Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labelled: “This could change your life.” – Helen Exley

Violence against women (VAW) is a prevalent and entrenched part of countless societies around the world but it is still considered a taboo topic even, to a certain extent, in developed and first-world communities. Pop culture media, therefore, is invaluable at raising awareness and promoting and prompting advocacy against VAW, doing much to break the silence.

The Pixel Project’s Read For Pixels campaign was first launched in September 2014 in recognition of the longstanding power of books to shape cultural ideas and influence the direction of history. From Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird to to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, popular authors and their stories have been instrumental in planting ideas, triggering thoughtful water-cooler discussions, and providing food for thought for communities. And in the age of geek culture and social media, bestselling authors wield influence beyond just their books as they are able to directly communicate with their readers and fans via Facebook, Instagram, and other social media channels.

In the decade since then, the campaign has gone from strength to strength. To date, almost 300 award-winning bestselling authors from genres as diverse as Science Fiction, Fantasy, Crime, Thrillers, Mystery, Romance, and Horror have participated in various Read For Pixels campaigns and initiatives, raising over $100,000 for the cause to end VAW to date.

In this article, we honour 16 award-winning bestselling authors from our 2022 and 2023 Read For Pixels campaigns. They hail from genres as diverse as Horror, Romance, Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Fantasy and Science Fiction. Some are international bestsellers with strong fandoms, others are well-respected in their countries or genres. Still others are up-and-coming stars who have decided to use their talents for good. It is the movement to end VAW that unites and inspires them and we hope that all of them will continue to work with the movement in years to come.

To learn more about what each author has to say about violence against women, click on their quote to be taken to the YouTube video of their Read For Pixels YouTube session.

Written and compiled by Regina Yau, with interview transcriptions by Anushia Kandasivam, Bernardo Rosa Rodrigues, Eunice Foo, Juliana Spink Mills, Melissa Ruth Arul, Olivia Calland-Scoble, Tan Shiow Chin, and Vani Bhardwaj.

Inspired to support The Pixel Project’s anti-violence against women work? Make a donation to us today OR buy the audiobook edition of our 1st charity anthology, Giving The Devil His Due OR buy our 1st poetry collection, Under Her Eye. All donations and net proceeds from audiobook sales go towards supporting our campaigns, programmes, and initiatives.

Author Against VAW 1: Alison Littlewood

Alison Littlewood’s first novel, A Cold Season, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Other titles include Mistletoe, The Hidden People, The Crow Garden and The Unquiet House. She also wrote The Cottingley Cuckoo and The Other Lives of Miss Emily White as A. J. Elwood. When talking about how authors can help stop VAW through writing and storytelling, she said: “By thinking about the stories that we write, why we write them and having a consciousness of the issues, and by reading a lot as a way of understanding others and being aware of the issues involved. The ability of literature to help develop empathy is doing something in a tangible way under the surface but I hope it has a positive effect along the way.”


Authors Against VAW 2: Carlos Hernandez

Carlos Hernandez is the award-winning, NYT bestselling author of Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe, The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria, and many shorter works of SFF. He’s also an English Professor and game designer. When discussing how authors should approach the use of VAW, he said: “The ways in which violence is casually and flippantly treated as a given in so much fiction should start to disgust us now. […] if you’re gonna take time to think about putting words together […] to do a novel, maybe it’s worth thinking about what exactly you want your world to be, and maybe the things that you write can have a different kind of effect in the world if you don’t just focus on the received ideas about how violence works in the world.”


Authors Against VAW 3: Chloe Liese

Chloe Liese writes romances reflecting her belief that everyone deserves a love story. Her stories pack a punch of heat, heart, and humour, and often feature characters who are neurodivergent like herself. She is the author of the self-published Bergman Brothers series and Two Wrongs Make a Right, her traditional publishing debut with Berkley. When asked about why she supports ending VAW, she said: “I stand behind eradicating violence against women because I am a human who does not want other humans to hurt at all or be trapped in these places of abuse, fear and pain. As a feminist, it’s my heart’s desire to see other women safe and protected and empowered.”


Authors Against VAW 4: Chloe Neill

Chloe Neill is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Captain Kit Brightling, Heirs of Chicagoland, Chicagoland Vampires, Devil’s Isle, and Dark Elite novels. She was born and raised in the South, but now makes her home in the Midwest, where she lives with her gamer husband and their bosses/dogs, Baxter and Scout. Chloe is a voracious reader and obsessive Maker of Things; the crafting rotation currently involves baking and quilting. When asked why she supports stopping VAW, she said: “We have put Rovers on Mars. We have been to the Moon. We have been to the depths of the ocean. We have explored our universe. And there is no reason to continue to have violence against women. There should no longer be discrimination against women, whether it is actual physical violence or the violence of low expectations.”


