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An idea so crazy it just might work!

So. A perfect storm of crazy idea-ish-ness has formed in that overheated, overcrowded little command center I call my brain.

About a year or so ago, when I had wrapped up the Adrien English series and settled Adrien and Jake down for their long winter's nap, a few readers were asking me about Adrien English fan fiction and did I know of any and did I read any. And I started thinking about the possibility of commissioning short stories set in the Adrien English world. Fan fiction, yes, but sanctioned and controlled by the mothership. Like those Star Trek tie-in novels. Or those Monk novels (but Dear God, let's not go there).

Cooler and wiser head prevailed, though, so I abandoned the idea as too fraught with complications.

However a couple of things have happened since then. First, readers keep begging and begging and begging for more AE stories. Second, Amazon made that startling move -- which I'm still, frankly, uneasy about -- to pay for quality fan fiction from specific fandoms. Three, and probably the most important, I've been studying Catherine Dair's amazing Jake and Adrien artwork and trying to think of a way I could share that with more readers.

And thus the idea formed.

A book of Adrien English stories and art by fans of the series.

What if I were to commission -- pay outright -- for original stories and art set within the Adrien English universe? Maybe I could invite a few authors and artists? OR, wait. Better still, what if I just opened it to everyone? Everyone who loves the series and feels like they have something to say about it (even if the "saying" is in visual media). These would have to be pretty good stories, of course. And the art...well, I've been talking to Catherine about anchoring the stories with a couple of choice pieces of her work.

I would naturally be picky as hell about the overall quality -- although not about the story content itself. You want to write from Jake's POV. Feel free. You want to write that love story for Angus and Natalie. Have at it.

I could set a deadline of December 31st -- that would give anyone interested about six months -- and then I'd go through the submissions. OR...yes, I'd go through the submissions, but maybe I'd also have a panel of trusted readers to help me select the works to be published.


As I mentioned, I would pay outright. No royalties. And I would have to have contributors sign off on the understanding that they are merely borrowing the characters and playing in my universe -- not taking over the franchise.


I'm still brainstorming here, but what do you think?


( 68 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jun. 2nd, 2013 07:05 pm (UTC)
Gosh, that's quite an idea.I must say I'd love to have a go, but I'm not sure I've got the nerve...Your readers are used to such high standards! It would be very interesting to see whether AE fans would go for something like that, not actually written by you. I would, out of sheer curiosity!
Jun. 2nd, 2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
I think, as you say, the sheer curiosity factor would entice a lot of readers. And then when they found out how good the stories and art are, well, we'd have a winner!
Jun. 2nd, 2013 07:24 pm (UTC)
This idea does sound pretty amazing. I will admit I do love a bit of fan fic, but I don't think I could write as amazingly as you Josh. I've never read any of the Adrien English Fan fic (didn't know it existed) and I would be interested to read some. Also to see Art work as well would be neat to see also. I think letting you avid AE readers pick would be good but I think you also should choose to (if this idea does develop).
I look forward to what others say on this.
Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:46 pm (UTC)
The idea excites me -- although my inner control freak is going, "You said WHAT?!" :-D
(no subject) - greerwatson - Jun. 2nd, 2013 11:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - geotoni - Jun. 3rd, 2013 06:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 2nd, 2013 07:45 pm (UTC)
It's such a cool idea, and I've seen authorized fanwork anthologies for other fandoms too. I'd say go for it :)
Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:46 pm (UTC)
I've certainly seen some amazing fan fiction, so I know the potential for amazing stories is there.
Jun. 2nd, 2013 07:56 pm (UTC)
I met Ali through fan fiction, so it would be interesting to see other people's take on your characters.
Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:47 pm (UTC)
That's my thought. Scary and exciting at the same time.
(no subject) - andy_slayde - Jun. 2nd, 2013 09:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:11 pm (UTC)
Honestly, that's a tough sell for me at the moment. The reason I love the characters and the narrative is because I love your voice, and I don't know if I trust anyone else to get Adrien, Jake, and the feel of their story right. Having said that, if you are well and truly done, finished, no more plot bunnies from you, I guess this is the best I can expect (and more than I would get from other beloved series). And let me tell you, I've been dying for more Adrien and Jake, especially since you said last winter that you were going to give us more! I just know that there is more that can be told about these two, but I respect the fact that you may not find the possibilities as compelling as others do, or if you're just tired and happy to move on. Anyway, I think I would be more inclined to support the experiment if I knew your objective standards for acceptance (and it would be great if one of your standards was, "An ability to (more or less) replicate the voice/original feel of the series," or something like that).

