I need to preface this post with a bit of my own personal back story: I went through a serious Twilight fan-fiction phase for about a year, beginning in the first trimester of my pregnancy, leading into the months my daughter was a newborn. It is all Twitter’s fault, of course — I saw people tweeting about something called MOTU and then I Googled it and discovered Master of the Universe, the fan fiction story that would later go on to become the U.K.’s bestselling book of all time (!!!) Fifty Shades of Grey.
But it was the story I read after that, as I lay in bed at two in the morning with unbearable acid reflux (never have kids, you guys) that did me in and solidified my addiction. The University of Edward Masen, the tale of a volatile, dark professor, his impressionable young graduate student and their shared past and passion for Dante, totally owned me for a summer. The story is titillating and romantic and filled with angst but with an academic twist, as it explores Renaissance art and literature at length.
The author of said story, Sylvain Reynard, eventually e-published it as two books (Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture) with the independent publisher Omnific, and just recently signed a substantial deal to publish the books with Penguin Group’s Berkley imprint. I’ve always been intrigued by Renard, a private figure who has spent much of his time using his fan-fiction fame to promote numerous charities. I was thrilled he agreed to answer some questions via email about publishing Gabriel’s Inferno, the fan fiction community, the Fifty Shades phenomenon, his charitable work and the possibility of his stories one day making it to the big screen.