To an extent, fanfiction is still viewed as the realm of amateur writers. Even now that it’s more acceptable for mainstream authors and publishers alike, many well-known writers are still reluctant to talk about their stint with fanfic (if they talk about it at all). It’s a shame, because as fanfic authors and readers know too well, the world of fandom is brimming with talent.
That’s why it’s heartening to know famous authors—both living and dead—who still try their hand at fanfiction, even after they’ve already made a name for themselves. In fact, they’re so cool with the idea of fanfic, they’ve even allowed their fan works to be available online for free! (Okay, maybe Mark Twain is an exception.)
Let’s take a look at five of those below:
Title: A Study in Emerald (opens as a pdf)
Author: Neil Gaiman
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes x Cthulhu Mythos
Synopsis: In a Victorian England where the Great Ones have come, two unlikely partners set out to solve the mystery behind the death of a royal heir.
Why Read It: Gaiman is able to capture both the voice of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the terrifying (un)reality of H. P. Lovecraft’s universe. From the beginning, you have this foreboding feeling that something’s not quite right with Sherlock Holmes’ world. As you move closer and closer to the story’s denouement, you’ll find your jaw dropping closer and closer to the floor as well.
Title: Abraham’s Boys
Author: Joe Hill
Synopsis: Abraham Van Helsing has two sons, who discover the darker side of their father’s occupation.
Why Read It: In the original story, almost everyone who wasn’t Dracula or his minions was portrayed in a positive light. In “Abraham’s Boys,” however, Hill adds more layers to Van Helsing’s character by showing us how his work as a vampire hunter could’ve taken a toll on his psyche. This is a chilling tale that will irreversibly change the way you look at the original.
Title: Dr. Malcolm Long
Author: John Scalzi
Synopsis: Dr. Malcolm Long has inappropriate thoughts about Rorschach.
Why Read It: Don’t let the seemingly slashy premise put you off. This is a parody of erotic fiction that will leave you chuckling after every paragraph—whether you’re a Watchmen fan or not.
Title: A Double Barrelled Detective Story
Author: Mark Twain
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Synopsis: A young man named Archy Stillman vows to avenge his mother. Meanwhile, Holmes somehow ends up in the American West.
Why Read It: Ever thought that Sherlock Holmes’ abilities were too good to be true? In this story, Twain addresses this question—by completely skewering the idea of an all-knowing detective. Granted, he might’ve gone a little overboard with the parody, but Twain’s trademark wit is always entertaining to read.
Title: Hunting Monsters
Author: S. L. Huang
Fandom: Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and other fairy tales
Synopsis: After a woman is convicted of killing a grundwirgen, her daughter and partner plot to save her.
Why Read It: Huang mentioned that she’s a fan of transformative works, and it shows. In this crossover fairy tale, you have awesome worldbuilding, more-than-token representation of women and queer characters, and fanfiction done right. Also, if you squint, there are references to fairy tales other than the ones mentioned above. What’s not to love?
There you have it. Five short stories (that are, in fact, fanfiction) written by authors at the height of their careers. If you know of similar works that can be legally accessed online for free, drop us a line in the comments!