The 'Immortal' question, answered
September 12, 2017 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Author Rose Christo is publishing her memoir, Under the Same Stars: The Search for My Brother and the True Story of My Immortal, in which she claims to have co-written My Immortal, the legendary worst fan fiction ever. [CW: second link contains discussion of child sexual abuse and exploitation]

Previously on the blue, with many links to background info and previousliers.
posted by Halloween Jack (27 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm glad it turns out there was a non-stupid/mean reason for producing such an elaborate troll. (To this day, can't believe there were people who thought it was a sincere work.)
posted by praemunire at 1:10 PM on September 12 [2 favorites]


The truth is a gripping, compelling, and surprisingly funny story of how a young girl infiltrated and used the fanfiction 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.

This was my initial response to the piece:

This is satire, and it's excellent.

Now it sounds like it may have been something cleverer, and more interesting, than satire. There was a recent episode of Reply All about very weird messages that get left on 1-800 numbers, and it turns out their very weirdness is deliberate — it keeps you listening, and so scammers are able to run up costs on 1-800 numbers, which they split with the company getting reimbursed for the call.

This sounds similar, in that the fiction's very terribleness was intended to hook people, to keep the fiction alive and passed around, for a bigger goal, that of finding a lost brother.

I will be very curious to see how that plan worked and how it played out, but what an idea!
posted by maxsparber at 1:19 PM on September 12 [2 favorites]


I'm glad it turns out there was a non-stupid/mean reason for producing such an elaborate troll.

I don't get it. Is producing horrible Harry Potter fanfic as a means of locating your missing brother really that non-stupid?
posted by Naberius at 1:20 PM on September 12 [2 favorites]


I guess that depends on if it worked or not.
posted by maxsparber at 1:24 PM on September 12 [2 favorites]


If you're a teen in foster care, it's a lot less dumb than writing 3,482,291 words just to laugh at how bad fanfic can be, a point easily illustrated from the existing corpus.
posted by praemunire at 1:25 PM on September 12 [4 favorites]


Gene Roddenberry did something similar, naming two Star Trek characters variations of Kim Noonien Singh, in an attempt to find a Chinese pilot of the same name he had flown with in WWII. It didn't work for Roddenberry, but I hope it worked for Christo.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:43 PM on September 12 [23 favorites]


> To this day, can't believe there were people who thought it was a sincere work.

A corollary to Poe's Law, I guess. Even if this was a parody, it seems as bad anybody's memories of their own worst or somebody else's worst fanfic whether or not it really is as bad, because it induces the same cringing recollections of emotion-riddled adolescence.
posted by ardgedee at 1:52 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]


So I am not REALLY a terrible author, but this is all part of my cunning secret master plan?

Really?
posted by Samizdata at 1:54 PM on September 12 [2 favorites]


Burying the lede here, in that she was only "outed" because she took the time out to clarify that no, she wasn't Lani Sarem.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:57 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]


So I am not REALLY a terrible author, but this is all part of my cunning secret master plan?

I live my life by a similar master plan. No one knows that I am a professional level athlete, an excellent employee who would never read the internet all day, an elegant dresser, and a quiet speaker. It's totally working! Mwahaha

Using this technique I was able to locate similarly masterful people with whom I spend my time.
posted by Emmy Rae at 2:22 PM on September 12 [17 favorites]


5. Tell us more!

In Alaska, it's illegal to whisper in someone's ear if they're moose hunting.

posted by randomkeystrike at 2:34 PM on September 12 [3 favorites]


Well, I'll be picking up Under the Same Stars. Anyone who can write that badly that well can most likely write well that well too.
posted by kyrademon at 2:36 PM on September 12 [3 favorites]


I've actually read one of her other novels, The Place where They Cried. It's excellent, though it does compress 40+ years of history into only about 10.
posted by jb at 3:03 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]


Turns out the Eye of Argon was really just an attempt to learn more about argon, the noble gas.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:04 PM on September 12 [7 favorites]


I'm really not clear on how writing a terrible story could help find her brother, though. I mean, even the HP fanfiction community is not a huge percentage of the great NYC population. What did she think was going to happen? (I acknowledge that she was young, but the logical sequence of events seems a bit like the underpants gnomes here: there's a causal link missing.)
posted by suelac at 3:42 PM on September 12 [2 favorites]


cringing recollections of emotion-riddled adolescence

Man, I'm still cringing over the fanfic I was trying to write yesterday, I don't have time to work all the way back to the stuff I wrote as a teenager.
posted by Sequence at 4:31 PM on September 12 [8 favorites]


I'm really not clear on how writing a terrible story could help find her brother, though. I mean, even the HP fanfiction community is not a huge percentage of the great NYC population. What did she think was going to happen?

Pretty sure this is the exact hook to get you to buy her new book.
posted by greermahoney at 4:45 PM on September 12 [5 favorites]


I'm really not clear on how writing a terrible story could help find her brother, though. I mean, even the HP fanfiction community is not a huge percentage of the great NYC population. What did she think was going to happen?


I mean, even if she didn't find her brother, she was wildly successful. EVERYONE has heard of My Immortal. Even people who don't read fanfic know about it. If she, for example, put inside jokes into that thing in the hopes that her brother would recognize it, and then make it so relentlessly awful that everyone would read and share it . . . can't say it was a bad strategy for a 15 year old.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:32 PM on September 12 [12 favorites]


I'm definitely going to check this out. I have always had a deep interest in the real human drama behind fandom. I don't necessarily mean the scene quarrels, but the deep driving human emotions that wrap people up so tightly in these passions [she typed, as if "people" did not in fact include her].
posted by Countess Elena at 7:34 PM on September 12 [3 favorites]


chainsofreedom: I mean, even if she didn't find her brother, she was wildly successful. EVERYONE has heard of My Immortal. Even people who don't read fanfic know about it.

