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Book: The Teacher's Strike by Gabby Matthews

categories: Book, Historical Fiction, Labor Activism, Politics, Domestic Discipline, Contemporary, Civil Rights, Adult, Sexuality, Gender, Radical Politics, Erotica

Gabby Matthews

about this book: Think "Selma" meets "50 Shades of Grey" and you'll get this political thrill ride packed with passion and politics. The story is about a tumultuous love affair between a young high school teacher/union activist and her student as the two star-crossed lovers navigate the unpredictable waters of a citywide labor strike. The taboo and socially stigmatized nature of their romance tests their affections for each other. They are forced to choose between their growing feelings for each other and the threat of social alienation by their peers.

In writing this novel, I set out to show that erotica can still be good fiction. The fact that my book's sub-genre is known as "spanking novel" only adds to the impact of satire and zesty flavor of the book's dramatic and erotic content. All in all, I intend this book as a new direction in political erotica.

The title itself, The Teacher's Strike, is a double entendre (or double meaning) of "strike" in both the political and erotic sense (of sexual spanking fetish). Accordingly, I wanted the visual elements of the book cover to reveal the same imagery as the text. On the cover, the teacher and student are positioned suggestively -- the student seated writing at his desk, a pointed smirk across his face, as the teacher stands over him, clipboard in hand, gazing into the eyes of the viewer. She's wearing a red teachers union shirt that is half-unbuttoned. Set in the backdrop is the characteristic Chicago skyline, arrayed with protest slogans looming over the city that read "ON STRIKE," suggesting that the city is on fire with political upheaval.

I'm proud that this book marks the first historical fiction of the 2012 Chicago teacher's strike. The 30,000-strong Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) led a monumental labor strike in September of that year which shut down the city's public school system, comprising half-million students in the third-largest city in the country, in order to win a greater degree of dignity for teachers and for the quality of public education.

I have a special connection to my book's audience of "young adults" and "new adults" since I am one of them. In writing this book, I wanted to bring something new to them in activism and social/political organizing, which has so much inspired me and marked my character and self-development since adolescence.

With this book I also wanted to pay homage to the traditions housed in the American labor movement. The ordinary working people who fought so long and so arduously, upon their life's peril and the ruin of their families and communities, to win unique freedoms that we enjoy today. Their dramatic wins and our inherited gains such as the 8-hour workday and the abolition of child labor are easily taken for granted today if we don't know this important history. The stories of the workers and families who organized to win their freedoms deserve to be continually told and retold in new ways. The heroes of the movements like Emma Goldman, Mother Jones, Eugene Debs and others should be revered and commended.

But I'm melancholic at the fact that knowing these traditions isn't part of public consciousness. So I set out to pass down these histories to new audiences through the perspectives of fictional characters, plot and storyline. So, you'll subtly find nods to this rich history in my book.

As for the contemporary elements of the historical fiction, I conducted extensive research into the 2012 Chicago teachers strike -- watching archival footage, reading academic articles, and drawing from memory of geographic Chicago (from when I've happily lived here in the past) and from the social organizing buildup among teachers circles prior to the strike, which I got the honor to witness a little part of.

I want readers to take in the story of the 2012 Chicago teachers strike, and the rich history from which it springs, at the ground level of the sorts of ordinary working people -- teachers, parents, students -- who lived it.

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