A Note About Cassandra Clare

I just wanted to quickly talk about a certain author who’s become both famous and notorious in YA/UF fiction, Cassandra Clare.

Now, a lot of virtual ink has been used on the topic of Cassandra Clare, so I’m not going to really go in-depth into her many online misdeeds (which reportedly involve cyberstalking and cyberbullying among others). But I do have to address some of her problems, because they will be mentioned at least in passing in her book snarks.

Now, Cassandra Clare originally got her start in the Harry Potter fandom, which has a LOT of fanfic. Clare became somewhat famous within the fandom for spending years writing three novel-lengths fanfics based about Draco Malfoy, who is sort of the nemesis of Harry Potter, but who has enough redeeming qualities that fangirls just worship him.

These fanfics actually became very popular, and they still have fans to this day. But some people started noticing something… off about the Draco stories: there were passages, phrases and even a whole chapter that were pretty much copied verbatim from other sources.

Among the sources:

Lord Blackadder is displeased with your fuckery

Now to be fair, Clare DID acknowledge that some of this material was from other sources… but the problem is that she didn’t always acknowledge it until pressed to do so. And this weren’t quick one-off quotes like Jim Butcher loves doing – the sources of those quotes and homages are usually made clear in the text (like the references to the Evil Overlord List) or are so famous that they don’t really need explaining (Yoda).

No, this was actual DIALOGUE AND SCENES lifted from other books. Google “cassandra clare plagiarism” for more details.

Now I don’t know if this counts as technical plagiarism because fanfic exists in a sort of gray zone. Plagiarism is usually condemned because people don’t want plagiarists to benefit (scholastically or financially) from ripping off somebody else. Fanfic, which is usually done for love of the fandom, doesn’t give you either benefits. HOWEVER, it does count as artistic plagiarism. This was not a wink and a nod to this author or that TV show – this is stuff from other authors, filling a space that Clare COULD have filled with her own work. And these are BIG, BIG spaces.

So am I going to hold her current work responsible for the plagiarism?

No, not really. Fanfic is a totally different area from published fiction, and while what she did is reprehensible, I’m not going to assume that she’s actually going to do the same in a REAL work.

… but I AM going to keep an eagle eye out for the shaping influences of those other works. Especially, you know, because people say that her first trilogy is basically the Draco Trilogy with all new names. I haven’t read the Draco trilogy, so I don’t know… but expect many Draco Malfoy jokes!


1 thought on “A Note About Cassandra Clare”

  1. ZeldaQueen said:

    Honestly, while plagiarism in fanfiction isn’t on the same level as plagiarism in work that earns money, it still pisses me off something fierce because all of those positive reviews and recommendations and congratulations the author gets from adoring fans? It’s for something they didn’t come up with on their own. They haven’t come up with a genuinely funny joke or a touching moment. Someone else did, and they just got their sticky fingers all over it.

    That’s why it pisses me off when people imply that Clare’s fanfic plagiarism shouldn’t keep being dragged up because it was a long time ago and it was for fanfiction. Yes it was, and that fanfiction was the basis of her ENTIRE CAREER as a writer. If it wasn’t for that trilogy and the massive fanbase she got through it, she never would have gotten a publishing deal. She built herself up as an author from a fanfiction she didn’t even write entirely herself.

    I just can’t respect that, yo.


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