The simplest proof of corruption at Abrams is the fact that publisher Harold Rove is no longer Vice President, but David Clement-Davies’s career was held to ransom, he was ‘mobbed’, his work destroyed but no apology or compensation ever given, for what Harold Rove’s removal surely proves was so wrong and unnecessary. Unless CEO Mike Jacobson simply manipulated everything for his own ends and Harold should not have been removed. Harold was liked by all his authors, was exceptional in his liaison skills, unlike often arrogant and aggressive Sarah Van More, new Vice President, but he, like David, was made a scapegoat for Mike Jacobson’s dislike of him and Sarah Van More’s conflicts and vaulting ambition. Welcome to the world of Amulet children’s’ books, that produce huge bestsellers at Abrams like Hello Kitty and The Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
The long-term actions of CEO Mike Jacobson though were extraordinary. Over a situation that could have been resolved but was used to bully an author and he would not go on, could not, a half-hearted ‘enquiry’ was held, until Mike Jacobson tried to bully, his natural instinct, and a glaring stitch up and lock down was attempted, that within a week reversed words of promised support, right in the middle of a hopeless galley edit. That glaring lack of objectivity, even corruption, was resisted, repudiation of contract effectively admitted and work began again, in a situation where Sarah Van More should never have just removed support from a contracted author, on three books, because of her ‘power over her list’, bullied both personally and professionally herself, left a word like ‘evil’ at the centre of a creative firm, or masked a long-standing alliance with Tara Break, personal and professional, loudly sounded in the threat “we will protect our girl” months before. If she took revenge for Harold Rove’ slight amusement at the pressure she was under, David tried to move away, her sins became far greater, and perhaps a savage company culture in New York is to blame, fully justifying David’s fears, and experience of other publishing cyncisms, that makes the ideals fought for in fantasy literature, in any real writing, that authors not editors have to undertake, completely meaningless, despite the pretty covers. It had all started with the betrayals and personal and professional arrogance of Tara Break though, for any ensuing loss of control or despair on David’s part. A personal unilateralism, over-projected fear and blindness, that became an entire firm’s and in fact had to, once Susan Van Metre absolutely synthesised issues into “US” against “YOU”, that should have been kept separate, somehow, and Tara Break so arrogantly and destructively kept them there too, after an apology, in a situation that could be considered illegal and certainly psychologically damaging.
But CEO Mike Jacobson’s actions over a personal and professional nightmare, where David asked for the wisdom of Solomon and got Saddam Hussein, became dreadful, and in the end are also proved by a highly regarded and committed author having to force dialogue and any say in the work already at Abrams, via the US Authors Guild. It was appalling. As Abrams used an Oxford lawyer to intimidate, pretend it was just about Tara Break, which so long back it was not, and try and silence an author and publisher on far bigger issues, instructing an entire department not to read a blog. But David had left because of the breach of a hardly acceptable agreement and the unilateral arrogance of new Vice President Sarah Break, in refusing to respect purely the work she had held there so long, or to heal the impossible atmosphere they kept there, to mask their admitted legal mistakes, and in ransoming his life and work, as she said she could see at the time. So perhaps a CEO and VP should stand side by side in taking responsibility for how Abrams disrespected work, fundamental principles of contract law, basic justice, equity, truth, the essential humanity literature should be about, especially children’s’ literature, and destroyed the excellent spirit that was once there at Amulet under Harold Rove. Tara Break’s irresponsibility underwrote the lot, but they ignore that issue, since it undermines their defence of David’s ‘bad’, they would never just put away in some act of mutual forgiveness and working peace. But the only buck that ever stops at Abrams is with over kind publishers, or vulnerable authors trying to work into walls of threat and nonsense, proving the power of editors over writers and money over justice. Why did Sarah Van More leave Dutton and why did both she and Tara Break not stand up to defend the man who hired them both, and who cared deeply about Tara Break, let alone Susan Van Metre defend the proper, indeed essential working conditions and spirit with an author whose work she said so good? Tara Break’s own ever cowardly silence, selfishness and in-action throughout, indeed long before, made an entire firm dance around her. Perhaps they tried, we hope they did, but ambition, back stabbing, cynicism and the failure to respect the truth and value of the writing itself are written right across that story. David was the one who wrote to say he would not work there if anyone was harmed, and look what happened. Roll on the next pulp instalment of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but throw literature and ten years work in a dustbin!
Phoenix Ark Press