Archive for the ‘Lenore Hart’ Category

new year update

Posted by on January 10th, 2012

Happy New Year! A bit late, admittedly, but any regular followers of this site will, by now, be used to my horrific tardiness. You may even be surprised to get an update so early. Regardless, I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year.

What have I been up to? Well, Christmas was nice – mainly because of Zack. He’s not quite two yet, so it’s still a bit lost on him, but he enjoyed it. Christmas morning, he stood, pointing at the presents beneath the tree, shaking his head and saying “No, no, no” over and over again, but soon changed his tune when he figured out how to open them and that there was cool stuff inside. Impossible to move in here, now, for toys, but I can’t think that’s a bad thing.

Writing-wise, then. Well, let’s number all that up.

1) Self-promotion

a) I got into a small argument online just after Christmas over this (one of many overall discussions). I made a couple of jokey tweets in response to the sheer number of “Got a Kindle for Christmas? Buy my book here!” tweets and Facebook updates.

It’s a difficult thing to balance, self-promotion. It’s a necessary evil (not just for self- or indie-published writers; traditionally-published writers really need the attention too, believe me). But it can become self-defeating – and the time of year just overloaded me with too many people saying the same thing. Over and over.

b) There have been related discussions about authors reminding people they’re eligible for the Hugo awards in SF, whether it’s okay to say “Please nominate my book!”, and so on.

My view – it’s fine to point it out, to an extent. My further view is that I don’t really understand it beyond that. If you’re campaigning vociferously to win an award, doesn’t that take away any joy from winning? It would for me.

Random observations on both things: the degree of confidence in the book/yourself required for active self-promotion seems bizarrely at odds with the need for validation implied in actively seeking awards; I, personally, avoid works by excessive self-promoters, and that’s okay because there are too many good books to read anyway so we all need filters; this whole topic really divides people; and, regardless, it will definitely get worse and worse and even more fucking tedious as time goes on. Fade out.

2) Promotion

I did some. People from Droemer, my German publishing company, came over last week to film me talking about Black Flowers and doing … well, stuff. There should be a few short clips online – about the book, me, my writing – within a month or so. I’ll point them out, probably, when they’re there. Maybe I’ll even annotate them: “That was where we pulled in to film the chimney!”

It was horrible and fun at the same time. Horrible because, for various reasons, I don’t like being filmed or being the centre of attention. And I just don’t perform well on camera: I don’t really do moody and intense, and I’m a bit geeky and awkward and it doesn’t really work. At the same time, of course, it’s great that Droemer wanted to do this, and Carsten and Peter were both lovely and patient with me. It was fun to trail around Leeds Uni, film in The Packhorse (Leeds’s oldest pub, fact fans – not Whitelocks, which is the oldest food-serving pub), ninja our way to various other places for good shots, and spend a day in Whitby being scary-trailer-voiceover man.

I’ll look like a twat, honestly, but it was still fun overall. Watch this space.

3) Dark Room / Book 8

Still editing Dark Room. The release has been pushed back to July (for unconnected reasons). It’s more-or-less on track, and is turning out to be my morally and intellectually warped take on a police procedural. Plans for Book 8 are … there, sort of. Slowly taking shape. I also have a few short stories on the boil, one of which might end up a bit longer than that. Still not sure what I’ll do with any of them, but they’re not crime.

4) Lenore Hart…

… is still blatantly a plagiarist. Latest updates are here. Her publishers, St Martin’s Press, are still doing the fingers in the ears, la-la-we-can’t-hear-you routine – although at least the Norman Mailer Center has given her a leave of absence from teaching duties. Presumably because she’s a plagiarist. You know –  a writer who takes other people’s writing and passes it off as their own? That kind of plagiarist. Just so we’re clear.

5) Off The Record

The anthology of short stories, edited by Luca Veste, all proceeds of which go to charity. I have one in it (not really crime either). The collection’s selling slowly and steadily, but it should sell more. I’ve stuck up a dedicated page: link’s also to the right and to the top. If you haven’t, and you can, you’ll probably enjoy it if you get a copy. Plus, there’ll be a warm feeling at doing good for the world.

