Blurred Lines by K.D. Williamson brings up an interesting discussion and almost makes me wonder if the double meaning of the title was intentional. The book originated as Rizzoli & Isles fan fiction and, with some editing, ended up being published as an original novel. I did not read the fan fiction version of this story, but I will admit to being a long-time fan of the TV show. I’ve even dabbled in a little R&I fan fiction writing myself. This book was recommended to me by a couple of people who really liked it and thought I would too.
I think I would have enjoyed this book a little more if I had NOT been a fan of Rizzoli & Isles. The characters were so obviously based on the TV characters that it was impossible for me to envision them any other way. Even though the physical descriptions and names were changed, they had the exact same character traits and behaviors as those on TV. In my mind, I was watching the TV show as I read – which could be a real compliment in the fan fiction world. I got really frustrated early on with the names because they weren’t the names I was used to the characters being called – especially the secondary characters. Once I got familiar with the new names, the story flowed a little smoother for me.
That said, I actually liked the story and the relationship between Kelli and Nora. Again, had I not been so familiar with Rizzoli & Isles, I think I may have really liked the characters – eventually. I thought that Kelli was a real ass in the beginning and Nora wasn’t very likable at all, but they both sort of grew on me by the end, especially when they began interacting more with each other. Kelli’s profanity was a little over done, and the subplot of Antony, the drug-addicted brother, seemed to be an unnecessary distraction to the rest of the book, but Kelli and Nora had good chemistry and it was fun to see them learn how to find their way as a couple. There were a couple of things that were alluded to that I don’t think would really make sense to a reader if they weren’t familiar with Rizzoli & Isles – Jane/Kelli’s history with Korsak/Williams and Williams’ personal relationship with Kelli’s mother (which I think happened only in the books and fan fiction, but not in the TV show.) The setting was changed from Boston to Seattle, but there was one line late in the book that threw me: Kelli and Nora are in the car and made a turn “toward Beacon Hill.” I’ve since learned that there’s a Beacon Hill area of Seattle too. Another blurred line! The setting didn’t really play a huge part in the book, so I didn’t really have a problem with that change like I did with the character names.
The part that I did have a problem with and just couldn’t get past was this: these were not original characters. As a reader and occasional writer of fan fiction, I don’t believe that a story that was written and posted for the masses to read as fan fiction should be removed from that realm and published as an original work that will then be sold for personal gain. I felt the same way about the 50 Shades books. Part of the reason fan fiction is tolerated by a lot of writers and creators who feel their work has been stolen or at least infringed upon, is that fan fic writers will not profit from their work! That’s the whole reason to put the little disclaimer at the beginning – something like: These characters are not mine and no profit will be made from their use in this work.
I’ve read a lot of published books that were based on the Xena characters. While they have the physical traits of Xena and Gabrielle, I’ve never really felt like I was watching a Xena episode while reading a book. If I read a book that I think would make a good movie, I often visualize an actress who I think fits the character. So, I do realize that there can be some gray areas (maybe not 50 shades, but still gray) in writing and creating characters. I also know that some very accomplished writers of lesbian fiction got their start in writing and adapting Xena fan fiction into published novels. But, in my opinion, that still doesn’t make it right to use someone else’s characters without their permission and/or the legal authorization to do so.
I think it’s great that fan fiction writers are being recognized as talented, publishable writers. I just wish that the publishers and editors and others who recognize this would encourage them to write purely original stories. I have no idea if the 50 Shades books were changed dramatically or held fast to the original characters. I’ve not read any of the books nor seen the any of the movies (original or adapted.) The Blurred Lines characters were given new names and new physical descriptions, but there is no question in my mind that these characters are still Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles. Ms. Williamson tells a good story and is not a bad writer at all. I hope in the future she will use those talents to create new, original characters that stand on their own and do not blur the lines between fan fiction and a truly original novel.
You can purchase or download a sample of Blurred Lines by clicking here.