Thursday, September 11, 2008

Authors Behaving Criminally

ABC news had this story yesterday morning. It concerns a young 21-year-old woman, Alex Firestone, who has basically had to be mom for her 5 siblings, one of them autistic, for the last SEVEN YEARS. She did this because her mother went on a short trip, and never returned. Her mother also conveniently cleaned out the family's bank account before she left. Alex never heard from her mother again.

She took a chance on an internet search, knowing that her mom was a struggling author. She typed in the title of one of her mom's old stories, and there popped up a site for romance author Sandee McCann. New name, same picture. Her mom, now going by Sandee, had apparently struck up a friendship with some man in England, and moved in with him. She started a fairly successful career as a romance novelist under the new name.

Sandee McCann claims that the man she left, Alex's stepfather and the father of her other five children, was abusive and controlling, and she had no choice but to leave. She says that she tried multiple times to contact her children, but her ex blocked all her attempts to communicate.

Alex disputes that theory, saying that she had quit school to take care of her siblings and was home all day. She was the one who picked up the daily mail, and never once got a letter or card from Sandee.

Now that you're up to speed, here's my question: Many of those who left comments on the ABC website wanted everyone to boycott Sandee McCann's books. In fairness, I don't know any of these people. I know that abused spouses go through terrible soul-destroying madness, but I have serious doubts about Ms. McCann's claims. If her ex was abusive, why leave the kids in his care? If she was so isolated and cut off from any money, how could she strike up a friendship with a man she felt comfortable enough to move in with, and grab enough money to go to Europe? After becoming so successful, why not hire a lawyer to insist on her rights? Her ex and her kids are in poverty. She'd have had a chance.

I've always felt that how an author behaves shouldn't necessarily affect his/her sales; but I'll be honest. I've never bought, or read, Sandee McCann's books; after this, I'm not likely to. Do you think any author's personal life should be a deciding factor for a buyer? Or are there levels? An author getting snotty on a blog is one thing- this? For me, at least, it's quite another.


Missie said...

This so falls into the category of "quite another"...I can usually seperate an artist from his or her work, and enjoy the work even if I think the artist is a freakshow. However, in this case? I would never ever buy or read anything of hers. Being a mom myself and knowing that I would cut out my own spleen with a dull spoon for my kids, I cannot imagine this woman leading the high life while her kids are suffering. I could go on and on, but I won't. Suffice it to say she is a stinkypoopoodoodyhead.

StarvingWriteNow said...

If their personal life is made public, then it can't help but affect a buyer's decision. Personally if I had abandoned my children to a supposedly abusive father, I wouldn't be able to even look at myself in the mirror.

I agree with Missie: she is a stinkypoopoodoodyhead.

Bernita said...

I'll admit, it's hard for me to separate the two.
If I ignore the author's actions and separate them from the work, I feel I'm encouraging/enabling the activity.

Robyn said...

I know, Missie. Any 'rescue plan' would have most definitely included my children.

Agreed, Beth. Stinkypoopoodoodyhead it is.

Exactly, Bernita. I don't want to give this woman any more money. Makes one long for the days when all you knew about an author was the back cover blurb, doesn't it?

writtenwyrdd said...

Having a deadbeat father, I wouldn't buy her books knowing her behavior. There is NO excuse.

Robyn said...

I'm sorry, Written. You're right- there is no excuse.

Kimber An said...

It does effect me. A mother who abandons her children leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

One thing it does prove is that an author doesn't need to know a thing about love to have a Romance novel published these days. My theory is because many of the novels are about sex - not love. Great sex is not enough to keep a person around to help change diapers. Only love can do that.

Nikki said...

I'm with y'all here. stinkypoopoodoodyhead.
It's hard to imagine a mother leaving her kids to an abusive father. I know it happens, but I call bullsh!t on her story.