I will also confess to a frustration. None of these stories will be canon, and it would be wonderful to get one more canon entry that looks at the "ever after" piece of the "happy ever after." And we can only get that from you. (Or, heck -- if you're willing to turn your beloved characters over to fan fic writers for a fee, why don't you let someone ghostwrite a final canon entry for a fee? Just be upfront about it so that readers know you didn't write it, but maybe you participate heavily in the editing, approval, etc. process, so it comes not only with your stamp of approval, but with some actual elements of YOU thrown into the mix?)

I think I feel so-so about the idea, mostly because I want one more entry from you that shows what they look like when they're actually happy. Not perfect, still working through their crap (as everyone must), but happy. But honestly, my ambivalence notwithstanding, I can't imagine that I wouldn't purchase the stories if you went the approved fan fic route. The curiosity factor would be too high. And at the end of the day, that's what you really needed to know, right? ;-)

Edited at 2013-06-02 08:14 pm (UTC)
Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:51 pm (UTC)
Ah. Well, you see these stories would not be canon. You're right about that. As far as I'm concerned, they would be wonderful in their own right, but they would not be -- could not be -- canon.

And yes, I do still plan to do a couple of little things, Christmas stories or novellas down the line. This endeavor would have nothing to do with that.

I think of it more along the lines of reader companion guides or bonus features to the DVD or that sort of thing! If that makes sense?
Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC)
It is a horrifying scary idea. And it through such ideas that great things happen--both good and bad.

I say you run with it and either become known as the "the holy father of I'll-pay-you-to-play-in-my-sandbox fanfic" or "the man who ruined his own fandom".

Either way, do it! I know that I would buy it and read it, no matter how it turned out.

And gosh, the thought of getting to write about Mr. Tompkins and Scout! Irresistible! (this is just to give you an idea of what you might get as a submission -- something to think about before you commit)
Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:58 pm (UTC)

Well, hopefully even worse case scenario it would not undo all that had gone before!

Who knows. Maybe it would even inspire me. :-)
Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:24 pm (UTC)
Clearly I won't be a writer but if you are the "sifter", I'm looking forward to more A/J stories and I'll read them, no question.
Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:44 pm (UTC)
Okay! I will definitely need readers for this one because I'm not sure I can be as absolutely objective as I would need to be to pick! :-)
Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:33 pm (UTC)
This sounds interesting, just brace yourself. You're going to be reading a lot of porn *g*
Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:48 pm (UTC)
Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:46 pm (UTC)
I love the idea - the more AE the better! and while I pretend to "write" fanfiction in the Bodie and Doyle world, I don't think I have enough ba - well - guts to try to write in the Adrien/Jake world. Especially knowing that you would be reading it! :-) Call me chicken!
Jun. 2nd, 2013 08:59 pm (UTC)
:-D :-D :-D

My picky picky reputation undoubtedly proceeds me.
Jun. 2nd, 2013 09:41 pm (UTC)
This could be really really good or really really bad. But I say, go for it.

I'm brave or stupid enough to have a go at writing stories in any fandom I'm familiar with.

