“Writing is a struggle against silence” Carlos Fuentes
From rising interest in the Phoenix vs Abrams story, we believe a New York publisher are perfectly aware of renewed blogs at Phoenix Ark Press. A deal of time has elapsed, but on the so-called ‘principles’ of breach of privacy alone, Abrams should take us into court, or accept the charges, not that they will do anything about it. It was threatened by Oxford Law firm Manches, that a US company could close us down and slap a £30,000 legal bill on our heads, quite regardless of any other issue, or the truth. As the approach taken, supposedly softly softly, but again dishonest, might be worthy of reporting to the Law Society. Apparently people come to London to exploit privacy laws, or European Human Rights Acts, all the time, though in the mysterious ether, WordPress is hosted in the US. We can always copy the lot to another cyber site, though we don’t particularly want to be Julian Assange, and besides, there is no more room at the Ecuadorian Embassy. What fun it is being a creative author these days though, and falling in love, or building ‘friendships’ in New York! Don’t do it, go and see Toby Young’s How to Loose friends and alienate people instead.
Well, if they can close us, and it is impossible to tell a whole story without ‘breaching privacy’, they won’t get any money, because there is none, greatly thanks to them. Perhaps they could try to send an author to prison, for trying to do his work in safety, emotional as well as personal, or indeed to protect his livelihood, write valuable fantasy, or for trying to tell the ‘truth’, difficult as that has been. He has certainly never engaged in the kind of easy, horrid and brutal labels each one of them did at Abrams, beginning with a senior editor calling her ex and then a betrayed friend ‘mad’, ‘deluded’ and finally ‘evil’, in circumstances that came close to breakdown, and it just being left there for months on end, unanswerable, as he tried to work, while other book arguments were so distorted too. They saw very well what was happening but rather than helping, as promised, threatened under contract, to keep a secret from a CEO and made an emotional situation ten times worse. In the face of an open and generous apology too, considering what an ex had done over a year, into a wall of sinister silence, a powerful editor then brutally left an impossible professional position in place, we believe was discussed inside a department as strategy. Tara Break and Abrams do not know the meaning of love, friendship or peace, let alone a love of literature, or real human decency. They are a big American publisher, so perhaps in the land of the free or the brave, they know the meaning of the Constitution, free speech, or the right to protect your own livelihood, and work in safety, especially under two contracts. Perhaps they know the meaning of ‘mobbing’, the right of anyone ‘accused’ to a proper, but objective defence and hearing, they denied too in trying to stitch up an ‘enquiry’, or the harm of supposedly grown up editors being allowed to throw around words like evil, after their callous behaviour, even dark history, might be considered the source of real ‘evil’. Certainly what they then allowed to ensue was monumentally cruel.
But after a year trying to get it right and surreal circumstances, when they breached another agreement, refusing to heal anything, CEO Mike Jacobson thinks he can defame an author behind the scenes to The US Authors Guild, speaking scornfully of “our relationship with Mr Clement-Davies“, when out of a destruction of many relationships, initiated by a completely hypocritical senior editor, Tara Break, as she ‘grew up’ into mounting ruthlessness, an excellent publishing relationship, indeed a joy, was just suspended, under two contracts for three novels. His own editor could see they were ‘holding his life and work to ransom’ but then, with a career just starting to take off in the States, a massive body of work was destroyed. Removing any vital dialogue on books already there too, until he took back his eBook rights with the help of the Author’s Guild. As his own editor was allowed to threaten politically, months before a crisis, breach privacies to another publisher at Penguin US, and an ex so close to her betrayed vital trusts. As a department reversed promises, conspired, made virtually criminal threats, in the circumstances, insulted personally and professionally, and glossed it all with lies or half-truths, around the blatant internal political manoeuvring there. You should try fighting a US firm and your own publisher for a year on your own, with the memories of love and friendship in the background, or right in the foreground, or your ex suddenly doing a useless book with a so-called male ‘friend’, Hew, Screw and Glue, he had specifically warned her about inside a relationship, but whose ‘respect’ in the industry saw his work cancelled at Bloomsbury and complained about loudly. Who was the one person in the world that could do maximum damage, personal and professional, and spit on a hard-fought and once wonderful relationship with a New York publisher, not to mention two happy years of partnership. A beautiful form of respect or professional standards! It saw the removal too, because we cannot believe he happily stood down at Abrams, of publisher and Vice President Howard Reeves, and quite dreadful pain this side of the deep, dark pond. But unless that is just cynical proof of internal ruthlessness, that very loud evidence about so much that has happened being wrong has produced no equivalent redress for an author, kept under conditions of psychological harm, trying to work there, for months on end and snatching away everything he had built over ten years. Tara Break could have taken responsibility and stopped it in a stroke. Harold Rove and their own contracted author were made the fall guys for something that could have been stopped so easily, except for the personal ambitions there.
As those who remain sit behind desks, take large salaries and shares in author’s work, the human and writing story within that is terrible too, although extraordinary, much to the ever vanishing Tara Break’s shame, if she were capable, or of ever bullish Sarah Van More, new Vice President and doyenne of Grimm Sisters, or Wimpy Kid Diaries, but not of any real publishing and editorial standards, in defence of the author they ‘owned’, who could not walk away for threat of being sued. It’s really a rather grown up story, this one. But Abrams neither understand basic psychology, real writing and its vitally needed environment too, David had literally to plead for and was denied, nor the most fundamental legal principles, let alone wider kinds of humanity or love. CEO Mike Jacobson, since some buck should stop somewhere, should apologise on a firm’s behalf, compensate, attack legally for breach of privacy, which we’ll have him know would be a corrupt defence of the wrong principle, or just accept the truth. Once again we call for an independent publishing Ombudsman, not on the side of author or editor, but a way of objectively resolving dispute as it happens. An author under contract is not responsible for the kind of awful fear or politics inside New York firms that could lead to all that, nor the obsessive ‘privacy’ of an ex and senior editor, whose disrespect of his privacies and also working life and books became absolute. We think it the saddest story ever told, but then we would.