In keeping with my intention to shed light on some of the trials faced by some of our most beloved authors, this weeks post will focus on two somewhat related, but completely polar opposite works. One started as a dream, the other as a fan fiction. But both are beloved both in the book world and through the film adaptations.
Stephenie Meyer - Twilight
The concept of one of the most infamous young adult series is somewhat well known. In June of 2003, Stephenie Meyer had a dream of a young girl, and a vampire who loved her but thirsted for her blood. The book originally started as a simple draft; a one shot of sorts. At first, the main characters didn’t even have names. Meyer added more and more chapters to the work with little thought to backstory, until the manuscript had formed to a length that Meyer desired to bring out more of the events in the backstory. Over the course of three months, she completed the manuscript in August of 2003.
Meyer never had plans of publication, her writing being merely for her own enjoyment. At her sisters insistence, Meyer finally submitted the work to literary agencies. 15, in fact. Of these, 5 went unanswered, 9 were rejections, with one positive response. Luck would be on her side, as the response came from an inexperienced assistant at the agency, who didn’t even know that the manuscript was more than double that of a usual young adult title. But that error worked in Meyer’s favor, the manuscript being reviewed, and signed.
Little, Brown and Company initially offered Meyer $300,000 for the series, but with the support of her agent, Meyer requested $1,000,000. Finally, a settlement of $750,000 was made for all three books in the series. Twilight debuted at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list, and the rest is history.
E.L. James – 50 Shades of Grey
Just as with Meyers work in Twilight, fans of the 50 Shades of Grey series are probably already familiar with how the books came to be. After reading and falling in love with the popular young adult series Twilight, James began her ‘sequel’ to the books, with a more adult twist. James had never written before, and started this work as a fan fiction on a popular writing forum merely for her own interest. Publishing the books as Kindle works using the pen name Snowqueens Icedragon with the book entitled Master of the Universe. The books were not exactly as we know the current series, but due to the fanatical popularity of the online versions, in 2009 James set to work on the 50 Shades of Grey works.
James admits that the books are her own expression of mid life crisis, that all her fantasies are featured. Using the characters of Edward and Bella as the soon to be renamed Christian and Anna, the work was meant to be a continuation of sorts. The original Master of the Universe was a single work, later to be divided in to the three books we know now by Writers Coffee Shop of Australia. The effects of virtual marketing and online popularity greatly impacted the shoot to stardom James experienced, as both the original work was a fan fiction online, and the majority of North American awareness came from online fan fare surrounding the work.
It just goes to show that yes, fan fiction ARE real books too. And there is no end to the power of online forums, and support from enthusiastic and dedicated readers.
Random thoughts from me on books, writing, news and more!