A plagiarism scandal has shaken the gay-romance community and while some people are rehashing the issue, others have chosen to use the scandal to once more take aim at the romance community as a whole. In an article published in The Washington Post, the author states that “there is a formula” to writing one of these stories and that for the author who has been accused of plagiarism, “the fill-in-the-blanks quality of some romance novels seems to have been quite the hurdle.”
At the end of the day no one in the gay-romance community is denying there was plagiarism going on and there have been plenty of posts regarding this subject. Many authors have weighed in and certainly seeing blog posts from any number of authors or bloggers in the genre can clue a person in on what is happening. However, when the story gets picked up by major news organizations one would expect to see the story be about the crime committed and not be about taking pot shots at the genre.
All one needs to do is look at the comments on the article to see that for every supporter of the romance genre, whether it be gay-romance or straight, there is someone else comparing it to soft porn as if this is a bad thing. Instead of writing about the fact that someone did something despicable, the community is once more being attacked for not being a worthy literary contributor.
One would have to argue that before someone can tear the genre apart, they should probably take the time to read some of what is on offer. Pick up a book by TJ Klune, Amy Lane, J.P. Barnaby, Marie Sexton or Josh Lanyon, to name just a very few, and one will get a better sense of what gay-romance has to offer. There are also any number of equally talented writers on the mainstream side of the genre.
The question becomes how did a case of plagiarism once more descend into the territory of tearing apart the genre. Romance is a billion dollar industry. Just take a look at statistics from RWA and it is clear to see that this is a genre making over a billion dollars a year. This is a proven fact and yet it still gets little respect from people who seem to have no interest in the genre, so therefore, they can say what they want without ever having experienced the work for themselves.
Gay-romance should not be under fire because an author made the decision to plagiarize someone else’s work. The person who should be under fire is the author. The other authors in the genre should not have to defend themselves and their work at every turn and yet that is exactly what has happened. From catching a plagiarist in the act, this appears to be a way to attack an entire community of authors simply because of what it is they choose to write.
Opinion by Dorothea James