Much as romanticism once gave way to realism, and modernism thereby to postmodernism, all of these previous movements have at last given way to a new era of literature: fan fiction wherein young women write graphic wish-fulfillment stories about having sex with famous men. The latest to join E.L. James and her Twilight take-off Fifty Shades Of Grey is Anna Todd, the 25-year-old author behind After—a story of one young woman’s erotic awakening at the hands of Harry Styles, “The Erotic Awakening One” of British boy band One Direction.
According to Publishers Weekly (via Zap2It), Simon & Schuster has just handed Todd a “mid-six figure deal” for the worldwide rights to her serialized novel, which she began typing out on Wattpad a year ago, to the sticky delight of those who read it more than 800 million times. Earlier this year, Todd also signed a deal with talent agency UTA to negotiate its film and TV rights. And in November, the first book in the three-volume After series will begin appearing in stores, with subsequent chapters and—if Fifty Shades is any indication—a movie adaptation, ancillary sex toys, and uncomfortable feelings about seeing people reading it right out on the bus to follow.
Naturally, there will have to be some changes made in bringing erotic One Direction fan fiction from the web to actual bookshelves. For example, “The book is very long,” Simon & Schuster’s Adam Wilson says, “so we’ll edit it down and get to the core of the story.” The core of that story will remain a young college freshman who “falls for a bad boy and discovers who she is.” Said bad boy will not, however, still be named “Harry Styles,” nor will he be surrounded by characters named after the other members of One Direction, or modeled on their carefully crafted public personas. Instead, they will have new names, and adhere to equally generic, yet non-specific “boy” archetypes.
It’s also unclear as yet whether After will retain its more explicit passages, so if you want to read lines like “I decide to take a page from the Harry Styles sex handbook and grip him harder… I pump him in one hand and slide my soaking panties over with the other,” you’ll just have to read After in its current, digital-only version. Or read one of the many other erotic One Direction fan fiction stories that did not command mid-six figures.
Anyway, Todd’s success story should serve as inspiration to all those currently pounding out their own novels, inspiring them to consider whether their novels have girls getting pounded by famous boys. If not, maybe don’t bother.