I started RHETT BUTLER'S PEOPLE this morning, and it brought to mind a comment made by a reviewer of my book. She said she was at first appalled that someone had the nerve to put Macbeth into a novel. I think "chutzpah" was the word she used. She decided that I'd done all right with him, thank goodness.

The author's audacity thing interests me. Yes, it takes some nerve to say you'll become the storyteller for Rhett Butler or Jane Austen or Cleopatra. But it's a story, people. It's just my idea or some other person's, and it's just for funzies. No one says you have to see Rhett that way if he doesn't line up with the man you met in GONE WITH THE WIND. I remember being quite unhappy with Vivian Leigh being cast as Scarlett, because I'd formed my own mind picture. But I still liked the movie.

So unlike some folks, I approve of the attempt to "capture" a character, real or imagined, and add to his or her story. Unless it's truly character assassination, I'll let you fill in backstory, continue adventures, or even provide motivation. Just do it well.

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Comment by I. J. Parker on July 10, 2009 at 2:25am
Hate spin-offs myself and have been puzzled by their success. But what do I know?
Comment by Ciscley on July 9, 2009 at 4:05pm
Re: historical figure accuracy, I think the audience's expectation level for accuracy depends entirely on the genre in question and how central the historic event or character is to the story. That said, even when I am expecting extremely well researched characters, like with a true crime book, so long as the author provides details at the end explaining where they've strayed from documented fact, I feel okay as a reader.

Re: Borrowing Characters - While I enjoy reading different perspectives on historical figures, I've never found a well done spin-off from another authors original characters. I'm sure I'm in the minority though. Otherwise how explain the entire section dedicated to Pride & Prejudice "sequels" at my local bookstore.
Comment by I. J. Parker on July 9, 2009 at 4:07am
Historical figures have to be researched extremely well and rarely are. Macbeth, of course, is a rather shadowy creature mostly known to us from Shakespeare's play, and Rhett Butler is someone else's fictional character.

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