blo Teens Read and Write: VAMPIRE DIARIES Controversy: LJ Smith Ousted as Author of Future Books

Thursday, February 10, 2011

VAMPIRE DIARIES Controversy: LJ Smith Ousted as Author of Future Books

In case you haven't heard about the current hoopla over The Vampire Diaries series and author LJ Smith, the scoop is that she's been fired from writing further books in the series. Here is part of an email that Smith wrote to a fan.

...This is still confidential, but in my case, the consequence is that I have been fired from writing the Vampire Diaries. Midnight is the last book you will ever see by L. J. Smith in this series. I even wrote the next book, Phantom, for the book packagers and my publishers, HarperCollins.

Instead of sending me edits, they sent me a letter addressed to the anonymous ghostwriter who will be taking over the Vampire Diaries series. Because I wrote about Damon and Elena’s love—and Damon’s feelings for Bonnie, too, no doubt—I have been dropped from the series.

You may wonder how they can go on writing books without me. It’s because when I was originally called by an agent to write the first trilogy, that agent was from a book packager (someone who puts together books and sells them to publishers) and what I wrote, I wrote “for hire.” Although I didn’t even know what that meant back in 1990, when I wrote the first books, I found out soon enough. It meant that even though I wrote the series, Alloy Entertainment (the book packager) owns the series. I own nothing. And Alloy and HarperCollins wanted me to write straight Stelena, and doubtless less about Bonnie, and I wouldn’t do it. I had to follow the characters and what they were telling me in my heart. But it was a very expensive and reckless thing to do. Book packagers like meek, obedient authors who do exactly as they are told. I’m not that way.

And so now the rest of the Vampire Diaries series, however long it lasts, will be written by an anonymous ghostwriter, and not by me. I have fought and fought until even my agent wouldn’t back me. But Harper (the publisher) and Alloy are in perfect agreement. They think that you readers won’t be able to tell the difference, or won’t care. And since I wrote Phantom before they told me, that book may even sound a bit like my writing, because the ghostwriter can do anything she likes with it, all the while making every coming book strictly Stelena. I was told explicitly that I should have Elena realize that though she is fond of Damon her one true love is Stefan. I chose not to do that because it wasn’t what I felt in my heart. But that’s what the rest of the series will be because I won’t be around to say any differently.

I am very, very sad—sadder than I have ever been since my mother passed away—but there is absolutely nothing I can do. There will be no more Delena in the series—although Elena may be fond or physically attracted to Damon. I don’t know what it means for the Bamon faction. All I know is that I’m sad and hurt and horrified all at once. ~ L.J. Smith

So while it's clear that this turn of events is entirely legal, it's the moral aspect that has caused the controversy. As far as I know there hasn't been an official statement from HarperCollins or Alloy, but see below for LJ Smith's latest statement.

I read the earlier books when I was younger and enjoyed them, but haven't read the more recent ones. I do watch the TV series and love it. Gregory is my VD watching fan and while I don't know how it compares to the books, we both agree that Damon is the real draw - more interesting, more fun, more depth of character... more, more, more! It's not that there's anything wrong with Stefan, he just kind of pales in comparison. Again, I'm only going by the TV series but Damon and Elena seem to be the hotter couple and she's an idiot if she doesn't realize it and fall into his arms. I know I would!

For those interested, you can sign a Twitter petition. According to the petition you're "saying you will NOT buy any future books as they will not be written by L.J. Smith! By signing this you are officially saying you will no longer buy another "Vampire Diaries" book unless LJ. Smith is re-hired!"

But bear in mind, LJ Smith recently wrote on her blog:
First, I want to thank my readers for all their messages of support. I’ve gotten far too many emails to answer, and I really appreciate the kindness and emotional sustenance you’ve given to me at this difficult time.

Second, if you’ve asked me a question about the future books or the endgame of The Vampire Diaries and I’ve been vague about what’s in store, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize. I really wasn’t looking forward to the day when I would have to talk about this.

