Saturday, November 13, 2010

The YA Fiction Factory. Would Someone Please Shut it down for being Inhumane!

So, over the past few days, some drama has been redirected at James Frey (of truth vs. fiction in memoir fame).

To be honest, when all of the drama went down several years ago, I felt pretty bad for him.   I am one of those people who thinks that the way you present a memory can be highly interpretative.  Plus, when I learned that he'd originally tried to publish his manuscript as fiction, I viewed him as a victim of circumstance (and Oprah).

If you may recall, Monica and I figured out that James Frey had worked on the YA book I Am Number Four.  We did a literary feast with that book since the premise seemed so interesting and we. tore. that. book. to pieces.  Pieces.

Well, in a recent Wall Street Journal article that has been making the rounds, Frey describes a YA writers' "factory" that he has formed.  He comes up with an idea for a series, then contracts an author to do the actual writing.  The contract language describes how Frey still owns the story and that he may or may not given the authors credit.

I find this all pretty disturbing.  (And I'm not alone.)

While I had thought that I Am Number Four was pretty much a piece of crap and I had trouble understanding how a group of people (two authors, editor, marketers in the publishing house, etc.) could have all come together and produced something so awful (and then gotten a movie deal on top of it), the fact that the book wasn't actually born of a partnership is upsetting to me.  I can't quite name why.

I feel like a bunch of authors should form a picket line in front of Frey's house.  Since the factory doesn't really exist.

On the plus side, there is a bit of humor to all this drama.  I find it utterly laughable that Frey thinks that he might be the author to be as esteemed as J.K. Rowling was for the Harry Potter series.  And that this might be the way to accomplish that possibility.

No.  Just no.

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