Posted by: Nancy Keim Comley | October 26, 2016

Fan Fiction, Folklore, and Fellowship

I should probably start this post with a disclaimer that goes something like: “I’m a folklorist and a mom thus I love the idea of fan fiction.”

Let me explain. As a folklorist I am interested in how people interact with the world. How do they fit themselves into our world? What groups do they create or join? For instance, me writing this blog and those reading this blog are a folk group, i.e. we have a shared interest. To name a few other folk groups I belong to: writers, moms, wives, readers, Quakers, fanatical audio book listeners and the absent minded.

How do you know if you are part of a folk group? Talk to someone about something that is really important to you; something that you feel defines you. Say you’re an accountant who loves reading romance novels (i.e. you are in the accountancy folk group and the romance novel readers folk group). At a party you mention accountancy to a new acquaintance and get nothing more than a polite smile. Then you mention the latest book you’ve read and a connection is made, you and your new friend have a shared passion. They may not be part of the accountancy folk group but they are part of the romance readers group.

What if you love a book so much you want to write stories from within that world, like Cath in Rainbow Rowell’s fantastic book FANGIRL? What if you are a Star Wars fan? Or Star Trek fan? That’s where fan fiction comes in; it’s when people write fiction from within their favorite world be it book, TV, movie or other.

I know I’ve written before about how I was fascinated and delighted when my children were small and loved a book so much they slept on it, hugged it and occasionally tried to eat it. I think fan fiction is the same way; a world that is so loved a person wants to manipulate it and make it their own. They want to be a part of that world, of that folk group.

Recently my daughter mentioned that there was some Formula 1 fan fiction that she loved but couldn’t get anyone else to read and she really wanted someone to talk to about it. Since I’d read the side of a cereal box if it helped me talk to one of my children I said I’d give it a go. Not sure what to expect, I followed the link she sent and started.

It was a hoot – the writer had reimagined the teams as families and the drivers as superheroes. There was no racing, which I found surprising because it was based on Formula 1, after all, but I got caught up in the family dynamics and really enjoyed the story. Along with my daughter I am now an enthusiastic (and currently only other) member of the Formula 1 fan fiction folk group. I enjoyed my time in the new world and hope to read some again soon.

In these days where it feels so much is driving people apart sometimes it’s comforting to look around and see that there are people creating and sharing.

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  1. […] Fan fiction, Folklore & Fellowship […]

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