If you avoid certain areas of the internet and didn’t catch the long-form Vulture article on the subject two years ago, then you probably have never heard of the Harry Potter fanfiction My Immortal.
My Immortal, written in 2006 and 2007 on fanfiction.net by the author “XXXbloodyrists666XXX,” follows the journey of sex-crazy emo teen “Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way” as she has adventures at Hogwarts, interacting with the characters from the Harry Potter book series, some of whom are vampires. To give you the flavor of the 20,000-word fic, here’s how the gloriously terrible story starts:
Hi my name is Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way and I have long ebony black hair (that’s how I got my name) with purple streaks and red tips that reaches my mid-back and icy blue eyes like limpid tears and a lot of people tell me I look like Amy Lee (AN: if u don’t know who she is get da hell out of here!). I’m not related to Gerard Way but I wish I was because he’s a major fucking hottie.
My Immortal is known on the interwebz as the worst fanfic of all time, its terribleness becoming a bit of an internet legend that inspired someone to re-write Hamlet in its style, a DIY printing of the actual book, and its very own web series.
Since its inception, fandom has wondered a) who is the real-life person or persons who wrote My Immortal and b) were they intentionally writing terribly or were they just a terrible (or at least inexperienced) writer?
This week, both mysteries were seemingly solved when, following a pre-mature outing of the author’s identity, St. Martin’s Press announced they will be publishing a memoir from Rose Christo, the author of My Immortal. The now 27-year-old also came clean on her Tumblr page, claiming credit for the notorious fanfiction and answering other questions about her identity.
The post not only seemingly answers the decade-long question of My Immortal‘s authorship (Christo wrote it with “Raven,” her “beloved foster sister”), but also the question of whether or not it was intentionally-terrible. Christo wrote: “I’ve been told the official book description is coming out soon, so I think I can finally say it. My Immortal was a troll fic. Sorry if this disappoints anyone, but I thought it was obvious.”
Here’s that official description (via Buzzfeed) for Christo’s upcoming book Under the Same Stars: The Search For My Brother and the True Story of My Immortal:
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 “forty-four 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 fan fiction 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.
It’s impressive that, in a book that aims to tell the “true story” behind the writing of one of the most iconic fanfictions of all time, that mystery solved sounds like the least interesting part of the autobiographical novel.
Christo told Buzzfeed that she wrote Under the Same Stars because she “wanted to shed light on the challenges and issues that children in foster care, especially Native American children, face.” She is a published author whose mainly young adult fare explores coming-of-age themes paired with queer sexuality and race. Christo is a member of the Cree Tribe, and her books often use Native American lore.
So how do we know that Christo is telling the truth? (Believe it or not, she isn’t the first person to step forward to claim authorship of My Immortal.) Well, Macmillan Publishers seem to think she’s legit — enough to publish a book on the subject. Christo detailed the verification process via a Tumblr post:
Don’t worry about the questions, I think they’re warranted at this point. I tried to answer this one in the FAQ, but basically: Macmillan is a major publisher. When my agent sold my book to them, they first hired a lawyer (they do not have an in-house lawyer) to legally vet all my claims. He combed through my manuscript for things related not just to My Immortal, but to my childhood.
I won’t go into my childhood, because that’s not why you’re here, but when it got to the question of, “Can you prove you wrote My Immortal?” I provided him with the original email address with which I first signed up for fanfiction.net. Believe it or not, I still have it. (“After all this time?” “Always!!”) And the other thing I have in my possession, which I’m very fortunate I never threw away (side note, I’m a hoarder), is an old, gross flash drive from 2006 with the first eleven chapters of My Immortal on it. Because when we first started writing My Immortal, we were doing it on the school computer. And I had no idea how reliable it was, so I bought like, a $5 flash drive from Best Buy, lol. Once I was in a home with a real computer, I stopped bothering with the flash drive. I may be a hoarder, but my attention span is shit.
The verification process took three days. So, I think if anybody is unconvinced at this point, it’s just because they don’t really want to know the truth. I’m sorry if I’ve ruined it for those people, but in writing about my childhood, there was no way I couldn’t write about My Immortal. My Immortal shaped so much about who I am, whether I like it or not (more often than not, I don’t). If it bothers anyone, that’s fine, they don’t have to read the book. Anyone who wishes to has my blessing to go on pretending the fic wrote itself, and I promise I won’t bear you any ill will.
Christo sounds like she’s legit, and like she is using her internet fame to bring attention to some seriously underrepresented issues. I, for one, am eagerly awaiting Under the Same Stars‘ May 2018 release. In the mean time, you can check out Christo’s already-published novels.