Perhaps the most dignified way to describe what happened back 2008/9 was a kind of nervous breakdown. Although it was stranger than that, and trying to work and protect myself, I was never allowed to break down. I went into a kind of emotional black hole, so dark it seemed to swallow light. At times I was both clever and even manipulative, perhaps, but think of how thinking about such places is called The Genius Point. Although I always fought for the wider truth, and indeed somehow to protect everyone! Then the only way I could fight something that held me in a kind of hell for two years and more though, and profoundly disagreeing with it on many principles, was to ‘breach’ supposed privacies by writing about what happened at Abrams here.
It has been rather boring at times, for readers, trying to find some “court of public opinion”, which I actually don’t trust much. It certainly was not the person I was before I fell foul of New York. As for my “madness”, perhaps I should quote Shakespeare’s Brother and one Elizabethan actor who ended up in the vicious Bedlam of the day and found himself crying “They thought me mad, and I they!”
It involved something both frightening and very difficult for me, indeed shaming, and precisely the point of the damage they did over so long. Actually pure cruelty. Though there has been a deal of confusion over something so personal too, I did it to step beyond the kind of corruption I still believe or know they engaged in, written all over the story of a CEO’s negative relationship with a publisher, and why it allowed him to be replaced by my own editor, while destroying their own author too. It is actually self-evident and was both professionally and humanly terrible.
Nor was I allowed any protection of my privacy at all, and part of the ‘madness’ was the absolute hypocrisy there, and my own ferocious, even desperate fight to protect myself, while I was the author trying to function, under contract. It was an attack on story telling itself, and the conditions needed to get there. It was also, in any pretence of due process there, a glaring attack on free speech. Not least beacuse not only did they hold my life and career to ransom, not once did they stop to think about the meanings in my books, both in terms of Global Warming and a climate of terror, two novels intended to specifically address.
When an editor where you are trying to work and are contracted is allowed to get away with calling you mad, deluded and evil, but you are instructed to shut up, under threat of your own career and livelihood, you have a right to ask where evil really lies. Whether an ex’s furious sense of rights and privacy, but no regard for mine, and bizarre turn arounds were directly related to her and a strange family, or indeed the discovery inside a relationship that a relation of theirs, with a terrible temper, had abused a teenager. With my own life angers, or issues with the past, it is why I sent them The Shipping News, though any sense of art or healing has been irrelevant to how they handled it. It is about money, ‘power’ and jobs, and rights but absolutely no sense of responsibility.
At the heart of a children’s publisher I know it influenced that obsession with privacy, that fearful secrecy there, and since I started to write about what evil really is in a novel too, in part outrage that she had so labelled me, and because such labels have always been themes of such complex works, it helped lead to an emotional hell. Since a young adult fantasy author has to return to certain emotional states while writing, even very idealistic emotions and thoughts, the way I was treated trying to make that journey of “growing up” for readers was actually repeatedly abusive. It is related to how verbally abusive or rude I became at times. I still insist though that in those circumstances, what a publisher did to me and my work was sinister, unnecessary, pure politics and a human and professional evil.
Evil is actually not some easy metaphysical concept, or should not be, but what people really do to each other, and allow to be done by doing nothing too. In other ways I think many have suffered and will suffer from that kind of group fight, side-based mentality and American labelling too, not to mention hypocrisy. It does matter at the heart of a New York publisher and it matters that men too can sometimes be too easily labelled a source of harm, though my own energy became horrid at times. Perhaps what matters is a story that might take a long time to properly understand and talk about. But I could have lost a person, but healed it professionally, if a person had not just left a label there, to keep secrets inside a small department, distorting the truth of what happened over months, indeed three years before, and why. That showed no trace of love, friendship, fareness, nor any kind of professional respects, that induced the crisis in the first place. Indeed if my own editor had not become so arrogant and bullying.
For many dislikes of the Press, I do not agree with Max Mosley though, but rather Ian Hislop’s argument that draconian privacy laws can be used to mask other legal abuses. Even if I wish my own life and privacy had been protected, perhaps respected is a better word, my life problems,fears and shared intimacies, right at the source of work and deep affections, both by and ex and by my own editor. Exposed in a big novel too, it was like leaving some psychic wound open and my editor should have stopped it too. It is precisely why authors far more than editors need their privacies respected, at least by their own publisher and editor. Privacies for everyone are important, because they much depend on how individuals can or cannot cope with invasion, but I believe people should be aware enough to know it is not exactly about how everyone ‘should’ behave, especially in very particular circumstances, more about what is happening to real people and the suffering they are going through. The facts remain in all blogs here, and my judgments of it too, but who they actually are is no one else’s business, and so all names have now been changed.
I ask every reader to respect that and forget it as any ‘public’ affair. It was also three years ago and very sad. This was always about the relationship between fictions and real events too, astonishing to me, and perhaps in itself it starts to change the story, mediating ‘truths’, as the use of language does, and no one is one thing, fixed in time. Especially not labelled by the very person who has caused such harm, then my editor, then a whole firm. It is a fact of libel law that if a libel is established as such it is only necessary to be able easily to identify the person or people in question. That is rather inevitable in still identifying Abrams in New York, but it is not libel, and I will never back down on it, or be intimidated on points of bogus legal ‘principle’. But real names once served their purpose to stand up to an attack by a UK lawyer. As for Phoenix Ark, as I’ve said, the only proper way to challenge it would actually be through a civil action in a court of law.