By January 10, 2008 1 Comments Read More →

Reference Books Are Full of Ideas

Well, I keep meaning to blog and I keep not blogging and now I’m trying to get out the door to go to Philadelphia for ALA’s Midwinter Meeting. I’ll try to post from there but, who knows, maybe I’ll be back next Tuesday making more excuses. My little clipboard of blog-worthy items is bulging–and gathering cyber-dust.

I’ll leave you with just one link–to a Publishers Weekly story (“Romance Blog Suggests Romance Writer’s Plagiarism; Signet Says It’s Fair Use,” by Lynn Andriani) that includes Google Book Search in a now-familiar role. The somewhat unusual element, however, is that the publisher is not disassociating itself from the author.

Veteran romance novelist Cassie Edwards is revered by her fans for her meticulous research when writing books. From Savage Torment to Savage Sunrise, her books (of which there are more than 100, published by Dorchester/Leisure Books, Signet, Harlequin and other houses) have detailed descriptions of Native American religion, weaponry, cuisine and other subjects. But this week, the romance review blog Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books called attention to some striking similarities and, in some cases, verbatim passages, between Edwards’s works and a number of nonfiction books about Native American history and customs. Signet, however, is standing by the author.

If you follow the links, you’ll find, in an Associated Press article (“Romance novelist accused of lifting work,” by Hillel Italie) an interesting scene from the author’s home in Mattoon, Illinois:

NEW YORK – A popular romance novelist alleged to have lifted work from other texts acknowledged that she sometimes “takes” her material “from reference books,” but added that she didn’t know she was supposed to credit her sources.

“When you write historical romances, you’re not asked to do that,” Cassie Edwards told The Associated Press, speaking earlier this week from her home in Mattoon, Ill.

Edwards then asked her husband to get on the phone. He told the AP that his wife simply gets “ideas” from reference books.

As Google Book Search identifies more and more alleged plagiarists, the whole discussion of plagiarism is likely to become even more nuanced than it did in 2007. Or, once the number of accused authors grows large enough, accusations may elicit nothing more than yawns.

Or is that happening already?

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About the Author:

Keir Graff is the editor of Booklist Online and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix.

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