I saw a FB post this week about a mother whose children wanted to read Harry Potter. The mother was afraid the books would turn her children into witches, so she took it upon herself to write a ‘fan fiction” Christian version of The Sorceceror’s Stone.I will confess that I read a little of it. And it really made me angry. There are so many reasons why what she did was wrong.
First, the allegation that the series makes kids become witches. I know many children raised in Christian homes (including my own) who did not run out and join a coven when they read the books. And there is nothing in the books or the marketing of the books to support this idea. I don’t believe that J K Rowling had a hidden agenda and wanted to spread wizardry and witchcraft among innocent victims. If this mother thought her kids might have questions about the content of the books she should have done what any parent should. Read the books with her children and discuss it. Instead, she completely changed the book to fit her own needs and kept the name and characters, making Hagrid a Bible salesman and Hogwarts a school to train missionaries….
(I don’t really want to engage in a religious discussion. I am a Christian and some of my books are written for the inspirational market. But every book I write doesn’t have a Christian message. I don’t write books I would be embarrassed for my kids to pick up and read, but everything I write doesn’t have the mission of faith building.)
Here is my biggest issue with this woman’s writing, and generally all fan fiction. She is talking liberties with someone else’s intellectual property and that bugs me. Big time. She did not create those characters, therefore, she does not have the right to alter them, change their personalities, character traits, ideas, or actions. We all know, thanks to Fifty Shades, that fan fiction writers can profit from this, but is it right?
Is it any less plagiarism if you take characters and write your own adventures for them? I am not really sure that I believe fan fiction is merely homage. If one publishes something using the people, places and ideas of some one else’s imagination, isn’t it just stealing? Would any writer really want someone to rip off his or her characters? As a writer myself I don’t think I would take it as a compliment. My characters belong to me, I created them, I wrote their story, and I don’t want someone else to reinterpret either.
I know there will be people who will say that what I just wrote is only because I am not famous enough, good enough, etc. to be fan fictionalized. Don’t care. At least I write my own stuff. It is okay to really like, even love, someone else’s work. It isn’t okay to change it to fit your own daydreams, fantasy, or agendas. Respect the author’s work by leaving it intact and unaltered. Until you have finished the three hundred pages of blood sweat and tears, and sometimes years, that producing a novel, let alone a series of the magnitude of Harry Potter, you won’t understand why its offensive. Put your efforts into creating something new, interesting, moving, whatever. Something that wasn’t written by someone else.
Thanks for letting me rant a little. Check out (but don’t plagiarise) my books at http://www.booksbylynnmurphy.com.