Google the term and you'll come up with 22.9 million different possible websites. Fan fiction is the phenomenon in which any and every average fan of a book or movie or TV show can take their beloved characters and write original stories for them. Sometimes these stories come about as ways that the fans would have rather had things end. Sometimes these stories are created to continue the drama that ended when a show was prematurely cancelled. Whatever the case may be, fan fiction is a pretty popular thing on the internet, considering just how many websites come up in a simple search of the term.
Fan fiction isn't something that began with the inception of the internet. It's been around for thousands of years. There's evidence that people took the works of Homer and spun their own tales. Several of the Arabian Nights are in fact parodies of other stories found within the same work. The internet simply gave fans a hugely open forum for which their ideas and stories could be shared with other fans.
But I got to thinking about what professional authors think of fan fiction. As someone who aspires to be a published writer, I think I'd find it pretty flattering for someone to take a piece of my original work and try to continue or change the story in some way. At the very least, it would mean something I wrote made people think. Now, I guess when it comes to copyright issues, professionals wouldn't want someone else making money on their property. But that involves legal issues that I have no clue about.
What about professional writers that are fans of other writers' works? I've read several articles that have said Stephen King was a fan of the Harry Potter series. I wonder if it's safe to assume that J.K. Rowling is a fan of King's novels? Do the pros ever write their own fan fiction? I suppose it could be argued that Gregory Maguire's Wicked is a form of fan fiction.
But what would be Stephen King's take on the world of Harry Potter? How do you think he would spin a tale set within the walls of Hogwarts? I'm sure it would be a lot darker than even Rowling's darkest installments in the series. But what about J.K. Rowling? Let's say she's a fan of Lord of the Rings. How do you think she would write an adventure in Middle Earth? How do you think Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) would handle the Twilight world that Stephenie Meyer created?
So many questions. So much speculation. I'm sure there aren't any professional authors reading this blog, but if you're out there, I'm curious. How would you do it different?