As many visitors to my blog are aware, last year I had the misfortune of hiring artist Tess Fowler for art duties on my second Doc Wilde book. I paid her a thousand dollars and received nothing but a handful of rough character sketches, and I don’t even have the originals of those.
I detailed the disintegration of the deal and both my and Tess’s behavior in extreme detail, using our actual correspondence, in this post. It tells everything you need to know about our entire working relationship, and about Tess’s choices at the end.
As someone commented on the one followup post I wrote, there are two sides to every story. I agreed and stated, “Tess is completely welcome to share her side here.” Of course, she never took me up on the offer.
She did, however, post a lengthy diatribe on Facebook. I didn’t see it on her page because Tess has me blocked (and I have better things to do than monitor her behavior), but several of her friends sent me the information pretty much immediately. A couple even provided actual screenshots of the post and its resultant discussion.
I’m going to share those screenshots with you. This is the closest thing to Tess’s side of the story that she has provided, and I feel no compunction about showing it to you because it was posted publicly. I’ll offer commentary as we read it together.
First, everything I have ever posted on this matter is demonstrably true. There’s a reason I used our actual emails and was so thorough in my account; I wanted folks to have all the information they needed to come to their own conclusions about what happened. There are no emails I refuse to show publicly, and you may notice that she says there are but never shows them to anyone.
And yeah, based on my experiences, I’d definitely recommend nobody else hire her. I’m not running a smear campaign, but I damn sure can’t give her a good reference.
Bullshit. I stand by the post I linked to at the start of this one as a rebuttal of what she says here. I in no way abused Tess, and since my feeble attempts to contact her to ask that she resume work (attempts she completely ignored), I have made no other attempts to contact her. It’s easy for her to claim that I am “stalking” her, but I challenge her to prove that very libelous charge.
Further, since shutting me out as described in the original post, she has neither tried to discuss matters with me nor in any way offered in any way to continue the work. She blew me off entirely, kept my money, and I’ve had no contact with her of any sort since she did, not even these mythical emails she references yet again without producing them, except that the day I first saw these screenshots I emailed her, offering to get back to work whenever she was ready. She never replied.
I, however, was very public about the fact that I was willing to get back to work with her. She is a talented artist, I liked her take on my characters, and I was already out a thousand dollars so it was fully in my interest to try to get my money’s worth, even after the trauma I’d already suffered.
For the record, that offer no longer holds. I’ve accepted the loss of my money and the lessons learned and there’s no way in hell I’d work with her again.
Again, the emails she could produce, but doesn’t. Ever. Whereas I shared damn near every meaningful correspondence we ever had.
And again, bullshit that she ever offered to continue work after communications broke down.
And note here that I am “a madman.” What she means is that I suffer from depression, and she’s trying to use that against me. In a very libelous way.
I’d really like to see those emails. If called on it by someone, at most she could produce (and possibly misrepresent) emails I already quoted in my original post, because there has been nothing since. Again, I tried to sweet-talk her back to work after the communications breakdown, and then I’d have jumped on the chance to get back to work on the book because I had, after all, already paid her.
Now, the discussions began:
Again, portraying me as crazy because I’m depressed, and the continued insinuation that I’m stalking her via email and phone.
You know what? I do know exactly what I can get away with, because I’ve talked to a lawyer too. For something to be considered libel, it has certain criteria it needs to meet, chief among them the stated information has to be untrue. I’m not worried about her lawyers because I have no reason to be worried about her lawyers. And I’m pretty sure that the three different lawyers she spoke to all pretty much told her that.
I think that may be my favorite bit.
Ironically, the message I received from Tess blocking me and not responding to my emails or calls was very much “Sit down and shut up.”
Tess knew I suffered from depression the entirety of our working relationship. I’m very open about it, and about my battles with it. It’s even all over this blog.
And yes, Gary Chaloner, the original Doc Wilde artist, left the series (he didn’t think he could keep up with the workload), but he remains very much a part of the Wilde family, as well as a friend. Our working relationship was always professional, I was thrilled with the book we turned out together (Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom), and I have nothing but respect for him. We had delays and the book took longer to do than we’d planned, but Gary was never anything less than a trooper and I’d recommend him in a heartbeat to anyone who wants a talented, reliable artist. I invite anyone who thinks Gary left because of interpersonal dynamics to contact him directly and ask.
There was more discussion under Tess’s post, but the topics drifted away from me, so there’s little point in sharing it. For the record, her post was made way back at the end of January, and there’s been no contact or any activity of any sort between Tess and me since. I intended to post this message ever since, but she’s no longer any sort of priority; the only reason I’m going ahead and posting now is because I want transparency for Doc Wilde supporters, so they know what happened and why the second book is delayed. This was also a way to let Tess tell her side of things.
I honestly wish things had gone differently, that Tess had actually been open to continuing the book. She’s a gifted draftswoman and I think the book we produced would have been beautiful.
Now, I wipe my hands of her.
UPDATE: Another of Tess’s victims has come forward and let me share his account. Read it here.