Thursday, 25 June 2020

Some harassing authors to avoid

[Edited June 26th to add: New stories are still being told and some new harassers are being outed. I didn't (and don't) intend for this to be a list that gets updated, especially since I'm not one of the victims nor am I close enough to the people coming out to verify any of their accounts. Similarly, there are authors who've been outed in the past that maybe people no longer remember that I haven't named here. Maybe some of them have changed and no longer pose a threat. Maybe they haven't. Maybe some of these authors will take the time to better themselves and be worthy of friendship and conventions again. Maybe they won't (and it's not up to me to decide when that time is, not sure if anyone can since it's impossible to know who all their victims were, or to undo the damage these harassers have done to their victims).

Times like this I'm glad I'm Canadian and only briefly attended conventions. I wrote this post because it seems a lot of harassment stories get swept under the rug and promptly forgotten, or stay at a particular platform and never get divulged to the wider field, and I don't think that's right. There has always been a dangerous undercurrent of harassment at SFF conventions and people need to know that and start kicking harassers out and not inviting them again, regardless of how good their fiction is.

I kind of hope that someone more connected than me does start a list though. Because I hate the thought of promoting books by people who act horribly to others and I'm sure I'm not hearing even a portion of the horror stories out there.

I didn't include any of the stories about the people named in my post below, but a twitter search on their names should bring up the information you're looking for.]
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[ETA again: Julie Caught Reading has started a list of known harassers (and sexual abusers) with links. She's including the YA and kidslit authors who were mentioned back in 2018.] 

[And another edit: If you want a good rundown of the twitter conversations that named the people below as well as includes links to those stories, Jason Sanford has a free patreon article about it.]

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I've been reading all the new (and old) harassment stories on twitter and felt like I should say something.

I have been very lucky in that I've never experienced harassment myself at a conference, but I believe the stories and it sickens me the extent to which some people in the field have had to protect themselves and give up opportunities for their own careers because fandom shields men who act badly.

Every few years a new batch of perpetrators seems to come to light, people there's been a 'whisper network' warning women against. But those networks aren't heard by everyone, and there will be new victims every year until these abusers are removed.

With a lot of the stories I've not read the authors and can easily say I won't in future. One of the authors this time is someone I had professional dealings with. I interviewed Myke Cole back when he was first starting out and recently reviewed some of his books. I followed him on twitter because he tweeted a lot about Spartans and ancient Greece. So it feels more personal.

For anyone reading this who isn't on twitter, the names that have come out so far are: Paul Krueger, Sam Sykes, Myke Cole (all 3 for sexual assault and/or harassment over several years), and Mark Lawrence (for harassment). I will not be reading or reviewing their books here. [Edit: Some people on twitter have pointed out that a lot of conventions have whisper network warning people of harassers, but that not everyone gets those messages. The same goes for the internet at large. For example Myke Cole apologized for harassing women back in 2018 - and I'm only hearing about this now.]

I haven't decided what - if anything - I should do about my reviews of Myke Cole's books on my site. [Edit: I've added a comment at the beginning of these reviews with a link to this post so future readers are aware of what's happened.]

Admitting wrong doing is a good step, as is apologizing, which some of them have publicly done. But I was taught that actual repentance means making restitution and never making that mistake again. These men can't undo the harm they've done to the people they've hurt, but they can stay away from conventions in the future, making those spaces safer for other attendees.

It's always a shock, learning that people you admire are a$$holes. All I can do now is stand with the victims.

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