Authors Against VAW 5: Cynthia Pelayo

Cynthia “Cina” Pelayo is the author of Loteria, Santa Muerte, The Missing, and Poems of My Night, all of which have been nominated for International Latino Book Awards. Poems of My Night was also nominated for an Elgin Award. Her recent collection of poetry, Into The Forest and All The Way Through, explores true crime, that of the epidemic of missing and murdered women in the United States, and was nominated for a Bram Stoker AwardⓇ and Elgin Award. When speaking about why she supports stopping VAW, she said: “I’ve seen many women quieted because they were scared to speak up, because they were in a dangerous situation and they didn’t have access to safe communities and safe spaces. I’ve seen what the emotional, physical and spiritual consequences of this abuse can do. It’s heartbreaking to see what this does and so I am very supportive of discussing this, writing about it, seeing it in literature and there are ways to explore it, writing the literature without making it gratuitous.”


Authors Against VAW 6: Emily X.R. Pan

Emily X.R. Pan’s debut novel, The Astonishing Color of After, was a New York Times bestseller, winner of the APALA Honor and Walter Honor awards, a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize, longlisted for the Carnegie Medal, and featured on over a dozen best-of-the-year lists. She is the founding editor-in-chief of Bodega Magazine and went on to co-create the FORESHADOW platform and anthology. An Arrow to the Moon is her second novel. When speaking about the importance of raising awareness about violence against women, Emily said: “Until we look at the intricacies of what women experience – and that’s inclusive of anybody who identifies as Femme – there is so much violence that people are unaware of. […] There’s also psychological abuse, domestic abuse, there’s manipulation that prevents women from having autonomy and keeps them trapped in terrible circumstances. The more we have conversations about this, the more that people will sit up and pay attention or even just learn and understand how to be better allies, how to be more compassionate and also know how to help the people in their lives.”


Authors Against VAW 7: Kimberly Belle

Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of eight novels, including The Personal Assistant (11.29.22), The Marriage Lie–a Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist for Best Mystery & Thriller–and the co-authored #1 Audible Original, Young Rich Widows. Her books have been published in more than a dozen languages and have been optioned for film and television. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. When speaking about what authors can do to stop violence against women, she said: “When you put it out there in a story […] you at least put the subject out there and make it something that people talk about and discuss in ways that are maybe not so dire, because it’s fiction. Then once that happens in real life it won’t feel as shameful or as scary. It just makes […] that step to getting help just a little bit shorter.”


Authors Against VAW 8:  Lauren Willig

Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty works of Historical Fiction, including Band of Sisters, The Summer Country, the Pink Carnation series, and three novels co-written with Beatriz Williams and Karen White. An alumna of Yale University, she has a graduate degree in history from Harvard and a JD from Harvard Law School. During her Read For Pixels session, Lauren explained why she supports stopping violence against women, saying: “Violence against women is so pernicious and pervasive. […] It would be disingenuous to deny that this is still very much a problem. This is not something that you can put into a sepia-toned picture. It is something that happens every day and the fact that half the human population still has to, at some point or another, live in fear is horrifying […] it’s so important to raise awareness and to do everything we can to stop violence against women both…by raising awareness with men and with other women because I think this is something about which people are often silent because they’re ashamed.”


Authors Against VAW 9: Liz Williams

Liz Williams writes Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy. Her  novels are published by Bantam Spectra and Open Road in the USA and by Tor Macmillan and New Con Press in the UK. She has published a book on the history of Paganism in Britain, Miracles of Our Own MakingModern Handfasting with Llewellyn, and is working on a new book on folklore. When speaking about what authors can do to stop VAW, she said: “We need to keep writing stories in which it is shown to be unviable, unacceptable, and just plain wrong. But I also think we need do a little bit, if we can, of activism as well. I won’t speak for anyone else but I feel that I need to put my money where my mouth is.”


Author Against VAW 10: Mimi Matthews

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both Historical Nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus, and Shelf Awareness, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. When talking about why she supports stopping VAW, she said: “I just feel like how can society be successful if the women are treated badly, if the women aren’t respected, if the women’s aren’t given equal rights, if the women are marginalised. I don’t think that it can and it’s very frustrating to me. And I’ll try to not get too political but to see rights being stripped away from women as if that is somehow progress or as if society can thrive as a whole when women aren’t treated as equal partners in society. And part of that equality and part of a healthy society is for women to be treated with respect and for women to be safe from violence and so I really feel strongly about that.”


Authors Against VAW 11: P. Djeli Clark

Phenderson Djeli Clark is the author of the novel A Master of Djinn, and the award-winning and Hugo, Nebula, and Sturgeon nominated author of the novellas Ring Shout, The Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015. His short stories have appeared in online venues such as, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and in print anthologies including, Griots and Hidden Youth. During his Read For Pixels livestream session, he said: “I think we can support any type of organisations or initiatives that are focused on this; support laws that are focused on this; support policies. And as authors, be cognisant of what we’re writing, and how it contributes harm, or betters the situation. I think we simply have to be aware of what we’re doing and have responsibility.”


