Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labelled: “This could change your life.” – Helen Exley
With VAW being a taboo topic in many cultures and communities, pop culture media (including film, books and gaming) have become invaluable awareness-raising, advocacy and educational tools through which the anti-Violence Against Women (VAW) movement can reach out to educate communities and raise their awareness about VAW, to break the silence surrounding the violence and to inspire people to take action to stop this human rights atrocity.
The Pixel Project’s Read For Pixels campaign was first launched in September 2014 in recognition of the longstanding power of books to shape cultural ideas and influence the direction of history. From Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird to to J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, popular authors and their stories have been instrumental in planting ideas, triggering thoughtful water-cooler discussions, and providing food for thought for communities. And in the age of Geek culture and social media, bestselling authors wield influence beyond just their books as they are able to directly communicate their readers and fans via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media channels.
Since then, the campaign has gone from strength to strength. To date, 41 award-winning bestselling authors have participated in various Read For Pixels campaigns and initiatives, raising over $21,000 for the cause to end VAW to date. In this article, we honour 16 of this year’s bestselling authors from our 2015 Read For Pixels campaigns.* They hail from genres as diverse as Comics, Horror, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult, Urban Fantasy and Science Fiction. Many of them are global celebrities with strong fan followings, others are well-respected in their countries or genres. Still others are up-and-coming stars who have decided to use their talents for good. It is the movement to end VAW that unites and inspires them and we hope that all of them will continue to work with the movement in years to come.
To learn more about each author and their books, click on the author’s name.
To learn more about what each author has to say about violence against women, click on their quote in their write-up below to be taken to the YouTube video of their Read For Pixels Google Hangout or their blog articles.
NOTE: The Pixel Project is thrilled to note that we had our best ever author participation yet in 2015 with 25 authors taking part in Read For Pixels campagins throughout the year. Those not featured in this year’s list will be featured in next year’s list.
Written and compiled by Regina Yau. Google Hangout transcriptions by Anushia Kandasivam, Shreya Gupta, and Regina Yau.
Call To Action: Help us reach the $25,000 fundraising milestone for our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign this holiday season by giving generously to our “16 For 16” fundraiser (which also includes #GivingTuesday)! Find out more and donate to get awesome book and music goodies at http://is.gd/16DaysGT2015
Charlaine Harris is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse fantasy/mystery series, the Aurora Teagarden, Harper Connelly, and Lily Bard mystery series, and Midnight Crossroad, the first Midnight, Texas, novel. She has lived in the South her entire life. During her Read For Pixels Google Hangout, Charlaine talked about being a rape survivor, supporting other survivors in their journey, and tackling the issue of VAW in her stories. She said: “Women should be able to live their lives and say what they think without fearing physical retaliation . . . it is that simple! I just do not see how a society can miss that.”
Diane Chamberlain is the international best-selling author of 23 novels published in more than twenty-five languages. Her most recent novel, THE SILENT SISTER, made the USA Today Bestseller List. Prior to her writing career, she was a hospital social worker and a psychotherapist in private practice. During her Read For Pixels Google Hangout, Diane talked about stopping VAW and the importance of including men and boys in the movement: “I really get upset over the idea of this ‘us versus them’ thing – that if women have more rights, then men have fewer rights. I really don’t think it’s a win-lose kind of situation, but I fear that is what happens most of the time. I consider myself a feminist but I also consider myself a ‘masculist’, where I just think we need to be as concerned about our boys and the messages we give our boys as we do our girls.”
Jane Green is the author of fifteen New York Times bestselling novels, including TEMPTING FATE. Initially known for writing about single thirty-somethings, Green has graduated to more complex novels that explore the concerns of real women’s lives, from marriage to motherhood to, most recently, midlife crises. During Jane’s Read For Pixels Google Hangout, she talked about the importance of having role models and relationship models as part of helping stop VAW and what authors can do through their work. She said: “As a woman myself, and having witnessed a couple of friends in abusive relationships, we don’t know what a healthy relationship is, we don’t know what to look for. I don’t know what to look for. I consider myself enormously blessed being married for the second time and … having an incredibly loving, supportive, healthy and functional partnership. […] I’m trying very hard in my books to model something that I’ve now been lucky enough to experience. I would like to think that somebody somewhere would read it and might perhaps question … the situation that they’re in.”
Jaye Wells is a USA Today-bestselling author of urban fantasy and speculative crime fiction. Raised by booksellers, she loved reading books from a very young age. That gateway drug eventually led to a full-blown writing addiction. When discussing solutions for stopping VAW, Jaye said: “I think fostering empathy is important on every level of this issue. It is just trying to be more kind to people and understanding where they are coming from and understanding what motivates them and looking for common ground. That is how solutions happen. But shouting at people builds walls and we do not need more walls. We need to break the walls down and come together as a society and say, ‘You know what, no violence! That is not who we want to be.’”
