Associated Press Article has Response from Cassie Edwards

Part of a series: Cassie Edwards 1: The First Post | Cassie Edwards 2: Savage Longings | Cassie Edwards Part 3: Running Fox | Cassie Edwards Part 4: Savage Moon | Cassie Edwards Part 5: Savage Beloved | Follow-up: Penguin (Part 1?) | Official Statement from Signet | AP Article Contains Response from Edwards  | RWA Responds to Allegations  | A centralized document for the Cassie Edwards situation

An Associated Press article has a response from author Cassie Edwards to the allegations that “she lifted work from texts:”

[Edwards] acknowledged that she sometimes “takes” her material “from reference books,” but added that she didn’t know she was supposed to credit her sources.

“When you write historical romances, you’re not asked to do that,” Cassie Edwards told The Associated Press, speaking earlier this week from her home in Mattoon, Ill.

Edwards then asked her husband to get on the phone. He told the AP that his wife simply gets “ideas” from reference books.

“She doesn’t lift passages,” Charles Edwards said, adding that “you would have to draw your own conclusions” on how closely his wife’s work resembles other sources.


The article also quotes plagiarism software detection developer John M. Barrie as saying that she “had indeed lifted material,” and Sherry Lewis, president of the RWA, is also quoted: “It’s not clear-cut to me,” she said. “You can see similarities in the passages, but I’m not qualified to make that assertion.”



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  1. Anon says:

    I can’t believe RWA President is claiming she’s not sure if it’s plagiarism!!!!  What the hell?????

  2. Wendy says:

    “It’s not clear-cut to me,”

    What?? Honestly, how much clearer does it need to be?

    And how can an author not know that they’re supposed to credit their sources? I learnt that in high school for bloody sake.

  3. kcfla says:

    OK, now that was just plain wrong!

  4. Ruth says:


    I’m speechless.

  5. rebyj says:

    no offense to those who know and care but gee whiz if the PRESIDENT of Romance Writers Association BE anymore wishy washy on the subject. she seems to try to say just enough to try to placate all sides of the issue. IMHO

    cool as shit that the AP has picked the story up ..rock on bitches!

  6. SB Sarah says:

    Before the server curls up and begins to weep, let me say – if Lewis was presented with one example, or was not familiar with the entirety of the texts we published, it could follow that in her opinion the example she saw was not clear-cut.

    In other words, if she saw the one example published in the AP article vs. the 32 examples we published here, there’s room for her statement, IMO.

  7. Jen says:

    I find it . . . interesting that first Publishers Weekly and now the Associated Press have selected (from the 8 novels worth of evidence that the Smart Bitches compiled) practically the only two examples that come within a time zone of actually being paraphrasing.  I’m not going to lurch into full-on conspiracy theory territory, but considering the much more damning quotations available I honestly can’t come up with an explaination for these softballs they’re lobbing.

  8. rebyj says:


    I just noticed that I’m so scared that someone will kick my ass for talking negative about the RWA president that I was wishy washy myself.

    Seriously jaw dropped when I read her comments.

  9. Julie Leto says:

    Oh, dear.  Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh dear.  Methinks the new RWA president needs to learn how to speak to the media.  Gayle Wilson, former president, needs to teach.  She was a master of saying just the right thing, even off the cuff.

  10. Minnow says:

    Actually, I think that the ferret paragraph is pretty damning – the “researchers theorize” sentence is an exact lift.

    On a happier note, I’m pleased to announce that Signet is going to be publishing my book! It’s called The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: A Romance”
    It starts “Call me Ishmael” said Romulus…

    they loved it!

  11. alia says:

    I’m guessing that while PW and AP want to get in on the action, they’re being careful since the news is so new. I’m just delighted it’s being taken seriously by a major news org—it would be really easy for an editor to dismiss this as the blogosphere gazing at its own navel… or to wait until someone does or says something wild and dramalicious a la spears and co. everyone’s being polite, where’s the story?

  12. wedschilde says:

    Man, where were these people when I was doing papers for college? I had to list when someone sneezed and got snot on my papers!

    Hell, what does she have to do for the President of the RWA to say, yup…that be stolen? Use the cover of a ferret magazine as art for her romance novel?

  13. Sarah Frantz says:

    Re: RWA President.  She probably doesn’t want to get sued.  And saying “Someone plagiarized” is actionable as slander if it’s proved wrong.  I think, but then, I’m not one of the lawyers around here.  If she just got slammed with this, then I understand her need/wish to be wishy-washy.

    And I’ll say what I said at Dear Author:  I thought that CE would say “I didn’t know I had to” when she was finally hunted down.  If Diana Gabaldon thinks that, for heaven’s sake (
    ::weeps:: ), then I can see how CE would think that.  She’s wrong.  Flat out wrong.  But she probably thought, “Well, I’m not doing what Janet Dailey did!” and thought she was fine.

