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One highly opinionated feminist YA nerd's twisted, snarky and informative journey through the genre's perils, pitfalls and sparkles.

Dear Constable & Robinson/Running Press publishers...

You just lost a customer.

I woke up this morning with a tweet from my friend Catherine Haines directing me to Jessica Verday's blog. Verday, the writer of the Hollow series (which I have not read but am tempted to go out and buy the entire series after this), announced that she would no longer be part of the Wicked Pretty Things anthology, edited by Trisha Telep and published by the above publishers in UK and USA, after she was asked to make some changes to her story:

I've received a lot of questions and comments about why I'm no longer a part of the WICKED PRETTY THINGS anthology (US: Running Press, UK: Constable & Robinson) and I've debated the best way to explain why I pulled out of this anthology. The simple reason? I was told that the story I'd wrote, which features Wesley (a boy) and Cameron (a boy), who were both in love with each other, would have to be published as a male/female story because a male/male story would not be acceptable to the publishers.

I'll try to keep the "not-so-simple" reason from becoming a rant and just sum it up by saying that that was SO Not Okay with me. I immediately withdrew my story and my support for the anthology.

I think we can all agree that's bloody disgusting. Welcome to 2011 everybody; not only do people only want to read stories about straight couples, gay love stories shouldn't even bloody exist! I applaud Verday for sticking to her guns and removing her story from the anthology. Frankly, I am disgusted that such open bigotry was considered acceptable by a publishing house in relation to a YA anthology. Yes, the default mode in fiction seems to be that of the pretty white straight couple but that's not the default mode for life and it damn well shouldn't be the default mode for love. What does this move say about LGBT teens? That they don't deserve love? Everyone deserves love. Who you fall in love with should be inconsequential. Jessica Verday wanted to send a message to her fans that it doesn't matter who you fall in love with but the publishers decided that wasn't good enough for them. I am pretty angry about this. You'd think we'd have moved on from all this, especially in 2011, but obviously not. So goodbye Constable & Robinson/Running Press, you just lost a customer.

I wholeheartedly encourage you all to read as many books as you can, especially those with LGBT characters. Even if some people don't want you to know it, but LGBT teens do exist and their love stories are just as worthwhile as that of the supposed default mode.

EDIT: Trisha Telep, the editor of the anthology commented on Verday's post taking responsibility for the decision:

Oh dear. Might as well give you my two cents. Not that it really matters but... Don't take it out on the publishers, the decision was mine totally. These teen anthologies I do are light on the sex and light on the language. I assumed they'd be light on alternative sexuality, as well. Turns out I was wrong! Just after I had the kerfuffle with jessica, I was told that the publishers would have loved the story to appear in the book! Oh dear. My rashness will be the death of me. It's a great story. Hope jessica publishes it online.

I'm glad that responsibility has been taken for this decision, which was wrong on Telep's part. I question her word choice for one thing (alternative sexuality? Is it automatically more explicit because it features a gay couple? I don't quite understand. Would it be considered 'alternative race' to have depictions of people of colour in teen relationships in this anthology? I'm not buying it.) and the rashness of her decision really says something about this day and age in media for me, especially since YA has proven itself to be one of the more progressive media fields of late in LGBT depictions. I hope Jessica Verday does publish the story online or finds another publisher/anthology for it.

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KB/KT Grant said...

How sad and shocking. We need more GLBT in YA! Good for Jessica and an author to look up to.

Seleste said...

Wow, and here I'd hoped YA was one mainstream market where GLBT romance was gaining ground. Horribly sad and I applaud Verday for her decision.

thebloodfiend said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
thebloodfiend said...

Next they'll be saying the don't want multi-racial characters. Wait, they already say that. How low can you go?

I recommend reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It's got straight, gay, and bi-sexual romance in it.

Anonymous said...

Found you from the Made of Fail podcast. I'm amazed and disappointed that they would ask anyone to do that in this day and age especially when you would think that having a wide variety of pairings would expand the market.

I def. need more LGBT recs in any genre to read.

Ashleigh said...

WHAT?! -sigh- You're right: This is disgusting. Neither publishing house is getting my money either. Please excuse me while I hug my copy of Wildthorn (an LGBT book and one of my favorite reads of the past six months or so) and buy Verday's books. She deserves my support for taking a stand against such bullshit and being awesome.

(On an unimportant note, this makes me worry a little about my work in progress, which features an LGBT romance of a major supporting character. I know I won't go to Running Press to publish it after this, but could behavior like this spread to other publishing houses? Probably not, but still...)

Catherine said...

This makes me all so very frowny, especially when I look at my list of novel WIPs with GLBT main/supporting characters. :/ :/ :S

Sean Wills said...

For me, the biggest problem Telep's comment is her assumption that having gay characters in the story would disqualify it in the same way that explicit language or sexual content would. It's a VERY common idea, unfortunately.

Katie said...

Yeah, I am definitely NOT a fan of "Well, we don't let explicit sex in, and people being gay is JUST LIKE THAT" from the editor.

This does indeed tempt me to go out and buy the author's books as well, although I'm not really into YA as much as I used to be... maybe someone will be getting them as a birthday present or something this year, just to give me an excuse to buy them.

Anonymous said...

You forgot the part where she's all, but I totally wrestled a gay dude and lost once lol so that makes me totally cool with TEHGAY U GUYZ.

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