Sue me and I’ll have you killed!

…slowly, he inched his way along the ledge, his heart in his mouth. It was too late to even contemplate turning back now. The sun was sinking rapidly in the pale sky in front of him, dropping towards the distant plains that were almost hidden in the desert haze. It would be completely dark within the hour. For the first time, he knew real fear. He could never survive a night on this thin, narrow ledge – God knows, there was barely enough room to stand and almost nothing to hold on to. It was inevitable that he would slip off at some point. Even now, there was a thin skin of ice on much of the surface, and the terrible cold would descend as soon as the sun disappeared.

Gritting his teeth, he edged towards what looked like a slightly better foothold, and cried out in sudden terror as his foot slid into space, the momentum taking him over the edge and falling…

Hell, I can’t do that! Stop! Phew, that was close.

As writers, we have to be so careful, because nowadays even our characters have rights, did you know that? And we can’t just be doing this and that to them, just as we please. Only the other day, a lawyer claiming to be acting for a character in a well-known children’s series attempted to take the author to court and sue her for, literally, defamation of character.

This character claimed that the author had totally misrepresented his actions, and applied motives to them that could only be described as evil.

And she said he had no nose, which was just spiteful.

He has claimed damages running into millions of dollars.

If this character is successful, then it is difficult to know where we will see this ending.

The fact that the author has created said character is no defence in law. Really, they are like our children. And whereas a few hundred years or more ago, parents had absolute authority over their children, and, short of killing them, could do whatever they so willed with them, nowadays they have more rights than their parents. And I’m afraid that it may come to that with our characters, too.

‘Why should I be killed off?’ They cry. ‘What right have you…?’ And so they will challenge it.

It has even been mooted in some quarters that these characters should perhaps be able to resort to the legal process appropriate for the time and world that they have been created for. Thus, a dragon in a tale set in ancient times, peeved because the author claimed it ate virgins and had bad breath (not sure if the two are connected…) might very well demand that it meet the author in Trial by Combat, a trial that the author would probably be rather ill-prepared to face.

Upset a Tudor monarch or a Viking chieftain, and I wouldn’t give much for your chances.

And any authors writing tales set in the future, who had unwisely failed to specify what sort of legal process was in existence at this time, might find the lawyers, or even their characters, being given the right to specify this. And that might get very nasty indeed.

But there may still be one remedy open to us. If our characters hold the threat of litigation over us, we might, just might, be able to retaliate by threatening to make their next incarnation even more horrible than the one that they are prosecuting us over. Threaten to sue me for creating you with a flatulence problem? Go ahead, and see what problems you have in my next novel! Don’t forget I’m writing a series! You had quite a decent time in the last one, it’ll be the torture chamber for you next!

It might work, but I’m still nervous about it.

001

So what am I going to do? I’m just going to write nice stories about pussy cats, from now on, that’s what.

Authors, you have been warned!

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43 thoughts on “Sue me and I’ll have you killed!

    1. An interesting thought. I don’t know whether any character has yet attempted to sue the author of another book because they don’t like the characters in their book. I think it will need a test case to determine that. I’ll have a word with the cats…

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Most enjoyable, Mick! Cats can be litigating little creatures, though. Soft and cuddly one minute, and claiming defamation of character and malfeasance the next. There was hell to pay for T.S. Eliot after he published Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Nonetheless, Mark Twain had the right of it: “If man could be crossed with a cat, it would improve man but deteriorate the cat.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clearly, Mark Twain was anticipating our litigation culture, and wisely ensuring that he kept on the right side of those fictitious cats. I’m under no illusions about them. I wrote a short story which used the characters of our two cats, but decided, on reflection, that I’d be wise to hide it from them. Unless the little blighters read my blog, I should be okay. Of course, one of the fictitious ones might yet sue me…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Are you quite sure that you’ve created your characters? Has it crossed your mind that they may have, for entirely selfish reasons, created you? And if you don’t do what’s expected of you, well… Suing may be the soft option.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hmmmm….here in the States, suing people is almost a national past time, so maybe the days truly are coming when our characters can sue us! An interesting thought. I can only hope no lawyer reads this post, or they might get ideas….. Very funny, Mick!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think that might be straying into slightly different territory, Colin, and one that is outside my expertise. Now, if you were actually a fictitious character, and your author had created this dog you mention, too, then you might be on to something.

      Like

  4. Pingback: I have some news! – Mick Canning

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