|Also Known As:||Misty Lackey|
|Works:||Valdemar Series, Elemental Masters series and more more|
|Official Website(s):|| Author Wikipedia Page|
Bibliography Wikipedia Page
Worlds of Mercedes Lackey
|On Fanlore:||Related pages|
Mercedes Lackey is the author of numerous fantasy novels in several series, most notably the Valdemar series and a group of interlocking series featuring elves and other magical beings in (mostly) modern urban settings.
She has also written many short stories and edited several anthologies, some of those with Marion Zimmer Bradley.
She often collaborates with her husband Larry Dixon.
Lackey the Filker
She is the author of a sizeable number of filk song lyrics. Her earliest work includes filk inspired by the novels of C.J. Cherryh, but following the publication of Arrows of the Queen, most of her subsequent work has been inspired by her own Valdemar novels.
Since she has very rarely created music to accompany her lyrics, most of the tunes for Lackey's songs have been written by other hands. Her best-known musical collaborator is probably Leslie Fish, but other composers have included Heather Alexander, Cecilia Eng, Michael Longcor, and members of the folk groups Tempest and Golden Bough. Many of Lackey's songs have been recorded and released on albums published by Off Centaur Publications and/or Firebird Arts & Music. A few of the earliest live convention albums feature performances by Lackey herself, and she performed the part of Selenay on the album Heralds, Harpers and Havoc..
Lackey the Fanficcer
Prior to becoming a professional author, and after, Lackey was a writer of fanfiction.
Lackey wrote in the Darkover universe as well as and stories inspired by a role-playing game titled Bureau 13: Stalking the Night Fantastic. Diana Tregarde, later one of Lackey's series protagonists, makes her first appearance in one of the latter stories.  Both Bradley and C. J. Cherryh served as mentors to Lackey as she transitioned from fanfiction to professional publication.
Four of Lackey's Darkover fics were published in Bradley's for-pay fanfic DAW Darkover Anthologies: There were "A Different Kind of Courage" (1985), "An Object Lesson" (1990), "Set a Thief" (1991), and "Poetic License" (1994). 
In 1982-88, Lackey was also a frequent contributor to the primarily Star Wars zine Shadowstar. Lackey's fanworks (fiction, art, meta, cartoons, filks...) appear in these issues of Shadowstar: #8, #9, #10, #11, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21/22, #25, #26, #27, and #28. In 1984 for "Shadowstar" #14, her story features a filksinger who meets Luke Skywalker with the help of Diana Tregarde. In 1984, Diane Tregarde meets Indiana Jones in "Shadowstar" #16. In 1985, she wrote a Star Wars/Shakespeare story that was in "Shadowstar" #18. In 1986, Lackey wrote a Diana Tregarde/Grimjack story for "Shadowstar" #23.
Comments by Lackey: 1980sIn 1983: Lackey wrote:
In 1985, Lackey wrote an essay on the topic of fanworks called Shady Thoughts: Why I Like Reading/Writing Fan Fiction. In it she said:Must say that I see no problem in writing derivative fiction; ultimately, all fiction is derivative — we are our roots. You'll notice that, though my stuff is supposedly "original," it owes tons to Tolkien ("Merry Xmas"), Andre Norton ("Graduation Day"), and Fred Saberhagen ("Night Lord"). The piece enclosed in this issue [of Shadowstar] ("Were Hunter") owes its entirety to the song/video by Duran Duran,"Hungry Like the Wolf." So, as my postdoc friend Di (the direct inspiration for Diana Tregarde) says, "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke." Or, in translation, "If you don't like what I'm doing, ignore it or shut up about it. 
Well, that's probably why we all do these weird things [like write fanfiction]: we've fallen in love with a certain universe and world-view, but there just isn't enough of it around. You can only watch Star Wars a finite number of times before you can recite the dialogue with the sound turned off (which, by the by, is what happened recently at a theater I went to when the sound system failed for about ten minutes). When that happens, there's only one thing to do: you go out and build more detail into that universe yourself, or you read what others have done there. Since George Lucas won't create more magic for us (to the exclusion of eating, sleeping, and other pursuits), we have to fill the void, somehow. [snipped] I like the stuff! I like writing it, and partially because I have the freedom to interact my characters with the creations of other people, a chance that I would never have had, were I trying to sell what I was doing. And also because this is my own small way of paying tribute to the people whose works have touched/moved/changed me.
Comments by Lackey: 1990s
Comments by Lackey: 2000s
In a 2004 interview, she said: "I knew that I was a writer when I began writing amateur fiction ("fanfic") and costuming articles and getting them published in fanzines and getting some nice comments." .
In 2006, Lackey revealed that "I....shuffle mumble shuffle....still write fanfic. Of all darn things, fanfic set in a superhero MMORPG, City of Heroes". She is also one of several writers who has created a story arc or arcs at the request of the game's sponsors.
