The steamy tale, written by Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, under the pen name Christina Lauren, was originally posted online in 2009. It follows the tumultuous relationship between a boss and his assistant and is said to have been reworked since becoming an Internet sensation.
This is the fourth story inspired by Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight" that started as fanfiction and later earned a major publishing deal.
Internet fanfiction has become a popular means of expression for writers who craft stories based on their favorite television, literary or film characters.
Last year, the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy, which originally centered on "Twilight" lovers Edward Cullen and Bella Swan and was titled "Master of the Universe," became a literary sensation after it was purchased by Vintage Books. The E.L. James BDSM tale has sold roughly 30 million copies and scored a $5 million film deal with Universal/Focus Features (NYSE: GE).
"Gabriel's Inferno" and its follow-up, "Gabriel's Rapture," originally titled "The University of Edward Mason," began as an online serial based on "Twilight." After gaining a devoted fan base, the stories were eventually distributed by indie publishing house Omnific before being picked up by Berkley Trade (NYSE: PSO) for paperback publication in August.
"The phenomenon of fanfiction is something that we see in literature over and over again -- the retelling of favorite myths," Sylvain Reynard, author of "Gabriel's Inferno," said of the reimagining of beloved works. "I think that the popularity of fan fiction is related to the popularity of the myths themselves. Certainly, 'Twilight' is itself a retelling of the myth of the 'Monster and the Maiden.' So long as that myth is popular, its newest incarnation will be, too."
While there are glaring similarities between "Twilight" and "Fifty Shades," it can be argued that Anastasia and Christian, the protagonists of "Fifty Shades," were inspired by actors Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, in addition to their "Twilight" characters.
"Gabriel's Inferno" differs greatly from the teen vampire saga, however. The story, which centers on a graduate student who falls for her enigmatic college professor, has few similarities to the story that inspired it.
A novel more comparable to the "Twilight" series, "The Dark Heroine," by 18-year-old author Abigail Gibbs, was picked up by Harper Collins (NYSE: NWS) in September. The story follows a teenager who is swept into a world of glamor after she meets an alluring young man with a dark secret.
According to Erika Tsang, an Executive Editor at HarperCollins, the popularity of fanfiction may be attributed to the popularity of specific characters.
"When you fall in love with certain characters, it’s hard to let them go. So, in the world of fanfiction, those characters live on in a whole new re-imagined world."
There's no denying that "Twilight" and the characters featured in the book have an adoring fan base. The books have sold roughly 116 million copies worldwide, while the four films films based on the series have grossed a whopping $2.5 billion globally. The upcoming "Breaking Dawn: Part 2," the final film in the saga, is expected to shatter box office records.
It can be argued that the chaste relationship between Edward and Bella, who don't consummate their relationship until the final book in the series, left fans wanting more and thus led to raunchy retellings of the story.
"'Twilight" appeals to so many people on such a deep, primal level," said psychologist Niloo Dardashti, whose film, "Into the Twilight Haze," examines the popularity of the series. "I think it taps into a universal longing for unconditional acceptance and connection -- not only from and with another person, but within their own selves. The 'Twilight' phenomenon extended beyond cultures and across generations, which points to something that must be experienced on a collective unconscious level -- meaning that, on some level, this story triggers something deep within the human psyche. The fan fiction is, on the surface, an effort to hold on to a character or characters who were so beloved by many fans; I think on a deeper level, it is an expression of the triggered yearnings that underlie some of the mass interest in 'Twilight.'"
Bestselling erotic romance author Lisa Renee Jones, whose newest work, "If I Were You," has been compared to "Fifty Shades," believes that stories like "Twilight" often keep readers wanting more.
"'Twilight' embraces the damaged, powerful hero who is saved by a woman, who he then treasures beyond all else. It's really the 'Cinderella' story we all grew up loving with an adult twist," Jones said. "Once the story is over, we crave more, and well done fanfiction gives us that exciting journey to relive again. It also make the fantasy more exciting to see the premise morph into new characters and possibilities we might meet/encounter in real life."