Careful What You Write...

Monday, September 01, 2008, 8:55 PM

In one of those moments of vanity Googling (come on, we all do it), I was quite amazed to discover I had been quoted in an article in the Sunday Life, one of Northern Ireland's biggest Sunday newspapers, and part of the same stable as the Belfast Telegraph. Hmm, thinks I, I don't remember talking to anyone from the Sunday Life...

The article in question concerned a recent storm-in-a-teacup involving bestselling local author Colin Bateman. Briefly, a series of children's books by Colin features a young girl with Albinism. Given that Colin has a bit of honesty about him, he doesn't particularly sugar coat the character's experience, and she suffers some abuse because of her appearance. Fair enough, you'd rightly think, a kid with Albinism isn't going to go through life without getting some stick off other kids.

Apparently, some schoolkids didn't agree. Under the supervision of their teacher, they composed a letter of complaint to the author. Somewhere along the way, BBC Northern Ireland picked up on this and ran a story about it on their nightly news bulletin. So far, so trivial.

Anyway, Colin Bateman was rightly peeved and posted a strongly worded, but humorous, rebuttal on his blog. In a spot of media recycling, the Sunday Life ran a story about the whole sorry affair, quoting Colin verbatim.

And down near the bottom is this snippet:

'Fellow Northern Irish author Stuart Neville, who has released his debut novel The Ghosts of Belfast, sprang to Bateman's defence. "The BBC must miss having bombs and kneecappings to report," he said.'


And then I remembered - I'd left a comment on Colin's blog, which I immediately forgot about. And here I am, a couple of months later, discovering my own throw-away quip has been immortalised by the Sunday Life.

Now, there are a couple of inaccuracies and a possible false impression in this. First, "sprang to Bateman's defence" is a bit strong. I don't think I even got out of my chair when I typed it. Second, my debut novel won't see daylight until late next summer at the earliest (but, hey, thanks for plug, Sunday Life!). Also, this kind of gives the impression that there is some connection between Colin Bateman and me. Aside from a very nice congratulatory email he sent me a while back, Colin Bateman doesn't know me at all, and vice versa. I just happened to chip in on a rather daft topic on his blog one day.

Now, don't get me wrong; part of me is actually quite pleased to get a mention in one of our more popular newspapers, and I don't mind being shown to be on Colin's side in the matter (I am), and I don't even mind that the story is mostly a cut-and-paste job that's hardly a shining example of exhaustively researched journalism. But it does bother me a great deal that a simple glib comment I made with little thought behind it found its way into a national newspaper with my name on it. There's a lesson in that, folks...

Read the offending article here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm trying my damnedest to think of a suitable quip that Sunday Life will immortalize when they follow up.... I can do is something about Fruit Loops. Not sure what, but something.

11:21 PM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

oh you were spranging and you know it!!

12:26 AM  
Blogger moonrat said...

hmmmmm. i'm with aerin. i suppose this means that every quote we leave here on your blog can be considered a blurb? ;)

thanks for the story, though, seriously. the internet is something i realize everyday i don't understand.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what a thing to realize!!! I need to be more careful. ;O)

Thanks for the words of wisdom to a vague question last week.

1:29 AM  
Anonymous drnic said...

I read that piece when it came out, and just assumed that you were aware of it (though I did wonder at the article saying the novel had already been published). Typical Norn Iron journalism then (still a step up from the Gazette, mind you...)

11:17 AM  
Blogger Gerard Brennan said...

"I don't think I even got out of my chair when I typed it."


Ah well, a plug's a plug. Take 'em where you get 'em.


3:24 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Mary said...


It seems blogland is a lot like real life. You never know who might sneak up behind you.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yeah, but unlike in real life, when you get kicked in the butt in blogland, you stay kicked, thanks to comments that last forever.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

2:53 AM  

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