Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Tobermory Cat, the trolls & me.

Skip this bit if you're not interested in the background.

I have known Hugh Andrew at Birlinn books for years. Every so often, we have rung each other up for a yarn, a rant or to filter some London-centric bit of industry gossip through a Scottish lens. Over time, I have grown fond of Hugh; he is one of a vanishing kind; an intelligent, old-school publisher, heading up a dedicated team who produce beautiful and occasionally controversial Scottish-interest books. That Birlinn continue to do this in the current fiscal shrink-fest, is a feat worthy of celebration.

We are living in interesting times, in the Chinese sense. With the rise of digitisation, online piracy, Amazon, Apple, e-books, the war of attrition being waged on our libraries by a wilfully blinkered coalition government and the growth of a generation wedded to text in a txt format, it doesn't take an economist to figure out that small indy publishers like Birlinn are having the utmost difficulty simply treading water, let alone turning a profit. 

 And for those of us at the bottom of the industry feeding chain ; the authors and illustrators whose incomes depend on book sales? I think I can say without too much exaggeration that some of us are leading lives of quiet desperation. Time was, we supplemented our small royalties with paid visits to schools and libraries. With current fiscal shrinkage, that entire income stream has dried up. Time was, in the lean months of January through to March, we hoped that the stipend from borrowings in libraries ( PLR) would put lentils on the table. With the closure of libraries across the UK, that income stream is endangered. In the flood of online, self-published books, the average Gentle Reader could well be forgiven for assuming that books have no value whatsoever. Why pay full price for a hardback, when you can download an equivalent, or even a pirated copy for free?  

Like I said ; interesting times. That was the background. Our story starts early in 2011. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

Hugh rang me. He had an idea for a children's book, he said. With crushing honesty, he admitted he'd tried to interest Mairi Hedderwick in the idea, but for one reason and another, she hadn't been keen, so he was coming to me. As a second choice.

In the silence, Hugh began to babble. It was to be a cat book.  With a difference. It was to be about a real cat. The Tobermory cat. He was an amazing cat. A huge ginger tom, he was one of three ginger toms beloved of the citizens of Tobermory. There was the Distillery cat, the Mishnish cat and Our Boy, the Tobermory Cat. Hugh warmed to his theme. Our Boy was a real bruiser. Cojones of steel. A brawler. Belongs to nobody. Occasionally sleeps in Brown's, the hardware store. Sleeps on cars. Sleeps on pavements. Sleeps in the middle of the road. Stops traffic. Sleeps anywhere. Beloved. Tobermory, post-Balamory, needs an iconic something to raise its profile and drive tourists back into its cafes, shops, hotels, B&Bs etc. The local bookseller is on board. Our Boy would make a fantastic book. A children's book. Look, the thing to do is come up to Mull with me, meet the locals, meet the Cat, and then you'll see...

And finally, in the silence, the words that have come back to haunt me.

...he even has his own Facebook page.

So. Months went by. Hugh and I had a proper publisher and writer lunch at a wee place round the corner from Birlinn HQ. We tiptoed carefully round the subject of money and contractual stuff. Hugh enquired whether I'd looked at The Cat on Facebook, and I said yes I had, but I would wait to see him in the fur before putting brush to paper. Hugh Informed me that The Cat's name is Ledaig, pronounced Le-shag, and I stated for the record that there was no way on god's earth that I was going to walk into a Scottish primary school and announce that I was about to read from a book about a pussy called that. I'm not entirely sure that Hugh, having been gently raised, had any idea why my objections were quite so strenuous in this matter, but never mind. My cat was going to be called The Tobermory Cat, end of. Capisce?

More time passed. A contract was raised. My agent and I celebrated the future success of our new book project with a long and cheerful phone call. What was I going to do with the story, she asked. I had no idea, but I hoped in my story to show something of the solitary, marches to the beat of his own drum, sufficient unto himself, private nature of the animal. Apart from that, I was hoping that a conflation of the place, the cat, the local people and a sprinkling of serendipity would work some kind of magic and kickstart the process. I put a lot of faith in places. And Mull, for native west-coasters like me, is a place as close to a spiritual home as it gets. For my 50th birthday, as an extra-special treat, my partner took me to Mull for a week spent tramping its hills and coastline. In February. I couldn't imagine anywhere better on Earth to spend a birthday. I've been going there since I could walk. I knew the place would deliver up the magic. What I didn't know, what I could never have suspected was that along with the beauty, it also dished up a slice of something very ugly indeed.

It began in December. Hugh, Millie the Jack Russell and I drove up to Oban and took the ferry across to Mull. We arrived in darkness. Booked into the Western Isles hotel,went for a freezing cold walk to appease Millie. We had dinner with the local bookseller. Over dinner, the bookseller mentioned a local artist, who, in addition to  painting landscapes of Mull, had also been responsible for setting up the Tobermory Cat's Facebook page. The artist was, the bookseller explained, not best pleased at Birlinn's intention to publish a book based on the cat. 

With me so far? Good. Let's press on. The bookseller suggested that we paid a visit to the artist to attempt to allay his fears, smooth his feathers, pour oil on troubled waters and generally assure him that our intention to publish a children's book would not in any way impinge upon his...his...Facebook page. Still with me? Good, because I was becoming confused at this point. 

Why did we have to go and placate this artist? I've had cause to ask myself this question many times since that night. I've replayed the meeting over and over again, sifting through my memory for some nugget of understanding to explain what happened next. I still have no clear answer.

Briefly then, because our meeting was brief. Hugh and Millie and I pitched up at the artist's gallery/house at the appointed time. He answered the door and invited us in. The house smelled beautiful. Someone was baking Christmas cake. I made some innocuous remark to that effect. The artist remarked on how tall Hugh is. He turned to me and asked how on earth I managed to get any work done with so many children.

Ah. The Internet. Purveyor of the minutiae of other people's lives. I too had done my research, except I hadn't dug around in the Artist's personal life. I had looked at his paintings online. They're lovely. I said that I admired his watercolours. There was a silence. Have you seen any of my work, I asked. It was a relevant question- I was attempting to defuse the situation by showing the Artist that my work was child-centric and thus, of no threat to either his watercolour landscapes or his Facebook cat photos. The Artist said he had seen some of my work. It was, he said, nuanced

Nuanced? Oh, dear. I had a sudden flashback to art college days when one of our lecturers used to get carried away with the sound of his own voice and would wander round the sculpture court mumbling similar guff along the lines of-  yerrrsss - mmmm, the spatial tensions in this work are paradigmatically arranged in a fashion to be synchronous with the spatial harmonies etc etc blah blah. I'm sorry, but nuanced, on its lonesome, is one of those meaningless words, bandied about by people who actually have nothing to say.  I had no idea if the Artist thought my work was rubbish or not.

