Saturday, 27 August 2011

One of the nicer things this week...

Good reviews are nice. They really are. It's lovely to have someone be nice about your books, especially when it's someone brilliant (coughMalPeetcough) in a national newspaper... You can quote them on the cover and everything. It's great. I've been lucky with reviews, on the whole, and I'll always be grateful.

But a few days ago I came across something on the Internet that gave me more pure, lasting, disinterested pleasure than a review ever has.


The Traitor Game has not one but at least two people writing fanfic. Possibly even more. I can't express how delighted I was - am - to have found that out. It feels like such a privilege. Is that crazy? I had to restrain myself, with difficulty, from commenting. (I was only going to thank them and say I thought it was really cool, but all the same I decided not to, because I don't want them to feel I'm looking over their shoulders, or that I imagine I have some kind of right over what they write. The same goes for positive Internet reviews, as it happens. Every so often I can't resist, but in general I feel that the author should keep in the background, so that people can say what they want without it getting personal.) But I was just... so pleased.

Fanfic is a weird thing. I've never written it; I only really heard of it after I wrote The Traitor Game, because someone wondered whether I'd been influenced by slash...* Fanfic is subversive, in a way; there are stories about authors and producers getting antsy about other people writing about "their" characters. But as long as no one's making money out of it, I don't understand the problem. And yes, I used those quotation marks advisedly. Michael and Francis aren't really "my" characters: any more than - oh, I dunno, let's say Takeo and Shigeru, or Fitz and the Fool, or (and I've read a really good piece of slash about these two) Sparrowhawk and Jasper aren't "mine". I'm a reader: those characters live in my head, independently of their authors. And they go on living. That's what reading is. I've never written fanfic, but I recognise that experience - you read a book, you love the characters, and you rewrite them again and again, you get to know them, you live their lives... That's normal, isn't it? And it's a huge compliment to the author. I'm amazed and thrilled that people care enough about Michael and Francis, that they want them to go on living, that they want them to have a happy ending.

So thank you, whoever you are. I'd give you my blessing if it didn't sound patronising. Hope people go to read your stuff here. And here.

And yes, I always thought Michael and Francis would get together eventually too.

*This is an interesting question, and one which I fully intend to muse on at more length. But not now.


  1. I think this is the best thing I've ever read in my life. I just ... I can't believe you're ... this can't be real. As you can tell, I have been reduced to complete incoherency by the fact that people who enjoy imagining (and even writing about) what happened to the people in TTG after the book ended have the actual author's "blessing," if I may. There really is a first time for everything! Even thinking about the fact that I'm not the only M/F fan out there moves me to tears, haha! Perhaps this would make more sense if I explained to you how much I loved this book, and how no other book will ever, ever beat it ... but somehow, I think you can tell. It's just such a phenomenal read, and I couldn't dampen my urge to let you know, but I'm going to have to leave it at that because if I let myself continue I'll still be here three hours later trying to explain to you just how breathtaking this book is. Luckily for you, I'll spare you the gushing and just leave you with a big, fat PLEASE RIGHT MORE I NEED IT LIKE I NEED AIR TO BREATHE. Okay, okay, I'm leaving ...

  2. Thank you! (And don't worry, I like gushing. The more gushing the better, as far as I'm concerned.) (OK, that came out wrong...)

    So glad you liked the book. Feeling that something I've written has really connected with someone else, especially someone who doesn't know me personally - well, that's one of the, no, THE nicest thing about writing. So thanks for commenting!

  3. Hello, I've loved The Traitor Game and I'm one of the TV Tropes contributors who edited the wiki's page on the novel. I just thought I'd mention that the page has been moved to Thanks :-)