Author of Defenders Magazine Article Responds in Newsweek

Paul Tolme, who wrote the original article on ferrets for Defenders Magazine, responds with an article about his work and his reaction to seeing his writing elsewhere in Newsweek magazine:

[T]hat is some bad dialogue. It stands out as clunky and awkward even by the standards of romance novels. That’s because Edwards didn’t write it. I did.

I traveled to South Dakota in the spring of 2005, flying into Rapid City airport, renting a car and driving to Wall, where I checked into a dumpy motel overlooking an industrial yard. It was as unromantic a location as you could imagine….

From dusk until nearly dawn we sat in Livieri’s truck—two dudes looking for weasels. Nobody said science was sexy.

After three days in Wall, where the highlight is visiting the famous Wall Drug Store, I could hardly leave town fast enough. I returned home and wrote the story for the Summer 2005 issue of Defenders magazine, which detailed how ferrets in the Conata Basin were being threatened by a federal effort to poison prairie dogs.

Had I known that my text would one day appear in a romance novel, I might have sexed up my story: “Hot-loving polecats do it in prairie dog holes.” Instead, here’s the passage where I detail the life history of black-footed ferrets. You may recognize it.

I do wish Tolme hadn’t dismissed the Edwards novel as “standard romance-novel shlock.” That particular prose may be shlock in his opinion, but it’s not standard for romance novels. But you and I both know that.

For more information about Black Footed Ferret conservation efforts, visit the Black Footed Ferret Recovery effort site. Hat tip to Ishie, who dropped the link in a comment thread.


General Bitching...

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Eunice says:

    “From dusk until nearly dawn we sat in Livieri’s truck—two dudes looking for weasels. Nobody said science was sexy.”

    This just doesn’t sound right somehow. Looking for weasels, huh? *nudge nudge wink wink*

    And so the roping in of Romance as a whole to one “author” continues. *sigh*

  2. 2
    kim says:

    LOL … my favorite thing to do while in a postcoital glow is discuss ferrets.
    Super sexy!

  3. 3
    Bernita says:

    Tolme knows how to make lemonade!

  4. 4
    azteclady says:

    I want to comment but Newsweek won’t let me unless I register, dammit!

    And since I won’t, here’s what I’d post:

    Hmmm… standard romance novel shlock? If for not other reason, I would beg to disagree simply iven the breadth of the genre. Having read many extremely well written AND commercially successful romance novels in my life add another level of disagreement with that statement. IMO, YMMV, obviously.

    spamfoiler: down86—damn right, DOWN with stereotyping romances and their readers!

  5. 5
    Lisa says:

    The schlock thing and general attitude towards the genre aside—LOL!  Dude knows how to come up with a wry turn of phrase.  That may be why CE used him :)

  6. 6
    Daisymay says:

    Am I the only person to wonder if Wall is the same place that Neil Gaiman’s “Stardust” is set? ‘cos if it is then perhaps they were super sekret sexy ferrets with magic plagiarism skillz…

  7. 7
    Meredith says:

    Okay, I do not want to be one of those people who seems to be trying to pull attention away from the main issue at hand, but I’ve just got to say, this article is irritating in the extreme to me. 

    “appear in a trashy romance novel”

    “The prose is standard romance-novel shlock”

    Wow, that is some bad dialogue. It stands out as clunky and awkward even by the standards of romance novels.

    Cassie’s getting the genre some awesome press, here.

    I’m curious about how Mr. Ferret knows what the standards of romance novels are?  Dunno why, but I have this funny feeling that he’s not a regular reader of the genre.

    I can imagine frustrated and horny readers cursing the ferrets and skipping ahead in search of the next nipple.

    Mmm, yes, this perfectly describes how I feel when slogging through all those troublesome interludes that pesky romance writers insist on inserting between sex scenes.  I mean, c’mon, what do they think they’re writing here—novels?



    But there is another victim here that has been lost in the discussion: the ferrets.

    Inappropriately, perhaps, this line had me ROFLMAOing.

  8. 8
    Stacy says:

    That guy is funny! And his dedication to the preservation of ferrets is as sexy as the photo on his website.

    My knee-jerk response was offense at his haughty dismissal of the entire romance genre, but then I remembered that at least 50% of the romance novels I buy are disappointing crap. It’s sad but true.

  9. 9
    Chrissy says:

    My first response to this whole thing was (as I blogged) that all of us writing romance are going to have to settle in for a few bitch-slaps thanks to Cassie.

    Which is why, when people think the SBs are mean, they should shut the hell up.

    I can’t blame the guy for being snarky.  I’m too comfortable blaming her for all of it.

  10. 10
    azteclady says:

    But Stacy—and to use Sturgeon’s law—90% of EVERYTHING is crap. So if only 50% of your romance novels are crap, you are way ahead!

    And conversely, that means that 50% are GOOD writing, dammit, and it’s elitist and ignorant to paint the whole lot with that brush.


    Not that I’m indignant or anything.

    spamfoiler: attack64   Have I mentioned that this thing is scary accurate?

  11. 11

    As an author of trashy romance I take exception to Tolme’s comments regarding the genre as a whole. However, as a fellow victim of plagiarism—and an author who must deal with stereotypes thanks to the likes of Ms. Edwards—I can’t help but laugh at the snark and admire him for taking this situation in stride.

  12. 12
    NHS says:

    His generalizations aside…
    I think I’m now even more offended by what CE did, sitting in her comfy desk chair cutting and pasting, now that I know what the author went through to get the original story.

  13. 13
    rebyj says:

    “My words did not enhance her novel. They were filler. I can imagine frustrated and horny readers cursing the ferrets and skipping ahead in search of the next nipple.”

    boy does he have US wrong..

    nipples? HA! We skip ahead in search of the next hard throbbing man spear erection!


