Am I really writing a post about the mystery novel Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas recently penned about the characters in one of my all-time favorite shows? Why, yes. Yes I am. It’s basically legitimized fanfic, and I happily shelled out 6.99 for my chance to spend a few more hours in Neptune, post-movie madness a month ago. Maybe I should be embarrassed about this. Some people have certainly told me I should be, but what’s the point? Why should I fight my love of all things Veronica Mars? Why should I pretend I don’t like fanfic when sometimes it’s the absolute best thing ever? I still remember the reams of paper my best friend and her sister used to print out fic written about Ghostbusters. That was back before the internet was a thing, at least for me; I honestly had no idea where they were getting these stories, and I didn’t care. All I knew was that for the low, low price of nothing, we could stay up late reading new adventures with our favorite characters.
Today, of course, the world of fanfic is a bigger deal. The internet has made it possible for anyone with an idea to not only pen as many stories as they want about characters and worlds created by others, but to share them easily with an ever-expanding audience. I happen to think that’s wonderful. I know many people – even some of my favorite authors – look down on fic, or call it unoriginal and derivative, but I see it as an opportunity for people who might never have written a word to share in a feeling of creation.
Writing a story is empowering. When I finish a book, when I’ve pulled it all together and had that internal click that tells me I’m done, it’s the best feeling in the world. I’ve gotten it writing original characters, other people’s characters, essays, dramas, poetry (you name it, I’ve probably given it a shot), and each time is special. I would never want to rob another person of that feeling. I would never want to tell another person that what they write or read is bad, or wrong, or shameful, even though it’s not always easy to own up to what I like best. I’m sure my perspective has been at least in part shaped by the fact that of my three closest friends, one reads mainly fanfic, one, the biographies of politicians and humanitarians, and one, romance novels; my father likes history best and my mother, genre novels and children’s books.
I grew up surrounded by people who said yes to reading in any and every format. There were no restrictions about what I could or couldn’t read, no talk about what was “appropriate” reading material. All around me were true book lovers, people who understood that what made a book “good” was the reader’s pleasure in the experience. So when I tell you that The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line was good, I mean it was a joy to steal minutes out of my day to read it. I fell back into a world I’ve loved since the very first episode of the show aired (I still vividly remember being terrified and intrigued by one of the flashbacks on that show that night). Back then, my friend and I had a standing date to watch it; conveniently, it came on right after Gilmore Girls, so we would pour ourselves bowls of Cocoa Puffs for dinner (I know I’m old because that sounds like an awful supper to me now, but at the time, it was perfection) and settle in for two glorious hours.
Of course, it’s important to recognize that Rob Thomas isn’t exactly borrowing these characters. He made them, and brought them to life, and was instrumental in bringing them back to fans years after cancellation, but he didn’t do it alone. The characters have been shaped by the actors and by the history of the show (undoubtedly built by a team of talented writers). He has been a guiding force in that world though, and his love for both the people he’s worked with and the characters he helped to create is always evident. He also has a gift for creating compelling mysteries, a skill I’m studying closely as I work on my own project. I genuinely have no idea how his characters read to someone unfamiliar with the series, but for fans – new or old – to Neptune, this book is a giant hug from him to you.