Warning: This is a rant. Rants are not logical. Rants are products of pissed off first impressions and strong emotions and often include inappropriate language. You have been warned.
You might have heard of James Frey.
He wrote a memoir called A Million Little Pieces that Oprah gushed and gushed about. Until she found out most of it was fabricated. Maybe we should have known from the get go. I mean, he even told Oprah, "I was a bad guy."
Was. Past tense. Bullshit.
He is a bad guy. And not in the swaggering, gangsta way he wishes the General Public had believed way back when. His latest exploit is as white-collar, corporate and money grubbing as they come.
If you wanted to be a bad guy, Jimmy, you got your wish. (Also, please take note - you're not a bad guy in the hot sense that so many of the teen girls "you" are "writing" for love to hate.)
Here's why James is A Giant Raging Asshat!:
J.F. has formed a company called Full Fathom Five. You can read more about it here, but in summary, it's main purpose is to rape and abuse young hungry writers - most of them from a targeted pool of MFA students - and then leave them in the gutter in a puddle of their own blood.
This man is a liar. He lies for his own financial gain. It makes me sick to my stomach that people even speak to him. He did Oprah dirty (as well as the General Public). You don't think you're next, Industry Big Shot? If it comes down to him or you, who do you think is going to take the dive and clean up the fallout?
Maureen Johnson, as well as many others, have addressed this eloquently and in a well-thought-out way.
But me, I'm going on pure emotion, mainly because Big Jimmy actually had the nerve to defend himself to The Guardian. In other words, he's still lying.
Issues I Have with His Defense:
But here's the thing that pisses me off the most.
Big Jimmy has just given nebwie writers something else to worry about.
And generally, newbie writers are already terrified.
Writers who don't know about the industry, who don't follow publishing news, blogs or twitter feeds, who are still stuck in the mire of, "Do I really need an agent?" (YES YOU DO), are going to see this article and not know who to trust. No agent worth their salt will deal with Full Fathom Five, because they are shysters of the worst order. But what about everyone else?
I worry about shady "publishing" companies who advertise in the sidebar of my gmail. "Do You Want to Be Published?" Why yes, I do, and I will let my legitimate publisher do it for me. The thing with the Frey deal is that the right terminology is being thrown around - if you don't know better, it could sound like a Good Idea. Add big names like "Will Smith" and "Dreamworks" and that's a whole big ball of SHINY, people.
Frey is taking advantage of other people's ignorance to line his own pockets. He's treating teen readers like a giant hive mind instead of individuals, allowing his factory to churn out fabricated ideas that have nothing to do with heart, just financial gain. Most writers I know live and breathe their characters and stories. Frey and his staff of workhorses are trying to find the best ways to create PRODUCT placement in theirs.
It makes me sick.
And right now, all I can do about it is make sure he doesn't get a dime from me.