Let’s go back to 2006. Fall Out Boy isn’t on their hiatus yet, My Chemical Romance is still together, Panic! at the Disco still has four members, the final installment of Harry Potter is still new, and all is well with the world (the emo world at least). And then, somewhere, between 2006 and 2007, my favorit fanfiction was published: My Immortal. You have definitely read the introduction to this legendary piece before, but I’m putting it here anyway because it’s important.
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.
Let’s talk about the plot for a little bit. Our protagonist is the tenacious Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way. Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way is a Hogwarts student, a vampire, and a goth (in case you couldn’t tell). Over the course of the forty-four chapters of My Immortal, she is drawn into a murder plot against Harry, who in this universe is nicknamed “Vampire,” despite not being an actual vampire (I think), because he likes to drink human blood.
“Well, Voldemort came and the fucking bastard told me to fucking kill Harry! But I don’t want to kill him, because, he’s really nice, even if he did go out with Draco. But if I don’t kill Harry, then Voldemort, will fucking kill Draco!” I burst into tears.
Suddenly Draco jumped out from behind a wall.
There are also plot lines about Ebony’s band, Bloody Gothic Rose 666, her love of the band Good Charlotte, Draco and
Harry Vampire‘s former torrid relationship… and also Hagrid being in love with her?
“BECAUSE…BECAUSE….” Hargid said and he paused in the air dramitaclly, waving his wand in the air. Then swooped he in singing to the tune of a gothic version of a song by 50 Cent.
“Because you’re goffic?” Snap asked in a little afraid voice cause he was afraind it meant he was connected with Satan.
“Because I LOVE HER!”
My Immortal has its very own wiki, and let me tell you, it is gold. The task of a wiki writer comes with great responsibility, one must be able to carefully organize their information and present it in such a way that is concise and brief, but effective. Here are a few quotes from the wiki that caused me to absolutely lose my mind:
“Voldemort tells Ebony that if she does not kill Vampire, Voldemort will kill Draco. To carry out the plan, Voldemort gives Ebony a gun.”
“At the end of that battle, she casts Abra Kedavra, and what happens next, we will never know. Also, she goes to concerts, changes clothes, and has ‘sex’ with Draco a lot.”
“She was chosen by Proffesor Sinister to kill Voldemort by travelling back in time to the eighties and seducing his younger self, Tom Satan Bombodil, so that he wouldn’t turn to evil.”
Image via me, I made this. (With the help of Glitter Text Maker)
My Immortal is one of the most famous fanfics ever written, and also happens to be the most interesting in the cultural context of its publication. You see, there is no clear consensus as to who wrote it, why, and whether it was earnestly written or if it’s some kind of satire; the theories and events that have taken place in the quest to locate the author and question them have only created more questions.
One complication in the investigation is that the original page for My Immortal no longer exists; it was expunged from the annals of fanfiction.net for no decipherable reason back in 2008, but the text survives in reposted versions (the one I am consulting can be found here). Without the original page, there are several things we cannot find, including the exact publication date of the tome.
The original fanfiction was published by a fanfiction.net account “XXXbloodyrists666XXX” (yeah, mental health discourse was not sufficiently advanced in the mid-aughts, which is made clearly evident by several disturbing passages in which self-harm is made light of) which also listed “Tara Gilesbie” as the author’s full name. Now, here is where it gets really intense.
Image via Entertainment Weekly
In August of 2017, a book entitled Handbook for Mortals mysteriously debuted at the top of the New York Times bestseller list, despite very little promotion. When this book that nobody seemed to have heard of was suddenly decorating the top of the most prestigious bestseller list in the industry, brows were raised. During the investigation into whether or not Lani Sarem, the author of Handbook for Mortals had earned her spot on the list honestly, someone pointed out that elements of Sarem’s prose bore a similarity to that of My Immortal, thus beginning the inquisition into whether or not Lani Sarem is Tara Gilesbie. This trail of clues ended when a staff member of St. Martin’s Press (an imprint of Macmillan) swiftly refuted Sarem’s alleged alter ego in a series of tweets which were later deleted. The tweets not only claimed that Sarem is not Tara Gilesbie, but that the true author of My Immortal would soon be publishing her memoirs.
UPDATE: SHE IS NOT THE AUTHOR OF MY IMMORTAL BC THE AUTHOR ALREADY HAS A BOOK OUT??? IT’S NONFICTION??? pic.twitter.com/3gERmLLT8f
— shrike (@grinchhands) August 25, 2017
Turns out, “Tara Gilesbie” is actually a young woman named Rose Christo. Rose Christo is a queer Native American woman of Cree and Lenape descent who wrote My Immortal while in foster care in New York City. She says that she wrote the fanfic in anticipation of its popularity, and planned to use the community of readers that sprung up from it to help locate her brother, from whom she had been separated. The memoir she was set to publish with St. Martin Press’s imprint, Wednesday Books, was called Under the Same Stars: The Search for My Brother and the True Story of My Immortal.
Was called, because Christo’s book was cancelled.
When the news broke that Rose Christo was the real Tara Gilesbie and would be releasing her story, it seemed that she was really telling the truth. Christo stated that Macmillan was determined to make sure that she was telling the truth about her authorship, and so she was subjected to a three-day period in which a lawyer thoroughly examined her claims.
Image via Vox
However, Macmillan later decided to cancel publication of Under the Same Stars, after discovering that Christo had tampered with documents she was asked to provide to prove her family’s identity. On her now-deleted Tumblr account, Christo claimed that the extent of her forgery was altering the photocopies of her documents to display different names for her family members in an effort to protect their privacy.
To even further complicate matters, an anonymous internet user later came forward claiming to be Christo’s brother, alleging that not only is her real name not “Rose Christo” but that she has never been placed in foster care, nor does she have any Native American heritage (however it would seem that in this branch of the story, her claims to authorship of My Immortal may be the most sound). I have spent a good two days doing research on this story, and I promise you that it does not get any less complicated.
Image via Whiskey Riff
Personally, I would love to believe that Rose Christo’s story is true, simply because if it is, it would be an incredible tale, and an extremely satisfying end to the My Immortal saga, but the truth is elusive. Perhaps Rose Christo is protecting some shred of evidence that would definitively prove whether or not she’s telling the truth, but if she is, her credibility has been called into question in such a way that may render any further attempts at telling her story impossible.
Nevertheless, the original text of My Immortal is an incredibly entertaining read, and emblematic of an era on which all of us probably look back and cringe, I myself shudder at the recollection of the absurdist slapstick Twilight fanfiction I wrote on Quizilla back in the seventh grade.
I leave you with the closing line of My Immortal (spoiler alert):
““ABRA KEDABRA!!!!!!!!!!!11111” I shooted.”
Featured Image via YouTube and Getting Lost in Words.