The ‘50 Shades’ effect: ‘Gabriel’s Inferno’ lands major publisher

Following in the steps of E.L. James’ runaway bestseller “50 Shades of Grey,” the sexy book series “Gabriel’s Inferno” has been picked up by a major publisher. Penguin’s Berkely imprint paid seven figures for “Gabriel’s Inferno” and “Gabriel’s Rapture,” written by Sylvain Reynard.

There are many, many authors who hope their books will be compared to “50 Shades of Grey,” a self-publishing phenomenon that has found surprising mainstream success. Reynard’s books deserve the comparison for one reason in particular: They, like “50 Shades,” began as “Twilight” fan fiction.

“This book was born as a serialized ‘Twilight’ fan fiction story called ‘The University of Edward Masen’ (abbreviated as UOEM by readers) written under the pen name Sebastien Robichaud. The original manuscript has been removed and the site for Robichaud has been deleted, Galleycat writes. The site obtained a copy of “The University of Edward Masen”; it puts sections of it side by side with the version of “Gabriel’s Inferno” currently in print, which show the texts to be quite similar.

That another, second self-published/independently published sexy romance series based on “Twilight” has been picked up by a major American publisher makes one thing clear: Readers of “Twilight” really liked the idea of Bella and Edward getting together in a hot-and-heavy way. That kind of fantasy is fine, as long as people are penning their versions as a hobby.

But what happens when a book that began as fan fiction becomes a bestseller? Do its origins matter? Are the new versions of the romantic duo at the center -- in “Gabriel’s Inferno,” professor Gabriel Emerson and his student Julia Mitchell -- significantly different from Edward Cullen and Bella Swan? Can Stephenie Meyer lay claim to her characters as intellectual property? Should she?


Here’s more about “Gabriel’s Inferno” from the book’s website:

“Enigmatic and sexy, Professor Gabriel Emerson is a well respected Dante specialist by day, but by night he devotes himself to an uninhibited life of pleasure. He uses his notorious good looks and sophisticated charm to gratify his every whim, but is secretly tortured by his dark past and consumed by the profound belief that he is beyond all hope of redemption."When the sweet and innocent Julia Mitchell enrolls as his graduate student, his attraction and mysterious connection to her not only jeopardizes his career, but sends him on a journey in which his past and his present collide.”

While “50 Shades” has been called “mommy porn,” one reader counters that “Gabriel’s Inferno” is “Thinking Woman Porn.” It does have the university as a background setting, rather than a billionaire’s luxury apartment.

Now that “Gabriel’s Inferno” has been picked up by a major publisher, curiosity about author Sylvain Reynard/Sebastien Robichaud may grow. “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,” the Hollywood Reporter writes. “Fans of the series are not even sure about his gender, with some speculating that Reynard/Robichaud is actually a woman.”


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