In 2010, Lackey said: "“I’d been writing fiction for a long, long time – I always wrote. I used to make up stories for the kids I baby-sat, which made me very popular, which meant I got more babysitting gigs! And I wrote fan fiction. [snipped] ‘‘I’m not reading fanfic based on any of my stuff and never will read it, because I don’t want to get into that ‘You stole my idea!’ stuff. However, yes, I do allow fanfic of my work published under Creative Commons. As Marion’s agent, Russell Galen did not like fanfic – seriously did not like online fanfic, because it’s distributed everywhere with no control. But Cory Doctorow’s a client, and (god bless Cory!) he has brought about a sea-change in Russell Galen. So now the answer is, ‘Yes, you may do fanfic, under Creative Commons, even though I don’t understand how Creative Commons works. If I were a lawyer, I would be a lawyer! So if you want to work out a correct licensing agreement, you go find a Creative Commons lawyer and you deal with it. I’m not going to do any of that – I’m just allowing it.’" 
Her 2016 Dragon*Con blurb, where she was a guest, mentions fanfic: "Mercedes Lackey had always written from her early teens, and developed this hobby by writing fan-fiction for various amateur magazines." 
Lackey the Believer/Non-Believer
From alt.books.m-lackey FAQ:
4. Does she really believe in all that stuff she writes about?
Maybe. She might be a member of an alternative religion; she hasn't said for sure. However, she sums it up best in the Author's Note at the back of Sacred Ground (1994 edition):"I am not a guru, shaman, Grand High Pooh-Bah, Guardian, Mistress of the Martian Arts, or any incarnation of the same. I have no lock on Immortal Wisdom, and in my experience, anyone who claims to, has his eye on your money (granted, I do too, but only insofar as entertaining you enough to buy my next book). To confuse me with what I write is as fallacious as confusing a truck driver with his Peterbilt." 
Lackey the Con Attendee
Lackey and her husband's (Larry Dixon) attitudes and opinions regarding fans at cons (and elsewhere) is a complicated one.
In 1993, the editor of Lackey's official newsletter wrote: "There have been some grumblings in fandom that Misty and Larry no longer have time for their friends and fans. There are always a discontented few who are jealous of the success of others." The editor followed up with a post by Lackey's husband, Larry Dixon, comments that he had made on GENie in roughly December 1992. In those comments, he described their fans, and conventions, as very capable of theft, violence, confrontations, and threats:
At a convention, many of the folks attending have codes of honor & guilt that psychologists might politely term `aberrant.' I have encountered a bootlegger who feels it is his deity-given right to make knockoffs of anyone's tapes if they refuse to sell him the rights. There's a female fan artist on the circuit now who plagiarizes 80% of her work. A couple of months ago, a dealer in Oregon was physically assaulted for allegedly giving a dollar's incorrect change; the assaulter was not expelled from the convention, even after the police came. Several people in San Francisco area fandom are being tracked by police as poisoning suspects; two artists I have met on the circuit are tax evaders & travel under aliases (present whereabouts unknown). "Every extreme can be found at a convention. We appear at them for the 90% who are fine people, but we take no chances with the other 10%!..... Nothing is harmless; believing your surroundings are Perfectly Safe only means the predators have to work less." - Larry 
In 2002, Lackey commented: "We did attend the 1992 Rivercon, which was in fact the last convention we actually enjoyed. 
Despite these treacheries and lack of fun, Lackey was a regular attendee at cons until summer 1997. That's the year she and her husband attended Dragon*Con, and many things occurred.
First, a little background: Lackey and her husband's personal life was self-reported to have been difficult in the last part of 1996 and early part of 1997:  In January 1997, Lackey wrote The Last Straw in which she ranted about the poor behavior of some fans. Four months later, this essay was linked to the official newsletter. The editor of Lackey's official newsletter reported on Dragon*Con in August 1997, a month after the con occurred:
We who attended Dragon*Con had a pretty good time, thanks to Morgan and her competent assistants. Morgan did her usual excellent job with the Queen's Own Collegia track of programming, and it was enjoyed by all, including Misty and Larry. There were panels on all sorts of topics, autograph sessions, and readings. Equally important was the chance to spend time with other people who understand our enthusiasm for Valdemar. Three cheers for Morgan! As for the rest of the con, I felt it was too many activities spread out over too wide an area. I ignored it in favor of the QOC panels. 
Lackey, however, reported that her time there was not a good one. See Mercedes Lackey - "The Dragoncon Report" for her comments, as well as fans' comments.
As a result of these alleged events, Lackey discontinued her con appearances. She announced this in the 1997 essay, "The Camel's Back."In 2002, she told a fan that the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. were a reason she attended fewer cons:
Another comment from 2002:Although Larry and I had been thinking about going back to conventions again, in the light of recent events, we have decided not to. Traveling has become that much more difficult; when you add the 3 to 4 hour process of going through security checks to the rest of it, that means we would essentially lose two entire days of work just in the traveling process --- a total of five lost days of work for the entire convention. It just isn't worth trying to struggle to make up those five lost days given the heavy work schedule we have. 
We had been invited to the 2000 Rivercon, but do not intend to go, though we appreciated the invitation. What we would like to do in the future, if any conventions are interested, is to setup Internet teleconferencing and ship in signed bookplates. This would enable us to do things like show you our latest rehab birds. And we would get to stay cozily at home!" 
In 2003, Lackey resumed some convention appearances. 
Lackey the Public Figure
Lackey made many, many comments regarding the difficulty of being, along with her husband Larry Dixon, the subject of attention by fans.
Lackey commented publicly about being impersonated, stalked, taken advantage of, plagiarized, and generally mistreated.