Absolutely. I'm someone with only a vague interest in fanfic but I have heard of My Immortal. In fact, to give an idea how well known it became I heard about it on a radio show on Iceland's equivalent of BBC Radio Four. They even translated excerpts into Icelandic.
posted by Kattullus at 2:40 AM on September 13 [3 favorites]


Did she find her brother, though?
posted by amtho at 3:21 AM on September 13


It was also an intentional parody of Anne Rice's worst excesses, which makes it extra hilarious, since Anne Rice is FURIOUS at the thought of fanfiction in any form. (Pretty bold, given her own work in that field.)

Compare this:
My name is Lisa.

I’m five foot nine. My hair is long and it’s dark brown. I wear leather a great deal, high boots always, and sometimes glove-soft vests and even leather skirts now and then, and I wear lace, especially when I can find the kind I like: intricate, very old-fashioned lace, snow white. I have light skin that tans easily, large breasts, and long legs. And though I don’t feel beautiful and never have, I know that I am. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be a trainer at The Club.

–Exit to Eden by Anne Rice (aka Rampling), 1985
To this:
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. I’m a vampire but my teeth are straight and white. I have pale white skin. I’m also a witch, and I go to a magic school called Hogwarts in England where I’m in the seventh year (I’m seventeen). I’m a goth (in case you couldn’t tell) and I wear mostly black. I love Hot Topic and I buy all my clothes from there. For example today I was wearing a black corset with matching lace around it and a black leather miniskirt, pink fishnets and black combat boots. I was wearing black lipstick, white foundation, black eyeliner and red eye shadow. I was walking outside Hogwarts. It was snowing and raining so there was no sun, which I was very happy about. A lot of preps stared at me. I put up my middle finger at them.

–My Immortal
Credit for noticing this goes to this tumblr, but yeah. I'm going with GENIUS.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 4:44 AM on September 13 [11 favorites]


Oh, I forgot one:
I am the vampire Lestat. I’m immortal. More or less. The light of the sun, the sustained heat of an intense fire—these things might destroy me. But then again, they might not.

I’m six feet tall, which was fairly impressive in the 1780s when I was a young mortal man. It’s not bad now. I have thick blond hair, not quite shoulder length, and rather curly, which appears white under fluorescent light. My eyes are gray, but they absorb the colors blue or violet easily from surfaces around them. And I have a fairly short narrow nose, and a mouth that is well shaped but just a little too big for my face. It can look very mean, or extremely generous, my mouth. It always looks sensual. But emotions and attitudes are always reflected in my entire expression. I have a continuously animated face.

My vampire nature reveals itself in extremely white and highly reflective skin that has to be powdered down for cameras of any kind.

—The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
posted by a fiendish thingy at 4:49 AM on September 13 [8 favorites]


OMG. I've never read any Anne Rice before but reading these excerpts now... hoo boy. If they hadn't been labelled as Anne Rice's work, I would have assumed that these were half-assed My Immortal knock-offs.
posted by mhum at 1:33 PM on September 13 [4 favorites]


Who saw this twist coming? https://www.reddit.com/r/UnresolvedMysteries/comments/746x2c/still_unresolved_legendary_fanfic_my_immortals/
Last month, we had a great post about the mystery of My Immortal's authorship finally being solved. For those unfamiliar, My Immortal is a notorious (and hilarious) work of fanfiction that's become something of a legend online. For years, it has been debated as to whether or not the fanfic was truly the embarrassing work of two bickering teens or a brilliant satire of fandom itself. That debate allegedly came to an end around two months ago, when a woman named Rose Christo stepped forward as the author of My Immortal.
Buzz began circulating around Rose Christo's forthcoming memoir from St. Martin's Press. There seemed to be a lot of genuine excitement about the book as My Immortal is a well loved internet phenomenon, and the book was promoted as detailing Christo's strange and tumultuous upbringing during the writing of My Immortal. In multiple outlets, it was claimed that Christo wrote the fanfic hoping to capture the attention of enough people online to eventually aid in the search for her missing brother. The problem with this story? Her missing brother surfaced online to announce that he was never missing, Christo has fabricated her entire dramatic backstory, and she was likely never involved with My Immortal at all. St. Martin's Press has now dropped the book due to Christo failing a round of routine fact checking. While Christo claims that she was dropped due to her altering documents in order to conceal her family name, the timing had coincided with her brother's postings, and she has seemingly responded to him via twitter and tumblr.
Needless to say, this raises a lot of doubt about My Immortal's authorship. The story of Rose Christo is an interesting read in and of itself, but unfortunately, she is far from the confirmed author of My Immortal after all.
tl;dr: The woman claiming to have written the internet's most notorious fanfic failed routine fact checking; My Immortal remains a mystery


I'm reading through the Kiwi Farms threads where the user claiming to be the brother is debunking stuff going ho~~~ly shit.
posted by cendawanita at 10:33 AM on October 4


Ugh, this kiwifarms.net place is gross.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:50 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Huh. Well. Damn. Kiwifarms is a wretched hive of scum and villainy, so I'm not going over there, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were still more layers to this bathtub lasagna.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:59 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]


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