More than two years ago, Vulture published an investigation into one of the greatest online mysteries in recent history: the origins of “My Immortal,” widely regarded as the world’s worst piece of fanfiction. Published over the course of 2006 and 2007 on the shady repository known as fanfiction.net, it was ostensibly an homage to the world of Harry Potter, and it clocked in at 22,678 words — making it just a little shorter than The Old Man and the Sea. The text itself is a wild ride, chronicling the adventures of a narrator named “Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way” as she interacts with, bangs, and travels through time with oft-vampiric versions of the students at Hogwarts. It’s barely comprehensible due to the (sometimes deliberately) poor spelling and the wildly off-brand character depictions (most infamously, Dumbledore at one point catches Ebony and Draco boning and yells, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING YOU MOTHERFUKERS!”)
But the wilder ride comes in the hunt for answers about who, exactly, wrote this epic tale of conjuring and copulation. Read our full piece to get all the ins and outs, but suffice it to say that the mystery has seemed unsolvable. It was published under the colorful pseudonym “XXXbloodyrists666XXX” and the scribe behind it was allegedly named “Tara Gilesbie,” but there was no conclusive evidence to prove who, exactly, the author — or authors — were. Further compounding the question was a claim that the account was hacked during the serialization of the story, and subsequent individuals (or groups, because who knows anything about who produces an online text) have claimed credit for it. It’s never been clear if the piece was meant to be earnest or a hoax, much less whether these authorship claims are hoaxes in and of themselves. To make matters even worse, the original posts of the story were lost under unknown circumstances and no one — or at least no one contactable — appears to be running fanfiction.net anymore. We concluded that there would be no way to satisfactorily suss out the truth.
And yet, hope springs eternal, and there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe. St. Martin’s Press — a division of Macmillan — has announced that it’s publishing a memoir next May from someone named Rose Christo, who claims to be 27 years old and the true author of “My Immortal.” It delves into Christo’s troubled childhood and hunt for her brother in the foster-care system and bears the title, Under the Same Stars: The Search for My Brother and the True Story of My Immortal. According to the official description, released to BuzzFeed, the story was written with the help of a friend while in her mid-teens. What sets Christo’s claim apart from the others is the alleged influence of major publisher’s legal expertise. On Christo’s Tumblr site, the author says, “Macmillan Publishers hired a lawyer to vet me over the course of three days. Proofs I was able to provide included the original email address with which I signed up for fanfiction.net and a flash drive from 2006 with the first 11 chapters of My Immortal on it (unedited).”
According to Christo, “My Immortal” was “troll fic,” meaning it was not written in earnest, but rather as a parody of bad fanfic, designed to rile people up. That would make sense, as the astoundingly bad writing has always had a whiff of the preposterous. Of course, there’s always a chance that this is just another hoax, albeit one of a higher order, in which even a lawyer was fooled, so we’ll have to wait to see what evidence the finished tome provides. I can say that, after I published my initial article, I was approached by another claimant to the throne who went by the name “Todd Gilesbie,” who was unable to sufficiently convince me that they were the author. Bizarrely, this Christo news comes just weeks after another online account, this one dubbed “XXXblodyblaktearz666XXX” and located at fictionpress.com, stepped forward to claim they were the author. They provided no evidence, claiming their access to their original fanfiction.net account was lost long ago.
We reached out to St. Martin’s, to the fictionpress.com account via private message, and to Christo via Tumblr, and will update if and when we hear back.