Monday, April 21, 2008

The Other Shoe Falls For Cassie Edwards

On Friday, the Associated Press reported that Signet Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), released a statement saying:

"Signet has conducted an extensive review of all its Cassie Edwards novels and due to irreconcilable editorial differences, Ms. Edwards and Signet have mutually agreed to part ways . . . Cassie Edwards novels will no longer be published with Signet Books. All rights to Ms. Edwards' previously published Signet books have reverted to the author."

The story began in January with a post on the Smart Bitches blog here. Kate, a friend of the SBWLTB, noticed oddly pedantic language in one of popular romance writer Cassie Edwards' books. She googled a discordant sentence and discovered it came from a 2005 article on black-footed ferrets in Defenders of Wildlife magazine.

That single post cascaded into an avalanche of fact-checking around Edwards' books. Before long, the Associated Press and the New York Times had picked up the story. A pattern emerged of wholesale copying of passages by Edwards from non-fiction sources in her historical romances.

Edwards herself told a reporter she didn't know she was supposed to credit her sources. The romance community responded negatively to this statement when it became obvious that Edwards, who has more than 100 books published, had been blatantly plagiarizing other writers' work for years. This was not just a case of failure to credit; it was out-and-out copying.

Signet Books initially claimed Edwards was covered under the "fair use" provision of the U.S. Copyright law, but then announced they would undertake a full investigation of the matter.

RWA National's president gave a fairly wishy-washy statement on the matter.

Now that the Signet investigation is complete, it appears they've decided Edwards DID plagiarize and have cut their ties to her.

Will RWA respond in like fashion?

Thanks to the Dear Author website which posted on the latest on Saturday here.


Heather B. Moore said...

Thanks for posting all of the links. What an unbelievable, yet fascinating story. Yeah for the astute reader.

Maya Reynolds said...

Heather: I agree.

It will be interesting to see if RWA responds in any way.

Annette Lyon said...

Fascinating--yet so sad. Kudos to those readers who caught it and for following up.