On John Grisham, Victimized Pedophiles, and the Children’s Book Industry

anneursu:

As you may have heard, John Grisham gave an interview with The Telegraph in which he lambasted the US judicial system for excessive incarceration—including that of “Sixty-year-old white men in prison” whose only crimes were consuming child pornography.  

“…But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn.”

I’m bemused that someone who writes legal thrillers thinks being drunk is exculpatory when you break the law. (Or maybe he just thinks it is for white men? I can’t imagine why he’d think the system works differently for rich white guys.) Regardless, as proof of his thesis, Grisham spoke of a friend who was caught in a child porn sting and served three years in prison:

"His drinking was out of control, and he went to a website. It was labelled ‘sixteen year old wannabee hookers’ or something like that. And it said ‘16-year-old girls’. So he went there. Downloaded some stuff - it was 16 year old girls who looked 30. 

"He shouldn’t ’a done it. It was stupid, but it wasn’t 10-year-old boys.

See, it wasn’t THAT bad; Child porn isn’t so terrible when the subjects are teenage girls. We have no idea what website his friend actually looked at***, but the way Grisham chooses to demonstrate the relative frivolity of the crime is to describe the children on the site as “sixteen-year-old wannabe hookers.”

 I do not have the stomach to engage in a discussion about levels of acceptability in child pornography—even writing this post is making me physically ill. The point here is that, yet again, we have someone using teenage girls (especially, I suppose, slutty ones) as a signifier for people who aren’t worth quite as much as other people. And when you speak this way about teenage girls who are victims of sex crimes, it perpetuates the culture that creates these crimes.

 Is Mr. Grisham under the impression that these hypothetical girls actually aspire to prostitution? And this is, what, resumé-building? Or is he just trying to imply that they are super slutty, and so really are choosing this? Does he believe that child porn featuring teenage girls can in any way be a consensual act? Or does that part not matter?

 I’m guessing it’s that last one—it doesn’t matter— since his entire discussion is based around the act of looking at these images with little to no awareness of the humanity of the children in them.  What matters, to him, is the excessive persecution of the pedophile. Because it’s they who are the real victims here.

 That’s the thing—implicit in his comments is the idea that child pornography just happens, and when men of a certain age get drunk and poke around on the internet they cannot help but stumble upon it. Ah, well. No harm done. Who put that porn there? It’s not like they’re perverted or something. 

 So, what does it mean when comments that diminish the harm of consuming child pornography come from someone who writes bestselling books for children?

 I am not going to complain about celebrity authors writing children’s books—guaranteed bestsellers mean publishers can take chances on books whose success is not guaranteed. I cannot comment on the quality of Grisham’s middle grade series, and I cannot say whether or not these books are a cash grab on Grisham’s part or if he truly feels called to write books for young readers (though he has joked that he started the books because he was bitter at being displaced by JK Rowling as the bestselling author in the world.) 

Whatever his motivations, these books have sold the requisite crapload of copies; in other words, lots of people are making lots of money on John Grisham: Children’s Book Author.

So my question is: When one of the most famous authors in the western world uses his platform to say that viewing child porn isn’t so bad, really, does the industry have an obligation to respond? Does his children’s book publisher? When he argues that a guy should get a free pass for downloading pornographic pictures of underage girls, what does that mean to a business that depends so much on the dollars of underage girls? How much of a stand do we take for our customers? What is the line here?

 Sure, Grisham has apologized. Naturally, a statement was issued. Mistakes were made. Words were said. Regrets were regretted. 

But is that enough?

 I do believe that when you profit off kids, you have a moral obligation to serve and honor those kids, and I know that this industry is full of people who care a great deal about that obligation. So, what happens now?

 Authors are allowed to be jerks and still get book contracts. But when an immensely powerful man with international visibility essentially excuses the consumers of child pornography, when he acts like child pornography is a victimless crime, what does it say if the children’s book industry continues to give him a platform? When we profit off selling his books to the very kids he has essentially pooh-poohed the exploitation of?  

I don’t know the answer. But I think it’s worth asking the question. 

