Saturday, November 9, 2013

Guest Post: Cassandra Clarke

Today, I am happy to have Cassandra Clarke, author of The Assassin's Curse and The Pirate's Wish. Cassandra is a big fan of fan fiction and she's here to tell us why! 

I was in seventh grade the first time I read fanfic. My family had recently set up an Internet-enabled computer and I spent my weekday afternoons sifting through the many websites devoted to the X-Files, one of my favorite shows at the time. It was only inevitable that I stumble across fanfic eventually, but unfortunately it was a graphic Scully/Skinner story that left my thirteen-year-old self traumatized. (Oh, why couldn’t it have been Scully/Mulder?)

But I didn’t let that experience sully my thoughts on fanfic. I got more into it in college, when I befriended a hard core Harry Potter fan who would print off Harry/Draco slash and bring it to work for me to read (this was the campus bookstore, and aside from the first three weeks of the semester, no one ever came in there). I found most of it moderately entertaining, but I was never stricken with the desire to write my own fic until several years later, after I had finished both undergrad and grad school and was shopping around a novel that would later be picked up and published by Angry Robot (that’s Mad Scientist’s Daughter, in case you’re interested). 

Here’s something to keep in mind if you ever want to be a writer: querying agents is depressing, soul-crushing work. Often what’s being rejected isn’t actually your novel at all, but your query, which is a brief bit of business writing intended to entice an agent into looking at your book. They’re hard to write and I was the absolute worst at writing them. Two of my books were making the rounds and over and over again the queries were rejected by agents. I decided I needed a break from the drudgery of writing for publication. With that, I began writing a series of Harry Potter  AUs predicated on the notion that Severus Snape and Lily Evans had somehow managed to fall in love. This was right after the final movie had been released, and that image of Severus rocking Lily’s dead body back and forth had pretty much implanted itself in my brain. I couldn’t shake it. Later, as Mad Scientist’s Daughter made its slow way through the acquisitions process at Angry Robot, I wrote a novel-length Harry Potter fanfic in two months. 

It was exhilarating: a sort of writing vacation, let’s say. Shortly after I finished the fic I learned that Mad Scientist’s Daughter had been picked up, and so while my efforts returned once again to original fiction, I had still been bitten and thus irrevocably altered by the fanfic bug.

In college, I was an English major, and one of the skills you pick up there, in addition to writing and communication and other more useful things, is how to interpret literature. You don’t get a lot of opportunities to that in the real world, but fanfic is one of those opportunities. I love reading people’s different takes on the characters and their actions: obviously there’s a certain level of in-character-ness that ought to be maintained, but fanfic still allows for slightly different interpretations and insights into these characters that I wouldn’t have thought of myself. I think that’s just the nature of reading. I bring as much of myself to my readings of characters as I do anything else, so fanfic allows me to see all these characters I love in brand new ways. It’s kind of like magic!

Fanfiction at its best is all about expanding a world already created. It’s a way of looking at something that exists one way and suggesting that it might exist another way, and that’s just so cool to me. It opens up canons in ways that can’t be done through your typical academic-style analysis, plus it’s way more fun to read. And speaking as a professional author who still occasionally writes fanfic: it’s fun to write too! There’s just something exciting about working out my thoughts on a canon in story form.

In fact, that’s a challenge I’d like to leave for all you lovely readers of Wholly Books: write some fanfic today! Pick a movie, novel, TV show, whatever, and help ensure that a little bit more of that thing you love exists in the world. 


Cassandra Rose Clarke grew up in south Texas and currently lives in a suburb of Houston, where she writes and teaches composition at a local college. She graduated in 2006 from The University of St. Thomas with a B.A. in English, and two years later she completed her master’s degree in creative writing at The University of Texas at Austin. In 2010 she attended the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop in Seattle, where she was a recipient of the Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund.
Cassandra’s first novel, The Assassin’s Curse, received a starred review from Kirkus and was nominated for YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults. Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizonsand Daily Science Fiction. At any given time she is working on a novel.
Cassandra is represented by Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.
Author photo by Brittany at Flashbox Shop.



Special thanks to Cassandra for agreeing to do this wonderful guest post! I hope you all take up Cassandra's challenge and write some fanfic today!! 


1 comment:

  1. I feel like I am looking in a mirror! I read X-Files fanfic when I was in high school, and I moved on to HP fanfic in college. Instead of writing my own book though, I moved on to Doctor Who fanfic for a while. :)


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