Hugh broke in with a clear shot across the Artist's bows. What did the Artist want from us? In short, why we we there? 
The Artist came to the point. He did not want us to do this book. The cat was his, the idea was his, it was his creation-
Hugh broke in again. The cat, he said, was nobody's. The cat belonged to himself. The idea for the book would come from Ms Gliori here and had nothing to do with the creation of the Facebook page-
The Artist broke in. We would never have heard of the cat had it not been for the Facebook page. It was his idea. If he hadn't put in all the work into the Facebook page, nobody would ever have heard of the cat.
Hugh sighed. This was patently untrue, he said. The Artist was mistaken. Hugh's first encounter with the cat was on a sales trip to Tobermory. He'd seen the cat sunning itself outside Tackle and Books, the local bookshop, surrounded by a group of adoring tourists. The bookseller had told Hugh that the cat was something of  a local celebrity. People were always taking photos of it. It was quite a character, that cat. At which point Hugh and the bookseller realised they had come up with the seed of an idea for the hero of The Tobermory Cat, a children's book. So, in short, the cat had been famous long before he was the subject of  a Facebook page. I could hear Hugh's teeth grinding as he repeated,  What did the Artist want?

The Artist reiterated. He did not want us to do the book.
Hugh dug his heels in. That was non-negotiable. Ms Gliori was writing a book about the Tobermory Cat and that was the end of it. However, it was a children's book. For children. Ms Gliori is a world-renowned author/illustrator with sales worldwide in the millions 

Shut up, Hugh, I begged silently. Please, let's go. Now. This is pointless.

and tell you what we can do, Hugh continued, we can advertise your gallery and your paintings on the back of the book. And perhaps, if you wanted,  you could advertise our book on your Facebook page and that way you could earn some click-through income. We can work together on this. What d'you think?

The Artist didn't hesitate. I don't want you to do the book, he said. 
And on it went. The Artist's wife arrived back from work. Even with four of us in the room, it became rapidly apparent that we we never going to reach accord. And I had been silent, listening to this nonsense for too long. Finally, as the Artist stated for the nth time that it was his idea, something inside me snapped.

Creativity doesn't work like that, I snarled. Ideas are sand. They slip through your grasp. When you let them go, they return to you multiplied. The more you give away, the more you receive in return.

Like love, in fact, but I wasn't about to say that. Not to the Artist.

If you try to hang onto them, to claim them as your own, the effort will eat you alive. I may have spoken that last with some force, but by then I was fed up with this non-conversation. We were getting nowhere. Fast. It was time to go. 

Hugh stood up. We would be in touch, he said. We would keep the Artist in the loop, and let him know what was happening. Hopefully, in time, we would find some common ground. We shuffled towards the front door. Outside, it was dark. Sleet was stitching needles of ice through the air. Hugh held out a hand to shake. The Artist refused to play. However, as we turned to go, the Artist lunged at me, enveloped me in a hug and planted a kiss on my cheek.

Two days later, the Artist started his campaign on Facebook. He had been visited by two thieves, he posted. They came to his house to steal the Tobermory cat.
His followers were furious. Who were these people? How dare they? The Artist ignored this question. He posted again. And again. And again. He never missed an opportunity to make some snarky remark about robbers or thieves and then off he'd go, drawing comparisons with 'an Edinburgh illustrator' or 'an Edinburgh publisher'. And the Artist's followers lapped it up. Who were these awful people, they demanded?  Poor artist, they soothed, how awful for him. Then, thankfully, the Artist stopped posting for a while. In the blissful silence, I got on with my book. 

My idea for The Tobermory Cat had come to me on Mull. Just as I'd hoped it would. The day before we met the Artist, Hugh and I had been out and about in Tobermory, with me taking photos for reference, and both of us interviewing local people and listening to their stories about the cat. The more stories I heard, the more I realised that if there was going to be a book, I was going to have to pull something pretty special out of the hat. But Hugh wanted the story to be rooted in reality. The reality being that there really was very little that was newsworthy about the cat. Forgive me for being so blunt. But when I met him, he was gorgeous, gingery, big and...looked just like every big ginger Tom I have ever known. I stroked his marmalade head and felt desperately sorry for him. He had no idea what the human race were about to do in his name. And that was before I'd met the Artist.

Feeling a bit aghast at the lack of story with which to craft my book, I headed back to the hotel with Hugh. On the way, we passed a little pale green house tucked away up a lane. It was, Hugh said, the house that Mendelssohn had stayed in when he visited Tobermory. Mendelssohn? Of Fingal's Cave/ Hebridean Overture fame? The same. We walked on. I hummed the music under my breath. Somewhere in the deep recesses of  the porridge that passes for my brain, something connected to something else and there was a brief power surge. Back at the hotel, we had dinner, went to bed, the next day we met the Artist and the day after that, I woke up too early for breakfast and poured myself a bath and made a cup of complimentary room service tea. 

I climbed into the bath, sipped my tea, lay back and.... I heard music. From somewhere came the faint sound of strings. Violins.  After a moment, I identified what they were playing as The Hebridean Overture. My nose prickled. My eyes filled up.  Tears began to roll down my face. What on earth was happening? For some reason, I couldn't stop crying. It was like a huge wave breaking onshore, sweeping me along in its wake. After some time, the music faded away, replaced with the burbling of hotel plumbing and the sounds of other guests greeting the new day. I climbed onto dry land and attempted to pull myself together.

But, yet, when I joined Hugh for breakfast, red-eyed and babbling,  I had an idea. An idea so perfect that it still makes me laugh out loud. Maybe you'll look at The Tobermory Cat book and think, whaaaat? But I love my Tobermory Cat. He is special, but he doesn't know it. He came out of my lifelong love for Mull, from the many miles of coastline my partner and I walked during one week in February, the conversations I had with the  people of Tobermory, the real cat ( Ledaig) my love of Shetland music, the book I was working on at the time I went up to Mull with Hugh  ( What's the Time, Mr Wolf? pub. Bloomsbury) and Hugh's enthusiasm and abiding love of the west coast of Scotland. But the heart of the book came from the great human pool of ideas. The pool in which  we all go swimming every single time we pick up a brush, a pen or, in this case, a bow. A fiddle bow. For my Tobermory Cat plays the fiddle. As do I. I am, after all, a violin-maker's daughter. That's what came to me in the bath. An image of the Tobermory Cat, standing in the moonlight, serenading the good people of Tobermory on his fiddle.

Why on earth anyone would assume that I'd go trawling the depths of Facebook to find my ideas is a complete mystery to me. Frankly, I'd rather eat bees. 

