United Kingdom

Wendy Ortiz accuses author of book that got a seven figure book deal of ripping her story off 

A woman who wrote a memoir about being groomed aged just 13 by a school teacher who was later convicted of sex offences, has accused a writer who secured a seven-figure deal with a major publisher of ripping off her work.

Wendy C. Ortiz, 47, from California, released 'Excavation' through a small publisher in 2014, describing the five-year sexual relationship she had with an English teacher 15 years her senior, that began when she was 13.  

However this week the author took to Twitter to claim upcoming release, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins, is 'eerily similar' to her own book.

My Dark Vanessa, which tells the story of 15-year-old student Vanessa Wye who had an 'affair' with a high-school teacher later accused of sexual abuse by a former student, is already being hailed as 'The Biggest Debut Novel of 2020' ahead of its March release, and secured its writer a seven-figure deal. 

Wendy claims that Kate Elizabeth Russell contacted her last week to say that she's read Excavation, prompting her suspicion that her story has been stolen. 

Wendy's memoir begins in September 1986, when a new English teacher by the name of Mr Ivers, 28, joins her school. 

He soon singles her out, and praises her 'talented' writing style, telling her that 'he needs something to get his blood racing' when she tells him that she's writing about 'making out with boys'.

Wendy C. Ortiz, 47, (seen) from California, released 'Excavation' through a small press publisher in 2014, and claims a new book released this month is 'eerily similar' to her own

The memoir describes the 'sexual relationship' she had as a young teenager, with an English teacher 15 years her senior. Wendy is seen aged 20 in 1993

By November that year he has passed on his home phone number though a classmate, and when she calls him at home he soon prompts her to have graphic phone sex with him after telling her he 'has a crush on her'.

Revealing she had no more than kissed a boy at that point, she wrote: 'The conversation was punctuated by his heavy breathing, soft words. I heard intakes of sharp breath, like he was smoking a cigarette and exhaling large amounts of smoke, which was not how I smoked at all.

'He told me, as if I couldn't already guess, that this was our secret, not to be discussed with anyone, not even my best friend Abigail, and it definitely couldn't be written anywhere like my journal.'

Wendy released 'Excavation' through a small press publisher in 2014. My Dark Vanessa tells the story of 15-year-old student Vanessa Wye who had an 'affair' with A high-school teacher, later accused of sexual abuse by a former student

Speaking later in the book about having read headlines at the time about teachers being arrested for having sex with their pupils, she wrote: 'Nearing 40, a part of me just doesn't get it anymore. Another part of me gets it. Like, viscerally.

'I learned later - years after I had turned eighteen - that my former teacher had misdeeds with other underage girls'.

She has more recently discovered that her former teacher is a registered sex offender. 

Wendy struggled to get a book detail with a mainstream publisher, saying that her book was rejected because the subject matter was too 'difficult'.  

Taking to Twitter, Wendy tweeted: 'I wrote a memoir that was roundly rejected by the traditional publishing industry more than 20 times but which has sold as well as it could without the machine of the publishing industry, making me a 'small press bestseller'. 

This week the author took to Twitter and appeared to imply that recently released book 'My Dark Vanessa' by Kate Elizabeth Russell, seen, published by William Morrow, an imprint of major agent HarperCollins, was 'eerily similar' to her own book

The American writer, who is of Mexican descent, continued: 'And yet in an industry that is continually taken to task for being extremely white and making decisions that reflect as much, here is a 7 figure book deal for a fiction book that is being marketed eerily similarly to my book, and has made many of my readers ask, 'why does this sound familiar??'.

She added: 'The author, who has read Excavation, thought that yesterday would be a good day to reach out to say she had read my book. 

'I won't share everything else she said, but consider intentions here. Timing. Justifications offered. I've always been outside the publishing industry's gates. Even when they ask me to judge their big contests, blurb their books, etc. 

'So now I'm standing outside the gates (as usual) shouting at their bulls*** industry that gives out 7 figure deals (consider how THOSE sausages get made) & then puts the machine into overdrive to sell it. 

'The industry says, We want to do better. See our statistics, we will try! while they put certain white writers in the spotlight & nod at the people outside the gates. Well, f*** that.'

Both authors have been contacted for comment. 

Taking to Twitter, Wendy tweeted : 'And yet in an industry that is continually taken to task for being extremely white and making decisions that reflect as much, here is a 7 figure book deal for a fiction book that is being marketed eerily similarly to my book, and has made many of my readers ask, 'why does this sound familiar??'