I confess: I was a Fan Fiction snob. When my daughters were teenagers, they wrote stories based on Forever Knight or Buffy or Star Trek (TOS) or anime (whatever that is). Then they would post them on websites where other people had done the same – and they would read each other’s work! One daughter wrote vampire versions of Phantom of the Opera and Gone with the Wind (clearly a genetic anomaly). I found the other in the gameroom staring at the computer screen late at night “just reading some fan fiction.” I didn’t get it! I encouraged them to use their imaginations, to write something “original.” Unless I was on the beach or in a plane, I read literature – Faulkner, Shakespeare, Austen, Twain. Why would they waste their time and energy with these distortions?
So how did my conversion come about? Nothing as cathartic as Paul on the road to Damascus. The change came along so gradually, I was in the middle before I knew I had begun. It all began with a terrible book, a night of insomnia, and a desperate need for something to read. The girls had graduated and moved out, but of course not all their belongings went with them. A search of their room turned up a novel, which I shall identify only as a popular zombie book at the time. Once finished, I had to purge it from my brain by re-reading Pride and Prejudice.
I returned the-book-that-shall-not-be-named to my daughter’s shelf and found the trilogy by Pamela Aidan retelling Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. After I devoured all three volumes, I told my daughter how much I enjoyed reliving the story of Darcy and Elizabeth. She said there were many such variations and sequels, and an Amazon search of “pride prejudice variations” proved her correct. I couldn’t believe how many alternate paths had been written for one of my favorite literary couples! I one-clicked my way through them and couldn’t get enough. Some of the premises could be collected for an Austenian Dr. Seuss – Pride and Prejudice on a boat, on a train, in the rain. Oh, look! Here’s one by Darcy’s dog! I love dogs! Eventually, I had collected so many, I did the unthinkable and bought a Kindle – not just so I wouldn’t have to buy another bookcase but also to fulfill my need for instant P&P variation gratification.
Then the day came when those two words collided in my mind: What if?
After reading Regina Jeffers’ vampire novel, I recalled Aidan’s trilogy and, loving vampires as I do (as long as they don’t sparkle) thought, “What if I combined the two and wrote a vampire adaptation from Mr. Darcy’s point of view?” I set aside my contemporary “original” work in progress and threw myself full-force into this new project. I re-read Pride and Prejudice and took meticulous notes. I researched Regency England and vampire lore. I was going on quite charmingly once begun, until I came across four letters on the Internet that brought me to a halt. J-A-F-F
I was one of them. As sure as if I had been eaten by zombies and now craved human brains, I had become addicted to fan fiction. Disillusioned and disappointed with myself, I set my vampire Darcy idea aside. It seemed a hopeless business.
Then, epiphany. Whilst watching the new film version of Sherlock Holmes, I realized it bore little resemblance to the stories I knew as a child. In fact, it teetered on the edge of steampunk. The credits listed several writers, with characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This was FAN FICTION! And The Dark Knight, an “original” story based on characters created by Bob Kane. Fan fiction is prolific, even if no one calls it by name. I always thought even Austen herself had been inspired by Shakespeare’s Beatrice and Benedict when she created Elizabeth and Darcy.
I returned to writing Pulse and Prejudice and embraced my fan-hood. I even thought of other things of which I am a fan. I like poetry and Shakespeare, so I wove them into the narrative. The acknowledgements page lists a few of my favorite things that got a wink or a nod, strewn about like Easter eggs throughout the prose. I even have a shout out to my Austen Authors. And now I am one of them: The proud author of my very own – original – Jane Austen Fan Fiction.
There you have it: My baptism into the world of Jane Austen fan fiction. Not only do I still search for variations on Amazon regularly, I have two more of my own in the works.
Now that I have made my confession, and I hope obtained your absolution for my sins of snobbery, I am curious how others became interested in fan fiction, Jane Austen and otherwise, and would love to hear your stories. Please just don’t say you were eaten by zombies.
Pulse and Prejudice
When the haughty and wealthy Fitzwilliam Darcy arrives in the rural county of Hertfordshire, he finds he cannot control his attraction to Elizabeth Bennet – a horrifying thought because, as she is too far below his social standing to ignite his heart, he fears she must appeal to the dark impulses he struggles to suppress.
Set against the vivid backdrop of historical Regency England, ‘Pulse and Prejudice’ follows the cursed Mr. Darcy as he strives to overcome both his love and his bloodlust for Miss Elizabeth Bennet. This compelling adaptation of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ remains faithful to the original plot and style of the Jane Austen classic but tells Darcy’s story as he descends into the seedier side of London and introduces Elizabeth to a world of passion and the paranormal she never knew existed.