Wednesday, April 16, 2008

An Author’s Opinion of the Harry Potter Lexicon

Originally posted HERE

An author's writing is often their baby, and with any baby, you want to protect it. Most authors today would welcome fans creating lexicons, websites, and fanfiction of their work. That's because most authors have very small audiences and would love any free promotion they could get. However, popular authors, like J.K. Rowling, have more at stake when a fan pushes the envelope.

For those of you out of the loop, Steve Vander Ark, a 50 year-old former librarian from Michigan, created an online Harry Potter lexicon, which everyone could view freely. That didn't seem to stir the pot too much until he agreed with RDR Books to print the lexicon and sell it to the public. J.K. Rowling got wind of this and is taking the issue to court in New York. She feels that Vander Ark's lexicon has little value to Harry Potter fans and that it infringes on copyright laws. RDR Books claims that they are protected under the fair use laws.

As a new author, I initially felt that J.K. Rowling was making too much of a fuss about this. RDR Books was only going to do a first print run of 1500. That would hardly make a dent in Rowling's fanbase or in her pocketbook. Heck, I gave away more than 1500 copies of my new fantasy novel, Paraworld Zero, for free! And if the lexicon truly was substandard, wouldn't that just boost sales for the official Harry Potter encyclopedia that Rowling plans to write? So the issue must run deeper than money. The issue at hand is the plagiarism and mishandling of Rowling's "baby."

Rowling's complaint that the lexicon is poorly written does not warrant a lawsuit in my mind, but her argument that the lexicon is mostly filled with quotes from her books and has little original content does raise a red flag. The American fair use laws do allow for quotations of copyrighted material without permission, but Vander Ark might have overstepped his bounds. The courts will decide on that. In the final analysis, the lexicon will not hurt book sales of Harry Potter. It will not demean Harry Potter nor will it take away any significant amount of money from Rowling. In fact, the lawsuit and media coverage will probably increase the sales of Rowling's official encyclopedia when it comes out. So, again, that leaves the sentimental and legal issues of having someone else play with your work.

How would I feel if someone wrote a lexicon about my Parallel Worlds series? At this point in the game, I'd feel flattered. Ask me this question again in fifteen years when my "baby" has matured into a teenager, and I might give you a different answer. Authors, as well as parents, can be very protective of their children.

About the Author:
Matthew Peterson is an award-winning short story writer, second degree black belt in karate, Eagle scout, computer programmer, and former missionary. He lives in Arizona with his wife, five boys and their giant African tortoise. Matthew's debut young adult novel, Paraworld Zero (ISBN # 978-1-59092-491-4), hit the bestseller list and garnered many favorable reviews. Reviewers say it's a "Harry Potter meets Star Wars."

Monday, April 07, 2008

10 Things You Might Not Know About Me

Originally posted HERE

Okay, I’ve been “tagged” twice now, so I thought I’d better do it. I have to list 10 things you don’t know about me.

1. My favorite color is marble blue – my wife tells me that a marble pattern doesn’t count as a color, but I’m sticking to it.

2. My favorite city is Panguitch, Utah. I laugh every time I visit Utah and see the sign for that tiny city in the middle of nowhere. It’s also the city where that looney guy from Contact is from – you know, the religious zealot who blows up the huge alien machine that cost billions of tax dollars to create. My next favorite city is Orem, UT (the Orem/Provo area was once nominated the most livable city in America... but then I moved away... and... you know... They had to take the “most livable city in America” sign down).

3. Three authors motivated me to become an author: J.R.R. Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander and Douglas Hill. Tolkien died a long time ago, but Alexander and Hill both died last year, but not before sending me personal letters. Also, Douglas Hill loved my book and gave it a blurb.

4. I got engaged to be married after 2 dates and 10 days. We’ve been married for over 10 years now and have 5 boys. We’re still happy.

5. I am an utter perfectionist and somewhat @%$!, but my office is a total mess.

6. I performed in 4 musicals, although I can hardly sing. I must have had a lot of charisma and energy for the directors to keep inviting me back!

7. I did the artwork for my book, Paraworld Zero. It was the first time I had ever done computer art and the second time I had done any art at all since 8th grade.

8. I was perhaps one of the best video game players out there when I was a pre-teenager. I would go to the video arcade with one quarter and would play games like Super Mario Brothers or Black Tiger for an hour without skipping levels or dying once.

9. I really wanted twins. I told my wife many times that she would have twins. The morning she had her first ultrasound, I told her she was eating for three. We discovered during the ultrasound that she was pregnant with twins.

10. I’m a huge scifi/fantasy addict. However, I’m too busy to watch the shows, so I’ve tape recorded every episode of Stargate-SG1, Stargate Atlantis, Farscape, Early Edition, Lois and Clark, and Battlestar Galactica... but I’ve watched very few of them. I’ve never seen an episode of Stargate Atlantis or Battlestar Galactica, but I have them all recorded.

Bonus: I had a premonition when my last boy was born. A few minutes before he was born, I felt this feeling of dread cover my body that something was wrong. When my boy was born, the doctors instantly saw that something was wrong. He was flown to another hospital where he had open heart surgery. My wife had also become crippled during labor.