Authors Against VAW 12: Sonali Dev

USA Today bestselling author Sonali Dev writes stories Mindy Kaling calls “hilarious and heartwarming.” Her novels have been named Best Books of the Year by Library Journal, NPR, the Washington Post, Kirkus, Buzzfeed, and PopSugar. She has won numerous accolades, including the American Library Association’s award for best romance, the RT Reviewer Choice Award, multiple RT Seals of Excellence, has been a RITA® finalist, and has been listed for the Dublin Literary Award. When talking about what parents can to do help in the battle to end VAW, she said: “At the very heart of violence against women is the question of who owns women’s bodies. Having those conversations with your boys at a very early age is incredibly important and what is yours and what is not yours. Talk to your boys about your consent, gender roles and respect. Whether it is sexual violence or physical violence, the basis of it is power. That power dynamic can only change in the ways that we treat our boys. How we allow them to treat their sisters, how we allow them to treat other girls on the playground.”


Authors Against VAW 13: Swati Teerdhala

Swati Teerdhala is the author of The Tiger at Midnight series, which has appeared on both Barnes and Noble and Book Riot’s Most Anticipated Novels lists. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BS in finance and BA in history, she tumbled into the marketing side of the technology industry. When talking about why she supports stopping VAW, she said: “I’ve always been a big advocate for women and women’s rights since I was very young. I never understood why there was such a difference in how women were treated or just between humans so I mean working to end violence against women I think is a no-brainer. It’s a central part to lifting up women and to giving them more agency and ownership.”


Authors Against VAW 14: Sylvain Neuvel

Sylvain Neuvel dropped out of high school at age 15. Along the way, he has been a journalist, worked in soil decontamination, and sold ice cream in California and furniture across Canada. He received a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Chicago. He writes about aliens and giant robots as a blatant excuse to build action figures (for his son, of course). His debut, Sleeping Giants, was described by NPR as “one of the most promising series kickoffs in recent memory.” When speaking about why he supports stopping VAW, he said: “First of all, it’s everywhere. It’s literally everywhere. It’s not a rare and hidden problem. (…) And it affects literally everyone. It affects families, it affects women, obviously, it affects children, it affects their friends and families, it affects communities, it affects cities, governments, everything. Everyone. It’s the most basic thing. To not be afraid. To not be a victim of violence even in your daily life. It should be the first thing that we tackle.”


Author Against VAW 15: Therese Beharrie

Therese Beharrie is a South African romance author of several acclaimed novels who takes pride in writing diverse characters and settings. Her books are often recommended for their heart and banter. She lives in Cape Town with her husband, her inspiration for every hero, and two adorable baby boys. When discussing how authors can help in efforts to stop VAW, she said: “I think authors should be aware of how we are portraying women and men, in particular, are we showing male main characters who are thinking about and engaging with their interactions with women regardless of what they are. We have a big responsibility [to be] thoughtful and kind. If we can write characters who are empathetic and even if we show uncomfortable experiences or the realities of the world that we are living in, that eventually we get to a point where we can engage with that critically and show a hopeful outcome.”


Authors Against VAW 16: Vanessa Riley

Vanessa Riley is an award-winning author of Island Queen, A Good Morning America Buzz Pick. Riley’s historical novels showcase the hidden histories of Black women and women of colour, emphasising strong sisterhoods and dazzling multicultural communities. Her works encompass Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, and Historical Mystery and have been reviewed by the AAMBC, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Publisher Weekly, and the New York Times. She’s received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. When talking about why she supports stopping VAW, Vanessa said: “Violence against women not only affects the woman, it affects the entire chain. Women are centre of these chains. We’re the mothers, we are the caregivers of the family, and when a woman is feeling oppressed she cannot serve everybody in the roles she needs to serve. She cannot be everything she needs to be, so we need to end violence against women, that is going to make our society even stronger and better place.”


Photo Credits

  1. Alison Littlewood – Courtesy of Alison Littlewood
  2. Carlos Hernandez – Courtesy of Carlos Hernandez
  3. Chloe Liese – Courtesy of Chloe Liese
  4. Chloe Neill – Courtesy of Chloe Neill; Photograph by Dana Damewood
  5. Cynthia Pelayo – Courtesy of Cynthia Pelayo
  6. Emily X.R. Pan – Courtesy of Emily X.R. Pan
  7. Kimberly Belle – Courtesy of Kimberly Belle
  8. Lauren Willig – Courtesy of Lauren Willig
  9. Liz Williams – Courtesy of Liz Williams
  10. Mimi Matthews – Courtesy of Mimi Matthews
  11. Djeli Clark – Courtesy of Tor Books
  12. Sonali Dev – Courtesy of Sonali Dev
  13. Swati Teerdhala – Courtesy of Swati Teerdhala
  14. Sylvain Neuvel – Courtesy of Sylvain Neuvel; Photograph by James Andrew Rosen
  15. Therese Beharrie – Courtesy of Therese Beharrie
  16. Vanessa Riley – Courtesy of Vanessa Riley