Third, and most importantly, I want to ask anyone who was thinking of it, not to boycott Harper’s or anyone. It just doesn’t make sense. Although I wanted and still want more than anything to be able to continue The Vampire Diaries series myself, there’s no point in not trying the new books. (And remember, for fans of Bonnie and Damon, and strict Stefan and Elena fans, the immediate dynamics may be more to your liking.) Besides which, Midnight, which is all mine, is coming out in March, and I believe there may be some of my writing in Phantom.

Thanks again to all the fans who have shown loving and loyal kindness to me. ~L J Smith
So how do you weigh in? Are you a current reader of the series? Do you think readers will know the difference?  Will it affect your buying future books in the series?


Blueicegal ♥ said...

I'm still pissed about the whole thing and I am one of those people who will not read those fake books in the future which are not written by her.

Julie@My5monkeys said...

I read her stuff when it was written by her in the 90's. I had no idea of what it was called back then.

Don't really watch the TV series , but her not writing is like John Grisham not writing his books. Its a sad day, but if she doesn't own the characters there isn't thing she can do.

Its like James Fey/James Patterson book deals.

Natalie said...

This is one of the few cases where I like the TV series, but don't really care for the books. (By the way, Damon's one of my favorite characters too)! Regardless of my opinion on the books, though, I think what they're doing to L.J. Smith is awful. While I wouldn't have bought the books in the first place because they're just not my cup of tea, I fully support an author's write to be treated with a little more respect than that, especially when it comes to a series that she's worked on for years. Stupid little legal loopholes....Why can't people just be nice?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Natalie...I really like the TV show better than the novels. The storyline is so different from the books but I think it works for the TV audience. I think whats happening though is terrible, its sad that a company is making millions from an authors writing and concepts...however if they owned the characters before she even penned the novels, what can be done?

Blodeuedd said...

That sucks! *shakes head*
Ok so I am not a fan, I watched 1 episode, read 3 books, but I still felt that Elena should be with Damon. And when even the author wants that...

Alethea said...

Yeowch! I feel for the author; I think she's taking it really well though. We'll have to wait & see how the publisher/s reacts, but right now Smith makes them look like big blue meanies.

I reposted your link to this article on All Things YA ( ; I hope you don't mind,

Jenny N. said...

So I haven't read the books but I'm a fan of the TV series and I do like Elena with Damon more than Stefan. It's sad how they are treating LJ Smith and undermining the reader too thinking that we won't care who keeps writing the novels as long as the series continues.

Nely said...

I'm with Natalie - I don't care much for the books but I absolutely love the TV series. Damon being one of my favorite characters ... and totally hawt to boot! I feel so bad for poor L.J. I think this is an injustice and fully support her on this. Not cool that she can't go wherever she wants with her story. Although I may never buy nor read The Vampire Diaries I still think what is being done to her is wrong.

Tales of Whimsy said...

I was just discussing my thoughts on this with Melissa at i swim for oceans:

Forgive me sounding like a conspiracy theorist, but of course she has to say "don't boycott". I am sure it's part of her contract (can you imagine the legal liabilities she could face if she supported a boycott?) plus her next book is being published by HC.

If I was a fan I would not boycott HC, but I would boycott the books in the series that proceed that are not written by her.

Hurt them with your pocket books. That is what will get them to listen.

Overall, it's mad shady, I feel awful for her, and if I was a fan - they would lose me.

Tales of Whimsy said...

PS Great post!

Unknown said...

wow. First of all, thank you to Teens Read and Write for posting this. I don't keep up with the Vampire Diaries books, but I am a huge fan of the tv series (and of Damon!).

Aside from my hope that LJ writes another book outside of VD that her fans will adore, I sincerely hope this doesn't happen to other aspiring writers out there in the future. Many of us dream of becoming published authors, but at what price? One wrong word in a contract or pitch could cause this to happen to any of us. This probably happens more often than we think...especially to someone who just wants to see their work published.

I think this is awful...

Ladytink_534 said...

I tried really hard to read the first book but I wasn't really impressed since I had already gotten used to the way it was on the show. I do feel sorry for that author and if I was a reader of the series I probably would stop buying them.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I haven't read the books and only saw one episode, but it sucks that characters she created are ripped from her. I understand them going another way on tv (like they are doing with the Southern Vampire series) but to do that to the books just... well... sucks.

titania86 said...

