The Bizarre Search for the Author of The Awful 'Harry Potter' Fic 'My Immortal'
You'd think no one would ever want to be known as the author of My Immortal, the worst fanfiction of all time, but people have been Spartacusing that bitch since day one. Over the years, numerous people have confessed to being "Tara Gilesbie," the pen name of the person who's done the most damage to the Harry Potter franchise besides J.K. Rowling, usually anonymously and usually explaining that they wrote the series as a joke.
That's apparently a telltale sign of a Gilesbie faker: While there's still some question of whether the story is a parody, the satirist would have had to maintain a whole web of social media accounts that they don't seem to have promoted, roleplaying as the unfortunate goth teen. Until 2017, the only real lead was a pair who didn't even come forward themselves: two YouTubers who recorded videos as goth teens named Tara and Raven, which was the name of Gilesbie's frequently mentioned friend and editor.
When asked if they were the Tara and Raven, though, they claimed to have never even heard of My Immortal.
That year, however, indie author Lani Sarem came under fire when it was discovered that her fantasy novel Handbook for Mortals had been pushed to the top of the New York Times young adult bestseller list by underhanded means. Completely separate from that scandal, people realized upon encountering Sarem's work that it was written weirdly similarly to My Immortal, but the real revelation came when that news reached writer Rose Christo. She quickly updated her various blogs to clarify that 1) she was the real author of My Immortal, 2) she was not Lani Sarem, and 3) she was publishing a memoir about her experience with Macmillan Publishers, to whom she had provided proof of her claims. It turned out Christo had been publicly claiming for months to be the author, but she was drowned out in the sea of similar claims.
So that's the end of it, right? Not quite: Christo is a phony. She details in her memoir how she wrote the story as a con to infiltrate the fanfiction community and somehow use it to locate her long-lost brother, but that brother came forward to announce that he was perfectly found, thank you, and Christo had fabricated the whole thing. She later admitted to forging documents related to her identity, supposedly to protect her family, and it's not clear if her proof of authorship was ever authenticated or existent in the first place. Her memoir was canceled, and Lani Sarem, clearly the person we should really be looking into, lives to write another day.
Manna, regrettably, has a Twitter.
Top image: Tara Gilesbie