The Newbie Writers’ Podcast
Guest: Alan Leddon
New owner of Damnation Press. Now Caliburn press. The wild crazy life of an indie publisher. Author in his own right!
We also pick Alan’s brain on why he was happy to publish our book Don’t Write Like We Talk.
Alan had advice about the difference between slander and Libel, and what WE asked was why we needed to discuss the difference at all?
You’ll notice, first off, that the civil law definitions all require the statement to be false. So, if I receive a statement from Paypal that shows that the company credit card was used to pay a sum of $141 to “Uncle Bob’s” at an address in Tulsa, OK, it would not be slander or libel to say “the only company officer with a company credit card in Tulsa, OK spent $141 on that card at a place called Uncle Bob’s.” I could say this to individuals, police, news agencies, the Dalai Lama, and more, and I would not be defaming this person. If I say that $143 was spent in that manner, it is no longer strictly true, and a lawyer (barrister) could argue that.
Secondly, it requires that the person’s reputation be harmed. This is difficult to prove, and courts often look to see if something of value – a job, a committee membership, custody of a child, etc., is lost as a result of damage to a reputation. This was the argument when Hustler magazine defamed some evangelical talking head…Larry Flynt’s lawyer argued that no reasonable person could believe the allegations, and so no harm was done.
And, third, a court is unlikely to rule in favor of a person who makes it about themselves. If you write a book with a villain named Helen Wolf, and then Ellen Fox goes whining and crying that you based the villain on her, the court is likely going to say, “No one would have thought it was about you if you’d kept your cake-hole shut. You can’t harm your own reputation and then blame it on the author.”
Also, if I am the defendant in that case, I am going to ask the court to order a psychiatric evaluation to rule out Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Ideas of Reference.
Authors have been writing their ex-spouses, neighbors, and local officials into books as minor characters and major antagonists for a very long time. It only takes a little bit of care to avoid losing a lawsuit – change the name, and keep their every action either strictly true or completely fictional.
And, finally, if you want to lampoon me a bit in your books…I’d consider it quite an honor.
Thus endeth the sermon.
Most people think they can do anything. The old “if I ran the world” thinking. Well okay, what if you did run the world (and we are talking dictator for life kind of power). What would you change, What would you implement immediately?
The World According to Student Bloopers
St. Paul’s School
The government of England was a limited mockery.
Word of the Week:
From the http://www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com/
THE DICTIONARY OF OBSCURE SORROWS, a new web series written and directed by John Koenig. Each episode defines a newly invented word for a strangely powerful emotion. New episodes will be posted every other Sunday, on YouTube and TestTube.com.
n. a kind of melancholic trance in which you become completely absorbed in vivid sensory details—raindrops skittering down a window, tall trees leaning in the wind, clouds of cream swirling in your coffee—briefly soaking in the experience of being alive, an act that is done purely for its own sake.