[EDIT: ****Aaaaand it turns out that yes, Grisham was actually using “sixteen-year-old girls” to make things seem not-quite-so-bad, because his friend was exchanging images of kids younger than twelve as well. The friend, it seems, served 18 months in prison, and Grisham—not at all trading in on his celebrity—wrote a letter advocating this guy get reinstated to the bar. Because trading in child pornography shouldn’t keep you from being able to practice law. And acting like it’s not that big a deal, apparently, shouldn’t keep you from publishing highly visible children’s books with a major publisher.]

yainterrobang:

HAPPY #WOMENAUTHORWEDNESDAY!Nominated by: Kaye & NicoleThis Wednesday, we celebrate Nova Ren Suma! This wonderful woman, who runs an amazing writing blog called Distraction99, iis the author of Imaginary Girls, 17 & Gone, Fade Out (originally Dani Noir) and the upcoming The Walls Around Us. She’s also contributed to the upcoming horror anthology Slasher Girls & Monster Boys.Which one of her books is your favorite? Do you like horror anthologies? Will you write the book of your heart one day (so it can be featured on Distraction 99)? Do you want to attend one of her writing workshops? Have something you want to share about Suma? Send us an ask! Tweet us at @yainterrobang with your opinions. As always, #womenauthorwednesday is about talking about lady authors and the things they do - so talk, about whatever you’d like!

yainterrobang:

HAPPY #WOMENAUTHORWEDNESDAY!
Nominated by: Kaye & Nicole

This Wednesday, we celebrate Nova Ren Suma! This wonderful woman, who runs an amazing writing blog called Distraction99, iis the author of Imaginary Girls, 17 & Gone, Fade Out (originally Dani Noir) and the upcoming The Walls Around Us. She’s also contributed to the upcoming horror anthology Slasher Girls & Monster Boys.

Which one of her books is your favorite? Do you like horror anthologies? Will you write the book of your heart one day (so it can be featured on Distraction 99)? Do you want to attend one of her writing workshops?

Have something you want to share about Suma? Send us an ask! Tweet us at @yainterrobang with your opinions. As always, #womenauthorwednesday is about talking about lady authors and the things they do - so talk, about whatever you’d like!

The Book of Your Heart Series: Amy Reed

.@amyreedfiction’s new novel DAMAGED came out yesterday! Now here’s her gutsy, honest Book of Your Heart post:

A Reed author photo
thebookofyourheart-FEATUREDWhen an author says a book she’s written is the Book of Her Heart, what does that mean? In this completely irregular ongoing blog series, I’ve invited guest authors to reveal what they consider the Book of Their Heart—and share why this book holds a distinct and special place apart from all others they’ve written. Here, to help celebrate her book birthday for her new edgy, contemporary YA novel 

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The mail was good to me! A signed limited edition of @bethrevis’s new book THE BODY ELECTRIC from Malaprops!

52 Fear Street: Author Nova Ren Suma is Full of Scares

mcnallykids:

Welcome to 52 Fear Street, McNally Jackson’s month-long celebration of R.L. Stine. Join us on October 30th for an evening with Mr. Stine himself and his Fear Street editor Kat Brzozowski, and follow the #52FearSt tags on tumblr and Twitter to hear what authors, booksellers, and editors have to say about Fear Street and Goosebumps. 

Today’s post comes to us from Nova Ren Suma, author of Dani Noir, Imaginary Girls, 17 & Gone, and the forthcoming The Walls All Around Us. For those of you already filling in your day planner for next year, Nova will be launching The Walls Around Us here at McNally Jackson on 3/23/15. You can preorder a signed & personalized copy of the book via our website

Full of Scares

I like being scared.

I first discovered this about myself when I was twelve or so—hobbies included pretending I was a witch, communing with spirits over a talking board, and reading anything that sent a shiver up my spine. I’d get myself good and scared and then, as to be expected, I’d be too terrified to go to sleep in the dark of my room that I’d perform running leaps from my light switch to my bed and hide under the covers, shaking at any strange noise, basically until the sun came up.

Fear Street is full of scares like this. Dripping with them, really. Stalkers, people gone missing, murderers… a small town full of real, unexplainable threats, something a lot of us can recognize in the places we call home. Out of every writer out there, R.L. Stine knows exactly how to keep someone up through the night, shaking under the covers, shivers crawling up and down her spine. And now with more stories set in Shadyside High School coming, with Fear Street being revived for a whole new set of readers, well, I know I’m no longer the twelve-year-old afraid of imagined scares in my childhood bedroom, but I kind of want to see what new shocks and terrifying stories R.L. Stine has in store for us.

image

As we get older, I don’t think this delicious attraction to being scared ever goes away. Once you get the taste… you just want more. And more. And more. Which may explain why the books I write as an adult are getting scarier and more disturbing. It started when I was young—like it started for so many of R.L. Stine’s readers—and it’s only grown and taken me over. The stories you find in Fear Street never do leave their grip on you. And would we want them to? I’ll admit I still get that shiver up my spine in a pitch-dark room. I bet some of you do, too.

