Is it just me or is there a new trend of romances based on celebrity fanfic? It makes sense, really: like two neighborhoods gentrifying near each other until the borders stretch to connect them. There’s a region between fanfic and contemporary romance that seems ripe for exploring.
On the one hand, Fanfic breathes some fresh new air into traditional plots. Sariah Wilson’s newly published #Starstruck, for example, is about a college student who tweets her celebrity crush and he answers, igniting a virtual connection that turns real. The book is full of tweets that function almost as illustrations, in ways that simply including a conversation over texting doesn’t. (Note: this book has already gotten very mixed reviews for other reasons. It's loaded with five stars on Amazon but got an F review on Smart Bitches Trashy Books.) In Katie Heaney and Arianna Rebolini’s Public Relations the heroine is a junior publicist unexpectedly given a plum assignment working a campaign for a hot young musician clearly based on Harry Styles. Its deep dive into social media P.R. becomes awesome “competence porn.” (I haven't read it yet but another book that would fit into this possible trend is Cathy Yardley's One True Pairing.)
But there are some potential challenges here too. A heroine who has worshipped the hero since she was a teenager starts out at a major disadvantage in a romance. He’s got all the power and she’s got none. How does the author shift the balance? And fan girls are almost by definition gushy so how do you get readers to take them seriously? Besides, if she’s had posters of him on her wall since junior high that’s a little icky. It makes her seem immature and him seem too unattainable or even vaguely predatory. That's a problem with Mariana Zapata’s very popular Kulti: for years the heroine idolized the soccer star who ended up as her coach (and lover) so it took a long slow burn to get over that huge gap between them. In all these cases that gap between celebrity and fan is practically as wide as the old royal and commoner trope. It’s just hard to make those stories plausible.
It will be interesting to see if more authors pick up this plot device and how they work it. Have you seen it elsewhere? What do you think of its pros and cons?
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