Saturday, February 13, 2016

Briefs: Clare's Lawyer Responds to Kenyon Lawsuit; "Birthday Cake" Author Speaks Out

Publishers Lunch

Cassandra Clare's lawyer, John Cahill of Rubenstein Associates, issued a statement Thursday afternoon responding to Sherrilyn Kenyon's trademark and copyright infringment lawsuit filed against Clare late last week. "Cassie was both surprised and disappointed that Ms. Kenyon would file this baseless lawsuit, a decade after the debut of Cassie's books. Kenyon is wrong when she claims that Cassandra Clare or her publisher made any agreements about using 'shadowhunters.' Cassie never gave Kenyon any assurances regarding this and, although she would have preferred to resolve any concerns that Ms. Kenyon has or may have had, Ms. Kenyon never contacted or spoke with her."

Kenyon's suit, Cahill said, "rests on a basic misunderstanding of copyright law and Cassie's totally original work. The law does not protect ideas and myths, it protects only the expression of those ideas." These "basic factual inaccuracies" include the identification of a main character’s "stepfather as her 'best friend,' alleges that the term 'daimons' appears in her books (the word is never used) and claims that one of her main characters is based on a Kenyon character whose similar attributes were first revealed some three years after Cassie had created and told the backstory of the relevant protagonist. Tellingly, the lawsuit failed to identify a single instance of actual copying or plagiarism by Cassie." Clare's lawyer expects the suit to be dismissed as "there is little chance of anyone confusing [Clare's] Young Adult themes and orientation with the sometimes very adult storylines in Ms. Kenyon's books."

In her first interview since Scholastic withdrew the children's book "A Birthday Cake for George Washington" for potentially giving "a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves," author Ramin Ganeshram told the AP she expressed repeated misgivings about the production process and the lack of communication with illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton, well in advance of publication. "The public does not know that the authors (of picture stories) are not in full control of their books. The public feels if you write the book, the book is yours and you make the decisions. But in children's publishing at least, that is entirely untrue. Authors and illustrators often do not speak, or interact. I never had a conversation with Vanessa, just a few tweets."

Ganeshram said she had researched the life of the slave Hercules, Washington's head chef, for several years and planned "Birthday Cake" to be the first in a series of works. "For me, Hercules is everything, so every opportunity to present him to the world was something to be seriously considered." But Ganeshram said she objected to what she characterized as the illustrations' "over-joviality" to editor Andrea Pinkney as far back as last spring, and her frustration at not being in contact with the illustrator. "And I said, 'When can I start speaking to Vanessa? I would like to send some research material.' And the editor told me, 'Authors and illustrators don't interact,'"

Minnesota-based children's publisher Amicus is launching a trade-oriented imprint, Amicus Ink, in a bid to move beyond the school library market. The launch list features six original photographic nonfiction board books and 59 nonfiction paperbacks. Amicus Ink titles will be distributed to the trade through Chronicle Books, while The Creative Company will handle sales & marketing.

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