You've got me thinking now, Josh! There is one part, I always wanted to know Jake's thoughts... Hmmm *wanders away to dig out the books for a reread*
Jun. 2nd, 2013 09:48 pm (UTC)
Jun. 2nd, 2013 09:43 pm (UTC)
My gut reaction is "no"; there's something unique in the Adrien English series that makes the books - and Adrien's character in particular - stand apart from the rest of your writing. They are YOUR creation, and for anyone else to input their versions into this universe would in my opinion somehow dilute its reality. Of course I can see what an exciting challenge it could be for writers, and a lot of fun too, but the books are very special to me and I wouldn't want them touched by an element of fan fiction.
Jun. 2nd, 2013 09:49 pm (UTC)
This is very interesting to me. This idea that stories by other authors would somehow dilute the originals.
(no subject) - silksashes - Jun. 2nd, 2013 10:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jgraeme2007 - Jun. 2nd, 2013 10:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 2nd, 2013 09:52 pm (UTC)
oooh yes, this could really fly! I think it's a fabulous idea, there were a couple of early anthologies of Star Trek fiction that had a couple of stand out contributions. There are regular anthologies set in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series to which Misty always contributes. There's also some really good stuff in Katherine Kurtz's Deryni universe, all out in mainstream publishing, so I can see how it might work.

You could appoint a small group of beta readers to sift out the dross and then do the final cut yourself and if you follow the most successful models, perhaps a short story from you just as the icing on the cake. You should lay down a set of rules and some key facts, so that all the writers conform to basic facts we need to know and any other guidelines you want fans to follow...length etc and a time line.

Not quite sure what you mean by the stories not being canonical, I would argue that although you may never refer to the events told in those stories, it does have to be possible that they could have happened. I haven't been able to watch the new Star Trek films because they destroy Vulcan in the first one...how stupid is that? It invalidates great tracts of the rest of the canon and my willing suspension of disbelief shuts down and kicks me out of the story!

I have a germ of an idea for a story from Lisa's point of view...Please do this.

Edited at 2013-06-02 09:54 pm (UTC)
Jun. 2nd, 2013 10:11 pm (UTC)
I just mean it can't be canon if it doesn't come from the original source. It doesn't mean it couldn't be amazing or better than canon!
Jun. 2nd, 2013 10:07 pm (UTC)
I love the idea, I've read some AE fan fiction and enjoyed it.
I have no writing or graphic skills whatsoever so I'll not be submitting anything but I'll certainly read it :-)
Jun. 2nd, 2013 10:12 pm (UTC)
I think it could be fun!
Jun. 2nd, 2013 10:39 pm (UTC)
I think this is a great idea - a little bit crazy but if anyone can pull it off, you can. I hope you have fun with it :)
Jun. 2nd, 2013 10:40 pm (UTC)
I know first hand how amazing good fan fiction can be!
Jun. 2nd, 2013 10:47 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a good idea. You'd be a tough act to follow, but there are some remarkably talented fanfiction writers out there. With you having control over content, it could very well work.
Jun. 2nd, 2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
That's my hope. The stories would be very good and hand picked so hopefully the best of all worlds.
Jun. 2nd, 2013 10:56 pm (UTC)
There are some amazingly good fanfic writers out there. I read through a lot of the above comments, particularly those who think the AE stories should be left unsullied by other writers, and the thought occurred to me that it's rather like someone producing a film based on a book. The movie is most frequently a departure from the book, and we moan and groan that the book was better, but the movie can be equally as entertaining standing on its own. Consider Sherlock Holmes in all of his many-varied personas. With that in mind, and knowing you would do the final weeding and select only the best, I say, "Go for it."
Jun. 2nd, 2013 11:10 pm (UTC)
and the thought occurred to me that it's rather like someone producing a film based on a book. The movie is most frequently a departure from the book, and we moan and groan that the book was better, but the movie can be equally as entertaining standing on its own.

Right! That's a good comparison, I think.
Jun. 2nd, 2013 11:23 pm (UTC)
I love the idea! I am dying to read more AE though would prefer it came from you but will read anything about Adrien-with-an-e right now.
Jun. 3rd, 2013 12:22 am (UTC)
Good! That's encouraging!
Jun. 3rd, 2013 12:05 am (UTC)
I'm no writer but I am a definite reader. If you pick the stories which you approve of I will be reading.
Jun. 3rd, 2013 12:22 am (UTC)
Jun. 3rd, 2013 01:37 am (UTC)
Well, personally, I think it's brilliant. I'm about to out myself here, (although not really, because I'm pretty up front in my bio) but I 'honed my craft' *cough as if it's honed cough* writing fanfiction. And I've always been unapologetic about it. Some of the finest writers I know started out writing fanfiction. I just finished a collab with two other writers, Libby Drew and G.B. Lindsey, and we met through fanfic. I've even said that I would PAY people to write fanfiction of Matt and Kiernan from A Reason to Believe, just because I know how great some of these writers are. I would definitely feel like, if people loved my characters enough to write about them, to put them in situations I never considered, that I would have 'arrived'. I think it's a wonderful idea, and not just because Cathy is my friend. Although her Adrien and Jake are stunning, aren't they?
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Diana. I'm taking it as a compliment that readers feel so strongly about the characters.

