Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones

Wicked Pretty Update #6: The Canceling

@lisamantchev: Just got an email from Constable & Robinson... official word that WICKED PRETTY THINGS has been canceled.

(Recap: the absolute nutshell version.)

Earlier this morning, prior to that announcement, Jim C. Hines also made an offer to pay $100 for any of the WPT authors' anthology stories and post them on his blog, with donations/proceeds going to charity. He does raise the question, "Why did [editor Trisha] Telep immediately assume that a story in which two male characters were in love would be unacceptable?"

Enough people were accusing Telep of being a bigot that I figured people were already asking themselves that question. But actually... I may have gotten an answer to that earlier last week. I was holding this for a more substantial entry which... well, a cancellation announcement pretty much demands that. So: I got an email from a second writer who wants to remain anonymous. (After Christopher Navratil's Publisher's Weekly piece, you can perhaps see why she didn't want to give her name, either.) I'm snipping a bit (at her request) to remove identifying details, but:

I don't know if this is the first time a writer has been asked to de-gay a story, but I do know for a fact that it's not the first time we've been asked to remove "alternative' sexuality." [...] BUT. I don't believe this is entirely on Trisha's shoulders.

This writer says that Telep told her that she got into trouble with Running Press and was afraid of being fired over previous stories with "extreme content," and has told more than one person this. (Side note from me: the problem here is not that [A] content is inappropriate for [B] genre of anthology; it's what they consider to be "extreme." Such as the mere existence of gay characters, judging by Jessica Verday's experience, which was not "light" enough for a YA book.) She says an author she's friends with was also asked to tone down elements of her story ideas, since Telep had already gotten in trouble on other occasions. Even if they did not issue specific content guidelines (as you will remember, there are no content specifications in the contract that these authors signed) to Telep, this author says that it's possible Running Press "gave [Telep] reason to think that they would not be happy with a gay story in one of their 'mainstream' or YA anthos."

The thing is, we know that Telep herself said at the beginning of this that asking Verday to change the character's gender was her own call and not Running Press's request. And she said it so blithely that it was hard not to take it at face value. My question at this point is whether Telep made that call and took that blame because Running Press had previously, if vaguely, led to her think her job would be at risk if she brought "extreme" content to them.  

That's why I was reluctant to throw Trisha completely under the bus. What she did was wrong, absolutely. I don't condone it for a second and I don't make excuses. But I also think she honestly believed there would be an issue, based on their previous reactions to stories with "different" elements, and that's why she didn't check with them before her reply to Verday.

So this is a publisher for whom Trisha Telep has already edited 21 anthologies and is doing five more--a publisher who reacted badly to "extreme content" and "alternative sexuality" in the past.

It's not like their behavior--that wankathon PW story, their self-serving emails--has shown them to be just so so much more open-minded. Hell, if they really cared they would have announced they were donating all WPT profits to the It Gets Better Project or something, and I think most of us would have strongly considered keeping our stories in the various anthos had they done so because that would have meant they actually cared and wanted to make a change/statement/whatever. But writing a couple of simpering emails (in which they stole words from Saundra [i.e., falsely implied that Saundra Mitchell wanted to come back to the anthology] and publicly accusing Jessica Verday of being a vengeful internet shit-stirrer for telling the truth doesn't exactly give me a lot of confidence in their statements of regret, you know?

Please note that, in the interest of being fair, this is obviously hearsay. Although I believe this writer, I also can't confirm this with public citations. But it's a possible answer to Jim C. Hines' question. I think there really was some personal bias involved (Telep did make a statement on her Twitter to the effect of having a very old-fashioned view of romance). Back in the beginning, I was trying to focus on Telep's involvement based on her own statements seemingly absolving the two publishers; as other authors noted, to blame Running Press and/or boycott their books would hurt uninvolved writers and editors, some of whom were very supportive and inclusive. At this point, I think it's important to note this new information, not to "get back" at Running Press, but to be fair to her. Obviously, this whole situation looks very bad for her, and if there really was pressure on her, I think that should be noted.

There may be no way to untangle what actually happened. All I know is, I'm telling you everything I've been told, and you can judge for yourself what you think of it. And, as always, I would be happy to post any information to either support or contradict any of this. I'm waiting on some sort of official announcement from the publishers, and will post that once I have it.

@moirarogersbree: Thank you, #wickedprettythings authors, for making it a little less okay to blame bigotry on the bottom line.

ETA 4/16: I'm now hearing that all comments have been removed from the Publisher's Weekly piece. Since no additional reporting was done by PW itself, they were the only challenge to the assertions made in that post. Too bad, then, that I screencapped the comments on April 5th.

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Tags: appropriate responses to bad situations, books, down with this sort of thing, publishing, shenanigans
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