"Facebook Friends" by GreenPuma = "Friended" by Kilby Blades
Since people still e-mail me asking for it, and since I am still tagged on social media several times a month in reference to it, I’m going to tell you the story of Facebook Friends. More accurately, I’ll tell you about the journey that Facebook Friends took from its origins as a fan fiction in 2008 to become an original fiction in 2018.
Unbeknownst to most people, Friended is the book that made me decide to publish original fiction. I make the distinction around “original” fiction because I spent years writing fan fiction in about five different fandoms. I’ll date myself by admitting that my first fandom was Dawson’s Creek (I wrote under the name Bitsy, and Kilby Blades was my friend, but that’s another story). From there, it was The West Wing, then Prison Break, then a little one-shot I did for Divergent. For the ones tied to television, it was about writing the romance that wouldn’t get its due screen time, or rewriting story elements I thought the show runners got wrong.
Twilight was the first fandom I wrote in that was so huge it attracted hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of readers. When this was published as a fanfic (called Facebook Friends by Green Puma, my pen name for Divergent and Twilight), it had more than 6,000 reviews across all of the platforms where it was posted and was read more than half a million times.
The ongoing success of Facebook Friends blew me away. I’d started writing it in around 2008. I also got pregnant in 2009 and barely finished it before the Puma Cub was born. Even as I released it, chapter-by-chapter, it gathered a stronger following than I could have imagined. A few months after the Cub was born, I struggled (and I mean, really struggled) to finish it. After that, I promptly lost my writing mojo (hormones!), stepped away from fanfic and went back to raising my son.
Years later (and, I mean, years) I opened my Green Puma gmail account and fired up my FanFiction.net account, just to see what I ad missed. I had hundreds of e-mails from fans asking when I would start writing again. And even in 2018, nearly ten years after I began writing it, Facebook Friends was still being read more than 300 times a day.
There are other nuances to what inspired me to publish original fic. If you ever buy me a drink, I’ll tell you. Let’s just say that I saw a lot of my Twific contemporaries getting published. Fiction that was out and popular at the same time that my fic was out and popular were flourishing as original fiction. Wallbanger by Alice Clayton, Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren and, of course, Fifty Shades of Grey. I’d read all of these as fanfic years before.
Since it was already written, publishing this book didn’t take much effort. I had to change names, modernize the romance so that Edward and Bella’s Facebook romance became Jag and Roxy’s Instagram flirtation. But this was always an alternate universe fic (no vampires!) with a very loose connection to the original Twilight story apart from a small-town setting and the archetypes of six friends.
I’m thrilled that I finally published it as my own, thrilled that people who remember Facebook Friends still ask for it, and am happy to share its story here :)