Plagiarism Ticks Us Right Off. Obviously.

Shark!

Wow. This hit and it hit HARD. By now most of you are familiar with the idea that a person going by the name Richard Ridyard submitted a plagiarized version of Stephen King’s “The Boogeyman” in to the magazine that I work for, Shock Totem. We immediately contacted Mr. King’s people and got the ball rolling. Then I found the post by Angel saying that the same thing was happening to up-and-coming writers, and that’s when we really started to scream. Like I was just telling somebody, stealing from the Master of Horror was despicable, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of us. Stealing from burgeoning writers is vile, but most likely nothing will ever come of it. But when the same person steals from everybody across the board, that’s when people begin to pay attention. We’re certainly focused on this issue now.

I am pleased and gratified by the public reaction. There is genuine outrage. There is solidarity, support for those whose work have been swiped, and sympathy for the publishers who have inadvertently published these plagiarized pieces.  We have vowed to be vigilant.

The world of literature is a tough field. It’s also a small field, and we need to stick together. We’re feeling that desire now. Threaten one of us and you threaten all of us. Threaten a handful of us, and feel the sharp sting of our virtual pitchforks and fiery digital justice.

At this point, many of Richard Ridyard/R. M. Valentine’s stories have been pulled down. I’d like to encourage publishers to keep a hold of his work and information in case it is necessary for future investigation. I’m being told that several people have his stories currently in their slushpiles. Also, he isn’t only targeting horror magazines, but is exploiting different genres as well. Sending King’s “The Boogeyman” to a professional horror market was stupid, yes, because it was immediately identified. But he was also sending it to fantasy markets as well. Be loud. Let people know. Apparently this “author” doesn’t discriminate based on genre. He steals from us all.

Ken Wood, the editor of Shock Totem was reading through Ridyard’s pieces, and he came across a particularly striking closing line. In fact, that line was so striking that he remembered it from when he had first read the piece…written by Aaron Polson.  Hmm, why does that name sound so familiar?  It’s because he’s a fellow blogger.  We read and comment on each other’s posts all of the time.  A link to his site is found at the bottom of this blog.  Imagine my distress at having to email Aaron and let him know that his piece had been plagiarized, too.  It can’t hit much closer to home.  Stop by his blog and hear what he has to say about it.  He shows much more restraint under duress than I believe that I would.

We ranted behind the scenes of Shock Totem for quite a long time, and then we decided to open the forums up for comment.  If you’d like to take part in this discussion, stop by and join us.  Although it is all right to be angry, please be appropriate.  Focus your anger where it belongs: on Ridyard/Valentine.  The link to that particular discussion is here. And, as always, feel free to discuss it in the comments section here, as well. My mind is still blown. Audacity, thy name is…well, actually we have no idea what they real name is. Fail.

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We Interrupt This Blog Post…

King's Night Shift 1st Edition Cover

to give you a warning.  A few days ago Shock Totem received a story called “Baboulas” by an author calling himself Richard Ridyard.  John Boden, Assistant Editor of Shock Totem, read the story and immediately cried foul. 

“This is plagiarism,” he said.  “This is Stephen King’s ‘The Boogeyman’ from his Night Shift collection.  Even the title is the same!”  ‘Baboulas’ is the Greek word for ‘Boogeyman.’  Ken, the editor, read the story and wrote the guy back saying that Shock Totem wasn’t in the business of publishing authors who steal work from other authors, and that the guy was never to submit to Shock Totem again.  Ken then contacted the mod for Stephen King’s forum and let her know.  She said that she’d run it past King and see what he wants to do about it.

How similar was Richard Ridyard’s story to Stephen King’s?  Let’s see.  This was Ridyard’s story:

“I am here to tell you exactly what happened,” the man in interview room B was saying.  The man was Mark Baker from West Park Street.  According to the history Inspector Wilson had gathered, he was twenty-nine years old, employed by a large recruitment firm, married, and the father of a four year old girl named Vicky, now deceased.

This is King’s:

“I came to you because I want to tell my story,” the man on Dr. Harper’s couch was saying. The man was Lester Billings from Waterbury, Connecticut. According to the history taken from Nurse Vickers, he was twenty-eight, employed by an industrial firm in New York, divorced, and the father of three children. All deceased.
 
Wait, what?  Let’s compare the last paragraphs as well.

Ridyard’s:

“So nice to see you again so soon, so nice,” Baboulas whispered.

It held its Inspector Wilson mask in one withered, shovel-claw hand.

King’s:
 

“So nice,” the boogeyman said as it shambled out.

It still held its Dr. Harper mask in one rotted, spade-claw hand.”

 
Hmmm.  The rest of the story is the same way, but I think that the point has been made.

But this isn’t all.  While on Twitter today, I came across a tweet from Angel Zapata.  Apparently Angel had been plagiarized.  By who?  Richard Ridyard.  Now where had I seen that name before? OH YES, in the Shock Totem slushpile. And Angel wasn’t the only one.  There were several others.  You can read Angel’s excellent post here.

As I read that post, I kept thinking that this was a hoax, or somebody trying to prove a point, or a social experiment.   Or perhaps it really is just greed.  Either way, it is wrong and despicable to steal somebody else’s work.  It makes me slightly ill and extremely angry.  I could just spit.

This hit especially close to home since Angel’s plagiarized piece was published in the June issue of Micro 100. Jameson T. Caine and MK Crittenden are in that same issue. Kurt Newton and I are also in that magazine, along with my friends Codi Brock and b2. It isn’t just the greats anymore. Now it’s getting personal.

UPDATE: Pop by The Eyesore Times to see Ken’s version and his musings on theft in general. I would never dare to steal anything from that man! I mean, are you kidding?!