Star blames her PC for plagiarising Danielle Steele

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The Independent Online

Everyone in Spain seems to be talking about the TV gossip-show hostess who ripped off chunks of a Danielle Steele novel for her own blockbuster.

Everyone in Spain seems to be talking about the TV gossip-show hostess who ripped off chunks of a Danielle Steele novel for her own blockbuster.

Ana Rosa Quintana, a glamorous, fast-talking media star, realised a lifelong ambition when in March she published her first novel, a marital strife saga. Sabor a hiel (Taste of Bitterness), launched with huge fanfare and endorsed by Ana Botella, wife of Spain's prime minister, swiftly sold 100,000 copies. But Quintana's glossy smile became strained when it emerged that tracts of her prose had been lifted from Steele's novel, Family Album, published in Spanish in 1997.

At first, Quintana dismissed the discovery as "a terrible computer error". Some 24 pages of Steele were pasted in to Quintana's 240-page oeuvre because of "my inexperience, computer error and a lapse by researchers". She added: "I feel relaxed because I did not act in bad faith ... an error cannot be interpreted as plagiarism."

Spaniards found this excuse hilarious and puffed the matter into a cause célÿbre. A nation, half of whom never read a book, started poring over magazine articles matching similarities in the novels.Then it was found that Steele was not the only author copied. Angeles Mastretta, the Mexican writer, was aghast to learn that her bestseller, Mujeres de ojos grandes, had also been plundered. The whistle was blown by a reader writing in to Quintana's TV show. The identical passage here simply swapped the sex of the characters - making nonsense of the computer error theory.

Last week, Quintana's publishers, Planeta, bowed to writs from Steele's publishers, Plaza & Janes, and withdrew Sabor a hiel from sale. The press is in full cry, but the gossip queen still fronts her glacially chummy chat show - in fact, Sabor a ti's audience is skyrocketing.

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