But Twitter.... Now that was a fascination. Some of the disparate links I found on there took me to places I knew were food for the imagination. In March, I decided it would be fun to open a second Twitter account in the name of my Tobermory cat. Stupidly I thought it would be a laugh to tweet backwards and forwards with myself under two hats, posting from @DebiGliori to @TheTobermoryCat and getting a good bit of banter going. With myself. Yes, I know.  Blame the fact I was an only child for this insanity. Needless to say, I didn't get many followers, but to my horror, one of my early ones was the Artist. He didn't say anything. Not at first. I carried on, tweeting back and forth, pretending to be a cat and imagining that I was a cat that lived in my real studio. Yes, I know. Being a writer isn't a job, it's a psychosis.

By April, I was almost finished with the preparatory drawings in pencil for the book. We were all getting excited by now; watching the book take shape is a bit like seeing prints come up in the tray of developer fluid way back in the dark days of photography. I'd been keeping an occasional eye out on Facebook just to check that the Artist hadn't restarted his campaign of name-calling, and sadly, in the spring, he began again. In a cleverly targeted series of posts, he returned the Tobermory cat back to Facebook and began to post once more. On Facebook and Twitter. More comments about thieving publishers and Edinburgh illustrators. After an absence of several months, his followers were delighted to have him back. And then, on my way to do a library visit in Perth, the Artist posted on the Twitter account of the library I was about to visit. An hour before my event. He was wondering if they had any books on copyright or the theft of intellectual property.

I had the chills. Sitting out in the car park outside the library, I felt sick. I said nothing to the librarian. I did my event, came home and got on with the book. Then I was asked to go to Orkney to visit the library in Kirkwall. The same thing happened. The Artist posted on the Orkney library Twitter page. Did they know anything about theft of intellectual property? The librarian was sympathetic. Had the Artist had some experience of this? Yes, the Artist replied, he had. In fact, he posted, one of Orkney Library's followers had perpetrated the theft.

More chills. But this time I'd had enough. I told the librarians in Orkney, explaining that we were now entering the territory of cyberstalking. Orkney Library are well-accustomed to dealing with the general public in all their states of woo, for want of a better word. We had a laugh, but I was starting to feel very weird. I'm a children's author. This kind of thing is not familiar to me. My fan base tends to be very young and barely able to write a letter, let alone use social media. To be honest, I felt out of my depth and isolated by what was happening. Then the Artist began to tweet to selected numbers of my @DebiGliori followers. Followers like the Edinburgh Book Festival. A fellow-author. A fellow-illustrator. Did they know, he tweeted, that someone they followed was engaged in the theft of intellectual property? Not naming me. No. This was a horrible game of cat-and-mouse, skirting perilously close to defamation, but not so close that I could make it stop. 

On it went. Until, after posting a final silly thing on Facebook asking his 'friends' to fill in an online survey about who they thought the idea for the Tobermory Cat belonged to- the Artist or the Colonial Publisher, finally, with everyone howling "Who? Who? Who Is this colonial publisher and his thief of an illustrator? " the Artist posted, on the May bank holiday, a self-pitying post, the gist of which was

I can't carry on with my Facebook page any more. It's no longer any fun. Birlinn Books are going to publish a book by Debi Gliori called The Tobermory Cat. I have no option but to stop doing this Facebook page. It's been a lot of fun but....goodbye.

And sat back, no doubt, content at having poured petrol on a smouldering fire. 

At which point, my life took a distinct turn for the worse. A whole sector of humanity that I had barely known existed swivelled their eyes in my direction, logged on and fired up their Hate Hoses. And drenched me in their hatred. I was over on the West coast at the time, merrily wiffling away on Twitter along the lines of

when I became aware that my name was almost trending on Twitter. There were multiple mentions of it, and none of them good. Several people went further and got into my account and started firing off tweets to all my followers, informing them that I was a thief. Oh, great. A lot of my followers are booksellers, librarians, teachers, publishers, festival organizers, publicists...people for whom my name is my reputation and my reputation as an author/illustrator is my sole source of income. Let me just state for the record here : I do not have a trust fund. I have a heck of a lot of recipes for lentils. I have no back-up plan. These unknown persons were literally attempting to destroy my livelihood.

Mud sticks, you know. Don't give me that crapola about there being no such thing as bad publicity. There is. I know. I had a shed-load of it. And I was on the West coast of Scotland in a tiny village and I  didn't have my laptop or a decent signal or the technical know-how to lockdown my Twitter account. I had to go and beg my family to humour me and return home early from our May holiday weekend so that I could try and stem the flow of the Hate Hose. Without alarming them too much. Some of the Tweets were nasty. Little fantasies of what the lovely Facebook friends of the Artist would like to do to me, if they got up close and personal.

Let's just take a breath here. What was this about? Yes. A cat. A cat. A cat book for children. Yeah. I know. Me too. It makes me feel something close to despair. 

As we drove home, the 'friends' of the Artist were massing on Facebook. They were leaving me messages. They knew where I lived. They were digging around on the Internet, Googling me, digging up whatever they could find. 

They decided I was ugly. I probably am. On the outside. Inside, where it counts, I am beautiful. 
They decided I wasn't very successful. That's where they were so wrong. My books help thousand of small people to go to sleep every single night. That, for me, is supreme success. 
They decided I was so desperate for ideas I'd steal one from a fellow Artist. Oh, puhleeeease. 

That night I locked down my Twitter account. It remains locked. My cyberfriends rallied round. They suggested I wrote about being cyber bullied. I decided to wait. In truth, I was afraid to goad the wielders of the Hate Hose any further. I installed a moderator on my blog and deleted some more messages of hate. I went to bed, but unsurprisingly, sleep I could get nane. Yes, I stole that. It's a song. 

After the May holiday, I was no longer alone in purdah.  Birlinn also came under attack. Hugh's young intern, a gentle girl, unaccustomed to dealing with screaming madwomen, fielded phone calls from some individuals who, frankly, need help. And soap to rinse out their potty mouths. Hugh attempted to pour oil on troubled waters and wrote a piece for the Oban Times. But all around, the keyboard warriors of Facebook were chanting, 'fight, fight, fight,'

And the Artist came out of early Facebook retirement to the renewed delight of his followers. If I wasn't so furious at what has happened, I could almost confess a kind of grudging admiration for the Artist's sleekit-ness. But it's not a quality I really admire. In truth, it's vile. 

More was to come. Somehow- it must have been a slow news day - they ran a version of the story in The Scotsman. Across two pages. Page two and three for heaven's sake. And in the Glasgow Herald. And the Evening News. With photos of me and the Tobermory Cat, but not, significantly, the Artist. 

