music/reality TV.

Anyway, this is what I look like (I'm on the right!). The Japanese man is Yasuhiro Koshi, a military consultant on numerous Japanese movies and also an actor and producer of the sort of crazy B-movies I love.

Yes, I am throwing up the horns. I like metal. I saw Opeth in concert once. Rock on.

So now you know what I look like so if you meet me at a signing or a convention someday, you won't be surprised. But if you see me chowing down at Frisch's Big Boy, just walk away, man.

The Snow Witch

Here is another of my archived works, a short story that is a retelling of the Japanese folktale "Yuki-Onna" or "The Snow Witch". As I was writing, I realized that I felt a great deal of sympathy for the titular character, who is actually supposed to be a villain. It really turned into a tragic love story instead of a horror story.

It was published by Short-Story.Me!, which is a neat idea: you sign up, and every week they drop a new story in your inbox, totally free. Lately they've been kind of erratic and not always on time, but it's OK. It's a nice way to read some new authors with zero effort on my part.