A fan of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series wrote a fanfic. But Russet Noon isn't the run of the mill slash fiction that I imagine (since I haven't looked) keeps the series alive in certain corners of the interwebs. The author of this novel length story didn't just post it for other fans to enjoy; she tried to sell it. Copyright infringement, you scream. Ah, but it's not because:
Writers and readers all over the net have opened their eyes to the truth: authors sell their fanfiction and get away with it. Sure, published authors play a safe game around copyright laws and change the names and circumstances of their characters around just enough to claim they've created a new character. Yet, in the end, every single author out there weaves their stories around archetypes that have existed since humans started telling stories in caves and around fires.
Ask anyone in Hollywood. Every story you see in movies and books is a recycled formula where authors merely plug in characters with different identities and histories. No author truly creates characters. The characters already exist in the archetypal world that Jung, Freud and Joseph Campbell have described in their books. The author is a medium who channels these characters. The origin of all characters is the Shared Mind, the only mind that truly exists. Our minds are all one single ocean of shared memories, fantasies, dreams, nightmares and visions.
She's not a thief because we're all thieves. Silly me. All this time I've been toiling away trying to bring my own characters to life and tell my own stories when I could have
stolen borrowed Kelley Armstrong's or Patricia Briggs', changed a few minor details, and gotten paid.
But is there any merit to the "author's" metaphysical claims? Maybe. While it seems more likely that people writing in the same genre will have similarities due to drawing on the same source material, maybe each time we read something and think "oh, that's just like what so-and-so put in her book" it's because both writers dipped into the same spring in the universal unconscious.
Yet, I can't help but note that she didn't create her own characters and offer to share them with folks of like mind...