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Jul 28

Separating Authors from Their Works

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.

This is going to get a little long as I recently discovered something about Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of The Mists of Avalon, and I felt the need to discuss it here.

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.

rainnIf 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.
mesig2

 

 

 

P.S. Decent articles on the topic here and here and here.

About the author

Raven Oak

Bestselling science fiction & fantasy author Raven Oak is best known for Amaskan’s Blood, Class-M Exile, and the collection Joy to the Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays.

She spent most of her K-12 education doodling stories and 500 page monstrosities that are forever locked away in a filing cabinet. When she's not writing, she's getting her game on, enjoying cartography, or staring at the ocean.

She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband, and their three kitties who enjoy lounging across the keyboard when writing deadlines approach.

4 comments
Patrick Boothe
Patrick Boothe

Yeah I bet it's as repugnant as knowing that someone you know did something like that. Definitely in a pocket of devastation all its own...

Raven Oak - Author
Raven Oak - Author

It is a difficult topic, especially with my own background, but one that needed addressing. MZB was one of the forerunners who paved the way for women to be published as women (vs. using male pseudonyms) in Sci-Fi/Fantasy back in the 1960's. Back when it was a "boy's club" genre. Considering who she has been regarded as a feminist for her work in all that, it's just heartbreaking to know all of this about her. I like that idea though--Track 6. See track 8. ;)

Patrick Boothe
Patrick Boothe

Damn heavy stuff! I struggle to separate artists (be it music or whatever) from their views, luckily I've never had this kind of disconnect with someone I previously admired... I've been pretty lucky that the artists I fell in love with as a kid have been pretty gay friendly and none have done anything that would make me ashamed to admit I admire them. If anyone asks you about track 6, just redirect them to track 8 and call it a day...

Trackbacks

  1. […] #5: The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley To me, this is the ultimate fantasy novel. I know many would argue a case for Lord of the Rings, which would be my #6, but MZB took the story of King Arthur and gave it quite the feminist twist. I love this novel for its beauty and complexity. Edit: Since finding out about Marion Zimmer Bradley’s role in the sexual abuse of her own children, I will no longer list this novel as a book I enjoy. I honestly can’t see it the same way, knowing what I know. More on that here. […]

  2. […] EDIT: Since writing this post, I’ve learned about the author’s history of child molestation and abuse. I can no longer support MZB’s works or this book. You can read more on that here. […]