This is something difficult to admit - I've been robbed!
It's not the telly that's gone, or my laptop, or my collection of ornamental frogs. No, I've lost my name. And my ideas. Specifically, a novel I wrote last summer called 'Secret Garden Festival' and it was set in Salford University for much of the time. Someone has taken that setting, and my cast of characters, and used them in a new series of novels. What's worse, is that it's porn.
I suppose that bit shouldn't be shocking. After all, the biggest selling book in recent years has been 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. Every author from here to Timbuktu would love to have that kind of a bestseller. Failing that, they'd all love to write the successor - the next big thing, for all the readers who bought 'Fifty Shades' and loved it. Why not, someone must have said to themselves, 'borrow' an existing scenario and just - well, what shall we say? - heat it up a bit?
And change it. One of my characters was called Val. He was a young man, a student. 'He' has been changed to a 'she'. She's young, feisty, slim, attractive. Not to put too fine a point on it, she's 'Emmanuelle'. Well, updated and moved to the North West of England, but the resemblance is striking. (In case you don't believe that, check out the e-book cover - it's Sylvia Kristel!)
It gets worse. Not only has this woman stolen my ideas, she's stolen my name! The author of this new 'female friendly' adult fiction is calling themselves 'G. Scantlebury Michaels'. Sound familiar? See any resemblances there?
For an author, any author, it would be bad news to find out that your characters, who you have lovingly crafted from the clay of imagination, had been kidnapped and sold as sex slaves. Like any parent, it would be horrifying to find your children so badly treated. But for me it's worse. You see, they're not completely my creation! As part of the Secret Garden Festival 2012 in Salford I was paid to involve local people in writing the book; I invited people I met around the city to suggest characters, situations and bits of story. Those fictional creations, the imaginary people they came up, then, they're not all mine. If it was just me, I'd feel robbed, but how am I going to explain it to the Salford residents who took part in their creation??
One final worry. The new series of adult stories are set in Salford University. It makes the place seem like a hotbed of steamy, saucy activities. What if young people got hold of these books and took the stories seriously? What if the numbers applying for this particular University went up this year, comprising people who will be heading north, looking for fun, frolics and adventure? What if they're disappointed??
Curious? Want to see more? I don't blame you, (even if I am a little disappointed in your taste). You can find these awful, sexy stories here.