P.N. Elrod

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Name: P.N. Elrod, Pat Elrod
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Fandoms: Blake's 7, Quantum Leap
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P.N. Elrod was a filk writer, frequent LoCer to zines, fanzine editor, and professional fiction writer. Elrod was also the treasurer for the Blake's 7 fan club ORAC.

Elrod's Stated Reasons About Why She is Against Fanfic

P.N. Elrod wrote and published fanworks (mainly Blake's 7, some Quantum Leap) in the late 1980s and early-to-mid 1990s. In 1992, she forbade fans to write fanfic based on her own pro books.

Elrod's Blake's 7 fanzines were still being sold in October 1995, as per an ad in Tarriel Cell, a Blake's 7 zine.

Some excerpted statements regarding the topic, see statements and quotes below for more context.

  • She wrote fanfic a long time ago. [1]
  • She wrote fanfic before she understood copyright. [2]
  • She doesn't want fans to get in trouble with her lawyers, and she will personally alert these lawyers. [3]
  • She jokingly advocates violence against perpetrators. [4]
  • Literary fanworks are different than media fanworks, mostly because media companies are big and can afford it. [5]
  • There were... ah... gaps. [6]

Pro Works and Fan Club

The P.N. Elrod Fan Club, devoted to the writer of vampire fiction, was founded in 1993 by Jackie Black for Elrod’s many fans. Elrod had burst on the scene in 1990 when three novels under the collective title, “The Vampire Files” were published by Ace Books. Bloodlist, Lifeblood, and Bloodcircle related the continuing story of reporter Jack Fleming who had been turned into a vampire and then became a detective. The trilogy was well received and three more volumes appeared in 1991 and 1992. Suddenly Elrod joined that small circle of writers identified with the vampire community. The club’s newsletter grew into a substantial periodical but in the new century, fan activity has moved to the Internet and now continues through Elrod’s website at http://www.vampwriter.com/. [7]

Zines That Elrod Published, Edited, Wrote For, Assisted With

Archives Which Ban Fanworks Based on Elrod's Work

Elrod specifically requested that fanworks based on her pro books be banned at Fanfiction.net. Other archives followed these constraints.

Elrod's 1991 Comments About Fanworks

Regarding Blake's 7 avatars, and the planning of a fourth Issue of Avon: On-Line:

I just wanted to make a public thank you to the B7 fans who were nice enough to take the time to write me about them, especially book #4, Art in the Blood, with its B7 avatars. I'm really very grateful for the attention THE VAMPIRE FILES has received. Thanks to your enthusiasm, I'll be signing a contract for three more titles in the series! The 1st book, Red Death, will detail the early adventures of vampire Jonathan Barrett, who was introduced in my third novel. (Hold onto your hormones, as he's more or less "based" on Pierce Brosnan, woof!) Anyhoo, between this and other projects, I AM planning on having a fourth AVON: ON-LINE zine and anyone interested in more info can SASE the above address. [10]

Fanzines as a place to learn and as a writing workshop:

Fan writing gets your stuff right in front of a highly critical and vocal audience. You immediately know what works and what doesn't and can cut out the dead wood. The writers and editors with a pro attitude have the guts to slice away, the ones grimly clinging to stuff that's rotten you soon learn to avoid.

Fanzines give you a place to learn how to work with an editor, and on a small scale, get an idea of how the rest of the publishing world works. I see fanzines as a jumping off point to pro sales; some don't have this view and are happy to be fanzine writers. If that's what they want, that's okay. The important thing is to like who you are and what you do and respect others for doing the same.

I think the basic difference between a fan and a pro is that a "fan" wants to hear how great their stuff is and a "pro" only wants to make their stuff great. There are a LOT of fans out there with pro attitudes, and a lot of pros that should be in the food services industry.

And one last word, this from my personal experience, being a pro means that your writing is your JOB as well as a source of pleasure. If my zines have an erratic publishing schedule, or I miss going to the conventions, it's because I have to meet other responsibilities. I dearly love doing a fanzine, but when it comes down to the brass tacks of having to live in the real world, fannish activities have to come second to my work. [11]

Elrod's 1992 Comments About Fanworks

In June 1992, Elrod wrote about her attempt to write one of her own characters in "The Vampire Fans" in a crossover with Quantum Leap, and how writing for zines made her a better writer:

Speaking of Jack Fleming and QUANTUM LEAP, I was asked to trib to a zine called GOOD GUYS WEAR FANGS. I'd been thinking of doing a QL-Jack Fleming crossover, but the idea of Sam leaping into Jack just wouldn't spark. Then, I wondered what would happen if he leaped into Jack's human partner, Escott. 24 hours and 7000 words later (my usual speed is 1000 words a day), I had the start of a promising story. It ended being a novella, and will appear in issue one.

