Cristiane Serruya: Alleged Plagiarist

October 21, 2018

Cristiane Serruya: Alleged Plagiarist

Road sign that reads Copy Cats AheadAt some point one might blink in un-surprise to yet another discovery of rampant holy shit plagiarism, but today is not that day (and frankly, I hope it doesn’t arrive).

Per Courtney Milan, Tessa Dare, and many, many other people doing the terrible work of unearthing and checking  books page by page, it seems writer Cristiane Serruya has lifted…sheesh, at this point, half the internet into her books?

As always, a fan found it and let Courtney Milan know:

If you know me, you know I do not make accusations lightly–especially accusations about plagiarism and copyright infringement. Earlier today, a fan sent me an email claiming that portions of my book that had been copied by another author. After investigation, I have concluded that Christiane Serruya has copied, word-for-word, multiple passages from my book The Duchess War.

There are more passages copied than what I list below, and history suggests that if you delve deeper into this book, and other books, there will be even more plagiarism.

Oh, indeed. Sad Plagiarism Bingo square: it’s never just one book.

Once folks began looking, there were plenty of additional examples. Which of course means buying copies of a book one suspects contains other people’s work – a particularly galling enterprise, return policies notwithstanding.

As Tessa Dare searched, Natalie The Reading Debutante identified The Duchess Deal as one of the sources.

A screen shot of highlighted text that reads at the start This wasn't tenderness that filled him with a fiery resolve....
Image credit: Tessa Dare
A picture of a tablet with the same passage highlighted
Photo Credit: Natalie, Reading Debutante

 

It seems the lifting is rampant and thorough, too:

And while passages from Bella Andre, Trish Morey, Lynne Graham, Abby Green, Karen Marie Moning, Lisa Kleypas, Kresley Cole (is your jaw on the floor with mine?) and many others have been identified, reader Kawy also spotted lifted recipes from The Knot, and from The Field Magazine:

Oh for…

Sigourney Weaver as Gwen DiMarco in Galaxy Quest does an epic facepalm

We haven’t gotten to “and the ‘author’ once managed Blues Traveler” territory yet, but that is definitely a new subterranean notch on the WTF scale.

The scope of the plagiarism is still being revealed, with new updates at the #CopyPasteCris hashtag on Twitter.

I’m still caffeinating but I’m about 87% bafflement face at the moment, with an equal amount of exhausted empathy for the individuals doing the investigating. The hours it takes to identify, search, and match passages from other books are not small in number. (Been there.) And it is work that the potentially wronged individuals have to do, because otherwise the plagiarism continues.

And then there’s the ridiculousness of lifting so much from so many places to assemble into one book. Imagine the work that goes into creating a new document, then taking portions of others, fitting them into the skeleton of some kind of narrative, and finding others to add in as well. Forget the mathematical calculations of how many tabs that would be in a browser. Why would someone do that? It seems like an astonishing amount of really, really dumb work and, as always, you’ll get caught.

Looks like I’m going to have Rihanna stuck in my head all day:

And it’s over now…

Rihanna singing Don't tell me you're sorry cause you're not baby when I know you're only sorry you got caught

If the plagiarism call-and-response pattern holds, at some point there may be a flounce (which is always a boomerang because flounces are never one way) or maybe a vague, passive-voiced non-apology.

UPDATE: I was wrong! I was not expecting this response:

Screen shot of two tweets from Tessa Dare and Cris Serruya: Dare - I am literally 9% into ONE book by Cris Serruya, ROYAL LOVe, and have found text plagiarised from at least 5 authors Reply from Cris Serruya - Wow wow wow I jsut wake up to this how could I have been plagiarizing 5 authors I love your books and I am a lawyer. I'd never do such a thing.

She’s also reached out to Courtney Milan:

Replying to CM detailing that entire passages have been lifted, Serruya writes, Good morning, @courtneymilan I just woke up to this and I am astonished. I would have never, ever, done this. I am in this writing for a few years now and I am also a lawyer. Could we perhaps talk?

