Hot Romance and Savage Plagiarism

Cassie EdwardsThe New York Times reported that popular writer Cassie Edwards , who has written over 100 historical romance novels, was recently accused of plagiarism by bloggers at Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books.  The bloggers discovered similarities between excerpts from several of Ms. Edwards’ works (Running Fox, Savage Longings, Savage Moon and Savage Beloved) and passages from various sources. 

In a follow-on post on Saturday, January 13, the same bloggers reported that a reader had found that Ms. Edwards may also have lifted text from Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the fictional work 1930.  The reader, a woman named Amy, sent the blog an e-mail which detailed 17 different instances where another of Ms. Edwards’ novels, Savage Dream, appears to have borrowed from Laughing Boy

Oliver La FargeEdwards commented that she didn’t realize she had to attribute her sources in a romance novel, saying “When you write historical romances, you’re not asked to do that.” 

Signet Books, a division of Pengin Group which has published a dozen of Cassie Edwards’ novels, said it was investigating the alleged plagiarism and was checking all of the works she had published with them. 

The bloggers at Smart Bitches uncovered the apparent copying by plugging excerpts of Ms. Edwards’ books into Google and then comparing passages side by side.  An article on the Marywood University Library website provides an example of how this can be done.  The University of Maryland College website also provides a list of plagiarism detection tools. 

Kaavya ViswanathanThe book publishing world has been periodically rocked by scandals involving plagiarism.  For example, Kaavya Viswanathan’s novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life was pulled from bookstores after it was learned that she had copied portions of another author’s work.  The problem seems to be getting worse.  A few years ago, an article apppearing in Slate entitled How to Curb the Plagiarism Epidemic, cited the gorwing problem of high rpofile plagiarism.  As plagiarism detection tools get more sophisticated, expect more instances of established authors being “savaged.”

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2 Responses to Hot Romance and Savage Plagiarism

  1. With as much media as plagiarism gets and there’s been a lot lately, you would think that The Association of American Publishers would address this type of situation. I looked through their site and couldn’t find anything specific to these types of cases, but I have emailed their copyright division to ask if there is a standard guideline about using third party resources in a novel. When I hear back from them I’ll be sure to share.
    And though I certainly do not condone any form of plageriasm, I also do not feel that a trial by an online jury is necessarily fair either. Let’s hope that her publisher and the appropriate legal entities are able to sort this out and that we all learn something from it.

  2. Bravewolf says:

    I don’t see a trial by online jury; I see romance novel fans being outraged that an author has made her living off the backs of others. The fact that a lot of people consider her an awfully bad writer is moot; she has more than enough fans who are eager to excuse her to assuage her hurt feelings. I wonder how they’re going to justify the use of Laughing Boy, though.

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