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Author Topic: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?  (Read 11848 times)

Offline Sherwood H Smith

Re: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?
« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2013, 12:53:25 PM »
Not sure where all the posters come from on this thread. I posted a similar thread on another forum and their view was rather different. Could the readership be different in the UK from the States, do you think? There are certainly a lot more female USA fantasy writers, I would guess - but please shoot me down in flames if I'm wrong on this? UK trends tend to follow USA so maybe the balance will soon become more even over here.

Offline Arry

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Re: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?
« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2013, 01:28:09 PM »
Not sure where all the posters come from on this thread. I posted a similar thread on another forum and their view was rather different. Could the readership be different in the UK from the States, do you think?
I don't know that it is even necessarily country based, I think people's impressions often come from their real life experiences. Some will have a broader view than others. And some regions of a country may have a different readership than other parts. Personally, I have stayed out of this conversation because I don't have much to add. I don't know a single woman in real life (now or at any other point of my life as well) that reads the books I like (fantasy). I have talked to a couple that read SF. BUT I am also very introverted in real life. Not talking to many people means I get a narrow glimpse of the world I live in. I do know one of my friends husbands reads similar books to me. And one of my husbands coworkers. That's about it. And that would be why I started frequenting the forum.


Quote
There are certainly a lot more female USA fantasy writers, I would guess - but please shoot me down in flames if I'm wrong on this? UK trends tend to follow USA so maybe the balance will soon become more even over here.
No idea if that is accurate or not, but I would think you should also bear in mind that there are a lot more people in the US than the UK, so it would not be a fair comparison anyway. If you compare the number of authors compared to the population size they are coming from, I would be shocked if there was a huge difference in favor of the US. There is a huge SFF community in the UK. And there are lots of women authors from there.
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Offline AnneLyle

Re: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?
« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2013, 03:19:16 PM »
Not sure where all the posters come from on this thread. I posted a similar thread on another forum and their view was rather different. Could the readership be different in the UK from the States, do you think? There are certainly a lot more female USA fantasy writers, I would guess - but please shoot me down in flames if I'm wrong on this? UK trends tend to follow USA so maybe the balance will soon become more even over here.

Maybe the other forum had a different demographic? There seem to be a fair number of women here :)

As for number of writers, I know lots here in the UK and there are plenty of women: writers, editors, agents. I think perception might be biased just because there are fewer of us - easier to skew the figures.

Finally, I don't think that UF/PNR is so big over here - AFAIK we don't have the equivalent of, say, Charlaine Harris. Oddly, a lot of British UF is written by men: Ben Aaronovitch, Mike Carey, Paul Cornell, Mike Shevdon, etc.
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Offline magisensei

Re: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?
« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2013, 03:55:07 PM »
I would have to say not really.  I've worked in book stores over the years and the readership is about equal for the most part.  Of course there are certain sub-genres of fantasy that attract more male readers as there are sub-genres that will attract more female readers. 

In terms of writers, I would have to say I read an equal amount of male to female writers and most of the time  I seem to have a greater amount of female writers that I read. 

I have noticed some discrepancies between male and female writers in terms of how well known they are - e.g. George RR Martin, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Roothfus etc tend to be more well known then female writers in general but that might have more to do with marketing and the epic genre then being male or female, as JK Rowling is one of the most famous writers of fantasy to appear in the last decade. 

Historically I would say that fantasy was written for a more male audience especially the sword and sorcery type fantasy but during the early years in fantasy (1960s-70s) I would say in general that the fantasy market targeted a more male audience but that has changed with the times. 

If we look at fantasy in general as a category of entertainment that includes things such as comics, manga, video games, movies, board/card games and collectibles then you could say in general that the target audience is more male than female although that has also been changing although certain categories are still more heavily bought by a male audience. 


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Re: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2013, 02:08:29 PM »
Honestly, I would say that there tends to be a different feel to a story when a female author writes. When I look at authors such as Anne Bishop's and the Black Jewels Trilogy, Anne Perry's Tathea, and Lynn Abbey's Jerlayne are packed with emotional and more heartfelt themes, tones, moods, and characters. I see this as the difference in views of males and females. I do not believe an author should feel obligated to write in a way to read as a "male" or "female" author. That would basically denounce one for the other. Both perspectives, male or female, written by a male or a female (of which I mean a male author can write like a "female" and a female author can write like a "male" author) are valid perspectives. Granted it is more male dominate with more "masculine" qualities. But what are masculine qualities? "Action" and "plot" can these ideas be said to be exclusively "masculine" or "male" central. I can't say that they are or are not for certain, but I can say why not?

Offline AnneLyle

Re: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?
« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2013, 02:16:08 PM »
Honestly, I would say that there tends to be a different feel to a story when a female author writes. When I look at authors such as Anne Bishop's and the Black Jewels Trilogy, Anne Perry's Tathea, and Lynn Abbey's Jerlayne are packed with emotional and more heartfelt themes, tones, moods, and characters.
<...snip...>
But what are masculine qualities? "Action" and "plot" can these ideas be said to be exclusively "masculine" or "male" central. I can't say that they are or are not for certain, but I can say why not?

