Mysterious Author Scores Seven-Figure Deal for ‘Fifty Shades'-esque Novel

Similar to E.L. James’ hit, “Gabriel's Inferno” also started as “Twilight” fan fiction before a reworked version was published as a book.
Similar to E.L. James’ hit, “Gabriel's Inferno” also started as “Twilight” fan fiction before a reworked version was published as a book.

Gabriel's Inferno and Gabriel's Rapture, popular books that started as Twilight fan fiction, have been acquired by Penguin's Berkley imprint in a "substantial seven-figure deal,” the publisher announced.

Berkley will immediate take over publishing the ebooks from Omnific Publishing. Trade paperbacks will follow in the next few months, with Berkeley planning a 500,000 copy first printing.

The author behind the books, Sylvain Reynard, is a mystery. The release announcing the deal omitted any biographical information and "Sylvain Reynard” is a pen name.

Similar to Fifty Shades of Grey, the Gabriel's novels started life as aTwilight fan-fiction story called "The University of Edward Masen” posted on the web under the pen name Sebastien Robichaud at fan fiction sites like fanfiction.net and at sebastienrobichaud.com.

Fifty Shades of Grey has become the publishing sensation of 2012, selling more than 20 million copies since Vintage acquired the self-published book in March. Focus Features paid $5 million for the film rights and author E.L. James has earned more than $50 million. 

Reworked into Gabriel's Inferno, the first book was published by Omnific Publishing, a small romance-centered independent publisher, in April 2011. Together with its sequel, the books have consistently placed among the top 100 bestselling titles at Amazon.

The earlier "University of Edward Masen"-version was taken offline and sebastienrobichaud.com was shut down.

The few biographical details that can be gleaned about Reynard/ Robichaud from early interviews on Twilight fan sites reveal only that he is Canadian and has written several published non-fiction books. Fans of the series are not even sure about his gender, with some speculating that Reynard/Robichaud is actually a woman.

Gabriel's Inferno and the sequel Gabriel's Rapture tells the story of Professor Gabriel Emerson, a Dante scholar who "uses his notorious good looks and sophisticated charm to gratify his every whim, but is secretly tortured by his dark past" and becomes romantically involved with his "sweet and innocent" graduate student. The romance "sends him on a journey in which his past and his present collide."

Reynard/Robichaud and Omnific were represented in the deal by Deidre Knight and Melissa Jeglinski of the Knight Agency.

  1. by Carolyn Giardina , Aaron Couch