Author and editor Thomas F. Monteleone was expelled from the Horror Writers Association on January 31 for violating the organization’s antiharassment policies.
Here are a few examples of what appeared in social media immediately prior to that decision, and after it was announced.
“An open letter to the HWA regarding Thomas F. Monteleone”
… It is particularly saddening to see someone who was considered a legend in the field reveal themselves to be as racist, transphobic, and bigoted as Monteleone has. But more important than lamenting the self-immolation of one person is the direct harm those comments and actions cause to so many others.
Allowing Monteleone to remain in the organisation and to attend HWA events will be putting a large number of people directly in harm’s way. It will also show the HWA is complicit rather than active in the face of hate speech….
“An open letter to the HWA regarding author Thomas F. Monteleone”
I’m writing to add my voice to the chorus of members demanding Tom Monteleone be expelled from the organization and barred from attending all HWA events going forward. His actions on social media, and most recently his statements on the disgusting “Facebook Has AIDS” podcast, have revealed his true character to all.
Specifically, his racist, transphobic, and bigoted comments aimed at fellow HWA members, as well as whole classes of people, fly in the face of what the HWA stands for. I believe that maintaining ties with Mr. Monteleone in the organization and allowing him entry to future HWA-sanctioned events such as StokerCon will not only put fellow members in harm’s way but also invite controversy overall.
Brian Keene announced that the Borderlands Boot Camp, which Monteleone helped found, will be rebranded so that it does not share a name with his anthology series.
Scares That Care adamantly condemns the recent comments made on Facebook and a podcast by one of the founders of Borderlands Boot Camp. Effective immediately, Borderlands Boot Camp (which became part of the Scares That Care family of events in 2022) will be rebranded as the Scares That Care Writers Workshop.
We are also announcing that effective immediately, two (2) annual scholarships for marginalized writers (writers of color, writers from the LGBTQIA+ community, writers with disabilities, writers suffering from economic hardships, etc.) will be available yearly. While interested parties will be responsible for their travel and lodging, Scares That Care will waive the $750 tuition fee for these two individuals. Interested parties can contact board members Brian Keene ([email protected]) or Sonora Taylor ([email protected]) to inquire. Deadline for this year’s applicants is Friday, February 17th.
The Scares That Care Board of Directors — Joe Ripple, Alfred Guy, Brian Keene, Jason Cherry, Sonora Taylor, Angel Hollman, Andrew Ely, and Donna Thew — and workshop organizer Mary SanGiovanni.
The Camp Necon statement does not name anyone, but it can be inferred from the timing what it’s about: “An Important Statement From Camp Necon”.
In light of recent abhorrent public statements and behaviors (on social media and via other media), we, the Camp Necon Board, feel obligated to take this opportunity to publicly state that we stand against bigotry and prejudice and are dedicated to our efforts to make Camp Necon a welcoming and safe experience for ALL attendees. We cannot be idle while friends and colleagues are deliberately maligned and their well-earned achievements mocked. It cannot stand, and we will not allow it at any space Camp Necon inhabits (be that online or in person).
The legendary Charles L. Grant, often called “The Godfather of Camp Necon,” consistently championed new voices in horror and always insisted that, “By growing the pie, we all eat more.” It is in Charlie’s spirit and tradition that we’d like to state that by championing not just new, but diverse voices within the genre we believe we all eat BETTER. In that regard, we are moving forward with new initiatives to ensure ours is a place where all voices feel welcome and heard, in addition to taking steps to address present and future barriers to safety and inclusivity. We will continue to work to ensure ours is the kind of event that brings people together in an atmosphere of acceptance and collegiality. We hope to continue to have your support.
We understand that statements such as this may have the effect of “self-selecting” membership in our Campers’ roll. We are fine with that. If you do not feel fully aligned with what Camp Necon has become or the direction we continue to head, please follow your conscience. We have made our choice and we stand by both it and our community….
Tim Waggoner on Facebook.
