May 22, 2006 12:00 PM

>Megan McCafferty on plagiarism: the victim’s side

How did it feel to learn that Kaavya Viswanathan’s debut novel featured passages taken from her own work? McCafferty speaks:

HOW DID YOU FIND OUT? A fan e-mailed me and cited almost identical passages from my novel Sloppy Firsts and Viswanathan’s (How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life). It was unsettling, but I thought it could have been an honest mistake.

WHAT DID YOU DO? I read her book that night and found more than 40 instances. It was the most surreal experience of my life. I recognized my words; every time I found a new passage it hit me viscerally. I felt shocked and sad.

VISWANATHAN HAS SAID THE COPYING WAS UNINTENTIONAL–DO YOU BUY THAT? It’s not my job to speculate. I think it’s a young writer under enormous pressure. She had a huge advance and a tight deadline.

HAS SHE APOLOGIZED? She said on the Today show that she tried to contact me. To my knowledge that’s not the case, but I’m not looking for an apology. I wanted her books pulled, and they were. I’m at peace. And I hope she’s not defined by this. Who would want to be defined by the mistakes we make at 19?

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