Transformative Works and Cultures Interview with Jo Graham, Melissa Scott, and Martha Wells

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Transformative Works and Cultures Interview with Jo Graham, Melissa Scott, and Martha Wells
Interviewer:
Interviewee: Jo Graham, Martha Wells, and Melissa Scott
Date(s): 2010
Medium: online
Fandom(s):
External Links: interview is here
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Contents

In 2010, Jo Graham, Martha Wells, and Melissa Scott were interviewed for an issue of Transformative Works and Cultures.

Some topics discussed were fan fiction, original fiction, and tie-in novels.

Some Excerpts

Martha Wells: I enjoyed writing fan fic, but I find original SF/F more rewarding because I feel less creative constraint. I love creating my own worlds and my own characters, and not being bound by any prior assumptions on the part of the reader. In contrast, the enjoyment I get out of fan fic is from writing TV or movie characters and worlds that I have fallen in love with, and trying to duplicate in prose what I see on the screen as closely as possible, then using that framework to build new stories around. I find fan fic much faster to write than original fiction, since so much of the world building is already done, and I already know so much about the characters and their backstory. I tend to write original fiction more slowly. But I like the revising and editing process in original fiction because I like the feedback and feel it pushes me to produce better work.
Jo Graham: When you write original fiction, you can write anything. There are absolutely no artistic parameters or thematic and stylistic guidelines. You can say anything about anything. There are no boundaries at all. The publisher is not even a consideration. You write. Whatever you want. And then, possibly, you find a publisher who is a good fit. But what a particular publisher may want, what a particular editor's stylistic preferences are, is completely irrelevant. You have no idea where this will sell or if it will sell. You are completely and absolutely free. A tie-in is different in that you are under contract from an early point. It's more like writing a fan fic story for a ficathon. You have the constraint of the prompt, or of the request of the person you're writing for. If they ask for a Ronon/John sweet love story, you're not going to give them a John/Rodney angst fest. A tie-in is constrained like a ficathon story, but original fiction has no constraints whatsoever outside your imagination.
Melissa Scott: With Stargate: Atlantis, I am passionate about the show. I'd be intensely frustrated trying to write a Paramount-style tie-in. Fortunately, what Fandemonium wants is something more open-ended, something that explores some of the things that the show didn't have time for. Among other things, they're letting us fill in the blanks around the Wraith, who fascinate me, and they are letting us move the characters forward. This is a virtual sixth season, and we don't have to reset to zero at the end of each book. There are restrictions: no hot sex, queer or straight; no more violence than you could see on the original show—Jo's spoken about the need to keep this at a PG rating. But we are being allowed to go a little deeper into the characters.
Martha Wells: In the last few years I was active in media fandom, I had a few bad experiences that have made me extremely reluctant to continue to admit to fan fic fans that I also write original fantasy novels and tie-ins. In the 1990s, after I sold my first professional novel, many of the people I knew in various fandoms I was involved in—fanzine editors, people on the mailing lists I was on or who I met at MediaWest*Con, the other fan fic writers I worked with on archive Web sites—knew about my pro career. I never really had any problems because of it, so I was unprepared when it did finally happen. I'm not sure if it was writing the tie-ins that changed my engagement, but it has changed substantially.
Jo Graham: This is directly related to reader distance. The vast majority of readers of a novel would never dream of getting all their friends to write rude letters to an author whose book they disliked! And yet this happens in fandom all the time. People feel that they have the right somehow to attack anything they don't like, rather than just simply turn the page. No one goes through the bookstore picking out every book they dislike and writing a letter of protest to the publisher. In the bookstore, if they don't like horror or don't like whatever, they just pass it by.
Melissa Scott: I think that maybe my own preference for reworking a text rather than accepting it as given is just the way I think about writing in general. I mean, the earliest thing I know I wrote was when I was 6, and was about the lions from Born Free, only I'd changed the names and gotten my uncle to tell me about his time in Kenya and so the lions had to deal with green mamba.