Bizarre Email of the Week from “Agent” Tom Dark
I was sitting there with a plate of french toast and checking email when a message popped up from Tom Dark of the Heacock Hill Literary Agency.
“Greetings and Salutations,” he proclaimed!
Well, no. Actually he opened his email by saying, “I see you’re a snide supporter of the ‘Absolute Write’ gang.” He then proceeded to spend approximately 900 words explaining that Heacock Hill has been the victim of a vicious hoax “purposely instigated by ‘Absolute Write’ and/or ‘Writer Beware.'” He described Absolute Write as a cult, informed me that he was not Jewish, and added that he was also not Miriam Silverstein.
All of which left me with three questions.
- Who was this guy?
- Why was he emailing me?
- Where the hell did this french toast come from?
Question three was easiest to answer, and once I made my way back to the right table, I sat down to examine this email in more detail. As near as I can make out, someone wrote some nasty comments about this guy, including things like, “You want to go around and write your little PEE BOY SQUIRT OINKER BULLSHIT all over my stuff, go ahead.”
This may or may not have been on the Absolute Write site; if it was, the moderators at AW have removed it as inappropriate.
Therefore Absolute Write is a cult. Or something. I’m not sure. I was still disoriented by the french toast mishap.
Absolute Write does have a thread about this agency. Please note: this is the link that Dark himself sent me in his email. Following that link reveals … folks talking about how Tom Dark sends weird/creepy-aggressive emails to people.
Despite the fact that Mr. Dark has a pretty cool superhero name, I was starting to get a little weirded out by this point. I skimmed another nasty comment someone apparently sent, and jumped to the end, where he states:
This little cult that pretends to “protect writers from fraud” have been pulling this sick game for years. Years ago they also attacked our founder, in her eighties, with lies about fees charged. We see how these lies have spread unchecked to sites that also refuse to check up on the malicious libels they’re serving to perpetrate. We see how some sites have falsely characterized this as “a controversy.”
A lawsuit is time- taking and expensive. If we must get around to it eventually, we certainly will, and with the intent to simply get rid of these vicious, hypocritical phonies, very loudly….
Maybe we won’t have to. A little insider info for you: a good many editors are getting sick and tired of this gang of hacks, finally.
He then wished me a fun career, turned into a puff of dandelion fuzz, and floated away in a maple syrup-scented breeze.
Being the inquisitive fellow I am, I headed over to the Heacock Hill Literary Agency where I found, just as Dark had claimed, that they “do not charge up front fees.” I also found zero information about who their clients were or what books they might have sold. So I emailed Mr. Dark asking if he’d be willing to share.
Dark was quick to reply, letting me know that:
We, I, represent a bunch of people, some, real mighty. I don’t care if you know who they are. Couple up and comers are on my personal blog. We do care that those concerned know who they are. We do care that we, and they, don’t have to put up with the rancid lying shit your buddies smear around.
Huh. Okay, I’ll happily admit that one of the comments he sent me included some nasty antisemitic name-calling, apparently directed at Dark. But why did he feel the need to tell me all about all of this? As I explained to him, I didn’t even know who Tom Dark was, nor the Heacock Hill Literary Agency.
To which he explained:
Wasn’t that you who wrote the snide “apology” about some “Write Agenda” thing on your blog? When I looked into these cronies of yours are, what I found from these so-called “sock puppets” independently pretty much matched.
He’s referring to this blog post, which was indeed rather snide in its disdain for the homophobic twits of The Write Agenda.
Oh wait, I see the connection. Mister Dark had a guest post for TWA, wherein he spends 2900 words (yes, I did a word count) to explain that everything Absolute Write said about him was a lie by lying liars who lie, he has lots of important and brilliant clients that he won’t name, and he really was popular, so there! Also, something about flying monkeys.
By now, I was having fun, so I did a little more digging and found a blog post wherein he talks (anonymously) about a few of his clients, including one who sadly didn’t work out.
