Iowa romance novelist sues over efforts to have ghostwriter take over series

By: - December 28, 2021 11:00 am

An Iowa writer of romance novels is suing her literary agent for allegedly attempting to replace her with a ghost writer. (Image by leszekglasner/iStock-Getty Images Plus)

An Iowa writer of romance novels is suing her literary agent for allegedly attempting to take over her ongoing series of novels and have them completed by a ghostwriter.

Marci Clark of Newton, who writes under the names Marci Bolden, Marci Boudreaux, M. Bolden and Emilia Mancini, is suing literary agent David Grishman of Massachusetts, and two Grishman-affiliated companies, Red Rock Literary and the publishing company Pink Sand Press, in U.S. District Court.

Clark alleges that in late 2018, she entered into an agreement with Grishman for him to act as her literary agent and represent her in negotiations with prospective publishers. Within a month, Clark signed with Pink Sand Press, where Grishman is operations manager, to publish her books over the next 10 years.

Pink Sand, according to the lawsuit, is owned by Grishman’s father.

Clark quickly produced a series of three books for Pink Sand as part of her “Women of Hearts” series of romance novels that focuses on a team of female private investigators who solve crimes and become romantically involved with clients and others.

In March 2020, as editing continued on the fourth book in the series, Grishman allegedly informed Clark by phone that Pink Sand would be buying out the remaining two books in the Women of Hearts series and hiring a ghostwriter to pen them. Grishman allegedly told Clark she had no say in the matter because of a clause in her publishing agreement that allowed Pink Sand to use a ghostwriter working under Clark’s name.

The lawsuit claims there is no such clause in the contract and that in early 2021, she and Pink Sand amended their contract to allow only basic copy-editing of her work, as opposed to any sort of plot-based “developmental editing” by the publisher.

Despite this, the lawsuit claims, Pink Sand made extensive developmental edits to the fourth Women of Hearts novel, “Secret Hearts,” and then told Clark she was in default on the publishing agreement and would not be receiving royalties until the parties came to an agreement to end their publishing agreement.

Clark’s lawsuit accuses Grishman and Pink Sand of fraudulent concealment, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract, claiming Grishman steered her into a publishing agreement with a company that employed him, took a 15% commission, and then failed to disclose his family ties with Pink Sand until after Clark had signed her publishing contract.

The defendants have yet to file a response to the lawsuit.

In addition to the Women of Hearts series, Clark is the author of several other books, including “Friends Without Benefits,” part of the Stonehill series of novels, and “A Life Without Water.”

Under the name M. Bolden, Clark has written a series of adult-themed books billed as “the bolder side of Bolden.” The series includes “Seducing Kate,” promoted as a novel in which a young man “goes home with his roommate for a family-style Thanksgiving meal” and discovers that “lust will be on the menu” in the form of his roommate’s mother.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.