I have this little project I’ve been tinkering with on and off for the past seven months, called The Freedom Triangle. It’s a novella which takes place in the mythology of The Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher. Although mine is an original story, it’s technically “fan fiction” or “derivative fiction,” and that turns it into a copyright nightmare. I was discussing this with my writer friend Will Hadcroft, himself a Tripods fan and someone who has met the author of the trilogy. A few days later, there’s a message in my inbox from a sender called Sam Youd. For those who don’t know, John Christopher is actually the pseudonym of a man called Samuel Youd. Here’s what he had to say:
Will has passed me your request/query re your novella, and I wish I could be more helpful. It’s not just Disney – I’m also contracted to Simon & Schuster who have kept the books in print for nearly forty years.
I’m not sure whether your book would be seen as a violation of copyright, not (thank God) being a movie/publishing lawyer; but I know their minds work in strange and often jealous ways. I don’t think they would take private circulation among friends seriously, but actual publication would be a different ballgame. So would publication on the Net: the question of copyright in that area is still to be worked out. What I’m afraid is indisputable is that I personally am in no position to offer a go-ahead or clearance – it’s not in my hands.
Sorry about that!
I don’t want to sound like a starstruck teenager, but it was great to get an email from the man himself. Ain’t the internet a wonderful thing?