- 1999: "By far and away, the vast, vast majority of our fans are such incredibly fine people, conscientious, compassionate, and caring, that the only possible answer is that without a doubt it is worth it. As for others experiencing the same headaches...well, it is a fact of life that anyone in the public eye these days has a chance of attracting a lunatic. One of the professors at Rogers College attracted a dangerous stalker---all the more dangerous because he was local and knew exactly where she lived---just because she had a half-hour show on the college TV station about creative writing! And the only reason he DIDN'T kill her was because he murdered his mother first and was caught!"
- 1999: "While I understand why someone might want a tattoo of Larry's or Jody's artwork, I'm sorry to tell you that we don't want that done. This is because once a tattoo artist does a piece, he adds it to his "flash" book, and it starts getting passed around to other tattoo artists, and people start wearing it who have no idea where it came from or what it means. Folks, I really don't want to find out that some guy who killed 20 nuns is walking around the Federal Pen with Amberdrake or Elspeth and Gwena on his back, OK?"
- 1999: "What you and your friends saw [at a SCA con] is an impersonater [sic]. Larry and I have several---we're not alone in this, many other writers also have impersonators. I'm not sure what most of these sad individuals get out of their charade, but some have been dangerous---one impersonator of Simon Hawke got a fan to offer him a guest-room then raped the fan's pre-teen daughter."
Lackey's Attitudes Toward Fanfiction Set in Her Own Universes
Mercedes Lackey's position regarding fanfic set in her original literary universes has varied considerably over time.
- 1984 - Writes a story for Shadowstar #14 called "Worldwalker" in which a filksinger meets Luke Skywalker with the help of Lackey's own character Diana Tregarde.
- Shady Thoughts: Why I Like Reading/Writing Fan Fiction
- 1988 - Establishes guidelines allowing members of Queen's Own (her authorized fan club devoted to her Valdemar series) to create personae and write fanfic set in Valdemar - specifically, in an AU branching from an alternate ending to "Arrow's Fall" ).
- 1992 -- In December, she publishes a long statement in Queen's Own. Queen's Own Newsletter. See I'm about to bring the cold, cruel, mundane world into our fun for a moment. Included is the first release form. Citing advice from her agent, Russell Galen, withdraws support for most fanfiction based on her published works. Stories circulate indicating that she and/or Galen and/or her legal counsel aggressively discourage fanfiction brought to her attention during this period. Lackey was one of several pro authors who either brought the hammer down on or clarified their views on fanworks based on her books. This was due to The Marion Zimmer Bradley Fanfiction Controversy. Some other authors who joined Lackey in 1992: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Anne McCaffrey, and P.N. Elrod.
- 1994 (perhaps before)-199? - Hosts and moderates an online community, Modems of the Queen, on GEnie. Participants were required to submit a release form in order to create fanfic set both in Valdemar and in Lackey's "urban elves" universe.
- 2002 - Answers a fan who asked Lackey to read her manuscript: "I know that people would really like it if I could look at their work, even just to comment on it. I can't. I won't. Here's why: [legal liability, practical issues, hurting your feelings]" Lackey ends with "The best thing you can do, if you want people to look at your work, is to publish it in fanzines." 
- 2002 - Releases a commentary via her Web site discussing the evolution of fanfiction from printzines to the online era. See Copyright, fair use, and complications far beyond the ken of mortal man.....
- 2002 - Answers a question about fanfic based on Valdemar: "It's been so long that I read [my own release form] that I'd forgotten about that. Publishing a Valdemar novel would be a Bad Idea. I'm afraid my agent is inclined to go ballistic on the idea of someone publishing a Valdemar novel other than me or Larry. You don't want my agent to go ballistic. He's a very polite shark, but he's still a shark. The release form was copied wholesale from Marion Zimmer Bradley's fanfiction release form and covers the occasion when she used someone's idea (with their permission and signature) in one of her Darkover novels. It also covers the novels that another author finished after her death. It probably shouldn't be in there, considering how our agent feels about fanfic in general and fanfic novels in particular, but if someone ever does take me to court that's one more item to get the case dismissed before it gets into high legal fees. I really hate having to do things this way, but given the grief that Marion went through, and the fact that I've already had hysterical letters accusing me of "stealing" someone's fanfiction, I'm just not willing to take the chance anymore." 
- 2002 - Answers a question about fanfic and webrings: "We don't allow online fanfiction or online games, MUDs, MUCKs or MUSHs;anything else is fine." 
- 2002 - Copyright, fair use, and complications far beyond the ken of mortal man....
- 2002 - A fan named Teri asked Lackey: "Misty, several people have asked for your e-mail address or Post office box so that they can send you manuscripts of their fan fiction. Where do people get the idea that you are a first reader for fan fiction? The only saving grace is that most of them seem to be young." Lackey replied: "Sigh. How many times do we have to say "I don't and won't read fanfiction?" 
- 2003 - A 13-year old fan asked Lackey: " I saw that you don't read fanfics, so I'm not even going to bother writing one, besides the fact that it'll probably be against the copyright rules. That, and it'll probably be so bad it'd be more of an insult than anything else." Lackey's reply: "As for your ideas "not being good enough," well, the only way you get better at writing is to write, and the only way you get better at coming up with ideas is to write them out and see if they work. Just because I don't read fan fiction doesn't mean you shouldn't write it if you want to; there are plenty of other people who would be happy to read it, and there are whole fanzines and websites with peoples' fanfiction on them." 