I felt peeled. I was in Edinburgh at the opening of the vast Christian Aid book sale, being photographed as part of a group of children's writers there in support of the Children's Laureate as this mess was breaking in the press, and a colleague of mine, a journalist who I've known and worked with for years wouldn't meet me in the eye. That's how I knew it was bad. I went home, turned off the phone and painted the picture which has become the front cover of the book. It's got lots of predatory cats circling round some terrified rats. I wonder how I came up with that idea? 

Citing all the press stories, one of the Artist's Facebook friends got into my Wikipedia page and altered it. Now, after 'Debi Gliori was born in 1959 in Glasgow' the second most important thing in my life is

My agent went onto Wikipedia and removed this. It was immediately re-posted by persons unknown. My agent removed it a second time. To our horror, back up it went with a severe warning from the moderator at  Wikipedia, who not only banned my agent from any further activity but also labelled her as a Wiki-vandal. We cannot remove this. It's up there forever. My lovely Wikipedia page, made for me by several dedicated American librarians, is now besmirched. And really, the Facebook Tobermory Cat may be important to the Artist and his followers, but he is not the second most important thing about me. Not now. Not ever. Meh.

The most important thing about me is something that I wish the Internet would share. In the World Wide Web sense of sharing. It's something that I share with the people I love. It's something that I share with the children I meet in schools and libraries and book festivals around the world. It's not mine, just as the air I breathe could never be said to be mine alone. The most important thing about me and about all of us is that we have within us the possibility to choose to do good things; we can decide to do kind things; things that make all of our lives better.  I guess it comes down to choosing light rather than darkness. I've always loved that saying - it's better to light a candle than curse the darkness. 

Now, I'd like to be allowed to get on with that. Oh, and also I'd like to get on with  the business of making beautiful books for children and parents to enjoy. Together. I hope you love my new book, The Tobermory Cat. It was dreamed up, as with all of my books, in Scotland, with love.


Cynthia said...

Oh, how awful. I look forward to seeing the new book, and hope that this episode fades.

Anne Booth said...

Dear Debi. I am so so sorry to read that awful story. You have comforted and cheered so many little children and their parents with your creative imagination and great stories and wonderful art and you do not deserve this. To be a children's writer like you you have to be sensitive - not great for horrible attacks.

I think you have been very brave.

And I am now going to order 4 copies of the Tobermory Cat - one each for my little god daughters - one for me & one for my 12 year old daughter who plays the violin. It looks wonderful.

From Anne Booth

madwippitt said...

This is terrible! Sounds as though he is more of an Arteeest than an Artist ... it would be interesting to hear what his opinion is on Will Shakespeare's works! It is so sad that people behave like this, hiding behind their screens while unleashing vitriolic comments. But don't fret about the Wikipedia entry: most of us don't believe what we read on it any more than what's in The Sun ...

Sarah McIntyre said...

Oh my goodness, Debi! That's dreadful, I'm so sorry you had to go through all that. If the guy had an issue with you, he should have gone through proper legal channels, not waged this bizarre passive-aggressive war. But he knew he didn't have a leg to stand on, he hadn't actually written a similar book. Or any book about the cat. I could make a Facebook page about the ravens in the Tower of London, down the road, but that wouldn't suddenly mean I own all stories that might be written about them. So strange to think that.

You have a strong, good reputation; I hear positive things about you and your books all the time, and I know people will stand by you.

Sending big hugs up north! xx

hilary said...

Have just ordered your Tobermory Cat via amazon. Hope one day you will sign it for me.

Very best wishes, Hilary McKay

Jon Burgess Design said...

Yeech, how horrible and upsetting! And completely bloody unecessary. Obviously, his nose was put out of joint, and I can sort of sympathise with that. . . just. . . , but his reaction was just pure calculated spite. I hope you can put it behind you and carry on producing lovely books.
Anyway, it's great to see how well you've done since the Orchard books days. ( you were doing well then too, I just mean that you sustained it and upped it a gear or two ) You may or may not remember me from back then ;-)
Chin up,

Philip C James said...

Checked out the TOBERMORY CAT page on Facebook. A proper little franchise (and now graced with a TM symbol, which doesn't mean a lot unless converted to a registered trade-mark, and only then for that logomark and not for the concept of 'the Tobermory cat').

I see that it mentions that three cats are used in the photographs, and that the original cat, 'le shag', is sadly dead.

As the cat was a real cat, I don't think 'the Artist' has any right to prevent others creating original work around it, especially in a different medium. And that may be the reason they did not pursue a legal route to protect their alleged IP.

The phrase 'Hate Hose' is a good one (maybe you should trade-mark that?) and I'm sorry that you suffered that, whipped up by your antagonist.

Certainly the Wikipedia entry adds insult to injury (and is not the first time I've seen that criticism of the editors leveled). One thing to understand is their insistence on independent article authors quoting external sources/original research. More articles, esp. in the press putting *your* side of the story could be referenced by an independent author amending your Wikipedia entry to reference your side of the story and add a degree of balance to your Wikipedia entry.

It's disturbing that the use of the soft-power of the Wob (the World Wide Mob) can have more impact than a legal process - with all its checks and balances - even, unlikely, if the result went against you.

Pippa Goodhart said...

And children suppose that bullying stops when you get to adulthood! How awful to have to go through all that, Debi ... but those illustrations you've done look truly wonderful.

Kit Berry said...

A really horrendous story, but beautifully told. I for one shall buy the book simply to show solidarity to somebody who's been victimised so very unfairly. Go, Debi! Keep shining that light in the darkness!

Unknown said...

Wonderful story about the new world writers, artists and publishers now inhabit, where stalkers and ghouls are just a few keystrokes away. But support and solidarity are also nearby - we are with you all the way, Debi.

Unknown said...

The Tobermory Cat is wonderful children's book to have in our book shop. The inclusion of many local places and characters is great fun for adults. Every page is an adventure for children. Just after the books arrived the real Tobermory Cat came to visit. It took a look and promptly went to sleep in an empty book box. We put the book on sale shortly afterwards and it has been sailing out the door to both locals and visitors ever since. The book is a credit to our town.
Duncan, Tackle and Books, Tobermory

Etienne de LAmour said...

My sympathies, Debi. I and others now have your Wikipedia article on our watchlist.

I really can't see how the artist can copyright or spoof-trademark something well known, in the public domain and generic like "The Tobermory Cat" any more than I could the Loch Ness monster.

Jane Henry said...

Hi Debi, you may not remember me, but we met a few times when I was working at Scholastic (I was Julia Moffatt then). Am so sorry to hear what a rotten time you've had. These people are perfectly vile. I'm sure in the long run, they will not hold you back, but am sending huge sympathies. I presume you know the Tobermory Cat FB has posted a link to this? I left a comment for him...

Miranda Kate said...

