Jessica Verday is an author; she has written three books, part of The Hollow Trilogy: The Hollow; The Haunted, Book 2 of The Hollow Trilogy; and The Hidden, Book 3 of The Hollow Trilogy.
As a lot of authors do, Jessica Verday submits stories to publishers of anthologies, one of those being the Wicked Pretty Things anthology. Unfortunately, at first for Jessica Verday, and subsequently for the publishers of the Wicked Pretty Things anthology, she ultimately pulled her submission from the book because she was told that she story she wrote….well, let’s have Jessica Verday tell you in her own words.
“I’ve received a lot of questions and comments about why I’m no longer a part of the Wicked Pretty Things anthology…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.
There’s a lot of misinformation and half-truths in the publishing world (like the fact that everyone thinks when you publish a book you’re automatically BFF’s with J.K. Rowling and you get to use her estate on the weekends because, hey, you’re totally rich now, right?) and there’s a lot that’s outside of my control (like my cover design, the flap copy that goes on the book to describe it, how the book is advertised, and where it gets promoted in bookstores), but there’s one thing that I can and always will be able to control, and that’s the message I send to my fans by the stories I write.
And the message I want to send is this: You don’t choose who you fall in love with and you don’t choose to be gay.
We’re constantly bombarded with messages from sick people who try to tell us that it’s a choice or a lifestyle or an agenda. But Wesley and Cameron’s story isn’t an agenda or an issue. It isn’t an “I have to prove something to the world” story. Wesley and Cameron’s story is a love story. About one boy who loves another boy so much that when something bad happens to him, he’ll do whatever it takes to get him the help he needs.
Just bittersweet, hopeful, first love. And I think the world needs more of that.
While I may not have intentionally written an “issues” story, in the real world this issue is very personal to me. I have gay friends, fans, and family and by allowing my story to be changed in that way I would be contributing to a great disservice to them, the entire LGBT community, and to readers in general. You are not wrong or a dirty little secret for being who you are. Love is beautiful and rare. When you find it, you should hold onto it and not let go. You should not be made to feel inferior.
Well said, Ms. Verday. Well said.
And here’s hoping Wesley and Cameron’s story finds it’s way onto bookshelves, and those Kindle things. These are stories that a lot of us might like to read.