Friday, February 12, 2010

Of Zombies and Stupidity

So the Library of the Living Dead debacle gets even worse today, with this response from Dr. Michael West (the previously referred to “Dr. Pus”). Some choice parts for those not inclined to read the entire post:

“The reason I pulled the LBGT Anthology was NOT from complaints from the straight community, it was from complaints from the LBGT community.

They were upset that an Anthology written by straight authors could cast a bad light on the gay community. I had no complaints from the straight authors.

Some of the complaints from my LBGT authors were "gays will be displayed in a bad light", "This is a gimmick", [and] "No good can come from straight people writing about gays."

These gay authors are my friends as well as my authors. I did not want to upset THEM. Thus I pulled the Anthology.”

The good Dr. West, with all due respect, reacts in an incredibly shortsighted way by then announcing an exclusionary anthology that will include only LGBT writers.

First of all, good writing is good writing, regardless of an author’s sexual orientation. To categorically dismiss that “no good can come from straight people writing about gays” is simply the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard, and I would love to meet the dolt who uttered such twaddle. Secondly, I can tell you that the heterosexual writer can most certainly bring a unique perspective to the LGBT experience. I could not fathom the UNSPEAKABLE HORROR collection without the deeply personal and insightful works of writers like Sarah Langan, Kealan Patrick Burke, Scott Nicholson, Lisa Morton, and others. Their works measured up equally against those from LGBT-identified writers like Lee Thomas, Rick R. Reed, and Jameson Currier. None of the contributions to UNSPEAKABLE from our heterosexual brothers and sisters cast even the remotest of "bad lights" onto the LGBT community.

Quite frankly, the whole notion is pure rubbish.

It's the editor and publisher who steer an anthology in the direction they want to see it materialize based on their vision. We received more than one submission (from straight and gay writers) that pandered to the most adolescent clichés and stereotypes — including pedophilia and bestiality. And guess how we handled those submissions? We rejected them and focused instead on those quality submissions we received that spoke to the universality of the closet experience we were looking for.

What Dr. West and Mr. Tucker are attempting to do now with this ridiculous claim that the gay writers were to blame adds insult to injury. Gay writers weren’t to blame — nor were the stupid writers who think that a heterosexual writer can’t possibly write from a gay character’s perspective. No, the blame rests with the forces behind Library of the Living Dead who don’t appear to have any semblance of a pulse on the genre (or sub-genre, in this case) in which they publish.

Perhaps Dr. West has surrounded himself with amateur writers and editors who are giving him exceptionally poor advice. As my own experience creating the UNSPEAKABLE HORROR anthology proves, it can be done. You simply need to have a little more faith in your own abilities and start surrounding yourself by higher-tier professional writers and editors.


R. Thomas Riley said...

Some great insight, Vince. I agree that Doc has surrounded himself with some people that he shouldn't have. That's why I contributed to his press in the beginning. The guy has an absolute love for the genre and I wanted to help. Doc needs advice and guidance, not slamming. Trust me, he'll listen...

Erastes said...

Good lord. What did he have - a form asking people to declare their sexuality when they sent in their stories? I can't help but wonder if he knew that he would be excluded from entering it into the Lambda awards if - heaven forbid - there were any straight authors in the antho. The whole debate is getting out of hand imho.

No-one ever insists that you have to be straight to write straight fiction. Or be a horse to write Black Beauty. Or a martian. Or a vampire.... ARGH..

R. Thomas Riley said...

He's simply getting terrible advice from "friends". We've all been there (I know I have) if you've been in this business for any period of time. Let's show him the right way to handle things. Reach out and offer advice. IF he doesn't accept it (I highly doubt he will) then he can flounder on his own.