Tom Monteleone encouraged me early in my writing career and gave me so much good advice. I thanked him in my acceptance speech when I won my first Bram Stoker Award. He published my collection A LITTLE AQUA BOOK OF MARINE TALES. He accepted two of my stories for BORDERLANDS anthologies. I asked him to write the introduction to WRITING IN THE DARK. He’s been a big supporter of me and my writing for many years. I have so many of his books on my shelves, and reading his short story “Wendigo’s Child” when I was a child myself was a formative experience for me. I used his IDIOT’S GUIDE TO WRITING A NOVEL as a textbook in my novel writing classes.
I admired him so much.
I’m sickened by the overt bigotry Tom has displayed over the last few days.
It doesn’t matter how good he’s been to me when he’s treated others so horribly. Once Tom was a role model for me in terms of artistry and professionalism. Now he’ll be a role model for what I hope never to become as a writer and member of the horror community as I grow older. I hope my mind never becomes so closed. I hope I never start to lash out from intolerance. I hope I never show such disrespect to people who I should view as colleagues. I hope I continue to build people up instead of tearing them down.
You taught me so many things over the years, Padrone. I suppose I should thank you for this final lesson. I just wish it was one I never had to learn.
Adam Troy-Castro on Facebook:
… I said something early in this mess that may now be risky to say now.
I remember the Tom Monteleone I once knew, who I laughed with at I-Con in Long Island and at other places, with considerable fondness. I remember the Tom Monteleone who wrote (mostly) great columns about his experiences, for CEMETERY DANCE. I remember loving some of his fiction, including one novel he churned out for a subpar house that contained one of the worst sentence constructions I have ever read, and another I liked very much that existed in the “evil carnival” sub-subgenre. I harbor considerable affection for that Tom Monteleone of thirty-forty years ago, that none of this banishes. To me, the contrast with current events put that Tom Monteleone in a little memory vault. I do not apologize for feeling that way.
Alas, the Tom Monteleone of today, who ate that Tom Monteleone, was already present way back when, though his manifestations, bad as they could be, were intermittent.
I am mourning, at most, a minor but treasured acquaintance. But I still feel the loss.
That is the end of the risky part.
Understand that the Tom Monteleone I feel sorry for, today, is that one from thirty years ago. I think the one from today invited this fate, however seriously he now takes it, and I am pretty damn certain that there is no coming back from this. I am unsure whether he was still producing work, but he was certainly still an influential figure, an elder statesman, and an important editor, who in a few days of frenetic resentment set fire to his legacy. This is a tragedy, but in the Greek sense, where people suffer the fates their character calls for. This is the natural development of groundwork he laid.
What will happen to Tom Monteleone is that he will not shut up about this, and will continue to court the only audience that still cares about him, the people who share his resentments. He will become more and more fringe, a Theodore Beale of horror, a Kevin Sorbo of horror. I promise you. He will humiliate himself further and he will do it willingly…
David Niall Wilson – Twitter thread starts here.
Thank you for collecting these responses for us.
Nathan Carson on Facebook wrote:
In the latest Horror fiction kerfuffle, 77-year old writer/editor Tom Monteleone decided to take a stand on behalf of that most vulnerable of demographics: “the smart, old, white man.” He then doubled down by telling off every well-intentioned friend and acquaintance, and huddled with a tiny pack of fundamentalist incels who will never in their lives write well enough to get into one of his anthologies.
I’m not sure the world needs my opinion, but then again, as a white, CIS-gendered man who will turn 50 this year, maybe I’m exactly the sort of person to speak to this.
To start, I didn’t begin shopping fiction around until I was in my 40s. Perhaps if I’d begun my writing career twenty years earlier there would have been less competition. But I write because I love to write, and to be read. I’m not playing a game, and I’m not lying awake at night wishing that my fiction was winning awards.
My experience has been that I put a ton of work into my writing, and it continues to sell. I don’t feel that I’m being published because I’m a white guy, and I don’t feel that I’ve ever been rejected for it either. I do feel fortunate to appear in so many anthologies with such diverse TOCs, even when that often simply means that white female authors comprise 30-40% of the books. Increasingly often, though, I find myself in rich company.