[snipped]

With fanfic, you can jump into things without the bother of setting everything up for the reader. I also find it to be more of a challenge to write because all the other fans have their version of a media character and maybe a writer doesn't live up to that view. Because of that, fanfic can be more gratifying than the pro stuff when someone tells me I got it right!

Some pros have wondered why I spend any time on the zines, but anything to do with writing teaches me. If I hadn't put so much work into the zines, my second novel would have been a bomb. I had grown as a writer because of the zine work. This QL zine I mentioned above is a good example as it gave me a chance to practice a third person point of view. Most of my work is done in first person, and I wanted, and enjoyed the stretch. [12]
From a letter to The Neutral Arbiter printed in September 1992:

If you were referring to me as one of the fan writers who graduated to pro work via work in zines, then I must technically bow out. I'd written only one zine story back in the mid-1970s. I wrote no more until getting hooked on B7 and that was long after signing my contract with Ace. How the zines DID help me was that I lavished so much time and sweat on them (labor of love syndrome) that tI was unknowingly growing as a writer. When I got my 2nd novel back from being copy-edited, I had to totally rewrite it because of that growth.

Other zine grads I know are Lois and her best friend Lillian Stewart Carl. Lois' Shards of Honor started out as a Star Trek story.

I'm also delighted to announce that Lillian's story "Beauty" will begin Avon: On-Line #4 making it a (nearly) all pro zine. She nailed the characters down so hard and so accurately I couldn't resist it. I also have to mention that she has an Avon avatar in one or both or her master novels, "Ashes to Ashes" and/or "Dust to Dust."

[snipped]

I view zine writing (my opinion, people -- just me!) as a place to practice writing skills before moving over to pro writing. I tend to assume that everyone has that attitude and forget that many, many people are quite happy with zines. Whatever melts your butter is OK by me!

I have to take exception to your saying that "The (primarily male) viewpoint that writing for fun instead of money is a waste of time." My spouse (who is extremely male) has entirely supported my zine writing, indulges in it himself, and is now helping edit our club zine, which has a goodly number of male contributors. I think it more fair to leave gender out of things as there are lot of WOMEN out there who think it's a waste, too. Fortunately, we zine lovers know better and I DO agree with your conclusion that you can't convince these non-creative cheapskates to see past their bank accounts. The best thing we enlightened people and is not waste our VALUABLE time on THEM! [13]

1992: Elrod's Open Letters

Despite her fanac, Elrod was one of several pro authors who either brought the hammer down on or clarified their views on fanworks based on her books around the end of 1992. This was due to The Marion Zimmer Bradley Fanfiction Controversy. Some other authors who joined Elrod in 1992: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Anne McCaffrey, and Mercedes Lackey.

From the September 1992 Open Letter to FYI from Author P.N. Elrod:
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 FILES 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.

The January 1993 (written, however, in 1992) Open Letter to The Neutral Arbiter from Author P.N. Elrod:

I've covered this elsewhere (including letters to 6 adzines) but thought I should mention it again. It's come to my attention that there may be a rumor going around fandom that I will "turn in" anyone taking a literary character and writing a zine story with them. For example: a KTD story or Elric of Melnibone turning up in a Trekzine. (The mind boggles).

For the record, it ain't my job to blow whistles. I've always registered my protest against this simply by not buying the zine and don't plan to change. I will, however, defend my own copyrighted work and will cheerfully rip the lungs out of anyone using any of MY characters in a fan story.

Whatever is left gets tossed to the tender mercies of the Berkley Publishing Groups lawyers. This sounds harsh, considering that such fan stories are usually written out of admiration for an author's work. For instance, I dearly love Lois Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan, but would never presume to drop him into any of my fanfic. Only Lois can write the way he should be written; the same goes for anyone else's original work.

Granted, it is crazy, but there IS a difference between a literary character and a media one. Mostly it's because media giants know that zines are too small to bother going after, but underpaid writers (like me) can't afford to be that generous. Some may welcome fan participation in their universe, like Bradley and Wendy Pini, but I'm not one of 'em.

