Literary fan fiction is nothing new and has spawned some interesting and imaginative offerings. Think The Wide Sargasso Sea Jean Rhys’ parallel novel to Jane Eyre,Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, The Penelopiad Margret Atwood’s retelling of the Odyssey or my particular favourite, Rebecca’s Tale, by Sally Beauman. These tributes are fantastically constructed works in their own right, widely different in concept and which stand alone as works of art.
You also get your concept spin-offs, which don’t necessarily link to the original work, but very often rip the skeleton from it and pad it out. They often seem to me like authors pin pointing what has worked well for another author and rehashing it in their own work. Think the numerous novels heavily based on Pride and Prejudice thinly veiled by smoke screens of time, location etc. I never seem to enjoy these books however well they are written because they feel a little bit predictable, at best like de ja vu.
But for me there’s a new trend emerging and I find it a little irritating. I’m sure it’s been around for a long time, but as a publishing cash cow it’s becoming worryingly prevalent if you’re looking for something new to read- especially in the Young Adult market. I’m talking of course about the minor character spin offs from major fiction franchises which might also be termed “the money spinner spin-off”. From Stephanie Meyer’s Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (which raised money for the American Red Cross in the US but as far as I’m aware was not affiliated with a charity in the UK/ROW market) to Lauren Kate’s Fallen in Love, publishers of young adult fiction seem to be churning out these books whenever they have a profitable series. And is it a coincidence they coincide with present buying seasons like Christmas and Valentine’s Day?
What I want to know is, have or would any of you read such a book? And if you have, did it feel like money well spent or as if you’d been short-changed?