This is what happened with Assassin of Secrets, or Spy Safari. It started out as something fun and just for me. A much sillier, more parodic kind of thing. ( I should state that it was initially inspired by my long-time love and study of the genre, not any kind of contempt for it.) Then I decided maybe I could do something with it. But the minute I got an agent and started showing it to people who suggested changes, I began to distrust the quality of whatever real work I’d done on it. So I started ripping off passages from spy novels in my collection that fit. Somehow public scrutiny has always been the pressure point for me. Once I feel I’m doing the work for someone else’s eyes, I begin stealing, because I want to impress.
Once the book was bought, I had to make major changes in quite a hurry, basically re-write the whole thing from scratch, and that’s when 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. Some call it “people pleasing.” Anyway, the more I did it, the deeper into denial I went, until it felt as if I had two brains at war with each other. Half of my time this past year was spent in a strange internal argument: Yes I can, no I can’t. They’ll figure it out! No they won’t! It became like a strange schizophrenic form of gambling, and for some reason – viewing myself as a failed ‘literary’ writer – I saw this book as my “last shot.” So even though what was left of my rational mind understood I would probably be found out, I still thought I had to bet it all on this one horse.
Quentin Rowan, explaining to Jeremy Duns his reasons for plagiarizing. The really amazing thing here: Rowan just owns up to it. He says, Yep, I stole other people’s work. I mean, nobody does that these days. Everybody strives for plausible deniability, from Jerry Sandusky on down, and when they can’t achieve that they take implausible deniability. It’s great to see someone admit, “I’m busted.”