James Christopher Frey (born September 12, 1969) is an American writer and the founder and CEO of Full Fathom Five, a transmedia production company responsible for the young adult series “The Lorien Legacies”, the first book of which I Am Number Four (2010) was made into a feature film by DreamWorks Studios.
His two first books A Million Little Pieces (2003) and My Friend Leonard (2005), were marketed as memoirs, but large parts of the stories were later found to be exaggerated or fabricated. His 2008 novel Bright Shiny Morning was also a bestseller.
There is a lot of Controversy about Frey online, about his “memoir” called A Million Little Pieces. On January 8, 2006, The Smoking Gun website published an article called “A Million Little Lies: Exposing James Frey’s Fiction Addiction”, alleging that Frey fabricated large parts of his memoirs, including details about his criminal record. One incident in the book that came under particular scrutiny was a 1986 train-automobile collision in St. Joseph Township, Michigan.
The website alleged that Frey had never been incarcerated and that he greatly exaggerated the circumstances of a key arrest detailed in the memoir: hitting a police officer with his car, while high on crack, which led to a violent melee with multiple officers and an 87-day jail sentence. In the police report that TSG uncovered, Frey was held at a police station for no more than five hours before posting a bond of a few hundred dollars for some minor offenses. The arresting officer, according to TSG, recalled Frey as having been polite and cooperative.
On November 2, 2007, the Associated Press published a story about a judgment in favour of readers who felt deceived by Frey’s claims of A Million Little Pieces being a memoir. Although the publisher, Random House, had set aside $2.35 million for lawsuits, only 1,729 readers came forward to receive a refund for the book. However since the incident Frey’s work still continues to sell well.
Did You Know?..
Another Controversy Surrounds Frey and the Full Fathom Five fiction series.
In 2009, Frey formed Full Fathom Five, a young adult novel publishing company that aimed to create highly commercial novels like Twilight. In November 2010, controversy arose when an MFA student who had been in talks to create content for the company released her extremely limiting contract online. The contract allows Frey license to remove an author from a project at any time, does not require him to give the author credit for their work, and only pays a standard advance of $250. A New York magazine article entitled “James Frey’s Fiction Factory” gave more details about the company, including information about the highly successful “Lorien Legacies” series, a collaboration between MFA student Jobie Hughes and Frey. The article details how Frey removed Hughes from the project, allegedly during a screaming match between the two authors. In the article, Frey is accused of abusing and using MFA students as cheap labour to churn out commercial young adult books.