Authorial Confusion

A New York jury found writer Laura Albert guilty of defrauding Antidote International Films after she sold them the rights to a book the film company believed was the autobiography of a male prostitute.

Albert wrote the book Sarah, a fictional autobiography of a teenaged male prostitute. The book was marketed as an autobiography, which is why Antidote optioned the book.

The AP reported today that Albert “went to strange lengths to hide her identity” from the film company. For example, she would have male friends go to book signings as the prostitute JT LeRoy and tell fictional tales to journalists.

She was ordered to pay more than $100,000 in damages for the work Antidote had already put into the film.

Here’s where the story gets weird(er): Albert has a history of assuming male personas, which she testified was compensating for sexual abuse she suffered as a child.

At one point, Albert made the argument that writers should be able to work under pseudonyms if they choose–a great idea and one I fully support. However, signing contracts under the false name without your business partners knowing…not smart.

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