Now, the crazy lady instead left such a loud-mouthed message on my machine I thought it better we wrote quietly. She wrote back loudly, officiously declaring how to do my business and how this certain last-minute thing I happened to be doing was totally impossible.
Is “stupid c**t” politically correct English? It’s scientific.
So that’s what’s been wafting through my inbox. I’m sad to say that the only things I made up here were that bit about the french toast and Dark’s ability to vanish in a poof of dandelion fluff.
Short version: Classy “agent” is classy.
PS, When Mr. Dark discovers this post, he is more than welcome to share any details he wishes that might help establish his credentials as a successful agent and counter the scammerish red flag of refusing to list any clients or sales. But trolling and name-calling will be deleted and/or kittened, depending on my mood.
ETA: A few people have pointed me toward information about Mr. Dark’s clients.
- This author emailed me to say they were no longer with Tom Dark, and did not want their name associated with him.
- Sriram Karri (per this article). Karri apparently has at least two books out, but I couldn’t find either one listed on Amazon.
- G. Zelauy (per her “About” page). She has one self-published book from 2011.
- James B. Clark (per Dark’s post at AW.) He has one self-published title from 2010. (It sounds like Clark ended up leaving Mr. Dark.)
I know nothing about these writers, and there’s nothing wrong with self-publishing. But I’m having trouble finding any value whatsoever that Mr. Dark brought to his clients.
June 18, 2013 @ 2:55 pm
As one who has also been on the receiving end of Mr. Dark’s lengthy literary stylings…my sympathies.
June 18, 2013 @ 2:57 pm
I’m fairly new to your blog having encountered you via some weird means (including I think Ursula Vernon, your cover poses, and the SFWA thing), so what does being “kittened” mean?
Jim C. Hines
June 18, 2013 @ 3:00 pm
Sorry – I meant to include a link to http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/01/21/the-kitten-setting/ for that.
June 18, 2013 @ 3:27 pm
Wait, isn’t Mr. Dark they guy played so brilliantly by Jonathan Pryce in the movie adaption of “Something Wicked This Way Comes”?
June 18, 2013 @ 3:41 pm
Too bad about the imaginary French toast, although I know you had your reasons.
I love The Kittening. I find it irresistible, which is also why my husband keeps me away from the cat adoption area at the local Petsmart.
June 18, 2013 @ 3:44 pm
Wait… so… you posted something snarky about the Write Agenda, and this Dark dude decides this means you’re a member or a minion or otherwise subscribe to their newsletter?
I don’t know; if I were going to hire an agent I think I’d prefer one who has at least some basic reading comprehension skills and/or awareness of all Internet traditions such as sarcasm.
June 18, 2013 @ 3:48 pm
I hope that at least the French toast was tasty.
Jim C. Hines
June 18, 2013 @ 3:48 pm
I think I posted snark about TWA, which means I’m part of the Official Absolute Write Cabal. Or else the Cult of Writer Beware. No, wait — was it Absolute Write that was the cult? I’m so confused.
Molly Dugger Brennan
June 18, 2013 @ 4:11 pm
No, no, no. I think Dark’s the guy that owns Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona. I saw him on Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey.
June 18, 2013 @ 4:13 pm
Wow–I’m jealous! I’ve always wanted to be a minion. . . or maybe have minions. Yes, that’s it. I want minions. Kitten minions. Lots of fluffy balls of kitten minions.
And french toast is good.
(Thanks for the giggle today, Jim!)
June 18, 2013 @ 4:37 pm
I think there are two mutually exclusive possibilities:
a) he is really succesfull or
b) he has time to write such emails.
June 18, 2013 @ 5:14 pm
My thought was “Should Jim be having French toast? Isn’t that a lot of carbs? I hope he had sugar-free syrup. Won’t the syrup get on the keyboard?”
So, yeah. The French toast was the part that struck me as wrong. 🙂 Loony loon is loony, I was all “yep.”
But my goodness, that is USDA Grade A Prime crazy.
June 18, 2013 @ 5:14 pm
You and me both!
