What is Fan Fiction?
It's been a long time since I prompted a debate by you folks. I miss it. So...
Recently I stumbled (don't ask how) onto an LJ page where someone was asking about "Alexander/Hephaistion Fan Fiction." (For those of you who don't know, Hephaistion was the close friend, trusted lieutenant, and (many believe) lover of Alexander the Great.) To my surprise, several people responded with links to specific stories.
Now I was utterly confused. Personally I had always thought of fan fiction as "fiction using characters and/or settings originally created by other authors." But since Alexander and Hephaistion were both historical persons rather than fictional characters, it seems to me that a slash story about them would be original [historical] fiction, not fan fic. (Well, okay, some people may know of Hephaistion only through the novels of Mary Renault (I'm almost, but not quite, in that category myself) and consequently think of him as "her" fictional character, but surely that's an error.)
Yet none of the readers of the post seemed to regard either the request or the responses as remarkable.
Add to this the question of whether certain published novels and plays using characters from earlier authors are to be categorized as "fan fiction." Consider Travesties, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Wicked, Wide Sargasso Sea, etc., etc. Many people seem to think these aren't fan fiction.
My tentative explanation was that some people think that "fan fiction" is fiction by amateurs -- by which, I guess, they mean people who aren't pulished. By this definition the A/H slash stories are fan fiction because they're not written by "professional" authors, but Wide Sargasso Sea isn't, because it was.
So which is it, people, and why? Or is there a third definition? Go to it!
An interesting secondary question, by the way, would be whether, to someone whose only context with Hephaistion was through Renault's novels, he essentially is a fictional character, making stories about him fan fiction...