Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Writing In Another Universe

I'm in the middle of preparing to write a short story for a submission call related to Clive Barker's "Cabal". Authors are invited with Barker's blessing to write a continuation of what happens to the remaining residents of Midian after the city collapses. In other words, we're to begin where the book leaves off. I've always loved Clive Barker and "Cabal" is one of my favorites. I also enjoyed the movie "Nightbreed", which I own. In  case you are not a real horror fan, "Nightbreed" is the movie version of "Cabal". So here I am, preparing to write in another writer's universe. Again.

I've written in other universes, most notably Lovecraft's universes and the worlds in the TV show "Once Upon A Time". I wrote Rumbelle romances. In case you aren't aware of what Rumbelle is, those are romances between the characters Belle and Rumpelstiltskin. I wrote three stories and then called it quits. I had a blast doing it, though!

Writing in someone else's universe is done all the time. You've probably seen it in fan fiction. The most notorious is Kirk/Spock slash erotic stories. I've read some atrocious Harry Potter fan fiction where the writers - often teenaged girls or recent high school graduates - have created romances between Professor Snape and a "new" girl or professor who is nothing more than a Mary Sue based on the author herself. You've seen the type. The character is beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, the best in her class, and wonderful at all she does. And of course the hero falls in love with her. These stories are nothing more than wish fulfillment and fantasy the author projects onto her fictional character who is really herself in disguise. There are books written in the "Star Trek", "Star Wars", and "The X Files" universes that are much better written and reputable. There is also not a Mary Sue in sight. Authors like Ann Crispin, Timothy Zahn, and Kevin J. Anderson have written such books.

Why write in someone else's universe rather than create one of your own? Here are a few reasons.

1) You do it for the love of the original.

2) You do it to stretch your writing chops.

3) You do it for the money, since if you're offered such a contract you're bound to be successful. The fan base is already built in.

Have you ever written in someone else's universe? If you have, which universes have you revisited?


Elizabeth Black writes erotic romance, dark fiction, and horror. Her dark romance "Alicia" is one of Mocha Memoirs Press's Dark Mocha Bites.

Alicia (Dark Mocha Bites)

Release Date: October 6, 2012

Buy links: 


When the love of his life, Alicia, calls him in the middle of the night to report she had been raped, Eric drops everything to come to her rescue. She takes him on an eerie ride through turbulent hours he can't quite comprehend. Alicia may need his help, but her situation is not what it seems.


Eric stepped out of the shower and a foul stench—mingled with the crisp peppermint of his shampoo—smacked him in the face and left a coppery taste in the back of his throat. His stomach heaved. Confused, he looked around the room to figure out where the smell came from, but he couldn't pinpoint it. Dread clung to him, dark and sticky, ruining his relaxed mood. The light bulbs over the sink hummed, casting harsh yellow light about the room. He shaded his eyes against the glare, trying to see.

Why were those lights so bright? Something was terribly wrong in his peaceful world, and not knowing what it was frightened him.

His wife Alicia brushed her teeth as if nothing was unusual, while the stink of rot lurked beneath the cool mint of his shampoo. Why didn't she notice the smell?

He leaned towards her to place his hand on her shoulder, and she turned her face towards his for a kiss on the cheek. Ugly, purple bruises darkened her eyes. He pulled away, repulsed and alarmed, not quite sure what he was seeing. One side of her face had swelled to a dark mask, not unlike a pumpkin that had been left outside in the damp earth to rot. An angry red welt encircled her throat like a bloody ribbon wrapped around her neck. Frightened, he reached out one hand but he couldn't bring himself to touch her swollen face. Touching her would make the vision real and it couldn't be real.

Alicia spat in the sink. Two of her teeth bounced against the porcelain. Blood tainted the paste.

"The girls are running late again." Alicia's bloodied mouth leaked crimson and white toothpaste. Why did she act as if nothing strange was going on? He gaped at her, not understanding what was happening. The safety of his home evaporated as she spoke with her raw, torn mouth. "Make them wolf down their cereal, and toss them out of the house before they miss the bus."

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