It was a tale of love. Betrayal. Arbitration clauses.
Also, werewolf sex.
Cass County author Erin R. Flynn, who writes “gay erotic paranormal romance” under the pen name Joyee Flynn, is suing her Texas-based publisher in a contract dispute.
She has asked a federal judge in Omaha to rule that Siren-BookStrand (“quality erotic romance for the sophisticated reader”) does not own the copyright to a pair of books that Flynn self-published this year: “Trapped and Boiled: UPAC Sagas, Freaks and Rejects No. 1” and “Gideon: Resistant Omegas No. 12.”
The stories feature amorous encounters involving shapeshifters and werewolves, among other plot turns.
In an answering brief, Siren said Flynn's lawsuit is premature because her contracts require arbitration as the first step to settle a dispute. Siren has filed a separate lawsuit against Flynn in Texas.
Flynn started writing fiction in 2002 and has written 89 books for Siren since 2010, according to the lawsuit. She said she typically writes 15,000 words a day and can finish a book in a week or two.
Flynn submitted a manuscript for “Gideon” on June 1, but an editor at Siren wanted to market the book under a different imprint, so she withdrew it from consideration.
On June 30, Flynn shipped the manuscript for “Trapped and Boiled.” But she objected to changes proposed by her editor, so she withdrew that one, too.
Flynn said she never signed a contract for either book. Instead, she self-published the books on Amazon.com.
Siren's lawyers sent Flynn a notice that she had breached her contract.
Then, after Flynn filed her lawsuit, Siren Publisher Diana DeBalko, who goes by Amanda Hilton, sent a takedown notice to Amazon.com asserting copyright over the books. The titles are no longer available online.
At issue is whether the two books are sequels to existing works that Flynn wrote under contract to Siren — in which case the publisher has the first right of refusal — or original works that stand alone in a series.
Siren says they are sequels. Flynn says that although the action is set in the same fictional world, none of the central characters or themes recur.
“Each book is its own romance,” she said.
She sees her lawsuit as an opportunity to set a legal precedent.
“The series versus sequel thing has never been defined in court,” Flynn said.
Flynn has asked U.S. Judge John Gerrard to award unspecified damages and attorney's fees.
Flynn estimates that each book would gross $75,000 over a 15-year shelf life. In an affidavit, Siren President David DeBalko suggested the lost sales on the two books amount to less than $20,000.
Adam Pugh, an attorney for Siren, said the lawsuits are a routine contract dispute.
“My client is confident in its position and expects to prevail,” he said.