Monday, August 21, 2006

August 21, 2006: When Characters Attack. Sort Of...

So, I was opening my e-mail the other day -- yes, folks, if you've sent me e-mails, I do get around to answering them -- and in the Inbox, I saw an e-mail from someone named Bryan Livingston. [cue Twilight Zone otherworldly music here]

Now, in case you didn't remember -- after all 2004 seems so long ago -- Bryan Livingston was the scumbag ex-husband of the heroine Lisa Martin in my book Back to Life. Hence the reason for the otherworldly music. After I crapped a brownie, and after which I thought that this was some hilarious joke that someone was having at my expense, I opened the e-mail, entitled "Ouch!"

To paraphrase, this gentleman, Bryan Livingston, had Googled himself in Google Books and a reference and sample text from Back to Life had appeared. He'd browsed through the text and said that I'd made him look bad. He asked me to assure him that this was all just a coincidence. I now see the reason for that 'graph that you find on the copyright page of every published book -- you know, the one that goes a little something like this?

"This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are a product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental."

Scenic route to the point, I assured Mr. Livingston that Back to Life is, indeed a work of fiction and that I hoped people weren't dumb enough to roll up on him, thinking that he was the character in the book.

But then again, didn't millions of people dial 867-5309 when Tommy Tutone released that hit song in 1981? And don't soap stars constantly complain that overzealous people, confusing the actual stars with the characters they play, assault them in the supermarket? Am I going to get e-mail from Marc Guerrieris, Devin Rhyms, or Chaney Braxtons out in the universe, saying they'd had to defend themselves because someone mistook them for a character in one of my books?

I hope not. Or authors are going to have to start naming their characters like the Borg. But I'd bet somewhere, someone named Seven of Nine is stalking Jeri Ryan at the Albertsons, getting ready to pimp slap her in the Frozen Food section, between the Lean Cuisine and the Ben and Jerry's.

So, I say to you(se) this. They're just books, people. For heaven's sake, leave ther real Bryan Livingston and Jeri Ryan alone!

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