December 1st, 2009

Better be sure that when you’re writing fiction, you actually make it up

A woman sued her former friend, the author of The Red Hat Club, saying that one of the characters was based too closely on her. “The "SuSu" character in Smith’s humorous novel about Buckhead socialites shared more than 30 similarities with Stewart, including where she grew up, the jobs she held and how her first husband died. Stewart sued for defamation because SuSu is portrayed in the book as a sexually promiscuous alcoholic.”

We probably all borrow from real life - but better to take one thing here, another there.

“"It’s well established that ... libel in fiction is actionable, and as long as there are people who can recognize that the character depicted in a defamatory manner is in fact the plaintiff, even though the names are changed," said California attorney Tony Glassman, who currently has a libel suit pending against the television series "CSI." I don’t think there’s anything new at all in a finding of liability."”

In that case, Scott and Melinda Tamkin, real estate agents, worked with TV writer Sarah Goldfinger Then the Tamkins say, they discovered that their names, occupation, hobbies and even personal appearance had been borrowed by Goldfinger for a CSI script. That’s an even more blatant case of borrowing.

Read more here about The Red Hat Club case here.

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Perfect Shot

About the book
In Perfect Shot (Simon Romantic Comedies), high school athlete London Abrams is more likely to spike a volleyball than wear spike heels. Yet in one crush-tastic moment, she signs up for a modeling contest as an excuse to meet the photo intern Brent St. John. But instead of getting a call back from Brent, London gets a call back from contest judges! Now she’s in a fierce modeling competition feeling out way of her league, and Brent’s camera is zoomed in to document everything. Suddenly, London’s not feeling so ready for her close up.

About the author
Debbie Rigaud began her writing career covering news and entertainment for magazines—including Seventeen, Twist and CosmoGIRL!. She’s interviewed celebs, politicians and other social figures, but enjoyed interviewing “real” girls the most. A total Jersey girl at heart, Debbie lives in Bermuda with her husband.

I asked, Debbie answered
A. What's the scariest thing that's ever happened to you?  Bonus question:  have you used it, in any way,in a book?
D. I’m a vivid dreamer and have had crazy nightmares. Plus, when I’m in between dream and awake state, I could swear I see the strangest things. I don’t own any pets, but in the middle of one night I woke up and saw a German shepherd curled up close against me. Turns out, my sheets were bunched up in a shape of what looked like a dog. I woke up in a panic, frantically shaking the image out of the sheets. No, I haven’t used this in a book yet.

A. Mystery writers often give their characters an unreasoning  fear - and then make them face it.  Do you have any phobias, like fear of spiders or enclosed spaces?
D. I’m terrified of rodents? I have like a damn near clinical fear of them. Gurrrrrl, I won’t even subject myself to looking at a cartoon rodent! There’s a reason I didn’t go see Ratatouille. And because of this fear, I don’t even mess with squirrels. If one won’t get out of my way, I will cross the street in a heartbeat.

A. Do you have a favorite mystery book, author, or movie?
D. No, I don’t have a favorite today, but in middle school I was a huge Nancy Drew fan. (I still remember the retro book cover art!) And as old-fashioned as it sounds, I loved watching Murder, She Wrote. Also, for a bit, I got into Veronica Mars.

A. At its heart, every story is a mystery.  It asks why someone acts the way they did - or maybe what will happen next.  What question does your book ask?
D. What happens when a character so set in her ways steps outside of her box?

A. Is there a mystery in life that you are still trying to figure out?
Of course. Life itself - as well as after life - is a baffling mystery to me. But lately, I’ve been trying to crack the hidden messages sometimes found in dreams.

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Looking for an agent?

This lady seems the right fit for folks who read this blog because they write YA or because they write mysteries or both. [Full disclosure: the rest of you are out of luck.]

Publishers Lunch reports: "Susan Hawk has joined The Bent Agency, focusing on authors of young adult and middle grade fiction, but also representing fantasy, science-fiction, historical fiction and mystery. For the past 15 years, she worked in children's book marketing, most recently as the marketing director at Holt Children's."

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