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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Homeless blogs and book deals

May 18 2009
Wandering Scribe: ‚Äö?Ñ??Its vivid portrayal of the experiences of a young transient female captured the attention of The New York Times and the BBC online magazine‚Äö?Ñ?? Wandering Scribe: ‚Äö?Ñ??Its vivid portrayal of the experiences of a young transient female captured the attention of The New York Times and the BBC online magazine‚Äö?Ñ??
A supposedly homeless blogger and novelist sparks controversy Homeless blogger Wandering Scribe has sparked controversy. Plenty of wannabe novelists and journalists run internet blogs in the hope that someone will spot their talent, while thousands of others vent their feelings to a mass audience on online forums. The World Wide Web is further expanding its communicative umbrella to house unread talent and unheard voices. The vast majority of what is found online is fairly uninspiring, but when one woman's rambling prose captured the attention of the international media and landed her a publishing deal, a few people questioned her authenticity. Anya Peters, aka The Wandering Scribe, came to public attention last April (The Pavement, 12). Her frequent blogs posts wove a narrative of her slip into a mental breakdown after graduating from her law degree. The Wandering Scribe had been in a bad relationship, was out of favour with her parents in Ireland and was crippled by debt. She slept rough in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, before travelling to London to sleep in a car in a quiet city centre car park. She showered in the local hospital, lived off unemployment benefits and refused any local authority help. Her prose was stream of consciousness, emotive and unstructured. Some posts were breathlessly long; others a single shattering sentence. Their vivid portrayal of the experiences of a young transient female captured the attention of The New York Times and the BBC online magazine. But some people were sceptical. The Wandering Scribe made frequent references to a novel she was writing and her jealousy of another homeless blogger who had landed a book deal after publicising his plight. Was the blog simply a publicity tool? The Wandering Scribe was accused of promoting her own blog on other online creative writing websites. After the media coverage in the States and the UK, a debate began into whether Ms Peters was, in fact, a hoax. Since the deal was signed, the author has written a few entries about her struggle to create the book, her emotional battle with giving her words up to an agency and finally, about finding a home in London. But before this she had been very quiet, avoiding the limelight as the critics tore her tale apart. Inconsistencies in the story were highlighted: how did someone sleeping rough have access to internet cafes late on Sunday nights, when many entries were posted? How could she afford to live in a car in an expensive central London car park? How had she eluded hospital security so frequently? How did she claim benefit without frequent interviews by the authorities? How had a vulnerable, suffering woman tracked down and negotiated a book deal, and why was this book then written in scenes instead of chapters? Was a film deal already in the pipeline? Most frequently, why did she not answer her critics or give interviews? This last criticism became more fevered after she added a donation button to the blog; many people added abusive comments. Eventually, overwhelmed by threats, comments were blocked from the site. As before, Ms Peters refused an interview with The Pavement, explaining that as the book publicity was now in progress, she was under strict orders not to speak with the press. But she did say that the book, entitled Abandoned, might disappoint readers of The Pavement as her experience of homelessness might be atypical. Enigma and mystery have certainly worked for The Wandering Scribe before; but what constitutes a 'typical' experience of homelessness? There are seldom any two stories or situations the same, and certainly none that would not constitute an enrapturing novella should the time, resources and finances be afforded any of the individuals who live in Britain's temporary accommodation or on the streets. What many of The Wandering Scribe's many sceptics appear to have been ignored is one key question: what made Anya Peter's story so special? For the answer to this, and a dozen other explanations, we will have to wait. Abandoned is published by Harper Collins on 8th May. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, try the links below for some homeless blogs: A href="">