Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Heidi Kling Speaks Out

Today's post is from Heidi Kling. Her debut novel Sea came out this past June and has caused readers around the world to have #sealove. She grew up living all over California and ended up at UCA Santa Cruz. She's also lived in NYC but now lives in Northern California with her husband and son. Here is her post:

Censorship was first brought to my attention when the play I auditioned for, senior year of high school, was shut down because a parent (who incidentally hadn't read through the play) complained about its content to the principal. Up to then, I'd experienced bouts of censorship but they all came from my parents. But this. This was something I wasn't used to. This happening at school.

I went to high school in a very conservative town (another thing I really didn't realize at the time) but a play, that we'd already auditioned for and cast, was shut down because of ONE parents complained about content she hadn't bothered to READ? (Her complaint came from a bit of text from audition sheets.)

This was just too much.
Our teacher fought it, and lost. And when he lost the fight, we lost too.
Lost out on performing what would have been a fun-filled, and hilarious spring show.
We all fretted, "Is the spring show cancelled for good?" "Will our teacher be fired?" "What's going to happen now?" What happened was something brilliant.

He decided to put on the show Fahrenheit 451. A play about censorship. A play about a futuristic society where people are so afraid of knowledge they burn books.

I get shivers now thinking about it, that move, that genius form of protest. We auditioned again, with this exciting, and very dramatic material, and proceeded to put on this brilliant play in a tiny conservative town. And it changed everything about my path in my life. The undercurrent zipping through all of our rehearsals was this protest. We all knew what happened. We all wondered if the principal would come, if this complaining mother would come, if our performance would give them pause to think about their previous decision.

Who knows if I wasn't cast as Clarisse, the free-spirited girl who questions everything about fireman Montag's world, would I have pursued the arts to such a degree? If that one mother hadn't complained would I have started my own children's theatre that pushed boundaries on art, would I be a published author myself dedicated to telling stories I think are important? Maybe not.

So complain on, censors. All it does is draw more attention to brilliant stories and sell more books.

And even better than that? Your complaints light fires of outrage in the hearts of a whole new generation of thinkers. When threatened by someone —especially someone who hasn't read the story they love — tries to take something their favorite book away?

You better bet they will put up a fight.

"There must be something in books, things we can't imagine, to make a
woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don't
stay for nothing."
- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Part 1


  1. That was an amazing post. I almost want to start an army of revolutionaries just based off what she said. That's inspiration in it's finest.
    As a theater geek, I can totally empathize with the devotion to a performance. That was simply brilliant. :)

  2. Talk about a breath-taking story about censorship. What an experience, Heidi! Thanks for sharing! And Jer, thanks for the post!

  3. Great post Heidi! I've been pushing Fahrenheit 451 on everybody lately. It's such an important book. I posted my review of it a couple of weeks ago. http://fromthetbrpile.blogspot.com/2010/09/fahrenheit-451.html

  4. Great post, Heidi. I'm forwarding it to Mr. M.
    X0 from your tiny conservative hometown, where a few of us are proud to #SpeakLoudly.


  5. great post! I have huge #sealove :)

  6. Great post!!! And I agree, that was a genius move by your teacher.

  7. Thanks for having me, Jeremy. So glad you guys liked the post. :)

  8. Well done, Heidi, AND Mr. Miller!! What an ingenious and peaceful way to make such a strong and accurate statement. You were wonderful as Clarisse by the way! From a lover of this small town and a lover of YOU.

  9. Great post! I really do think it was brilliant with what your teacher did!

  10. How awesome is that! great post and thanks for writing it!!! I now want to reread F 451!

  11. I remember when I was 11 or so and we read through a play for class. The teacher cut out parts of the play that were deemed inappropriate and thinking about it now, it really ticks me off.

    I think it's great when people speak out against censorship. One person should not be able to shout out the voices of many on the basis of prejudice and ignorance alone. Brilliant post.

    Oh - and I finished reading Sea last night. I have #SeaLove!!