#1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. Her book OBSIDIAN has been optioned for a major motion picture and her COVENANT series has been optioned for TV. When discussing how authors can support the movement to end VAW, she said: “One of the ways authors can support it is representing it in their books. I don’t know how many times I’ve received emails from people saying that they’ve read something in my book that honestly I never thought about…but they connected with that situation or that character and it gave them the opportunity to say to me ‘this is what happened to me’. And since they said it to me, they now feel empowered to say it to somebody else. So I think that sometimes by having those types of representations in their novels, you have no idea who you’re reaching and it could be that one thing that finally shows a woman or a child that ‘I need to get out of this situation’ or ‘I need to help get this person out of this situation’.”
Jim C. Hines is the author of eleven fantasy novels, including the MAGIC EX LIBRIS series, the PRINCESS series of fairy tale retellings, the humorous GOBLIN QUEST trilogy, and the FABLE LEGENDS tie-in BLOOD OF HEROES. He’s an active blogger and has won the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. Jim was a sexual assault counsellor and has written extensively about issues of violence against women, sexism, and misogyny in geek culture on his blog and is the only author who has a section dedicated to resources for rape survivors on website. He wrote this about VAW in the geek community: “People don’t choose to be raped. People choose to commit rape. If you make that choice, I don’t want you in my community. Can you imagine what would happen if, every time someone raped, assaulted, or harassed another person, the rest of us actually spoke out? If we as a community let them know — clearly and loudly — that this would not be tolerated? If we told those who had been assaulted that we would listen, and we would support them?” Check out Jim’s Read For Pixels Google Hangout here.
Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestseller, a five-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award, and a comic book writer for IDW, Marvel and Dark Horse. He is the author of PATIENT ZERO, ROT & RUIN, THE NIGHTSIDERS, DEAD OF NIGHT and many novels; and his comics include MARVEL ZOMBIES RETURN, CAPTAIN AMERICA: HAIL HYDRA, V-WARS and BAD BLOOD. Several of his books are in development for TV and film. Jonathan survived his father’s domestic abuse and went on to spend twenty years teaching women, kids, and other at-risk groups self-defence. His message to men and boys everywhere: “We all talk about how to be tough, how to be strong. But being tough also means being fair and being tough means having the courage to do the right thing. And I want to speak to my fellow men out there – the tough guys out there – you wanna be tough? Stand side by side with women. Don’t be part of the conspiracy of abuse; don’t be part of its culture; don’t hit, don’t hurt, and don’t turn a blind eye.” Check out Jonathan’s Read For Pixels Google Hangout here.
Kami Garcia is the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES and DANGEROUS CREATURES novels & the author of the instant New York Times bestseller and Bram Stoker Award nominated novel UNBREAKABLE, and the sequel UNMARKED, in the LEGION series. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES has been published in 50 countries and translated in 39 languages. The film adaptation of Beautiful Creatures released in theaters in 2013, from Warner Brothers. When asked why she supports stopping VAW, she said: “Violence against women in the world, the fact that it is so acceptable, is so terrifying. […] I think that every single woman, every single girl, every single person has the right to feel safe.”
Kate Elliott has been writing stories since she was nine years old. Her twenty-four science fiction and fantasy books include COLD MAGIC, SPIRIT GATE, KING’S DRAGON, JARAN, and her YA debut COURT OF FIVES. A new epic fantasy, BLACK WOLVES, which was published in November 2015. When speaking to The Pixel Project about how authors can help stop VAW, she said: “I think that [authors] can support organisations that are doing the work on the ground, we can think about these things when we write fiction. […] As writers, we can think about how that influences the kind of story we want to tell and how we want to portray society. Often [rape] is portrayed in a way that [the reader] is taking the perspective of the person inflicting violence […] We can choose what perspective we take. I think that is a really crucial part of fighting violence against women – bringing about a change in perspective so that we can hope to end it.”
Kimberly Derting is the author of the award-winning THE BODY FINDER series, THE PLEDGE trilogy, and THE TAKING and THE REPLACED (the first two books in THE TAKING trilogy). Her books have been translated into 15 languages, and both THE BODY FINDER and THE PLEDGE were YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selections. Kimberly is a survivor of childhood sexual assault and she said: “As an author […] I think it’s important to write unhealthy people and unhealthy relationships in the sense that I think it makes conversations start. I think if everyone just wrote happy stories that were pure and fun and everybody was healthy then there wouldn’t be a lot of conversation. I think talking about things…is what makes people start to come forward. I think a lot of issue books…are what make conversations start and actually a lot of kids will step forward because of those books. And those are not healthy relationships.”
Leigh Bardugo is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the GRISHA Trilogy: SHADOW AND BONE, SIEGE AND STORM, and RUIN AND RISING. She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently, makeup and special effects. When chatting to The Pixel Project about solutions for stopping VAW, Leigh said: “For me, the most effective thing you can do is take what you are seeing or feeling online and actually go out and do something. It’s actually not that hard to be involved in something […] I think sometimes one of the problems with social media is that if we want to tune out an uncomfortable message, we can. But we need to be uncomfortable. So if you have a platform to give other people it may be the best thing you can do.”
