it may seem absurd that an author could post a letter to the highest US Court, especially since I am not an American Citizen, and I have no doubt it will never be read by any of you. But in Britain we not only provided the model for your own justice system, but, like the world, have followed the battles and arguments of your countrymen, and been profoundly affected by them too. We all know the ironies of justice that has to be paid for, especially 3000 miles away, and the truth is I could not afford to sue the publisher I was trying to work with in New York, who have, over a three-year period, stripped away my real good name, my livelihood and pretty much everything a human being holds dear. I am sure that if this did come to a real trial, Abrams could say many negative things against me. The first would be the ‘hundreds of emails’ I sent. The second would be my clear loss of balance, indeed my fury, in relation to a prominent employee, I loved, and then trusted as a friend, after a relationship over a two-year period. But that loss of balance was two years ago, and unless she, or Abrams, were willing to judge that matter in a court of law itself, I submit they had no right legally to let it affect a prominent writer, under contract for three novels. The implicit threat of that was one of the causes of the crisis in the first place.
Though there were many justifications for my loss of balance, especially the selfish and passive aggressive behaviour of an employee who, at every turn, seems to have set out to harm, no one was harmed but me, and I not only acted to allay their professional fears, but to make peace, or openly withdraw. I think a conspiracy then developed inside a firm, for the benefit of employees alone, which drove me towards breakdown, made it almost impossible to work, and was specifically because a department wanted it kept secret from their own CEO. Open working dialogue was throttled, promises made and broken, working time completely disrespected, calls made that lost me an agent, and principles of their own written contracts abandoned too. It specifically stated that in a second book contract, on a novel called the Pimpernels, there is a 16 month period since delivery, which would allow me to force them to publish, or walk away with the advance. I used that only to make it clear how wrong I think they became in handling me, especially in threatening negativity in the first place, over something they would not resolve, or let me resolve. Since I had been with a firm seven years, was in the middle of another book, my career was really taking off in America, and I had asked for a different energy on a short series of much lighter novels, they knew I never wanted to walk away. Not to mention having to deal with the reason for that departure and any potential ‘scandal’. In the end, they just tried to dump three books, and four years work, despite first promising the next book would be ‘a big one’ for me. Even the CEO was ‘appalled’ with the time involved, but the situation became so onerous and negative, out of that supposedly ‘unresolvable’ situation with a senior employee, although I tried several times for resolution, and which directly affected my entire future with Abrams, it was creatively and personally enormously harmful. I won several of these points, in battling with Abrams for a year, even as I was trying to finish a book called Scream of the White Bear, but in the long run the harm and the injustice were too great to stomach, especially involving another extraordinary personal situation, that I suggest no human law can judge as true or false, and, in disgust, I walked away. But I will assert the main points of my ‘case’ here, if nothing else for the benefit of writers who have been in a similar situation. I persist in my call for a publishing ombudsman here and in America. I think if I could afford to go to law, afford in every sense, and I would have to represent myself, I might win considerable damages, not to mention supporting the most fundamental principles involved, in both our legal systems. The salient points are as follows:
1) Abrams, or Amulet, believed it had a right to judge a personal situation, but even in an enquiry I later forced, refused the most basic principles of dialogue, any right to hear ‘accusations’, or any real standards of objectivity. Their employee had behaved extremely irrationally, especially in calling a prominent author ‘evil’, after her own abuses, and they also had a duty of care to my career as a major firm representative, who has the power to commission books inside a firm. It was an attack on principles of freedom of speech too, and done at the heart of a major New York publisher.
2) Abrams also attacked my professional reputation, when its CEO informed me ‘nobody will work with you’. Every experience of working with me, over ten years, before a personal relationship did such harm, showed how dedicated, passionate and in fact generous I have been. My own publisher had told me I was ‘loved at Abrams’. The only person who was half ‘working’ with me was my own editor, who already proved that she had lost her objectivity, because of an obsessive ownership of ‘her’ publishing list, and because of her intimate alliance with my ex at Abrams, and her own personal issues. Months before, that had been writ large when she warned me ‘we will protect our girl’, before it began to come into the open, and then their bullying and negativity began. They had no right to tell me ‘they were willing to bring happier memories into the future’, only if I ‘behaved’ or shut up, since we were under contract, and when my ex’s behaviour had been so harmful to my own happy memories, and working comfort, in a situation that had always mixed both personal and professional. Despite ‘owning’ the author’s work, not once did editors act to protect that work either, past work, or a 12 year career.