Elrod's 1993 Comments about Fanworks

Guess what? No big surprise here. AVON: ON-LINE #4 is going to be delayed yet some more, this time because of the TSR job [14]. BUT I'm planning to get a computer with the advance, so the good news is the zine will look better than before.... I agree with you that in writing a zine story we DO often forget to mention details of what familiar things look like, so it's great when a writer makes an extra effort to visualize stuff for the reader. Lillian Stewart Carl did the [this] VERY well in her story, BEAUTY, and I think anyone reading it will agree with me [15]. It was like seeing the characters for the first time all over again.

Doubtless I shall still continue to use my "casting" device, though lately it's been in the background as new characters bubble out of my mind. When I'm working fast, I don't have time to match an actor to the part and that's when good ol' reliable sub-conscious kicks in. I trust it and it delivers every time.

I am first the recommend that fanfic writers should read something other than fanfic if they are to develop their talent. This is that "literary incest" thing Ardath Mayhear talks about, though your comparison of "literary cannibalism" is also vividly true. This happens in the pro world often enough, though. How many of you have noticed the number of "evil children" books out there, or "women in jeopardy" titles, or any other glut themes in any given genre? How many of you see themes constantly repeated in the zines? Fanfic reflects pro publishing far more closely than the pros care to admit! This doesn't mean that there aren't good pro books out there; just like zines, you tend to find the best stuff, if you look hard enough.

[snipped]

If you've sold anything it means you're a pro, so one day when you get that magic phone call from an editor on your novel and she asks, "have you been published before (paid for it, that is) you can say YES with a clear conscience. Every piece that sells is one more credit to add to your writing resume.

[snipped]

I do have to disagree that is less work writing in someone else's universe in that you do have to follow the rules laid down in that universe. (Though fan writers are notorious for ignoring rules when they choose!) I'm a Canonical-type writer and see it as much more of a challenge doing fanfic because of that principal.

Consequently, my fan stories have me tearing my hair far more than anything else. For my own fiction, the rules are a LOT more plastic and can be added to or discard as needed. (Which means I still tear my hair, but for a different reason.) [16]

Elrod's 2006 Comments about Fanworks

Elrod's post Fan fic - sí! Public Domain - sí-sí-sí!!!, see that page for some comments to it.

*sigh*

Once more I have stumbled across someone accusing me of being some sort of a literary hypocrite.

I've gone into detail on this on my website, but there's a few out there who've missed it.

Once and for all, I AM NOT ANTI-FAN FICTION!!!

I'll rinse and repeat if needed, but I'm optimistic that it will go forth and do no harm.

The only fan fiction I have a problem with is the unauthorized use of MY characters, and that's all. Most people get that and respect it, and I want to throw a great big ice cream party for them all, I love you, I love you, muah-muah-muah!...

Now--lemme clarify the whole QUINCEY MORRIS THING--which is apparently why some people think I'm a hypocrite: I wrote a Dracula "fan fiction" and got it published.

The copyright on Dracula has expired. I know it--the publishers know it. Now you do, too!

Dracula and anything/anyone else in Stoker's book is in something called The Public Domain. This is a cool thing. Learn about it. Enjoy.

When a work is in the public domain it means anyone can write a story using that universe and it is TOTALLY OKAY!

Because it is in public domain any character from the original Dracula is open for use! I do not own the copyright to Stoker's Quincey any more than I do for Shakespeare's Hamlet.

A lot of other writers like Saberhagen, Kiraly, Joss Whedon, Coppola along with the contributors to my Dracula's London collection, the Dracula: Prince of Darkness collection, comic books, reprint collections and five zillion movie makers have done the same thing.

We all get that public domain thing and love it. You are most welcome to join the club!!

Public domain is the bestest, most wonderfulest thing for fan fiction writers. They can play with public domain things ALL they want and it's totally cool!

The only characters you can't use are the ones original to my particular Quincey Morris book, like Lady Bertrice or Lord Burce, because they're inventions I grafted into the Stoker story.

Anyone that Stoker made up is totally free and clear though. Take it and run, graft in your own characters, have fun like I did!

And finally--RE the Kolchak: The Nightstalker stories I've done: I was contacted by the editor who has the copyright holder's (Jeff Rice) permission. I got paid to write a story, and Mr. Rice gets paid for the use of his character. It's totally allowed and I LOVE him for letting others play in his backyard.

