Robin McKinley

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Name: Robin McKinley
Also Known As:
Occupation: Writer
Medium: Novels, children's books
Works: Damar Series (The Blue Sword & The Hero and the Crown), Sunshine, The Outlaws of Sherwood, Chalice, others
Official Website(s):
Fan Website(s): Robin McKinley at Wikipedia
On Fanlore: Related pages

Robin McKinley is a fantasy author. Due to her opposition of fanfiction, she is among the authors whose universes are disallowed from and many other fic archives.[1]

Many of McKinley's professional works are based on fairy tales and folktales: Beauty (1978) and Rose Daughter (1997) are retellings of Beauty and the Beast, Spindle's End (2000) is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, and The Outlaws of Sherwood (1988) is a modern revisioning on Robin Hood.

Views on Fanworks

McKinley opposes fanfiction about her books and is reportedly against all fanworks based on her universes or characters, including fanart.[2]

She replied to a fan's email in 2005 saying she doesn't approve of fanfic online and her agent asks that it be taken down.[3] She later wrote in the FAQ on her website:

Why don't you want any fanfic written about anything or anyone in your books?

The first and last reason, which is to say I don't need any more reasons beyond this one, is that my agent doesn't like fanfic. She says it's a very muddy copyright area at best and furthermore could in some cases be setting precedents that could cause trouble now or later as the whole enormous evolution of the net hurtles on in ways nobody predicted and nobody knows how to handle. Furthermore I could get in trouble if something that appeared in some fanfic somewhere seemed to show up in something I subsequently wrote. I don't read fanfic and when I've been sent it occasionally I toss/delete without looking — but I wouldn't be able to prove I hadn't seen it if it's out there.

[...] My personal feeling is that while using other people's worlds and characters as practise and inspiration is not only good but recommended — I did it myself, and you can learn a lot about the craft of writing by copying/plagiarising/borrowing/spinning off from books and writers you admire — and showing stuff you've written from these origins to your immediate circle of friends, family, teachers, creative writing group, whatever, as an exercise to improve your skills is also fine. And this would as far as I'm concerned (although if I get any queries about this I'd have to check with my agent) include any private, password-protected, invitation-only groups on the net. But using other people's work should only be an exercise in getting yourself going into your own work. (Or a private fantasy. What you do at your own computer, so long as you don't do it in the street and frighten the horses, is your own business.) And I feel that if you're going to display/hang/offer something for strangers, for anyone and everyone, to read — as on the fanfic sites — it should be your own work. Yes, sources, catalysts and retellings are always with us — but mostly it's pretty obvious where the line runs, and fanfic is by definition on the wrong side of the line. [...]

I remember when mimeo'd pages of early fanfic about Captain Kirk and Mister Spock were being passed around at cons - but even then I was already thundering off in a different direction. And passionately as I adored the original Star Trek (hey, I was in junior high when it first came out: it was brilliant, even with the rubber lizards and Shatner's girdle) I wasn't interested in somebody else's scuffles with it. The Internet explosion of fanfic is an alien concept to me. I don't see why anyone would want to spend any more time in what is essentially someone else's work than they absolutely have to, to get on with their own. It is, to me, a kind of virtual virtual, and the fade from the real becomes kind of extreme. I don't get it - and because of what my agent says about it, I don't need to get it.

So no fanfic. Sorry. [4]

Fansites and Communities


  1. ^ FanFiction.Net, FanFiction Content Guidelines, Version: 11-20-2008 (Accessed 18 September 2022).
  2. ^ kayshasiemens on DeviantArt, WIP: Desert King, posted 13 September 2010. "Thanks to my overgutsiness in emailing [Robin McKinley] and asking about a couple details about it, I discovered she's not actually very cool with fanart, or fanwork in general - and hey, she's the author, so what she says goes. ^^"
  3. ^ blackmagic00 in mckinleyrocks on LiveJournal. She emailed me., posted 07 February 2005. Comment quoting McKinley posted 09 February 2005:
    My agent doesn't like fan fiction--she says there are increasing numbers of copyright and other problems around it--and this is the sort of thing I rely on her advice for. So any time she finds fanfic based on any of her clients on the web, she asks politely for it to be taken down.

    Personally I don't approve of fanfic being published in public either, although if my agent didn't feel it was professionally a bad idea I wouldn't bother worrying about it. As a writing exercise borrowing other people's worlds and characters is great practise, and if you want to pass the result around among your friends and family and book group, fine. But if you're going to put something out there for strangers to read, on the web or anywhere else, I feel it should be your own.

    Robin McKinley

  4. ^ Robin McKinley - FAQ, "Why don't you want any fanfic written about anything or anyone in your books?", archived 29 January 2009 by the Wayback Machine. Added to the site in 2007: see FAQ index, archived 17 July 2007.