Monday, October 8, 2012

Fan Fiction Novel For Teens Bought by Penguin

If you trawl certain parts of the internet it's hard to miss the fans of a band called One Direction. They've pushed the formerly marginalized "bandfic" subsection of fan fiction into the mainstream. Sure, people were writing about members of nineties rock bands left and right, but One Direction as a fandom has taken over some of the more public fan fiction sites. And now a fan has been really pushed into the mainstream with  a sixteen-year-old girl getting a book deal from Penguin for her novel based on the band.

Picture of One Direction
One Direction is a UK-based pop band.
Penguin calls the novel "fresh, romantic, and current", none of which I doubt. I haven't been able to find excerpts from the book yet, but immediately assume the worst about the quality of the writing, knowing "50 Shades of Grey". But as a fanfic writer, maybe I shouldn't.

My first reaction is to think that this is an outrage, a gross dumbing-down of literature, a celebration of infatuation, a way for Penguin to pay a first-timer less than they would an established author, and an opportunity taken away from said previously established author and/or a writer with talent.

However, I realize that I am incredibly bitter about the whole thing. This girl is ludicrously lucky - she's getting paid, and famous,  for something she did in her leisure time. Of course I'm jealous. But then there's the people who don't seem so jealous but who still post comments referencing "50 Shades of Grey" and saying that a high-profile book deal like this embarrasses both the fan and the band. My attempt to be impartial leaves me not knowing what to think, except for the words "cheap" and "unfair".

But then are the comments like these, left on the site I linked to above: "Emily is an inspiration to other young people out there who want to make a name for themselves! instead of loitering on street corners drinking taking drugs and harassing people. A credit to her mother and family, i wish there were more people with her drive and enthusiasm", or "That's my sister!!! Well done".

Is this a good thing? Is it, like, a way to encourage kids to read or something?

So let's talk about this book and about the fan fiction - to - novels trend in general.

Is this a good thing? Is this insane? Is this any better or worse than writers who get published because their parents know people in the business? Is there no such thing as luck? Is the publishing industry, as a friend of mine said, "just trolling us"?

Or maybe it's as simple as the fact that trends sell. In the article I linked to above, Penguin states that "Penguin's Razorbill imprint had been looking to commission a writer to pen a romantic young adult fictional novel that tapped into the market's current obsession with boy bands." This young author, an "authority" on teenagers who love bands, just happened to have gotten there first.

(Via Club Jade)

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