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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Same Title, Two Different Works

In July 2012, Samaire Provost published the first book in her zombie apocalypse trilogy, titled “Mad World: EPIDEMIC.” This was followed by “Mad World: SANCTUARY” in August 2012 and “Mad World: DESPERATION” in October 2013. Since then, thousands of readers have downloaded or purchased paperback copies of one or more volumes in this series, based on the original premise that the Black Plague from the Dark Ages has been reawakened in a Stanford laboratory and escaped, causing an epidemic that transformed huge segments of the population into zombies. A group of friends embark on a cross-country trip in an attempt to escape the zombies that turns into a fight to the death.

A different author published a separate zombie apocalypse trilogy involving zombies, a deadly virus and a cross-country trip, was published beginning in 2014. The author chose the title “Mad World” for the third installment in this series. This has, regrettably, helped create the potential for confusion based on the shared title and common themes of two works within a narrow subgenre, especially among new readers searching for one work or the other (by title) on Amazon or another online retailer.

A quick search of Amazon reveals a number of books or series in which the phrase “Mad World” is used as a key component of the title. Of these, many are non-fiction: among them, a history of New Wave music, a biography and an analysis of the “Mad Men” television series. The first volume of a fictional series employing the “Mad World” title was published during the same week as the first book in Samaire Provost’s series, but it had nothing to do with zombies, so no confusion between the two books was possible. A search of Amazon using the keywords “Mad World” and “zombies” reveals only four works: the three books in Samaire Provost’s series and the other author’s work employing the same title.

Because of the potential for confusion, it is important to state emphatically that these are two separate and distinct works. Each author employs her own language and writing style, and each draws distinct characters. The two works share no direct, verbatim material. Samaire Provost’s works are written in first-person past tense, while the other author employs first-person present tense. Importantly, Samaire Provost’s works were written for the “young adult” category and lack the sexual situations present in the works of the other author (as on Page 132 in the first book of that series, titled “Broken World”), who classifies that work as “new adult contemporary.” This makes it imperative to differentiate the two works, so that each finds its appropriate audience.

Please be sure that you confirm the author’s name and/or publication date if you intend to purchase either work. Samaire Provost had no knowledge of the later series and no involvement in its creation, and the other author has declared categorically that she had no knowledge of the earlier works. This is in no way a case of borrowing, sharing or stealing specific content.

Nothing in this statement should be construed as intending to dissuade readers from purchasing the second author’s works. The potential reader is encouraged to make his or her own determinations regarding their merit and to post online reviews for this or any author only after reading the material. Nor should anything herein be construed as drawing or encouraging any negative conclusions regarding the second author’s motivations in writing these works, her ability as a writer (her books, like those of Samaire Provost, have received largely positive reviews) or qualifications to produce a work of fiction. The purpose here is simply to distinguish the two authors’ separate works from one another and to ensure that, if readers wish to buy either author’s separate and distinct works, they are getting the books they intended to purchase.