Dennis L. McKiernan

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Name: Dennis L. McKiernan
Also Known As: Dennis Lester McKiernan
Occupation: Author
Official Website(s):
Fan Website(s):
On Fanlore: Related pages

Dennis Lester McKiernan (born April 4, 1932) is an American writer. His genres include high fantasy (set in various fictitious worlds), science fiction, horror fiction, and crime fiction.

In 1977, while riding his motorcycle, McKiernan was hit by a car. While healing from the injury, he was confined to a bed for many months. During his recuperation, he began a sequel to J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. The publisher Doubleday showed an interest in his work and tried to obtain authorization from Tolkien's estate but was denied. Doubleday then asked McKiernan to rewrite his story, placing the characters in a different fictitious world, and also to write a prequel supporting it. The prequel, of necessity, resembles The Lord of the Rings; the decision of Doubleday to issue the work as a trilogy increased that resemblance; and some critics have seen McKiernan as simply imitating Tolkien's epic work. McKiernan has subsequently developed stories in the series that followed along a story line different from those that plausibly could have been taken by Tolkien.

Views on fanfiction

McKiernan's website FAQ includes the following:

23. Do you mind if I set a story in Mithgar? I'd rather you wouldn't, but it's permitted for your own personal use and enjoyment (such as one to read to your family; or to use in a private FRP game). But I would really, really mind if you wrote one for profit and/or public consumption.

24. What about fan fiction (fanfic)? Would you object to stories written by fans and set in Mithgar? I mean, don't other authors allow fans to set stories in their universes and publish them on the web or in fanzines? I realize that there are many folks who truly like Mithgar, and they are caught up in that world, but this is the way I make my living, and I do not want anything written which might compromise my rights to my own intellectual properties—copyright, media rights, merchandise rights, audio rights, etc. And, yes, other authors have allowed fans to set stories in their universes, but such fanfic has caused any number of writers various problems: for example, Marion Zimmer Bradley had a problems caused by a writer writing in her Darkover universe, where Marion couldn't use a particular fan's idea because the writer of the fanfic wanted to share the copyright, hence jeopardizing Marion's own rights to her universe. Another example: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro has a character named St. Germaine, and a fan used that character without her permission in a fanzine story; Chelsea had to sue in order to protect her trademarked rights to that character, and the fan and fanzine had to print retractions in a number of issues of Publisher's Weekly. A final example: In my own case, a game company used Warrows as one of the races of folks in their game book; they didn't use Warrows as I had made them, but instead really bastardized them in character and in origin. They had to retract and change the name of that race of wee folk. But even had they used Warrows in the true Mithgarian sense, still they would have had to change, for they did so without my permission and without buying the rights to do so (even had they negotiated, I don't think they could have afforded me). Those are just three examples of the problems of using other folks' creations, a major problem with fanfic. Think on this as well: with any writer's creation, there is the original author's idea as to the nature and scope and makeup of his/her universe, and no one else can quite duplicate the look and feel. For example, Robert E. Howard's Conan stories are splendid and thundering adventures. Others have tried to write Conan stories, but no one has duplicated the magnificence of Howard; in fact, they pale by comparison. So my advise is this: Create your own universe. You'll be much happier with the outcome. And you won't step on the rights of others.[1]

Respecting his wishes, prohibits stories based on McKiernan's works.


  1. ^ Dennis L. McKiernan. "Frequently Asked Questions". Archived from the original on 2016-09-08. Retrieved May 13, 2019.

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