The award-winning author of The Rest of Us Just Live Here and The Crane Wife decided to take action after feeling “impotent” that all he could do was talk about the crisis on social media.
“I was tweeting, like everyone was, about the picture of the three-year-old boy who drowned,” Ness told BBC Newsbeat, referring to young Aylan Kurdi, from Kobane in Syria, who was found drowned on a Turkish beach after trying to cross to the Greek island of Kos with his family.
The first post on the author's fundraising page said: "Hey, this may not work, but I'm tired of just tweeting my despair about the current refugee crisis that the UK government is responding to with inhumane feebleness. I'll match all funds raised up to £10,000 for Save The Children, which helps refugees around the world and has put out an appeal for the current Syrian refugee disaster. Let's see if we can give them £20,000 together, yeah? Or whatever! Everything helps."
Nobody was more surprised than Ness himself to see the total on his page increase so rapidly. His initial target of £10,000 was reached in just two hours, then The Fault in Our Stars author John Green pledged a further £10,000. Donation matches came flooding in from YA authors from all over the world, including Rainbow Rowell, Derek Landy, Ally Carter and Jenny Han.
In less than 24 hours the total raised for the refugees was almost £200,000 and it currently sits at over £530,000 (over £600,000 with Gift Aid included) following generous donation matches from several authors, including Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games), Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train) and Cressida Cowell (How to Train Your Dragon). Other authors have been auctioning items to raise funds and several publishing houses, illustrators and trusts have also made donations.
"Sometimes one person can say, 'I want to do a little thing.' And someone else can come along and say, 'I'll join you.' And then a whole bunch more people join in," said Ness. "We're not curing the problem, we're not fixing everything, but it's something. So many people have said, just, thanks for the chance to do something."
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