Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labelled: “This could change your life.” – Helen Exley
Violence against women (VAW) is a prevalent and entrenched part of countless societies around the world but it is still considered a taboo topic, even to a certain extent, in developed and first-world communities. Pop culture media, therefore is invaluable at raising awareness, and promoting and prompting advocacy against VAW, doing much to break the silence.
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, over 80 award-winning bestselling authors from genres as diverse as Science Fiction, Fantasy, Crime, Thrillers, and Horror have participated in various Read For Pixels campaigns and initiatives, raising more than $48,000 to date for the cause to end VAW.
In this article, we honour 16 award-winning bestselling authors from our 2016 and 2017 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 to be taken to the YouTube video of their Read For Pixels Google Hangout or their blog articles.
Written and compiled by Regina Yau, with Google Hangout transcriptions by Anushia Kandasivam, Bernardo Rosa Rodriguez, Bridget Hudacs, and Regina Yau.
NOTE: 24 authors participated this year and those not featured in this year’s list will be featured in next year’s list.
Author Against VAW 1: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Adrian Tchaikovsky is a keen live role-player and occasional amateur actor, has trained in stage-fighting, and keeps no exotic or dangerous pets of any kind, possibly excepting his son. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Shadows of the Apt series, the Echoes of the Fall series, and several stand-alone novels, including Children of Time, winner of the 30th Anniversary Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. When talking about violence against women, Adrian said: “The chief problem with violence against women is violence by men. So I’m looking at a problem where I am of the demographic that perpetuates this problem. I have all the advantages of birth, of being a man in society, which is pretty much a better thing than being a woman because of the way people will react to you, because of the opportunities you have. I think that does put a sort of positive duty on me to try to redress the balance.”
Authors Against VAW 2: Aliette de Bodard
Aliette is an engineer, a writer, and a keen amateur cook. Her love of mythology and history led her to speculative fiction early on. She is the author of The House of Shattered Wings, the first Dominion of the Fallen Novel, plus numerous short stories, the Aztec noir trilogy Obsidian and Blood, and the award-nominated On a Red Station, Drifting, a space opera based on Vietnamese culture. She has won two Nebula Awards and a Locus Award. Aliette says: “I support [stopping violence against women] because it’s still one of the major causes of damage to be done to women in various guises […] and the statistics are pretty horrific […] ” and says that authors can support ending violence against women by “being as outspoken as they can when it happens.”
Authors Against VAW 3: Charles de Lint
Charles de Lint is the author of more than seventy adult, young adult and children’s books. Renowned as one of the trailblazers of the modern fantasy genre, he is the recipient of the World Fantasy, Aurora, Sunburst, and White Pine awards, among others. Modern Library’s Top 100 Books of the 20th Century poll, conducted by Random House and voted on by readers, put eight of de Lint’s books among the top 100. When talking about how men can help stop violence against women, Charles says: “It’s pretty basic. Just as we shouldn’t let racist comments from our friends and acquaintances slide, neither should misogynist comments or jokes go by without questioning them. You don’t have to get heavy about it. Even just saying, “I don’t understand,” as often as necessary to someone trying to justify it to you, sends a clear message that this attitude no longer flies. Speak up when you become aware of something that’s not right, be it trolls on the Internet or some jerk on the street. And always be a rock for those who might need our support. Treat your partners and women friends with the genuine respect and honesty they deserve.”
Authors Against VAW 4: Colleen Houck
New York Times Bestselling Author Colleen Houck is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, science fiction, and romance. Formerly a student at the University of Arizona, she worked as a nationally certified American Sign Language interpreter before switching careers to become an author. When talking about violence against women, specifically domestic violence, Colleen said: “It’s hard for me to wrap my head around a situation where a person is afraid of the person that they married or the person that is their parent. […] And it’s something that, you know, if we know about it we need to do something about that because it’s not right. […] It’s one that if we can open our eyes we can see, and if we see it we can do something, we can act. And I think that is a very important thing to talk about and to talk to people about.”
Authors Against VAW 5: Elizabeth Bear
Elizabeth Bear is the multiple Hugo award winning author of over twenty-five books and a hundred short stories. She specialises in science fiction and fantasy. Recent works include Karen Memory and the Eternal Sky sequence. When asked why she supports efforts to stop violence against women (specifically domestic violence), Elizabeth said: “For me it’s a very personal issue. I grew up in an abusive household. And I grew up in an abusive household that is not the sort that is fashionable to discuss because it was a same gender household and it was a mixed race household. And I feel like all of this informs your life, informs your outlook, informs your view of yourself. Also, my certification has long lapsed but at one point I was a State of Connecticut certified domestic violence counsellor and I volunteered at a domestic violence shelter in Hartford. So it’s totally personal, I’ll cop to that.”