Marie Lu writes young adult novels such as the LEGEND series and has a special love for dystopian books. Ironically, she was born in 1984. Before she became a full-time writer, she was an artist in the video game industry. She graduated from the University of Southern California in ’06 and currently lives in Los Angeles. During her Read For Pixels Google Hangout, Marie talked to The Pixel Project about everything from role models to #Gamergate. She said: “We all are either women, or we know, we have mothers, and daughters, and sisters. We all know someone who has been affected by violence against women. So, this is a very personal issue. I can’t imagine not being affected by this message and not being a part of it.”
Rick Yancey is the author of fifteen novels and a memoir. His books have been published in over thirty languages and have earned numerous accolades and awards from around the world. In 2010, Rick received a Michael L. Printz Honour for THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST. His latest novel, THE 5th WAVE, the first in an epic sci-fi trilogy, made its worldwide debut in 2013, and will soon be a major motion picture for GK Films and Sony Pictures.On the subject of role modelling healthy relationships for his 3 sons, he said: “It’s one of those obvious truths that probably should be said again – that a young male’s first exposure to a male-female relationship and how that looks is obviously between their parents. […] You better be careful how you’re treating each other because your sons are watching and you might not think you’re having an effect but you are.”
New York Times best-selling author Scott Sigler is the creator of fifteen novels, six novellas and dozens of short stories. In 2005, Scott built a large online following by releasing his audiobooks as serialised podcasts. Scott is the co-founder of Empty Set Entertainment, which publishes his Galactic Football League YA series. When asked why he supports The Pixel Project, he said: “I don’t commit violence on women or children, and there’s a natural default in your head that says everybody is like that, that it’s just a few outliers who aren’t like that. But the more you look around the more you realise that’s not really the case. […] A group like yours, [is] able to contribute to somebody who trying to get their voice out there and make people aware of what’s going on – like the crisis hotlines that you always tweet out – before I saw those tweets it never even crossed my mind that people would not know where to go for help. So that’s why I’ve been supportive of it. Making people more aware of what’s going on is a good thing.”
Tad Williams is an international best-selling author of fantasy and science fiction. Since 1985, he has written 20 novels and 3 story collections, and his work has been translated into more than twenty languages. Tad’s stories have earned critical acclaim and are immensely popular with both fantasy and science fiction readers worldwide. Tad’s first novel, TAILCHASER’S SONG, is soon to be a CG-animated feature film from Animetropolis and IDA. When discussing how he role models healthy relationships and respect for women and girls to his son, Tad said: “I have always done my conscious best to treat my wife […] as my equal partner […] and I have always tried to model that for my kids as much as possible. My son […] has the culture around him and a family and community that says ‘women and men – there is no difference in terms of value.’”
Yasmine Galenorn is the New York Times, USA TODAY, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of the Otherworld series, , the upcoming spin-off series in the Otherworld altaverse–the Fly By Night series, and the upcoming Whisper Hollow paranormal romance/suspense series. In April 2012, she won a Career Achievement Award in Urban Fantasy at the Romantic Times Convention. During her Read For Pixels Google Hangout, Yasmine, who is a rape and abuse survivor, told The Pixel Project that authors can help the effort to stop VAW “by not being afraid to speak out. […] violence against women is something that is so inherent, so much a part of my background in terms of being a survivors of it, how can I not speak out about it? And if some people get upset about it – too bad.”
- Charlaine Harris – Photo courtesy of Charlaine Harris and Ace/Roc/DAW Books. Photographer: Sigrid Estrada.
- Diane Chamberlain – Photo courtesy of Diane Chamberlain
- Jane Green – Photo courtesy of Jane Green.
- Jaye Wells – Photo courtesy of Jaye Wells
- Jennifer L. Armentrout – Photo courtesy of Jennifer L. Armentrout
- Jim C. Hines – Photo courtesy of Jim C. Hines
- Jonathan Maberry – Photo courtesy of Jonathan Maberry
- Kami Garcia – Photo courtesy of Kami Garcia. Photographer: Vanya Stoyanova
- Kate Elliott – Photo courtesy of Kate Elliott
- Kimberly Derting – Photo courtesy of Kimberly Derting
- Leigh Bardugo – Photo courtesy of Leigh Bardugo. Photographer: Taili Song Roth
- Marie Lu – Photo courtesy of Marie Lu
- Rick Yancey – Photo courtesy of Rick Yancey
- Scott Sigler – Photo courtesy of Scott Sigler and A Kovacs. Photographer: Joan Allen
- Tad Williams – Photo courtesy of Tad Williams and Ace/Roc/DAW Books. Photographer: Deborah Beale
- Yasmine Galenorn – Photo courtesy of Yasmine Galenorn