Some background on Mortal Instruments, Cassandra Clare, and Dracoy FanFics
Let’s put aside all the cool boner jokes you can make with the title of a film called Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and instead focus on an issue that has less to do with the film and more to do with the book series and author Cassandra Clare. Be warned that I will be referencing some stuff that happened in the Harry Potter FanFic community, something that if you are not familiar with will sound very craZy with a random capital letter in the middle of the word.
Before we start, let me say I love this fanfic drama stuff. The fanfic itself..not so much. I simply don’t have time to read thousands of stories online in addition to all the other reading I do and the watching movies and writing about movies and having a wife and a job. But when things go controversial or weird, that’s when I pay attention, as I’m attracted to drama. It’s my honeypot!
Cassandra Clare got her online fame start as Cassandra Claire (neither are her real name, btw), writer of famed FanFic The Very Secret Diaries (a spoof of The Lord of the Rings) and The Draco Trilogy, an influential Harry Potter FanFic. The Draco Trilogy is where we are going to focus.
The Draco Trilogy features Draco Malfoy being redeemed and joining with Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny on a series of adventures. It begins with Draco Dormiens, where polyjuice potion causes Harry and Draco to be permanently switched, and hijinks ensue. Needless to say, Draco becomes good, Sirius Black declares he will marry Draco’s mom (thus making Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy brothers!), and Harry confesses his love to Hermione (who rejects him!) In Draco Sinister, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco, and Ginny battle Salazar Slytherin, who has returned to be evil and kidnap Hermione, because that’s what evil people do. The final chapter is Draco Veritas, which clocks in at over 500,000 words!! Needless to say, a bajillion things happen, including love dodecahedrons, people getting drunk all the time, fake coming out of the closet, and wizard strip clubs.
The Draco Trilogy was influential, producing numerous pieces of fan art and becoming the definitive story for the Draco/Ginny shippers. But it wasn’t without controversy, as it was discovered that portions of the stories were taken wholesale from sources without attribution. Buffy the Vampire Slayer quotes were the most easily spotted, as well as Babylon 5 lines. But there were a lot of passages from fantasy authors that were reworded slightly and inserted. If these sources had been identified in the beginning, no one would have cared, but it was the fact they were used freely and without disclosure that caused everyone to freak out. Her stories were removed from FanFiction.Net, though the ensuing controversy led to the creation of FictionAlley, where The Draco Trilogy reappeared (until it was deleted again right when Cassandra Clare got a book contract!)
Readers of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series got their own eerie sense of deja vu when they realized that some of the characters were basically Claire’s versions of the Harry Potter characters from The Draco Trilogy. Most specifically, series bad boy Jace is her version of Draco Malfoy, right down to directly quoting some of the same lines her Malfoy said in The Draco Trilogy. Heroine Clary is her Ginny. Alec=Harry, Isabelle=Blaise, Valentine=Lucius. This is problematic because even though they are her interpretations of characters, the characters are essentially the JK Rowling characters. It’s the same deal with the whole 50 Shades of Grey thing, where the characters are Edward and Bella because it was a fanfic first.
I love remixes, I love when cultural properties are used by others outside of their original scope. I love that it happens even when I don’t love the end results. But it’s nice to have acknowledgement that it is what is happening. Instead, we get silence and denials and outright drama. And Cassandra Clare is no stranger to random online drama. I get annoyed when people don’t acknowledge the obvious inspirations and sources of their materials. Cassandra Clare has a history of borrowing from others without consent, and while other fanfic writers who have gone off to be published (called profic) can come up with original ideas and settings and characters, the excessive reuse is troubling.
(Image from so many tumblrs I don’t even know any more!)