- 2003 - A fan asks Lackey: "I just found out about your strict copywrite laws. I've been working on a fanfic novel for [q]uite some time now, though I had no plans for it. I was considering sending it to you, but I won't now that I know you don't appreciate that sort of thing. Which is understandable, considering your prior experiences with that. Anyway, my question was, would it be okay to publish my fanfic on the net? I don't know if that would be violating copywrite laws or not. I wouldn't be getting any profit from it, and I would most certainly give you full credit for Valdemar and such, but I don't know if that's enough to make it legal. If it is at all possible to legally publish my novel on the net, what exactly would I have to do? Thanks for your time in answering this, and I apologize if I'm just being extremely ignorant." Lackey's reply: "Pardon me if I come out sounding a little irritated about this question, but I must have answered letters similar, if not identical to this one, at least a dozen times, and those replies should still be available for anyone who bothers to look through the old answers. First of all the reason that I do not and will not read fanfiction has nothing to do with "my" strict copyright laws. The copyright laws are what they are and I didn't go to Congress and the International Copyright Covention in Berne Switzerland and ask them to write laws just for me. It also has nothing to do with the interpretation of those laws, nor with the vigor with which my agent Russel Galen defends our copyrights. What it DOES have to do with is the fact that if I read fanfiction, someone, somwhere [sic] out there, someday, will drag me into court claiming I "stole their idea." Actually, this will probably happen anyway at some point --- I've certainly been accused of doing so already in letters that I have receivedf rom time to time --- but at least if I am on record as saying and have witnesses that I don't read fanfiction I have a better chance of having the case dismissed before it becomes expensive. Are we all perfectly clear on that point now? Secondly, at this point, it is not legal nor permissable [sic] for you to publish any fiction based on my copywrited [sic] works on the net. Nor is it legal for you to publish a novel-length work in ANY form. My agent reluctantly permits paper publication of short fiction in fanzines; he is inclined to go ballistic over anything longer than a short-story. He has not yet granted permission to anyone to publish net fan-fiction. If you would care to go head-to-head with him directly, you may write him at: Russell Galen, Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency, 381 Park Avenue South,Suite 1020, New York NY 10016." 
- 2006 - Reveals on Making Light that she still writes fanfic, and that she approves of not-for-profit fanfic.
- 2008 - "No public posting of stories/fanfiction is allowed on the Internet. (This includes talking in character in chatrooms or sending stories via e-mail.) You can submit fanfiction to and read it in the various approved Mercedes Lackey fanzines." 
- 2009 - "Heads up, editors! We have permission to send out our zines via e-mail! Although some sites have been given permission to post online, there are restrictions, and we really don’t have the time to police it. But if you would like to send out chapter newsletters and zines containing fanfiction, you may do so to your members. One caveat: Misty has requested that all material distributed in this fashion be kept to PG-13. Other ratings are permitted, but they must not be sent to or put anywhere minors can get at them. Other than that, have fun!" 
- 2009 - Releases a statement via her Web site formally granting fanfic writers permission to create derivative works based on her stories, under a specified Creative Commons license.
- 2010 -- "“I’d been writing fiction for a long, long time – I always wrote. I used to make up stories for the kids I baby-sat, which made me very popular, which meant I got more babysitting gigs! And I wrote fan fiction. [snipped] ‘‘I’m not reading fanfic based on any of my stuff and never will read it, because I don’t want to get into that ‘You stole my idea!’ stuff. However, yes, I do allow fanfic of my work published under Creative Commons. As Marion’s agent, Russell Galen did not like fanfic – seriously did not like online fanfic, because it’s distributed everywhere with no control. But Cory Doctorow’s a client, and (god bless Cory!) he has brought about a sea-change in Russell Galen. So now the answer is, ‘Yes, you may do fanfic, under Creative Commons, even though I don’t understand how Creative Commons works. If I were a lawyer, I would be a lawyer! So if you want to work out a correct licensing agreement, you go find a Creative Commons lawyer and you deal with it. I’m not going to do any of that – I’m just allowing it.’" [
- 2010 - Mercedes Lackey's pep talk for NaNoWriMo advises: "try writing fanfiction. [...] It's fun, it's going to give you a giant kick-start, and you would be surprised at how many professionals started out that way (and still do it!)." See Mercedes Lackey's pep talk. 
- 2011 - Lifts the ban of fan fiction, points to her agent as the source of the ban, and reminds fans that if they're writing anything other than PG-13, they need to take 'proper precautions.' She points to fan fiction as derivative work and states it will be licensed under the Creative Commons license. Selling hard copies of fan fiction is still forbidden: As you folks already know, my agent, Russel Galen, has in the past been opposed to fanfiction. However, he is also Cory Doctorow's agent now, and Cory is a persuasive little gnome. As a result of this, I am happy to announce that we are officially permitting fanfiction to be licensed as derivative fiction under the Creative Commons umbrella. What this means is: NO, you cannot make money on it. NO, you cannot self-publish a fanfiction novel of Valdemar (or any of my other stuff) and try and sell it on Amazon. And NO, I still am not going to read it, because I am already so far behind on my research reading I barely have time to read that. But YES, you may write and post away, folks, so long as you license it as derivative and under Creative Commons. If it is anything other than PG-13, please take all the proper precautions to stick it somewhere that innocent souls won't be corrupted. Do not scare the children or the horses. Have fun! 
