Wanted: Metafictional Spin-Off Novels
16th Nov 2014 in Uncategorised
Confession time: I have a love for spin-off novels, particularly metafictional ones. By that I mean novels that don’t exist, but are mentioned in a film, TV show, or book as if they do exist. Think of the novels by Richard Castle in the TV show Castle. Sometimes, these novels are then written, and they do become real, and then I like to read them. The thing is, I only like it if they spin off something I haven’t seen or read.
For example, The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer, the diary of a character in Stephen King’s novel Rose Red (which I haven’t read). Or Guillermo del Toro’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, the illustrated journal of the protagonist of his film of the same name (which I haven’t seen). Or The Diary of Laura Palmer, a fictional diary of the dead girl whose murder is investigated in Twin Peaks (which I hadn’t seen when I read the book, which was a bit stupid as it gives away the ending).
So why on earth would someone want to read a spin-off that fills in the gaps something they haven’t even seen? Well, because I like the gaps. I love mythologies and backstory and imaginary worlds. Of course, good books don’t spend a lot of time info-dumping stuff about the backstory and world. Good books also don’t have a lot of gaps, because a satisfying story generally answers most of a reader’s questions. But sometimes I like gaps. I like when a book leaves space for me, as a reader and writer, to create part of the story myself.
And now I get to the real reason for this post: I want more metafictional spin-offs. I don’t care if they’re based on books, films, comics, games, or any other type of story – I just want more of them! Any recommendations much appreciated.
This is really interesting! Can think of a couple off the top of my head – there’s Drug Lime, Will Self’s Booker Prize winning final novel, as imagined in The Quiddity of Will Self by Sam Mills. Lots of descriptions of films by the fictional horror director Stanislas Cordova in Marisha Pessl’s Night Film as well.
YES I love all of this. In the new Showtime series The Affair (I’ll be writing about the first season this winter for The Female Gaze) there are the novels of fictional bestselling author Bruce Butler; and his son-in-law, main character Noah Solloway, has written one novel and is currently writing a second–the protagonist for his second novel is a thinly veiled him, so there’s yet another meta-layer. I’m so into it.