Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, July 02, 2009

What Happens to Characters That We Love?

by Julie Coulter Bellon

I have been following a lawsuit involving J.D. Salinger, who was trying to stop the U.S. distribution of an unauthorized “sequel,” to his novel, “The Catcher in the Rye.” A Swedish author, writing under the pseudonym John David California, wrote a book called "60 Years Later, Coming Through the Rye." From the sounds of it, the book is quite similar to the famous Catcher in the Rye in the fact that it is sixty years later and the main character, “Mr. C” escapes from a nursing home and explores New York City, much like Holden Caulfield did in the original Catcher when he escapes an elite prep school and explores New York. The lawsuit has sparked quite a few discussions on copyright and whether someone can try to ride the coattails of a classic. The author of the sequel, whose real name is Frederik Colting was quoted as saying, “I wanted to explore what happens to characters. When a book is finished, do the characters cease to exist, or do they live on somehow?”

When we read books we love, I think we’ve all wondered that at some time or another. We all want to know what happened to the characters we identified with or came to love. I’ve seen a few other sequels to classics like Gone With the Wind and Pride and Prejudice, none of which seemed particularly wonderful to me because they couldn’t match the quality of writing and vision that the original author had, in my opinion. It got me thinking though, (I know, I know, maybe I should stop that). What if we were to write sequels to other works, and tell what happened sixty years later to characters or stories that we loved, like Mr. Colting did?

Nancy Drew—The Grandma Years, The Case of the Missing Eyeglasses

Where the Red Fern Grew Before They Built a Shopping Mall On It

Lord of the Flies—Return to the Island: Wheelchair Wars

The Work and the Glory Vol. 38—The Steeds Move to Tooele

Lord of the Rings—Gollum’s Grandson Gets Revenge

Twilight—Renesmee Goes To College

Do you have characters or stories that you would love to read in a sequel?


At 7/02/2009 3:56 PM, Anonymous Meredith Dias said...

Don't forget these:

-A Cowardly Old World
-Jude the Still-Obscure
-Ender's Games: Bingo & Bridge
-Wuthering Heights: The Demolition
-The Tomb of Monte Cristo
-As I Lay Dying in 1949
-To Excavate a Mockingbird
-The Picture of Dorian Gray II: Uglier and More Sinister

At 7/02/2009 3:59 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Meredith, I am laughing so hard right now. Those are awesome!


At 7/02/2009 4:04 PM, Anonymous Meredith Dias said...

Thanks, Julie! I almost forgot the most important one, though:

Catcher in the Rye-Flavored Triscuits.

At 7/02/2009 4:08 PM, Blogger Melanie Goldmund said...

I'm laughing at the suggestions by both of you! Hey, Julie, is that a picture of Rob that I see labeled Gollum's grandson? It looks familiar somehow ... *g*

And Toole! *snort*

At 7/02/2009 4:15 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Melanie, why do think Rob is such a big LOTR fan? ;)

At 7/02/2009 4:23 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Julie, these are hilarious!

At 7/02/2009 4:57 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Julie "Coulter" Bellon, I'll be sending you my therapy bills. My heart is not made of stone!

At 7/02/2009 4:57 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 7/02/2009 5:14 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Rob, you've got a heart of gold. Precious gold.

At 7/02/2009 5:16 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

You should consider reading the Jasper Fforde books - they explore a similar idea - that the characters in the book actually exist in their own world.

See for more info:

This is not exactly what you are talking about, but sometimes when I'm reading a particularly involving book. I'll dream that I'm reading the book, and events unfold straight from my imagination (rather than the author's, I guess.) When I wake up, I have a hard time distinguishing "reality" from my dreams.

Yes, I am that weird.

At 7/02/2009 9:22 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

How about:

All's Fair: The White House Years — Kristen is president and Ryan is first mate. While Brandon and Rachel are working as service missionaries in Uganda, they stumble upon a plot to assasinate the Jamesons. Can they sneak out of the country and warn their loved ones before it's too late?

Time's Up — Andrew and Ashton have four adopted adult children and 13 grandchildren. They're retired and running a little antique store in Kanab, UT when their past comes back to haunt them. They must race against time to stop a terrorist plot to blow up the oil fields in Alaska.

Hanging by Our Toenails — Dylan and Elizabeth go into the witness protection program and settle down in Toronto. But when people start getting sick with the symptoms of the bio weapon they thought they'd destroyed years ago, they must come out of hiding to trap their enemies. Will they succeed? Or will they succumb to the illness themselves?

Through One More Trial — Kenneth and Emma haven't been able to have children, so they travel to Taiwan to adopt. While there, Emma's daughter (now a beautiful teenager) is kidnapped and sold into white slavery. Can they find her before the unthinkable happens?

At 7/02/2009 10:19 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Karlene, that is incredibly creative. I am so impressed. You should totally write those for me!

Jon, that really is kind of cool you dream that way. And thanks for the link!

At 7/03/2009 11:55 AM, Blogger Taffy said...

You people are TOO funny!

At 7/04/2009 2:27 AM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I love all these ideas.

At 7/04/2009 3:18 AM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

The comments are just as hilarious as the post! I loved the Nancy drew and I won't lie--the bit about precious gold had me in stitches!!!

At 7/05/2009 9:48 PM, Blogger Keith Fisher said...

Great blog.

I started writing a book about the characters of the Peanuts comic strip grown up. then I found out the author's family gave acontract to someone else. still it was fun and a good writing exercise. I have ides for others, I'm told its called fan fiction. Hate to see what will happen to it witht the Salinger lawsuit.

At 7/07/2009 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chelsea Cain wrote a wonderful Nancy Drew parody about the teen sleuth's later years. Just saying.


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