Plagiarism Under the Guise of FanFiction

Barbara Vey -- August 16th, 2011
Cynthia Eden

Cynthia Eden

Recently author Cynthia Eden was notified by several fans that her story, Deadly Heat, was being told on a fanfiction site with the “writer” claiming it was her story, but she decided to name her characters Edward and Bella to honor her Twilight heroes.  Cynthia immediately went into action trying (unsuccessfully) to get her story taken down.  She wrote a scathing blog and now  Cynthia was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

 

BV:  How did you first find out?

 

CE:  Friday night, I logged onto my email and saw a message with this subject line: “Deadly Heat posted to FanFiction.net as The Devil’s Dance”—so, yes, that subject immediately caught my attention.  I went to the indicated site, and at first, I just thought the poster there had stolen my prologue. A few clicks later, and I realized my entire book had been plagiarized.

BV:  How many people contacted you and were they fans or friends?

 

CE:  Honestly, I’ve lost track of the number of folks who’ve contacted me at this point.  Friday night, I received about 10 notes—Since then, I’ve received dozens of emails, Tweets, even messages on GoodReads from people about the situation.  Fans contacted me to make sure I knew what was happening. Friends contacted to make sure I knew what was happening. So many people were looking out for me (and still are), and I am incredibly grateful.

BV:  Do you have a new appreciation for people who have gone through this now that it has happened to you?

 

CE:  Absolutely.  I’ve read about plagiarism happening to other authors (Shiloh Walker and Moira Rogers both come immediately to mind), and I felt horrible for them. I was angry on their behalf, and I hated that someone had stolen their work. When it happened to me, I was actually more hurt than angry (at first).  It seemed like such a personal attack.  This individual stole my work, and, not only did she steal it, she invented tales about how hard the writing life was for her and how she had to research the story. She acted like I completely didn’t exist, like the months I’d spent working on this story never happened. Oh, yes, I definitely have a new appreciation for others who’ve gone through this.

 

And the fact that Misconception76 (the “writer”) left comments like this at the end of each posted chapter:

In the month that I’ve been posting this story, I’ve had almost 20,000 hits, and almost 200 reviews. Some say I deserve more, but truthfully, it was never about the reviews. It was about writing a good story, and hoping like hell the readers would enjoy it. Even if I did blow canon out of the f**king water. But, if we all wrote the same thing…well, you get my point.”

 

Let’s just say those comments helped me to start feeling more angry than hurt.

BV:  Any words of wisdom you’d like to offer or just a final statement?

 

CE:  Yes, ma’am. Please, don’t plagiarize.  Whenever you pick up a book to read, someone wrote those words. Someone spent hours hunched over a computer, typing. Someone actually did all the research. All the editing.  Don’t take credit for that person’s work.

 

If you want to write, then let your imagination go. Explore your own story ideas. Be creative.

 

And for the writing and reading community out there—for the community that has been so awesome and supportive to me, thank you.  You’ve made me feel good in an awful situation.

 

 

After I had the blog ready to post, I received a follow up email from Cynthia: 

The real deal

The real deal

I just wanted to send you a quick update on my plagiarism situation.  In response to all the comments calling her a thief, it appears that Misconception76 removed the plagiarized story.  On her FanFic.net page, she left this note:

 

“Okay…confession time. What people said I did, I really did do. It was an experiment with a friend of mine. Her mom is totally addicted to the site, and it made me wonder. How many people actually copy other stories and claim them as their own. Well, now I know. Probably not many at all. I’m sorry for all the crap that I caused, and I promise to never show my face again. When my mom’s friend found out what we did, she was livid to say the least. I don’t blame her, or you for any words or actions you brought my way. I totally deserved it.

Once again, I’m sorry.

Misconception”

 

I absolutely do not believe this was an experiment.  She still has not contacted me, has not responded to my PM…but at least the story is down. I can only hope that she resists the urge to “experiment” with another author’s work in the future.

 

Thanks Cynthia for sharing this with us.  This is a horrible story to hear and one that no one wants to happen to them.  Stealing is stealing and to pass off something as your own is wrong.  If you love to write, write something original that others can enjoy.  If you can’t write, read the wonderful books that are out there and thank all the authors who have taken the time to weave amazing stories with their imagination that we can be transported anywhere.

 

Bottom Line:  “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” ~ Herman Melville

 

Giveaways

 

From Stephanie Barko Jane Kirkpatrick blogs about why she still travels to meet her readers.  Comment to be entered to win through August 21, her latest release, The Daughter’s Walk, which won a PW starred review.

 

From Leyane Jerejian:  The Wind Knot by John Galligan will be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a free e-book download  (8/15-8/22)


 

 

The post includes remarks from the author about why she still travels to meet her readers.

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