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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Problem With Problematic Authors

Separating the art from the artist has been a widely debated topic and with the popularity of Booktok and Bookstagram, problematic authors and their controversies have been much more publicized. 

According to the American Library Association (ALA), the term problematic authors is used to highlight actions and opinions by 

authors that are objectionable and can affect the author’s reputation, often in a negative light. Some popular controversial authors include J.K. Rowling, Cassandra Clare, and Sarah J. Maas. 

Rowling is the author of the very beloved book series “Harry Potter”, but she has been widely known for being transphobic. 

Clare, who wrote the “Shadowhunters” books is known for plagiarism throughout her books and Maas, author of the popular “A Court of Thorns and Roses” and “Throne of Glass” series, has been called out on the misrepresentation and lack of diversity within her books. 

Other popular book media authors that have been caught under crossfire are Colleen Hoover, Danielle Lori, and Elle Kennedy. 

Bringing up these controversies post the question of whether or not we should support these authors. Supporting equals buying their books, reading their work, and promoting them on social media.

As someone who both loves to read and runs a book account (@bookleish_), it’s super important to me that what I read is varied. I read all genres and try my best to read books by everyone, with a focus on small, Indie authors, POC authors, and women authors. I’ve always believed it’s important to support all writers, however by continuing to read and promote problematic authors’ books, you are continuing to give these authors a platform. The beliefs of a writer are reflected in their writing, no matter how fantastical it is. 

Still, the books themselves aren’t usually the root of the problem. I’d never begrudge a person for reading a problematic author’s book and enjoying it. For instance, “The Sweetest Oblivion” by Danielle Lori is one of my favorite dark romance books. Recently, she has been outed to be racist after a series of likes on Twitter where she was going against the Black Lives Matter Movement. I haven’t completely finished reading her repertoire, but I’ve made the decision to no longer read anything by her or buy any of her books. 

Lots of people continue to read problematic authors because they simply aren’t aware of their controversies. For example, I didn’t even know what the term transgender meant when I first read Harry Potter when I was in fourth grade. The controversy surrounding J.K Rowling hadn’t been brought to such public light until 2020, when her Tweets were originally posted. I haven’t read the “Harry Potter” series since then. 

Now that I’m older and have garnered my own beliefs, I won’t be picking up any books from these authors anytime soon. These are real people with real lives that they are attacking. You can separate the art from the artist all you want, but be mature enough to realize the problem, acknowledge it, and decide the extent to which you are willing to support them. 

Examples of ways that I continue to review and enjoy books while not supporting problematic authors include no longer tagging them in any reviews and directly calling out when the author has controversy attached to them. It helps that I’ve established rapport with my followers and have been blatant that while my reviews are spoiler-free, I am honest about when I won’t be continuing to support the authors I read. 

This doesn’t mean you have to boycott these authors. There are ways to continue reading their books. Buying books second-hand and from thrift stores or borrowing books from the library doesn’t give them any royalties. If you’re like me and love bookish merchandise, purchasing bookmarks, stickers, crewnecks, etc from small businesses are another option. 

There are tons of other authors that deserve the support and recognition instead. If you’re looking for heartwarming romance novels by the sweetest authors, my favorites include Lisina Coney. Another author is Samantha Shannon, who has wide diversity throughout all her fantasy-esque books, and Gina Chen and Cory Anderson are also fantastic if you’re looking for something magical. One of my favorite historical fiction authors is Ruta Sepetys, who has the most unique writing style I’ve ever read. 

Every time I’ve posted about their books, they’ve reached out to me full of gratitude and every interaction with them has been super sweet. 

Whether or not you decide to continue reading a problematic author’s work is completely up to you. There’s a lot of gray areas when it comes to supporting problematic authors because not every controversy has evidence to back it up.

In the end, authors are humans, too, and they make mistakes. Taking accountability for their actions and their words is important, but everyone has opinions. It’s up to the person to determine how they will go about that. 


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