Harry Styles Fanfiction Website.
Why, you ask, should fanfiction darken my day?
Because this wasn't just a creative little writer taking a story idea and rewriting it in their own words or changing things around to make a new idea based on mine, it was a person copying and pasting more than 90% of my words to a page and calling them their own. They even went as far as to say they would write more soon.
Isn't that what fan fic is, you ask?
What is legal when it comes to fan fiction and what is not? What are your rights as an author and what are the rights of your beloved readers?
Let's talk a little about that here.
Here's the general rule: fan fiction is fiction based on the works of another author.
What fan fiction is not:
It is not taking the book, word for word, and posting it as your own work. If you do this in class from an encyclopedia, you get suspended or even expelled. It is against the law.
Fan fiction (by basic definition) is not against the law.
How do you make sure you're not plagiarizing an author?
Easy. Don't copy the book word for word, and let people know that it is not your original idea or words and that the rights to this story and characters belong to that author. You might even be helping them boost book sales. And if you love the book enough to want to write your own version, then you must love that author enough to want to help them out or at least respect their hard work.
Just because everyone does it or because you think no one will notice, doesn't make it okay.
I have been greatly affected by this incident of theft, and while carrying baby number 4 and trying to write my next book, I really don't need the stress. Like I said, I have NO PROBLEM with them writing a story based on my plot or characters, but at least let people know you didn't come up with it.
Let me tell you a little about why I feel I deserve this much at least.
In 2001, by choice, when I was 18 years old and newly engaged to my high school sweetheart, I decided to have my first baby. I knew in my heart that this was the right path for me. I wanted to be a mum and couldn't wait to have a baby. The fact that neither my fiancé or I had a good job didn't matter. We were going to be a family, and the rest would take care of itself.
This is called the naivety of youth.
We weren't okay. We struggled something fierce.
When our baby was about 2, my husband's father passed away and left him enough that we could buy a small run-down house. Things got a little better, but because my husband was pursuing a career in the music industry and I was at home now caring for one and a half babies (one in the belly), we quickly fell from grace and, when baby number 2 was just 3 years old, we lost our house in the financial crisis. My dream of being a stay-at-home mum died with it.
My husband and I sat down to decide what to do. Fact was, he needed a 'real' job if we were ever going to have a life. So, he decided to study to become a pilot. We thought this would bring us a stable income. But, after 4 years living with my mum and another baby being born, he finished his studies and got a job at KFC. (And this is skimming over all the heartache we suffered during this time living with my mum. I love my mum, but you just can't have two households in one. Not to mention, my hubby had a medical condition that meant he couldn't run around with his kids, suffered extreme exhaustion, had several operations and was finally cured 6 months after baby number 3 was born. Everything fell on my shoulders during this time trying to support him through his medical problems, studies and to raise 3 kids, one of them being a new baby with a few problems of his own).
A few weeks after he landed the job at KFC and we thought maybe he'd just end up being a fast-food store manager, he got a call. A small company called The Airplane (Yes, that’s spelled right) Company offered him a position as a full-time flight instructor for $32, 000 a year (p/a is what we call it in Aus). This is right on the border of Australian minimum wage and meant we could move out of my mum's into a rental, but we couldn't eat or live. We paid the rent to keep a roof over our heads and I started trying to make writing a career, hoping one day I might be good enough to make a little money, maybe even enough that I wouldn't need to work at a check-out in Coles.
Life was very tough, and we nearly separated more than once. We hated each other and I became so depressed I locked myself in the house for about two years and left only to take my kids to school. I didn’t talk to anyone. I kept my head down and if anyone said hello, I felt like crying. I didn't even shop at the grocery store. My husband would come home after a 10 hour shift at the Aeroplane Company and would have to find something to feed our 3 young boys (this was usually after 6 pm). And on the income we were on, it was usually noodles or cereal.
Debt swallowed us whole and at the point we couldn't take anymore, 3 weeks before Christmas, the Areoplane Company went into administration and a bunch of suits walked into the office, ushered everyone out and didn't even give them their last fortnight's pay.
But we remained positive. We got through Christmas (thanks to a loan from my AMAZING mum) and our kids were never the wiser for what had happened, but over the course of the next year, my husband couldn’t find a job. And he searched like I've never seen anyone search. Went for interviews all the time, nearly got jobs but lost them to people who had more skills. I mean, who needs the skills of a flight instructor? And the aviation industry was dead. He could work full-time in some flight schools but they would only pay for the hour or so he'd be IN the sky with a student. Never mind the briefing and teaching that came before it. They were taking advantage of a shortage of jobs and a mass of pilots (due to a government initiative to increase the number of pilots, without increasing jobs IN Australia).