I'm sorry you were foolish, open and honest enough to talk to this guy. He doesn't own this cat, but yet he is making money of it - does he pay Royalties to the owner? If the public contact Wikipedia to complain about the entry, will that have any leverage - I think it is unacceptable what they have done. I will try this. I am so upset about this - on your behalf!

Miranda Kate said...

I just looked at Wikipedia and I don't see that paragraph anymore, so hopefully someone put them straight.

Joan Lennon said...

Please feel supported by these comments and all the great wave of good feeling that is coming your way from so many - believe in THAT and not all this bad stuff. Very sorry for what you've been through and may it now begin to recede as soon as is humanly possible!

Kate said...

Was appalled by this story, and have FB-shared it (for what that's worth). There seem to be a fair few stories coming out now about internet trolls and their vile bullying behaviour, which can only be good, becasue if we don't realise how awful and harmful they are, we won't do anything to stop them. The best disinfectant is the light of day and publicity.

Joan Lennon said...

Please feel supported by these comments and all the great wave of good feeling that is coming your way from so many - believe in THAT and not all this bad stuff. Very sorry for what you've been through and may it now begin to recede as soon as is humanly possible!

Elen C said...

This immediately made me think of Greyfriars Bobby, another Scottish animal whose story has been told and re-told. No-one would think that they 'own' his story.
I suppose there's also elements of people self-mythologising - that a local artist is David against an Edinburgh publisher's Goliath. As if a regional publisher with a regional remit could be cast in that role!
I'm so sorry this has happened.

Nicola Morgan said...

Extraordinary. Awful. I kept thinking you were going to tell us this was just an allegory, or that you were joking. But you didn't, because you weren't.

A cat is a cat. It's not created by a human. Anyone may write a story about it, even if it has an owner. I have a dog but anyone may write a story about her, without my permission, even though they would never have heard of her if I hadn't written about her in a book.

There is no copyright on ideas but, even if there were, the "idea" here is the existence of a cat. How on earth anyone thinks this can or should be copyrighted beats me.

Besides, you could get a whole load of writers to write a story of the Tobermory cat (and there is also no copyright on titles, by the way) and the stories would all be different. That's precisely why there is no copyright on ideas. That would be the sort of copyright that would stifle creativity.

Debi, I'm so sorry you've been subjected to this horrible experience. No one deserves it and you certainly don't. I hope that at least some of the people who have criticised you and Hugh now realise that they had got the wrong end of the stick.

And now, I'm off to buy your book. I urge other lovers of quality children's books to do the same.

(And yes, since nowadays we're all supposed to declare everything, I'm a friend of Debi's and a fellow children's writer. And, like the other commenters, I'm here to show solidarity and stand up for reason and sense.)

Carmel Waldron said...

I think you have done the right thing in publishing this to as many people as possible. I'm sure anyone who knows you or has read your work will know how absurd the situation is. This man is obviously very insecure, like most bullies, and is taking his insecurities out on you. You will have a lot of support from fellow writers - after all this could happen to any of us! Actually this would make quite a good short story...

Library Mice said...

Dear Debi,

I am so sorry to hear you have been subjected to such vile behaviour.
It is the second time this month I have heard about an author/illustrator suffering such a fate. American teen author Cassandra Clare also posted about a similar experience earlier this month.
Social media can be such a wonderful thing, but for a minority of people, it brings the worst out of them. But as you can see, there is plenty of love for you out there too. I hope you can take some solace from that.
Now I am off to have a look at that gorgeous moggy of your.

Celia Rees said...

Hi Debi, just composed an impassioned mini rant which got swallowed by Blogger. Clearly will be the best thing I ever write. Just wanted to say that you have my support and solidarity. The Artist never got as far as my in his trawl of your online FB/Twitter friends/followers, neither did his supporters, or he/they would have got a powerful piece of my mind. Ideas belong to NO-ONE! We all know that. If someone has the same idea. Tough. Suck it up. Or get out there first with your own version. It will be different anyway. He could have got his own book out there but I'm guessing that's a lot harder than updating a Facebook Page. And you are right. Trying to hang onto an idea, shouting 'Mine! Mine!' is corrosive and destructive - as he is demonstrating.

Unknown said...

What a horrendous experience,Debi. Like Jonathan, I too remember you from the dim and distant Orchard days and like others, I believe the strong, positive reputation you've established in the world of children's books will ultimately face the bullies down. Very best wishes for the phenomenal success of your Tobermory Cat.

Jennie Walters said...

What a chilling story, Debi. Much sympathy coming your way. Don't let the b******ds get you down! Jennie

Jon M said...

A really grim story. Hard to believe that some people's lives are so empty that they have to spit such bile. Inspiring how you've risen above it, too! Keep writing, painting and fiddling! We need a mandolin/fiddle session at the next Bloomsbury Christmas party! :)

adele said...

I met you once briefly at the Edinburgh Festival years ago, Debi but I want you to know that you have support from me and from everyone, I'm sure who's read your story. Your book will be lovely and be there when the dreadful Artist and his cohorts are long gone. I WISH you would copy and send this article to either the Scotsman, or the Guardian or some other outlet so that he can be exposed for what he is. I am going to follow you on Twitter right now.

Lucy Coats said...

I've said elsewhere that the trolls make me tired, depressed and angry. No one should go through what you have had to put up with - and there are too many other examples of online bullying campaigns against authors, most recently that drummed up against Cassandra Clare. We can't stop the trolls, nor should we engage with them - ever - since that merely feeds their ire and hatred. What we can do is to offer our support to you and those others who have been targeted. For instance, I've just bought a copy of The Tobermory Cat. I've read and loved it, and shall say so loudly. Positive deeds and thoughts CAN outweigh the negative and I also believe that The Artist's hate campaign will eventually return to bite him in the bum. I've seen karma in action too many times not to. You see how much support you have here, Debi, and I hope it helps.

Rosalie Warren said...

Debi, as a fellow author I just want to add my support to you. What you have been subjected to is absolutely awful. Please don't let any of this interfere with the writing of your wonderful books.

With my very best wishes
Rosalie Warren

Savita Kalhan said...

What an awful story - except it's not a story, which it makes it even more awful. Don't ever let people like that get you down. As every sane person knows, he doesn't have a leg to stand on. I too will be ordering Tobermory Cat. Good luck, Debi!

Candy Gourlay said...

What everyone said. And spades of love. You're a good person, Debi.

Mark Burgess said...

I am deeply sorry this has happened to you Debi (if I may) and also angry that this modern age we live in makes it so easy for people to behave so spitefully. I find it extraordinary that anyone can set out to be so destructive of another's reputation, especially an artist of another artist.

Sheila said...

