Self-Published Fantasty Epics, Ghostwriters, Scammy Agents, and Plagiarism: It’s a Literary Perfect Storm!

By Neal Comment

This story’s a month old, so I apologize to those of you who may have already read about it, but for those of you who haven’t, it’s pretty amazing: On October 11, Jane Litte of Dear Author posted a sarcastic “Top 10 Tips for Plagiarists, all of them aimed at subtly accusing Lanaia Lee of ripping off the recently deceased fantasy writer David Gemmell‘s Dark Prince in her self-published novel Of Atlantis. And we’re not talking Kaavya Viswanathan-style swipes of an apt phrase here and there; we’re talking word-for-word, only changing character’s names, for the entire first chapter.

Victoria Strauss picked up the story from there, as, after first defending her novel as entirely original, Lee blamed a ghostwriter for everything. Strauss believes that story, because the party Lee named, Christopher Hill, is infamous among writers and agents for his duplicitous practices—even Lee had been alerted to his reputation.

“I find it completely plausible that the ripoff of Gemmell was Hill’s work, not Lanaia’s,” Strauss writes. “It would be absolutely typical of Hill to do something like this to screw over a client—especially one who’d twigged to his scam. His whole deal was false promises and head games, fakery and bullshit and general psychological torment. If she’d never read Gemmell, there’s no reason why Lanaia would have recognized that stolen chapter.”

Oh, and then there’s the detail of Lee’s erratic hypertension and how “I’m not suppose to have any stress, but the last 48 hrs, I have had enough stress for a lifetime.” And she’d really just like to put the whole thing behind her, as commenters on Making Light noted: “[If] you keep dogging me I could have another stroke,” Lee writes, “contact my agent and attorney, I’m sure no one wants [my] blood on their hands.” Then somebody named Cheryl Pillsbury shows up in the comments claiming to have helped broker the relationship between Lee and the publishing company that she paid to publish her novel, and telling people they should watch what they say about any of this or they could get themselves sued or otherwise subject to karmic payback, and everybody has a good laugh at her, because she’s an even worse writer than Lee is apart from the passages Hill swiped from Gemmell. Also, if you Google “Cheryl Pillsbury,” little of what comes up lends her credibility. And it goes on and on for over 1,000 comments, and another 400+ at Dear Author. Wow.