For decades, even authors as brilliant as Alice Sheldon had to use pen names in order to win awards and sell books. She was white, educated, and affluent. The pendulum was pulled so far to one side that works by white men filled the shelves and swept all the awards. So if that pendulum has now swung even slightly past the center in the other direction, that is a correction that was long overdue. And if that means my odds of winning an award or landing an agent are a bit more of an uphill battle, I am more than happy to live in that reality compared to the one we are working to leave behind.
Furthermore, my most important sale to date was to an “inclusive” anthology organized by the Horror Writers Association. Some paranoiacs imagine the HWA is a left-wing cabal that is hellbent on affirmative action at the expense of quality. Yet somehow my story about a gay cop made it through their blind submission process, and I was granted a slot in a book that was released by a major publisher. The editors of that book, incidentally, are a queer man and a woman of color. Both had nothing but praise for my story and its inclusion in the book.
Last year I participated in HWA’s mentor program. My mentee was a black woman who (through her own will and skill) is now enjoying quite a bit of publication success. I also co-wrote a story in 2022 with another black woman whose writing I idolize, and who I am proud to call a good friend. This is not me patting myself on the back, it’s simply an illustration that if you feel there’s any kind of “us and them” then YOU are the THEM.
No genre can grow if only one demographic is contributing to it. Horror and fantasy and science fiction are being written all over the world. The more voices that enter our field from afar, the more different kinds of stories we are exposed to, and the richer our imaginative experience will be. And isn’t that the whole point of escapist genres? I know I don’t just want to ride the same silver rocket ship over and over forever to infinity and beyond.
In regards to the deplorable crew of sycophants who are falling over themselves in an effort to lick Mr. Monteleone’s wounds… well, they’re a nefarious lot. They’ve done entire podcasts about me, as if I’m somehow the spokesperson for the “woke.” How that word became a pejorative I will never understand, as remaining “asleep” doesn’t seem like a particularly lucid way to live. I met one of those guys when he was a young, aspiring author. We were in a writing workshop together, and—surprise—he hadn’t done his homework. So rather than working on my revisions, I sat through the whole workshop trying to help him out. Later I tried to give him advice on why women weren’t responsive to his advances. Unfortunately, this all fell on deaf ears, and he found solace amongst a bitter little group who are convinced that there’s a conspiracy to keep them down. And it is true that once you’ve offended the only editors who will even consider buying Bizarro fiction, then you have blown off your last toe while trying to clean your musket. I suppose I should add that the main reason these guys hate me is because I told off another guy who was stalking women in our writing scene. They said what he was doing was free speech. I pointed out that he was a creep and totally out of line and that I wouldn’t stand for it. Now I’m a bogey man in their tiny world. But at least the stalker went away.
It’s both telling and gross that Monteleone keeps these people as company. Sure, it’s nice to have support when you feel the world is against you. But when I’m not sure how to vote on a ballot measure, I look at who supports that measure. If it’s the Police Union and United Farmers For Fracking, you know it’s probably something to vote against. Tom should know better, but having heard about some of the things he said on their podcast, I don’t think we can blame age or naivety on any of this.
Lastly, someone as shrewd as Tom Monteleone should definitely know that there’s a way to get results, and a way to just get attention. This current flare up all started because he wanted to nominate another (apparently deserving) “old white guy” for a Lifetime Achievement Award. Only while doing so, instead of propping up his friend, he added in a layer of snark about how undeserving he felt some of the other nominees are. Well Tom, if you want to get something done, you have an odd way of doing it. This strategy went far beyond backfiring. My day job is agent to artists (bands). When I want to convince someone of something, I try to appeal to their sensibilities. If you open with aggression, people get defensive, and your odds immediately decrease accordingly. I think Tom knew exactly what he was doing, then tried to act like the avalanche of responses were a surprise.
I only know who Tom Monteleone is because I was at the StokerCon when he was given his own Lifetime Achievement Award. It’s too bad that honor meant so little to him.
31 January 2023
Thank you for collecting these.
Brian Keene also posted this about his upcoming Patreon livestream: