Tuesday, September 4, 2007

How Harry Potter fanfic may have created the next Harry Potter: A closer look at Sarah Rees Brennan

An odd thing happened today. Nearly 300 Over 400 (as of 11:17 PM) people found their way to The Swivet by way of two different search terms: demon's lexicon and Sarah Rees Brennan.

Seems my mention yesterday of Kristin Knight's sale of Brennan's first YA fantasy trilogy to Karen Wojtyla at Simon & Schuster's Margaret K. McElderry imprint - after a heated auction that reportedly ran into the high six-figures - sparked an awful lot of hits.

Let's just reiterate here, in case I didn't make myself clear in that last paragraph:
Debut Author
+
Major Deal (+$500,000)

= Holy Shit!

Curious, I decided to do a little more research about the author and discovered something amazing.

Sarah Rees Brennan may be new to traditional publishing, but to online Harry Potter fans, she is something of a cyber-celebrity. Online, Brennan is better known as "Maya", a prodigious Harry Potter fanfic author who has generated a rabid and loyal following of her own over the last few years. In fact, Brennan was the focus of recent a Washington Post feature on fanfic. In the article (which you can read in its entirety here), Washington Post staff reporter Monica Hesse writes:
Sarah Rees Brennan, known online as "Maya," is one of these "Big Name Fans," as they are called. She began writing short fanfic as a teenager, for her own amusement and to share with her friends. By the time she tried a novel-length story, her fan base had expanded. The first chapter of "Draco Malfoy, the Amazing, Bouncing . . . Rat?" garnered 48,467 Web hits. After posting her second fanfic novel, "Underwater Light," Rees Brennan, now 23 and a grad student in England, received a call from a stranger asking permission to tattoo its opening line on her back ("Harry Potter thought about himself as he entered the water." Not an auspicious beginning, but the novel improves).

Then the inevitable happened: Rees Brennan became a victim of derivation herself when, in a karmic twist, her readers began producing . . . fanfic . . . of her fanfic. Rees Brennan's "The Dark Side of Light," which suggested a lonely end for Draco Malfoy, so concerned one reader that the reader immediately followed it up on FanFiction.net with "Five Years After," in which Draco finds love.
You can read some of Sarah Rees Brennan's Draco Malfoy fanfic here. And you can learn more about Brennan at her Livejournal here.

(BTW? I strongly suspect that we'll be seeing Sarah Rees Brennan's name on the New York Times bestseller list sometime in the next eighteen months.)

5 comments:

moonrat said...

j***s. i read about this deal in publishers marketplace but (like most too-high advance deals) i didn't take it too seriously. i see from your links that i should have--fan fic is a formidable enterprise. i could be making a lot more money indulging in my dirty pleasures than in pursuing my legit career. hmm. duly noted.

writtenwyrdd said...

The gal has platform. I don't get the high advance, but I can see why they wanted her.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

I think you're right. Have you read her blog? I've never read a page of fanfic, but she's pretty darn funny and turns a phrase well, which is why I'm interested in her writing.

AM said...

Hi! Found this randomly surfing through Google. Brennan's extreme popularity in Harry Potter fandom is for good reason; she's a highly witty, amazingly talented writer. I encourage everyone who enjoys lively, romantic, and delectably humorous writing to check out the fanfiction on her blog.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a fan of Sarah Rees Brennan (or Maya, as we all call her), since before I ever heard about the Demon's Lexicon, she DEFINITELY deserves it. Her fanfiction jumps between funny and witty (Chains), and dark and deeply disturbing (Your Every Wish).
She does write mainly slash (male/male) fanfiction (Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy), so a word of caution before you jump in.