Hi Sarah and Polly, I\’m currently plotting a middle grade novel and wanted to include a peripheral, fictitious character. What are the legal implications? The character belongs to Agatha Christie. I\’ve searched online, but have run up against conflicting information. Many thanks! Best, Lynn.
Interesting question, and not one we’ve been asked before. If you don’t mind me saying, it seems somewhat unusual to include a character from another author’s novel. It’s one thing to “reference” a character perhaps, and another to take that character over and use him/her in your own story – which I presume is what you are intending.
The big question is whether or not the original work is in copyright. I can’t remember the precise situation on Agatha Christie, but I do know there’s an estate that is quite powerful. http://www.agathachristie.com/about-agatha-christie-limited
My guess therefore is that it would be very difficult to use a Christie character – or not without asking permission, paying (possibly quite a lot) and including credits etc. I have a gut feeling you could be opening a major can of worms, and if you can avoid this situation it might be wise to do so.
Do hope this helps.