Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Banned Books Week and "Skater Boy"
After what I experienced last year with censorship, I had to write something about Banned Books Week and my short story, "Skater Boy." I see it all the time everywhere I go. Most people in a general sense focus on big books being banned, like "Fifty Shades of Grey," or "Catcher in the Rye," but they never consider the fact that a lot of books are banned quietly that no one ever knows about.
I guess it's something inherent to publishing and writing, as it is to other arts like acting and music. No one ever mentions the career musician in the orchestra or the working actor who has made a decent living all his life playing small parts. They focus on Lady Gaga or Merele Streep the same way they focus on authors with big books.
But there are a lot of career writers out there who don't necessarily care whether they have a big book or not. They focus on writing jobs and making a decent living as writers. I've always fallen into that category. I do it because it's what I love doing. And when I have a book banned for a ridiculous reason involving the way search engines pick up tags, it can get frustrating to say the least.
That's what happened to me last year when PayPal was going through that stage where they decided to censor authors and publishers, and everyone freaked out. I posted about it here...the link goes to more than one post I've written about censorship, including my own personal experiences. And the reason why I decided to release "Chase of a Dream," in two versions: one with sex scenes and one without.
In my case, "Skater Boy" was censored and banned in several places because of the word "boy" in the title. The book had nothing to do with underage characters. I don't write about underage characters, never have and never will. But because the word "boy" was in the title, and the tags, the story was banned because search engines picked it up and no one bothered to check out the content.
So it's not only big books that get banned. And it's not always books with questionable content that get banned. These days books can get banned for a variety of reasons, none of which have anything to do with the actual content inside the book. I will be the first to admit that I write erotica that is for adults only and I don't think a lot of my fiction should be up front on the main display table at the local library. But I do think that we all should be able to read what we want to read, when we want to read it, and no one should tell us we don't have that right. And if it were up to a lot of people, they would be choosing our reading material for us. They would be telling us it's for our own good, like not smoking or wearing our jeans too low below the waistline...or even seatbelts for that matter. And I get tired of someone else telling me what's for my own good. And it's important to speak up sometimes and tell them to shut the hell up, because I want to read anything I want without listening to anyone else's hooded opinions.
Here's a link to the Banned Books Week web site, where you can read a variety of different pieces on the topic. If you're a reader or an author I think this is important to know as much about banned books as possible. I never thought I'd find myself with a banned book based on one word that had nothing to do with the content in the book. It can happen. It does happen. And don't think it can't happen to you someday.