    Because us academics aren’t important or anything. I wonder what the black-footed ferret article writers think about it all.

  14. Sarah Frantz says:

    Damn automatic smileys.  😉

  15. Julie Leto says:

    Sarah, I do not judge the RWA president for being cautious in her statements—one would expect that.  What she should have done was keep her personal opinion to herself when it is so shockingly wrong.  How can she not see it?

    What she would have been better served in saying was, “RWA takes charges of plagiarism very seriously.  I need more time to look over the examples on these blogs and investigate the situation further before I respond.”

    Or some such.

    Well, I’m Monday-morning quarterbacking and that’s not fair either.

  16. littlemissspy says:

    I am not gleeful but I am stunned at the silliness in saying that “When you write historical romances, you’re not asked to do that,” when no other historical romances i read on a normal basis ever lift so well that “Researchers theorize” is in the sentence. And what about the fact that she acknowledged that she sometimes “takes” her material “from reference books”?

    Frankly, I hope she was just not educated in sources, for her own sad existence but I find that hard to believe. I have been taught about it since kindergarten.

    so bravo bitches for keeping up and showing the news what’s what

  17. Ruth says:

    I’ve figured out what’s bothering me. The whole thing about putting her husband on the phone. Does that reek to anyone else? Like she’s feeble and weak and needs a man to protect her from the evil accusations.

    Maybe I’m just reading too much in to that.

  18. Jane says:

    It doesn’t seem like a circle jerk anymore.

  19. Alecia says:

    Good Lord. I stumbled upon this story by accident and am floored. Hats off to you ladies for sussing this out! The passages you posted are really damning. There is absolutely NO way Ms. Edwards could be unaware that this was plagiarism. She practically cut and pasted the stuff. She’s a published author, for what that’s worth these days. Even if her books are wince inducing she’s still a professional writer. Shame on her for swiping!

  20. vagrant says:

    Absofrigginlutely hilarious.  Lurked for months, never commented, but the outrageousness of Edwards’, Signet’s AND the RWA’s responses to all this drag me out tonight. 

    Many things are legitimately unclear. Whether this was plagiarism isn’t one of them.  I couldn’t come up with a more damning set of quote comparisons if I made them BOTH up. 

    And when public opinion is done speaking (say, three months from now), I bet more attention goes to the publisher’s/guild rep’s wafflage than the original offense.  Because, geez, it’s almost more shocking.

  21. Alecia says:

    Yeah Ruth, putting her husband on the phone seemed kind of pathetic to me too. I’ve actually been known to take the phone from mine on occasion. I can’t imagine letting anyone else speak for me that way.

  22. Ros says:

    I have a copyright lawyer who’s a friend that reads my LJ from time to time.  He’s left an interesting comment on my post about this issue which you can read here.

    Basically he thinks that what Edwards has done won’t count as copyright infringement (unless some of the sources are still under copyright) but that all of it counts as fraud.  Edwards has taken money from readers under false pretences, claiming that work is her own when it’s not, she’s benefitted falsely from the work of others.  It’s possible she’s also defrauded her publishers (or I think they may be complicit in the fraud).  Interesting, huh?

  23. Sarah Frantz says:

    Julie, okay, I like that better.  I’ve never had to deal with the press, though—I can’t imagine what it’s like, and it reads to me like Sherry Lewis was trying her own version of not saying anything.  But your version is much better!

  24. kywrite says:

    I’d say she’s more guilty of bad writing than plagiarism if she’s lifting sections from research books. I mean, really!

  25. Jane says:

    Ros – my problem with the Fraud issue is showing the detrimental reliance element. I.e., can you prove that readers would have acted differently if they knew of the copying.  Did you rely to your detriment on the mispresentation?

  26. ~[Edwards] acknowledged that she sometimes “takes” her material “from reference books,” but added that she didn’t know she was supposed to credit her sources.

    “When you write historical romances, you’re not asked to do that,” Cassie Edwards told The Associated Press, speaking earlier this week from her home in Mattoon, Ill.~

    I think that’s my favorite bit. I write historical romances.  Yes, I use reference materials for research and no, I don’t cite them within the work, that’s absurd.  I will occasionally list them in the author’s note or acknowledgments, depending upon how heavily I relied upon them. 

    But what I also don’t do is copy passages verbatim into my own text.  I use the information to make sure I have a solid, historical foundation for my story and characters, with my OWN words and my OWN story.

    Big difference.  I’m actually a bit prickled that she is either a) that stupid or b) thinks we are.

  27. snarkhunter says:

    After reading this, I figured out how she can justify her use of the ferret article.