Oooh, that's getting dangerously close to "girls write all the feels" stereotypes! FWIW, my beta readers usually tell me I need to put more emotional reaction into my stories :)
« Last Edit: September 13, 2013, 02:17:42 PM by AnneLyle »
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Francis Knight

Re: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?
« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2013, 03:55:45 PM »
And several people have mistakenly thought I was a guy because of the POV in my books (well, I'm not helping with the pen name either :))

As for the original question, is fantasy a male preserve, the only answer can be a big fat no -- and it never has been. It may have been presented that way in media, but women have always read and written fantasy. ETA: MAry Shelley is often brought up as the originator of SF. Mary Cavendish wrote a utopian novel set in another world in the 17th century. So yeah, discounting myths (who knows who wrote those?) we've been around since the birth of modern fantasy, or earlier (if you subscribe to the view that the first modern fantasy was by GeorgeMcDonald in 1858)...
« Last Edit: September 13, 2013, 04:01:00 PM by Francis Knight »
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Offline Sean Cunningham

Re: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2013, 09:17:11 AM »
Finally, I don't think that UF/PNR is so big over here - AFAIK we don't have the equivalent of, say, Charlaine Harris. Oddly, a lot of British UF is written by men: Ben Aaronovitch, Mike Carey, Paul Cornell, Mike Shevdon, etc.

Two Doctor Who writers and one comics writer who started in the British market and went over to Vertigo in the US. For a certain generation of UK writers who might find their way into urban fantasy, Doctor Who novels and the British comics industry were their proving grounds, maybe?

Versus Mike Shevdon, who's of the Angry Robot generation. Their author list appears to have plenty of representation from both genders.
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Offline AnneLyle

Re: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?
« Reply #23 on: September 15, 2013, 06:47:57 AM »
Versus Mike Shevdon, who's of the Angry Robot generation. Their author list appears to have plenty of representation from both genders.

Actually, it doesn't. Angry Robot are improving, though if you look at their entire backlist (as per the link) they still only have 11 female authors out of 45*. To be fair, they were founded as an imprint of HarperCollins aimed specifically at the 16-24 male demographic - though they went independent shortly afterwards, that editorial focus remained for a while.

I say this as an Angry Robot author who until recently was often their only female representative at UK events (most of their women writers seem to be overseas). I don't know if they've actively worked to improve that or if it's just been a case of more women submitting work to them, but the number of female writers being signed has shot up in the last year or so: Emma Newman, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Freya Robertson, Marianne de Pierres, Anna Kashina.

* From an online discussion of women in the media: "We just heard a fascinating and disturbing study, where they looked at the ratio of men and women in groups. And they found that if there's 17 percent women, the men in the group think it's 50-50. And if there's 33 percent women, the men perceive that as there being more women in the room than men." QED :)
« Last Edit: September 15, 2013, 06:56:01 AM by AnneLyle »
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline AnneLyle

Re: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?
« Reply #24 on: September 15, 2013, 06:52:49 AM »
duplicate post!
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Elfy

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Re: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?
« Reply #25 on: September 15, 2013, 07:26:59 AM »
\

I have noticed some discrepancies between male and female writers in terms of how well known they are - e.g. George RR Martin, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Roothfus etc tend to be more well known then female writers in general but that might have more to do with marketing and the epic genre then being male or female, as JK Rowling is one of the most famous writers of fantasy to appear in the last decade. 


I don't even know if that's really accurate any more either. Three of the biggest recent publishing phenomenons: Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games have all been authored by female writers. You could also throw Charlaine Harris into that mix, the success of True Blood on HBO has catapulted the Sookie Stackhouse books way up the ladder, although they were selling more than respectably before that. I see at least as many women as men browsing the SFF shelves down here in Australia as well.
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Offline AnneLyle

Re: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?
« Reply #26 on: September 15, 2013, 08:31:39 AM »
I don't even know if that's really accurate any more either. Three of the biggest recent publishing phenomenons: Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games have all been authored by female writers.

True. However they all write YA - men seem to dominate the adult fantasy shelves.
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Offline Elfy

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Re: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?
« Reply #27 on: September 16, 2013, 12:06:08 AM »
I don't even know if that's really accurate any more either. Three of the biggest recent publishing phenomenons: Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games have all been authored by female writers.

True. However they all write YA - men seem to dominate the adult fantasy shelves.
They're marketed as YA and they probably do fit that definition, but plenty of adults have read them. Maybe I don't really see it because I've never bought a back based on the gender of the author.
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Offline AnneLyle

Re: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?
« Reply #28 on: September 16, 2013, 06:32:23 AM »
They're marketed as YA and they probably do fit that definition, but plenty of adults have read them. Maybe I don't really see it because I've never bought a back based on the gender of the author.

I guess I see it because YA is still marketed towards a different audience - when it comes to the big names who headline conventions, get promo'd in the adult SFF section of the bookshop, etc, there's a noticeable male majority.

Also, the big female names seem to go mainstream more easily (JKR, Charlaine Harris) - the guys can be huge within SFF itself, but until the HBO Game of Thrones series, they were ignored by the mainstream. Hence the wider perception that SFF is a male preserve.
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline ladygreen

Re: Fantasy genre - a male preserve?
« Reply #29 on: September 16, 2013, 02:13:42 PM »
I’ve been pondering this myself.  I think men and women SFF authors offer different perspectives and voice - both of which appeal to different sorts of readers.  I agree with the comments that women authors tend to bring depth to characters, emotions and places and male writers seem to excel with highlighting concepts of perseverance, bravery and strategic thought.  And there are plenty of authors, male and female, who do both flawlessly.  I strongly believe that at the end of the day, good writing is what makes the best impact.  But do men profit from subconscious selection and favoritism?  Yes.  This still occurs in every industry, regardless of how “modern” our societies.  Discerning readers are what make the difference, balance the scales.  As long as the genre continues to attract this type of reader, I think we (the female SFF author) need only worry about quality of work and ensure we adopt a learning mindset.