As most people know by now, Fifty Shades Of Grey got its start as a piece of Twilight fan-fiction, with author E.L. James transforming that series’ protagonist from a mere blood-sucking stalker into a figure of actual, creepy menace. Given that James, publisher Random House, and the producers of the Fifty Shades movie have all made heaping, chain-festooned yachtfuls of money off that bit of copyright-friendly homage, it’s not surprising that another author’s tribute piece is now making its way to theaters. The twist this time, though, is that the fan-fiction in question is based not on teen-lit romance or, to pull an example at random, anthropomorphic pony people, but on a real person: One Direction’s Harry Styles.
The book in question, Anna Todd’s After, stars a young woman named Tessa, who finds herself in a dangerous, unhealthy relationship with an abrasive young man with beautiful, wild hair. It’s a lot like the plot of Wuthering Heights, actually, except that a), it’s nearly twice as long—paperback editions of After, printed by Simon & Schuster, clock in at about 600 pages—and, b), the brooding Brit in question isn’t Emily Brontë’s Heathcliff, but a clear pastiche of the “What Makes You Beautiful” singer, here referred to as “Hardin”:
But she’s barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into Hardin. With his tousled brown hair, cocky British accent, tattoos, and lip ring, Hardin is cute and different from what she’s used to.
But he’s also rude—to the point of cruelty, even. For all his attitude, Tessa should hate Hardin. And she does—until she finds herself alone with him in his room. Something about his dark mood grabs her, and when they kiss it ignites within her a passion she’s never known before.
Originally published on Wattpad, After racked up more than a billion views, although it’s unclear how many of those were accidental re-reads caused by the shaking hands of sexually awakened One Direction fans, working through their own dark, grabby moods.
But just as a tree doesn’t fall in a forest—presumably giving up its century-long life to print four more copies of an erotic odyssey with the guy who brought “Summer Love” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” into the world—without making a sound, a romance novel can’t pick up that many fans without someone turning it into a movie. And so, naturally, Mom writer Susan McMartin has been tapped to turn the book into a film—which The Hollywood Reporter described as “a Fifty Shades-type story, but for a younger generation,” in a stellar feat of typing one’s way through shudders of revulsion. McMartin previously worked on Two Broke Girls, and also wrote the upcoming Eddie Murphy drama Cook, which makes it a given that the next logical evolution of her career path was to pen a near-certain blockbuster in which a pretty young college girl hate-fucks a doppelganger of the British boy band king.