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The Highs and Lies of TikTok: GUEST POST by Stacey McEwan (LEDGE)

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The Highs and Lies of TikTok

Stacey McEwan

The fastest growing social media platform – Tiktok – is lawless, unscrupulous and at times outright harmful, but there is a corner some consider to be “the only wholesome place left on the internet” (Lansom, 2022). Booktok took the print industry by storm in 2020 and is largely responsible for increased book sales ever since. The Booktok hashtag was used 12.6 billion times in 2021 and has firmly instated itself as a virtual community for readers. Powerful? Absolutely. But wholesome? Not entirely. 

If we take wholesome to mean free from drama, toxicity, and abuse, then I’m afraid to report that Booktok is not the haven it sounds like. By my account – a Booktok author and creator with over 300 thousand followers – it is certainly not without its fair share. When I’ve been asked what it’s like to be on Booktok, the answer always comes in two parts. My first instinct is to say that its great! Because it is. It’s fun. It’s a community that I understand and that understands me. It’s female-dominant, progressive, inclusive, and encouraging. The second answer is from the grim side. It’s harmful. It’s dehumanising. And exhausting. 

Look at any one of my Tiktoks and you’ll see the trolling is rife. And, much of the time, I assume it’s because I’m a woman. 

That sounds far too easy, doesn’t it? You might say I’m “pulling the gender card.” But what if I told you that 9 out of 10 negative comments came from men? What if I added that almost all of these comments pertained to my love of romance and women’s fiction? I have a veritable slush pile of examples:


“Someone put this chick in a mental asylum.”

“If you have a job that requires a lot of complaining and won’t actually get done right, hire a woman.”

“Sick of fantasy being diluted by these bullsh*t romance plots that no one asked for.”

“This is why women get so f*cked in the head when they date, because they think this [romance] is real.”

“Say you don’t read anything other than romance without saying it. Please stop.”


And so, I suppose the answer is not simply “because I am a woman,” but perhaps, “because I am a woman who reads romance,” or, more poignantly, “because I read books by women.” 

Now, I’m reticent to be cast as one of those “complaining women” so I’ll add here that Booktok has brought me some incredible, life-changing opportunities. I’ve met wonderful people, learned a stack and had a ton of fun. Unfortunately, though, there is no wall between Booktok and the rest. The “corner of the internet” we speak of is figurative only, and we can’t simply post content and expect it to be confined to like-minds. The reach is vast, as is the scope of opinion, and it seems no one is afraid to speak theirs. Even, as I’ve learned, where it pertains to things like the shape of my nostrils and the dilation of my pupils (I’m not kidding). And, coincidentally, these comments and questions also come from men.

But I never knew how offended one could be by a romance book. This made me wonder about the divide between fantasy and romance genres, which still very much exists. Despite there being a plethora of fantasy romance and paranormal romance books saturating the market, it is still looked down on. The genre of fantasy has been stereotypically male dominated, but since 2000 any and all lists showing the top fantasy authors have included many women, even if they used gender neutral names (often strategically). 

The fact is that female authors who write any romance at all into their fantasy are in danger of being shelved as “romance with a side of world-building.” Authors like Jim Butcher, however, can do the same without fear of this label. I say “fear” because there is one side of the market (cough) who do indeed fear it. I hadn’t realised that romance plots in fantasy books were so often sneered at. And, as the author of such a book, the sneering is aimed at me as well as the authors I admire.

This is all to point out that it’s one thing to say, “I don’t like romance,” and quite another to say, “I don’t like people who like romance.” It’s a bizarre enough concept and it wasn’t one I foresaw when I picked up my phone, hopped on Tiktok and decided to start talking about books I liked. It confounds me still. 

But, I’ll keep posting what I love to post, the trolls will keep trolling, and the more civilised folk of the reading and writing community will keep wondering why we can’t all just get along, like what we like, and leave the sneering behind. 



Ledge_-Stacey-McEwan.jpg?resize=150%2C20Stacey McEwan is the author of Ledge, the heart-stopping beginning to the Glacian Trilogy. Stacey is a school teacher by day and fantasy writer by night. She is a book influencer on multiple platforms and began writing Ledge after book lovers of the internet begged her to share her story ideas. Stacey lives on the Gold Coast, Australia with her husband, two children and one questionable dog. When Stacey isn’t writing, teaching, or making ridiculous tiktoks, you’ll find her playing with her children, reading, annoying her husband, or possibly all three at once.




After being randomly selected as a human sacrifice, instead of death, Dawsyn finds herself on a quest to save her people from their icy prison… 

Ledge-by-Stacey-McEwan-Cover-Reveal.jpg?File Under: Fantasy [ Ax-ing For It | The Cold Is Not Alive | Finding Freedom | Ledge-hanger ]

Ledge is the heart-stopping beginning to the Glacian Trilogy from TikTok sensation Stacey McEwan.
In a place known as the Ledge, a civilization is trapped by a vast chasm and sheer mountain face. There is no way for anyone to escape the frozen wasteland without befalling a deathly drop. They know nothing of the outside world except that it is where the Glacians reside – mystical and vicious winged creatures who bring meagre rations in exchange for a periodic human sacrifice.
Dawsyn, ax wielder and only remaining member of her family, has so far avoided the annual culling, but her luck has run out. She is chosen and ripped from her icy home, the only world she knows. No one knows what will happen to her on the other side, least of all Dawsyn. Murdered? Enslaved? Worse?
Fortunately, a half-Glacian called Ryon offers to help them both escape, but how can she trust one of the very creatures that plagued her life? Dawsyn is a survivor, and she is not afraid to cut anyone down to live.
With a slow-burning romance, high stakes and even higher rewards, this richly created new fantasy series by popular TikToker Stacey McEwan will keep you gripped to the very end.
*Content warnings* gratuitous violence & death; death of a minor; suicide; attempted sexual assault

Ledge will be released on 13th September but you can pre-order your copy here: 

Angry Robot | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Chapters

The post The Highs and Lies of TikTok: GUEST POST by Stacey McEwan (LEDGE) appeared first on The Fantasy Hive.

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