Friday, December 21, 2012

Playing with Fire



As most aboard the Revenge are aware, I’ve been working on a Sherlock Holmes story. It’s an odd thing to play with. There are some very strict adherents to the canon, as they refer to it, out there.

And me, being me, well…I’m totally screwing with…well, everything. I know I could end up being pilloried for this, but I am doing this with an eye toward how much I love and enjoy Holmes.

The difficulty with doing this with any beloved figure or meme, if I’m using that correctly, is that you just don’t know how it will be received. Once upon a time, the lines between parody, pastiche, (another word I need to look up and make sure I’m using correctly), tribute, farce…all of these are fraught with peril. (Pastiche – basically a tribute using authentic selections from the canon.)

With the publication and acclaim given to 50 Shades of Grey, deserved or not, the window of what one can do with a world or character created by another has undergone a shift.

Fanfiction is one thing…but there are some creations that are all but sacrosanct.

I’ve yet to read about or see a fanfiction story about…oh, Jesus.

Okay, I’m lying. I have read some rather wonderful stories with Jesus as a character. But none of them were erotic. (Boggles the mind.) (Though I understand a few of the writing of medieval women who entered nunneries boarded on a sort of ecstasy that drifted into that territory…)

Anyway! I recently had a short IM exchange with a young friend who lives in Alaska. She is a member of the Baker Street Irregulars. And she was a bit…worried…at hearing about my new story. She is a gatekeeper of the canon. While I am, admittedly, a barbarian. She left the conversation rather abruptly and I wonder… (She may have just been called away.)

We all have figures we can’t imagine anyone messing with. I’ve read fiction about so many historical figures, and beloved fictional characters. Never been offended. I’m not a big fan of stories where Kirk and Spock are hot and heavy for each other, but what the hell…I’m not a judge of what works for someone else!

I’ve read books where Jack London solved mysteries. Sherlock Holmes traveled aboard the Enterprise, Shakespeare met his ghost in the future…I have no barriers, that I’ve discovered yet!

I have a friend who despises seeing fairy tales retold, feeling they are trampling on childhood stories that should be sacred as they are. (Nevermind that they started as horrible stories told to scare people into behaving…)

Do you have limits? I’m curious…what about you? Any figure you couldn’t imagine seeing re-imagined? Ever thought about creating a story involving James West visiting England and wooing the ladies? Have you read anything like this?

BTW, if the Mayans were onto something…nevermind. It’s been a great ride!

29 comments:

quantum said...

I think that Conon Doyle sets the bar impossibly high. I doubt that you will win medals for this project Maureen! LOL

People are always discovering new manuscripts by great composers, authors or artists and the experts spend much time trying to determine authenticity.

IF I were attempting a 'New' Holmes story I would have a resident in Baker Street discovering such a manuscript and try to weave the story in the manuscript with the discoverer's life and attempt at authentication.

I actually think the Mayans may have been onto something with their long cycle calendar. Cyclical patterns are well known.For example shorter term cycles in the financial literature and Ice Ages. I sense cultural changes as well as climate changes setting in now.

It looks as though more floods are on the way for the UK. Just needs a blast from the arctic and over here we could all be snowed up for Christmas!

Marnee Bailey said...

I have no idea who I'd try to reinvent. To often if I love a character, they're already shaped and lifelike in my head. So, trying to adjust them feels... blasphemous.

But I love what I've read of this project, though. I also don't think that it's wrong to play with other characters, but I do think that it's important to honor the canon around them. Like, if I were writing about Lizzie Bennett, I'd have to respect her character as created. If not, then it's just a different character with her name. Ya know?

Janga said...

I enjoy historical fiction, and some of my favorite historical romances have appearances by historical characters such as Brummell or Wellington. But I'm with Marn on maintaining the basic integrity of the character--historical ot strictly fictional. I'm not interested in reading about Jane Austen battling zombies or Elizabeth Bennet having sex with Wickham. As for writing, I've played around with a few stories that had literary ghosts and I have a cat named Lady Danbury in one of my manuscripts. That's as adventurous as I'm likely to get.

TerriOsburn said...

I have no interest in writing stories with existing characters or people, but I don't mind anyone else doing it. I do think it would be a little stranger when involving a real person. Kiddo's music fandom people write fanfic about their favorite band members and they definitely stray into the erotic realm from what I understand. I know there's a level of flattery involved but it would also be very weird to read about yourself being written into someone else's fantasy.

Maureen said...

Yeah, Q...not expecting any medals. Figure I'll be slapped, glared at and generally ignored.

Don't care. I'm having fun and spinning this tale got the mojo working. I'm not shooting for authenticity...but I'm not turning Holmes into a drag queen, so hopefully no one will line me up for quartering.

A snowy December for England? Wouldn't that be a good thing???

Maureen said...

Marne, yeah...it's difficult. To not kidnap a character...just borrow them. For a little while. Treat them kind, torture lightly (for the plot) and leave them in better shape than you found them.