(no subject) - jgraeme2007 - Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 3rd, 2013 06:56 am (UTC)
The idea scares me, so, pretty please, no.

At least: I can imagine it with some minor characters of the books, like, a story about Detective Chan or the archeology students in A Dangerous Thing or (as someone mentioned above) Tompkins and Scout or maybe a HEA for Kate, but, please, not Adrien and Jake (or even Lisa).

Edited at 2013-06-03 06:58 am (UTC)
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:09 pm (UTC)

But I'm talking about well-written stories that delve into angles of the series I'm never going to write or explore. I'm talking about professional quality stories.

I intend to pay the current going rate for a professional quality short story, so I will feel justified in being picky as hell.
(no subject) - cala_thea - Jun. 3rd, 2013 04:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:36 pm (UTC)
I will be honest. I would not pay for a fan fiction collection. I own every novel, novella, collection, and short story you have ever published. If you published another AE novella, I'd buy that too without hesitation. If I am going to shell out money, I want it for something you have written.
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:44 pm (UTC)
What if this collection had rave reviews from other devoted fans? What if the stories were brilliant?

(no subject) - jdruskin - Jun. 3rd, 2013 03:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 3rd, 2013 04:46 pm (UTC)
You said WHA?!?

I'm a bit freaked out by this idea... Even though I read tons of Brokeback Mountain fanfics and I love the original... I guess I was a bit afraid of Adrien and Jake getting into wrong hands *grasps*

But of course I'm gong to read them. You know as quality control - you will get my complaints if the duo were mistreated! :-P
Jun. 3rd, 2013 06:40 pm (UTC)
AE Fan Fiction
Hey Josh -
Admirable that you want to encourage the AE fans with the idea, but I'm not wild about it.
Probably wouldn't buy the collection, because I think the series is a beautiful thing as is. Not even sure I'd be happy about a new AE novel from you. If you give a secondary character from the series, or a completely new character a stand alone story in which they encounter Jake and Adrien, fine.
Would love to see the art work, though. Maybe you could do some kind of online annotated gallery. That's my 2 bits.
Jun. 3rd, 2013 08:04 pm (UTC)
I've been reading and loving fanfiction for--good God!--over 30 years now. Since 1981. Some of it is great, some of it is crap, but almost all of it is written with love. I agree with lpili13 above that the fandoms which exploded with fanfic were often the ones which had the most holes--the most reason to want to re-tell a story to get it "right" this time. I feel the AE canon tells it right the first time, but I'm one of those who always wants more, more, more, of something excellent.

I think there's still plenty of room to explore other facets of the characters, tiny moments, secondary characters, and that there are some great stories which could be told by some great writers. My biggest concern is you will be bombarded with so much stuff--good and bad--that an army of readers will be needed to slog through the slush pile. Pay a writer $50 for an authorized work and you'll have fans and not-so-much fans crawling out of the woodwork from everywhere! LOL

All that being said, I would certainly buy such a book (I bought all the ST, MZB, and Katherine Kurtz authorized fanworks, until they turned into crap) and would look forward to it as long as YOU picked the final stories. And, um, I guess I'd even volunteer to be one of the slush pile army. :-)
Jun. 3rd, 2013 10:37 pm (UTC)
Well...thank you all for your thoughts and comments. I think I'm picturing something very different from most of you, but maybe not! Anyway, I'll mull all this over for a bit. I appreciate you taking the time to respond. ;-)
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