Open Letter to FYI from Author P.N. Elrod

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Open Letter
Title: Open Letter to FYI from Author P.N. Elrod
From: P.N. Elrod
Addressed To: would-be fanfic writers
Date(s): September 1992
Medium: print
Topic: fanfic writing
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This open letter by P.N. Elrod was published in FYI Adzine in September 1992.


Note: see P.N. Elrod for this author's own fanworks.

The Letter

The rumor (as I understand it) is that if I come across a fan story in some zine where a person has borrowed characters or a setting from a pro novel, that I would "turn in" the writer and zine editor.

To explain, I was referring to my OWN professionally published works, not others.
 The person who talked to my friend did a story using another writer's characters in
a fandom that I'm interested in and was afraid I'd "come after" her. I have always
 registered my protest against this by simply not buying the zines carrying such stories. 
My personal opinion about this is that I think she and the editors acted unwisely and
 placed themselves in a legally vulnerable position, rather like perching naked on a
 picket fence. They're not only quite noticeable, but a push in the wrong direction
 and they get the shaft!

Just for the record, the public now has my word that I have never given anyone a such a push, nor do I plan to. Whistle-blowing is one of those unpleasant jobs I shudderingly leave for others to do. (I have been known to call the Humane Society when I see an abused animal, but that's another story.)

BUT -- I PROMISE that I WILL positively rip the lungs out of anyone using MY VAMPIRE FILK characters in a fan story. The criminals (and copyright infringement is a criminal offense) will wish that Jaws/the Alien/the Predator had got to then first rather than me! If there's anything left after I'd done, the remains/will be locked in an elevator and forced to listen to Muzak while being consumed by starved, rabid, flesh-eating mega-scorpions. (Maybe not, but you get the idea that I would NOT be amused.)

Realistically though, Berkley Publishing has an army of lawyers with nothing better to do than indulge in pricy lawsuits against plagiarists and copyright pirates and I would make use of their skills. I fully realize that fan stories are written for fun and out of admiration for a character or the excitement of a dramatic situation. On the other hand, if someone came up and decided to "borrow" your car out of a sense of fun or admiration or excitement you'd probably be more than annoyed at them and call the cops. The same principal applies.

Again, realistically, I think the chances are extremely remote that this will happen, but at least everyone now knows how I feel in regard to my own works. There are plenty of other universes to play in and characters to explore, please just leave me mine.

In the meantime, if anyone has a problem with this or would just like to comment, then you're cordially invited to write to the above address. If I've rubbed anyone the wrong way I'd rather hear from you directly and try to sort things out if anything needs to be sorted. I love fandom and writing and am always glad to meet new friends and fellow writers.