According to the NY Times, Margaret Seltzer (pseudonym Margaret B. Jones) convinced Riverhead Books that she was a half-White/half-Native American foster child who grew up in South-Central Los Angeles and ran drugs for the Bloods.
Margaret seemed to know that her life experience of being 100% White, growing up in Sherman Oaks with her biological family (she isn’t even adopted!) and attending private school wasn’t her ticket to published author.
(An aside: There is the possibility of a half-White/half-Native American foster girl in Sherman Oaks running drugs but the certainty is that it wasn’t her.)
Now, she fooled a lot of people including the NY Times Pulitzer Prize winning critic Michiko Kakutani with her made up tale. The part that gets me is that people fell for stuff like this:
In the book, she describes her foster mother, Big Mom, an African-American woman who raised four grandchildren and a foster brother, Terrell, who was gunned down by Crips right outside her foster mother’s home.
This would have been a flag to me because Tallulah grew up in the South (don’t worry where) with her maternal grandmother and great grandmother. I called my grandmother Grandma and my great grandmother Big MOMMA. The distinction was made that although my grandmother was the boss, Big Momma was the one you truly had to fear and respect or it was your ass. Big Mom sounds like something Ms. Seltzer thought sounded right and knew would fool her target audience: publishers who want grit more than they want the truth.
She probably got from watching too much of The Wire.
Also, Ms. Seltzer clearly wasn’t the orphan hustler she was pretending to be. Didn’t she consider that someone in her family would rat her out once she started doing interviews about this alternative life? (Which is what happened.)
What is so enticing about fame and accolades that someone would risk the world knowing they had zero integrity?