We have things in common – me and her. 448 mutual friends (and falling) Facebook tells me. We also like our MM books and we are both authors.
We are different, however, because I have never, ever entertained the thought of taking someone else’s published work written three years ago, changing the names, chucking in a couple of “his”s instead of “her”s to change the book from MF to MM, and then pretending that it’s my work.
Laura Harner did this and I feel very, very sorry for her.
I’m feeling sorry for her because, somewhere, on the other side of the world, there is a woman who is having to explain to her husband and children what she did. She is having to sit there and try to explain why there will be lawyers knocking on her door and phoning her and why she will need money for her own attorney.
I feel sorry for her, because she wrecked an entire career. She was a successful author. She is no longer. She can no longer show her face or her name that she has built for the past five-plus years at any author conference, author signings, or anything where readers may be present.
I feel sorry for her, because people will be asking her, “Aren’t you an author?” and “Didn’t you used to be an author?” and she will have to explain to them why she no longer writes. She will have to tell her parents and her siblings that she steals other people’s work. She will have to tell her friends that she committed a criminal act to profit from it.
I feel sorry for her, because I imagine her grandchild coming across one of her books in a dusty old box one day and asking, “Grandma? What’s this?” She will have to explain that she used to write books, but not any more. If the grandchild is curious, they will probably Google her and we all know that this stuff never goes away. There will be a history for her grandchildren to see that she is a criminal forever more.
I feel sorry for her, because friends she once had will be turning their back on her. And those who are not will be asking her the hard questions, “Why did you do this Laura?” And she can have no excuse that is meaningful. Because there can be no excuses.
I feel sorry for her, because I’m assuming she still has bills (and lawyer’s fees) to pay, so she needs an income. She will rock up to a job interview and the man behind the desk will ask her what job has she held for the past five years. She will then have to explain to him—her potential employer—that she used to be an author, but now she needs a job because she committed a crime. Do you think the man will give her a job after that?
I feel sorry for her, because she’s probably in tears right now. She’s probably wondering why the world is against her. Because she has no clue about the real world, morals and what people think. Obviously in her mind it is okay to do this sort of thing. And I feel sorry for her that she is twisted in a way that makes her feel like this.
I feel sorry for her, because they may come and take her house (those pesky lawyer’s fees). And people will ask questions and she will have to explain. The successful career, the plagiarism, the fall.
I feel sorry for her, because I know one day she’ll walk down the street and someone will say to her, “Hey, aren’t you that author that plagiarised all those books?”
I feel sorry for her, because she threw away career and brand name of “Laura Harner” and it can never be retrieved.
I feel sorry for her, but perhaps she will get everything she deserves.
There are choices you make in life. Some are easy, some are hard.
I made the choice never to become a bank robber, because (a) it’s dangerous, (b) that’s someone else’s money and doesn’t belong to me, and (c) I can never breathe in those balaclavas.
I made the choice to attempt to build a career from writing, and knew that it was never a sure thing. Every piece of writing I put out could be a fail. Every piece of writing I put is not guaranteed to pay my electricity bill. But every piece of writing I put out is mine.
I made the choice not to use Find-and-Replace on someone else’s story and call it my own work.
Somewhere on the other side of the world there is a woman I am sorry for. She is waking up and wondering what her life could’ve been like if she hadn’t made the decision to be morally and criminally corrupt. She’s thinking about the what-could’ve-beens and the I-should’ve-dones.
And I feel sorry for her as I shake my head in disbelief and anger.