The massively lucrative world of romance novel publishing suffered an intense series of controversies in recent weeks, after a trade association of nearly 10,000 genre writers moved to censure one of its high-profile members over comments she made on Twitter about another author’s work. The controversy broke out late last month, when the Romance Writers Of America announced intentions to take disciplinary action against author Courtney Milan—a former member of the group’s board of directors, and a vocal proponent for more and better diversity in the field—over Twitter comments she made last August, dubbing author Kathryn Lynn Davis’ 1999 book Somewhere Lies The Moon “a fucking racist mess.” Milan, herself a half-Chinese person, raised numerous objections on social media about the book’s depiction of Chinese culture and its half-Chinese protagonist.
The decision to harshly discipline Milan—prompted by Davis’ accusations of “cyber-bullying”—was met with a swift backlash on Twitter, one that ultimately saw the RWA rescind its threats to suspend Milan from its ranks for a year, as well as its decision to ban her from all future leadership roles in the group . As reported by The Guardian, numerous members of the group’s board of directors have now stepped down in the wake of the decisions; Milan and others are now calling for a full audit of how this entire process played out, as well as for the resignation of board president Damon Suede. (A prominent and prolific author in the field of gay romance novels who is also in possession of quite possibly the best romance author pen name we have ever, personally, heard.)
Things go even deeper than that, though, with Davis going so far as to suggest that she was set up by unknown parties hoping to use her complaint to take a swing at the prominent and vocal Milan. After admitting that earlier claims that she’d had a three-book contract killed by an unnamed publisher over the controversy weren’t entirely accurate—rather, she’d been encouraged to apologize for Moon’s content, lay low, and pick up contract negotiations again later this year—Davis also noted that she’d been encouraged by members within the RWA to lodge her complaint against Milan in the first place. “I do feel that the Romance Writers of America perhaps used [fellow author] Suzan Tisdale and I to accomplish something they wanted to accomplish and I was stunned when I saw the penalties. I didn’t ever expect that, and I did not want that,” Davis told The Guardian. It’s worth noting that romance novels remain one of the largest and most successful of all the publishing genres; something like a third of all mass market books sold each year take place somewhere in the field.
Anyway, we’re super excited to see whatever Chuck Tingle ends up making of all this; Pounded In The Butt By A Nebulous Conspiracy To Silence Critics Of The Diversity Failures Of The Romance Novel Publishing Industry will certainly be one hell of a read for his legion of loyal buckaroos.
Update: And of course Tingle has already beaten us to this particular joke; it was foolish of us to even imagine that he wouldn’t.