The original Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James looked just a little bit different from what eventually came out in print. Titled Master of the Universe by its author, who went by the handle “Snowqueens Icedragon,” this story took characters from the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyers and recreated their story in a different setting. It was fiction by a fan, or “fan fiction,” and James posted it on a website where hobbyists share their stories. When it got popular, Random House approached James with a book deal, changed the names of her characters, and published the story we now know under her real name.
But Fifty Shades isn’t the only work of an adoring fan to hit the big time! You might have heard of….
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Inspiration: Harry Potter
A young girl doesn’t realize she’s a demon hunter until all Hell breaks loose. The kernel of this popular story starred characters from the Harry Potter universe, though by the time it came to publication, nearly everything about it was different. Clare’s longtime readers, however have noticed that some passages of her mainstream work read suspiciously like portions of her online fan fiction.
Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren
Edward Cullen Bennett Ryan is a millionaire. Bella Swan Chloe Mills is his assistant. She can’t stand him, he can’t stand her, and you can guess how things go from there. Sadly, the original fan fiction, The Office by tby789, has disappeared from the Internet.
After by Anna Todd
Inspiration: One Direction
Books aren’t the only source for fan fiction masterpieces. In After, Todd imagines the members of One Direction as students on a college campus. The original story is still available on Wattpad. Notice, as you read, that the names of the four boys all start with the same first letter as the names of the famous boy band – Harry Styles, for example, is called Hardin.
Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard
Seeing a pattern here? Initially, this piece of erotic fiction was published as The University of
Edward Masen, “Masen” being Edward Cullen’s pre-vampire human name. Here, he’s Gabriel Emerson, a tortured (non-vampire) professor who seeks salvation in the arms of his student, Julianne Mitchell. (A stand-in for Bella, of course.)