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In the Media

Vampire Diaries' Writer Bites Back

on 24 April 2014. Posted in In the Media

In one of the strangest comebacks in literary history, L.J. Smith is using fan fiction to reclaim her own series.

By Alexandra Alter / Wall Street Journal

illustration by Ray Bartkus

When Alloy Entertainment fired L.J. Smith from the popular young-adult book series "The Vampire Diaries" and replaced her with a ghostwriter three years ago, a civil war broke out among fans. One camp swore fealty to the characters and embraced the new books, which still feature Ms. Smith's name prominently on the cover as the series' creator. The other, more vocal faction sided with Ms. Smith and boycotted the ghostwritten novels.

"I would not read those books if they were the last books on earth," said Christina Crowley, a 35-year-old substitute teacher in Riverview, Mich., and a staunch L.J. Smith fan. "I didn't want to read her characters written by someone else."

Now, in one of the stranger comebacks in literary history, Ms. Smith is independently resurrecting her stories about the adolescent undead. She's publishing her own version of "The Vampire Diaries" digitally on Amazon, as fan fiction, creating a parallel fictional universe that many hard-core fans regard as more legitimate than the official canon.


"I wanted to finish the story," Ms. Smith said. "So many people still wrote to me constantly saying, can you just tell me how it ends?"

img wsj ucdA copy of actual Wall Street Journal.The fact that Ms. Smith can now legally publish and sell her unofficial Vampire Diaries novels highlights a dramatic shift in the way publishers and entertainment companies view fan fiction. Fan fiction, or works by amateur writers that feature characters and settings from their favorite books, TV shows, movies and comics, has thrived online for decades. But it's always existed in a sort of legal gray zone. Selling stories based on other people's copyrighted creations is illegal, unless it's a clear parody, which is protected as free speech under the First Amendment. It's also permissible if the characters and setting are altered so much that the story no longer seems derivative.

In the past, most publishers and studios quietly tolerated fan fiction, or saw it as free promotion, as long as fan writers didn't try to sell their work.

But that was before the astonishing success of "Fifty Shades of Grey." E.L. James's erotic trilogy—which originated as fan fiction inspired by Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series—has sold more than 100 million copies in two years. Now, entertainment companies are searching for new ways to make money off fan writing and harness the next potential breakout hit.



-1 # CongratsDylita 2014-04-25 14:25
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-2 # Ending up in true love 2Guest 2014-05-13 13:32
And Elenas love for Damon was compelled. She was bound to him. And the biggest and clearest thing of them all - Elena reacting when Stefan has been with someone else could never be compared with the times Damon was with someone. The jealousness for Stefan just explains everything. Sorry for my little novel here, but this is real. And I wish that everyone could realize that. With Love, Angelica
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-1 # Ending up in true loveGuest 2014-05-13 13:33
Also, Stefan was the first one Elena fell for and her first impression of Stefan was directly epic, while her first impression of Damon was wel.. A little bit of hate and annoyance here and there. And that love Stefan and Elena had in the beginning was everything. It was pure, it was fun, it was sweet, powerful and it was true. Damon and Elenas relationship is only sex sex and sex. I'm not saying that Setafan and Elenas love was hot - you can count on that too! Stefans love for her is more powerful, because he are ready to suffer just to let Elena be happy.
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+4 # Kristen SanchezGuest 2014-09-14 07:45
That's just plain awesome. It's nice to see her skills as a writer fight for her. What an amazing woman. Great job L.J!
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0 # RE: Vampire Diaries' Writer Bites BackGuest 2015-06-19 14:03
عاشق رماناتونم مرسی از داستاناتون
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