For example...taking James West from Wild, Wild West and turning him loose in London to meet his match and finally find lasting love...could be a whole lotta fun!

I think any kidnapping must be done with love and respect for the original...

Maureen said...

Janga - Yeah...those zombie fighting Janes are a bit much to stomach. I mean, I'm all for alternate history and messing around with the limits...but I do think a romantic character needs to stick with romance to be a real tribute piece.

Otherwise, it's taking your cat and dressing them up as Elvis and ... Oh, I bet someone has done that...

I think a ghost could be a wonderful way to play with a character and leave them as they are...or were...yet, bringing them into something contemporary...

Might steal that idea...

Maureen said...

Ter - Yeah, I think...maybe...that could be crossing a line for me. Unless, as the bands might tell you, it's all simply part of the selling...

I think at some point, characters can almost cross into the public ownership thing. Or borrowship.

I look at 50 Shades and I'm really not certain what happened there...

MsHellion said...

Well, my favorite "Jesus as a character" book is LAMB by Christopher Moore. Which my sister FINALLY read and gave to me and said I should read it. I told her I did; 10 years ago. Honestly. No one ever listens to me when I say something is awesome. I thought Moore was brave to use Jesus as a character--as beloved as he obviously is--and yet I believe maintained the integrity of Jesus. (There was no Jesus and Mary getting it on. Sorry, Da Vinci Code.) So I agree with Janga--I don't mind historical figures being in books, but they need to maintain the "historical notion" I have about them. I'm unlikely to watch Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Just because.

Being I'm writing a story about Adam & Eve...and Lucifer...and God (sorta, he's never referred to as God.) Yeah, I feel your pain. I cross some lines, I think. This is just me writing about something that outraged me as a child, hearing about Adam and Eve, and Eve getting most of the blame (by the way my church told it.) It's my way at getting back about that line that women are to be submissive to their husbands...and it's more along the lines that God told men that he placed good and obedient wives in all the corners of the world, then made the world round...and he laughed and laughed. Ultimately I'm trying to write something positive. A loving God and universe. That sort of thing.

Will I be crucified? Possibly, but if my book is banned, it'll sell like hotcakes!

MsHellion said...

The bands thing is a little creepy. I mean, it's one thing to have that stuff in your journal--it's another to have it on the internet for all time.

Maureen said...

I may want to see the Abe Lincoln movie. For the effects. I'm an effect junkie.

I do remember that Moore book. Wonderful job. I think he's inserted Jesus in a few books, lightly done and with reverence, but also an eye toward the lovingly absurdity of it all.

Decades ago, I read The Devil's Advocate...in fact, I think I read two books with the same title... There is a lot of stuff that can be written about the eternal struggle, creation, etc...and bring a fresh eye to it.

A&E sounds like a fabulous story and told with the same 'reverence/irreverence' as Moore used.

As for the band thing...I can think of comic books in the 70s based on the 'characters' the members of KISS portrayed on stage. So, I guess it would all depend on if you're talking about the character one plays or the person one is... But it feels a little creepy to me.

Harmless, but still creepy.

Until someone loses an eye.

MsHellion said...

"You'll shoot your eye out!"

Sorry. It's that time of year. I love that movie. *LOL* When the dogs eat their turkey. Bruhahahahahaaha.

Yes, that's what I loved about how Moore handled it: the reverent-irreverent loving absurdity of things. True to the people, yet pointing out the naked emperor at the same time. *LOL*

Maureen said...

Yes, on this day where the world did not end...so far... Ralphie is in the hearts of everyone... ;-)

irisheyes said...

I think I'm pretty tolerant of what people want to write about. I may not be interested in it or like it, but not much offends me.

I would go along with the idea that as long as you keep the integrity of the character in tact it would be fine. James West in England would be awesome - as long as he acts the same as the James West in Wild, Wild West - therein, I would think, lies the conflict. It would be like writing Darcy in modern times, but keeping him Darcy. The conflict/drama/humor/tension arises when the two worlds collide. Fun stuff!

TerriOsburn said...

I got distracted away from here this morning. As to the band stuff, from what I can tell it kind of creeps out the musicians too. LOL! Can't say that I blame them!

irisheyes said...

What exactly is this band fanfiction stuff you guys are talking about? Fans write erotic stories about themselves being involved with certain band members like Keith Urban or Rascal Flatts?

I think if I was them (or their wives) I'd be a little creeped out, too!

MsHellion said...

Gee, I can't imagine why. Only that by the time you get a picture of the person WRITING the fanfiction, you realize you have someone as old as your mother posting these fantasies...about you. *LOL*

TerriOsburn said...

This is kiddo's bands, which are mostly single guys. Pop Punk, Emo Rock, and Metal Core stuff. And yes, fans write themselves with the guys or some actually write the guys together. They call is "shipping" as in putting two people in a relationship. Think Brangelina but often with two cute band members who are best friends. (I follow it but I didn't say I totally understand it.)

TerriOsburn said...

