I’ve known and been appalled by this for a while but yesterday really put the icing on the cake (There needs to be a better saying for those of us who don’t like cake. The chocolate on the S’Mores, maybe?). I was doing one of my usual updates on the list of books I need to get when I decided to check for a synopsis of the new Secret Circle book. That’s when I found an article on The Vampire Diaries Wiki that informed me that it’s possible not every LJ Smith fan knows that Vampire Diaries and Secret Circle are no longer written by her (Don’t judge me for still buying them. I hate what they did to her but I really need to know what happens with Damon and Elena and Nick and Cassie).
I was looking at what happens in the new Vampire Diaries, Moonsong, when I realized how it kept referring to what LJ wanted the book to be about. “In stores March 13, 2012. L. J. Smith said she wanted this book to be about the group going to Dalcrest College. Damon would help Meredith to control her bloodlust, although that seems to have been resolved in the ghostwritten books.” Okay, it acknowledges that LJ has not written this last trilogy, The Hunters. And you can definitely tell. The writing isn’t all that great. And the plot! I don’t even know why I’m reading it (Okay, I do but I really like Damon. I can’t help buying them out of a very, very bad habit). The storyline is barely passable for interesting and compared to the books written by LJ, it’s not even close. Yeah, I’m happy that the series kept going because it meant Damon is alive again. But I think I’d rather have him dead than this. The whole everything is back to normal and there was some fake Elena living her life while she was actually dead/in hiding thing is just weird (and not weird in the same way all that kitsune stuff was because I could accept all of that).
I remember reading the first four books and being completely enthralled. I couldn’t put them down. The writing is so brilliant that I could feel the characters emotions. When Elena was depressed and feeling alone, so was I. When Damon was enraged and ready to kill, so was I. When Bonnie was scared and on the verge of tears, so was I. The Return trilogy was just as good. While I didn’t always understand what was going on all of the time, I still loved it (If anyone can explain that whole owl thing when they are breaking Stefan out of jail, please let me know). But it’s not the same when the ghostwriter pens the books. There’s nothing emotion evoking. I’m barely even willing to accept the premise of the plot. And now, they are doing the same thing to another beloved series by LJ, The Secret Circle.
Unlike Vampire Diaries, I don’t like the show all that much and I don’t think it’s better than the books. Actually, if it weren’t for Damon, I would probably like this book series better than Vampire Diaries (Though, The Forbidden Game is my all-time favorite LJ series). I was content with where the original books ended. Black John was dead and as much as I was against it, Cassie and Adam were together because they were bound by fate and the silver cord (My heart breaks for Nick every time I read the books). LJ had been planning this sequel for a while. I would be fine with the new book if LJ was writing it because it’s her books. She created the Circle and should write out the lives for them that she feels fit. Her plot was going to be about Cassie saving Nick and Adam and Nick thinking she was in love with him. A triangle would form (Did Seth Cohen teach us nothing? Triangles are not friendly shapes!). Black John would return in an attempt to break apart the Circle and lead his own (I don’t know. I think he just had a thing for Faye). However, LJ wrote an e-mail to a fan saying that she does not want any of her original ideas in this book since she will not be authoring it. I’m not sure where the new book will go. I’m sure Black John will be back and there will be some drama between Cassie, Nick and Adam (How about actually putting Nick and Cassie together? I don’t really like Adam). But I’m sure that the writing and story won’t even be comparable to LJ.
If you are an LJ fan and did not know any of this, then you are probably thinking: how did all this information pass me by? Well, probably because you aren’t weird like me and get on LJ’s website at least once a week. When you go to the LJ Smith site, there is a big red banner on the top of the screen proclaiming that Phantom was not written by LJ. She wrote a blog post explaining what happened as well. It explains that she cannot tell the ghostwriter anything about the books and what she think should happen (Meaning, she cannot say PUT ELENA AND DAMON TOGETHER!). She gets to read the manuscript once it’s finished but cannot make any comments on how to make it better (Umm, I think if anyone would know how to better it, it would be LJ since SHE CREATED IT!). She does not know who the writer is but form what she’s heard, the woman used to be her editor and friend. LJ picked her to write the books and offered to give her extensive notes on how to write the books but in the end, the series was completely taken from her. If you pay attention to any of the new books, it does not say By LJ Smith. They say Created By LJ Smith. And while, I could not find the blog explaining about the contract issue that caused all of this again, The Vampire Diaries Wikipedia page does a pretty good job of it. Back when she first started, LJ signed a work for hire contract with Alloy that basically gave them the rights to everything.
In a blog post, LJ asks us fans not to boycott, (Thank you, LJ. That makes me feel a little bit better). However, if you read the first comment on that post, you realize something sketchy is going on over in Harper Collins. I used to be a huge Meg Cabot fan (We’re talking reading every book on the day it came out and that means every single Princess Diaries until like 11 or so). Someone pointed out that they did the same thing to her. She wrote the 1-800 series and there was a huge gap between the release of the 4th and 5th books. Why? Because apparently she was fired from her series. Conspiracy? I don’t know but there’s something stupid going on over at the publishing offices. If they are going to get rid of two well-known and loved authors on series that kind of made them as authors, something wrong is happening.
No matter what happens in the series, I know they’ll never be as good as what LJ intended. I’ll admit to having read Stefan’s Diaries, which were also not written by LJ but the writers of the show instead, because they are clearly not part of the original series. They are written to fit the plot and background given in the show (Trust me, you can tell the difference). All I can hope for is that they do not steal The Forbidden Game and Night World from her as I am looking forward to the new books and something actually written by LJ.