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May 09, 2010


Dave Zeltserman

I'm curious, why are you assuming that's a frivolous lawsuit? from the article it doesn't sound that way.

David J. Montgomery

I haven't read the new Lee Child novel, but I did read the Esquire review. (And Granger's thoughts echo those of another critic I talked to about the book.) What do you think he's missing?


@DJM - 61 HOURS, at least for me, furthered some of the things I noticed about Reacher in the previous book, GONE TOMORROW (more here: http://www.sarahweinman.com/confessions/2009/05/the-brothers-grant.html)

I also suspect the still-untitled follow-up, which will be published on October 19, will flip some of the "head vs. viscera" motifs back towards the latter. Then there's the Chandler comparison, which is not a correct one, even though there are surface Knight Errant similarities, but the motivations in how Marlowe restores order and how Reacher restores order come from different places.

@DZ - defamation lawsuits with respect to fiction haven't held a lot of water. Here's a personal example: Sparkle Hayter used my name in her novel NAKED BRUNCH, though that "Sarah Weinman" was essentially a promiscuous bisexual slut, if I remember correctly (and if I'm not, am I essentially defaming myself?) Sparkle didn't ask for permission (or at least, I don't recall her doing so) and I certainly didn't have any heads-up that my avatar, so to speak, would be portrayed that way. But I thought it was funny. I certainly gave no thought to suing.

OTOH, there was a case that went to court - unfortunately I don't remember the specific author, and I know it was in one of the Carolinas - where the plaintiff who sued won and the author had to pay out a fairly significant judgment. And maybe if Cody can prove that Sokoloff knowingly used confidential details in creating that character based on him, he might have a case. Or he might be setting himself up for discovery that puts a whole different spin. Obviously I'm no lawyer, but I'd be surprised if the lawsuit went very far.

Scott Phillips

Hey, I made it into Confessions!

Regarding libel, I recall working on a movie a few years back where the director--a first timer--was very concerned that the main character's name be purely fictional. That is, he wanted to be absolutely certain that it was a name no human being had ever been called, because he was afraid he'd be sued. I don't remember how he satisfied himself that he'd found such a name( this was in the years before the internet became the obvious tool for such a search). Maybe he went through all the phone books in Italy (it was a mafia movie.) And once I got a very concerned e-mail, followed by a phone call, from a fellow who happened to have the same name as a character from one of my books and wanted to know how I'd heard of him. He finally accepted my truthful explanation that it was just a name I'd made up.

Dave Zeltserman

Sarah, I don't know Sokoloff, and I sure hope thiscase gets dismissed (I hope any case against writers gets dismissed!), but if this guy is on the level, it certainly doesn't sound frivolous. It's one thing using someone's name, especially more common names, but it's completely different if there are distinct characteristics, such as a specific disorder that is also used. There was a case, I think last year, where a writer was sued for a TV episode where the writer used the names, descriptions and profession of a couple that he was having problems with, and if I'm remembering right, the jury awarded a substantial judgment against him.

Doug Riddle

I would recommend that Mr. Granger read some John D. MacDonald.

Charles Ardai

The fact that you didn't sue Sparkle doesn't mean you wouldn't have had a case had you chosen to. That said, it sounds like you wouldn't have had a case had you chosen to, as all she used was your name, and there have been other Sarah Weinmans (Sarahs Weinman?) throughout history. If she'd used enough physical description and family history and other details from your life to clearly and undeniably pin down that you were the particular Sarah Weinman she was referring to, you might have had a case. (Provided that being described as a promiscuous bisexual slut is considered defamatory. Sounds like a recommendation to me.)

I believe the bar is (and should be) fairly high for a legal claim to prevail against an author of fiction -- but if knowledge of the claimant on the part of the author can be proven and if the depiction is sufficiently specific as to pick out a particular individual, it's not impossible that a court could find against an author.

kathy d.

Was waiting for you to comment on the NYTBR article about Irene Nemirovsky's biography. While I, of course, am sorry she met the terrible demise she did--by those she apologized for--her writing anti-Semitic, reactionary treatises was her choice. She didn't have to do that and it may have even helped the German propaganda machine in France.

Would like to see what you are saying.


I once asked Dennis Lehane if he knew why they'd changed the character name "Jimmie Marcus" in the novel Mystic River to the name "Jimmie Markum" in the movie. He claimed it was because there was a Jimmie Marcus in the the Boston phone book. The problem: there was only one.

Had there been a bunch, then no problem, but a single entry, apparently, left the door open for possible lawsuits, for reasons Charles mentions.

sparkle hayter

It was ten years ago so I am not surprised you don't remember but,you're right, I didn't ask permission per se. When I was rewriting Naked Brunch I had a bunch of unnamed characters, and I posted on RAM to see who wanted to be tuckerized. You were one of the people who responded in the affirmative.

As always, I gave the routine disclaimer, that your tuckerized character might be a major character or a minor one, and might be wholly unpleasant. Before the book came out I described her to you in email. I am sure I didn't describe her as a 'promiscuous bisexual slut.'

But 'Sarah Weinman' in NB is a character everyone in the book loved. Promiscuous? I don't recall great quantities of men mentioned in relation to her – she was more interested in quality than quantity and while she had experimented with women as I recall, I am not sure that makes her bisexual. She might well have been. I saw her as a wild and experimental girl, in love with everyone and completely comfortable in her own werewolf skin.

I haven't tuckerized anyone who didn't give permission, though I have named hotels, clubs businesses for various friends, but I think those fall into the 'inside joke' category.


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