Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Monday, September 2, 2013

I Didn’t Set Out to Write Fan Fiction by Alison Henderson

Alison Henderson is super busy these days. She and her husband are in the midst of a major construction and remodeling project on the home they recently bought in Carmel, California. She's also writing and self-publishing. In fact, she's so busy, I had to lasso her on Facebook to ask when she was coming to Vintage Vonnie to share her new book with us. I didn't want you to miss out.

Alison, you know I've been a fan of your historical books, but this is a totally different direction for you. So, slow down a minute, have a cup of tea and tell us about your new writing venture.

Thanks, Vonnie. Is it decaf? I don't need any more caffeine. I feel like I'm going in six directions at once.
Fan fiction has always been well off my radar screen. For years I was only vaguely aware of its existence, and even then only in connection with cult favorites like Star Trek. The earth-shaking success Fifty Shades of Gray forced me to consider fan fiction in a whole new light. Apparently loads of people have been writing their own stories based on favorite characters created by someone else, even going so far as to change the names and basic circumstances.

Could I be one of them?

I’m a huge fan of the TV series Castle. I love the strong female lead, the well-drawn secondary characters, the inventive plots—and I adore Nathan Fillion. But my favorite aspect of the show is the quality of the dialogue. Writing witty banter and repartee is a dying art, and that breaks my heart. I love the snappy patter that was so prevalent in movies of the ‘thirties and ‘forties. Think about Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday. Their sharp dialogue moved the story along at a brisk pace and brought smiles to the faces of the viewers. That’s what I wanted for readers of my new book Unwritten Rules.

I knew I had been influenced by Castle because I enjoy it so much, but it didn’t occur to me that I might have written an entire novel of fan fiction until I was working on the edits. When I re-read Unwritten Rules, I could literally hear the voices of Castle and Beckett in my head, speaking the dialogue as if I had written it just for them. Now this is a bit odd because although the hero is a writer, my heroine is a Chinese-American former FBI agent who practices ancient Chinese martial arts. When I conceived the character, I was thinking more of Kelly Hu or Michelle Yeoh of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Somehow, as I wrote the book, my heroine took on some of the characteristics of Kate Beckett.

Here’s a blurb about the story:

Things aren’t going Madelyn Li’s way. Her bodyguard agency is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, her grandmother keeps hatching plots to marry her off, and someone is trying to kill her latest client. All she wants is to safely escort thriller writer and former CIA agent Carter Devlin on his cross country book tour and collect her check, but two obstacles stand in her way: a shadowy assailant and her own growing attraction to her dashing client.

Carter Devlin has agreed to accept the beautiful and determined Ms. Li as a bodyguard primarily to appease his publisher. After all, who would want to kill a beat-up, retired ex-spy on a book tour? But when the attacks turn deadly, he soon learns there’s more to Madelyn than a pretty face and tempting body. Will the spark become a flame before a killer snuffs it out?

Examining the influences is my own work surprised me because I’m usually pretty oblivious to popular culture. I don’t watch reality TV, and my husband and I never manage to see popular movies until they show up on cable. I certainly didn’t expect to hear well-known actors speaking my dialogue, and I’m not sure what to make of it. It’s never happened before and may never happen again.

If you’re a writer, has this ever happened to you? As a reader, can you pick out an author’s influences when you’re reading?

Alison Henderson


Jannine Gallant said...

Nothing wrong with taking a successful formula and working it to make it your own. I actually thought your hero had more in common with Castle than your heroine with Beckett. Madelyn is a very unique character with her own strong personality.

The closest I've gotten to fan fiction is writing a story that opens on a dating reality show ala The Bachelor. But it's just a single scene before the book goes in a different direction. Still, it was really fun to write.

Rachel Brimble said...

Hi Alison!

Oh, lordy, I am off to buy this book as soon as I'm finished here. I LOVE Castle, one of my favorite shows so if it's influenced the writing and story, I'm sure I'll love it.

Funnily enough, I've just had a review come in for my debut HQ book, Finding Justice and the reviewer said my heroine reminded her of Beckett so maybe Castle is influencing me too, lol!

Rachel x

Alison Henderson said...

Thank you so much for hosting me today AND for the lovely introduction! I am pretty busy these days but never too busy to spend time with friends!

Alison Henderson said...

I certainly intended Madelyn to be a unique character, but she really surprised me when some of her dialogue came out in Beckett's voice when I re-read it.

Alison Henderson said...

Hi Rachel!
I'm so glad to hear from another Castle fan. Can't wait for the new season!

Angela Adams said...

Hi, Alison,

I find your career choice for your heroine intriguing. Best wishes with your book!

Alison Henderson said...

Thanks so much, Angela. I wanted to do something a bit different.

Margo Hoornstra said...

So now I have another book to add to my TBR pile. It seems we write what comes into our heads, no matter where those thoughts may come from. I have to admit I've heard of Castle but never watched. Guess I'd better get to it!