Monday, April 24, 2006

Oh, My Gosh! Another Connection!

Perhaps you'll recall that I read Daisy Miller and saw a connection between it and the teen girl series books I've been reading? Well, something went down today that definitely has a connection to those series, too. At least in my twisted mind.

Over at Readerville we've been discussing poor Kaavya Viswanathan, who received a big two book deal from Little, Brown at the ripe old age of seventeen and is now facing allegations that she plagiarized a book by Megan McCafferty that was published in 2001. I'm not being sarcastic when I say "poor Kaavya Viswanathan." Personally, I think there are lots of ways this could have happened, some of them unintentional. The girl's only nineteen years old. She had the world by the tail and now, no matter how this ends up, it's going to follow her for life.

What does this have to do with us, you may ask? Well, I don't know how her book, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life was categorized by her publisher, but it sounds like YA to me. The San Francisco Chronicle describes it as "the story of Opal, a hard-driving teen who earns all A's in high school but gets rejected from Harvard because she forgot to have a social life. Opal's father concocts a plan code-named HOWGAL (How Opal Will Get A Life) to get her past the admission's office."

The book Viswanathan is accused of plagiarizing, Sloppy Firsts, is definitely YA.

But, still, you're probably wondering how this is connected to the books I've been boring you with these last few weeks. Well, according to a Boston Globe article from back in February, the literary agency representing Viswanathan found her original idea for a novel "much darker than Opal." Presumably, too dark because it "referred her to 17th Street Productions, a so-called book packager that specializes in developing projects in young-adult and middle-grade fiction. The editors there proposed that Viswanathan put her mind to something lighter, something closer to her own background."

And here, finally, is the connection, folks, because 17th Street Productions is part of Alloy Entertainment and Alloy had a hand in creating The Clique, The A-List, and The Gossip Girl. galley cat, which provided the link to the February Boston Globe article, wondered back in February how big a cut 17th Street Productions received of Viswanathan's six-figure advance and today questions whether or not it played a part in this whole mess.

Personally, I'm wondering about something else. Just what does a "book packager" do? The Clique, The A-List, The Gossip Girl all have eerie similarities. Again, what does a book packager do?

Doo, doo, doo-doo, doo, doo, doo-doo.


Kelly said...

First and foremost, thank god you have comments!!! (How many exclamation points can I put in one box?

Secondly, when I read this article today, I was shocked. The thought that there was such a thing as a "book packager" amazed me. Why, I don't know.

Eric said...

I don't want to judge the young author too harshly this early on, but I'm not quite ready to say "poor Kaavya Viswanathan," either. The list of similarities is pretty extensive. At a minimum, Ms. Viswanathan certainly seems guilty of advanced foolishness.

Eric Berlin

Gail Gauthier said...

Yeah, I know. I always think the best of everyone. I've been told that it's one of my more serious flaws.

Viswanathan has admitted to borrowing language but says "any phrasing similarities between her [McCafferty's] works and mine were completely unintentional and unconscious."

I have to agree that those are a heck of a lot of unintentional and unconscious similarities.

This is a really bad time for all this to be happening to her. Exams are coming up!