The Stepping Through the Stargate book and other collections I've tribbed to are called "critical essays." They are not fan fiction. A critical essay is --oh, hell, look it up. I can assure you that it is covered by something called "fair use." Fair use covers book reviews, essays, and using brief quotes from a work. That, too, is perfectly legal.

Those who are swift to call people names, please--do your research first before you lay down a load of judgment on someone. Google and Wikipedia are your very good and helpful friends. They prevent blog-in-mouth syndrome.

Hopefully this covers it. I'd say I ain't anti-fanfic again, but it's either sunk in or not and I'd really rather be doing something else...like learning to juggle.

But I'm not finished organizing that danged hall closet yet. :grumble-grumble-snort: [17]

From Elrod's website (likely 2006):

The Legalities:

Here's the dish--I'm not being selfish or mean...it is to protect YOU!

(I have a special blog on it here)

In nearly ALL book contracts is a clause that states if I find anyone violating my copyright I am legally bound to take action.

If I don't, then my publishers would SUE me.

Publishers are really hard-assed about it. They do NOT care if you're making no money from it and only do it for love. These are LAWYERS fer cryin' out loud!

This is why I'm humbly asking fan writers to please include me out because it keeps YOU safe.

I'm honored you like my work so much, but I DON'T want anyone to get into trouble over it!

THAT SAID--I'm also stating that I have nothing against fanfic! A few people sitting in the back of some panel rooms misheard me on this point. Put away the voodoo dolls and pins, you're scaring the kids!

Other writers, TV shows, etc. don't mind fanfic on their works, and that's their business. I'm not going to condemn fic writers for enjoying themselves. Some of my writer buds (print published pros, yet!) write fic. My 'tude is live & let live, and if a writer objects, just respect their view if they don't want to play. It's just being polite.

[snipped]

Wait a sec--YOU wrote fanfic!

Indeed I did, a good 25+ years ago when I didn't know any better. No one told me what a risk I was taking. No excuses, it was my bad. I even thought the "I mean no copyright infringement" statement would keep me safe. Not.

But I learned about copyright, and I don't write fic any more. I was very, very lucky. I didn't get sued, and I am extremely grateful for that.

If I'd been prosecuted for it there would have been NO Vampire Files or any of the other books, because the publishers and agents would have heard about it and rejected my work as a legal liability.

That's why I let new writers know what they're risking and encourage them to make up their own universes to write about.

This lady decided to rewrite Star Wars. It is a nasty cautionary tale. No biggie, lots of fans have done it. But SHE decided to SELL her book via her own publishing house and put it up on Amazon. Well, of course word got out and the all-seeing eyes of LucasFilm's lawyers turned her way.

Never mind the fact that everyone in the SW fanfic community is ready to nail her hide to the wall for terminal stupidity, she has lost ALL chance of ever becoming a professional writer. It doesn't matter that she has her own publishing "house," these days anyone with the right software can set one up and the big guns know it. Publishing is a small world, and the people that matter in it just love hanging at the bar and sharing stories. Word gets out.

That little disclaimer in the front of most zines "we intend no copyright infringement" cuts no ice with lawyers; it is their job to make your life a misery.

I usually hear that as an automatic defense from fanzine writers/publishers and some actually believe it will protect them from prosecution. But the hard truth is that the owners of any given copyright have a right to defend it.

It doesn't matter that you're doing it for love, not money.

Once you've been accused of plagiarism and/or copyright infringement NO legitimate publishing house or agent will want to see anything you write.

A pen name won't save you, nor will appeals about First Amendment Rights. This is not about freedom of speech, it's about people using something that doesn't belong to them. There are whole sections on "intellectual properties" protected by copyright.

A writer friend of mine once got a letter from two fanfic writers asking to use her famous series character in a fan fiction they wanted to publish. Some writers don't mind this sort of thing, but she is not one of them. She said no, giving her answer in writing. She kept copies of all their mails.

Not getting the answer they wanted, the fans went ahead and published anyway and hoped she wouldn't notice.

(D'oh!)

My friend--who is not rich--was forced to sue. She won her suit, but was close to flat broke after the lawyers were done. Had she held off, her publishers would have bankrupted her by suing her. Like me, she has that clause in all her contracts.