Authors Against VAW 6: Karen Chance
Karen Chance is the New York Times bestselling author of the Cassie Palmer novels and the Midnight’s Daughter series. She has lived in France, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong, but always comes back to America. When talking about her support for the cause to end violence against women, Karen said: “So it’s not just the women you would think of who are battered; it could be anybody, anybody at all. It needs to be pounded into little girls’ heads and older women’s head that this is not alright, this is not ok. And hopefully, after generations we’ll see change. And the younger generation is seeing a lot of change in how men and women interact. And I hope that’s one of the changes we’ll see.”
Authors Against VAW 7: Karen Rose
Award winning, internationally bestselling romantic suspense author Karen Rose earned her degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland. She lived in Cincinnati and worked in the engineering field for years before she began writing novels in 2003. Rose currently lives in Florida. When talking about what parents can do to stop violence against women and girls, Karen said: “I think we should teach our sons to respect women. I think a lot of people aren’t really clear on all the ways women get disrespected in our society so they don’t know how to teach their sons not to do that. […] It’s things like teaching a husband to be respectful of his wife’s opinion, her career and goals in life. He’s not more important, she’s not more important. They are equal together. I think that is something we as parents owe our children. I think once we all start doing that the world is going to be a better place.”
Author Against VAW 8: Ken Liu
A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, Ken Liu is the author of The Dandelion Dynasty, a silkpunk epic fantasy series (The Grace of Kings (2015), The Wall of Storms (2016), and a forthcoming third volume) and The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories (2016), a collection. When talking about what men and boys can do to stop violence against women, Ken said: “Violence against women is a human rights problem so everybody is involved and needs to be involved. When it comes to boys, I think a fundamental part of our effort needs to be directed into instilling a fundamental respect for women, for girls, and absolute adherence to equality of the sexes and respect for gender diversity as part of the human condition. But at the same time I think it’s very important also to teach boys to understand the perspective of privilege, of power, what it means to benefit from an unequal systems so they can see the ways in which the narrative they’re in in not universal, ‘natural’ or deserved.”
Authors Against VAW 9: Martha Wells
Martha Wells is the author of over a dozen science fiction and fantasy novels, including the Books of the Raksura series, Star Wars: Razor’s Edge, and the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer, as well as short stories, nonfiction, and YA fantasy. Her books have been published in seven languages. When speaking about her personal experience, Martha says: “I was stalked when I was in college and it damaged my ability to trust for quite a long time. Probably still does and something like that just affects you on so many different levels. [,,,] Even people I just met casually – once we all started talking about it, they all had some sort of story about being stalked or having something happen to them. It was so common.” When asked why she supports stopping violence against women “because it’s just something that’s going to lift up everybody […] Fighting misogyny is like fighting racism: it’s gonna make the world better for everyone. It’s something everybody should think about.”
Authors Against VAW 10: Martina Boone
Martina Boone is the acclaimed author of the romantic Southern Gothic Heirs of Watson Island series, including COMPULSION and PERSUASION which are out now, and ILLUSION. She was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English, which is what she blames for her mad love of words and fairy tale settings. When discussing what needs to be done to reduce violence against women, she said: “I think what we have to do is to work actively, to educate, to empower women, to provide networks where they can go to get support when they need it, and more importantly to get the message out that women are equal, deserve as much as men, that women contribute as much as men even if it’s in a different way, and that all people deserve to be respected and honoured, treated well and lifted up as opposed to being trodden down. I think if that message can go out as often as possible, it will counteract the [opposing] messages that you hear from so many people in authority and who are so-called role models.”
Authors Against VAW 11: Mary Robinette Kowal
Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of The Glamourist Histories series of fantasy novels and a three time Hugo Award winner. Her short fiction appears in Uncanny, Tor.com, and Asimov’s. Mary, a professional puppeteer, lives in Chicago. When discussing the use of rape tropes in story-telling and why it is usually a lazy shorthand done badly by many authors, Mary said: “One thing about rape and violence against women is that it is never about the person it happens to. It affects them deeply and it affects them for the rest of their lives. But it is never about them or the choices they made or their lives. It is about the person who did it to them. And that’s why I fell it is a very poor story-telling technique. Because what you are telling me about is about the character who did it. That act of violence is not specific to the person.”
