Separating authors from their works is difficult for me, because as a writer, I understand that we put a bit of ourselves into every book we write. Every character carries a piece of us and is influenced by a part of ourselves.
When Orson Scott Card talked at length about his hatred for the LGBT community, many fans (myself included) boycotted his work from then on—mainly because some of his royalties get donated to horrific organizations, some of which support hate crimes against LGBT folk. But if I did that for every author who said something I didn’t agree with, there would be little left to read. Where would the line be drawn?
As an author, I don’t like to speak ill of other authors. We should support one another. But as a reader, I can’t justify giving money to Card. So where is the line between supporting an author and supporting his/her work?
There are many actors out there who don’t see eye to eye with me politically, and I’m okay with that. I recognize that we all have our own beliefs, but there are some things fundamentally wrong, no matter what your religious/spiritual/moral beliefs say.
Rape, abuse, & child-molestation are three of those things.
When I was a kid, The Mists of Avalon changed my world. So much so that when I made my first CD, I dedicated a song to Marion Zimmer Bradley. In fact, back in May, I even did a Flashback Friday on the novel, completely unaware of the truth about her as a person.
Marion Zimmer Bradley‘s husband, Walter H. Breen, was a known pedophile and child-molester. He was a member of NAMBLA, which makes my skin crawl. Bradley knew this and supported his stance on pedophilia. Even worse, she participated. Marion Zimmer Bradley‘s daughter, Moira Greyland, has recently come forward to speak on her molestation (from the age of 3 to 12) by not only her father, but her mother as well.
Bradley did a great many things for the world of SF/F. Her Sword and Sorceress anthologies gave many of my favorite female authors a chance in a male dominated genre, including Mercedes Lackey and Elizabeth Moon. And despite this, her work is so greatly overshadowed now by the knowledge that she participated in horrendous acts against her own child (and others).
I wish I could go back and rename the track on my album. She doesn’t deserve that honor any longer. But the me who dedicated that track, did so when this knowledge wasn’t known. All I could see was the good she had done. (I was very young, during a time without the Internet as we know it. I had no idea about her past or who her husband was either.)
Marion Zimmer Bradley is long dead, as is her husband. Her publishers are donating her some of her royalties to a variety of rape & abuse hotlines and charities such as RAINN and Save the Children. As an author, a reader, and a survivor, I’m glad the royalties are going to help others, but the truth about this author turns my stomach. I love her work for what it was, and I love Sword and Sorceress for what it did for women in SF/F. But this whole thing is disgusting.
If she were alive, like Card, it would be easier to cauterize the wound. I’m conflicted though, and it hurts like a punch to the gut. I want to burn the books, but they are tied up in so many memories for me. Good memories.
Life is complicated.
As is this situation. But I felt the need to address it because I did not want anyone to think that I would ever support child molestation or abuse. Or the people who commit it.
I have made a donation to RAINN. I hope you will, too.