The fans had to gather and destroy all copies of their zine, so they got off light. In the meantime, my friend's life was badly disrupted, she fell behind in her work, and it didn't do her health any good having to deal with something so easily prevented had those fans simply shown common courtesy and respected her wishes.

Most fanfic writers are really fantastic, wonderful people who ARE totally polite and respecting of another's property. They accept the other person's wishes and move on. What's on this page has to do with that tiny fringe element found in any sub-culture. We've all met them!

[snipped]

So be safe. Make up your own universe and play in it.

It's a LOT more fun than my or anyone else's used backyard. Write the kind of stories YOU want to read. That's how my career got started! [18]

Elrod's 2008 Comments about Fanworks

[Elrod]:
As for fanfic, I don't write it--not since I learned about the copyright thing [19] --and when I did write it the most cool computer available was the TRS-80 from Radio Shack. [20]

Elrod's 2010 Comments about Fanworks

[kajicarter]: I just remember going into the newsstand/bookstore and thinking "Hey, the second book in the Vampire FIles series is probably out! Now what was the author's name again?" and realizing that in my bag I had a check that I had just written out to you for fanfic! :D (Or am I not supposed to mention the fanfic now that you're a big name author?)

[Elrod]: That was back in the bad old stone-age days before I knew what copyright was all about! [21]

I know how important it is now.

Thankfully the copyright holders I offended against were in a forgiving mood.

Me--I'm not so nice! ;)

Ah, well, The Shadow knew what e-vul lurked in the hearts of men because he indulged in it himself once upon a time! [22]

Fan Comments Regarding Elrod's Original Fiction

Fan Comments Regarding Elrod's Fanfic

Fan Comments Regarding Elrod's Views on Fanworks

1997

[Chuck Rothman]: If you're interested in writing as a career, you have to move on from fanfic. Most importantly, you have to learn to create your own characters, not use already existing ones. Still, you go get some practice at plotting and other elements.

If you're just doing it for fun, go ahead. If you want to be published in other venues, you have to leave it behind at some point and write your own stories.

[Cathy Krusberg]: Actually, you don't *have* to leave it behind. Ace had published several novels by P.N. Elrod in her Vampire Files series when Elrod published a Quantum Leap/Vampire Files crossover fanfic in _Good Guys Wear Fangs_ #1.

Yes, pros can write fanfic!!

Cathy Krusberg (I read too much vampire stuff) [23]

2006

Excerpts from a September 2006 discussion at Fanthropology:

[mireille719]: Re: P.N. Elrod - she also used to write actual fanfic. As in, published in zines. This is why I'll never buy another of her books. (It's one thing to be anti-fanfic, it's quite another to be a hypocrite...)

[losyark]: Re-reading her post and her journal, I've come to the conclusion that it's less that she condones fanwork, and more that she's worried that something major will happen between her fans and her publisher and so is trying to head that off by disallowing fanfiction.

It still seems rather... oxymoronic. If she was just CLEAR with her reasons, I'm sure we'd all understand and accept a lot better.

It does still seem rather two-faced, publishing a 'zine and yet disallowing fanwork on her own stuff. But then, I'm not her, and I can't say what she can and cannot do.

Even if she can't ever allow fanfiction, the least she could do is explain why.

Oh, well, as she so candidly pointed out... wait a hundred years, and her stuff will be free game.

[mireille719]: I don't actually want to write fic based on her work anyway (I liked it fine, but not *that* much), so it's not like I *care*, specifically, but sure, that's an entirely possible reason.

And that attitude wouldn't put me off someone's books, except when I have zines with their fanfic in them, and then they have that attitude (not "I can't know about this. At all." but "Don't do it. At all."). Then it does make me determined that they'll never see another nickel from me.

[elspethdixon]: How is it that author P.N Elrod is completely fine with editing books of academic investigations into fandoms, and writing stories based on/set in other people's fandoms - "Quincey Morris, Vampire" sticks out in my mind - yet is so totally opposed to fanfiction created of her own work that she actively seek-and-destroys anything on the internet even remotely resembling a discussion or interpretation of her work and characters?

That's a question that has puzzled me for some time, ever since I found a copy of Quincy Morris, Vampire in a used bookstore. I try not to let her attitude re: fanfic put me off reading her books, though, since I really enjoy the Vampire Files novels. I still enjoy her as an author, but my respect for her as a person took a serious hit when I learned how anti-fanfic she was, considering her own past as a writer.