3) The proof that a situation they claimed ‘had nothing to do with my books’ had everything to do with them is huge, and they know it. First my own publisher bent over backwards to appear impartial, yet did everything for that employee alone, not this author, supporting her side of the story entirely, even though they knew me personally. Secondly, a firm started putting undiscussed ‘Satelite Tours’ in a catalogue, implying, because of what had happened, and which they would not resolve, I could never tour in the States with that firm again. So, while owning my time, work and in part reputation, they directly attacked the ability to promote myself properly, and so my entire future livelihood and good name. When I had placed myself in the wrong by taking all the blame, they effectively held my life and career to ransom, and since it involved love, and humiliating circumstances, in the most brutal and ruthless way. As well as an attack on freedom of speech, it was also an attack on the most basic right to earn.
3) Because my ex refused to allow any professional peace when I had to apologise, disgracefully I think, considering how she behaved personally and professionally, and so helping to destroy trust there, a firm left an effective and potentially ‘criminal’ stalking charge there, for seven months. That itself was dishonest, because it did not reflect why I had ‘threatened’ an employee with writing to their CEO, or how and why it all really happened. At first they tried to avoid it, or brush it under the carpet, despite trying to keep me ‘in the wrong’ later, but they could see directly how it was harming me emotionally, and commented on it too. Yet because of the internal politics of the situation, with their trying to keep that secret for themselves alone, they also let it affect all their working responses. When an ‘enquiry’ came, they also distorted what I was saying, pretending it had much to do by then with an employee alone, which it didn’t. For me it was literally crippling, like being imprisoned emotionally, without trial, in the very place I had to try to function, and also an attack on the principle of no destructive accusations, without any allowed defence. Basically the most essential principles any real court must abide by, and with the depth of feeling here, but the constant emotional exposure too, it constituted a kind of human evil, with that time and hurt involved.
4) Abrams now refuses any dialogue, even though they publish two of my novels. How can I defend and promote my own published work in that situation, so it is a further attack on my livelihood and fan base. It also continues the negative attack on me, in an industry dominated by rumour and back room deals, and I suggest it is a purely legal ploy. Many times I tried to get to a peace, and the right treatment of the work they bought, claimed to admire, and so abused, and the harm it has done to entire career, not to mention the stories my fans and I believe in, is just staggering.
In conclusion, I wonder what happens in America, the land of the ‘free’, when a case can develop, especially in the publishing industry, that attacks freedom of speech, the right to earn, and basic principles of self-defence. One that also involves potential conspiracy and repudiation of contracts, itself defendable in seeking damages, and which brought an author to the very edge, and nearly destroyed him. I have not investigated, but I think it may be the only publishing case in history where a publishing firm, amid its bullying and threats, attempted to engineer a forced ‘agreement’ to publish a novel with no contact with the author! In a land that makes much of constitutional Rights, it was absurd, repudiatory and ultimately Kafkaesque. Perhaps the key is America believes in rights for itself, but nobody else. One of the reasons for the initial intensity, anger and distress with an ex was her own political fears, her terror of exposure inside a firm, backed by some clearly explainable life fears, out of her character and personal history, but her simultaneous abuse of basic human loyalties and respects too. I could deliver an eloquent broadside too, about what an utter disgrace it was in disrespecting the most basic artistic process. I am still staggered that people I knew and cared about could do that to any human being, or any author, but that a prominent American publishing firm could try to back it up, is appalling. It destroyed the values and insights in my own novels. These are in part my personal human responses, which courts can’t really judge, but by principles in law too, Abrams I believe were and are fundamentally wrong. Milton turned to self publishing, when he saw the politics of his time was destroying freedom of speech, but in a situation where we are not talking political tracts, but ‘children’s stories’, although with a very wide scope, it is truly extraordinary. You were once a nation that believed in the little guy, the individual against the machine, but if this case is possible, Corporate America is becoming a scandal in the world. In Fire Bringer, The Sight and Fell, not only is there a call for love, but loyalty and justice too. I say this at the risk of being sued myself, but if Abrams have anything to say in their defence, they can write to me here, and I will publish it too.