My apologies for the tardiness of this post. I was up until 0330 last night writing. If you know me, you know that my usual bedtime is around 2300.
Hi, my name is Jason, and I recently committed a heinous sin.
Very seldom do I get a chance to hang around friends. Or people, for that matter. I am, by nature, a recluse. I mean, I like people, but I don’t actively seek them out like most others do. I’m content in my office, typing away, creating conversations in my head that will eventually (or not; my new editors are ruthless) make it into a book. You can probably guess that I’m not the best public speaker, either, given the mass amount of alcohol I have to imbibe just to be on panels at a con (though that leads to amazing stories of “Jason did something stupid…” which is usually followed by “…and then he went to the hospital.”).
The downside of drinking at a convention with people you like is that you tend to get a little more truthy than you intend to. This past weekend at Libertycon something similar happened. I made the most dreadful of mistakes, and to a writer I admire greatly as well:
I admitted that I wrote fanfic in her universe.
Now before you go off the rails, let me explain. I’m mostly ambivalent when it comes to fanfic. I don’t mind people writing slashfic about my characters, or using a setting in one of my universes to write a story in, so long as they’re not trying to make money off of it. The IP rights to that belongs to me (and, to a lesser extent, whichever publisher still retains the first refusal rights to that universe), but I can’t really stop people from doing it. A clever filing of serial numbers, a character name change or two, and bam! there it is. No harm, no foul. Hell, every story (according to modern English professors) originated from somewhere else. It’s our job as writers to get out there and put our own clever little twist on the story to make is ours.
Anyway, back to my drunken confession…
(another side note: I wasn’t drunk, per se. I was loaded up on oxycodone due to my knee injury. I’d been in constant agony since Thursday at that point and I was almost ready to saw my leg off right then and there. Alcohol makes me brutally honest. Painkillers make me feel fuzzy and like I’m not entirely there, which is what they’re supposed to do. Yay for dopamine receptor blockage!)
I was at John Ringo’s Dead Dog Party and was chatting with my favorite Crazy Portuguese Writer when I suddenly said “I have to admit something to you. Please don’t kill me.”
Crazy Portuguese Writer – “What did you do…?”
Me (shamefaced) – “I wrote a fanfic story in your Shifter universe. I’m really sorry!”
To her credit, Sarah didn’t fall over and laugh at me. Or kill me (hey, Portuguese, man… you never know which end of the sword they’re going to hit you with). But then I told her that it had turned into a book… well, let’s just say I’m pretty sure she was amused by the idiot Spaniard.
Here’s the thing, though – I didn’t write it to make money off of it. It was just an exercise in writing that turned into a freaking book. I sometimes do this to help break through on other projects that I’m stuck on (Kraken Mare, for those of you who are curious… I was stuck on Kraken Mare) and can’t seem to shake the world I’m writing in. Going over to someone else’s world and writing a fun little story as an exercise really does help. It breaks you out of the monotony and “sameness” that you might fall into sometimes. You have to follow someone else’s rules, and that means you have to find ways to make the story and characters work without breaking canon.
*sigh* You should also probably not be around the author whose universe you’re writing the fanfic in if you’re inebriated and are honest to a fault. Sometimes it’s not that funny. Again, to her credit, I’m pretty sure that Sarah knew I wasn’t trying to steal her idea or universe and was very gracious in not smacking me over the head (or it could have been because she was holding a baby in her arms and could only kick, and since I already had an injured knee, she took pity on me). But some others are so overzealous about their IP rights (and rightfully so) that someone who meant well or was doing something they thought was harmless could bring down the vengeful fury of a pissed off writer.
But for a professional to write fanfic treads on a line that is very fine. It’s why I was so reluctant to tell Sarah about it in the first place. H.P. Lovecraft died penniless, while Edgar Rice Burroughs managed to get California to name a city after his creation and then make money off of it.
There’s a lesson to be learned here…
Now for the promo stuff. Jason Cordova is an author who writes about monsters, spaceships, and kickass women — all in the same book even! Too much awesomeness packed into one book led to him deciding that, from July 3rd to July 5th, he would give away a short story over on Amazon. Yes, that’s right, once more is The Dead of Babylon available for free. For this weekend only.
Oh, he’s also a 2015 John W. Campbell Award finalist. He got the paperwork and everything just this week. Yep, he’s official.