Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Guess I've Been Banned, and for No Valid Reason: "Skater Boy"

Before I get into this, I'd like to clarify that I have never written anything with underage characters, bestiality, incest, or any of the other things/topics that have been banned because of the recent PayPal issue. I've heard PayPay is not the blame, and I'm not pointing any fingers at them now. But I've been banned for no good reason and I'm not happy right now. It's one thing to be censored for a reason, it's a completely different issue to be censored for no good reason.

My publisher informed me my story, Skater Boy, has been banned on ARe. And I do, indeed, take offense to having a book banned on ARe or anywhere else...censored...that doesn't contain anything that's considered part of the taboo list. The term "Skater Boy" is widely used in the gay male community as a type of guy who wears baggy jeans, funky hats, and tends to be rough around the edges.

But, I assure you, there are no underage characters in this short book. I don't judge those authors who decide to do things like this, but I've never done it and never will do it. In fact, the main character, Jared, the guy referred to as a the Skater Boy, is only a quasi skater boy. He's in his twenties and is clearly a consenting adult. This is one of the tamer stories I've written.

To add to this, the original version of this story was published in an anthology by Cleis Press in a book, get this, titled "Skater Boys." I didn't come up with that title. The editor at Cleis did. I just released a newer revised version of my story with as a digital short story because I didn't sign an exclusive with Cleis, and I wanted to change the story and see how the story would do on its own. The original title of my story in the anthology was "In This Our Day." Interesting how they failed to check this out before they banned the book.

What infuriates me more than any form of censorship is when the censorship isn't even accurate. The only reason why this book is being targeted is because the word "boy" is in the title. It has nothing to do with content or what's part of the banned list of topics.

Here's the blurb for Skater Boy, and I defy anyone to find a hint of underage content in this story.

When Bradley Klinger (a consenting adult, not a minor) moves from the city to a small town in the mountains of upstate New York, the last thing he expects to find is a hot young skater boy named Jared who never stops flirting with him. They meet in the small restaurant Jared (Jared owns a restaurant; he's clearly over the age of twenty-one ) owns, thanks to Jared’s sixty year old partner in New York with whom he shares an open, sexless relationship. Though Jared is kept by the older man in every sense of the word, from his Bentley Continental to his small restaurant in the mountains, Jared doesn’t waste any time getting to know Bradley much better. And though Jared is the kind of young skater boy, in baggy, low-hanging jeans and loose T-shirts, Bradley has always dreamed about, Bradley is concerned the age difference between them might be too vast. (The age difference is between two consenting adults, not an adult and minor) But Jared doesn’t stop pursuing Bradley, to the point where he actually follows Bradley home one night on his skate board.

I'd really like someone to clarify why this book has been banned. I've also let my publisher know she can change the title to "Skater" if she wants to. I hate to buckle to that kind of censorship, but if one word is going to hurt the publisher I'd rather concede. And I hope ARe and other retail web sites that sell digital books are paying closer attention to the books they are banning. This is an implication and a reflection on me as an author, and the kind of fiction I write, and I'm not fond of being targeted and placed in a category for no reason at all.

(update: Here's a direct quote from the book about the character referred to as "skater boy." "Mt. Saint Hope was a small town; people talked. Over the next week, Bradley heard Jared
was the lucky twenty-one-year-old..."
And, I just learned the Cleis Press book, "Skater Boys," has not been banned on ARE.)


Barb said...

Has there been any mention of this controversy in the "mainstream" media? I'm surprised this hasn't been used in someone's political campaign. By the way, I agree that this is a slippery slope that has been started down. What about all the regency/Victorian romances in which the heroine is questionably "legal" 17 or 18 years old. What about all the Porn sites which feature "barely legal" girls with pigtails and knee sox? Hmmm...

Becky Black said...

That's just insane. Do they not live in the real world? The world where I hear people referring to young - and indeed middle aged and old - people as "boys" and "girls"?

It just shows that any time the blunt instrument of a blanket policy is used for something that actually requires judgement based on common sense, then it will not work.

Leigh M. Lane said...

I'm so sorry that the recent wave of censorship has unduly affected you, Ryan. You definitely deserve an explanation.

ryan field said...

I e-mailed ARe. I'm waiting for a response. I'm thinking that the title, with the word "boy," got caught up in all the controversy and that's why the book was targeted. But I didn't even know about it until the publisher told me. We'd all better check our titles. Because if this book is banned, who knows what else.

gemma parkes said...

Well this is what's happening. I think at first we all thought it would just affect indie writers who were writing about well known taboo's. Now we can see that it is going to affect us all and that isn't fair. The thing is these faceless corporations don't give explanation or reasons why. When l think about books such as 'The story of 'O'' from the 80's with its muliti orifice rape and cruel beatings, l just do not understand.

ryan field said...

Your are right about this affecting all of us. I would not have imagined this a week ago. Because if they can ban a book like this they can ban anything they want.

Morticia Knight said...

So sorry to hear that your book was unjustly affected - this whole issue has been infuriating me all week! We all have to make sure we continue to keep the discussion alive on this issue, and not let the credit card companies get away with this! Best wishes to you.

ryan field said...

Thanks for commenting. I'm waiting to hear from ARe as to why it was banned. ...Especially since the same story is still up on the site in another book that hasn't been banned. I'll post updates.