“Ignorance of law and ethics is no excuse, however. Plagiarism victimizes writers. It betrays the trust of readers. It tarnishes the craft of writing.” Paul Tolme from From Janet Dailey to Cassie Edwards-Newsweek’s evolving views on plagiarism in romance novels.
I thought I had said all I wanted to say but Stahl has managed to enrage me a little more. Stahl has issued a long letter to her fans about the terrible, terrible time in September when she was wrongly accused of plagiarism. Please also read Fangirl’s blog here. Stahl laments the cruel accusations and offers the excuse that of course her work resembles that of other writers because there are no new ideas and we all use the same language and have some of the same experiences so, yeah, her writing would be “similar” to other authors.
If this is true then how come all these blogs about Stahl’s plagiarism are not eerily alike? Are we not sharing the same experience?
” It astonishes me that in this day and age, people can still get away with passing someone else’s work off as their own, and be very successful. I’m not suggesting that each romance novel should be a work of great literature. I don’t like eating my vegetables very much, either. I’m not expecting all that much originality, either. I like reading romance novels because I always know what to expect. Without the formula, the genre wouldn’t work. However, there are hundreds of writers out there who work within that formula to tell love stories that stir up emotions and capture my interest, and they do it using their own words. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.” –Merrie Frisbie
“Yeah, the problem with this line of defense that she’s taking is that I never said she stole my story or even my ideas. Everything Changes does not have the same plot as The Art Teacher. She stole MY EXACT WORDS, lifting whole passages, just changing the names and the tense (TAT is written in present tense, Everything Changes is past tense), and shoehorning my words into her own scene. Half the time it didn’t even work well, since the scene I wrote containing those words was about something entirely different than hers. As I read through Everything Changes looking for all of my work, I stumbled on a passage that I could tell wasn’t hers. The wording, the sentence structure, the prose style, just jumped out as not belonging with what came before (it was also way better than what came before, but that’s for another post). I knew it wasn’t mine, but I also suspected it wasn’t hers. I screencapped it and tweeted it and within ten minutes someone had identified it as coming from The Practicum by The Fic Chick. She can’t claim she was just “influenced” by things she’d read (especially since when she was originally confronted about this, she claimed to have never read any of the fics involved). Influence means there are similar plot points or themes. We’re talking about exact wording.” –Spanglemaker9
Won’t someone think of the children? Are you kidding me, Stahl? Maybe you should have thought about them when you were “writing” your books.
“Yeah, that part made me particularly ragey. I’ve been very mature, keeping my mouth shut about her, filing a nice, proper C&D like I was supposed to, and then she says that. I wasn’t going public with anything until she did that. Gloves off, lady” –Spanglemaker9
“If and when” she writes again? Shouldn’t that read, never mind, she’s going to write again, no if about it.
No, not really. Stahl may regain a following but like other authors before her the story and the stigma of plagiarism will follow her for the rest of her writing career.
And every author who knows about you will be diligently checking your work just in case you miss something.
Stahl talks about receiving insults, threats, death threats but, like Fangirl, I have never seen any. I never saw anyone mention her child/children. I never knew she was married or that her husband had been in a very bad accident. And with this Stahl sent my mind on a trip down memory lane.
That quote at the beginning is as true for Stahl as it was for the late Janet Dailey. Dailey was caught out plagiarizing from Nora Roberts. Both of these authors were true powerhouses of writing so it was a tremendous shock to find Dailey lifting passages from Roberts. Dailey never really acknowledged her responsibility instead blaming it on a series of deaths and illness in her family.
Dailey was maybe the first author I can remember who tried to deflect the public’s attention from her bad acts to her personal life in a bid for sympathy, much like Stahl is doing now. And it seems that Stahl is making it work for her.
“For someone to target an innocent child and wish death on another person over fiction is totally wrong on so many levels. To think that another MOTHER may have done it is even worse. I’m so sorry that this happened to you.”
“I doubt that Nora Roberts will ever forget the pain and betrayal she must have felt at having her mind robbed, and I will always feel shame that I looked up to someone so undeserving.” -Merri Frisbie, from the same article linked above
” Ms. Stahl….I just read of your plight and as an avid reader I am so sorry this witch hunt has taken place. I am also ashamed that fellow readers and other human beings found it acceptable to become bullies. It is disgusting that anyone would take to harassing you, your family and most disturbingly A CHILD.. I HOPE those making the accusations can 100% PROVE those accusations IN COURT because… IF I were you…..my money, and every waking moment of my life would be spent from this point forward perusing each and every person who publicly accused me of theft and or harassed me, my family and my child. ESPECIALLY those that come here to your fb page and make those open statements without irrefutable PROOF. It truly disgusts me to see just how far humanity has fallen. And those casting those stones need to take some cover…KARMA…doesn’t like ugly. Good luck to you Ms. Stahl. Hold your head high, keep writing. I will certainly read your books.”
First of all, the child was not harassed; I do believe that it might come to a court case , something that must be giving Stahl a few sleepless nights; there is plenty of proof but you have to look for it, Stahl isn’t going to post it on her FB page; humanity, in the form of Stahl, has fallen to the point of stealing other’s work; KARMA, yeah, Stahl is gonna need some luck to avoid that.
“Unless you personally have legitimate proof that she did anything wrong you should just be quiet. Why come to this page and start your harassment all over again? Cowards who go after someone and their family with threats are disgusting and you should all be thinking of that instead of bashing someone that is being presumed guilty before she has a chance to defend herself. Grow up people.”
Once again, I say that you have to go and look. But you notice that these posters are outraged by the unseen threats and harassment Stahl claims she and her family was subjected to. This is paramount. This is the point of Stahl’s letter, it is all about her, her suffering, her pain. The cause, her plagiarism, is almost ignored because posters claiming this haven’t brought proof with them.
I could say that Stahl’s fans have had since SEPTEMBER to look around and read all the information posted but what is obvious to most of us seems to be beyond their mental capabilities. How can you not want to know everything being said, not want to see the evidence?
There is talk of a court case, I don’t know for sure, but from the posts I’ve seen I think Stahl is in a very bad position. Even if it never goes to court this will be attached to her name forever. Stahl will never be able to shake it. She isn’t a name like Edwards or Dailey, this will hinder her success.
Wherever she goes, whatever she does as an author she will never be sure that that her audience isn’t thinking about plagiarism and who really wrote her latest book.
And may you receive everything that you deserve, Ms Stahl.