1992 Statement Regarding Fanworks (Fiction and Role-Playing Games)
Fanfic and permissions were heavy on many fans' and professional writers mind in late 1992 and early 1993. Something that had just blown up and was certainly relevant to this post by Misty was the 1992 Marion Zimmer Bradley Fanfiction Controversy .
"First of all, you may not be aware of it, but I am rare in permitting people to write fanfic based on my work. Many authors and agents feel it confuses copyrights enough that they do not permit it at all. [&]...
"Having established that I am a Good Guy for letting you play in my sandbox, following the footsteps of my mentor Marion Zimmer Bradley, let me continue. Some folks have been horribly incensed because I asked, politely, that you not post Valdemar fanfic over in Prodigy, because that service lists itself as a PUBLISHING SERVICE and not an information service, and it is a FOR PROFIT entity. This was to protect YOU. If my agent or publisher decided that this fanfic was in violation of my copyrights, they could very easily sue YOU, your parents if you are a minor, your school if you were using a school machine ... at the very least you would be required, after paying several thousand dollars in legal costs, to pay several more thousand dollars in apology-ads in major booksellers publications, just like that fanzine publisher. I doubt that many of you have that kind of money to throw away; I certainly don't. And I'm afraid that there would be nothing I could do to call off my agent; in areas where my rights---and HIS future income---are concerned, HE has every right to vigorously protect those rights. Be warned, this Has already happened TO ONE FAN WRITER AND PUBLISHER.
"It becomes more confused because Prodigy is an electronic service and this laps over into the area of "electronic rights" about which there is a great deal of confusion. Because of the confusion, my agent prefers to err in the direction of being conservative and protectionist. This also goes for "MUCKS" or "MUSH's. He is flatly NOT PERMITTING any electronic role-playing of any kind, whether it is on a not-for-profit service or for-profit service. So there it is--NO VALDEMAR MUCKS ... If he finds out, and he will eventually, you will get first a "cease and desist" letter from the agency's legal department--and so will the net you are on. The Sysops will not be happy with you about this. If you continue, you will probably be slapped with a lawsuit. If you are a minor, you will probably see your college fund go down the drain. If you are not, paying the out-of-court legal costs alone will set you back several thousand dollars. This is something I have no power over; we are not only talking about MY income, we are talking about my AGENT's income, and he is not going to tolerate anyone cutting into it. With the advent of Electronic Arts books, we now have a real possibility of commercial computer games ... My agent cannot afford to let one person get in the way of that.
"To add to the confusion, the "Bookman" is looking more and more likely all the time ... Now here is where it cuts REAL near the bone for me. If one of you, in all innocence, messed up my electronic rights, I could completely be shut out of the books-on-disc market for all current series. And, ten, twenty, or thirty years down the road, when all books are coming out on disc, you will have not only ruined my income, you will have prevented others from experiencing the same pleasure you had in discovering my work. Now, I can write anything; I could turn around and write romances if I had to. But it would be a lot of hardship on me--and it would mean NO MORE VALDEMAR BOOKS. Ever. [&]...
"So I am going to require a release from those of you who wish to participate in the electronic fiction CATs, and I am not sure yet what to do about paper fanfic. [QO reported later that: "The decision has been made that you MUST sign a release form for any work created in Misty's Worlds that you intend to share with others ... You need a release form for EVERY story set in Misty's universe that you write..."]. [&]....
"I don't have to let you in my world. I could be like Yarbo, and forbid it entirely. I don't want to deprive you of the kind of pleasure I got from writing Darkover and other fanfic. I like having you in my sandbox. All I am asking for is a little courtesy and consideration.
This piece may be downloaded <or photocopied> and posted to any other systems you choose, with my permission." -- Mercedes Lackey.
A further note from Misty and Larry: " . . . Well, rather than chuck out 20-page Author's Notes full of claims of how much we like fans & like to do right by 'em, we practice it and don't crow about it much. The whole fanfic situation is an example of that; we know how much happiness it brings fans, and we like to nurture that joy.
"The legalities of it all are just business---and I would VERY much like to thank you ALL for being so kind and understanding about it.
"It speaks well of you, and reassures us that we're doing the right thing by devoting some of our (arrgh! too little!) time to pursuing a few good solutions. Thank you!"Just bear with us until we get an Official Policy thingie nailed down on it. Hugs!"--Misty & Larry
Lackey's Attitudes Toward Role-Playing Games Set in Her Own Universe
Lackey's Attitudes Toward Fan Art and TattoosIn 1999, a fan asked about fanart and tattoos. While the question was about Larry Dixon's art, one can assumed that Lackey's reply would be the same regarding hers: :
Can I use some art of Larry's for a tattoo?