    She’s a weasel.

    Clearly, she’s just getting in touch with her heritage.

    (That’s the excuse she used for the other references, right?)

  28. Ros says:

    Jane, I’m no lawyer so I couldn’t say for sure but I’d guess that Ken knows what he’s talking about.  The sale of those books depends on their content and, particularly with the later ones, the identification of Edwards as their author.  So if she’s lied and passed off other people’s work as her own, then I think you could make a fair case for fraud.  But I could be wrong.

  29. Ros says:

    It’s incredible isn’t it?!  She ‘doesn’t know she’s supposed to cite her sources’.  But does she know whether or not she’s supposed to copy from them directly into her book?  That seems to me to be much more problematic.

  30. Teddy Pig says:

    John M. Barrie, a plagiarism specialist who helped design detection software used widely on college campuses, told the AP that the author had indeed lifted material.

    Out of everything else said in this wonderfully framed article I think the plagiarism specialist just slammed them all into the dirt and rubbed their faces in it.

    I bet Sherry Lewis cringed reading that printed directly before her “It’s not clear-cut” non-response.

  31. Teddy Pig says:

    You cannot tell me these people do not have an internet connection.

  32. Jane says:

    Ros – the elements for fraud (aka intentional misrepresentation) includes not only “lying” but what is called the “causation” element which is the nexus between the act of wrongdoing and the damage.  If there is no detrimental reliance, then there is no damage.

    I.e., no harm no foul (actual legal defense called no causation).

    I know that there was a class action against James Frey and it was reported that only a tiny few actually availed themselves of the class action benefits.  Ironically, Robin and I were musing about this very topic (plagiarism and legal COAs) about a month ago. 

    If you could find a disgruntled Cassie Edwards reader who stated “I wouldn’t have bought these books if I knew it contained lifted material” then that person could probably be name plaintiff in a class action suit on the grounds of fraud, but you’ve got to find that person. 

    It would be cost prohibitive to bring an individual suit because the actual damage would be the amount paid for the book and you could get punitive damages, but since the BMW Supreme Court case, you generally are allowed only a one digit ratio between actual damages (the cost of the book) and punitive damages.

    Can’t see a lawyer jumping on that bandwagon.

  33. Nikki says:

    John M. Barrie, a plagiarism specialist who helped design detection software used widely on college campuses, told the AP that the author had indeed lifted material.

    Which brings up a question I’ve been meaning to ask.  Any of you academic folks out there have access to TurnItIn?  ‘Cause it’d be pretty interesting to see the resulting analysis on one of CE’s books.

  34. Ros says:

    Ah yes, Jane, seems you’re quite right.  😉  Ken’s just left a fuller answer to your comment making the same point.

    Isn’t it frustrating when you can see that someone’s clearly committed a crime but that it’s extremely unlikely there’ll be a way to bring them to justice over it?

    And doubtless that will merely reinforce publishers in their ‘if we can’t be sued, we don’t care’ morality.  *sigh*

  35. Sarah Frantz says:

    Nikki, yes, I do, but that would require typing in a Cassie Edwards book.  And I’m not up to that!  If you’ve got an electronic file, I’ll see what I can do.

  36. Jennie says:

    Well, if it walks like a duck & talks like a duck…

  37. Jane says:


    I think the wrong without a remedy is the basis of so much of my own frustration.  Absent any legal imperative, it doesn’t seem like Penguin cares.

  38. Mel L. says:

    I’m not so much concerned about the plagiarism as I am about what light this event is shining on romance novel industry.  Most people (who don’t read these books) think that the women (and men) who do read them are vapid, without a thought in their heads.

    Thanks CE! Now everyone has someone to point to, a romance novelist for god’s sake, and say “Look! We told you they’re all idiots. Now will you believe us?”

    And to top it off, she’s one of the-I won’t say worst- but cheesiest of the lot. Granted, I would be more horrified if this “plagiarism” charge happened to a writer I love and adore. But at least then, that writer would be able to stand up proudly and claim the rest of her work…apart from the plagiarism I mean.

    It’s a sad day all around. And I’m not even going to talk about CE putting her husband on the phone. I can hear it now: “Not only is she an idiot, but she’s as weak as her heroines!”


  39. Nikki says:

    Dear Neptune, Sarah F.—I’d never expect you to type a whole CE book. I think there’s a separate level of hell reserved for that task.

    I actually have several passages from CE’s novels typed, including those I’ve identified the sources and those I haven’t but highly suspect. 

    How about we run a prelim to see what, if anything, pops up?  Email me and we can discuss further.

  40. It is a sad day. Honestly, I feel so down, because it just shouldn’t have happened. But on the bright side, I do feel like losing myself in my work!

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