Cynthia McLeod’s extortion

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Suriname: Message Center for Suriname RPCVs: Cynthia McLeod’s extortion

By Carolyn Proctor ( - on Monday, March 14, 2005 - 12:37 am: Edit Post


Extortion: “The act of getting money by threats.”

Suriname author Cynthia McLeod has embarked on an outspoken public outrage against me, and threatened legal action if I don’t send money to a senior fund in Suriname, withdraw my novel from circulation, and apologize for writing it.

My novel, ELISABETH SAMSON, FORBIDDEN BRIDE, is a historical work of fiction containing a Bibliography which cites the materials I referred to in my research of the lives and time of Elisabeth Samson and Carl Otto Creutz. The historical documents in Cynthia McLeod’s 1994 study contributed to my research, as did the studies of cultural anthropologists Richard and Sally Price, and others fully credited in the bibliography in the back of my novel.

All of Ms. Mc Leod’s works are in Dutch, which I neither speak nor read. I paid to have her 1994 study and the documents it contains translated into English. I was not even aware of the 2000 novel by Ms. Mc Leod which she cites in her accusations…let alone copied it.

Most Americans do not even know the existence of the country of Suriname. If they have heard of it, they think it is in Africa. I had hoped that by writing this novel and exhibiting my collection of contemporary Maroon artwork I might raise American awareness to the rich history, tropical beauty, and diverse cultural heritage of Suriname. Instead, I’m being attacked for “stealing the culture.”

Imagine the loss to the world if only one writer were ever allowed to write about a historical person such as Mahatma Gandhi, Queen Elisabeth I, Thomas Jefferson, Eleanor of Aquitaine, or Marie Curie. Fortunately, in America we are not governed by such educational limitations. Ms. McLeod’s claims against me are ludicrous, but great publicity for her novels.

Ms. McLeod’s request for six million U.S. dollars has certainly caught the attention of the Suriname and Dutch media. Where does she think this money will come from? Joshua Tree is a small independent publisher and I’m a first-time novelist. The reality of the publishing business in America is that even major publishers don’t put any money into marketing unknown authors. Bookstores don’t automatically order every book that is offered, especially from unknown authors. What little publicity has been done, I’ve had to do and pay for on my own. I understand Ms. McLeod will be releasing her first book in English here later this spring, and she’ll learn this then.

Unfortunately, if she were to pursue this issue legally in the United States, it would cost both of us thousands of dollars, and the ONLY people who would make money would be the lawyers.

Meantime, both my publisher and my attorney have made a request to Ms. McLeod to have copies of her 2000 novel DHL’d to America with the passages in question annotated and translated into English so that a comparison can be made to either substantiate or disprove her outrageous and emotional claims.

I’m saddened by Cynthia McLeod’s public attack to my character, integrity, and creativity. I would never have thought she would go to such lengths to promote her own work.

Carolyn Proctor, SUR 5

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