On a post on her blog, Jessica Verday explained that she was told by her editor that a story she contributed to the Running Press young adult fantasy anthology Wicked Little Things was inappropriate:
I was told that the story I'd wrote, which features Wesley (a boy) and Cameron (a boy), who were both in love with each other, would have to be published as a male/female story because a male/male story would not be acceptable to the publishers.
Verday, who retracted the story rather than rewrite it into a heterosexual love story, sounded heartbroken by the decision, saying that while "I may not have intentionally written an 'issues' story, in the real world this issue is very personal to me." Later, Trisha Telep, the editor of the anthology, wrote a comment on the post, which Verday ran in its entirety at the end of the blog post as an update:
Oh dear. Might as well give you my two cents. Not that it really matters but... Don't take it out on the publishers, the decision was mine totally. These teen anthologies I do are light on the sex and light on the language. I assumed they'd be light on alternative sexuality, as well. Turns out I was wrong! Just after I had the kerfuffle with jessica, I was told that the publishers would have loved the story to appear in the book! Oh dear. My rashness will be the death of me.
If you think that sounds flip, wait until you read Running Press publisher Christopher Navratil's open letter about the whole thing...
Publisher's Weekly ran the openly gay Navratil's letter yesterday. Here's the paragraph that is inspiring a backlash:
What happened next is a cautionary tale for all publishers. Ms. Verday, understandably, refused to change her story and pulled it from the anthology. Then she took to her blog and social media connections, and accused Running Press of intolerance and censorship. Other authors in the anthology asked to pull their stories, believing the account. Fans, librarians, and a handful of authors in the anthology became angry. Authors in other anthologies began to send us e-mails expressing concern. This all happened in just a few days. We at Running Press contacted Verday immediately to assure her that we had no such guidelines and would be excited to include her story as written. But she was unyielding.
It doesn't seem to me that Verday's posting the editor's comment a day after she ran the original post can be appropriately described as "unyielding." Her response seems pretty responsible to me. What strikes me as irresponsible is this publisher's attacking the author when the editor who misrepresented his company escapes relatively unscathed.