Today, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, I watch in horror as the President of the United States signs an executive order banning Muslim refugees from entering this country.
All my forebears — Irish and Jewish — entered this nation as refugees. What is being done in our name, in our ‘national interest’, is a grotesque mark on everything our nation is supposed to be about. And, as Holocaust scholars will remind you, it is not the first time we have made this terrible mistake. Last time, we said ‘never again’. We weren’t supposed to forget.
Do not forget.
The last three months have been difficult for almost everyone I know, both in my social circle and in the workplace. As people who work in the arts, particularly in SF/F as is my focus, the election of an authoritarian demagogue who wants to stifle dissent, stifle truth, stifle science, and stifle civil rights for all is a repellent and disheartening thing. The notion of the human future becomes more opaque each day.
I’ve been asked in the time since the election, both by my own clients and by new writers seeking representation, whether this means ‘the market has changed’, or if I’m no longer interested in the sort of book I was looking for before all this happened.
To that I say: the market only changes if we allow it to change.
As countless people have said before me, books by and about marginalized people are not a trend, they are a movement. If the tenor of this country has swung the pendulum the other way, because of backlash against progress or because of misinformation or because of whatever other reasons people used as excuses to vote for Trump, then we must swing back harder in the other direction.
We must continue to do exactly what we have been doing. I know that the editors I respect and work with will be by your side in this fight. I know I will be by your side in this fight. I entered the field of agenting because I wanted more than anything to facilitate artists. I wanted to amplify voices. I wanted to put beautiful things out into the world.
You are doing the work. I am simply the messenger. And now more than I ever I want your messages, loud and clear as a bell. I want to trumpet them to high heaven.
This is how I am going to fight, as best I can. This is how I am going to get through this. We can do it together.
So don’t change your story. Don’t change your truth. We may have to listen to ‘alternative facts’, but we must choose to live in our own skin and speak our own minds. I want to see exactly the books you would have sent me if the election had gone the way we’d expected. Be you, in all your beautiful and original splendor.
Case in point: My client Lara Elena Donnelly’s debut novel, AMBERLOUGH, comes out from Tor Books on February 7th.
It’s a book I was immensely proud to represent, but when I sold it I believed it to be a cautionary tale. The story of gay male spies and a cabaret performer stuck between them, it chronicles the unrelenting rise of a fascist coup in a setting reminiscent of Weimar Berlin. All at once, it feels far too relevant to the carnival of horrors that is watching the news right now, in this new administration, on only day seven.
We never wanted the book to resonate quite this closely with our lives — but I’m even prouder now to have helped to put it on the shelves.
This is the work I am here to do. But I need you to make the art that changes the world.
I’ll help, I promise. As best I can.