A SCOTTISH writer has apologised for impersonating American literary giant Cormac McCarthy on Twitter.
Michael Crossan, an unpublished author from Renfrewshire, set up a fake Twitter account for the No Country for Old Men author.
He attracted more than 6,000 followers, including well-known author Margaret Atwood, before the account was taken down in January.
The real McCarthy is notoriously private and is said to shun many modern technologies.
Crossan, 42, said: “I had looked for McCarthy and he wasn’t there. I didn’t think he would be, but I thought it’d be amazing if he was online.
“I came across Margaret Atwood’s tweets. I had read and admired her novel The Handmaid’s Tale, and I tweeted her as Cormac. It just snowballed from there.
“It really took me by surprise. Every hour I’d sign in and there’d be another thousand followers.”
He continued: “I think people wished the account was real, and although the odd person was savvy and knew the real Cormac wouldn’t be on Twitter, there were 100 people who said, ‘Of course it’s him!
“I acted very naively and it amazed me how it took off.”
The Renfrewshire writer apologised, describing it as a ‘daft wee accident’ which ‘got out of hand.’
Atwood’s account returned the greeting to the fake McCarthy account., with a Tweet saying ‘Hello! I’ve long enjoyed your work! T-pals, please welcome Cormac McCarthy.’
Even Twitter executive chairman Jack Dorsey appeared to be taken in by the hoax.
He tweeted: “Join me in welcoming @CormacCMcCarthy to Twitter!”
But McCarthy’s publisher soon put paid to the fake account.
Vintage & Anchor tweeted: “Not to worry, he doesn’t own a computer; we’ve verified the @CormacCMcCarthyhandle is not the real deal.”
Atwood’s account later tweeted the account was ‘apparently not the real Cormac’ and was in fact a ‘leg puller.’
Crossan imitated McCarthy’s weighty prose, with tweets like: “Already finger waggers spit envy and spite and doubt. On a beautiful day this stranger was just saying hello.”
Tom Royal, deputy editor of Computer Active magazine and social media expert, said hoaxes like this put the social networking site’s credibility in doubt.
He said: “The whole verification system is in doubt, and to an extent we’re back to the old Wild West where you can’t be sure someone is who they say they are.
“But there is a question as to whether it’s a bad thing, people set up celebrity accounts for a bit of hero-worshiping and fun.”
Crossan added: “I think people have an impression of Cormac gnashing teeth and spewing spite.
“He probably wouldn’t spend a thought on it. I imagine he’d shake his head and say ‘Who cares?’ He is a giant storyteller.”