Famous Authors Who Began in Fan Fiction

FanFiction–stories using characters or settings from original works of fiction, created by fans of that work rather than by its creator–has been a popular segment of literature for over 50 years. These are. Many writers start their creative writing careers ‘guided’ by the greats.

Here are 12 writers you may know more from their current publications than from their early fan fiction:

1. E.L. James
Fifty Shades of Grey
Ms James is on pace to become the bestselling series of all time. Few know that she began her writing  life as a Bella/Edward Twilight fanfic called Master of the Universe. She joins a long list of other Twilight fanfic authors.

2. Neil Gaiman
Sandman Series
This iconic author has published multiple works of fan fiction: a Chronicles of Narnia fanfic, “The problem of Susan;” an H.P. Lovecraft fic, “I, Cthulhu;” and the Sherlock Holmes fanfic, “A Study in Emerald.”

3. R.J. Anderson
No Ordinary Fairytale Series
This U.K.-based Young Adult author publishes both her original work and her fan fiction under her own name. She recently blogged about being an “out” as a writer of fanfic; the lack of scandal may surprise you. Ms Anderson writes, “I don’t hide my identity, however. Like Diane Duane, Peter David and a few other stout or possibly reckless souls, I do my fannish activity under the same name as I publish my books.”

4. Lois McMaster Bujold
The Vorkosigan Sagas
The author of classic sci-fi published one of the earliest Star Trek fanfic ‘zines, and the title character, Miles Vorkosigan, may have begun his life as a Klingon.

5. Meg Cabot
The Princess Diaries
The author of The Princess Diaries and the Airhead series tells her readers on her fanfic policy page, “I myself used to write Star Wars fan fiction when I was tween. I think writing fan fiction is a good way for new writers to learn to tell a story.”

6. Cassandra Clare
Mortal Instruments Series
Her fanfics included early viral hit The Very Secret Diaries, a Lord of the Rings parody whose catch-phrases (“Still the prettiest!” and “Cannot cope—off to Mordor”) still linger today. Read this article to see her opinion of fanfic of her work.

7. S.E. Hinton
The Outsiders
Not an author of fan fiction, but has spoken out on the subject.  I her reaction to fan fiction written for her classic Young Adult novel The Outsiders. S.E. Hinton jests, “Pony is pregnant with Dallas Winston’s baby”… no, please Cas, no,,,bangs head on desk…no no no. Read more in her article, S.E. Hinton Responds to Outsiders Fan Fiction.

8. Naomi Novik
Temeraire Series
Her first novel, Her Majesty’s Dragon, began as a Master and Commander fanfic. Now Novik is a founder of the Organization for Transformative Works, the first fan not-for-profit dedicated to the preservation and protection of fanwork.

9. John Scalzi
Redshirts
At first the iconoclastic Scalzi called his novel Fuzzy Nation, a work of H. Beam Piper fanfic, a “reboot.” Scalzi seems to have wholeheartedly embraced this category of creative fan fiction. His latest novel, Redshirts, is unabashed Star Trek fan fiction, along the lines of Galaxy Quest.

10. Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Game
Card’s well-known anti-fanfic stance is puzzling, considering how often he writes it. He has written Old Testament fanfic and a Shakespearean fanfic of Taming of the Shrew and Hamlet.

11. Lev Grossman
The Magicians
Grossman has contributed to fandoms for Harry Potter, Adventure Time, and How to Train Your Dragon, and has been quoted, ”The challenges in fan fiction and traditional fiction are essentially the same.”

12. Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings (pen name – Christina Lauren)
The Beautiful Series
Hobbs and Billings kept their Twilight fan fiction background a secret because they had been told that it was a black mark in the publishing industry. But after their fanfic, The Office, exceeded 2 million downloads, agent Holly Root (Waxman Leavell Literary Agency) was not dissuaded with the connection. The tandem writing team delivered their new novel, Beautiful Bastard, which retained about 20 percent of The Office, and the rest, as they say, is history.

David O'Brien

David is the Creative Director and co-founder of AUTHORS.me. With over 30 years of experience in television writing, cartooning, novel and screenwriting, David brings a creative flair to the AUTHORS team and a passion for everything writing.

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