In its statement Ascension said that after Garza told the publisher that she had decided not to work with the company it went ahead with plans to come out with a book about princess saints by a different author and illustrator. Ascension maintains that the book it published was different from the one it had discussed with Garza.
Over the eight months Ascension had discussed the project Garza had provided one illustration of St. Joan of Arc, and when it went with a new illustrator, it chose different saints to highlight, Ascension said.
“As we each had different creative visions for the project, we continued our vision with a new illustrator. We chose different saints for our book alongside a different storytelling style and different illustrations,” Ascension said.
“For background on the project, we provided the new illustrator with the single image of St. Joan of Arc that Fabiola had shared publicly. Our new illustrator went on to create illustrations for 80 pages of stories about St. Margaret of Scotland, St. Bathild of France, and St. Jadwiga of Poland,” read the statement.
Garza posted photos of her illustration of St. Joan of Arc alongside an illustration from Ascension’s book, noting the similarities between the two. Both illustrations feature blue ribbons and banners surrounding the drawings of the saints.
In its statement, Ascension denied any wrongdoing but said it regretted showing the new illustrator Garza’s original drawing.
“Any similarities between Fabiola’s St. Joan of Arc drawing and our illustrator’s depiction of St. Margaret of Scotland (such as a banner, ribbons, a crown, and a blue garment) are incidental and common in portraits of princesses in works by other artists,” the company said.
“Nevertheless, we understand and respect that Fabiola is deeply invested in her artwork, and we acknowledge that a better course of action would have been to use other public sources rather than her drawing as a reference for our illustrator."
Garza posted emails she had exchanged with Ascension. In their correspondence, she says that on Oct. 7, 2020, she decided to discontinue talks on the book because no contract had been signed.
Garza wrote to Ascension explaining her reason for looking for another publisher.
She said she had asked for “some details on contract and compensation before I continued to work.” She said she was told “that we hadn’t got to the contract stage because we didn’t yet have a complete sample chapter.” She said she was told that the firm was “contemplating bringing in another author entirely, who I would have no ability to vet, interview, or apparently control in any way.”
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In an email to CNA, Ascension said that it never signed a contract in part because Garza “wanted to be both the author and illustrator.”
“This creative difference was one of the key reasons that Fabiola and Ascension never signed a contract together,” Ascension said in its statement.
Garza told CNA that she decided to break off talks with the publisher because she began to get nervous when no contract was proposed.
After emailing Ascension earlier this month to express her disappointment that it had published a book on princess saints, the publishing house offered to compensate her for the time spent on the project.
Garza then took to social media because, she told CNA, she could not afford to get legal help. She explained that she felt that by going public she could help other “Catholic creatives” facing similar situations.
“So many people have emailed me with similar stories, and nobody has ever talked about it publicly. I could see that I’m in a position to do this, and perhaps I owe it to the community to start a conversation on it,” she said. “But if everything has always been treated in a very hush hush way, I was like, 'There's never going to be any change.'”