Back in 2006, one of the most legendary works of our time was published: My Immortal, a fanfiction featuring characters from Harry Potter and an original character known as Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way.
For many who've encountered internet fan culture in the decade since its publication, My Immortal is nothing short of iconic. It even inspired a live-action web series.
And though My Immortal was written under the pen name Tara Gilesbie (sometimes spelled Gilespie) — and the FanFiction.net username XXXbloodyrists666XXX — the actual identity of the author has long been one of fandom's biggest mysteries.
There have been rumors throughout the years — like the recent one that the author might be Handbook for Mortals writer Lani Sarem.
Then, on Aug. 2, a statement was published to a FictionPress account that claimed to belong to the author of My Immortal.
Then, on Aug. 27, another update was published — this one stating plainly and simply, "No, I am not Lani Sarem."
And on Aug. 31, another update appeared, this one longer than the others. It explained the other recent activity, and claimed a few important things...
1. That these updates were by the author of My Immortal, who was not able to access their original FanFiction.net account.
2. That they had only recently remembered the existence of their FictionPress.com account.
3. And that they publicly denied any connection to Sarem in order to defend The Hate U Give, the popular young adult novel that Handbook for Mortals was threatening to bump down on the best-seller list.
You can read the full text here:
This is going to be my final update. I'm getting way too many PMs to answer them all individually. A lot of people are asking why I waited until this month to say anything, so I'll try to address that.
I registered for FanFiction.net on February 28th, 2006. Yes, I know the profile says March 1st. The profile is wrong. It was February 28th, because my best friend had just turned fifteen. I'm not likely to forget her birthday. (For anyone wondering, My Immortal was uploaded on March 3rd.) I registered for FictionPress on March 31. I never uploaded anything on FP, which is probably why hackers never got around to hijacking it: They didn't know it existed. Unfortunately, I forgot it existed, too. I only remembered this site a few weeks ago when I was talking with my agent and my editor about My Immortal's weird internet legacy.
I signed into FP after so long for three reasons. The first is the most obvious: My FF profile is no longer accessible. It was hacked almost a decade ago. I knew the girls who hacked us the first time--they were two girls from the Philippines with whom Raven and I were constantly fighting on the forums, and they were just trying to mess with us--but I don't know who did it the final time, although I have my suspicions. FF.net seems to be a body without a head right now, because staff doesn't answer any of my emails. They didn't answer emails a decade ago, either. If you know how to get in contact with Xing Li, let me know. I can easily prove I'm who I say I am if he'll give me the time of day. The second reason for logging into this dusty old account: I wanted to leave a thank you note to My Immortal's readers. Really. That's it. Because I really am beyond grateful that you've kept it alive for so long, even without me. And the third reason I updated, and possibly the silliest: Ugh...Lani Sarem. I am a massive fan of The Hate U Give, which I consider an incredibly important literary work. Sarem trying to scam it out of its spot on the NYT literary list left me feeling sick to my stomach. When I received a couple of messages here asking me if I was Sarem, even though they were probably in jest, I felt a kneejerk reaction to shoot them down. Authors work really fricking hard to get their stories told. Sarem breezing through the process wasn't just an insult to Angie Thomas and the political climate that necessitated her work. It was an insult to the kind women I'm privileged to work with.
So, that's it. It doesn't seem like there's anything more I can say on the topic. Not right now.
Love one another and help one another. We can't navigate this world without each other.
P.S. - Undyne is my wife, HAHAHA, SUCK IT HATERS.
That, on its own, was already a big deal. But there was also a tweet from Tiffany Shelton, an editorial assistant at St. Martin's Press. In response to a tweet theorizing that Sarem wrote My Immortal, Shelton wrote: "We have a book with the girl who wrote MY IMMORTAL. Definitely not the same person as this nut."
The internet sleuths went to work. Tumblr user pipistrella theorized that the author in question was YA novelist Rose Christo, who has a memoir — Under the Same Stars — in the works with Macmillan's St. Martin's Press.
Pipistrella pointed to a screenshot that seemed to show Christo logged into the FictionPress account that published the statements.
Christo responded to the rumors via her Tumblr, claiming that "Macmillan Publishers hired a lawyer to vet [her] over the course of three days" and that she provided proof as to her connection to My Immortal as well as other events included in the upcoming memoir.
Christo also answered a series of questions via her Tumblr, expressing that she did not want her identity to come out so soon...
...but that she was "done denying it."
Christo also wrote that Under the Same Stars, which is set to come out in Spring 2018, "deals at least partially with when and where and why [she] wrote My Immortal."
So hey, we might wake up a few weeks from now and find that this, like many before it, was a hoax. Or we might just have found our My Immortal author, and a decade-old mystery is finally (allegedly) solved.
Christo, Sarem, Shelton, and a representative for Macmillan did not respond to requests for comment. You can read more about Christo's book, Under the Same Stars: The Search for my Brother and the True Story of My Immortal, here.
This post has been updated to clarify the multiple spellings of the My Immortal author's pen name.
Alanna Bennett is an entertainment reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Alanna Bennett at email@example.com.
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