I only hope that if do I ever get original fic finished and published, I won't become a hypocritical and holier-than-thou and turn my back on my roots, as some former-fan-writers-gone-pro have done.

[p.n. elrod]: How is it that author P.N Elrod is completely fine with editing books of academic investigations into fandoms

---Such books are perfectly okay to do since they ARE academic non-fiction essay collections and do not infringe on the copyright holder's ownership. Critical essays constitute "fair use."

and writing stories based on/set in other people's fandoms - "Quincey Morris, Vampire" sticks out in my mind

---The copyright on Dracula, published by Bram Stoker in 1896 has long expired. If it was still "active" then I'd not have written the book. Plenty of other writers like Fred Saberhagen used Stoker's characters long before I ever gave it a shot.

yet is so totally opposed to fanfiction created of her own work that she actively seek-and-destroys anything on the internet even remotely resembling a discussion or interpretation of her work and characters? Hypocritical, much?

---Hardly that since I own the characters and am allowed a choice on how they are used. Most people totally get that. If and when I do stumble onto something--and I mean stumble, because I don't have time to surf much--I let the person know about that pesky Copyright Thing. It's for their protection rather than me being snarky. As explained in *detail* on my website I don't want the publisher's lawyers coming after the poor fan!

Critical discussion of my books, characters, hair style or luncheon choices are fair game and have at it, gang. Fan fiction, online RPG, blogs of my characters done without my permission are not. I don't intend to hurt anyone with this, it's just how the laws work, and those who cherish having a career as a writer need to know this kind of stuff. If some person hadn't tipped me off back in the day there would have been no Vampire Files [24] or even a P.N. Elrod, such as she is!

And finally--I'm NOT against fanfic, just include me out. ;>)

[mireille719]: And yet, in that oh-so-vague comment, she doesn't acknowledge that at the same time she was publishing the Vampire Files books (as well as I, Strahd), she was also publishing a fanzine (I bought the zine and I, Strahd at the same time. From her.). (She makes it sound, I'd say, like any fannish activity she has completely stopped before she began her pro career.) [25]

2012

[Re: P.N. Elrod's Vampire Files]:

I hate it when fans go pro and then turn their backs on/loudly denounce/repudiate fandom. It's so hypocritical.

I guess I'm just not ambitious enough to be a pro writer, but if a publisher made doing that a requirement for being published, I'd smile, thank him for his time, and turn right around and walk back out of his office. I value the ten years of social connections I have in fandom more than I'd value being professionally published.

(granted, for Fifty Shades of Grey amounts of "holy shit, you're rich now!" money, I'd probably gladly sell my soul and not miss fandom a bit as I took my millions to the bank because for that kind of money, I could buy myself a new social life, but since most authors are never, ever going to make a fraction of those sales, that would never, ever happen and saying "thanks, but no thanks" would be the better choice) [26]

2014

[Re: fanfic to published author]: I always thought it was funny that P. N. Elrod got her start writing fanfic, and even admitted as much in her official author bio, but had a policy of "Keep your dirty hands off my precious babies, and you should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking of paying with characters that aren't yours, you creatively bankrupt slime!" when it came to people writing fic based on her own stuff. It will forever put me in mind of all those Mary Sue writers who always include the giant disclaimer at the top of every chapter, saying how they don't own anything, and don't mean any harm, and aren't making a profit, and are just having fun, and how the creators should really be thankful and think of this as free advertising, only to immediately follow all that with a statement saying that nobody should even think of using their OCs without permission or else. My response to both of them is the same as well. I point, laugh, and put them on my mental list of authors whose works aren't worth my time or money. [27]

2017

[Re: Legal Issues in Fanfiction]:

[anon]: About the "to their detriment" thing. There was a series I loved called The Vampire Files by P.N. Elrod, about a vampire detective in 1930s Chicago, solving mob-related cases with his nightclub singer girlfriend and English PI best friend. It was exactly as unoriginal as it sounds, but goddamn it was fun. I always thought it was a shame there was no fandom for it, but she had/has a hard 'no fanworks' stance and I think that contributed heavily to it's obscurity.

The series just wasn't that deep. It couldn't sustain a fandom of only analysis/discussion, like some series theoretically can. I mean, if you took all fan created material out of the Discworld or ACD Sherlock Holmes fandoms and left only people talking about what that reference meant, or what that bit of dialog implied, there would still be reams of stuff. Not so for most works.

