Hi ashlee! Sorry to bother you but I've seen you and a couple people blogging about my immortal and I was hoping you could explain what's going on? From what I understand we just found out who the author is? But I'm not familiar with the actual story of my immortal. At least I don't remember ever coming across it. Thanks in advance!
It’s this 44 chapters long Harry Potter fanfic that was written back in 2006-2007 by ‘Tara Gilesbie’, published on fanfiction.net, and it’s so atrocious it’s great. The main character is a vampire goth (or ‘goffik’) called Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way but sometimes her name is spelled Enoby, the spelling overall is terrible, the plot is nonsensical and weirdly sexual, the characters and world are completely bastardised and on top of that the author sprinkles notes about her preferences and life story throughout the actual chapters and in the author’s notes. It’s so ridiculous, you truly have to read at least the first chapter to get an idea of how weird it is. There’s references to Hot Topic, to self-harm, to characters constantly hooking up, Hogwarts is divided into Goths and Preps, Harry and Draco are exes and everyone’s names are constantly being misspelled… It’s truly a wild read. Buzzfeed did a pretty god job picking out some of the best bits for its ten year anniversary, if you can’t sit through the whole thing you definitely have to read this.
It so completely disregarded Harry Potter canon and was so hated at the time that it got thousands of negative reviews, which made it infamous, and the author’s notes got more aggressive in response to the feedback. It was hacked twice, and then the author ‘got bored’ of it, and then she got locked out of her account.
It got really famous because no one could decide if it was genuine or a parody. It was so terrible a lot of people thought it must have been satire, but it was so long and so bad that a lot of people also thought it couldn’t have been made up because of the effort that went into it. It was like an over exaggerated example of all the worst bits of emo internet culture in the early 2000s, and some people saw it as a brilliant commentary on the state of fandom while others saw it as a blight on people who were trying to get fanfiction to be taken seriously. The debate raged and My Immortal even became required reading for a course at Princeton, but the author managed to stay anonymous and one of the greatest mysteries of the internet.
Recently, an unrelated scandal occurred in the YA publishing world where an ‘author’ named Lani Sarem attempted to buy her way onto the top of the NYT Bestsellers List with a book so terrible it garnered comparisons to My Immortal. People started speculating (half joking, half serious?) that maybe she was the author, My Immortal had been completely serious, and she had never grown up or changed her writing style at all and was now trying to scam her way to a profit with it.
This is obviously terrible, and it actually coincided with the real author of My Immortal making her first public statement on the internet in years, after she rediscovered and updated the bio of her fictionpress.net account, which had a similar account name, creation date (and apparently the same email and password) as the fanfiction.net account that had hosted My Immortal. After that first update she came back to say, no, she was not Lani Sarem. And then she came back again to reiterate that she was the real author of My Immortal, and, in the process, dropped hints that she had an agent, an editor, worked with amazing women in the publishing industry, and that she couldn’t say anything else about My Immortal ‘for now’.
Linking directly back to the Lani Sarem scandal, an editorial assistant at Wednesday Books made a (now deleted) tweet saying, “we have a book with the girl who wrote My Immortal. Definitely not the same person as this nut.”
Someone took this information and began hunting for clues as to who this author could be. They came across mention of a book called Under the Same Stars by Rose Christo, being published by the pretty damn impressive publishing house Macmillan. Now, I’ve heard two different stories at this point: Both might be true, maybe they happened at the same time or maybe one after the other, I’m not sure. But I’ve heard that they then found Rose Christo on Twitter, and discovered a screenshot she’d posted of something else that had another tab with what appeared to be the fictionpress account open. The other thing I’ve heard is that someone found Rose on tumblr and searched through her blog for mentions of My Immortal, and found a post where she admitted (in a round about way) to being the author (because she didn’t want Ebony being called a TERF, as if this story wasn’t wild enough to begin with!!).
Either way, people were now undeniably linking Rose Christo with My Immortal. And it turns out they were right, and Rose was the author, and Under the Same Stars is actually a story that details the time of her life when she was in the New York foster system, searching for her younger brother and writing My Immortal (which was a troll fic, she has confirmed) with her foster sister, referred to throughout the fic as Raven.
Here’s the official description of the book:
In the early 2000s, Rose Christo was separated from her five-year-old brother and shuttled between foster homes in Brooklyn to the Bronx and back again. Desperate to be reunited with her sibling, she traveled the five boroughs, unable to find any trace of him, as New York State’s child care agencies failed to help her time and again.
Then, with the help of one beloved foster sister, Rose created an infamous piece of Harry Potter fanfiction titled My Immortal, posting it online under the pseudonym XXXbloodyrists666XXX. The “44 chapters and 22,000 words of hysterical, typo-laden hyperbole” went viral as the most notoriously terrible fanfic ever read by the community. For years, fans, writers, and editors researched, debated, and contested the story’s origin and its mysterious author: Was this grammatically challenged rant actually written by a suicidal goth teenager named Tara Gilesbe living in Dubai, or was this a hoax perpetrated by a group of professional authors making fun of fanfiction?
The truth is a gripping, compelling, and surprisingly funny story of how a young girl infiltrated and used the fanfiction community to search for her brother by baiting their attention with a deliberately badly written tale, creating a 10-year mystery that garnered pop culture media attention and remained unsolved — until now.
Understandably, everyone lost their minds, because all the backstories people had hypothesised for the author of My Immortal were so far from Rose’s real life story (or the glimpses we’ve gotten of it so far).
She had been hoping to remain anonymous until the publication of the book was properly announced, when it’s subtitle The search for my brother and the true story of My Immortal, would have whipped up this same internet frenzy. But the whole thing with Lani just caused people to go snooping and the news came out earlier than she had planned, which is actually quite frustrating and upsetting for her, I’d imagine. But she seems to be taking it in stride.
You can read her FAQ, where she answers a few questions about all this in her own words, and you can read about the other books she has published here. I also recommend checking out her blog in general for some great insight into issues effecting Native Americans. You can buy her books on Amazon, too, if you want to read any others before Under the Same Stars comes out.
Even though we all know who the author is now, My Immortal remains one of the greatest things to ever come out of the hell-time that was the early 2000s, and is like a time capsule of all the worst bits of internet culture back then. After following this mystery for a decade, I’m really, really glad to know that the author has done so well for herself.