"I intentionally plagiarized the whole book," cries young author
CHICAGO - 28 April 2006 - By now you probably know the basic details of the story: At age 17, unpublished author Kaavya Viswanathan landed a $500,000 contract to write two books. “I still cannot believe this. I never expected this would happen. I had only vaguely thought of becoming a writer,” she is quoted as saying in an April 2005 article printed in The New York Sun. Now, after the publication of her first book, Viswanathan is more newsworthy than ever.
“It’s a sad commentary on a lot of things,” said 22-year-old writer Marshall James on April 28. James, the author of the yet-to-be-published book Glass Eyez, has been struggling to find recognition. “Even the people who don’t like my work admit that I have something to say,” he said. His 65,000-word book is made up of four short stories and two novellas. He recently posted a story from the book on www.GlassEyez.com, his official website. “I wouldn’t call it a desperate measure, but believe me a lot of things had to fail for me to get to this point,” he said about the website. Visitors to GlassEyez.com can read an 8,000-word short story by James. “There is absolutely no cost to the visitor. No registration process. Nothing. Just click through,” James said.
“I hope word of my work will get around and maybe I can find a suitable publisher,” he said. Originally James hoped an aggressive press campaign would grant him helpful media coverage, but so far the response from the media has been unenthusiastic. “Honest emails and press releases and phone calls aren’t enough, I guess,” James said.
So he’s using a different approach now: “I intentionally plagiarized the whole book,” he now jokes. “Maybe making myself out to be some sort of a fraud will make me newsworthy.”
News reports about Viswanathan’s plagiarized book have made headlines around the world, while James’s work has been denied attention. “There have been a lot of mostly young people who have read the story on the website and have written back favorably, but as nice as that is it doesn’t get me any closer to getting published,” he said.
James started writing Glass Eyez in April 2002. “No doubt about it, Glass Eyez was a multi-year project. I’ve worked on a lot of other projects during that time, but Glass Eyez has been the main focus of my writing energies for nearly four years. If I had better connections or maybe a prettier face, it probably would have been published by now,” James said. He wrote the entire book without an editor.
"Glass Eyez is not a cookie-cutter teen sex romp, or some feel-good book where everything works out in the end. It doesn’t move at the speed of sound with cheap action at every turn. It doesn’t rely on shock value. I’ve put so much into it. It’s as deep a book as you’re going to get from a 22-year-old, I believe.
"I know I’m not owed anything, and I know most books never get published, but it is depressing to see a fraud like Ms. Viswanathan get all the attention.
“I know I have a lot to learn as a writer. No 22-year-old can be fully cooked as a storyteller. But it would be nice to see a young writer get attention for writing something that actually has depth and meaning and artistic merit, which I believe Glass Eyez has,” James said.
“I just want to have a fair crack at getting paid fairly for what I believe I was put on this earth to do,” he said.
Marshall James is a pen name the 22-year-old writer uses. “I don’t care for personal attention or praise,” he said. “I want my writing to see the light of day.”
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