One of the many galleys being distributed at BEA this year was the much-hyped Juliet by Anne Fortier, a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. I was skeptical. Really, I thought, how many times have we seen this done? I mean, I can’t go anywhere without staring at Amanda Seyfried’s face on either a poster or trailer for the film Letters to Juliet. Jim alluded to this in his post about knock-off queries, and I also can’t but help but wonder, can’t writers and artists think of something original for a change? (Harsh, I know.)
And then I stumbled on Cory Doctorow’s list of Pulitzer-winning works that came into existence by doing something similar—riffing off of something that already existed. I always knew that Rent, which is on the list, was a retelling of La Boheme (and for someone who’s not crazy about musicals, I’m crazy about Rent) but I didn’t really know there were so many others in this category that received the illustrious Pulitzer Prize.
Doctorow categorizes these award-winners as fanfic, and, as he says, provides the list “as a service to writers who believe that fanfic is ‘immoral, illegal, plagiarism, cheating, for people who are too stupid/lazy/unimaginative to write stories of their own.’”
Though I’ve never felt terribly offended by fan fiction, I’m no longer feeling the cynicism that tickled the back of my brain when I first read about Fortier’s new book.
What about you, readers? For you skeptics, has this article affected you? Are you willing to give these reboots another chance?