Mundie Moms

Friday, October 1, 2010

Banned Books Week Guest Author Post by Andrea Cremer

There are plenty of things to be nervous about when you’re heading into your first school visit. Is what I’ve prepared going to hold their interest? What if no one asks me questions? What if I get on stage and throw up?

What I wasn’t worried about was getting taken to the principal’s office, but when I arrived at the school at 8:00 a.m. that’s where I was taken. It turns out that upon learning of my visit a parent had objected to my being there, citing the ‘inappropriate content’ of my work.

Now given that just a few days earlier I’d posted a blog in support of Laurie Halse Anderson, whose book Speak had been challenged in Missouri, and that I’d posted about how I thought someday Nightshade would be challenged on Page Turners Blog I felt a little like the universe testing my sense of irony. I expected challenges, but I simply wasn’t prepared for an objection on my first day visiting a school.

Standing in the principal’s office I felt very small and a bit like I’d been sucker punched. I was a very well behaved child, and at age 32 this was my first time being sent to the principal’s office, told what I’d done wrong and how I should behave. The principal went on to request that I keep things from getting “PG-13” and that I didn’t say anything like encourage the students toward “vampire conversion.”

Vampire conversion? Okay, first of all, there are no vampires in Nightshade. Secondly, do any authors give presentations at schools that promote vampire conversion? I wanted to know if Heather Brewer and Richelle Mead get this question at their school visits.

As I went to the auditorium I felt a bit ill. I was already nervous and now I worried about having to censor myself when I spoke and answered questions. But then I started to get angry because I remembered who I am. I teach for a living. I know how to talk to students. I wrote a book I love and I don’t think it’s at all inappropriate. I have a Ph.D. in history and I understand the ways in which violence, religion, and sexuality have shaped societies. I use that research to inform my novels. These subjects shouldn’t be avoided or hidden. They need to be discussed. Running away from the more difficult topics of history only makes it more likely that patriarchy, inequality, and ignorance become more deeply rooted in our cultures.

Fortunately I was saved by the wonder that is young readers. Over the course of the day I spoke to about 400 students. They were all amazing. Their questions were smart and engaging. Their ideas were fantastic. Each session was buzzing with intelligence and enthusiasm. When I finished, my voice was pretty much gone but it was one of the happiest moments of my life. And nothing about that trip to the principal’s office mattered. Not one bit.

One of the event organizers did some digging and found out that the objection had come from a parent who hadn’t read Nightshade. She’d just seen my blog post supporting Laurie Halse Anderson. Turns out my first encounter with censorship stemmed from my speaking out against it. All it does is make me determined to barrel ahead without fear. And I’m not doing it for myself. I’m doing it for each of those students, who gave me more with their questions and ideas than I could ever hope to give them.


Andrea Cremer is the author of the upcoming release, Nightshade, which will be released on October 19th by Philomel Books/Penguin. You can find out more about Andrea and her books by visiting her site here and her blog here

Thank you Andrea for this post! This is one of the reasons why we're speaking out against banned books. It seems more often than not, a book is challenged by someone who hasn't even read it. TEAM NIGHTSHADE!


  1. Great post! I'm glad the school visit went well despite the objection. I loved NIGHTSHADE and I will continue to recommend it.

    And I am totally team Shren. Lol!

  2. This is exactly why we're doing this. There are so many people who want a book banned and they've not even read it! That really ticks me off, I'll admit it. Like many of the books on the banned book list, I don't understand why anyone would want to ban Nightshade.

    Nightshade is 1 of my top 10 FAVORITE reads this year and I'll continue to recommend it to everyone.

    I'm so glad the school visits went well. I can't wait to see you at the TX Book Festival!!

  3. Censors are is usually the one that haven't read the materials. So. Lame.

    "Running away from the more difficult topics of history only makes it more likely that patriarchy, inequality, and ignorance become more deeply rooted in our cultures." - GREAT statement, and as a social worker, I wholeheartedly agree!

  4. Wait. Wait. WAIT.

    WTF is vampire conversion? Are kids going around biting each other in the neck and drinking their blood? Is this a serious issue in the halls of today's schools?

    The whole part about being banned just for supporting Laurie Halse Anderson (you ruffian, you!) is crazy enough. But vampire conversion?

    No, I'm just baffled.

    And I added NIGHTSHADE to my to buy list. Convert THIS, dude!

    Sarah Ockler
    Author of Twenty Boy Summer

  5. YOu have got to me kidding me? I'm sorry to be blunt, but what is wrong with people? Now its wrong to support what we believe in as well? Man... For the students sake, I'm glad you were still able to talk with them. Keep doing what you're doing and be careful with those vampire conversations. You know how dangerous they are ;)

  6. I'm still trying to figure out what a vampire conversion is. I would think you would need to be a vampire to hold a vampire conversion. Unless you wanted to talk about vampires, then it would be "talking about vampires".

    People like this totally peeve me. I'll say it. They do.

    I still can not believe someone wanted to ban Nightshade!

  7. People like that tick me off too. Its baffling the way some people think (if they think). I just don't even understand.

    I just kills me that now they're going to start trying to shun authors for defending books. That's what this feels like to me. God forbid she have an opinion different than theirs.

  8. I object to book banning for the following reasons. You are denying someone the priviledge of discovering a wonderful book. Secondly I object to someone wanting a ban a book out of thier selfish and ignorant reasons or religious beliefs that they want to impose on others. I think people who want to ban a book without reading the books themselseves are idiots, and lastly I believe that you as a parents are confidant that you do a good job rasing your child then your child will know that ideas for a book a made out of creativity and imagination and not real.
    I admire you for standing up for what you beleive in. We can not let these banners take away the gift that is reading.

  9. My first reaction was that it's pretty clear there's a desperate need for YA authors to speak to parents AND kids. Then I realized the parent who made the complaint was probably overcompensating for a lack of involvement in his/her kid's life. Ignorant=fearful.

  10. Things like this don't happen in Iceland. I can't believe how narrow minded some people are! I don't think there's been a single book banned over here.