L.J. Smith vs. Ghost Writer


L.J. Smith (the initials stand for Lisa Jane) is the author of numerous best-selling books and series. Two of them were turned into television series: The Vampire Diaries which has just been renewed for a fifth season and spawned a spin-off titled The Originals coming this fall and The Secret Circle which unfortunately only last one season on air before it was cancelled and pulled from the network.

This is an ‘Informational Post’ about L.J. Smith and how two of her series have been taken over by a ghostwriter…

The Vampire Diaries series was commissioned by Elise Donner, editor of Alloy Entertainment, in 1990. L.J. Smith was taken on as a ‘work for hire’ to write the series.

She then went on two write three trilogies: The Secret Circle (1992), The Forbidden Game (1994) and Dark Visions (1995). The first book in the Night World series was published in 1996, followed by eight more over the next two years. (Fans are still waiting for the tenth and FINAL book in the series to be published… It only been… 10 YEARS!!!)

In 1998, L.J. Smith took a hiatus from writing. She returned in 2008, 10 years later, with a revamped website and a series of short stories. Beginning in 2007, L.J. Smith’s written work was reprinted and reissued. The first series to be reprinted was The Vampire Diaries. It was shortly followed by The Secret Circle and the Night World series during 2008-2009. It is safe to assume that this wall all done to lead into L.J. Smiths ‘comeback’ as a writer. After all, it had been ten years since she had anything published!  Following this resurgence of her work she came out with three new installments to The Vampire Diaries Series (The Return Trilogy).

In 2009 The Vampire Diaries was adapted into a Television Series. L.J. Smith has commented on the television series: “I think it is a brilliant story, brilliantly written, beautifully acted, with terrific direction, cinematography, and music.  I couldn’t improve it (except perhaps to image Nina blond and put Meredith back, and a few other things).  Of course, I still wish that someone as talented as Kevin Williamson would come along and tell the story the way it is told in the books, but that doesn’t dull my appreciation of the version that is out.”

The final Vampire Diaries book written entirely by L.J. Smith was The Return: Midnight and it was released in March 2001. L.J. Smith did submit a draft of the next installment in the series titled The Hunters: Phantom. However, after a disputed over a pivotal plot twist she was terminated by the publisher. The Hunters: Phantom was then turned over to a ghostwriter who revised the book for publishing. The following two Vampire Diaries books (The Hunters: Moonsong and The Hunters: Destiny Rising) were also written by a ghostwriter.

There also appears to be another Vampire Diaries series in the works: The Salvation Trilogy. If this is truly in the works then it will also be written by a ghostwriter.

Interesting Fact: The ghostwriter for The Vampire Diaries identity has been kept secret. It is unknown who has taken over the series or even if it has been the same person for all three books!

L.J. Smith was not only replaced in her Vampire Diaries series but she was also replaced in The Secret Circle series as well. Aubrey Clark is the ghostwriter for The Secret Circle series.

L.J. Smith will not be allowed to write further Vampire Diaries books even though she has asked Alloy Entertainment Inc. to do so. The series is now in the hands of an anonymous ghostwriter.

It is also important to point out that L.J. Smith does not have anything to do with the Television-Tie-In: Stefan’s Diaries.

So, for a general rule of thumb, if a book has several names on the cover or says “Created by L.J. Smith” you could be sure that L.J. did not write it.

Below is a copy of a letter L.J. Smith wrote talking about this issue:

“Thank you for your beautiful email. I completely understand why some fans get overeager—and especially if they think there is bad news for them. I hope that you will enjoy Midnight, as it is truly the story of Damon finding his deepest feelings for both Elena and Bonnie and his feelings are definitely not platonic. In fact, to be blunt, without Bonnie and something that Bonnie does at the end, Damon would be permanently dead.

But right now I have to tell you something that makes me so sad and devastated as bad, in fact, as I have ever felt except for when my mother died. It’s confidential, but it’s been so long now that I just can’t keep up a charade with good-hearted readers like you.

To put it briefly, I’ve been fired from writing the Vampire Diaries. And I’ve been fighting and fighting this since last fall, but there is absolutely no recourse. Midnight is the last L. J. Smith book in the Vampire Diaries series.

It probably sounds completely impossible to say that I am fired from writing my own books.But the truth is that they’re not mine, even though I write every word. When I was called by an agent and asked to write the vampire trilogy, that agent wasn’t from a publisher, but from what is now Alloy Entertainment, Ltd. And they are a book packager. A book packager sells books, already made with covers and all, to publishers, like HarperCollins—my publisher for The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle. And both these series were written “for hire” which means that the book packager owns the books the author produces. Although I didn’t even understand what “for hire” meant back in 1990, when I agreed to write books for them, I found out eventually, to my horror and dismay. It means that even though I have written the entire series, I don’t own anything about The Vampire Diaries. And from now on, the books will be written by an anonymous ghostwriter, just as Stefan’s Diaries are. It will say “Created by L. J. Smith” on the cover, but I am not allowed even to change a word in the ghostwriter’s book. 

