'Twilight' Fanfiction Hit 'The Office' Scores Two-Book Deal (Exclusive)

5:00 AM PST 11/08/2012 by Andy Lewis
Authors Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings

UPDATED: Thanks to the success of "Fifty Shades of Grey," a reimagined version of "The Office" called "Beautiful Bastard" will be published by Simon & Schuster in February 2013.

One of the first breakout online fanfiction hits based on Twilight has scored a two-book deal with Gallery Books.

The Office, which reimagined the Edward Cullen-Bella Swan relationship as a steamy love/hate romance between a boss and his assistant, was one of the pioneers of the Twilight fanfic genre, generating more than two million downloads, before being taken offline by the author in 2009.

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Beautiful Bastard, a reworked version of The Office written by Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings under the pen name Christina Lauren, is scheduled for publication on Feb. 12, 2013. A sequel, Beautiful Stranger, will be released on May 28, 2013.

Simon & Schuster’s Gallery imprint bought the rights to the story in a pre-emptive situation for what insiders describe as a “substantial” advance.

The pair are represented by Holly Root of the Waxman Leavell Literary Agency. 

Beatiful Bastard is the first project to make the leap from fanfic directly to traditional publishing without an intermediary step.

In the past year, similar Fifty Shades of Grey-like adult erotic/romance novels like Sylvain Reynaud's Gabriel's Inferno, have earned seven-figure advances as publishers try to replicate the unprecedented success of E.L. James’ erotic hit.

Fifty Shades of Grey, the breakout erotic hit that has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, originally started as a Twilight-based fanfiction story titled "Master of the Universe.” But its success online was preceded by The Office.

"The Office paved the way for Fifty Shades and a thousand other imitators. It turned fanfiction's "porn without plot" into porn as plot, peopling Twilight's basic plot structure with sexually voracious, assertive and snarky adults," says Anne Jamison, a professor at the University of Utah, who studies fanfic.

Beautiful Bastard tells the story of the whip-smart Chloe Mills, an intern at a company who is about to earn her MBA and embark on successful career, but finds her herself caught up in a steamy love/hate relationship with her “exacting, blunt inconsiderate” boss Bennett Ryan.

The book is being pitched with the tag: “An ambitious intern. A perfectionist executive. And a whole lot of name calling. Discover the story that garnered over 2 million hits in under a year.”

While the authors say the novel “stays to true to the original story," only about “20 percent” of the original The Office story remains, as the pair have substantially reworked it for traditional publishing.

The Office was originally written by Hobbs in 2009 and then taken offline the same year when the story’s instantaneous popularity felt “crazy” and “a bit overwhelming.”

In 2010, Hobbs, a junior high counselor, teamed with fellow fanfic writer Billings, a neuroscientist, to pursue new writing projects together.

Originally they had no intention of revisiting The Office, but in the wake of the success of Fifty Shades of Grey and similar books, interest in the story grew in intensity. The pair reworked Hobbs’ original story into Beautiful Bastard.

Fanfic, the slang term for fan fiction, refers to online stories written by fans of hit series like Twilight and Harry Potter that take the characters in new and unexpected directions.

Twilight fanfic is  considered the most creative and prolific area of fanfic, with popular stories recasting the relationship in new settings and often dropping the vampire element completely.

 

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