Everytown for Gun Safety, a three-year-old organization with three million supporters that advocates against gun violence, is launching a group for those in the book world called the Everytown Authors Council. The Council will include over 130 writers, illustrators, editors, agents, and others in the publishing industry who, Everytown hopes, can “amplify the gun violence prevention movement through their words and through art.”
The Authors Council’s first official action will take place next week, when its members have been urged to use the hashtag #WearOrange on their social media platforms to encourage people to do just that on June 2, which is National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Fans of the Authors Council members who pledge to wear orange on that day will be entered into drawings for autographed books.
Taylor Maxwell, press secretary for Everytown, said that the Authors Council emerged “organically” after Everytown’s second #WearOrange Day, first held on June 2, 2015. (The date is tied to the 18th birthday of Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago teenager killed by a random shooter less than two weeks after participating in President Obama’s 2013 inauguration festivities.) Approximately 50 authors participated in #WearOrange day on June 2, 2016, including Jodi Picoult, Caroline Leavitt, Julianna Baggott, Gayle Forman, Sarah McCoy, and Julie Klam. These authors subsequently requested to form a group similar to Everytown’s Creative Council, which is comprised of actors and others in the television/film industry and has been spearheaded by Julianne Moore since its launch two years ago.
Maxwell said the Authors Council was created with the goal of "engaging the literary community" against gun violence.
“Authors are singularly suited to speak out on the need for common-sense gun laws, and to tell the stories of those who have been devastated by gun violence in this country,” explained Picoult, whose 2007 novel, Nineteen Minutes, explores the aftermath of a school shooting in a small town. “Our job as writers is to get people to engage and to start talking–and this is a conversation we as a nation badly need to have.”
Picoult is judging an essay contest on gun violence and its prevention that is sponsored by Everytown. The winning entry, which will be published in Teen Vogue, will be announced on June 2 as part of the #WearOrange campaign.