You might wonder why the book packager and Harper would do this to me. I am not sure either, but usually a book packager gets very submissive, non-assertive writers to write for them not to mention that most of them, writers or ghostwriters, have had a lot of publishers turn their books down. Book packagers are used to do a lot of editing on their author’s books—because the books need intense editing.

But I’m not submissive, and I always fight editing. In Midnight, I had to fight to keep many Bonnie scenes in the book. I’m not at all sure they liked the things I was doing with Bonnie and Damon—they kept trying to cut such scenes. And of course they didn’t like Elena’s behavior at all. They want strictly Stelena books.

So last fall when I gave them the book Phantom, they didn’t bother to give me edits.  Instead, I was given a letter addressed to the ghostwriter by name, telling her to completely rewrite my book. They wouldn’t even listen when I pleaded and promised to do Phantom as they required. The simply took the series and gave it to the ghostwriter . . . to write not only The Hunters trilogy, but whatever comes after that.

They have always tried to minimize my participation in The Vampire Diaries. On the very first original books in 1990 my name was almost invisible on the cover. And now they have my manuscript of Phantom, and the book the ghostwriter writes from it may even sound like I wrote it in places, because they have the right to use my work as they see fit. But the book after that … that will be pure ghostwriter. I would guess that they think you readers won’t see or care about the difference in writing styles and skills.

I have said this to another Bamon fan, and I’ll say it now. I had so many plans for Bonnie in The Hunters trilogy. First of all, in Phantom, I had her showing a lot more emotion, grieving right along side Elena because—well, because Damon does something almost unbelievable for Bonnie in Midnight and he doesn’t get out unscathed.

I won’t spoil it if you don’t know. But they wanted Bonnie to have just put it all behind her—and with Bonnie’s character, I don’t think so! She is always completely openhearted with her emotions; even though she has matured so much in Midnight, she’s still Bonnie, who says exactly what she thinks, even if she hasn’t had a dose of Black Magic wine.

I wanted to write Moonsong, and give Bonnie an admirer who is just as sweet and even more naïve than she is—a pure white wolf with radiant blue eyes, who happens to be a werewolf with moonlight colored hair and the same blue eyes when he’s human. I wanted to show Damon’s surprising reaction to Xander the good werewolf (not at all happy about it—so much that he “accidentally” almost kills the poor innocent wolf) .

I also wanted to show how Damon rescues Bonnie from a vicious wolf-pack attack, and then let her fly away with him. And I wanted to show how Bonnie, who knows a little medicine from her sister Mary, helps Damon deliver Caroline’s twin babies when she goes into labor deep in the woods. But that’s one scene that I would have had to fight tooth and nail for, because even the glow that Damon and Bonnie share at seeing new life come into the world wouldn’t be enough for them to call it decent. They would undoubtedly have tried to make me cut it. But I still want to write it, so badly.

I even had the last book in that trilogy plotted out, where Stefan’s worst nightmare comes true and he takes so much blood from Elena that has to be taken to the hospital for a massive transfusion. He then decides to Influence Elena so that she will forget his existence, and he does so, to Damon and Bonnie and Meredith’s consternation. I wanted to show how this affected each one of the characters, and how Bonnie once again begins to write in her diary, since Elena’s diary is also forgotten, along with Stefan. I like to write things from Bonnie’s point of view, as I did in Dark Reunion. But none of these things will happen, beause I won’t be around to write it. And I just can’t keep up the pretense any long with wonderful fans like you. I can’t pretend that Bonnie and Damon’s relationship will continue to grow as Damon learns to respect her as well as to love her. She has become “his girl” but I can’t follow up on that. I had to tell the ghostwriter that he would address Bonnie as “little redbird” when he speaks to her.

Sorry for the long rant, but the charade is over for me. I don’t know how Phantom will turn out, with a blend of my manuscript and the complete rewriting of it by the ghostwriter. But I dread it, and even more do I dread what the next books will be like. I’ve worked so hard to make Vampire Diaries a good series, only to have the unthinkable happen to me. And I have no one but myself to blame for not being submissive enough.