I'd say it's definitely kids doing the writing. Meaning people maybe 21 or under. Mostly much under.

P. Kirby said...

Well, so long as the use doesn't violate copyright and/or impact the original writer/creator's ability to make money off their characters, I say write whatever you like. No one is putting a gun to my head and making me read it.

Irreverent is my M.O., so, for the most part, I don't hold any characters sacred, including Jesus, et al. Not religious, so what do I care? I run into plenty of depictions of established characters, especially AU stuff, in fan fiction that doesn't work for me, but I'm not getting my knickers in a knot over it.

I write fan fiction. Also, my original stuff always has some roots in one or many stories. An element of a movie/books fascinates me and I think, "OK, so what if this character was instead in this situation?" Then I wander off and build my own world and characters based on that question (or questions).

Therefore, given my total lack of originality, I can't slag other for their homages, parodies, pastiches, etc.

Fan fiction based on real life people, OTOH, is strong with the creepy. *Shudders* But, again, no one's making me read it.

TerriOsburn said...

What is AU? This reminds me of something that happened the other day. Kiddo and I were somewhere and there was a picture of Jesus. Looking very, shall we say, Westernized. I pointed out to kiddo that Jesus was a Middle-Eastern Jew and likely looked nothing like that depiction. (Especially not the green eyes.) So if you think about it, artists have been twisting up the facts of that story for years.

P. Kirby said...

There's actually quite a bit of real person fan fiction out there. Boy bands and Justin Bieber are popular subjects, but a lot is devoted to actors, and other celebs.

Most involves fans shipping themselves with the celeb, but some "ship" the celeb with other celebs. It's definitely not a fandom, I venture into, but my guess is that there are probably favorite "ships," i.e., pairings, in the real life FF, same as with fictional FF.

All manner of weird subcultures on the Internet.

P. Kirby said...

AU = Alternate Universe. Basically, what E.L. James did with Twilight. Bella the virginal reporter; Edward, the not-vampire, billionaire with a taste for vanilla S&M.

So if I write a story where Harry Potter is a cadet at an elite space academy, where his classmates are Hermione Granger, Ron Wesley, etc., that would be AU. It could also be a scenario where Harry is the villain and Draco, the hero.

TerriOsburn said...

Pat said: All manner of weird subcultures on the Internet.

You ain't kidding. Yeesh. And I don't think I'd like the AU stuff. At that point you might as well just write something original.

Maureen said...

Always been all sorts of weird subcultures, net or not! I remember the Kirk/Spock in hot secret lovenest stuff. With each other, in case I'm not clear...

As for the time James West was 'alive' I think he could easily be slipped over to England...late Victorian or Edwardian? And oh, god! Yes, he must be James West!

I can understand some of that celebrity stuff as being a price of being a celebrity...but...icky!

Chantel Maloon said...

Recently I read a modern rewrite of Jane Eyre, mostly out of curiosity as Jane Eyre is my favorite book I was prepared to dislike it immensely, but I was surprised. I think that a writers license to create a world out of whatever they fancy is their right. Sometimes things bother us because they are so opposite of the original work, but (just as when movies are made from books) I look at it as something completely unrelated to the original. (I have to with movies because I often find myself yelling at the screen "that's not what happened!!!" Haha. My fiancé always looks at me strange.)

I get committed to a story line and the way it's written, and it makes me angry when someone takes it and changes the road the story takes. But I know it's his/her right. And there may be many roads to a single destination.

I yell at my fiance when I think he's taken the wrong way also "this isn't the way! You've taken the wrong road!" But he always gets us there in one piece. It may make me uncomfortable but it works.

I guess what I'm trying to say we don't like change, like the older congregation of a church who's newer members want to get out of the hymn books and try new songs. They serve the same purpose but the older congregation prefers the old songs the ones they are accustomed to and find holy.

Anyway, I just try and look at them as two different stories with similar themes and similar characters. There's no need to get angry (even if I do on occasion.) we just have to let go and let another persons creativity take us where the original author didn't think to go. :)

Chantel Maloon said...

P.S. the suns still shining here in good ole' Mississippi ! So maybe we have a few more days to scribble down our stories before our pens are taken away forever :)

Maureen said...

Chantel! I tend to look at it as two different stories with similiar themes and characters, too. With some characters...like Holmes...so much has been done with the character, going about everywhere you could thing of!

I find Laurie King's 'Beekeeper's Apprentice' series wonderful, but wow...as closely as she follows the cannon, she takes things somewhere totally different.

But it is funny...I've had arguments with my husband while we're watching "Elementary" I know Holmes and so things happen that I not only understand but don't upset me. He's looking at Holmes and getting pissed. I'm looking at Holmes and saying...well, that's just Holmes.

So, it is funny!

Chantel Maloon said...

I've never read Laurie King, so ill have to look that series up! :)
And I do enjoy when authors take old characters on new adventures. It's like the story never ended. If its a new story in a new place, and as long as the character stays true to his/her original personalities and characteristics then I enjoy it.