You have my 100% sympathy Debi – (and thanks for the kind help you gave me when you were in the middle of all this, re pointers to the SCBWI). I worked as a journalist for a long time and the number one change in the industry is that journalists get their news leads from social media now. I'm sure that contributed to the unfortunate one sidedness here: they first heard the story from Facebook so that's the angle they told the story from. Agree with the other comments here that the original cat is not ownable, and it's breathtaking cheek that the artist insisted the idea was stolen. Here's an idea: if all artists poured their energies into their inspiration rather than into rancour, what could be created? - Sheila Averbuch

Carolyn Hughes said...

What is wrong with these people? So sorry that you have been through this! I read your story literally shaking my head at the how wrong it all was.
Actually I started reading your story because I love cats and I once visited Tobermory. It's a place that I have fond memories of with my little daughter on the Balamory trail!
Have 'liked' your FB page and hope many more will too!

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you, Debi, and wishing you peace of mind in the middle of this surreal storm. Hope it will soon become a storm in a teacup.

Petra said...

What a story. All just because of a cat. And a person who thinks that the cat and all right to write about it was his.
And then the internet, I sometimes just hate it because of these things.
I hope, no I know, you can recover from this. You're a great illustrator and I'm sure people love your books, don't worry!

Unknown said...

I'm so sorry you've had to endure this awful experience, Debi. I've only met you once, and briefly at that, but what struck me was your unique creativity and integrity.
As Nicola says, there is no copyright on ideas (or titles). If there was a copyright on ideas where would we be with the retellings of thousands of fairytales, myths and legends from country to country and over the ages?
I'm sure if the "Artist" had a leg to stand on he would have addressed this through the proper legal channels in the first instance.
Moreover, if the "Artist" has an issue then he should also consider the fact that Saki aka Hector Hugo Munro wrote a story entitled "Tobermory" pre 1916 about a professor who teaches animals to speak and proceeds to demonstrate on a cat called Tobermory!
I wish you well and also loads of success with your Tobermory - I very much look forward to reading it!

Maureen Lynas said...

I'm so sorry this has happened to you, the artist obviously has no idea how authors work. But why didn't he just write his own book about the cat, then the readers could have decided which was best. Attempting to placate people is not always the best way forward.

Kathryn Evans said...

Debi you have an awful lot of people on your side and I'm one of them - as one of the vile comments points out on the facebook page 'karma's a bitch' - this will turn around. I'll be buying your Tobermory Cat, not that I'll ever own it, who ever heard of owning a cat?

Ellen Renner said...

Thank you for having the courage to tell us about this, Debi. Just adding my voice to the many offering support. Cyber-bullying is totally unacceptable, as well as cowardly. Of course ideas cannot be 'owned', only original work. Sending you lots of good wishes, and off to order the book.

Monologues4u said...

What a horrible thing to happen to you, to anyone. I am sure you have done the right thing to tell the story, and I hope you now get a chance to feel the love there is for you, instead of all that vile other stuff.
Your pictures are beautiful and I will definitely be buying a copy of your book.
Love and Hugs xxx

Monologues4u said...

What a horrible thing to happen to you, to anyone. I am sure you have done the right thing to tell the story, and I hope you now get a chance to feel the love there is for you, instead of all that vile other stuff.
Your pictures are beautiful and I will definitely be buying a copy of your book.
Love and Hugs xxx

Sean Fleming said...

I've read so many of your stories to my two sons while they were both little boys.

You have brought immeasurable joy into their lives, and those of countless millions of others.

Thank you.

As for the so-called Artist and his campaign of hate... for what it's worth, he has to live in the midst of all his bitterness and hate. It, no doubt, colours his every word, every deed, every artistic endeavour. I expect he's always been like that, and always will be.

You should never have attracted this vile man's attention in this way. He clearly has what in polite company are referred to as issues.

George Kirk said...

kay, it's quite a long involved story though so can I see if I've got this right?

The actual cat in question is a living breathing local celebrity that has inspired someone to create a FB page and someone else to write and illustrate a children's story? The former is now claiming the latter has stolen intellectual property. But how can a living breathing animal be intellectual property, he is part of the world around us from which we all take inspiration.

I suppose it must have been a frustration for the artist if the had been thinking of his own children's book along the same lines, but the way you tell it it doesn't seem this way, and even if he did go back to my previous point. Nor does his disappointment justify systematic cyber bullying and stalking, and who are these people jumping on his band wagon? How are they hurt by this? Pathetic little cowards!

What a shame he didn't decide to be a part of the project when he had the chance. And I am so sorry for your terrible experiences.

Emma Haughton said...

So sorry to hear this has happened to you. Just unbelievable. Well done for going public about it.

Sally said...

Hi Debi, I am utterly horrified by the behaviour of the Artist and his cronies. I'm truly sympathetic to your plight -and will make a point of buying YOUR book for Christmas gifts by way of support.

Helen Hollick said...

Full support from me! I'm an author of historical fiction - and yep, I've been on the receiving end of the Hate Hose Trolls... they really are very sad (and lonely?) people. Unfortunately there are a lot of them out there :-(

I thought after the Da Vinci Code hoo-ha that it was established that an IDEA was not copyright? It seems to me that pop-cock of an Artist has a huge personal problem - but not a legal leg to stand on.
(Can't the Society of Authors help you out here with legal assistance?)

Anyway, a copy duly ordered for my daughter (aged 30) also shared this blog post - (love this: 'it's better to light a candle than curse the darkness' - advanced arning, I've stolen it to use in my newsletter.

just a thought - shouldn't the owner of the Cat be the "owner"?

Wishing you all the best - and don't give in to bullies.

Virginia Moffatt said...

Hi Debi,

This is an appalling story. I hope you and the other people affected have complained about Artist & his cronies to Facebook, Twitter etc. They deserve to have their accounts blocked. I was going to suggest you also raised the issue with Wikipedia who were unwittingly supporting the bullying, but I too checked and the comments are off. So that's good.

Anyway, there's a lot of twitter love for you today and outrage at this appalling behaviour, so I hope that helps restore your faith in the internet.

The book sounds lovely and I hope you do well.

Virginia (Julia Moffatt's twin sister)

Virginia Moffatt said...

Hi Debbie,

Appalling story so sorry. Hope you have complained to twitter and facebook they can and do suspend accounts. The wiki entry is all right now, otherwise I'd say complain to them too.

Hope you are feeling the twitter love for you here, and that it does something to counteract the incoherent rage.

Virginia (Julia's twin)

Historical Reminiscing with Marilyn said...

Oh,dear this is a horrific story! Going Public is the only way to stop it..You should have reported his Facebook Page you can do that you know there is a way to report hate remarks!
Good Luck with your book..I'll look out for it!

Holly Gatrell said...

