Award-winning Nigerian-American fantasy author, Tomi Adeyemi, has apologized to veteran writer Nora Roberts after claiming the latter tried to profit from her work. While Ms. Adeyemi says she now knows “the titles were written in isolation” and that Roberts did not know about her book before choosing her title, there is still the small concern as to if the 25 years old writer understands plagiarism as she should. Or if she was talking of just the name of the Book.
On Tuesday, November 27, Adeyemi tweeted about her displeasure over what she called an attempt to profit from her Book “Children of Blood and Bones”. Roberts’ book, which Adeyemi found too similar to hers, is titled “Of Blood and Bones”.
“it would be nice if an artist could create something special without another artist trying to shamelessly profit off it” She wrote.
The backlash that came after this was perhaps unprecedented. For context on why many felt irritated by the public accusation, this is Adeyemi’s first book which she plans to come in 3 parts. On the other hand, Nora Roberts is a veteran in the same genre Adeyemi writes on. With over 225 novels, Roberts has a 30 years experience in writing Books and is 44 years older than Adeyemi.
Adeyemi’s tweet, being accompanied by pictures of both Books, gave the impression that she was complaining about the similarities in the titles. In this light, the facts were against her. Not only are titles not copyrightable, had it been that one can, Adeyemi’s Book title could also have been said to have been stolen as there were books titled with “Blood and Bones” before she wrote hers. Matter of fact, this is the second in the series of Nora Robert’s “Of Blood and Bones”. The first was published in 2017, written well before Adeyemi started writing her Book, as far as is documented.
More than a Title?
Notwithstanding, there appear to be striking similarities between the content of Adeyemi and Roberts’ books. For one, they are both about what happens after catastrophy visits a place, restoring old culture and power, and they both have female superheroes who will save their people. Both female superheroes have families that are spoken of, they are both daughters, they both have a war to win and they are both being trained and guided by someone else who is mentioned and they both need to develop themselves to carry out their mission.
A problematic apology
Adeyemi’s apology was written on the basis that Roberts “reached out and explained” to her and assured her she was hearing of her Book for the first time. The apology, which was written as a reply to her earlier tweet which is still up despite calls for its delete, reads further,
“…I believe our titles were created in isolation. I’m grateful she explained & I’ve apologized…” Again, suggesting the Author’s problem with her fellow Author’s book is the title. A situation which will question her understanding of plagiarism and knowledge of an icon in her genre.
The apology ended with “….but I wanted to address it here as I know others were upset too”. A statement which some read to mean that just as she was upset by Roberts’ work, others were upset too. But which could also mean just as Roberts was upset by her tweet, others were upset too. Many did not find this ambiguity funny, some considered it purpose.
After Adeyemi’s apology, Roberts wrote a reply where she decried the attitude of the young writer, claiming the accusation was made with emotions rather than facts. She says her book has been turned to her publisher a year before Adeyemi’s book was published, adding that titles do not count but what is inside the book does.
“I was accused of plagiarism–for a title–of stealing her ideas–though I had never heard of her book before this firestorm, have never read her book. And trust me, I never will now.” She said.