Teen Fiction Shies Away from Gay Characters

Friday, October 07, 2011


Writers Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith co-authored Stranger, a post-apocalyptic teen novel.  Despite the popularity of the genre, the authors say they can't find a publisher because one of the book's main characters is gay.  Brooke talks to Brown about the publishing industry's aversion to gay characters in teen fiction.

Comments [4]

Estara from Germany

Since the previous commenters seem to only believe the agency side, I'll post my rebuttal of the agency view in the same format I did on that agent's blog.

"Unfortunately, this rumor has reached the point where our clients and colleagues have heard from their peers that this article is supposedly about us. Above all else, our concern and responsibility is to our clients, always. And it is also to our agents.

One of our agents is being used as a springboard for these authors to gain attention for their project. She is being exploited. But even worse, by basing their entire article on untruths, these authors have exploited the topic. By doing that, they’ve chipped away at the validity of the resulting conversation."

I'm addressing these particular points of the rebuttal - not the following opinion of the blogger who offered the platform for it - her interpretation of things is her good right on her own blog.

As can be seen on the posts at Genreville and the LJs of both authors they never mentioned the name of the agency in question, not in the discussions that followed, not in the initial post - so where did the rumors about your agency come from? How did anybody even have the idea it could be YOUR publishing house that was the initial starting point for this appeal - because the post itself only used the situation as an impetus for exactly the appeal that you used the upper part of your rebuttal for - calling for more LGBT YA in general.

Given that you have admitted here that you were the example addressed and telling your side of the story, I now have two non-verifiable claims of the occasion that are entirely opposite each other regarding this specific book and the way the concerned parties on each side have handled it.

You do not seem to be able to back your point-of-view up with proof (of course, neither did the authors in question - they made the situation an example to keep it to keep the attention on the topic that was important).

However, in your last paragraph you clearly call the authors liars - "using your agent as a springboard" is in no way a neutral claim.

This makes it very easy for me to decide whose claims I believe and whom I don't believe. My impression is now that someone higher up in the food-chain at the agency decided there had to be some damage control so a different pr spin had to be put on things.

And if your rebuttal was truly aimed at keeping the real topic in the spotlight, why even deign to answer? As Malinda Lo's statistics show it's not just one agency or publisher who has problems with LGBT YA. The focus could have stayed there.

Just because an agency says something, does not mean it is any more or less true than just because an author says something. You might want to compare who actually started with the mud-slinging and the off-topic blame.

Nov. 16 2011 04:45 PM
Anna from Minnesota

Since the name of the agency is now public, why did On the Media choose only to present ONE side of the story? From everything I've read online about this (and there is quite a bit documented), it does seem like the authors did this as a publicity stunt, rather than a legitimate claim of homophobia. Shame on them for their false accusations and then trying to spin it as a way to create a conversation about the issue and shame on On the Media for such blatantly biased reporting.

Oct. 15 2011 07:55 AM
Andy from MN

Dear On the Media: Shame on you. First of all, this story is old. Second, the agency the authors talk about has given their version of the story and things don't add up (meaning the author's version is in question). The agency outlined what wasn't working for them (namely that the authors were taking on too many points of view and they suggested the authors eliminate some to narrow the focus; this was to make it a better book, not to eliminate gay characters).Third, there are PLENTY of teen novels that feature gay characters. These authors are trying to get publicity and you're giving it to them without researching all the facts.

Oct. 13 2011 05:05 PM

Great book and story. Just change all the names and locations to Louisiana and our governor will make it into a t-GOP movie since our kids can't read. The t-GOP is in need of a creation myth for their natural cycles of greed as they can relate to space monsters. “Rush Limbaugh Agrees With Mika Brzezinski: She Should ‘Feel Like An Alien’”; by Matt Schneider; mediaite.com, 6/20/11). “Boehner: Talking to Obama Like Talking to Someone From Another Planet”; By Erick ‘hysteric porker’ Hamme; another tentacle of the Media Research Center, MRC, 1 of Looter Limbaugh’s celestial neuticles for documenting, exposing and neutralizing “liberal” media bias that includes: TimesWatch, Business & Media Institute, CNSNews.com, Culture and Media Institute, Eyeblast.tv, and other organs of legal international and domestic terrorism through environmental racism and other healthcare abuse; cnsnews.com, 9/15/11).

Oct. 09 2011 04:52 PM

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