- [Lackey's response]: While I understand why someone might want a tattoo of Larry's or Jody's artwork, I'm sorry to tell you that we don't want that done. This is because once a tattoo artist does a piece, he adds it to his "flash" book, and it starts getting passed around to other tattoo artists, and people start wearing it who have no idea where it came from or what it means. Folks, I really don't want to find out that some guy who killed 20 nuns is walking around the Federal Pen with Amberdrake or Elspeth and Gwena on his back, OK? 
The Difficulties in Sorting Out Permission, Release Forms, and Definitions
Wading through permissions and definitions of terms was a demon at the gate for many fans.
In 2001, fans were trying to figure out where they stood:
Heyla, Misty fans!
As people are starting to submit more persona projects to us and send more stories to the Queen’s Own-approved fanzines, we have been deluged with questions about when you need to use the release form that Misty requires for all fan fiction. Those questions have started us thinking that we need to go back and revise the Helpful Handouts to clarify when you need to fill out a release. Misty originally said (and it still says on the release form) that you only need to fill out the release if you write a "short story or novel" based on her work. She specified in the original Helpful Handouts that you do not need to fill out a release for "character sketches, poems or filk." This distinction was made quite a number of years ago, before the Net became ubiquitous and before several Supreme Court rulings on US Copyright law were handed down. The confusion that we’re seeing flood our e-mail boxes seems to stem from the definitions of these genres and the legalese in the release form. While we are not lawyers and our suggestions should in no way be taken as legal advice, we thought we would try to explain these terms and (hopefully) clear up some of the confusion.
A "short story" is essentially a prose narrative that is shorter and simpler than a novel. A "novel" is a long prose narrative that is usually complex. Of course, some "novels" are "short" (Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is less than 100 pages), and some "short stories" are rather long. Then, too, a "novel" like James Joyce’s Ulysses is filled with poetry, a stage play and several other genre forms, so "narrative prose" is not necessarily required for something to be categorized as a "novel." This has led to a distinction among literary scholars that essentially says that a short story concentrates on mood rather than plot whereas a novel relates human experiences. (Lost yet?)
We do not know what Misty meant by a "character sketch", but, according to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: Tenth Edition this is a short narrative treatment that "resembles a short story" but that is a bit more informal. (How to tell a "character sketch" from a "short story" is something of a mystery to us.)
"Poetry" is a type of writing where the emphasis is on the language and the intention is to create an emotional response. But when a poem contains a plot, such as telling a story in bardic verse or epic style, then it becomes something of a matter of opinion whether that is really a poem or a short story (or novel, depending on the length) written in poetic style.
"Filk" is quite simply a headache. It can consist of parodies of existing songs or original music with words about science fiction or fantasy or the like. (Note: If you use an existing piece of music, you must parody the original song in order to avoid copyright infringement. If you simply take an existing tune and put new words to it, that is copyright infringement. If you write an original tune but use someone else’s words/lyrics, that is also copyright infringement.) The complication with the release form arises when the words of the song tell a story. (Is that a short story set to music?)
The release form used by Queen’s Own states in Item 1 that "I understand that, as the creator and copyright owner of the Valdemar and other series, you alone have the authority to authorize the preparation of derivative works based on the characters and world you have created in that series. I understand and acknowledge that the preparation of such a story constitutes a copyright infringement unless authorized by you. I acknowledge that the material submitted with this agreement is a derivative work based upon your previous work." (In this item, "I" is you the author of the derivative work, and "you" is Mercedes Lackey.) The key words in this item are "derivative works." According to Space 6 of the US copyright form for literary works (TX), "a ‘derivative work’ is ‘a work based on one or more preexisting works.’ Examples of derivative works include translations, fictionalizations, abridgments, condensations, or ‘any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted.’" That strikes us as pretty broad, and the US Supreme Court is in the habit of interpreting copyright law in the broadest possible sense (which favors the original author).
Given the difficulty in telling the difference among short stories, novels, character sketches, poems and filk, with so much relying on the opinions of the person who is classifying the work, we strongly recommend that any time you write anything that is "based on" a work or works by Mercedes Lackey that you file the release with High Flight (for your protection and for Misty’s). Whether or not the release is "required" for a given piece is up to each fanzine editor to determine. From now on, however, we are requiring the release for anything that uses anything that Misty created (Companions and Heralds, Tayledras, the Star-Eyed, Vanyel, Kerowyn, Shin’a’in, anything that specifically comes from a work by Mercedes Lackey).
Since we now publish all submissions to Queen’s Own in Children of Velgarth, we have become increasingly concerned about our liability with respect to works that fall in the "grey area," that may or may not be considered by some people to be short stories. Therefore, we are going to be changing the "when to fill out the release form" rule on the Queen’s Own website and the Helpful Handouts. If you write a poem or filk about a unicorn, then you do not need to fill out the release. But if the poem or filk is about Vanyel and Bard Stefen, then we want to see the release filled out. We have also been seeing "character sketches" that are 5- to 10-page short stories inserted into the middle of a persona sheet taken from D&D or Pern or some other RPG-type form. This sort of thing has become so common (whether or not it is intended to get around the requirement for a release) that we are now requiring that the release be submitted for all "character sketches" as well. (Release forms are not required for art as long as you aren’t producing something like a storyboard or comic book.)As it has long said on the Helpful Handouts, "Misty isn't trying to spoil our fun, but she must protect her interests." We want to make sure that you and all of our editors are protected as well. 