June 18, 2013 @ 5:22 pm
Actually, it is kind of sad. I think Tom Dark might be having a delusional break down or something. Either that or he’s a new species of troll. Good luck!
June 18, 2013 @ 5:23 pm
Yo, Mr. French Toast,
Your blog isn’t popular enough to bring me more traffic than that? That’s pathetic. Maybe write something even snottier?
Yes I do have time to do this. And will find time for quite awhile. Maybe you’re not real fond of it, but it’s fun to tell the truth. It does make things happen.
Stay out of the agency mailbox from hereon.
C. M. Albrecht
June 18, 2013 @ 5:27 pm
This guy appears to have a dark sense of humor; veery dark. As to French toast, skip it and eat Entemann’s Softee doughnuts. Make you write like a fiend. You do however get lots of powdered sugar on the keyboard and being handicapped, it’s hare for me to lick it off. My handicap? Didn’t I tell you? It’s always having my foot in my mouth.
Come to think of it, Mr. Dark writes like a fiend. Maybe he’s been stuffing too many Softee’s in his mug.
Jim C. Hines
June 18, 2013 @ 5:29 pm
Wait, so the “agent” who started all of this with a rude and unsolicited email to me is now ordering me to not email him? Oh dear. I’m so confused…
Jim C. Hines
June 18, 2013 @ 5:45 pm
That’s what my insulin pump is for! 🙂
June 18, 2013 @ 6:01 pm
I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s confused.
June 18, 2013 @ 6:23 pm
That’ll learn you, Hines!
June 18, 2013 @ 6:46 pm
Hey, remember – this Dork guy wields the neologism with great aplomb! Hereon! Is that like heroin, but on here? And there’s a time-taking time thief on the loose? Or maybe on the lose in his case?
In any case, kitten ahoy! And wield the insulin with great aplomb, but by Ghu’s great scaly paws eat real maple syrup, not the plonk that is passed off as pancake syrup.
June 18, 2013 @ 6:47 pm
Oops. “time- taking”
June 18, 2013 @ 7:33 pm
What makes you think we want to give your blog any traffic when we can make fun of you just fine where we are? 🙂
June 18, 2013 @ 8:38 pm
Mr Dark, (I couldn’t even type that with a straight face)
As an oh-so-successful agent, who no one seems to claim, I wanted to ask if you really understood what you were typing. “It’s fun to tell the truth.” You keep using that word. As I’ve pointed out to your buddies over at TWA on more than one occasion, I do not think it means what you think it means. You are defined by the company you keep, and TWA and the truth have never even met. Given that NO ONE has EVER claimed to be your client (I did google this), I have a hard time believing you’re as successful as you want the world to think you are, because authors are always ready to brag about their agent and who they are. Doesn’t seem to be the case with you. No agent who has a clue would use the argument I’m sure you’d make about your clients being required to sign non-disclosure agreements. So, yeah, you and telling the truth may mean entirely different things on your planet than they do here on Earth.
And if you’re bitching about Jim not generating enough traffic for you, take heed…most of us DON’T CARE. We come to Jim’s site for a certain level of intellectual stimulation and humor. You’re not up to the bar on this. Why would we go to your site when it’s far enough of a step down that there is a falling hazard?
Finally…Stay out of the agency mailbox hereon. ?? In English, this means “Stay out of the agency mailbox on this”. So, did you mean he’s more than welcome to send mail about other random things? I mean, you did sort of open that door by A) initiating an email to him, and B ) coming back for more. The rules on your planet seem to be kind of weird, so I thought I’d help you understand how things work here. I hope this helps.
The One True Ben.
June 18, 2013 @ 8:49 pm
Clearly the spambots have finally achieved sentience.
Jim C. Hines
June 18, 2013 @ 8:52 pm
For rather loose definitions of sentient, perhaps.
June 18, 2013 @ 9:12 pm
There’s not more traffic being generated to your no-doubt scintillating website because the rest of us are too busy pointing and laughing at you and your utter lack of professionalism.