[anon]: NA

Someone else who likes the Vampire Files! High five, nonny! It is a shame about her stance, there are some interesting fic scenarios to play with. (And even though I like Jack/Bobbi, I have a soft spot for Jack/Charles too.)

[anon]: AYART

I KNOW, RIGHT! And where is my Charles/Shoe fic! They were in a theater troupe together! Shoe nursed/kicked Charles back into being a functional person after The Incident In A Canadian Shack! There was so much room for fun.

Know what really annoys me though? She wrote a sequel to Dracula featuring Vampire!Quincey Morris. I get that Dracula is out of copyright, but... eh. I judge.

[anon]: AYRT

I never read Quincey Morris, but I remember that in Art in the Blood, she based some of the characters on the Blake's 7 actors. Which seems kind of fanficcy to me.

There's just so much room overall for delicious h/c, when all the characters keep getting beaten up and rescued and having to face their demons.

[anon]: NA

Honestly, if you ask me, a big part of why 90s SFF/horror writers are so down on fanfic is that they all rip off the same few TV series and books. If there's something inherently special and different about being a novelist, they can do that and still feel legit. If fanfic is around, they have to admit to just being another fan remixing their faves.

(Yes, SFF authors, we know you like Illya Kuryakin and Peter Wimsey. They don't need to appear as unnamed background characters hamming it up in your book. B7 and Doctor Who cast are also unnecessary. Sheesh.)

[anon]: I loved that series! It really is a shame that there wasn't a fandom, because I would have eaten it up, especially at the time I was really into it. [28]

[Re: Books! P.N. Elrod]:

[anon]: Anyone else read her Vampire Files books? They were fun, and never were as popular as I thought they should be. 1930s Chicago vampire nightclub owner solves mysteries with his English detective best friend might not be original but they were pretty good for what they were. The last one came out in 2009 so I suspect the series is dead with no real finale, which is annoying. I don't know if she's still against fanfic but I haven't been able to find any.

[anon]: Her hypocrisy about fanfic is why I bought all her books used, though. :P The arrogance of saying people had better not write fic about YOUR characters after you've edited fanzines and published fic in them is pretty staggering.

[anon]: I really think her attitude toward fanworks hurt her career. I wouldn't normally think so, but her books were so trope-y, with lots of good openings for backstory fic, that they couldn't have been more perfectly made for fandom if she tried. The adventures of Shoe and Charles in the Canadian traveling Shakespeare company alone could support a few hundred fics. Jack and Maureen. Futurefic of how all the characters cope with WW2, only a few years away and how Jack will cope with not aging along with his many siblings. And Jack and Escott are super slashable, add Bobbi in for a OT3. I've never been able to find a single fic.

Know what's funny about her stance on fanworks? I heard of her through I friend of mine having a Ravenloft novel. I guess that doesn't count as fic.

[anon]: Know what's funny about her stance on fanworks? I heard of her through I friend of mine having a Ravenloft novel. I guess that doesn't count as fic.

Ain't that always the case? Reminds me of that guy who was always ranting about how fic was theft and the worst thing a person could do and you were a terrible person if you wrote fic. Guess what he wrote for a living? Diagnosis Murder and Monk tie-in novels.

[anon]: So many fic possibilities though. I'm surprised no one has written any, considering people often ignore author statements about fanfic anyway.

[anon]: The last book was the one with Gabriel/Whitey remembering his life? Yeah, that one was a little grimdark for me. There are some short stories out in anthologies, but I think she got tired of the series. Combine that with the books not seeming to make a ton of money (the last one was self published, wasn't it?), I doubt we'll ever see a proper resolution.

I suspect there must be some fic circulated privately, but her ban seems to have very effective. I mean, it's not particularly distinguished 1990s vampire mysteries, so it's not totally shocking there isn't anything on AO3, but even in the 90s I couldn't find anything.

