Ember Days: Going Woke One YA Author at a Time

There is a new movement in the literary world, especially in the YA market, of authors cancelling books before their release. This just happened when author Alexandra Duncan cancelled the release of her novel Ember Days, which was set for release in March 2021. Why? Because she got cold feet after going woke. I’m sure the craziness of the world probably stoked some of that fear seeing as Marxist hate mobs roam the streets looting, tearing down monuments, and killing black cops in the name of social justice.

The author herself stated as much when she said this in a recent interview: “I definitely struggled with whether it was okay for me to write about a culture outside my own.”

But yet she wrote the book.

She got an agent.

She got a publisher.

The book was edited and a cover designed – the thing was ready for release, but she killed it. I’d also argue, the author probably killed her career in the process, because who in their right mind would want to invest anything on a gutless, spineless author who buckles under pressure and her own white guilt? If she was this concerned about exploring the Gullah Geechee culture – why write the book in the first place?

Later in the same article Duncan goes on to say: “Clearly, the fact that I did not see the signs of the problem with my book’s premise in my research or conversations about the book is evidence that I was not the right person to tell this story. I am deeply ashamed to have made a mistake of this magnitude and hope my actions will not negatively affect the cause of bringing greater diversity to children’s literature.”

How so?

First of all, how many people are bringing to light the Gullah Geechee culture? Not many, so the fact that author was even attempting to do this should be praised, because of her novel, people will learn something new about a rich culture heritage of the United States. Secondly, in her own statement, nobody around her seemed to see a problem with it – so why does she? Is it because she’s white and telling a story outside your lane is racist and will get her cancelled or attacked by the mob online?


She also stated she researched the Gullah Geechee culture, which is a good thing. There might be some issues with the book in terms of getting everything right, but in the world of fiction, that is okay – I mean this isn’t a non-fiction book after all. And if she wanted to make sure she captured it correctly, she could talk to people with a deeper understanding of the culture and make corrections. But to come out and cancel the project this close to release is unprofessional.

Finally, she talks about diversity in children’s literature – as if her actions make her some noble saint. How many authors out there are writing a story like the one you wrote? None, because its YOUR story. Nobody had the idea you had, nobody created the characters you did, or use the same plot or dialogue – nothing. You know what that means? You took nothing away from nobody, except yourself when you decided to cancel your own book.

This is starting to become a trend, especially in the YA world. I went to a writer’s conference with a panel of YA authors, including Scott Westerfeld – author of Uglies.  And I was shocked when he and the other panelist told authors not to write books with black protagonist or dealing with culture/races outside their own.


This form of literary discrimination is wrong and should be rebelled against at every level, because nobody is writing the story you are. I don’t remember people getting pissed that a woman wrote a story about a boy wizard or even Westerfeld writing about a female character. The idea we as authors must stay in our lane or else should inspire all of us creatives to take the challenge on and flip off the establishment in the process. We don’t need affirmative action in the art world, because in 2020 voices are no longer being censored, unless your white – if your white, nobody gives a shit about your work. But if your black or a transgender or gay or the holy trifecta as a black, transgender queer – your writing is in high demand.


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