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Plagiarism in the romance publishing world

Janet Dailey has been accused of lifting excerpts from the work of Nora Roberts for her own novels

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: In keeping with the spirit of the recent news that best-selling romance novelist Janet Dailey had plagiarized from fellow writer Nora Roberts, the following bulletin has been entirely ”plagiarized” from other news articles. Unlike Dailey, we list our sources below.]

There is a reason romance novels all seem to read alike.1 Janet Dailey, who has written 93 novels, has 200 million books in print, and even has an award named after her, has admitted lifting excerpts from the work of Nora Roberts (125 novels, 30 million in print). A fan happened to read Notorious by Dailey and Sweet Revenge by Roberts back-to-back and posted strikingly similar passages on the Internet.2

By Dailey’s own admission, she has big problems. In a statement, she said her ”essentially random and non-pervasive acts of copying are attributable to a psychological problem that I never even suspected I had.”3

”Every writer and creative person has their personal demons or buzzing doubts: Can we do it again? Can we be creative enough?” says romance writer Betina Krahn. ”When a story like this breaks, it touches us deeply.”4

HarperCollins has stopped shipping Notorious. Roberts has been so distraught she is only now getting back to writing.5 ”Plagiarism is a line that can’t be crossed,” Ms. Roberts said. ”Plagiarism is theft, therefore I’ve been robbed and I’ve been robbed repeatedly.”6

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Some non-plagiarized news: Harlequin, which had planned to publish Dailey’s Scrooge Wore Spurs in the fall, is holding the book up. Dailey’s next novel with HarperCollins, Calder Pride, tentatively scheduled for winter ’98, is also up in the air. Dailey had no further comment.]

— Additional reporting by Matthew Flamm

1 Associated Press; July 30, 1997; by Jeff Wilson 2 Time; Aug. 11, 1997; by Belinda Luscombe 3 Los Angeles Times; Aug. 4, 1997; by David Streitfeld 4 USA Today; July 31, 1997; by Nanci Hellmich 5 Newsweek; Aug. 11, 1997; by Marc Peyser and Yahlin Chang 6 Associated Press; July 31, 1997; by Mike Schneider