[anon]: I am also irritated about the anti-fanfic stance, because there were definitely plenty of good hooks for fic. If I pick up some copies of my own, maybe we could start making it a Yuletide fandom... [29]

References

  1. "... and when I did write it the most cool computer available was the TRS-80 from Radio Shack." -- Whack a Mole- Oh, for a real big stick and a solid target. (2008)
  2. "As for fanfic, I don't write it--not since I learned about the copyright thing." -- Whack a Mole- Oh, for a real big stick and a solid target. (2008)
  3. "I will, however, defend my own copyrighted work and will cheerfully rip the lungs out of anyone using any of MY characters in a fan story. Whatever is left gets tossed to the tender mercies of the Berkley Publishing Groups lawyers." -- from Open Letter to The Neutral Arbiter from Author P.N. Elrod (1993)
  4. "I PROMISE that I WILL positively rip the lungs out of anyone using MY VAMPIRE FILES 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." -- Open Letter to FYI from Author P.N. Elrod (1992)
  5. "Granted, it is crazy, but there IS a difference between a literary character and a media one. Mostly it's because media giants know that zines are too small to bother going after, but underpaid writers (like me) can't afford to be that generous." -- from Open Letter to The Neutral Arbiter from Author P.N. Elrod (1993)
  6. "I'd written only one zine story back in the mid-1970s. I wrote no more until getting hooked on B7 and that was long after signing my contract with Ace." -- comment in The Neutral Arbiter #6 (September 1992)
  7. Vampire Fandom: United States; WebCite (2011?)
  8. "... my next thanks are due to Pat Nussman and Pat Elrod who helped me trace Lillian Sheperd to obtain her permission to produce a new edition." -- from the editorial in the 1996/98 edition of The Machiavelli Factor
  9. "I'd written only one zine story back in the mid-1970s. I wrote no more until getting hooked on B7 and that was long after signing my contract with Ace." -- Elrod's comment in The Neutral Arbiter #6 (September 1992)
  10. comments by Elrod in The Neutral Arbiter #1 (May 1991)
  11. see full comments at HORK! You want ME to explain the difference between pro and fan writing??, published in The Neutral Arbiter #3 (December 1991)
  12. from The Neutral Arbiter #5 (June 1992)
  13. from The Neutral Arbiter #6 (September 1992)
  14. I'm not doing the novel I thought I would. My agent got a work-for-hire job for me from TSR. They have a gaming world called Ravenloft and want an autobiography of their resident vampire, Count Strahd; I was the 1st name on their List of People to Ask. It should be interesting work to find out what made a good guy like Strahd go bad. It's a commissioned novel, but I view it as being the same as any commissioned art; it may be someone else's idea, but I shan't stint on the execution. Besides, every book is a learning experience!" -- comments in The Neutral Arbiter #7 (January 1993)
  15. This zine was never published, which means the story "Beauty," which was supposed to be in it, was never seen by fans.
  16. from The Neutral Arbiter #7 (January 1993, though likely written in late 1992)
  17. Fan fic - sí! Public Domain - sí-sí-sí!!!; Archive, September 17, 2006
  18. ON WRITING P.N. Elrod, Archived version
  19. In 1993, she was still actively planning a fourth edition of Avon: On-Line and talked about that issue of the zine looking better than the other three as she planned to buy a new computer with the advance she was getting to write a tie-in novel for TSR. See The Neutral Arbiter #7 or Avon: On-Line for details. Avon: On-Line and Blake's Barf Bag were still being advertised as recently as October 1995, as per an ad in Tarriel Cell.
  20. Whack a Mole- Oh, for a real big stick and a solid target. (November 20, 2008)
  21. Note: The first two "Vampire Files" were published in 1990 (March and June). Elrod planned to write more as per submission requests for the fourth issue of Avon: On-Line nearly two and half years after these first two pro novels were published, and she was plugging and selling Blake's 7 media zines nearly five years later (October 1994, as per ads in Tarriel Cell)
  22. The VampirePhiles - P.N. Elrod: Twenty Years of The Vampire Files-- YIKES!, Archived version (October 13, 2010)
  23. Opinions on fanfic genre April 28, 1997
  24. Ironically, Elrod stated many, many times in issues of The Neutral Arbiter that writing fanfic made her a better pro writer. One June 1992 example: "Some pros have wondered why I spend any time on the zines, but anything to do with writing teaches me. If I hadn't put so much work into the zines, my second novel would have been a bomb. I had grown as a writer because of the zine work."
  25. Aca!Fan resources (September 17, 2006)
  26. P.N. Elrod's Vampire Files, comment at fail-fandomanon (July 31, 2012)
  27. Re: fanfic to published author; WebCite (April 17, 2014)
  28. Re: Legal Issues in Fanfiction; WebCite at fail-fandomanon (May 2017)
  29. discussion at Re: Books! P.N. Elrod; WebCite (August 8, 2017) at fail-fandomanon