Books Magazine

Chris Blake is a Fake - Lying Author Biographies

By Lexi Revellian @LexiRevellian

We all know that JK Rowling made up an elaborate identity for her alter ego, Robert Galbraith, including claims that he was married with two sons, and had worked in the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police. This caused a stir in America, where it is thought very bad form indeed to impersonate military personnel

I've just come across another instance of, well, lying about the identity of an author in such a way as to persuade a potential reader to buy the book. It's an interesting story.

Carl Ashmore wrote a children's series called The Time Hunters. He self-published and did well with it, but before this he put it on the writers' site Authonomy, where in 2010 it won a gold star and a critique by an anonymous Harper Collins editor. The editor said, 'I really enjoyed reading THE TIME HUNTERS. You start off the action with a bang, drawing the reader in right away. Your writing is strong, and in places has a classic feel.... It has terrific potential.' 

Maybe Carl's book impressed that editor a little too much. Three years later, Harper Collins has published a children's series called Time Hunters, which bears some similarities to Carl's original version. Coincidence? Harper Collins had put together the idea, titles and outlines for the book, and contracted a writer via Hothouse Fiction to write the books for a flat fee. (The author - female - told Carl she had not read his novels.) Three years is about the time you'd expect for trad publishing to commission and bring three books to market.

And Harper Collins made up this artful and completely false bio for its new 'author', which you can read on the book's Amazon page:

About the Author
Chris Blake lives in the South West, not far from Tintagel Castle, rumoured to be the home of King Arthur. Ever since he was a little boy Chris has always dreamed about traveling through time. He likes watching Doctor Who and looks forward to the day that time-travel is possible as he’d love to visit all the places in his books. In the meantime Chris will keep writing his own adventures. Chris has an old black cat called Merlin.

I realize I take author bios at face value. Mine is honest, and I assume others are too. Perhaps I am wrong, and some don't give a damn about veracity, just write whatever bio they think will sell most books. I don't think much of that.

Read Carl's post on the subject here.

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