There was still confusion a year later, including some from Lackey herself:
A fan asked]: ... would you allow other authors to publish *books* in Velgarth? I've noticed that the release form says "manuscript for a short story or novel." Reading the release carefully, I find it does not prevent an author from reaching an agreement with you on the subject. It does cover what would happen if you accepted a short story into an anthology - could a similar arrangement be made for a novel? ... [Lackey replied]: A: It's been so long that I read the thing that I'd forgotten about that. Publishing a Valdemar novel would be a Bad Idea. I'm afraid my agent is inclined to go ballistic on the idea of someone publishing a Valdemar novel other than me or Larry. You don't want my agent to go ballistic. He's a very polite shark, but he's still a shark. The release form was copied wholesale from Marion Zimmer Bradley's fanfiction release form and covers the occasion when she used someone's idea (with their permission and signature) in one of her Darkover novels. It also covers the novels that another author finished after her death. It probably shouldn't be in there, considering how our agent feels about fanfic in general and fanfic novels in particular, but if someone ever does take me to court that's one more item to get the case dismissed before it gets into high legal fees. I really hate having to do things this way, but given the grief that Marion went through, and the fact that I've already had hysterical letters accusing gme of "stealing" someone's fanfiction, I'm just not willing to take the chance anymore. 
Lackey and the Lost Marion Zimmer Bradley Novel
Mercedes Lackey's involvement with Marion Zimmer Bradley is extensive.
Lackey is also the keeper of the skeleton of "Contraband," the MZB novel that was supposedly scuttled due to complicated involvement with fans.
In March 1993, Bradley wrote, "I'm afraid that Contraband, the novel involved in this unfortunate affair, is dead—at least, for my lifetime. The fan tried to get Mercedes Lackey to read it [the novel] but she refused, so it's possible that Misty could write it after my death. I'm leaving her the notes I made on it before I read the fan's story." A 2002 conversation among three fans at rec.arts.sf.written:
Does anyone know if/when any more MZB's Darkover books are going to be published? I wonder if Deborah J. Ross is going to finish the clingfire trilogy??? Also this tidbit was in the Alt.fan.pern FAQ: "...To expand on this a bit, this prohibition is meant to protect Ms. McCaffrey from legal problems along the lines that have prevented Marion Zimmer Bradley from publishing one of her books. (I'm not completely familiar with the specifics of this case; inquiries to rec.arts.sf.written will probably result in more information than you ever wanted to know. ;-)..." Does anyone know what MZB book thats about? Hungry for more Darkover, -- Connie
- Last I heard (talking to Ann Sharp at MZB's funeral) Adrienne Martine-Barnes still has a contract to do two or three more of them. -- Dorothy J. Heydt
- Hi Dorothy; Thanks so much for your reply. I have read the Darkover novels and am currently collecting/reading the anthologies that are listed within. I recognized your name as I have just enjoyed a couple of your 'Donald and Marguerida' stories. I hope you write a novel about them (as the stories seem related)! I will look forward to Adrienne Martine-Barnes novel(s). Best regards, Connie
- Unlikely to happen. The Darkover universe belongs to the MZB Trust and nothing more is going to be written in it except by contract. I did talk to Ann at the funeral  and indicated that I could think of an interesting novel waiting to be written there, and she said, "Hmmm, someday maybe, we'll see." Which translates as VERY unlikely. -- Dorothy J. Heydt
- Didn't I read somewhere that Mercedes Lackey was supposed to 'inherit' Darkover? -- Simon van Dongen
- Maybe, but it won't happen till after Adrienne has done her two or three. Contracts are contracts. -- Dorothy J. Heydt 
For more on this "lost" novel, and Mercedes Lackey's involvement, see The Marion Zimmer Bradley Fanfiction Controversy.
Mailing Lists and Fan Clubs
- Shady Thoughts: Why I Like Reading/Writing Fan Fiction (1985)
- I'm about to bring the cold, cruel, mundane world into our fun for a moment (1992)
- The Last Straw (1997)
- Mercedes Lackey - "The Dragoncon Report" (1997)
- Copyright, fair use, and complications far beyond the ken of mortal man.... (2002)
- Anne Rice Ain't Got Nothing On You, Mercedes Lackey or How One Author Successfully Killed Her Fandom, Only Half Intentionally (2006)
- Access Denied! Drunkard's Walk FAQ, Archived version, scroll down to "Q: What's the story about Haven? I liked that series!"
- Queen's Own, April 1991
- Worlds of Mercedes Lackey (Ask Misty: Music) Accessed March 15, 2010.
- Wikipedia: Mercedes Lackey (Diane Tregarde) Accessed March 15, 2010.
- fail_fandomanon: FFA DW Post # 388 - Re: Why didn't anyone TELL me?, Archived version (March 10, 2016)
- "Of course these are first stories, and some of them are bound to show growing pains. Some of them feel like fan fiction because they are. It's strange to see two now-famous authors testing their legs in the world of fan writing. [...] Mercedes Lackey joins the Darkover fan club with "A Different Kind of Courage." This blushingly amateur fan story lavishes on the overdone emotions and forced drama, with a heroine ultimately rescued from her own life in what feels like childish wish fulfillment." -- a review of "A Different Kind of Courage," in "Magical Beginnings", a book edited by Steven H. Silver & Martin H. Greenberg, DAW Books, 2003
- from a letter of comment in Shadowstar #11
- Queen's Own Newsletter--December 1991, Archived version
- Ebon Tower: Mercedes Lackey Interview (conducted in January 2004) Accessed March 15, 2010.
