If you've spent five minutes on the internet, you'll have encountered at least one reference to the infamous, worst fanfiction of all time. No hasty PWP, filthy flashfic, or even a particularly salacious Big Bang* could ever compare to the terrible, good-taste-offending pop culture phenomenon that is My Immortal. The fic is a 22,678 word journey into the deranged psyche of one Harry Potter fan — who is also super "goffik," ships Harry and Draco, and is about as sex-obsessed as teens can get. The fic offers absolute gems of dialogue, oft-quoted in the dramatic readings of My Immortal that are a staple at any university open-mic night. Here's one of my faves:
“I MAY BE A HOGWARTS STUDENT" Hargirid paused angrily. "BUT I AM ALSO A SATANIST!”
The pop culture impact of My Immortal has been an absolute joy to experience, from the rewriting of Hamlet in the style of My Immortal, to the a hilarious live action web series. One fan even printed and bound My Immortal, turning it into an actual book. But no appreciation of the fanfic can top the mystery of who the author really is.
Claiming her name was Tara Gilesbie, the author focused her epic saga on a self-insert lead character named Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way, who slept with everyone from Harry to Snape — and was also a vampire. The author was plagued with spats with her best friend and editor, Raven, and was later subject to hacking. For two decades, fans and critics of My Immortal have wondered who this author really is, and why they wrote the infamous fic. Is My Immortal a genius satire, or a genuine expression of twisted love for #HarryPotter? Well, we've finally found Tara herself — but why she wrote the fic is still a mystery.
'Tara Gilespie' Is Actually Rose Christo, A Published Author
How do we know? Well, after a brief but intense scandal, Christo confessed to penning the fic that became phenomenon. This all started when it was revealed that Lani Sarem conned her way to the top of the New York Bestseller list by pre-ordering thousands of copies of her new book, Handbook For Mortals. The book is so poorly written that Sarem soon became the top suspect in the hunt for My Immortal's author. And that was the last straw for Christo.
As it turns out, Sarem's Handbook For Mortals knocked the YA novel The Hate U Give off the top spot, which had garnered much critical acclaim for its exploration of racism and bullying. Christo added to the recently updated "author's notes" on her FictionPress account, protesting that Sarem did not write My Immortal:
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, I felt a kneejerk reaction to shoot them down. 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.
The "not right now" comment was intriguing enough to send fans into a frenzy of investigation, and soon the author's true identity of Rose Christo was discovered, thanks to some very impressive investigative work. After being bombarded by questions from her hundreds of new followers (Christo has gained 500 followers on Twitter in the last few days), Christo finally came out on her Tumblr as the author of My Immortal.
So Who Is Rose Christo?
Rose Christo is a writer who pens predominantly young adult literature. Her work has received critical acclaim, earning her a modest but loyal fan following. Christo explores themes of growing up, queer sexuality, and race relations in her books, often focusing on Native American lore, as she is herself a member of the Cree tribe.
Christo is currently working on her autobiography Under The Same Stars, a small portion of which deals with how she wrote My Immortal while in foster care. This is why she couldn't reveal her identity until now: the contract with her publisher states that she wasn't to reveal her role in My Immortal until Under The Same Stars was released. Speaking to Buzzfeed, Christo recently revealed that her autobiography will cover her search for her brother after they were placed into foster care.
"I wanted to shed light on the challenges and issues that children in foster care, especially Native American children, face."
According to Christo, Macmillan conducted a full vetting procedure to ensure she really did write My Immortal.
A Peek Behind The Scenes
Since being outed as the author, Christo has spoken openly on her Tumblr about My Immortal, but still won't reveal whether it was satire. Here's what we've learned so far:
- Christo has confessed she was in love with her editor, "Raven," as fans have suspected for years — though "Tara Gilespie" denied this in the author's notes.
- Christo was "going through [her] 'I am super straight' phase" while writing My Immortal. Well, we've all been there.
- She and Raven were hacked repeatedly by two girls in the Philippines with whom they had a vicious rivalry.
- There's "a lot more" to the story of how and why My Immortal was written, and all will be revealed in her new book.
Yet however Christo refuses to reveal whether My Immortal was a satire or not, from the way she talks about it, that's certainly what it seems to be. Christo is a talented writer whose political and social views vastly differ from those expressed in My Immortal, and she's certainly intelligent enough to satirize fanfic in such a witty and subversive way — no, trust me, if My Immortal is satire then it uses every single terrible fanfic trope to great effect.
Or perhaps Christo really was just an emo teen whose darkest desire was to have sex with a vampiric Harry Potter. I'd say we'll never know but thankfully, we will finally get the answer to this decades-long mystery very soon. Suck on that, prepz!