Pamela Dean

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Name: Pamela Dean
Also Known As:
Occupation: author
Medium: print novels
Works: The Secret Country trilogy, Tam Lin, etc.
Official Website(s): Pamela Dean's Site
Fan Website(s): Pamela Dean at Wikipedia
On Fanlore: Related pages

Pamela Dean is an American fantasy author. Her works include the ''The Secret Country'' trilogy (comprising The Secret Country, The Hidden Land, and The Whim of the Dragon); Tam Lin, a novel based on the Scottish ballad of the same name; and stories in the Liavek shared-world anthologies edited by Will Shetterly and Emma Bull.

As a Fan

In a 2001 interview, Dean discussed writing fanfiction as a teenager:[1]

Sometime in my early teens I started writing fan fiction. The purpose there, of course, was to provide more of what I liked best about my favorite television shows. My best friend wrote stories too, and we exchanged ours and egged each other on; so for the first time I had a specific audience, though we also argued bitterly about plot lines and characterization.

Interviewer: Can I ask which shows you wrote about? Lois Bujold writes in a charming essay about the Star Trek stories she and her best friend passed back and forth. Was it Star Trek for you too, or something else?

Oh, yes, that was a fine essay. She and Lillian were a lot more energetic than I was. I did write a lot of Star Trek stuff, but not while the show was still on; it took me a while to get my mind around it and to really miss it. I wrote Man From U.N.C.L.E. stories and also, I am sorry to have to admit, a huge number of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea stories. I can still watch U.N.C.L.E. with pleasure, but Voyage makes me cringe now. What I liked about it then was not the monsters, but the enclosed society, the interactions of people crammed together in a small space; and also to some extent the technology, which was at least allegedly futuristic.

Fanfiction Policy

In response to a query by Fan Works Inc. on June 24, 2001, Dean stated that she did not have a policy at that time regarding fanfiction based on her works, but would consult her agent for advice. She wrote:

I e-mailed Pamela Dean ta series of questions regarding her policy about fan fiction regarding fan fiction derived from her material. The following is a quote posted with permission containing Paemla Dean's reply "re: A Few Questions Regarding Your Writing...:o)" dated June 24, 2001:

> 1. Do you have a set policy regarding fan fiction derived from your stories?

No, I haven't. I never expected to need one.

> 2. If you have such a policy, what is it and why did you implement it?

If I end up with one, it will be because you emailed me and I looked at your website.

> 3. If you have such a policy, is this a policy that you created yourself or was it created at an agent or lawyer's behest? (Which is the case with Katherine Kurtz, and Mercedes Lackey...)

I would definitely have to talk to my agent. The entire subject is complex and bewildering. I only deal with complex and bewildering in my books. Well, if given the choice, anyway.

> 4. If you allow fan fiction derived from your work, why? (Terry Pratchett was quoted some where as saying that it creates good will among fans. J.K. Rowlings said somewhere she found it flattering.)

I don't allow it or not allow it; the question has not come up before.

Oh, but it is tremendously flattering, there's no doubt about that. I know that the impulse to make fan fiction demonstrates that the original author did a very good job, because I have been on the other side. I've written and read Star Trek fan fiction and even tried to sell a novel to two different editors at Paramount, but they didn't like it. I would hate in any way to quash the impulse, but the law seems capable of landing me in a very nasty situation if I am not very careful. I was horrified to hear that Marion Zimmer Bradley had had to abandon a novel because of complications with fan fiction. I don't want to end up in a situation like that.

> 5. What are you general feelings on fan fiction? Do these feelings differ when it is fan fiction based say on books versus television?

As you can see, my feelings are very mixed. I suspect that fan fiction is a natural human activity that does little intrinsic harm; but it takes place in a context, here and now, where it can cause harm.

I do have different feelings about fan fiction based on television, and part of that probably stems from the fact that with television it's not my ox being gored. However, part may also stem from a feeling (not hitherto much examined and therefore possibly silly) that television shows are already a collaborative effort, whereas prose fiction is more likely to be the effort of one or at most two people, so that the potential for distortion is greater than with television. There's also the fact that prose is my favorite medium, so that to a certain extent it seems natural to make TV into prose, translating it into something I like better; but that is not germane to any of the real issues, it just helps explain my gut reaction.

I suppose I will have to write to my agent and ask her what she thinks we should do with regard to a fan-fiction policy; I guess you can say it is under construction. [2]

Other Involvement with Fandom

Her Fan Fiction

Dean's comments in 2004:

You're absolutely right that on the writing side, there isn't any difference between writing a modern version of Tam Lin and writing "Star Trek" fan fiction. I've done both. (Writing a Trek novel that you can get published by Pocket is a completely different thing; I tried to do that and I never could get it right. But those constraints are exterior to the basic process.)


I myself poached in that same reactive way on the very abundant land of Diana Wynne Jones's Fire and Hemlock, and also, this being the huge delight of writing a book, on the completely different geography of Gaudy Night. [3]


Dean was a Guest of Honor at Minicon 19 in 1983.

Cassandra Claire Plagiarism Controversy

Cassandra Claire lifted passages with attribution from The ''The Secret Country'' trilogy by Dean.

See The Cassandra Claire Plagiarism Debacle, specifically Pamela Dean.

Fanwork Resources