UPDATE - Q.R. Markham: Plagiarist Speaks!
UPDATE: Spy novelist Jeremy Duns scored the interview pretty much everyone in the literary world has been clamoring for: He got Quentin Rowan, a.k.a. Q.R. Markham, to go on the record about his plagiarism scandal.
The "interview" is essentially an e-mail exchange that plays out in the comments of a blog post Duns wrote on the subject. It's pretty lengthy, and reveals some very interesting stuff. Markham, in equal parts, owns up to things while blaming them on the pressures of the publishing industry. He said he can "only compare it to other kinds of obsession, of addictive behavior like gambling or smoking: in that there was no need to do it initially, but once I'd started I couldn't stop and my mind kept finding ways to rationalize the behavior."
You can (and should) read the post and the "interview" at THIS LINK.
Via: HuffPost Books
It always makes me sad to report something like this. Not because of the story itself, but because I know there's a few thousand aspiring authors out there who actually work hard and write their own shit, yet a sweet two-book deal from a major house gets wasted on a guy like Q.R. Markham.
So here's what happened: Q.R. Markham's debut spy novel, Assassin of Secrets, came out on November 3rd through Mulholland Books, the suspense fiction branch of Little, Brown and Company. On November 8th the publisher pulled it, saying that it "lifted from a variety of classic and contemporary spy novels." (We'll get more specific about that in a minute.) Little, Brown then proceeded to cancel Markham's two-book deal and offered to issue a full refund to anyone who bought Assassin of Secrets. Little, Brown president Michael Pietsch issued this formal statement:
We take great pride in the writers and books we publish and tremendous care in every aspect of our publishing process, so it is with deep regret that we have published a book that we can no longer stand behind. Our goal is to never have this happen, but when it does, it is important to us to communicate with and compensate readers and retailers as quickly as possible.
Let's isolate part of that statement, the section about taking "tremendous care in every aspect of our publishing process." How about the part where you make sure your author isn't ripping excerpts directly from other books? Don't get me wrong, Markham pulled a scumbag move, but Little, Brown's people should have picked up on this. Let's take a look at a few examples:
Assassin of Secrets (pg. 13): “His step had an unusual silence to it. It was late morning in October of the year 1968 and the warm, still air had turned heavy with moisture, causing others in the long hallway to walk with a slow shuffle, a sort of somber march.”
James Bamford’s Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency (pg. 1): “His step had an unusual urgency to it. Not fast, but anxious, like a child heading out to recess who had been warned not to run. It was late morning and the warm, still air had turned heavy with moisture, causing others on the long hallway to walk with a slow shuffle, a sort of somber march.”
Not an exact copy and paste job, but you can see the similarities. Here's another:
AOS (pg. 13): “The boxy, sprawling Munitions Building which sat near the Washington Monument and quietly served as I-Division’s base of operations was a study in monotony. Endless corridors connecting to endless corridors. Walls a shade of green common to bad cheese and fruit. Forests of oak desks separated down the middle by rows of tall columns, like concrete redwoods, each with a number designating a particular work space.”
Bamford: “In June 1930, the boxy, sprawling Munitions Building, near the Washington Monument, was a study in monotony. Endless corridors connecting to endless corridors. Walls a shade of green common to bad cheese and fruit. Forests of oak desks separated down the middle by rows of tall columns, like concrete redwoods, each with a number designating a particular work space.”
And there's plenty more where that came from. So far it's been confirmed that Markham ripped Bamford, Charles McCarry, Raymond Benson, Geoffrey O’Brien, John Gardner, and even Ian Fleming's Bond novels. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this makes the whole James Frey thing look like jaywalking.
Also, this Publisher's Weekly starred review kind of cracked me up: "Quirky, entertaining ... fine writing keeps the enterprise firmly on track, and the obvious Ian Fleming influence just adds to the appeal."
Expect Q.R. Markham to fall of the map for a little bit after pulling such a robbery. Remember kids, cheaters never prosper, but we'll go ahead and post a link to Assassin of Secrets anyway since it's now a collector's item. The book's Amazon ranking has already jumped from 43,996 to 1,034 since yesterday.
Sound off in the comments: Any predictions on how many years it'll be before Q.R. Markham tries to publish again? How much blame should Little, Brown take for not catching this?
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