Good morning Rebels, and welcome back to my life.
I think I’ve talked about this on the vlog before and I know I’ve discussed it on the podcast, but the first writing I ever did as a wee lad was fan fiction.
There is a game called Warhammer. It’s a tabletop battle game with little miniatures that you assemble and paint and then play huge battles with massive armies, it’s very fun.
I was super into Warhammer and the sci-fi version, Warhammer 40,000, and what drew me to the game wasn’t just the game itself but the story world that surrounded the game.
I got so obssessed with this world that I started writing stories in it, and in high school I wrote about a quarter of a million words of Warhammer fan fiction.
Flash forward to today and I’m making a meager living writing my own novels in my own worlds. What strange turns life takes us on.
But fan fiction, you may be surprised to learn, did not end when I stopped writing it. In fact it is alive and well in all corners of the internet. (Yes, THOSE corners as well.)
But interestingly enough, in recent years there has been a new kind of “fan fiction” emerging—something so next level and so impressive that you almost don’t want to call it fan fiction.
Take, for example, the James Potter series. Never heard of it? It’s about James Potter, the son of Harry Potter, and it’s a series of free ebooks available on Goodreads. It consistently sits near the top of the most downloaded Goodreads ebooks of all time.
How about The Hunt for Gollum? Never heard of that either? It’s a forty-minute-long free fan film about Aragorn and Gandalf’s search for Gollum before the events of the Lord of the Rings films. It has more than 11 million views, and it’s a legit film.
One upcoming fan project I’m super excited about is Star Trek: Axanar, a film set in the Star Trek universe and starring a bunch of big actors.
My friend Matt Hunt is an associate producer on the project, and he took me to the Comikaze booth and introduced me around to the people involved with Axanar. (BTW, meeting Richard Hatch, omigod, EEEEE).
Before going up on Kickstarter, the team behind the film made a 20 minute short called “Prelude to Axanar” that just looks GORGEOUS. As good as anything produced by Hollywood. Then they did a Kickstarter campaign to raise $100,000 to make a feature film. But in the end, they only raised, oh…more than $600,000.
So that film will be going into production and, yeah. We’re going to get a legit Star Trek film—except not made by Hollywood studios, but by small indie filmmakers who just LOVE that world.
So again, it feels weird even calling these “Fan Fiction,” because these are legit productions created within the worlds of popular, almost legendary stories that are part of our cultural core.
Now the one big thing about all of these projects is that the creators aren’t allowed to earn money off them, because so much of the material is trademarked or copyrighted. That’s why many times these projects come out of Kickstarter or another crowdfunding platform.
But that’s not always the case. Amazon has actually created a program called Kindle Worlds that many big authors have joined in on. Basically, in the story universes signed up for the program, you can write fan fiction and sell it on Amazon. A third of the money goes to you, a third of the money goes to the original creator of the world you’re writing in, and a third of it goes to Amazon. Because Amazon can never have enough money.
I just think it’s really, really amazing that we all live in a world where fans can enable creators to tell stories in worlds we already know and love. I mean, who wouldn’t want to read another Harry Potter book? Or see another Lord of the Rings film? Or watch another Star Trek movie?
“Fan fiction” has graduated. In its infancy, it was easy to write off as just the hectic scribblings of some obsessed fan with way too much time on their hands. But now it’s a legitimate and important part of the creative world we live in. And I think that’s awesome.
Maybe I should start writing some more of those Warhammer stories.
Thanks for watching, Rebels. Tomorrow there’s a big announcement! I hope you’ll stay tuned for that and subscribe to the channel if you haven’t already.
I will see you tomorrow. Maybe. Byyye.