For a lot of years, especially during my twenties, I wrote mainly fanfiction. I don’t think it’s particularly uncommon for authors to start out that way; Joanne Harris has admitted to writing and even posting fragments of Lost, House, and other fanfiction (good on her!). At it’s core, it’s ripping way to learn: you can experiment with techniques that might be a bit experimental for mainstream fiction; you have a ready-made audience; and you make a lot of good friends.
Although my first, painfully juvenile Famous Five stories have thankfully been consigned to time and landfill, my next forays, illicit humourous Red Dwarf poems I would scribble during maths classes in 1994 (don’t follow my example, folks – I got a D), are still in the house somewhere. *cringe* Since then I’ve written Star Trek: Enterprise, Andromeda, Roswell, Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Torchwood fanfiction. While some are better than others, they’re all reasonable, and a learnt a lot in writing them. But one in particular really pathed the way for Dark in a way I didn’t realise until I looked back at it; a lot of the key elements developed there, and doubtless they were floating about somewhere in my subconscious the night I had that life-altering dream.
I’m thinking of posting some of this fanfiction up here, starting with the Torchwood piece that gave me so much of Dark’s world. It’s probably a lot of nonsense scientifically-speaking, but I don’t like to think of these pieces languishing in a drawer somewhere, and they might be of interest. But if you’re curious, a large number of them are already on Fanfiction.net. One of them, the Enterprise novel Under My Skin, I even submitted to Simon & Schuster in 2003, little understanding at the time that the majority of the spin-off books they publish are commissioned from their existing client list (I’ve learnt a lot since then, lol). Even so, it was quite a phenomenon in its time! 😀 Sadly I pulled it from the site and republished it at a later date, so all the original reviews were lost. 🙁
Anyway, you can find all but the Torchwood and Doctor Who stories here, and I’ll post those first before I revive the older stuff. I don’t have time for fanfiction nowadays, but I still believe it’s an honourable pastime and I’d recommend it to anyone that’s interested in writing.