The lighter side of libel

by scotslawstudent

I wouldn’t dream of playing down how bad getting sued is for a writer because it’s never happened to me and unless it does you simply can’t relate to having your life interrupted like that.

However the lead up to being sued can be a wholly different matter.

The Art and Craft of Fiction

The business of money, to the writer
is like catching bubbles, to a child.

The publishers formed a guard of honour
at the bar, for the malcontent.
Guinness and wine. Good cop, bad cop.

‘We’ve received a letter, a legal letter,
from lawyers representing a powerful
and influential client. An unhappy woman.’

The author gripped his glass of Guinness
with both hands. ‘Aw, aye?’

‘Their client states that you’ve insulted her,
libelled her, accused her of filth and depravity,
not even bothered to change names and details.
They’re going to sue us for every penny they can.’

The writer picked up the letter,
scrutinised it, passed it back to the publishers,
drew deep from the well.

‘Why didn’t you tell us it was about your ex-wife?’
‘We didn’t even know you had an ex-wife.’
‘It was supposed to be fiction, for fucksake.’
‘There’s rules about what you can and can’t do.’

There was a silence that spoke in many tongues.
Some serious, some not.
‘You must have something to say about it?’

And he did. Just the one word. ‘Bullseye.’
And that was that. Ripples on the pond.

Kevin Williamson

H/T: Extracted from the current edition of Gutter, p113.