Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Celebrate the Freedom to Read with Catherine Stine #BannedBooksWeek

September 27th - October 3rd

It's BANNED BOOKS WEEK and we're recognizing this important week with BANNED BOOK features from our authors.

Please welcome Catherine Stine, author of DORIANNA.

From Captain Underpants to Lolita –
Or why we cannot afford to ban books
By Catherine Stine

This week is all about banned books, specifically young adult novels—why they are important, why they should be read, discussed and taught in schools. As an author of young adult fiction, I believe in unflinchingly honest stories. For instance, in my dark fantasy, Dorianna, I’ve written about the temptation to manipulate in order to gain power, and the fallout from that. If teens have no access to cautionary tales that will shake them up, they may be more likely to impulsively delve into questionable behavior. But that is only one reason these novels are important.

Some of my favorite books have been on banned lists at one time or another. I’m talking about Lord of the Flies, where I learned about how dangerous “crowd-think” can be, and To Kill a Mockingbird, which spoke to the perils of racism and the importance of standing up for what one believes to be just.
Currently, the most absurd book on the lists has got to be the hilarious middle grade novel Captain Underpants. Really? Are you kidding? Since when do we forbid belly laughs over silly cartoon guys in undies? Why should this book be read? Easy answer. This book inspired a huge number of reluctant young readers to finally take the joyous plunge into fiction.

As we’ve learned from ancient Greek myths to Shakespeare to modern day, The Truth Will Out in one way or another. I recently traveled to Russia and saw firsthand the damaging effect of repression and ban on religion, freedom of speech and the like. The most profound example of this was when I visited Nabokov House Museum in Saint Petersburg. Vladimir Nabokov is the author of Pale Fire, Pnin, and his most famous book, Lolita.

What astounded me there were cases containing pages of his books, sent around in secret mails during the time the Soviet Union banned his books. His readers were so devoted they risked their very lives to mail ten or twenty pages at a time to each other in order to keep on reading his transformational stories!

Banned books teach us about love, bravery, the dangers of bullying and racism and so many, many other things. What would students learn if libraries contained only whitewashed mealy-mouthed porridge? Bruno Bettelheim, a famous child psychologist is another one of my mentors. I use his “Uses of Enchantment” essay in my college Lit classes. He was a strong believer in not sugarcoating reality, which is what we do when we only provide the most mild, sanitized fiction. Here are a couple of his quotes that speak directly to why we cannot afford to ban books: “What cannot be talked about cannot be put to rest. And if it is not, the wounds will fester from generation to generation,” and “The ability to read becomes devalued when what one has learned to read adds nothing of importance to one's life.”

Bring on the harsh, sexy, terrifying, eye opening, mind-blowing books that alter and elevate us.

About the author:
Catherine Stine’s novels span the range from futuristic fantasy to paranormal to contemporary. Her futuristic thriller companion novels Fireseed One and Ruby’s Fire are both indie award winners. Her paranormal-horror YA, Dorianna won Best Horror Book in the Kindle Hub Awards. 

She also writes new adult fiction as Kitsy Clare. Her Art of Love series featuring artist Sienna Karr, includes Model Position and Private Internship. 

She suspects her love of dark fantasy came from her father reading Edgar Allen Poe to her when she was a child. 

Learn more at, and on her Catherine Stine and Kitsy Clare FB author pages. 

by Catherine Stine

Internet followers, beauty, power. It all sounded good.

Until it transformed into a terrifying reality Dorianna couldn’t stop.

Dorianna is a dark twist for the Internet generation on A Picture of Dorian Gray.

When her father is jailed, her mother ships lonely, plain Dorianna to her aunt’s. There, Dorianna yearns to build a new identity, but the popular Lacey bullies her—mostly for getting attention from her ex, Ander.

Ander takes Dorianna to Coney Island where Wilson, a videographer, creates a stunning compilation of her. She dreams of being an online sensation, as she’s never even had a birthday party, and vows she’d give anything to go viral. Wilson claims he’s the Prince of Darkness and warns her the pledge has downsides.

Dorianna thinks he’s joking. She has no idea of how dire the consequences might be.


  1. Imagine having fans willing to risk their lives for your work! A tribute to his genius. Loved your post.

  2. Yay to freedom of speech and reading!