As part of The Pixel Project‘s Read For Pixels campaign, we interview authors from genres as diverse as Science Fiction and Fantasy to Romance to Thrillers about why they support the movement to end violence against women and girls.
In this interview, we talk to Ian Whates who is the author of seven novels, the co-author of two more, and editor of thirty-odd anthologies. Seventy of his short stories have appeared in various venues and his work has been shortlisted for the Philip K Dick Award and twice for BSFA Awards. In 2006, Ian founded award-winning independent publisher NewCon Press by accident.
NewCon Press is taking part in the 4th annual International Women’s Day Edition of the Read For Pixels campaign by donating a Mystery Book Box to help raise funds for The Pixel Project. NewCon Press will send this box anywhere in the world to one (1) generous donor only! More details are available on the Read For Pixels fundraising page.
If you’d like to have a chance to participate in live Q&As online with 12 other award-winning bestselling authors who will be having live Read For Pixels Google Hangouts, check out the schedule here.
And now, over to Ian…
Picture courtesy of Ian Whates.
I believe violence against anybody to be wrong, particularly when it involves somebody in a position of perceived authority or strength victimising someone more vulnerable – be that in terms of gender, race, or social standing. I’ve never understood the drive to exercise power in this way. Women in different cultures around the world have frequently been cast as victims of the desire to dominate, to hurt, to control, and any undertaking such as the Pixel Project, dedicated to highlighting and opposing such behaviour, has to merit support.
2. You have very generously offered to donate a couple of Mystery Book Boxes – one for each of our Read For Pixels campaign in 2018 – in support of our anti-VAW work. As the founder of the acclaimed NewCon Press, what do you think publishers can do to help stop violence against women apart from raising funds?
There’s a temptation to say ‘not much’, but that would be shirking responsibility, and that word is key: responsibility. Publishers, particularly when they are as niche as my own, have very limited influence on the world, but that’s not the same as having no influence. There is an onus on us to behave responsibly in selecting what we publish; by ensuring that unacceptable behaviour is either omitted entirely or shown to be unacceptable and portrayed in a light that vilifies both the act and those who resort to it, we can make a difference. A very small difference perhaps – a drop in the ocean – but the cumulative effect of enough drops over time can contribute to change.
3. As a prominent male author and editor, what do you think men in the publishing industry can do to help stop violence against women?
From the editing and publishing perspective, I can only echo much of what I said in response to the previous question. When something comes across my desk (or screen) that shocks me for the wrong reasons, I will always go back to the author and explain why I reacted in this way and why a given scene or phrase is not acceptable.
As a writer, a lot of what I write reflects my own beliefs, my own moral compass; I sometimes write a character or a scene intended to shock, but when doing so I always look to incorporate a payoff that delivers justice or restores balance. I think, as authors, we have a duty to consider moral issues while seeking to entertain, or thrill, or amuse. In many ways it’s a great privilege to present our work to readers in the hope and expectation that they will enjoy the results. With privilege comes responsibility – that word again. I am under no illusion that my writing is significant enough to educate anybody, but I have certainly used it to highlight issues, and if some aspect of a story should give a reader pause, or cause them to reassess, so much the better. As writers, we have a responsibility; that doesn’t mean we should ever allow that to become a burden or govern our imagination, but neither can we afford to ignore it.