New York: Kaavya Viswanathan got a two-book deal worth half a million dollars from American publisher Little, Brown when she was just 17.
The Indian-born Harvard student's first book, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life, made headlines and quickly climbed up bestseller lists after its release in March.
Now, it's making headlines again but this time on charges of plagiarism.
On Sunday the campus newspaper of an Ivy League school, The Harvard Crimson, cited seven passages from Harvard sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan's book that closely resemble the style and language of the novels of Megan McCafferty - the 2001 book Sloppy Firsts and the 2003 novel Second Helpings.
The first-time author has acknowledged that she 'borrowed language' from Megan McCafferty books, but called the copying "unintentional and unconscious."
"When I was in high school, I read and loved the two wonderful novels by Megan McCafferty, which spoke to me in a way few other books did. Recently, I was very surprised and upset to learn that there are similarities between some passages in my novel and passages in these books," said Kaavya.
She also apologized to McCafferty and "to any who feel they have been misled by these unintentional errors on my part."
"While the central stories of my book and hers are completely different, I wasn't aware of how much I may have internalized Ms. McCafferty's words. I am a huge fan of her work and can honestly say that any phrasing similarities between her works and mine were completely unintentional and unconscious," she added.
Little, Brown publisher, Michael Pietsch said that he did not think Viswanathan's borrowings were caused by the pressures of being both a student and an author.
Pietsch also declined to blame Viswanathan's collaboration with 17th Street Productions Inc., a book packager that specializes in teen narratives and helped her develop the story.
"Every word in that book was written by her, for better or for worse," he said, adding that work on a new edition would begin soon.
"The current edition will not be withdrawn from stores," he added.
Several similar passages were quoted including this one from McCafferty's book:
"Sabrina was the brainy Angel. Yet another example of how every girl had to be one or the other: Pretty or smart."
In Viswanathan's book, the similar passage reads:
"Moneypenny was the brainy female character. Yet another example of how every girl had to be one or the other: smart or pretty."
McCafferty, whose third novel, Charmed Thirds, was just published, wrote an email to CNN-IBN, in which she said:
"This matter was first brought to our attention from my fans two weeks ago. After reading the book in question, and finding passages, characters, and plot points in common, I hope this can be resolved in a timely manner that is fair to all of the parties involved."
A spokesman for McCafferty's publisher, Random House, said they were in touch with the legal department for Viswanathan's publisher, Little, Brown.
Little, Brown's publisher was quoted as saying: "I can't believe that these are anything but unintentional. She is a wonderful young woman."
Viswanathan's book is already at number 32 on the New York Times best-sellers list.
Kaavya Viswanathan became a sensation as a published author at 19. Now, her book is creating a sensation for the wrong reasons. Allegations of plagiarism are something a first-time author could do without.
(With inputs from Associated Press)