Literary Linking 26/04/15

This week The Independent ran an article asserting that most authors don’t even make minimum wage from their craft. I find this particularly interesting in light of recent criticism from authors over the Green Party’s inclusion of a maximum fourteen-year copyright term in their platform. If, like me, you find it disconcerting how many people write professionally yet struggle to make a living and would like to show your support, then this article from Erin Bowman at Pub(lishing) Crawl is worth reading.

Over at Book Riot, there’s a great article on the problems with the phrase ‘Just happens to be gay’. I know I’ve used the phrase in reference to the need for stories about lesbian, gay and bisexual characters in genre fiction, and for SF/F worlds where heterosexism and homophobia are not issues – in addition to coming out stories and other narratives where a character’s sexuality is integral to the main storyline. That’s why I think this article, as well as the interview and conversation linked in it, is so important, because the people using this phrase are so often people like myself: straight, cis-gender people who support LGBTQAI equality. And we need to be told when we’re doing it wrong. For the record, I don’t see anyone saying that we *shouldn’t* have genre fiction with LGBT leads, just that even in a utopian fantasy world a person’s sexual orientation will affect their lives and interactions with others.

And finally, an interesting post on Book Riot about fanfic “fixing” fiction:

They’re also writing to right a wrong. Traditional publishing is notoriously light on LGBTQ authors and characters, on persons of color, on ‘non-traditional’ relationships or experiences. Fanfic can be deeply, truly weird, but it can also be so much more representatively normal, so much more like the world as it actually exists. People write fanfic to make literature look more like them and to infuse their favorite worlds with their own desires and experiences. The Hunger Games where the heroine isn’t Kantiss but Rue. Brokeback Mountain: The Short Story Not The Movie where Jack and Ennis escape to some big, gay utopia and live regular lives where sometimes they fight but mostly they just drink coffee together like a couple of married dudes.

I’ve written about this topic before, but I think it’s definitely worth reiterating. Fanfic’s a tricky topic, because it can often be utterly disrespectful of the world-building and character development of the source material, not to mention basic English grammar, but much of it really is about people playing in their favourite worlds and imagining those worlds inhabited by people like themselves. And, of course, if you publish it on the internet, you’re a teenage hack, but if you get a bunch of boys and men to perform it, you’re the greatest writer of the English language 😉 Interpretation is an integral part of engaging with literature, as Cory Doctorow says in his post.


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