I've always believed that the most important part of writing good fiction is creating interesting and believable characters. Once the players in a story are imagined well enough, all the author has to do is put them in an appropriate setting, give them a problem to solve, and let them do their thing. That's why I've never really been interested in writing fan fiction; using pre-made characters in a pre-made setting has always felt like cheating.
My stance changed a little after I had an interesting (ahem) dream loosely based on The Brady Bunch. It made me think – if you use some elements from somebody else's fiction but re-imagine the characters so much that they become fundamentally different people, is it still "fan fiction"? I decided that it wasn't and gave myself to green light to turn my dream into a story about a family that's both similar and dissimilar to that famous TV clan.
What follows is the result of that rationalization. Please drop a line to let me know what you think. Thanks!