6) Hensher

Who we encountered here. He wrote a terrible review of a book, ages ago, which has been doing the rounds again today. It’s difficult to deny it’s an entertaining hatchet-job – but still, we might think, bit of a twat. So there’s also this, via Dan Waddell, to balance it out.

And on that note, Hensher called me “some wanker” last year. I also had “14-karat asshole”, “whiney bitchboy” and “anonymous coward”. Here’s to 2012, eh? *Raises glass*. Cheers, one and all. Hope it’s a great one.

And so it comes to this – enormous, rigorous facepalming, basically – regarding Lenore Hart’s blatant plagiarism and St Martin’s Press’s continued la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you response to it.

It’s annoying, because it seems so inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. But it does matter, in its own small way. I’m someone who makes their living from writing, and it fucking pisses me off no end that a major publishing house – the kind of company I occasionally waste my time arguing remains worthwhile and relevant in the digital age – appears perfectly and cynically happy to profit from material they must know full well is plagiarised for as long as they can get away with it.

You assume they’d be unhappy if you suggested pirating their material – derr derr derrrrrrrr! – but, as things stand, they certainly wouldn’t have any moral high ground to argue that from. Unless, I suppose, their argument was that profiting from stolen material is acceptable so long as the victim of the theft is dead.

If you’ve been following it, you know the details. The latest is that Jeremy Duns has some comments from Lawrence Block here. The posts below that one explain the background, and I suppose you can read them and judge for yourself how warranted my frustration and annoyance is.

In the meantime, if you’re interested and want to have your say, St Martin’s Press will totally fucking ignore your comments here on Twitter and here on Facebook.

Although that’s obviously no reason not to make them.

 

So here, finally, is St Martin’s Press’s response to the accusation that one of their authors, Lenore Hart, plagiarised Cothburn O’Neal’s “The Very Young Mrs. Poe” in her novel “The Raven’s Bride”. I say finally because they were made aware of it several months ago. I say response even though it barely warrants the word. And I say accusation despite the fact that … well. We’ll come to that.

The background is that author Jeremy Duns seems to have found himself investigating a number of cases of plagiarism this year, with Hart’s being only the latest (see also Johann Hari, Q R Markham and others). Jeremy has put a frankly heroic amount of effort into pursuing these cases, and – although I’m only privy to a part of it – from what I’ve seen on Twitter and Facebook he’s been stonewalled, ignored and even outright patronised by St Martin’s every step of the way.

Let’s be clear – it is not the fault of a publisher if one of their authors is a plagiarist. It’s a difficult thing to catch. (Jeremy knows this as well as anyone, having initially blurbed Markham’s book). Fault can only be attributed to the publisher on the basis of their behaviour after the plagiarism is brought to their attention. And St Martin’s – to the eye of a casual bystander – are currently failing miserably.

You can’t read many of the discussions between Jeremy and St Martin’s and Lenore Hart on Facebook, as they have been deleted. You can, however, read Jeremy’s blogpost here, and the comment trail below, where passages from the two novels are compared, and make up your own mind as to how inevitable and coincidental it was that Hart ended up writing pretty much the exact same things in the exact same ways. This is also well worth a read.

So – what’s behind the statement?

It would be cynical to point out that Hart is married to a bestselling author with the same publisher, or that dead authors can’t sue – and yet radio silence all but forces us into these awkward contortions of conjecture. Surely St Martin’s can’t really expect people to be satisfied with that, or for the whole thing to just … go away? I mean, they must have a solid, detailed defence lined up. But, if so, why not go into that detail now? If not, if it’s plagiarism and they don’t want to admit it, is it embarrassment? A kind of child-like “if I pretend I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it” attitude? Is it arrogance – holding readers, basically, in contempt? I find the latter hard to believe. I’m sure the vast majority of people working at St Martin’s are decent people who love books as passionately as everyone else in the publishing industry I’ve encountered. So what’s the mechanism for what’s happening here? It’s genuinely mysterious.

In the meantime, I suppose, there is one thing the casual reader can do when presented with Lenore Hart’s novels. Move along.