The Huffington Post’s book editor, Andrew Losowsky, wrote a remarkable post on Quentin Rowan (Q.R. Markham), the disgraced writer who was accused of plagiarizing his debut novel The Assassin of Secrets. According to the Huffington Post, Rowan “spoke out – in an email to the man who revealed his plagiarism to his publisher, Jeremy Dunn. He initially asked if they could speak off the record, but Dunn asked for a fuller explanation, that he would publish on his blog.”
Unlike any normal person who works at something a long time and eventually gets good…I decided I had to be good then and there. Because I was already supposed to be the Best. I didn’t really plagiarize poetry; it was when I switched to fiction (God knows why) at the age of twenty that I began to distrust my own voice and began swiping other people’s words or phrases because I thought they sounded better or more clever than my own. Perhaps if there had been no pressure to keep publishing it might have been different, but in my mind my course was set.”
Rowan claims that the original draft of The Assassin of Secrets did not contain any plagiarized content, but when the editing process began, he buckled under the pressure his publisher, Little, Brown, required:
Things really got out of hand for me. I just didn’t feel capable of writing the kinds of scenes and situations that were asked of me in the time allotted and rather than saying I couldn’t do it, or wasn’t capable, I started stealing again. I didn’t want to be seen as anything other than a writing machine, I guess.”
But that pressure had Rowan on edge and dealing with the constant worry that his plagiarizing would be unveiled:
I rarely slept and mostly felt like an actor on a stage in my day to day life. Signing books made me feel deathly ashamed, around so many good people, but I’d already thrown the dice so long ago by that point I felt there was nothing I could do but play the out the awful pantomime… I can only compare it to other kinds of obsession or addictive behavior like gambling or smoking: in that there was no need to do it initially, but once I’d started I couldn’t stop and my mind kept finding ways to rationalize the behavior. Even though, somewhere deep in the chasms of my thick brain, I knew it would destroy me.”
Losowsky’s post is exhaustive and sheds light on what led Rowan from what was once a promising writing career and into a plagiarism scandal. Check out the full article here.