Thursday, September 23, 2010

South Carolina Asked Me an Interesting Question!

I answered this on a seperate post, but for those who might miss the link, I thought I'd share! Here goes!

Hi Cathy Nelson from SOUTH CAROLINA!

What an interesting question. I've actually never had anyone ask me about censorship before, and I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to share my views on this touchy topic. First of all, I believe not all published work is suited to all readers. There, I said it - to me it's a simple fact. BUT, having said that, we wade into the murky waters of who decides for whom what is and is not appropriate.

So! I will now weigh in. Remember, this is just my take on the question as an author. (Yikes! I hope when I'm done people won't pelt my house with olives!)

I'll begin with little back-story. I may have mentioned earlier on my blog that ALL are welcome in my home, and those are not empty words. I have had teenagers (girls, mostly - although boys have landed here, too!) who have moved in when things have gotten rough, which has translated into hundreds of hours negotiating sticky areas between teens and adults. My conclusion? Let me just say that there is A LOT MORE GOING ON in the lives of young adults than many parents might care to acknowledge. Yes, there are some protected teens who have never heard a swear word, but they are, sadly, a small minority. Most teens I've encountered have matured beyond their years. (Another fact: I might not like the way they have walked away from their childhoods too soon, but choices are made apart from my pearls of wisdom. I work from what IS, not from what I wish could be). And having said all of that, it is my belief that banning books won't change behavior, not in the slightest.

I mean, isn't that the fear? That a child reading about a certain behavior will suddenly indulge in said behavior themselves? I have never personally witnessed anyone renounce their core beliefs because of some random author's take on life. Quite the contrary. I've found reading is the safest way to explore alternative world views. Personally, I welcome a chance to talk about 'banned' subjects, not to preach as much as to listen. To probe into the decisions of a fictional character and discuss fictional consequences enlightens everyone involved. How much safer is it to talk about imaginary pregnancy than to face the real thing?

Now comes a caveat: Parents know their kids, so I invariability bow to their choices and wisdom when it comes to their offspring. If they deem my books (which some have) as too graphic (for some readers they are) then by all means, censor my books from your family! It's not a problem with me - discretionary reading has my blessing. However, and this is where some people get stuck, the idea of honor goes both ways. Those same parents MUST honor the right of the many to read material they themselves may deem 'unsuitable.' I believe we must not allow individualistic sanctions to put the kibosh on a teacher's/classroom's/librarian's choice of material. For me, the few should not control the rest! We're all about freedom, right? (Man, I feel those olives coming my way...)

Last but not least - one thing life has taught me is that it is impossible to please everyone. Let's not try. To that end, I am a big believer in offering all sorts of books to all kinds of readers - no judgment! I respect their choices...problem solved! Respecting differing points of view is the key.

So! In my humble opinion, let the few choose NOT to read, allow the many to ENJOY, and let the conversations begin!

12 comments:

Cathy Nelson said...

AMEN SISTER!!! Thanks for a great response. Right there in your camp--of course I cannot imagine any librarian not being there, though I'm sure there are some who may feel differently. I can't wait to share, and actually a close friend of mine (Heather Loy) who sat right there in the front row with me at your SCASL session in Charleston, SC in March 2010 emailed this post to me just now. I hadn't even checked to see if there was a response yet. I'm also delighted that your response (at my prodding--sorry) became a blog post worthy of independence from the comments of the earlier post. Thanks for humoring me with a response in the comments and in a whole new post.

Alane Ferguson said...

Thanks, Cathy! And give Heather a huge hug from me as well - that girl is on it! I really feel connected to teens and I love to write for them, so I appreciate your suggesting that I weigh in with an opinion on censorship. Believe me, I take YA literacy very seriously and welcome a chance to share. Ask me anything, anytime!

Joseph said...

Great post, Ms. Ferguson! I am a public librarian and I came across your blog after one of our patrons asked about the order of you Forensic Mystery books. Your post was very timely as it is currently Banned Books Week. It's also interesting that I found you because I believe when I was younger you may have visited my elementary school. I know I received Show Me the Evidence after that assembly. I read it and it creeped me out as a kid! But it is really cool to be able to comment on your blog now that I am a librarian and helping people find your books. Congrats on your recent award!

Deborah said...

I don't think you'll have to worry about olives from someone, unless of course you'd like an olive spread sandwich in lue of your post.
Seriously, I loved it. Censorship has always been a big deal where I grow up. Recently I had a discussion with a friend who thought that books should be rated, and while I suppose there are a few things you could rate, I don't know how a censor could rate the imagination.

In the end I agree wholeheartedly with putting the ball in the readers court. Kids, teens, and adults can sift through what they deem "inappropriate."
Thank you for broaching the topic in an articulate and honest way.

--Total sidebar, I was rereading To Kill a Mockingbird the other day and I thought of you, when you were wondering why Harper Lee only wrote one book. I suppose we'll never really know for sure, but there was an episode of History detectives that talked about a case similar to the one in To Kill a Mockingbird which distressed Harper as a child. It's possible that after writing her novel she felt that the story had been told, and that the boys involved in the crime had been vindicated in a way.
I don't know if i made any sense just then, but I tried.

Alane Ferguson said...

Thanks, Joseph and Deborah! I really expected to have a lot of negative comments (and olives) but so far I've been pleasantly surprised! And I really found Heather's explanation on Harper Lee to be solid. For me, though, it's a loss, because it's like Rembrandt refusing to paint. Harper Lee is one of the most brilliant authors of our time, and I'd love to know what other stories are teeming in her head.

Joseph, you are thoughtful and articulate and I can't believe I taught you in a class when you were in elementary school. Yikes - where does the time go? Life is just screaming by. To that end, I'd better get back to writing! There are books to deliver and people to kill!

XO's from Colorado!

Anonymous said...

Alane it's Nickole Kennedy from the emails we have sent back and forth. What is the name if your new book you are writing now? Please email me back when you have a chance. Oh and this is from me, Alane you are a fabulous writer and I hope you continue writing books! Hugs from Virginia, Nickole

Sylvia said...

Alane, hello, hugs , and kudos for the key word, RESPECT. I remember when my reader stopped in a book and said, "I don't want to finish this book" which was so rare for her that I read the book immediately, then ordered it for my high school juniors. She was 11 and not ready for it. Trust the reader and respect each other's choices. Love your work. Kate working on her master's in library science.
Sylvia, the wood elf

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your great words Alane!
Just wondering...will there be any more books in the foresnic series? I am totally in love with them! Cant wait if there is!
Bye!
Taylor

Alane Ferguson said...

YES! I'm working on Number five right now! Keep those good thoughts coming my way...

Anonymous said...

Your books are so realistic that i feel as one with the caracters! i don't think i've ever read such an interesting book. it kept me on my toes the hole way through it. KEEP WRITING!!!

Anonymous said...

your a great writer! I am just turning 14 and very interested in horror and forensic mysteries(though i dont look it from the outside, but looks can fool you as you showed in the angel of death!) but I am very interested in forensic pathology and crime scene investigation and i hope to pursue a career in that field in some point in my life. I went into the library not knowing a thing about you or your books, but what atracted me to the angel of death was the feet on the cover! I didnt know there was a chronological order to your stories, so i havent read the christopher killer. But after reading more about the books that you write, i will be at the library tomorrow checking out the circle of blood, you can almost guarentee it! I literally just finished the angel of death like 20 minutes ago and found your website in the back of the book. The ending was great, and i really want to see justin and Cammie get together! Hope to her your comment soon!

DanelleMarie

Casey said...

i really would like to see you article someday in a Women's Health Magazine