Statement on A World Beyond Monogamy, Jonathan Kent’s Polyamory Book
You know, that book written by a dude who isn’t me, though I feel I shouldn’t need to say this
Gather ’round, everyone, and let me tell you a story. It’s a story full of pornography, intrigue, rumor, innuendo, misplaced credit for a massive book, and kinky sex.
Let’s go back to February of 2022, when British author and former BBC correspondent Jonathan Kent published a book on non-monogamy called A World Beyond Monogamy: How People Make Polyamory and Open Relationships Work and What We Can All Learn From Them, a lovely book that takes a global approach to polyamory.
No, wait, let’s go back further, to an orgy in Lincolnshire, England, where Eunice Hung and I started writing erotic science fiction novels together. (No, that’s not the story, though it is an interesting tale of its own).
In the Beginning
Eunice and I started working together to set a book in a setting she’d dreamed up: the City, a far future, post-scarcity society run by benevolent AIs who were worshipped as gods, largely through ritualized group sex.
We wrote the first novel together, sent queries to a huge number of publishers, and got back fifteen rejection slips that all said basically the same thing: “Interesting book, but we don’t know how to sell it. Erotica is siloed — people who buy gay cowboy porn won’t buy gay auto mechanic porn. This novel doesn’t fit a genre, so we don’t know how to connect to an audience.”
So we were like “You know what? Let’s start a publishing company.”
We started Luminastra Press together, then looked for other authors.
Eunice suggested her friend Jonathan. He was still interviewing people for A World Beyond Monogamy — in fact, he interviewed me and a bunch of other poly folk when I was in Lincolnshire.
Jonathan is a journalist. He’s worked or reported for Reuters, the BBC, Newsweek, KQED, The Daily Telegraph and a bunch of others. He’s been a foreign correspondent and a political reporter. He thought that most writing he’d seen about polyamory was what he called the ‘me and my fifty sweeties in a flower-strewn valley in Sweden’ variety: very personal, overwhelmingly from a single viewpoint, very North American and not much use to anyone.
His book sprang from a simple proposition–approach consensual non-monogamy just as he would have if he were reporting for one of the news organizations he’d worked for, interviewing people from a wide range of backgrounds and presenting the conclusions.
His book sported interviews with sixty or so people from all over the world — one of the first rigorously researched polyamory books to take a truly global perspective ever to be written. It’s really good (I’ll likely review it later.)
Anyway, the book became the first non-fiction title published by Luminastra Press.
And all hell broke loose.
From the moment the crowdfunder for the book was announced, there were some unbelievably strange allegations from some quarters of the poly scene, and some frankly ridiculous ones.
First, and the one that amused me most, is that I wrote it. Now, I have to admit, I’m flattered. I like my writing. But I’m not sure that I could write quite like an experienced English journalist (with references to Monty Python, and a bunch of British stuff I’ve never heard of, and all), together with a sense of humor–err, excuse me, humour — that’s very noticeably British. But hey folks, if you think I’m that good, just keep it coming. I appreciate the compliment.
And there’s also the fact that many of his interviews were conducted in person, so if I secretly wrote the book, I also have even better disguise skills than that one dude from Mission: Impossible, which is kinda cool, I guess.
I did actually have a small hand in it. I advised on the book layout and produced the eBook. I think they look pretty good, but then I would, wouldn’t I?
Then there are the people who have taken issue with the fact that he’s a white guy and the book includes a whole range of voices from around the world, many of whom are people of color and/or queer, quoting them extensively and discussing ENM from their perspectives.
This is exactly what Jonathan did as a correspondent. It’s called ‘journalism.’ The point with good journalism is that it collects a range of views and represents them fairly. And if someone wrote a book including voices from different parts of the world but they were all straight and white wouldn’t that be weirder? As it is, almost every book about ENM is written by middle class white people from North America talking about their own experiences. A World Beyond Monogamy set out to reach beyond that narrow focus (and, in my opinion, does it better than anything else out there).
Anyhow, perhaps the weirdest thing is that people are saying that people shouldn’t buy this book because I profit from it.
The Money Shot
Just for the record, I stepped down from Luminastra more than a year ago, when this bizarre “Jonathan is Franklin’s catspaw, Franklin secretly wrote his book” weirdness started. These days I recommend A World Beyond Monogamy, even though I make no money from it (unless you buy it using my Amazon affiliate code, in which case, thank you!). It’s just a more thorough, better researched book. It’s also more up to date — the world, and our community, has moved on in all those years since I first started writing More Than Two. We really need to move on with it.
Anyway, like I said, I stepped down from Luminastra last year after discussions that had run for some months. I was more interested in writing and releasing books than I was being a publisher.
Nevertheless people are still getting attacked and threatened over all this. Not just Jonathan — someone I should add that I’ve met in person precisely once — but people he knows (apparently just because he knows them), and maybe people they know too. It’s happening to other people I know as well.
Yes, you read that right. People not connected to me are receiving harassing and threatening emails because they know Jonathan who knows me. I’m serious.
These are the tactics of the far right. Fuck fascism.
Let’s Say It: This is a Spade
But what I really don’t get is why some people can’t see that behavior for what it is: abuse. It’s a standard tactic of abusers to try to separate their victims from other people, to isolate them. It’s manipulative. It’s controlling. It’s about revenge. It’s certainly not about justice.
Follow the money. It’s amazing how often it turns out to be all about the money, in the end.