50 Shades of Grey author E.L James' origin as a Twilight fanfiction scribe appears to have opened the publishing industry's eyes to other budding writers to be culled from fan forums and pop-culture niche websites. A 16-year-old UK teen named Emily Baker was just discovered on an online writing community Movellas by an editor at Penguin's YA imprint. Her One Direction fanfic Loving The Band will be packaged as an e-book and sold as of November 1st, according to Crushable. Although the story has since been pulled from the website, the plot revolves around a girl who becomes the object of two One Directioners' affections.
Being a product of old-school AOL-era fan culture myself, specifically a 7th to 9th grade obsession with putting my own spin on Buffy The Vampire Slayer (before you ask, I'm not Team Angel and not Team Spike—I'm 100% Team Giles, bitches), I can definitely testify to the positive elements of fanfic writing and online communities as a way to foster and provide support to young girls with an interest in writing.
However, the simple fact that the new boom of fanfic-to-print will primarily feature tales of Bella Swannish Girl-as-Everygirl, whose primary issues concern landing the boy of her dreams (or choosing between two), is pretty disheartening. Furthermore, a literary agent I know who works in YA mentioned recently that young adult versions of Fifty Shades are coming down the pipeline in spades. Yikes. I'm loath to consider the implications of that one, aren't you?
Yesterday, the Awl featured a timely and fascinating essay Rachel Monroe on the complexities and specificites of teen girl superfandom, from '60s boy bands to Leonardo DiCaprio to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold ("Beatlemaniacs were overwhelmed with heterosexual frenzy; Columbiner sexuality tends to be much more fluid and self-aware"). And consider the case of Dark Knight Rises shooter James Holmes, who, horrifically, quickly acquired groupies via Twitter.
It doesn't require a huge stretch of the imagination that, with certain names and circumstances changed, teen girls can soon buy something at Barnes & Nobles that began as, say, James Holmes fanfic. And that, let me tell you, is scary as shit.
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