So I originally opened this post to gush over just how much I loved thanfiction’s Dumbledore’s Army: Year of Darkness. I just got around to reading it, and it filled a hole in my fandom heart that’s been open for quite a while now. Obviously with my distaste for the actual Deathly Hallows, I’ve always felt a better and more interesting story could have been told through Neville’s perspective of that year, but had never found a suitable canon-compliant interpretation of it until I was recommended this fic by a fellow writer. I was elated. I spread the word to all my IRL friends who still read Harry Potter fanfiction. I dragged my ass back here to write a more in-depth review of it. And of course, like most things that provoke a strong reaction in me, I googled it to see what other fans had to say about it.
That’s when I discovered the massive fandom-wank surrounding the author. We’re not talking about a few words thrown here and there against other people on a LJ account, or plagiarism accusations. We’re talking serious con-artistry, charity defrauding, multiple changing identities, and involvement in a suicide-murder. Talk about a major buzz kill.
Got-dangit! I knew something was fishy when I read thanfiction’s profile, but I chalked it up to the fact that most of us in the online fan community tend to be a little strange anyway. The first thing that didn’t seem quite true was the fact that he states about DAYD, “Believe it or not, that was my first fanfic, starting out as a little 4,000 word one-shot…” (source, ff.net profile). Lolwut? I verrrrryyyyy highly doubt that anyone’s “first fanfic” starts out at 4k unless they have been prolifically writing in some other form for a bit (professional, other fandoms, whatever), and it seems misleading to me to not mention that. But okay, whatever. Also, the fact that he had wrote numerous spin-offs within his own fic universe and just about nothing else struck me as a little egomaniacal, but again, relatively harmless. Then there was this sort of odd dedication at the end of the fic, where he takes time to explain how “[DAYD]’s dedicated to the real life soldiers who gave their time and effort in helping me understand the psychology of war.” And I know this sounds terrible to say because really, shouldn’t we be pleased with any kind of positive support towards our military? But the generality of it left me cold and felt more like pandering than anything else. The dedication, while touching on the surface, just didn’t seem to me like he was actually close to anyone who has been involved with a combat deployment. Entirely subjective on my part, but just an overall “off” feeling.
But now that I’ve read several links confirming multiple identities and harrowing accounts of manipulating lonely/vulnerable people, I’m kind of at a moral crisis as to even continue to support the fic. I mean, it’s not exactly the same boat as Roman Polanski/Woody Allen, but I feel like the dilemma is similar. At what point can you no longer separate the artist from their moral transgressions in their real life?
I guess in the scheme of things this whole DAYD thing is not a big deal but I’m worked up about it because the fic was good. I invested two days in reading it. I cried over Ernie MacMillan for Pete’s sake! I shed more tears reading about the DA’s losses in this version of the final battle than I did reading the actual Deathly Hallows. And it’s just frightening to me that someone who’s good at fabricating a fanfic and wringing emotions out of readers (which is well and good) is also doing the same thing in real life to unsuspecting individuals.
Anyway for anyone interested in reading what I have, here’s a good compilation of links on the subject.