“Red Hat Club” author loses suit over portrayal

A Hall County, Georgia jury has awarded $100,000 in damages to a woman who said that a character in the best-selling novel “The Red Hat Club” was recognizably based in part on herself, and was falsely portrayed as an “alcoholic slut.’ The lawsuit also named New York-based St. Martin’s Press (which, I should mention, is the publisher of my own book The Rule of Lawyers). [Gainesville Times, OnPoint News, decision in PDF]

More: Fulton County Daily Report (per defense counsel, jurors “were essentially instructed that, in Georgia, modeling a fictional character after a real person is a strict liability offense.”)


  • Odd. There are a couple of books which make use of me — under a fake name — and I am certainly unhappy with the characterization. But I see no point in making it public.

    On the other hand, being an alcoholic slut will get you invited to a lot of parties, so maybe she should pay for the privilege.


  • I am a fiction writer. Is there a burden of proof in these cases that you know the person who resembles your character? I make up my characters but I pick names at random and describe them. Will someone be able to claim that I was describing them under this ruling? 100K seems to be more than the advance of most fiction books. It would make it impossible to start out as a writer if that was the case.

  • If that were the case.