June 18, 2013 @ 10:27 pm
I spent two hours of my life reading through the posts about Heacock Hill last week. By the time I was finished I was completely confused and utterly convinced that this Dark guy is completely nuts…and maybe needs to seek psychiatric help.
And this is why blogs like yours and forums like Absolute Write are invaluable to writers. I never would have known about any of this and might have gotten myself caught up in some twisted email debacle with Mr. Dark. So from me to you–THANKS!
June 19, 2013 @ 12:03 am
Well, I want to comment on the more important bit of this — berries are in season so I hope you try some either on your french toast or with a berry syrup. Some studies show some health benefits for diabetics in cinnamon so that would not hurt either.
Now I’m off to read some good books waiting for my pre-order of Codex Born to download. Unfortunately that leaves me no time to checkout Mr. Dark’s blog even if I had any interest in wading through the mess of anything he writes judging by the clips above.
June 19, 2013 @ 12:16 am
Can anyone interpret the bio on his agency site? It reads: “Tom Dark also comes to Heacock Hill from the Heacock Literary Agency, Inc. where he worked for two years as a full time agent.”
He comes to Heacock Hill from Heacock Hill…
No, I still don’t get it.
June 19, 2013 @ 12:47 am
Before Heacock Hill existed, it was Just Heacock Literary. I think that means he came over from the original agency. 🙂
June 19, 2013 @ 12:53 am
To this dark person please refrain from bothering the great Mr. Hines he has the important work of writing books of great assumeness and single handedly helping to fight depression, boredom, and closed mindedness.
To Mr. Hines you rock keep on being your froody cool self and don’t worry about this weird person I figure as crazy as he is you have more fans who may be crazier but in fun ways.
June 19, 2013 @ 12:58 am
Insulin pumps correct a multitude of carb indulgences! The question is are you Team MiniMed or Team Animas?
Your troll is fun! Thank you for the giggles. Now, if you manage to pry some success stories out of Agent Noir (I’m sorry, Tom Dark is so plainly a pretentious pseudonym that the local New Wicca community has at least 3 by now to go along with the half-dozen Morrigan Raventrees and Nyx Evernights required by coven charters), I’m sure we’d all be so very sheepish and contrite and grovel at the feet of Teh Mighty Kewl Agent Man. If only there were some actual successful authors he’s sold stories for, that might be willing to vouch for his shaky and convoluted credentials…
Jim C. Hines
June 19, 2013 @ 7:35 am
That was the main reason for the blog post. I figure enough writers read this that it’s worth highlighting the occasional … um … “problematic” agent.
Jim C. Hines
June 19, 2013 @ 7:37 am
Minimed. Or more accurately, I’m team this-is-what-was-covered-by-my-insurance.
I have gotten reports about a few of his clients, but it sounds like one ended up self-publishing while another sold to a small press that doesn’t require agent submissions. Still sorting through details.
June 19, 2013 @ 9:01 am
Thanks for the laugh, Jim!
I especially enjoyed the so called agents website- check out the appearances section. For a literary agent, the appearances seem bizarrely film centric. As are the qualifications of the two agents who run the place.
Is it bad that I had a moment of wanting to send off a fake and ridiculous query letter re a consciousness extending (what does this even mean?) book about a man’s existential crisis about what to put on his french toast?
June 19, 2013 @ 9:03 am
Yeah Hines- you French Toast eating fiend!
Jim C. Hines
June 19, 2013 @ 9:43 am
The other agent is apparently part of AAR, which suggests some legitimacy. I’m curious how much she knows about her partner’s online nonsense. (Actually, that could explain why Dark was so adamant about me not emailing the agency inbox … if he’s afraid of getting chewed out by his partner.)
June 19, 2013 @ 10:37 am
On the one hand, yes. On the other hand…this guy, not so much.
