Rod Marquardt realized a professional dream when his thriller novel Keller’s Den was published in 2002. When his publisher, Publish America, informed him that the famed horror novelist Stephen King had expressed interest in reviewing books by Publish America, including Keller’s Den, Marquardt was in disbelief. That disbelief evolved into shock and confusion when King’s 2008 best-selling novel Duma Key was released with an eerily similar plot.
“After reading Duma Key, I came to the conclusion there were too many atypical similarities to consider the content in both novels as being coincidental,” Marquardt said.
Marquardt sued King in 2010 on the grounds of copyright infringement stating that King used Marquardt’s story in Keller’s Den to spin his own tale. Marquardt amassed a list totaling 35 pages detailing each incident of similarity between the two books.
“Both novels use an ancient evil force that provides the main character the ability to paint extremely well, an older woman living next door to the main character played in integral part of the plot in both stories and each story had a family member of the main character die in the exact same way and both came back as a ghost” argued Marquardt.
Almost as soon as Marquardt had brought the claims against King, the Northern Georgia district court judge presiding over the case dismissed it on the grounds of a lack of “substantial similarity.” Marquardt argues that facts of his case may have been viewed as less important than the name of the accused, as the case was dismissed before it reached the discovery and summary judgment process.
“I understood my chance of winning this case was the same as David beating Goliath, but David won. While I don’t consider myself to be David, I did, and still do, feel my argument warranted it’s time in court and should have been allowed to be heard before being so hastily dismissed,” Marquardt said.
Marquardt questions if his case can be included as an example of preferred treatment for celebrities. He explains on his website that he had to submit several corrections due to incorrect statements made by the defense and questions why only one third of his 35 pages of similarities were listed in the original complaint. Marquardt also wonders whether his judge was selected because of her knowledge of copyright law or because of a random choice or preferment.
“With everything already lining up against me, I didn’t give myself the best chance to win either,” said Marquardt. “I picked a lawyer who missed two filing deadlines and I did not research the outcomes of similar cases that were heard at the same venue.”
Marquardt makes clear on his website that he never attempted to disrespect or discredit the best-selling author. He even goes as far to applaud King for his illustrious and longstanding career.
“It is hard for me to say anything negative about Stephen King without making an effort to shed a positive light on his behalf,” said Marquardt. “However, nobody is exempt from walking too close to the edge on occasion and sometimes temptation is too powerful to resist.”