You see, I wrote a book. A lovely sweet inclusive love story that I stand by. It featured an Asian hero of Scottish and Chinese descent. Let's just stop there... an Australian. A member of a multi-cultural society. One that embraces everyone without fear or favour.
It had been in the marketplace for over a month, when it was targeted. I believe it was because the promotional wordage was changed. Was it a mistake? I honestly don't know. All I can say is we've now suffered extreme emotional hurt and financially as well.
On Wednesday morning, my phone woke me at 6am with incessant ding, ding, dings. To be honest, I ignored probably the first dozen. It didn't stop. (When you average 4 hours a night, and are constantly exhausted, you do that.)
Imagine my surprise when I realise it's a panicked member of the boxed set my book is in, telling us we've been targeted on Twitter because of our inclusivity. Because we are being vilified as having Appropriated a Culture. For fetishising Asians. Because we dared to write about an Asian Hero. But even more so, we've been tagged personally in twitter posts.
This person, and I won't name who it is, in a panic felt she had to apologise to these bullies. Un-freaking-believable. It started a cascade of comments on Amazon and Goodreads, spear headed by one person who thought she should be judge, jury and executioner.
One person to start it all.
From there is snowballed. Another member went into melt down, and questioned her writing, her craft. I had other, very pressing and difficult to handle personal issues happening, and another had a parent admitted to hospital right as this struck. When we should have been in a position to deal with these real life crises, we had members of the boxed set receiving private messages, we were mocked online and treated very very poorly. We were attacked as people. Our writing was 1 starred. Not because they'd read it. No. They hadn't. Just because they could.
The person who spear headed this, don't do any checks, except looking at our profiles to determine we were white women.
Let me reinforce this for you. She DID NOT CHECK. There was not ONE SHRED of evidence. She just loaded the bullets into the gun, aimed and fired.
Now, this is where I get really angry. See, I have a strong association with certain Asian cultures. I have FAMILY MEMBERS who are Asian. What I post on Facebook and widely, does not show the breadth of my life. I share maybe 5% at most. The rest I keep private. I don't share it all, because I don't have to. My life is not an open book for some nasty little woman with a penchant for pulling wings off butterflies to paw through. Let's just take a moment here to realise that I checked her twitter. In a 48 hour period she vilified a range of people and political beliefs. This person spews hatred daily on her feed and has followers! Like, WTF??
Now, I can't and won't comment for the other authors. It's no one's business but their's the make up of their families. Their cultural background.
I also have further very strong ties to China in particular. As does my husband and my daughters. A personal but very deep connection. One that has taken years to come to terms with. One that is intensely personal and private. This was called into question, by a person who doesn't know me. Someone who assumed they knew about me from my profile.
How Dare They???
Am I angry? Hell yes. Incandescently so.
Yesterday, we woke to find out boxed set summarily removed from sale. Not because Amazon pulled it. Not because we did. The one person who broke ranks went and had it pulled by the company handling the upload and files. Again without checking or thought to the ramifications.
The group leader worked tirelessly to get it back up while we moved into an electronic circle and sang an electronic form of Kumbaya. Supporting each other against a targeted attack we didn't deserve. We hoped we'd weathered the worst of the mess. We clung together, a tight knit group now forged in the fire of a twitter storm that was pretty much unrelenting and exceptionally hurtful.
To top it off, someone I know, yesterday jumped on the band wagon. (No names) but this person should have known better. They were in a position where they could contact me and ask questions. They did not. Instead they continued the lambasting. I don't much care for this kind of behaviour. I've publicly said that there is no need for it, as all it does is feed the mob mentality. This person belonged in one of my promotional groups! And yet...
I messaged a person from my peak body and the response was "not the association's problem." Read that again. It's pivotal. This is or was, my peak body. Needless to say, I am no longer a member.
I have been scoured by this vilification. I am incensed that someone without thought, without care would treat me and the other members of the boxed set with such callous disregard.
I'm beyond enraged that people who know me would choose to act in this manner. If this is the quality of our industry, I am fearful for our future.
Let me tell you the good news story, though. Let me tell you about the messages, the kindness extended by others. The forging of friendships. Let me tell you of the strength that can be found when people rally around you. Let me tell you of others who take time out of their day to check you're okay.
There is solidarity out there. There is caring. There is kinship.
I'm strong. I'm a survivor. (It's a hard won statement that's taken 4 years to achieve) with the near death of my husband and my youngest daughter. Personal losses and the odd personal regret. One thing I don't regret is this story.
My take away message. When I was younger, my mother would say if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything. It's time we look at this message, consider what it means. It's time to stop the mindless blood hunt of other authors. This is not (nor should it become) an industry that eats it's own.
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