Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fictional Insults

I read a short news story today that gave me serious pause. For several reasons.

The story is about an Australian novelist arrested in Thailand for insulting the Thai monarchy in his novel. His novel which sold SEVEN copies.

This is disturbing on at least two levels. First, the insult was to an "unnamed" prince. And related to a "brief passage" in the book. Presumably the writer made up a fictional character, placed them in the Thai monarchy and never gave it another thought. No legal issues if it's not a real person, right? (Now, clearly I don't know much about this case, so please don't read this as if I do... Maybe it was a thinly disguised portrait of a real prince? But the article didn't make it sound that way.) And people wonder why books like the Princess Diaries (and tons of Harlequin Presents books) are set in fictional countries...

But even more disturbing was SEVEN COPIES? Gee. You'd think he could get seven copies sold just amongst his family members.

How careful are you not to get into potential legal issues in your stories?

And on a completely different topic.... Knight Agency agent, and former Harlequin editor, Melissa Jeglinski is blogging about category romances on the TKA blog today. Interesting stuff.


Sinead M said...

Eeeshh... not careful at all, or enough apparently..
Or am I going to Thailand any time soon..

Molly O'Keefe said...

I had this link on my website - - because in the Bush/Kerry election, I was very anti-Bush and pro Kerry and pretty outraged with all that was happening to slander Kerry's incredible military and service record. After the election the organization continued to oppose the war in Iraq - another thing I supported, but, as is always the case some people confuse opposing the war with being anti-troops - which isn't the case AT ALL. So, anyway I got two emails from women saying they'd read my books and liked them, but I was a hateful anti-american for having the link to this organization.

I thought about it for about a week - and then decided for myself, that Molly O'Keefe - she writes books -- Molly Fader supports and I took the link off the site. Sometimes I feel wimpy about that decision, but frankly, I don't have the stomach or time for confrontation of any kind right now. so how political am I? Not at all.

K J Gillenwater said...

Personally, I really get annoyed with authors who spout off their political beliefs...just like actors. I just want to read your book and like you as a person and feel I can identify with you in some way. is considered to be pretty radical to some. I can see why someone might get upset by your association with it.

Authors should promote their books, talk about writing, and leave the politics for friends and family. IMHO

Maureen McGowan said...

I don't think you're alone on this, KJ. But public people/celebrities do have a platform and I personally have no problem if they choose to use it to promote their personal views. If I don't want to listen, I can ignore it. I think famous people have as much right as anyone else to exercise their right to free speech.

That said, I think you made the right choice to make that separation, Molly. Until you're *really* famous, anyway.

K J Gillenwater said...

Yes the do have a 'platform,' but you have no idea how many movies I will not watch because the actor or actress has ruined it for me. All I can see is them spouting off about something...Tom Cruise is a BIG one. Why, Tom, why?

Not like he was my favorite actor ever, but some of his movies were good....but now all I can see is a freak jumping on Oprah's couch and talking about the dangers of psychiatry.

Same goes for authors. It really makes it hard for me to enjoy the book if I remember some political rant from your blog.

I guess, yes, it is their right to make their opinions known, but I just want to warn them that it may impact their careers in a negative fashion.

Anyway, Molly, I'm sure it was not a fun position to be get such an email from someone. At least I know I'd never do *that* to someone. I would just be annoyed and not come back for another visit to that website.

Abby said...

So Molly - what if Susan Elizabeth Philips had a link on her website to a pro-Bush organization? What would you think?

It's so hard for writers, because we're writing stories based on how we see the world, and how we are engaged in society. So it's hard to separate that from your opinions and just be quiet. But when you do it you risk turning those who don't agree with you right off.

Actors are just annoying. The Obama inauguration was a prime example. I'm supposed to care what Jack Black's political opinions are? I'm supposed to care how Demi Moore votes? Really? I'd rather hear what the scientists think of him, or the lawmakers, or the businesspeople. That is what I'd like to know.

Kimber Chin said...

That author is an idiot (or looking for publicity or both).

Anyone knowledgeable at all about Thailand (and I would hope that if he was writing about the culture, he was knowledgeable) knows you don't mess with their monarchy.

You can't insult your host and expect a warm reception. It is arrogant and rude.

I've been to Thailand. A wonderful place with wonderful people. They have one unusual rule (like Singapore and their no gum rule) and the author choose that one to break.

Hhhmmm... I'm leaning towards a publicity stunt, likely gone wrong.

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