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.
Support on Patreon to read the next chapter now, a week ahead of the general public. There will be thirty chapters in total, running until April 2020.
About the project
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. If you like innovative, multimedia storytelling for Young Adults, I’m releasing a murder mystery novel online that interrogates how teenagers interact with digital culture.
I’m the author of lots of science fiction books:
With this project, I’m writing something different. I wanted to tell 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!
As a traditionally published author, I think that the industry is missing out on connecting with a huge swath of its readers by not thinking outside the box with digitalised fiction. Format (and formatting) are so flexible online and I’m not seeing that fluidity or complexity conveyed in the fiction I read. I wanted to test out a way to do things differently with An Unauthorised Fan Treatise, to prove it can work.
Online storytelling is not simply a case of posting chapters each week. It’s about using the unique structure created by interlinking/embedding webpages, to tell a story that simply could not be told in a traditional prose novel. It stretches the writer in new ways. I believe this is the direction storytelling is going, so I’m putting my money where my mouth is. I’m very lucky to have an editor and publisher who have the same vision for this novel as me.
I wrote the entire first draft of An Unauthorised Fan Treatise over a few weeks in July 2018 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.
Weird Internet Dramas
As a primer, here are 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. For a tiny short one, check out ‘It’s……..Rebekah Vardy’s account.‘
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.
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!
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.
Other links of interest
- Tumblr tag
- Fandom book recommendations [patrons only]
- Tongue-in-cheek playlist [patrons only]
- Plotting An Unauthorised Fan Treatise [patrons only]
- Book recommendations with unreliable narrators [patrons only]
- Writing inspirations
Casting the characters
Gottie (Isabela Moner)
Nathan (Armie Hammer)
Rob (Ezra Miller)
Anya (Antonia Thomas)
Nathan’s friend Brad (Bradley James)