L.J. Smith, the author of the bestselling Vampire Diaries series of novels, has been sacked by her publishers, HarperCollins. Another author will complete the series.
The Vampire Diaries is unusual in that the series premise was (apparently, going by fan comments in the SpoilerTV link above) conceived by the publisher and given to Smith as a work-for-hire project. Whilst Smith conceived of the characters, the world, the rules and so forth, HarperCollins owned the project and its copyright in their entirety. Apparently, during the recent books Smith was moving away from the character interrelationships which HarperCollins considered the core of the series. Smith has thus been replaced. On her website Smith suggested that fans continue to read the books and not feel too bad on her behalf. She writes:
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.
The Vampire Diaries TV series is apparently unaffected by the news.
Oddly, the news comes on the same day that The CW has officially commissioned a pilot based on another work of Smith's, The Secret Circle trilogy.
This is an odd situation. The first Vampire Diaries book was published twenty years ago, so the relationship between author and publisher goes back some time. Thanks to Smith's work, the series became a bestseller and has spawned a hugely successful TV series. It's unusual for a publisher to exercise this kind of power, though it's also unusual for them to have it in the first place: in most cases the author retains copyright on their series, so this kind of move would be impossible to pull with most authors. Interesting to see if more information comes to light.
This article by Adam Whitehead originally appeared at The Wertzone.