I’m big on fanfic. I think it’s an interesting interaction of the fan with the text, and I read way too much of it. And not all of my reading is Spuffy (trans. Spike/Buffy romance and/or sex). Tonight I discovered that someone has mentioned Cousin Octavia, one of the main protogonists of Warring States, in a little mini-fic. The posters are creating entries for a mythical second Book of the War. All of which is fine and good, totally in line with my attitude towards fic, but, well, I want to say “she wouldn’t say that! Not in that way!”. I’ve managed not to in the discussion thread on Outpost Gallifrey but it’s bugging me enough to end up squeaking it here. And I still feel vaguely guilty for any implicit criticism of the fanfic impulse in my own reaction. And, er, sorry.
Writing the end of Warring States was a bit of a tricky one: I’d spent so long inside the heads of Octavia and Liu that letting them go, effectively ending their lives inside my head, was difficult. Once I had managed it, I thought that was that but it turns out I am a little protective of my girls after all.
A year ago, Octavia was all mine. She’d been in the Book of the War, true, but in that she had very much been a character added in order to support a different character. Cousin Anastasia had to be defeated by a former ally, a close battle companion, so Octavia was created to be that nemesis. She was a doodled outline, nothing more. This time last year, only myself and my beta-readers, Kelly and Naomi, knew Octavia. I went to lunch every day with Octavia and Liu, as I sat in various cafes scribbling in my notebook or editing the drafts. In the evenings and at weekends, they’d be there. Sometimes they’d watch too much Buffy and start speaking like wise-cracking SoCal Vampire Slayers but I think most of that never made it to the page.
There were times when I was heartily sick of having them both in my head but now, seeing Octavia doing something I didn’t write, I want her back. I’m starting to wonder if the real reason most writers don’t read fanfic is not because of the potential Being Accused of Stealing a Fanfic Idea Problem but because it’s a bit of a surprise to see your characters alive and well inside other people’s heads.
(Stendec, the other character named in that bit, is also one of mine but as I’ve not spent two years writing a novel about him, I’m less startled to see him hanging about cadging some limelight)