Things got worse for us, and at about this time, after pouring all this depression and devastation into my books, I got my first cheque for $20. Yep, $20.
But I was thrilled. I'd finally been paid for writing. I was a legitimate author.
I started getting monthly cheques for around $700 after that, but with the debt we had and my husband still with no job, all that money did was pay interest on credit cards we would never pay off.
So, I put my head down and just kept writing. Just kept pouring everything I was and everything I suffered into those books. It was my best and only hope. I knew if I went to Coles and slid barcodes over a laser, I'd slit my own wrists. I envy people that can do that. I am just not strong enough. They say it has to do with creative tendencies: that people like me cannot endure the mundane. This is why authors and musicians quite often turn to drugs or massive amounts of alcohol. I am glad to say, though, that in all my depression, I never turned to drugs or alcohol.
Anyway, nearing the end of one year, Mike got an interview with a bus company to drive buses for $36, 000 a year. He pretty much had the job, but then, out of the blue, they called and said they were suspending all job applications while doing some massive clean-out in the company. We thought it was just that no one liked my husband, but anyone who's met him loves him. He's hard working, honest, always smiling. What’s not to like?
We didn't take it to heart. We tried to see it as a positive--that maybe there was a better path out there for him. But Christmas was around the corner again and I was getting worried. I looked at my books and sighed, thinking I knew what I had to do. I opened a job search on Google and started searching for the mundane. My depression had lifted a little and I was coping with things like conversations and leaving the house. I really hoped I could pull up my big-girl panties and survive a job at Coles.
After some thought, I decided to take a short course in editing and maybe become a freelance editor, but when I got my course leaflets and had just begun, Dark Secrets really took off, and my $700 cheques became more than $1500 cheques, and that was from just one company. Every month. Things were looking up. Mike, God bless him, told me I should be doing what I loved and that this was a sign.
We decided that I would keep writing, no matter what.
Later that week, he got a callback from a job application he’d made (one he did as more of a joke, really). It was time for another interview. It seemed good, but we were too damaged now to hope anymore.
He went for the job interview at Telstra and GOT THE JOB!!!!!
It was $36, 000 p/a (best we'd EVER had!!) and we slowly started paying our debts down and I braved the grocery store again, still unable to buy fancy food, but not cringing over the price of noodles anymore.
We all got a little healthier with the weekly dose of vegetables and meat, and I even lost some weight and started exercising. My kids actually smiled more and we even started going to parks to play (something I just couldn't face while so deeply depressed).
Then, a few weeks before Christmas a year later, my husband was roped into applying for the assistant manager's position at Telstra, and he actually got it!!!! We were shocked, but not as shocked as I was when they told us what the pay was. Let's just say we don't worry so much about money anymore. We're actually STILL in debt (his study fees and few other horrid interest-bearing cards), but nothing we can't handle with a regular income. And through that period before he got the assistant manger position, it was my books that put veggies on the table, McDonald’s on the 'okay' list and bought Christmas presents for my 3 very grateful boys.
Writing has changed my life, as you can see, in more ways than one. My heart and soul are in those books in more ways than anyone can possibly imagine. In those dark days that I couldn't even leave my bed without crying or contemplating hanging myself with a bathrobe belt, writing was my only salvation. I couldn’t look at my boys and say I was here for them, because I truly believed they'd be better off if I was dead (not a rational thought at all). I couldn't find any rays of light in my life. I felt like the universe was against me and just pushing me that one step closer to the Devil's arms.
In that time, I just closed my eyes, put headphones in my ears and sat in my dark room, in my bed, and typed away. Even when I got really bad RSI, I wrapped my wrist and kept writing.
Ara and David saved my life, so, for someone to steal that idea and say it belongs to them, get praise for that, it hurt. As you can see, it hurt for more than one reason. I cried when I saw it and got in such a panic, all I could do was run out to my husband with my laptop in hand, hyperventilating, and try not to cry in front of my children. It hurt. Deeply.
So, let this be a lesson to anyone considering stealing someone else's work. Please. Just imagine what they might have been through to bring it to you. More times than one, I nearly didn't make it through the day. And I axed the idea of writing more than once. Had it not been for my husband convincing me, every time, and my AMAZING fans pleading with me to keep writing (even though they knew nothing of what was going on), we wouldn't be seeing Lies in Blood in 6 days' time. I owe my life to my fans and to my husband. I am not going to let anyone claim my story as their own achievement. It is not just a cool story about vampires. It's a journal of survival. My survival.