Oh, boy.

My theory, and purely a theory: ghost writers. Lots of ’em, grabbing passages left and right then selling the “manuscript.” ETA: I’m definitely not alone in that theory.

I know there’s a market for ghostwritten romance manuscripts (since romance is a perennial cash production machine according to some wisdom). I wonder if someone has developed software that takes pieces of books like a deck of cards and shuffles them into a new order.

Shuffle shuffle

Card shuffle gif on loop

Presto. A “book.” I wouldn’t be surprised if such a program exists, but again, a lot of work for something that will be discovered. Readers remember shit like this, and we recognize patterns, especially in books we love. Always.

This story will likely to continue to evolve and I’ll update as new information arrives. In the meantime, I wish everyone some sleep and a LOT of coffee. Really, really good coffee.

ETA: I’m setting a timer for 5 minutes and using the free preview to see what I can find. Ready, set, go.

Shaded Love, free preview.

screen shot of free preview of Shaded Love

Chapter One, All That’s Unspoken, Constance Phillips, screenshot via Scribd:

nearly identical text: The squeak of the barn door rolling down the metal rail cut through the silence of the night air. It wasn’t as heavy as Hailey remembered, but then again her fondest memories of the barn were from when she was a lot younger. Her cousin Rhonda laughed as she walked past her then went straight to the light switches, flipping them on.Quiet or we’re going to get caught.

Jeez. Ridiculous.

ETA: Well, gee golly gee whiz, it was indeed perhaps a ghostwriter:

Serruya tweet: I just woke up to distressing news that my work has plagiarism from other authors. I am taking down all the works I did with a ghostwriter on Fiverr--who btw has closed the account--until I have made certain this is solved.

ETA: Via Claire O’Dell: the Goodreads page for Royal Love has been edited to read “Plagiarised from Courtney Milan.”

Screen Shot of Roval Love with the words Plagiarised from Courtney Milan at the top of the description

ETA, 20 February:

Well, that’s been a lot.

Cristiane Serruya deleted her Twitter account (not surprising).

A person named Bee commented on Courtney Milan’s original post saying they had worked as a ghost writer for Cristiane Serruya (and who wasn’t paid, either):

Her work, when given to me, was a number of mishmashed scenes that needed “expanding”, as she said. I took for granted that these were her own words, and embellished as she requested, as this is how I work–I often help authors who are “too close” to their own book to get it in shape for publication. Now I can see that it’s very possible those were plagiarized scenes that she was hoping a ghostwriter would change enough to make unrecognizable.

Oy.

Courtney also revealed on Twitter that two additional ghostwriters have independently contacted her revealing the same details of Serruya’s approach.

And the list of plagiarized titles has lengthened to nearly 30 (I’m sure it’ll pass that number today).

CaffeinatedFae on Twitter (holy smokes I love that name!) has been keeping a running tally and posting them in a Twitter thread. And @JeannaLStars has also kept a Twitter list with US and UK buy links.

Titles link to the book in question.

When I saw “Nora Roberts” my first thought was, “Everybody, get underground NOW.”

Plus, there are the pheasant recipe from Field Magazine and a scone recipe from Jamie Oliver, as well as two articles:

And, this Tweet from @SalvagedBooks and KJ Charles made me snort coffee:

Brittney, Salvaged books, tweeted In romancelandia plagiarism based offenses are considered especially heinous. On Twitter the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious misdemeanors are members of an elite squad known as the - KJ Charles - Pterodactyl Vengeance Unit

ETA: 

Courtney Milan has also provided a detailed post of what to do next, including filing ethics complaints with RWA and reporting the books at Amazon, BN, and Apple. She’s also created a Yahoo Group for those affected. Details are at her site, of course. This community can be truly a gift.

Source: smart bitche

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