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.