The Nameless Horror

Trestle Press/Helping Hands Press/Michael Brachelli and so on

Those of you with longish memories might remember serial art thief and batshit crazy contract abuser Trestle Press and its unlikely-monikered owner “Giovanni Gelati”, otherwise known in real life as Michael Brachelli. The story ended with him apparently facing a lawsuit from one of his authors and folding the operation, at least temporarily, so he could focus on Amish novels (whose writers presumably either missed the shitstorm or didn’t think badly of him afterwards) under the name Helping Hands Press. Not, of course, to be confused with the other Helping Hands Press, founded in 1986 and still going. (Also note his classy use of a .org domain, traditionally for not-for-profits rather than actual businesses.)

Author Anne McDonald emailed me earlier this year asking if I’d heard any more of the story and what had become of the lawsuit. I hadn’t, but she was digging into it. Now (she posted in a comment on the last Trestle piece I wrote, but it deserves lifting out on its own) she’s found out exactly what happened, and you should go and read the whole thing over on her blog - the details are many and varied.

(Edit to add: and here’s Luis Vera’s quick rundown. Luis was the one who broke the cover art theft practice in the first place.)

So not only are the original Helping Hands Press understandably miffed that he’s using their business name, “Gelati” also failed to defend the suit - in fact, failed to respond at all - and has been landed with $750,000 in damages plus costs, as well as the author getting their rights back.

Not just a villain, but an incompetent one.