The best article on fanfic I’ve ever read.

The Boy Who Lived Forever

By Lev Grossman

Thursday, July 07, 2011


Yes, it’s old, but still so relevant. It’s honest, thoughtful, and respectful. It’s something I should bookmark and send to anyone that I feel the need to explain fanfic to, because it would do such a better job than I could. Centered around Harry Potter, but relevant to all fanfic and mentions other fandoms.


J.K. Rowling probably isn’t going to write any more Harry Potter books. That doesn’t mean there won’t be any more. It just means they won’t be written by J.K. Rowling. Instead they’ll be written by people like Racheline Maltese.

Maltese is 38. She’s an actor and a professional writer — journalism, cultural criticism, fiction, poetry. She describes herself as queer. She lives in New York City. She’s a fan of Harry Potter. Sometimes she writes stories about Harry and the other characters from the Potterverse and posts them online for free. “For me, it’s sort of like an acting or improvisation exercise,” Maltese says. “You have known characters. You apply a set of given circumstances to them. Then you wait and see what happens.”

Maltese is a writer of fan fiction: stories and novels that make use of the characters and settings from other people’s professional creative work. Fan fiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don’t do it for money. That’s not what it’s about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They’re fans, but they’re not silent, couchbound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.

[it’s long - click through the link up top to read the whole thing.]