I guess I'm one of the few who actually likes these books. They were my first real introduction into paranormal romance and horror and I read them when they first came out. They will always have a special place in my heart. I read them recently and I still liked them, but a little bit less. The young adult book scene has grown and matured so much since they were first published. Maybe that's why current readers don't enjoy it as much.

I absolutely hate the show. I think it's shallow, trashy, and has way too many nonsensical plotlines. I watched it for a season and gave up. I'm just glad the TV show gave LJ Smith a reprinting on her old books and the opportunity to write new ones.

I think it's really sad that she has been fired from her own book series. I don't think that the publishers understand that the love triangle is what creates tension and interest. Without it and the real author, I think they will see book sales drop. I personally won't be buying any more of the books if they aren't written by her even if it's against her wishes. I have no interest in a ghostwritten series. I can read VC Andrews books if I wanted that.

Orchid said...

I am absolutely saddend over this news. L.J. Smith is one of my all-time favorite authors and The Vampire Diaries was my first introduction to vampire books after I discovered them at the library years after they originally came out.

I'm also probably one of the only ones who prefers the books to the show, but I don't think I'll be reading any of the new books that will be done by a ghostwriter. It just wouldn't be the same.

Thanks for sharing the updated news.

Frosy said...

I'm a huge fan of the TV series and even though I haven't read the books yet (I'm waiting after the show is over) I'm really mad about what happened. I'm definitely not going to buy the future books if they're not by her. If an author can not write her story then why write at all?

I find it stupid that they fired her because they didn't like how the story was developing. Well guess what... we don't all like the sames things. And the author definitely deserves getting her story out. Not matter what the legal papers say the story belongs to her and she must write it as she has envisioned it.

Aluvss said...

I can't believe this, I will only buy the book sthat she's written. I love your blog btw.

Alessandra said...

I've read the first three Vampire Diaries books just recently. They were written in the early 1990s, and I think it shows, but they're good, nevertheless. I'd be curious to read how she continued the series after the end of the 3rd book, which seemed to bring the story to an end in my opinion. I have never seen the show.

That being said, I feel very sad and disheartened for the author's sake - she's good and doesn't deserve to be treated like that by her publisher. And to say that the ghostwriter can use LJ Smith's version of the next book as she wants! *This* I find particularly insulting. As for the boycott thing, I don't think I'll ever buy a book from this series (I usually borrow them from the library, as I like them well enough, but don't love them as in, "I'm dying to know what happens next and can't wait for my local library to buy a copy"). I think readers have every right to boycott a publisher if they see fit, even to protest against how a beloved author was treated. However, I don't think it will make a difference for the publisher in the end, and many people will probably still follow the series, buy the books and/or the merchandise from the series.

LJ Smith is a talented author and I'm sure she will write many other successful books. What happened over this series is kind of depressing, though. Alloy Entertainment might legally own the book series, but its success was determined by what LJ Smith made of the story. I think this is a fact.

Cayla Kluver said...

I've never read the series and I'm sure this is all legal in a twisted crazy sense... but I feel so bad for LJ! This is just horrible. So many years spent on a (very successful) series, writing characters she loves... as an author I would be heartbroken. My sympathies to her. I have no doubt she'll rally and have amazing success in the future but this isn't right. Morality and legality are two very different things.

Unknown said...

I haven't read the books yet, but I have one on my ereader for when I find the time. I do love the show, and I agree, while Stefan is a sweetly sad tortured character, Damon is the more powerful presence, he dominates the screen with his dark good looks and magnetic eyes. Elena would be a fool not to realize what's in front of her very eyes.

It is my personal opinion that while publishers and editors control to some extent the content presented in a book, it should be the author's prerogative to write the book. When a publisher contacts an well established author directing how a storyline should be written or continued instead of letting the story flow in it's own way.... I don't know.... won't the story sound stilted and unnatural? Forced?

The chemistry and history between Damon and Elena cannot be denied, it hasn't been a question of "if", it's been a question of "when" for the viewers.

But, maybe they don't want the story to continue.... odd how when something works, the powers that be become afraid of change. What they don't realize it that it is the fatal flaw of serials, boredom with the same characters and reoccurring storylines.

Dottie :)

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