Love Sex Magic, or Why I Expect My Book Will Be Banned

Posted September 15, 2010 by Stacey in Author Guest Post, Blog, Uncategorized / 7 Comments

This is week 2 of our Banned Book Author Guest Blog posts. This week we have Andrea Cremer, author of Nightshade, out in October from Penguin Books.  I, Stacey, read this book a few months back thanks to MundiMOMs ARC tour and I was drawn into the story and the mythology Andrea created.

We hope that our readers find Andrea’s following post educational and enlightening. And for those who have read Nightshade, I hope that Andrea’s post makes the mythology more alive for you as it did for me.

Tell us what you think in the comments section bellow. 

Love Sex Magic, or Why I Expect My Book Will Be Banned

Each year I anticipate Banned Books Weeks with a mixture of hopefulness and dread. Fruitful discussions abound and I’m reminded of how many thoughtful and intelligent readers and writers there are in the world. I’m also disheartened by hearing about the censorship experiences of writers I so deeply admire (Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson jump immediately to mind). This year my debut novel, Nightshade, leaves the safety of relative obscurity to sit on bookshelves, open to public appraisal. While I await the response to Nightshade, expecting both critique and hoping for praise, another question comes to mind: Will my book get banned?

I’m guessing the answer is yes. Why? My book is about witches and sex. Okay. It’s about a lot more than witches and sex, but I expect that witches and sex are what will get the book banned in certain places and detested by certain people. I didn’t write about witches and sex because paranormal is trendy and supposedly sex sells. I wrote about these topics because they’re what I study.

Yep, you heard that right. My ‘day job’ is working as a professor of history at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. My Ph.D. is in early modern history (1500-1800) and I specialize in the intersection of religion, sex, and violence. Witches play a big part in that mix, particularly in the time period my research focuses upon. Persecution of witches throughout history is in large part a means of suppressing women’s power, both politically and sexually. Emphasis on female sexuality was pivotal in witchcraft accusations, interrogations, and trials. Though done in the name of religious purges, the motivations for conducting witch hunts were often economic and social, not spiritual. Witch trials are only one part of a much larger struggle between old religions and the emerging dominance of Western Christendom. The cooptation of pagan holidays into major Christian holidays is one of the most unknown, yet most significant outcomes of that struggle. Christmas was set to overlap with Winter Solstice celebrations. The Puritans wouldn’t celebrate Christmas because they thought it was too pagan a holiday. Easter actually derives its name from the goddess Oestre and its date follows the celebration of spring and fertility in older religions (that’s why the eggs, bunnies, and chicks, folks!)

The conflict between institutional religions and witches is a long, bloody battle – and it still exists today. I was shocked a few years ago when I saw a documentary that showed children attending a religious camp wherein they were instructed that Harry Potter was a witch and therefore according to the Bible he should have been killed. Harry Potter is on banned books lists because of objections to its occult content.

I don’t offer this information as a critique of religion, or specifically of Christianity. My father is a minister and my mother a woman of profound faith. What worries me is the attempt to label books about witches, sex, and magic as overtly evil and keep them off shelves. To me it’s simply a continuation of a conflict ongoing for centuries.

It’s not evil. It’s history.


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7 responses to “Love Sex Magic, or Why I Expect My Book Will Be Banned

  1. It's easier to ban a book than to read it and think about it…

    I used to work in a country where I had to censor books or pull them from the collection when the Ministry of Education banned them. I followed the rules and respected my host country, but so happy I don't have to do that anymore.

  2. I really want to read this book. Magic, mythology, sex…the story sounds amazing! Why can't anyone take a story as a story? I don't understand it.

    I recently sent a note to school with my daughter giving her permission to read a very popular book currently. Her school thankfully has not banned the book series and the parents are required to sign a permission slip for the child to read it. This I think it wonderful! I would much rather know that I am the one deciding what my daughter reads than anyone else. Especially since I have read the series and know what to expect. No one should have an opinion based just on the content. Read the book first. They are called FICTION for a reason!

    Andrea thank you for not allowing censorship to stop you from sharing your books with us. Going into writing a book and having it published with the idea that it could be banned it very brave of you! I applaud you!!!

  3. Mindy, I applaud your daughter's school!! I think that's the perfect answer to the situation. Parents should know what their kids are reading, i'd love to see every school put a parental consent program in place instead of banning books.

  4. I just got a fabulous book on the history of witchcraft at one of my local used bookstores. I flipped through it and was quite apalled by how an accusation of witchcraft was used as a justification for truly horrific violence towards women. And how this occurred over and over again throughout history.

    More than ever now, I am looking forward to reading Nightshade. Thank you Andrea for this illuminating post.

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