I’m releasing a serialised novel online!

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It’s time for another special announcement! Starting on 14th October, I’m going to be releasing a new chapter of a novel online every Monday until March 2020.

Obsessed with Caroline Calloway? Remember MsScribe, One Direction’s Babygate, the Lorde powerpoint, the Kaylor drama, or Cassandra Clare’s LiveJournal days (see below)? Still miss the Serial podcast? If so, this is the story for you. I’ve channelled my lifetime obsession with weird internet conspiracy theories into creating the ultimate fandom drama.

AN UNAUTHORISED FAN TREATISE (on the nature of the relationship between actors Rob Hennings and Nathan O’Donnell on TV show Loch & Ness, by @gottiewrites)

Gottie is a fangirl for Loch & Ness, a TV show about paranormal detectives. She’s convinced that two of the male actors are secretly dating, and she’ll stop at nothing to prove it. When her online investigations accidentally uncover far more than she expects, she becomes complicit in secrets beyond just a romantic conspiracy theory.

An internet thriller told in a ‘true crime’ style recollection of events, the novel includes social media extracts such as modern Tumblr posts and early-noughties LiveJournal blog entries. 

I wanted to write a story set online because I’ve thirsted for books about internet culture my entire life. I can’t remember a time without the internet. I’m sure there probably was a time I didn’t use the internet (probably around the time Harry Potter first came into my life), but I don’t remember it.

Despite that, books rarely, if ever, talk about life online. There might be occasional references to Facebook, but they don’t actually talk about the internet. At least not as a vital, relationship defining form of communication, the way I use it. My friendships wouldn’t be the same without the internet. The way I speak to people, and the language and topics we cover, are completely different online to the way we talk in real life. The internet has a language all of its own. There are subcultures upon subcultures, stacked together like a Russian doll. This novel is an attempt to explore that in the language of the internet: comments and anonymous asks and forum posts.

All the ‘fandom’ YA books I’ve read are told in prose, and don’t really go into this much investigative detail about what fans get up to online. I think teenagers today, who have grown up with the internet like I did, are incredibly well-versed in this kind of detective work online, and I hardly ever see it in books. It’s a massive skill that a lot of teenagers don’t know they have, and I’d love to see that celebrated more. This kind of internet-based narrative is so fascinating to me because it’s such a unique space to tell stories that have never been told before. So I hope that you like it, or at least find it interesting and refreshing to read!

You can sign up at the bottom of the page of the website to receive email updates of each new chapter, or add it on Goodreads. You can also sign up for my mailing list to receive general book updates (you won’t get each chapter unless you sign up at the website).

Read online 

I wrote the entire first draft of An Unauthorised Fan Treatise over a few weeks last July while my dad was having a triple heart bypass. It was pure comfort writing as a distraction during a very stressful time. I just wanted to write about obsessive fangirls breaking the law (who doesn’t?). My dad is back to full health now, so this is still a really important novel to me.

Because the story is told entirely through social media posts, and so different from my normal novels, I wanted to share it online first before it’s published (I think we’ll have to add in prose sections and more explanations of the ‘internet’ content beforehand). This is my first contemporary YA, and I’m so nervous and excited to be writing in a new genre! Especially one that’s so close to my heart.

If you’re excited for the novel, here’s some of my favourite write-ups of weird events that have happened on the internet. The fan essay is an unappreciated form of artwork that deserves to be more widely shared. Consider this a primer in the narrative potential of the internet, for anyone who hasn’t spent their whole childhood in internet black holes (cannot relate).

Note: these are all looooong. I personally put these on my Kindle and read them as weird bedtime stories, so the second link is to a PDF which you can download if you’d like to do the same.

Second note: You will probably be confused by some of the terminology and events discussed in these essays. That’s because internet culture is fast moving, and sadly, is not very well documented, unlike other periods of history (except by the University of Iowa, who I adore). Treat these documents like primary sources from Ancient Greece, and read them with the expectation you’ll have to pick up certain things as you go along. The fact that internet culture has changed so much in the three decades it has existed is absolutely fascinating to me, and makes these essays all the more interesting. This article is a really good general introduction to obsessive fandom.

10) The Cassandra Clare one (PDF) 2006 – This one is about the YA author from her Harry Potter fandom days, circa 2002 on LiveJournal. A masterclass in detective work

9) That Lorde powerpoint (PDF) 2018 – everyone has seen this one recently, I think, about Lorde’s affair with her producer. A fresh take on the typical fan essay, that’s very visual.

8) The Scott/Tessa secret baby one (PDF) 2013 – A view into the mind of a fan who is convinced the ice skaters are not only in a relationship, but have a child.

7)  Kaylor timeline (PDF) 2015 – a collection of meticulously compiled tumblr posts documenting every interaciton that Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss have ever had. A+ work, here.

6) The real life cult (PDF) 2002 – WHY

5) Caroline Calloway and Natalie Beach 2019 – Still on-going! See here for more.

4)The terrifying Korean stalkers (PDF) 2012– this gives me chills, still.

3) The Dan/Phil one (PDF) 2011 – I really hope the person who researched this now works for the FBI because the level of detail is immense. This is the only youtuber one on this list, but I’m sure there’s a lot more of these kind of essays out there. Happily, Dan and Phil came public as a couple this year!

2) The inevitable One Direction one (PDF) 2014 – I LOVE THIS. (Also worthy of note: 1D’s rainbow bears)

1) The msscribe story (PDF) 2006 – The original. The best. If you read the above Cassandra Claire saga, a lot of the cast involved in that will be familiar to you here. This involves a fan who desperately tried to become friends with Cassandra Clare, and ended up causing a huge rift in the community instead. This literally rewrote my brain and made me the human being I am today. (I am old enough to recognise a lot of the usernames in this story. I wasn’t there in 2001, but I was definitely in the HP fandom a few years after that.) Here’s a sample chapter. It’s like the Serial podcast, in the sheer scale of collaborative investigation going on in real time with readers.

Published by Lauren James

Lauren James was born in 1992, and has a Masters degree from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. She is the twice Carnegie-nominated British Young Adult author of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, The Quiet at the End of the World and The Next Together series, as well as the dyslexia-friendly novella The Starlight Watchmaker and serialised online novel An Unauthorised Fan Treatise. Her upcoming release is The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker. She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. Her books have sold over fifty thousand copies in the UK alone, and been translated into five languages worldwide. Her writing has been described as ‘gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘a strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly. The Last Beginning was named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for young adults by the Independent. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was inspired by a Physics calculation she was assigned at university. The Quiet at the End of the World considers the legacy and evolution of the human race into the far future. Lauren lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient.  She has written articles for numerous publications, including the GuardianBuzzfeed, Den of GeekThe Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2020. She teaches creative writing for Coventry University, WriteMentor, and Writing West Midlands, providing creative writing courses to children through the Spark Young Writers programme.

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