What beautiful illustrations and it amazes me how strong you must be to produce this brilliant book with such a horrendous saga going on in the background. I really admire you that. The 'artist' is sadly. lacking in copyright knowledge and professional courtesy by acting in such an abborent manner. I'm buying your book too and believe something good must come of all this, perhaps its time for a good news story!

slaurie said...

I can't wait to read this book with my wee boy, he loves your drawings and gets excited pointing at things on the pages. Especially candles, for some reason.
Anyway I say this because that's what will last, not this horrible story, but the happy memories and associations that will be made in the lives of many young people.

UrsulaV said...

As an illustrator and children's book author myself, I know exactly what you mean about ideas. I am so, so sorry you have to deal with crazy people, and I hope this blows over quickly.

I hope the book sells a zillion copies and makes a lot of small children very happy.

Jane Smith said...

This dreadful story just goes to show that the Artist doesn't understand copyright, or the publishing process. And gets a whole lot of other stuff wrong too.

I have ordered a couple of copies of your book, Debi, to give away as Christmas presents (as my boys are a bit too old for it now), and hope that all goes well for you from now on.

Also, you might like to read this:

You have friends all over the place. I hope that helps.

Juliet Clare Bell said...

Hello Debi, I'm so sorry about this. And I hope that this is the beginning of it all getting much better. It's much easier to intimidate someone when the story (behind the book, not the story in the book) isn't out there for everyone to see. I think people will see it for what it is and I hope that the many messages of support to you go some way to make this better. We've met a couple of times before at SCBWI events (the first retreat and a Winchester conference where you played with my crazy-haired baby at dinner) and my brother, who lives in Orkney, met you at the event you spoke about and was so full of praise for you.

I can't wait for the SCBWI conference in November where I'll be joining the long queue to get you to sign The Tobermory Cat.

With very best wishes from Clare.

Loretta Schauer said...

Oh Debi, I'm so sorry to hear that this has happened to you. What a horrid and bizarre thing to have to deal with. You're an inspirational creator of children's books and a thoroughly lovely person to boot. If there's anything that can be done to help please let us know and I'd like to add my voice of support to all the other voices who have posted here.

Unknown said...

We live in Tobermory and we sincerely apologise to you all. We are very sorry. We are saddened. People have been photographing and writing about our Tobermory cats for many years, long before this recent and excellent Facebook profile, now tainted by blogging.

The name Tobermory Cat was first penned by Saki (born 1870) in a book written in 1908, called Tobermory, about a cat called Tobermory. There was and is a Youtube video made in 2008 called Tobermory about the Saki cat. There is a cat called Tobermory in an 88 minute long Spanish animated fantasy film released in 2007; drawn by Pablo Navarro with an animation ‘blog’ showing Tobermory the cat in many original line drawings postures dating from 2009! Finally there are photos of ginger cats from 2010, taken in Tobermory, posted on the web by an other photographer and called ‘Tobermory Cat’.

If I lived in Kenya and photograph the elephants and opened a Facebook page called ‘Kenya Elephant’; do I own the rights to all the elephants and do I have the right to deny others the right to write children's books about elephants - I think not !!!!

This new and beautiful book with local scenes and local characters, continues in the vein of the Bear's Adventure in Tobermory by Ben Blathwayt and will be a great asset in raising the profile of our town and our Island with a new generation who will in turn become our future tourist.

Tobermory is beautiful, the people are wonderful and we will always welcome you all.

Brian and Christine Swinbanks

Etienne de LAmour said...

Hang in there, Debi. As noted by another fan on Facebook, "Tobermory" has an interesting pedigree predating the current dispute over intellectual property.

Hector Hugh Munro (1870–1916), better known as Saki, wrote a short story about a talking cat called Tobermory in "The Chronicles of Clovis". You can find the full story here:

Emily S said...

Debi, the injustice of this is galling, but I am awed by the dignity of your response. There may be such a thing as bad publicity but I can't imagine a better way of turning it around. I'm off to buy a copy to see what all the fuss is about!
Emily (formerly of Frances Lincoln) xx

Nicola Morgan said...

Brian and Christine - you have absolutely nailed it. Thank you for your intelligent, true, and wise words. Do you mind if I quote you when I blog about this? People really do need to understand about creativity, ideas and ownership.

Juliet Clare Bell said...

Just wanted to say how pleased I was to read Brian and Christine's response.

Shiloh Walker said...

I read about this on twitter and I'm so sorry. I pre-ordered your book for my youngest and might well be ordering more. Schools can always use books. :)

Unknown said...

Nicola - Please feel free to use.

As an Industrial Designer who has been involved with the artistic community on Mull I am now trying to arrange through Comar and An Tobar, our local Art Centre, a visit by someone with experience in Intellectual Property Rights to run a short workshop to help all of the very creative artists who live and work on Mull.

Brian Swinbanks

Linda said...

I´m so sorry to hear about this, i wish there was something i could do. Love your book, =)

best wishes, Linda

Nicola Morgan said...

I have now blogged about copyright, and hope that those who mistakenly thought Debi was doing something wrong will realise that they were wrong. Debi, I hope you don't mind my putting the link here?

Brian, I ended up not needing to quote - I decided to keep it as much as possible about the simple rules of copyright, rather than bringing names into it. But thank you - your comment was great.

I do hope people start to see sense.

Siobhan MacGowan said...

God almighty, you poor thing. Well in the light of all this I wish you every success with your book - will follow you now wherever I can follow you and keep an eye on how your beautiful, I'm sure, book is doing. Good luck!

Laura Mary said...

Debi, I feel so sad that you had to go through this!
It really is shocking behaviour. For someone who took such time to cyberstalk and bully you, he clearly spared no time to research his own supposed creation.

I hope your books have the success they deserve, I will be recommending them to my mum! (not as odd as it sounds - she is a primary school teacher!)

Best wishes,


Laura Mary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jayne said...

Gosh Debi, this is awful. If he thought he had a valid point he should have gone to a lawyer and they would have told him straight away he had no case. Instead he pursued you online? And your friends? And suggested enough to his facebook followers for them to bully and harrass you? That's so, so wrong.

If there is a silver lining, it is that I am new to your work and think your illustrations are gorgeous. I'm especially impressed you were strong enough to ignore the hate hose and instead create that wonderful piece of art. I'll be buying your book.

Lisa D, said...

Just wanted to add my support,so Sorry to hear about this shocking behaviour. You have been through the wringer and I really hope that you continue to stay positive and positive things happen for you. I will be looking out for your book as a Christmas gift.

The Ginger Darlings said...

Poor cat. Hope someone is feeding him. Looking forward to seeing the book. And oh dear me, what a story. How would I feel if someone took my cats and put them in a book? Flattered. Tom Cox did just that in Talk to the Tail. How would I feel if they made a picture book? A little confused, but not threatened. A cat's a cat, for all that!
I do struggle with the idea of intelectual property. Having my own conversations with people who copy my work. But there is a level of graceless nastiness about all of this and I hope, Debi, that you and your publisher achieve great succes with what looks like a beautiful book.
Best wishes, from Wales.