L. J. Smith”


Below is a break down of The Vampire Diaries series:

The Vampire Diaries (The Original Series by L.J. Smith)

  • The Awakening
  • The Struggle
  • The Fury
  • The Dark Reunion

The Vampire Diaries: The Return Trilogy (The Comeback by L.J. Smith)

  • The Return: Nightfall
  • The Return: Shadow Souls
  • The Return: Midnight

The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters Trilogy  (The Ghostwriter Takes Over)

  • The Hunters: Phantom
  • The Hunters: Moonsong
  • The Hunters: Destiny Rising

* Important Note: L.J. Smith did write a book titled “The Hunters: Phantom”, but Alloy Entertainment Inc., which owns half the copyright and originally asked L.J. to write “The Vampire Diaries” in 1990 as ‘work for hire’ has had the book completely rewritten by an anonymous ghostwriter. The credit on the book says “Created by L.J. Smith”.

Upcoming: The Vampire Diaries: The Salvation Trilogy (The Ghostwriter Part 2)

  • The Salvation: Unseen
  • The Salvation: Unspoken
  • The Salvation: TBA

Vampire Diaries: Short Stories (Written by L.J. Smith and Posted on her official website.)

Vampire Diaries: Deleted Scenes (Written by L.J. Smith and Posted on her official website.)

Cut from The Vampire Diaries: Shadow Souls

Not for the faint of stomach. This is a scene which L.J. Smith and her  editor cut out of The Vampire Diaries Book 6, Shadow Souls.

“It’s definitely gruesome, but I would hate for these leftovers to go to waste.” – L.J. Smith

Below is a break down of The Secret Circle series:

The Secret Circle (The Original Series by L.J. Smith)

  • The Initiation
  • The Captive
  • The Power

The Secret Circle Continued… (Ghostwriter Aubrey Clark Takes Over)

  • The Divide
  • The Hunt
  • The Temptation

Vampire Diaries Extras…

Stefan’s Diaries: (Based off of the Television Show that is based off the Books!)

  1. Origins
  2. Bloodlust
  3. The Craving
  4. The Ripper
  5. The Asylum
  6. The Compelled

The below Q&A’s from L.J. Smith either relate to the above post or past posts…

Question: Fanfiction? Is it okay to write fanfiction based off of your work?

Answer: Of course.  I’d be a hypocrite and an idiot to try to stop it.  I don’t mind what you do with my characters as long as you don’t rub my nose in it.  I might even run a contest for the most interesting (G-rated) fanfic ever written in all the years since my various series first came out.  The same with art—which I’m glad to see, always.

Source: http://www.ljanesmith.net/author/ask-l-j

Question: I just finished Midnight which was very good and exciting I wish it did not end only because Damon is alive. Will there be another book soon?  ~Josie


Dear Josie—
I am sorry to tell you that I cannot write any more VAMPIRE DIARIES books.  There is already another book out called VAMPIRE DIARIES: PHANTOM but it is not by me.  It is by a ghostwriter.  She will be writing the other books in the VAMPIRE DIARIES series now.  I really, really loved that series and wanted so much and fought so hard to write it, but I signed a contract twenty years ago when I was a young and naïve writer and now I am forbidden to write the VAMPIRE DIARIES anymore.  I am so very sorry.


Question: Dear L. J. Smith,
If you are not working on another project do you think you would be willing to write a fourth book for The Secret Circle. The Secret Circle is my favorite book series of yours and I really want to know what happens to Nick (he was my favorite character). Please consider, I also know that many other fans would love it if you added to The Secret Circle. Sincerely,  ~ Summer


Dear Summer—
There is a new SECRET CIRCLE book coming out in March called THE DIVIDE, but it is not by me.  I cannot say more than that I signed a contract over twenty years ago.  I can’t say any more than that.  I’m sorry.


Question: Hello,
I’ am a huge fan of the night world series and could probably recite most of the stories in the series by heart. I’am wondering if strange fate is ever going to be released. I personally feel an announcement should be made to all the fans waiting for the book as there is a lot of rumours going around about the release of the book.  Anywho ciao 🙂  ~ Ciao Vee


STRANGE FATE will come out when I’m finished writing it.  It is a very, very long book that shows the endgame for nearly all the main characters you have seen in the NIGHT WORLD series as Ash helps them.  Plus, it tells the story of Sarah Strange and her two soulmates a (one of whom is the last Wild Power, Kierlan Drache!)  I promise that I am working on it right now, and the only thing distracting me is one other book that I am also working on, called THE LAST LULLABY, which was originally part of STRANGE FATE (you can see a preview of it on my website in the Stories section), but which got so big it had to be a book by itself.  And answering fans.  That is fairly distracting, although I love you!

Thank you so much for your patience.  I know you want STRANGE FATE right away, but while you are waiting maybe you could try some of my other books?  (Hint, hint)


Source: http://www.ljanesmith.net/author/burning-fan-q-a

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