Though I’m sure his email would be improved if read by Jonathan Pryce, so there’s that…
June 19, 2013 @ 12:15 pm
In that case, if you’re in the Bay Area, load it up and I’ll take you to the world’s best French toast (IMHO) sometime. My husband loves cheating on his carbs there.
June 19, 2013 @ 12:23 pm
I got the impression from the original thread link that the other agent is Mrs. Dark, so folie a deux seems to be in effect. “Legend in his own mind” as well.
I dunno, this whole thing just makes me want somethin’ starchy slathered in pure Canadian maple syrup.
June 19, 2013 @ 12:42 pm
That is extremely bizarre behavior from a literary agent. Any agent who goes around antagonizing bestselling authors out of the blue isn’t exactly trying to grow a business. Agencies sell new clients by showing off their client list. Even if the client list is small and new, an agent can at least show that he gets them deals, even to small presses. And the main reason for an agent to have a website is to show off his clients’ books, a Twitter account to talk about his clients’ books, a Facebook page to publicize his clients’ books, etc. Never mind what Write Beware might have on him, that one fact alone should interest no authors.
June 19, 2013 @ 2:45 pm
I wish people who wanted to randomly pick fights with me would also turn into a puff of dandelion fuzz and float away on maple syrup-scented breeze. Thanks for making me laugh.
June 20, 2013 @ 2:26 pm
For someone who’s a supposedly a wildly successful literary agent, he seems to have a great deal of time on his hands for this insanity.
Shouldn’t he be marketing a client’s MS?
Thanks for the info. When the time comes and my MS is ready to go, I’ll steer clear. Living in AZ, there’s plenty of guano here without adding his variety…
June 20, 2013 @ 2:30 pm
I’m so tickled by the ABC reference here.
*insert jolly chuckling and delighted clapping*
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June 21, 2013 @ 2:25 am
[…] was reading a blog post by Jim C. Hines via Writer Beware. He was having a devil of a time with an individual(s) of […]
June 21, 2013 @ 8:20 am
Professional agent is professional.
Or maybe not.
The funny thing is that he thinks opening his mouth (erm, typing words) makes him appear any more professional. Everything I’ve seen so far (including Mr Dark’s own response to this blog) makes me think that he needs to take a long sabbatical from the publishing industry. I think it might have done something to the wiring in his brain.
Jim, you make me laugh. Consider me a new regular follower. If you check your Google Analytics stats and see a little marker down in Australia… *happeh wave*
Jim C. Hines
June 21, 2013 @ 8:24 am
Hi Belinda, and welcome!
I’ve given up trying to understand what he’s thinking. It seems to mostly be a lot of flailing and posturing, but I don’t know what he’s trying to accomplish or who he thinks he’s performing for.
Where in Australia? I’ll be there next year for Continuum.
June 21, 2013 @ 8:48 am
Maybe he figures, “Hell, I’ve gone this far, why not keep going?” ;D
“Where in Australia? I’ll be there next year for Continuum.”
Sweet! As of just a couple months ago, I live in the countryside outside of Melbourne. If I’m still here for Continuum next year, maybe I’ll bump into ya! I’m a total geek at heart, but I’ve never been to any conventions before. Would be nice to soak up some culture and meet some fellow authors. The folk in my “offline life” just don’t get the whole writing thing. 😛
Jim C. Hines
June 21, 2013 @ 10:40 am
I know what you mean. I love conventions for the opportunity to connect with writers and with my fellow geeks. Most conventions are just hotels packed full of people who get me 🙂
June 23, 2013 @ 3:23 pm
I haven’t been over to Absolute Write in a while, but I’ll amend that pronto, if just so I can get my “I’m with the Cult” t-shirt.
August 27, 2013 @ 10:45 pm
Here’s where it gets scary for me –
Tom Dark Quote:
@DalaiLama @tinylilobserver Yeah? Been married? Raised a family?
Ask Tom the same questions and his answer has to be “married? sure, many times”. Raised a family? If you can call it that. Tom abandoned them when the child was 3 years old and now the boy at 35, still sleeps with his Mother. Great job raising a family, ass.