The Book of Your Heart Series: Andrea Hannah

To celebrate the release of OF SCARS AND STARDUST, I have @andeehannah sharing why this is the Book of Her Heart:

AndreaHannah
thebookofyourheart-FEATUREDWhen an author says a book she’s written is the Book of Her Heart, what does that mean? In this completely irregular ongoing blog series, I’ve invited guest authors to reveal what they consider the Book of Their Heart—and share why this book holds a distinct and special place apart from all others they’ve written. Here, to help celebrate her book birthday this week for Of Scars and Stardust, I…

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summerscourtney:

It only seems fitting to share the cover for Please Remain Calm during the Halloween month—and a release date, too! And what’s more, the summary! So far we’ve got two out of three. You’ll find the plot under the read more, so anyone who has not read This is Not a Test will not be spoiled. If you have not read This is Not a Test, you can read more about it here. If you love The Walking Dead, I think there is good chance you will like my take on the zombie apocalypse.
But FIRST!
Isn’t the cover neat? ZOMBIE HANDS!!! Or maybe people in peril hands? This was actually one of the early-early-early cover comps for All the Rage. As soon as I saw it, I thought, not for All the Rage but if I ever wrote another zombie novel… and the rest is history.
Speaking of All the Rage, there will be an excerpt of it included with Please Remain Calm. (Also, if you want to win an ARC of All the Rage, 25 copies are being given away on Goodreads here!)
I mercilessly teased people about what was going to happen in this novella! And so many of my teasers didn’t even make the final cut. In the end, writing this one surprised me. A lot.
Which you can take however you want.
Wanna know what it’s about?
Read More
summerscourtney:

It only seems fitting to share the cover for Please Remain Calm during the Halloween month—and a release date, too! And what’s more, the summary! So far we’ve got two out of three. You’ll find the plot under the read more, so anyone who has not read This is Not a Test will not be spoiled. If you have not read This is Not a Test, you can read more about it here. If you love The Walking Dead, I think there is good chance you will like my take on the zombie apocalypse.
But FIRST!
Isn’t the cover neat? ZOMBIE HANDS!!! Or maybe people in peril hands? This was actually one of the early-early-early cover comps for All the Rage. As soon as I saw it, I thought, not for All the Rage but if I ever wrote another zombie novel… and the rest is history.
Speaking of All the Rage, there will be an excerpt of it included with Please Remain Calm. (Also, if you want to win an ARC of All the Rage, 25 copies are being given away on Goodreads here!)
I mercilessly teased people about what was going to happen in this novella! And so many of my teasers didn’t even make the final cut. In the end, writing this one surprised me. A lot.
Which you can take however you want.
Wanna know what it’s about?
Read More

summerscourtney:

It only seems fitting to share the cover for Please Remain Calm during the Halloween month—and a release date, too! And what’s more, the summary! So far we’ve got two out of three. You’ll find the plot under the read more, so anyone who has not read This is Not a Test will not be spoiled. If you have not read This is Not a Test, you can read more about it here. If you love The Walking Dead, I think there is good chance you will like my take on the zombie apocalypse.

But FIRST!

Isn’t the cover neat? ZOMBIE HANDS!!! Or maybe people in peril hands? This was actually one of the early-early-early cover comps for All the Rage. As soon as I saw it, I thought, not for All the Rage but if I ever wrote another zombie novel… and the rest is history.

Speaking of All the Rage, there will be an excerpt of it included with Please Remain Calm. (Also, if you want to win an ARC of All the Rage, 25 copies are being given away on Goodreads here!)

I mercilessly teased people about what was going to happen in this novella! And so many of my teasers didn’t even make the final cut. In the end, writing this one surprised me. A lot.

Which you can take however you want.

Wanna know what it’s about?

Read More

My first book ever translated into another language! It’s 17 & GONE in Chinese!

#Repost from @algonquinyr —- @novaren signing ARCs of THE WALLS AROUND US in the office today.

Djerassi Workshop Applications Now Open!

Applications for my YA Novel Writing Workshop & Retreat at #Djerassi @artandsky are now open!

05 djerassi sunset

My YA Novel Writing Workshops & Retreats at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in February and June 2014 were such a resounding success—and such a joy to lead!—that I am doing another week-long YA novel workshop in June 2015! And exciting news: Applications are now open.

05 djerassi sunset

The Young Adult Novel Writing workshop and retreat in 2015 will run June 21–26. It’s a fiction workshop tailored for…

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