  14. 14
    Julianna says:

    His tone about romance novels was dismissive – but I’d hate to have someone following me around, counting the times I talk about subjects on which I’m ignorant.  Also, you’ve got to admit that his introduction has not been auspicious.

    I’m just impressed by how well he’s taken this – I think he’s being classier than I would.

  15. 15
    Chryssa says:


    You beat me to it.  Those were exactly the same points that jumped out at me too.

    While I can certainly understand Mr. Tolme’s amusement over finding his work on ferrets plagiarized in a romance novel, I’m annoyed by the on-going judgment of the Romance genre by those who don’t know what the heck they’re talking about.  Perhaps we need to send Mr. Tolme a reading list of good, well-written romances. 

    And the battle continues.  Thanks, Cassie, for handing the detractors yet more ammunition.  Sigh.


    Botword;  lived83—hmm, guess you haven’t really lived until you’ve read a good romance.

  16. 16
    Ehren says:

    as much as the idea of this guy snarking romance in general thanks to Cassandra Claire—er oops, Ms. Edwards—I am biting my tongue and turning the other cheek, simply because it targets the ratfink and I like the ratfink being targeted by others. :3

  17. 17
    Kcfla says:

    I agree with all of you that although I don’t appreciate his views on romance novels, I can appreciate how well he’s taking this. I’d have been on the phone to my lawyer in a NY minute.

    Class act all the way.

    And as I stated in the thread below- we now know that CE’s lawyers have told her to keep silent.

  18. 18
    dillene says:

    Two dudes in a truck looking for ferrets is not sexy.  Now, if it had been two dudes looking for beavers…

  19. 19
    Eirin says:

    Apart from the condescending remarks about the romance genre, that was pretty funny.
    And I guess I can forgive the guy for still being somewhat irate, if not actually angry. After all, he had to fork over 6$ an’change to read his own words, not to mention having to at least skim a whole Cassie Edwards.
    With that in mind, I’d say he’s very forgiving ;>

    Verification: away57

  20. 20
    Ruth says:

    So you know how we’ve been discussing what we’d like to see happen in the wake of this debacle?

    I’d like to see CE make a rather sizeable donation to save the black footed ferret. Those things are freaking adorable.

  21. 21

    “I’d like to see CE make a rather sizeable donation to save the black footed ferret. Those things are freaking adorable.”

    They are. Their markings round the eyes and the shape of their ears make them look a little bit like pandas, I think. And it would be good if the ferrets could derive some benefit from having starred in a Cassie Edwards novel.

  22. 22
    Mala says:

    Two dudes looking for weasels is EXTREMELY sexy.

    Tolme doesn’t even realize that his moving story of research actually makes it sound like Brokeback Mountain!  There they are…all alone…playing “hide the ferret.”

    :::fans self:::

    Maybe Tolme ought to try his hand at writing a little gay porn?

    And kudos to his sense of humor! I can’t even begrudge him the snarkiness about the genre in light of what he’s learned about it in the last few days.

  23. 23
    R. says:

    Considering that he’s been plagiarized, Mr. Tolme’s entitled to a a few snarks of his own.  It’s a shame, though, that the entire genre is brought even lower in the eyes of the mainstream by the antics of one ‘writer’.

    But Mr. Tolme has a wry sense of humor that I can appreciate, and he knows how to turn a phrase.

    That dude has style.

  24. 24
    Ishie says:

    I got an SB shoutout!  Sweet!

    It would be a cool sort of ‘revenge’ of sorts, if a large settlement was used to fund the black footed ferret community.

    It would also be funny if out of everything she copied including a Pulitzer winner, the most significant ramifications came through the bad luck of just pasting in the WRONG nature article.

    Besides, everyone knows if you want the sexy sexy post-sex talk, it’s supposed to be on bonobos, not ferrets.

  25. 25
    TracyS says:

    While his attitude about Romance Novels was ignorant and annoying, I have to admit the guy is funny.  I found myself chuckling as I read this article.

    “Three years later my story (“Toughing It Out in the Badlands”) is at the center of 2008’s ,sexiest plagiarism scandal.”  bwahahahahahahahahahaha

    *the quote is taken directly from the Newsweek article (emphasis mine) *

  26. 26
    Katie W. says:

    Okay, I am probably going to hell but when I read his take on Edwards’ writing, all I could think of was “Now he’s on Jenny Crusie’s MEANIE List” because doesn’t he know better than to snide and demean CE’s writing! MEANIE!

    Otherwise, though, fantastic article. I’m a “Newsweek” subscriber so I’m horribly biased on that but I say write to them about how he treated the romance genre. They’re a great bunch of people at “Newsweek” and they might even publish a well-reasoned letter. Besides, he had the right to be a little dismissive to the romance genre since his entire experience with it was with the Ferret Plagiarist. The fact that he handled it so well is quite admirable. He just wants to save the ferrets, man.

    (Is it too obvious that I’m back on the DayQuil?)

  27. 27
    TracyS says:

    I re-read my comment and thought I should clarify. I don’t think plagiarism is sexy, just they way he phrased that made me LOL.

  28. 28
    rebyj says:

    dillene? I am so jealous that I didn’t think of that “beaver” line first LOL

  29. 29

    I think considering he’s a dude who writes about ferrets he can be forgiven for his dismissive tone. He knows as much about romance as I do about weasels.

    I love his response. So much better than anything we’ve seen yet! Maybe he could be a guest reviewer of one of Edwards novels.

  30. 30
    Ciar Cullen says:

    I think the whole sensitivity thing about the romance genre is getting overworked here. The guy was pretty funny, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read passages pretty close to his fake romance line.

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