- April 26, 2006 comment by Mercedes Lackey on Making Light. Accessed October 1, 2008.
- City of Heroes: News Archive Accessed March 15, 2010.
- from an interview with Lackey, excerpted at "Locus Online": Mercedes Lackey: Making Fun; WebCite November 10, 2010
- Mercedes Lackey, accessed October 4, 2016
- alt.books.m-lackey FAQ; WebCite, 1994, updated in 1998
- Queen's Own, January 1993
- Mercedes Lackey - The Official Website, Archived version
- From a report by Lackey's husband in Lackey's official newsletter (January 1997): "You know, I've been through a lot---garage hit by tornado, studio lost to fire, previous studio lost to flood, financial scares, stalkers, auto crashes, drunk drivers, fights, sabotage, betrayals, fraud, and so on. But is that cause to feel victimized? Nah. These things happen for good reasons. People who live intensely instead of just talking or faking get banged up. When you play life hard you're bound to get knocked around a bit! In my case it's been a good way to have perspective. Kindness isn't a weakness, generosity isn't either, but losing them both can be. "I've been heartened and uplifted by the love and support from you all---especially about the studio fire. Don't think for a moment that it hasn't been effective in getting me by. In fact, these special bookmarks, which Misty and I printed, stamped, and trimmed ourselves for you, were initially going to be printed on some cardstock that survived the fire (a bit scorched in places but serviceable), but alas, it was too thick to run through my printer. The intent was to show you in a tangible way, by using it, that not fire, flood, tornado, or nut-case will stop me---or us---from doing what needs to be done." -- Larry Dixon in Queen's Own], January 1997
- Queen's Own, April 1997 issue
- The Queen's Own
- Mercedes Lackey - The Official Website, Archived version
- Mercedes Lackey - The Official Website, Archived version
- "We are going to conventions now, but we are limiting ourselves to no more than one or two a year at the absolute most." -- Mercedes Lackey - The Official Website, Archived version
- Mutant Science, Bellydancing and Other Stuff You'll Learn at Dragon Con
- Mercedes Lackey, accessed October 4, 2016
- DragonCon, accessed October 4, 2016
- Queen's Own FAQ Accessed March 15, 2010.
- "Queen's Own Fan Fiction Guidelines (accessed 14 Mar 2010)
- Queen's Own Newsletter--April 1992 Accessed March 15, 2010. This appears to be the first reference to MotQ as a chapter of Queen's Own, but the GEnie community had been active for some time prior to the newsletter's cover date.
- The World of Mercedes Lackey
- Worlds of Mercedes Lackey: Ask Misty Accessed March 15, 2010.
- Lackey's reply to this question: "... would you allow other authors to publish *books* in Velgarth? I've noticed that the release form says "manuscript for a short story or novel." Reading the release carefully, I find it does not prevent an author from reaching an agreement with you on the subject. It does cover what would happen if you accepted a short story into an anthology - could a similar arrangement be made for a novel?" ... Writing; archive link, posted in 2002, accessed September 26, 2016
- [fan asked]: Please don't flame me for this! My friend and I just created a Hawkbrother fanclub that has our fanfiction on it (our fanfiction is not published anywhere except online). We honestly didn't know that all fanfiction needed a release form until just recently, and we were told that the release form doesn't have anything to do with web fanfiction. So we wanted to know whether you permitted web fanfiction or not and, if so, what sort of legalities we need to go through. Also, we'd like to know if you permit unofficial webrings (my friend and I also began a mini-ring. It's actually just a "Links" page, but we thought we'd give it a fancier name). If you do not permit any of these online activities, my friend and I will promptly shut down the site. We're very sorry for the inconvenience." [Lackey's answer]: "We don't allow online fanfiction or online games, MUDs, MUCKs or MUSHs;anything else is fine."Mercedes Lackey - The Official Website, Archived version
- The World of Mercedes Lackey
- from The World of Mercedes Lackey, accessed January 3, 2021
- from The World of Mercedes Lackey, accessed January 3, 2021
- April 26, 2006 comment by Mercedes Lackey on Making Light. Accessed October 1, 2008.
- Queen's Own, updated statement, July 22, 2008
- from Queen's Own, December 2009
- Worlds of Mercedes Lackey - News (bottom of page) Accessed March 14, 2010.
- from an interview with Lackey, excerpted at "Locus Online": Mercedes Lackey: Making Fun; WebCite November 10, 2010
- Mercedes Lackey's pep talk
- Mercedes Lackey: The Official Website, accessed May 1, 2011.
- The World of Mercedes Lackey
- from Queen's Own], newsletter, Series 3, Vol. 2, No. 7, July 1, 2001
- Writing; archive link, posted in 2002, accessed September 26, 2016
- Wikipedia: Free Amazons of Darkover Accessed March 15, 2010.
- Darkover Newsletter no. 60
- Marion Zimmer Bradley died September 25, 1999.
- rec.arts.sf.written: Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover (April 8, 2002)