Authors Against VAW 12: Michelle Sagara
Toronto-based New York Times bestselling author Michelle Sagara writes as both Michelle Sagara and Michelle West. Reading is one of her life-long passions, and she is sometimes paid for her opinions about what she’s read by the venerable Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. When talking about the connection between parenting boys and male violence against women, Michelle said: “I think women really suffer. I think partly it’s our upbringing […] You can put a person in a position where “it’s her fault”: “He wouldn’t get angry if I didn’t do this; he wouldn’t hit me if I hadn’t done this.” And NO! Really, NO! But that goes back to the infantilisation of male children. […] I mean a four year old can punch you in the leg and then you take him upstairs to his room where he can sit for 20 minutes and think about this carefully. But you can’t do that with a 40 year old and not when you’re his wife. And part of responsible parenting is [teaching] a little bit of self-control, a little bit of awareness that you actually don’t have the right anymore to have a temper tantrum when you are breaking lives.”
Authors Against VAW 13: Paul Tremblay
Paul Tremblay is the author of DISAPPEARANCE AT DEVIL’S ROCK, the award winning A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS. A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS, THE LITTLE SLEEP, and the forthcoming THE FOUR (summer 2018). His essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and numerous “year’s best” anthologies. Paul is on the board of directors for the Shirley Jackson Awards. Paul is also a teacher at a boys’ school and he said: “I enjoy where I’m teaching but there’s a huge problem with it because there are no girls in the classroom […] because it’s all boys, they feel there are no consequences for what they say but there are certainly consequences if they say anything sexist or misogynist in my classroom. The hard part is doing it in a way that doesn’t make them think that I’m the enemy or something like that but do it in a way that I’m not shaming them because they are going to make mistakes. I want the classroom to be a safe place where they can make mistakes.”
Authors Against VAW 14: Rachel Vincent
Rachel Vincent is the bestselling author of the SHIFTERS, SOUL SCREAMERS and UNBOUND series, a former English teacher, and an eager champion of the Oxford comma. She shares her home in Oklahoma with two cats, two teenagers, and her husband, who’s been her #1 fan from the start. Rachel talked about the role parenting plays in dismantling sexism, misogyny, and violence against women. She said of her own efforts: “This is what we do with my own son: we do a lot of questioning. If you hear your son, your brother or whoever saying something that is sexist or biased, ask questions. What would you say if the gender roles were reversed? Why is it the way it is? And I think you have to start [asking questions] early because the world bombards children with gender bias in toys, in clothing, and in roles. If ‘it takes a village,’ then you already know the rest of the village is going to be giving them one point of view. It’s our responsibility as parents, as educators and anyone who has influence over young minds to show them that there is another perspective, another way. That life may not be fair, but that doesn’t mean that we have to stop trying to make it fair.”
Authors Against VAW 15: Soman Chainani
Soman Chainani’s first book, THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List, has been translated into 25 languages across six continents, and will soon be a major motion picture from Universal Studios, produced by Joe Roth and Jane Startz. When asked about why how authors can help stop violence against women, Soman said: “I think for me I’ve always had that view that women are the stronger and smarter of the two sexes. That a world run by women would be a safer, happier, more peaceful place. There was a reason why when the Women’s Marches happened in the US, they are the only protests that ever happened with no violence. So, to me, I support the project because the idea of violence against women just runs so deeply against what I think should be happening in the world. In terms of authors supporting it, everything has to come down to the art. It becomes about changing people’s minds through writing.”
Authors Against VAW 16: Susan Dennard
New York Times bestselling author Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. As a marine biologist, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two dogs, and she is extremely active on social media. When asked why she supports The Pixel Project and ending violence against women, she said: “It seems like such a no-brainer to me – of course I would support ending violence against women. I got that question recently too and I was like ‘Obviously? I mean not to sound rude but yes, of course, there’s not even an option not to? It’s easily one of the most important causes that exist.”
- Adrian Tchaikovsky – Courtesy of Pan Macmillan UK; Photographer: Joby Sessions.
- Aliette de Bodard – Courtesy of Ace, an imprint of Penguin Random House
- Charles de Lint – Courtesy of Charles de Lint
- Colleen Houck – Courtesy of Colleen Houck
- Elizabeth Bear – Courtesy of Elizabeth Bear
- Karen Chance – Courtesy of Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House
- Karen Rose – Courtesy of Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House
- Ken Liu – Courtesy of Ken Liu; Photographer: Lisa Tang Liu
- Martha Wells – Courtesy of Martha Wells; Photographer: Igor Kraguljac
- Martina Boone – Courtesy of Martina Boone
- Mary Robinette Kowal – Courtesy of Mary Robinette Kowal
- Michelle Sagara – Courtesy of Michelle Sagara
- Paul Tremblay – Courtesy of Paul Tremblay; Photographer: Michael Lajoie
- Rachel Vincent – Courtesy of Rachel Vincent
- Soman Chainani – Courtesy of Soman Chainani
- Susan Dennard – Courtesy of New Leaf Literary