Barry Hutchison said...

People really make me despair sometimes. It's not just that these people have been so vile, it's that they're clearly thick as mince. NOTHING HAS BEEN STOLEN BY ANYONE! I fail to see how anyone can think otherwise.

Mind you, I got death threats from some loony hardcore Christian in the US over The 13th Horseman - a comedy fantasy book - so I know full well that the net is hoaching with nutters.

Toby said...

I have to admit I'm slightly conflicted with this one and whilst I've been a 'fan' of the Tobermory Cat on Facebook I'm very uncomfortable with some of the rhetoric being thrown about on that page. But I also do have a fair degree of sympathy with the artist running the page and can understand to a degree why he feels so aggrieved.

I'm also mystified why he dug his heels in quite so hard when the compromise was put to him, it sounded more than reasonable.

(As an aside whoever gave you the pronounciation for 'Ledaig' was well off the mark. It'll be more like 'Ledjig' or 'Led-jayg'. Not Le Shag! I'm from Lewis and admittedly there are slight differences in dialect but I'm pretty sure it won't be hugely different. )

As to the wikipedia page, I don't see that there was anything hugely wrong with the addition of the controversy surrounding TC. I noted that one of the edits does seem to have put it in a seperate 'Controversy' section rather than lumping it in with your main bio. I understand that it's not something you would want to dwell but I don't think the entry was offensive and had been widely reported in the press after all.

Bullying should never be tolerated and I'm pretty disgusted with the childish behaviour of those that have hassled you or the people you work with. It really does sour what should be something that ultimately is a bit of fun.

Best of luck with the book and hopefully any ruffled fur will soon be forgotten about and folk will move on.

Take care,


Etienne de LAmour said...

Hi Toby, thanks. I saw the controversy section on Debi Gliori's Wikipedia page and, having reservations about it, I had others look at it.

For one thing, we thought that the controversy carried "undue weight" in relation to what was a stub article at the time with only one reference (I've since added many references to the article and tidied it up).

The second thing is that this is the biography of a living person and though the controversy was reported in reliable sources, the content was based on unproven allegations of theft which were potentially defamatory and might cause damage to the author and publisher's reputation and their prospects.

The controversy section, which did not include the publisher's lengthy rebuttal, might also have been "unbalanced" toward one point of view, rather than having a neutral point of view. However, to have added a digest of that rebuttal would only have made the section even more "unduly weighted".

Anonymous said...

This is horrible. I really feel for you. You can't steal an idea of a cat - especially as it's based on real life! I mean that's crazy - you found out about the cat without the artist.

What a terrible thing to have to go through. My husband suffered a bit of cyber bullying too, as someone began contacting all his twitter followers (who he works for). It was horrific. I wouldn't wish it on anybody.

Feels like a spiritual attack to be honest. When something like that happens I think we have to confront it head on with a hell of alot of love and grace, and shout it out. I think you've done it superbly. Thank you for posting about it. What a story! Light the way. Good luck.

Etienne de LAmour said...

Just in, haven't read it yet:

barmybex said...

So sorry to hear about this Debi. I have always loved your books.
Some people really need to think about what they are doing with their lives - to start such ridiculous arguments.
My toughts are with you. Don't give up. Xxxxx

barmybex said...

Sorry to hear about this. I have always loved your books Debi. Some people will make a fuss over anything. They really need to have a look at their lives, evaluate what is really important.
Don't give up, we're all behind you. My thoughts are with you. Xxxxx

J said...

This is so sad that you have been through this - you bring love and warmth to your books and we so look forward to reading your new book. I do hope that you will be able to put this horrible experience behind you soon.
Big hugs x

Laura Zarrin said...

I'm so sorry you are going through this. What a travesty of justice! I hope this artist gets the karma he deserves. Count me as one of your fans and supporters.

Heather said...

I cannot wait to read your book, the illustrations look lovely. You are right about creativity, it isn't something that can be grasped at or confined. I'm sorry that you have had to deal with this terrible hatred. People need to think bout the fact that they are addressing a fellow human being, not a photograph on a computer when they act this way. I hope your book sales go through the roof.

laura said...

As someone who has brought up my children on Debi's books,among many others,
I am appalled at your treatment. My daughter also has had the pleasure of talking to you at one of those wonderful school visits. She was inspired by you. Bullying is bullying no matter where it takes place,it seems to me,we needed to have a debate on the etiquette of social media....perhaps a children book...catch them young!

Jax Blunt said...

Not an author or illustrator or artist. Just a reader and parent and feeder of cats. No one owns cats, they come and go as they please. Ideas even more so. You have my support, I will be buying your book.

Laurence and Catherine Anholt said...

Hi Debi, Laurence and Catherine Anholt here sending massive support to you. We know you well and with an imagination like yours, you don't need to take ideas from anyone. If people think that using some random cat is intellectual theft they should wise up - I've just discovered a full scale ballet in the US based word-for-word on one my books without so much as a mention! It's such a shame because your beautiful book would do nothing but good things for Tobermory, whereas most of the current publicity is negative. We know you work honestly, fairly and with love and so does anyone who has met you. Sebding love and strength.

Christy said...

I'm sorry to hear that this has happened to you but I hope you become more famous than ever in the end!

Stay positive and best of luck!

Enid Richemont said...

Debi - as another children's author and a member of the Scattered Authors Society - this must be a nightmare for you. I am SO sorry. Just visited your website - love your work (and the guy seems semi-literate too - maybe some kind of inferiority complex?)

Sandra Schwab said...

Debi, I've just found out about this - I'm so, so sorry this has happened to you. What a horrible situation!

Your book looks beautiful & I've ordered it straight away. I hope you'll be able to put all the unpleasantness behind you, soon!

Kath McGurl said...

What a terrible story. But you have given me a great idea for Christmas presents for my little niece and nephew. I remember your name from some Mr Bear books my own children loved as toddlers.
Take comfort from your sales figures, and keep writing.

Unknown said...

Amazing how simple it can be to communicate with people and have them understand a certain topic, you made my day.

24 hour plumber Perth

Mefinx said...

I've only just come across this story, and I'm saddened and shocked. I loved Mull when we visited and it's sad to know that, like most remote places, it harbours a few such people.

All this is worryingly similar to the recent cyber-persecution of another talented and courageous lady, Prof Mary Beard. It's about power, pure and simple. I really hope the wounds are starting to heal and that the book sells well. Incidentally, my daughter, who is now a student at Edinburgh Uni, adored your books when she was a bit younger.