By now many of you know the story, or parts of it. Going forward, I will no longer being writing BattleTech for Catalyst Game Labs (CGL). This was not a mutual decision. A handful of people, led by Faith McCloskey, protested when my latest novel, No Substitute for Victory, was published. That backlash led to Fanatics (owner of the IP) telling Catalyst to ‘make this go away.’
I should have seen the handwriting on the wall. Throughout my ordeal with the person using this fake identity, Loren Coleman, the President of Catalyst, never called to ask how I was doing. All he was focused on was where the investigation into Faith/J was at and what actions I was taking and when. In contrast, Defiance Press, one of my other publishers, called to make sure my wife and I were okay, seeing if there was anything they could do to help. Catalyst never once, after I made matters public, said that they were against people threatening their contract employees. They never gave me a single public word of support.
My discussion regarding my termination with Catalyst’s President centered on him highlighting an ongoing ‘feud’ with the person claiming to be Faith. Catalyst’s rebuttal to my initial article in American Greatness on this matter said that this had nothing to do with my Faith. My response to this is to relay to you part of the transcript of my discussion with Catalyst’s President on this matter (yes, I transcribed my notes from the call) – and you can form your own opinion:
- CGL “The problem is really this feud you have with J**** (Faith).”
- “I’m not feuding.”
- CGL “Well you are. Every time you post something about him, it causes him to react.”
- “I have written two things in three months about what he did. I made it clear to you when we started this that I had been forced to be quiet [under advice of legal counsel] for months. I have every right to speak out about what he tried to do to me. Need I remind you that this person threatened the life of one of your contract employees? I told you then that I would be fully leveraging this and you said you would do the same thing if you were in my shoes. He hasn’t stopped trying to smear me, and you expect me to do nothing?”
- CGL “I’m not saying that. But it’s causing a problem.”
- “This isn’t about my articles [about him] at all or referencing him. He reacted the moment that my last novel came out and I hadn’t even talked about him. You can’t expect me to be quiet.”
- CGL “Well, it’s a problem.”
- “So you’re willing to throw a 36 year relationship with BattleTech out window? One of your bestselling authors?”
- CGL “I knew this would be a difficult call.”
With the release of Blue Dawn, I wrote articles for conservative websites such as American Thinker, PJ Media, and Townhall.com, American Greatness, and others. I made it clear to Catalyst that I would reference my online stalker in some of these articles as an example of woke extremism. Catalyst’s President said, “I would do the same thing if I were you.” On my call with Catalyst over my release, this was being positioned as me being in some sort of ‘feud.’ At the risk of being blunt, everything I have done in regards to this person has been in reaction to their online attacks or threats. Faith and his minions have harassed reporters, bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, and others in a campaign to smear me and intimidate them. Even when I posted nothing online, they spewed their venom and lies about me. This had nothing to do with BattleTech, it was an orchestrated effort by a handful of individuals with a radical leftist agenda to cancel me.
Publishers can hire whomever they desire. I am more appalled that Catalyst has opted to side with a person who had threatened my life. Imagine how you would feel in the same circumstance. Picture someone harassing you online to the point where they contact your friends and make threats against your life – and your employer releasing you as a result of this.
Catalyst employs a number of progressive/liberal writers and artists who post things on the internet that are far more offending than anything I ever did – but they are being retained. To me, this creates the appearance that it is my conservative views that are what Catalyst has issue with. I will let you form your own opinion. I notice that only one person’s name, mine, was mentioned in their rebuttal.
Why speak up at all? The President of Catalyst told me that he would inform the fans of this decision but never did that. Weekly, if not daily, I receive messages asking me what is coming out next; or when will the Snord’s story be released; or when will there be another Clan Wolverine story? What are you working on? Where’s the stuff you said you’ve written? I was forced to make this public to clear the air and put an end to those questions.
Catalyst reached out to me weeks after this decision and askdc me to write a blurb for an upcoming coffee table book about what BattleTech meant to me – after telling me I was being banned from writing future fiction. Why would I help them sell product after the treatment they were giving me? Their response to my anguish over the request was that it was okay, they weren’t going to pay me for it! Money has never been the motivator for writing BattleTech. I love the universe and the game.
Then a few weeks ago, I received this nasty note from my editor, a man who I had bailed out countless times before:
Talk about judging a book by its cover! A Most Uncivil War had not been published at this point, yet Catalyst’s editor, John Helfers, chose to be insulting to me. Loren was copied on the email but did not offer any rebuke of John’s nastiness. His inaction made it clear that he supported this attempt to infuriate and insult me and my writing.
For years I answered fans questions about BattleTech lore, characters, battles, etc. I posted material about the history of the franchise. I actively and openly engaged with the fan community. I had gamers in my house to play BattleTech. Catalyst benefited from these actions. I gave free consulting on WWI aviation and naval action for their Leviathan’s game. From my perspective that loyalty was one-sided and misplaced.
To be clear, I am not a victim. I refuse to use that title. I am a conservative that has had one publisher not publish my work because my views do not align with theirs. I chose to exercise my First Amendment rights. To me, this is censorship at the source. Their actions have had me join the ranks of others like Gina Carano, Tim Allen, and others, so I feel like I’m in good company. They have a business to run and made a decision. What I, and the fans, think of that decision is irrelevant. The loss is to the many fans I have earned over the decades. I will walk away proud of my contributions to BattleTech.
I have been overwhelmed with dozens of emails, posts, and DM’s of support. Thank you. This has been an emotional burden that I’ve been carrying for months and this weekend was cathartic and emotionally therapeutic. I ignored the nasty comments and outright lies by a handful of people, they didn’t merit giving the posters credibility by responding. Haters are going to hate. I don’t have time in my life for such negative people.
I get it – we kind of grew up together. A lot of fans have written about how they were teenagers and loved reading my books. My books were a guilty and safe pleasure for many of you in your youth. I’m glad my efforts got you to enjoy the game and the universe. Others loved my contribution to sourcebooks – ComStar and Clan Wolf. One compared my current situation to that of Khan Sarah McEvedy of Clan Wolverine…which made me grin. One asked if I would be selling my BattleTech collection – which I now must consider. Most simply were upset and wanted to know they had my back. Everyone expressed appreciation for my work and I am deeply thankful for your kind words.
I will continue to write novels about great characters, telling fun and creative stories – just not BattleTech stories. This will not slow me down one bit as a writer. I prefer creating in my own universe of Blue Dawn or writing true crime books, or my novels for Creative Juggernaut. I have three novels coming out of Kickstarters for them starting this fall. Two publishers reached out to me yesterday to write for their series – so you never know where I might show up. These publishers are able to separate where I stand on issues versus the stories I write. I have contracts in place right now for books with publishers who don’t care what politics I have. Their focus is the product I create. As long as I write good stories, they and their readers are happy.
This will likely be my last blog post on BattleTech. It would take a lot for me to come back to the franchise – so please don’t ask me. I’m 59 years old, so I want to spend my time working on projects where I don’t have to look over my shoulder or cringe at how a handful of internet trolls might react. I don’t believe in boycotts or online petitions. If you want to speak with your pocketbook, that is your decision. Direct your questions to @Topps or @Fanatics. If you want to support me, do it in the time-tested way, buy my books from other publishers such as Defiance Press, Lyons Press, Skyhorse Publishing, Wild Blue Publishing, or Arcadia.