Monday, February 11, 2008
A cautionary tale for authors
I was surfing the web last night when I ended up at the New York Times website and an article written about the recent so-called plagiarism by a well-known romance author, Cassie Edwards. Apparently, someone had posted a blog about this in January when they had discovered upon feeding some of Ms. Edwards text from her novels into Google, she had blatantly lifted text from the works of three different novels. If you want to read on further about this, here are the links:
A Romance Novelist is Accused of Copying
First Article about issue at Smart Bitches Blog
The PDF Document at Smart Bitches Blog that indicates the plagiarism
When I read the above my eyes widened with surprise that a well-known author of Ms. Edwards standing in the romance community and of course, the writing world, would do such a thing.
She was questioned about this issue but apparently made out it was 'historical research' and she had no idea what she was doing was wrong. Now come on, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to realise that if you lift someone's work almost word for word that you need to attribute it to the source. At least that's what I was taught in college. We used quotes and references. And if someone researches they don't normally write word for word.
I had to carry out research for a recent historical romance I've written. I just read widely on the subject and wrote things in my own words. In any case, most of the topics I researched were written by professors and the like and their writing voices would have sounded totally out of place with my own. And I definitely didn't go taking my research from other similar works of fiction. The books I used were local history books.
So far, Ms. Edwards publishers and the Romance Writers of America [she used to be a member] aren't committing themselves to saying she actually plagiarised stuff. Yet a magazine journalist has even found his own words in one of her books when he wrote about Meer cats.
This is a cautionary tale for authors. Big Brother is out there, watching and waiting, and this time he has a name -- Google!