Who Owns these Guys?

On the forum at the new Essential-Eberron.com, where we’re now discussing The Road to Death, a reader with the handle Effect asks:

The characters in the Lost Mark trilogy, do you have any control over them being used by other authors or do they simply belong to WoTC now?

Not one bit. My novels for Wizards are work-for-hire. That means they own every word of them.

On a similar note, would you be against other authors using the characters either as apart of their stories or basiclly continuing their adventures (those that live at the end of the trilogy)?

Reason I’m asking is that I’m not sure if authors have a special pull toward characters they create and would rather they not be changed from how they visioned them or if they’d honestly be happy to see others use them. Cause if you move on to other things I’d love to see these characters again in either a story by you or someone else.

I’d prefer to be the only writer who tackles these characters, but I have no power over that. As Paul Crilley says, it can be bad form to propose something that uses someone else’s characters, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Wizards could also ask another author to write a story using these characters, and they’d be well within their rights to do so.

In my other series for Wizards, The Knights of the Silver Dragon, I created the characters and the setting, but I only wrote the first novel. Other authors took up the exact same characters and ran with them from there. I’m coming back to write books #13 and #14 (and a couple more after that), but in the meantime other writers play in the sandbox I built.

I built that sandbox for Wizards, though, and they own it. They can do whatever they like with it. I knew that going into the deal, and I’m comfortable with it.

It can be strange to read someone else’s take on characters I created. Sometimes I’ll think, “I wouldn’t have done it that way.” But that doesn’t detract from their work. It’s just different. It can even illuminate aspects of the characters that I might not have considered, making for a richer experience.

The Knights line has an excellent editor (Nina Hess) who keeps all us authors on the same path too. That helps ensure the characters and stories run true throughout the series.

Mark Sehestedt is a fantastic editor too, and I don’t think he’d steer people toward using characters from The Lost Mark trilogy without good reason. In any case, most writers would rather take the opportunity to create their own characters and stories and chart their own courses, rather than skipping along in my wake.