Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction => Fantasy Book & Author Discussion => Topic started by: Overlord on July 21, 2014, 08:40:59 AM

Title: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Overlord on July 21, 2014, 08:40:59 AM
For those who haven't come across it yet, the 'Women In Fantasy' database is an ongoing project that already documents over 300 women fantasy writers. Far more than just a list of names, each entry has a section for notes/opinions and various ways of categorising the type of fantasy the author is writing (e.g. a check column for whether it is suitable for YA readers and whether the author is on Reddit's lists of all-time greats).

When I heard of this project, a bid by Sonika Balyan to show the world that ‘yes, women write fantasy and always have done’, I really wanted to help draw attention to it. I got in touch with Sonika who was happy for me to share the project with Fantasy-Faction's readers and provide us with some words about why she felt the need to create such a database:

Quote
I’ve heard from lot of people that women don’t read or write fantasy. It’s interesting to speculate why that is, but what’s more interesting is that it’s not even true. I’m not arguing that there are enough women (yours truly included) reading fantasy. If you doubt that just walk into any bookstore and watch the queue of buyers for an hour. Or go to your nearest book club.

I like to believe that gender has no role in the way we buy books. Of course there are readers who go out of their way to avoid fantasy written by women. But mostly readers are impartial on gender. So we should definitely be seeing more women on the recommended lists. But we don’t. Why? Why is it that we think women don’t write fantasy? Why aren’t more women featuring in our conversation about fantasy?

It might be a bias in publishing industry, it might be a bias of reviewers, it might be a bias of bookshop owners who control display windows. I don’t know the answer. I have my hypotheses, but they are just hypotheses. What I can definitely answer is that women do write fantasy. Really good fantasy.

So I sat down and compiled this list. I do hope this list helps others discover some new authors. I know, I already have.

PS: It’s still a work in progress. I would be happy to receive feedback and recommendations.

Check it out here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1A7YX3bmjdKoiwLnXuqxO8NNZwIKUjqzg2GH9AdZ__xU/ (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1A7YX3bmjdKoiwLnXuqxO8NNZwIKUjqzg2GH9AdZ__xU/)
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Roxxsmom on July 23, 2014, 04:29:21 AM
Thanks for posting this! A very worthy project and long overdue. I remember reading somewhere recently that nearly half of the fantasy that's being written in recent years is by women (and there have been a lot of female fantasy authors since the 80s, at least), and that a high percentage of fantasy readers are women, than women win a respectable percentage of Hugo and Nebula awards. But they seem to get left off a lot of the "all time best of" lists, and they're often overlooked in forums (even here on FF) when people recommend favorite authors to one another.

Is there a way to contact the author of this list re names that should be included but aren't? I was wondering about the criteria for "strong female character" and "romance present" as well, since some authors who write books with one or both of these elements are missing the requisite "Y." Maria V. Snyder is an example of one such. Blank all the way across in spite of having a strong romantic arc in many of her books (they're published by an imprint of Harlequin) and having all female protagonists so far.

Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: ScarletBea on July 24, 2014, 08:22:29 AM
I noticed you put this thread as a sticky - but the majority of posts are actually as replies in the main site.
I'd love to reply to some of them here, but I wonder, even if you copy them here, if the people aren't normally in the forum, they won't see and reply back...
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: FeminineFantastique on July 24, 2014, 08:55:42 PM
*waves* Hey dudes, this is also Cecily.

Scarlet, sorry that that escalated on the main article comments section.

I sometimes go into auto-defense mode on this subject just due to pure emotional exhaustion. Talking about sexism in SF/F, which I do a lot, leads to a lot of... well, crap flung at my door, from the minor (being downvoted and having my personal reading taste critiqued) to the more serious (harassment, people following the trail to my blog and leaving hostile notes, etc.). Even though at least initially I tend to use a really polite and non-accusatory tone and talk about systemic problems rather than individuals. And I have a low profile but some women who don't and also talk about this have received much more serious harassment. See, for example, Sady Doyle's piece on the reactions she got for her feminist critique of ASOIAF, in which she points out that one of her bloggers got messages telling her to "get raped by Drogo": http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/08/29/chronicles-of-mansplaining-professor-feminism-and-the-deleted-comments-of-doom/ (http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/08/29/chronicles-of-mansplaining-professor-feminism-and-the-deleted-comments-of-doom/)

All that leads to a certain amount of knee-jerkery.

Anyway, if anyone wants to discuss the content of the article, I'm down. It's a good article. I possess Many Opinions about it.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: The Lily of Loch Lorinne on July 25, 2014, 09:33:13 PM
Hmmm...the database is missing Caitlin Brennan nor does it list CB as under Judith as a writing alias. I suspect many of the Luna imprints are not listed.

Lily
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: ScarletBea on July 26, 2014, 10:21:31 AM
Ok, I'll jump.

I think I'm a feminist, in the sense that every person should be one: I want equality between the sexes because I don't believe they are different in core. Same pay, same opportunities, no limits for either.

And because of this, I never pay attention to whether a person is a man or a woman, in all situations in which that doesn't matter - and that is in everything but looking around for a person to love (since I'm not bi hehe)
And because of this, I don't really care if the books I read are written by men or women, they just have to be good enough for me to like them.

So maybe because of this, maybe because I have lived my whole life assuming the above is true for everyone, and all the people I've interacted with think the same (at least they never gave me any indication otherwise), I don't really like these discussions of "You're a bad person because you read more from male authors", "women authors are always victims", etc. The exact same way you can't group all male authors in one group (there are some I love, others I can't stand), you can't group all female authors together: again, there are some great ones and others who can't write as well. I want to read good books, and I don't care who writes them.

Of course, logic would say that the good ones get published and the bad ones don't, but that doesn't happen in real life ('50 shades' anyone?), and my point is that this also happens with male authors. There are a huge number of great male writers who can't get a deal, the same way that there are a huge number of great female writers who can't get a deal. Waterstones also includes really bad male writers in their promotion tables, together with great male ones, great female ones, and bad female ones.

So yes, I get annoyed when people bring in sex/genre as a reason for something that's not directly linked.


And then again, maybe I'm just a very lucky naive person....

Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: sennydreadful on July 26, 2014, 11:53:23 AM
Way back when this list was a twitter conversation under the hashtag #womeninfantasy I wrote a blog about these issues:

http://sennydreadful.co.uk/women-in-fantasy-thoughts-on-disrupting-the-circle/ (http://sennydreadful.co.uk/women-in-fantasy-thoughts-on-disrupting-the-circle/)

The thing is, yeah it's cool that you don't think about gender when you're selecting books to read - however, the problem is that you're not selecting from an equal deck. The deck is stacked against women writers, as it were. There are more male writers represented on display tables in bookshops, and in promotional emails (Juliet E. McKenna has done a lot of work on this) so when you're thinking of books to read, well, more books by male writers will tend to pop into your head. Ask for recommendations on a forum like this and people will say: Joe Abercrombie, Patrick Rothfuss*, Mark Lawrence, Brandon Sanderson... you often have to ask directly for books by women to get any.

As I said in the blog, do I think this is because everyone is sexist? No, but we're picking from a stacked deck, because male writers get more coverage/attention.

I don't like being told what to read either. But I'm also sure that there are a lot of great books by women that are just passing us by because they never get that space on the table/that review/that mention on a Most Recommended list.

It can only do good to disrupt the circle - it won't take sales away from excellent male authors that we love, but it will give you a broader choice on that display table. And that's why lists like this are groovy and important.


* Last night I dreamt that I went to a restaurant where Pat Rothfuss was cooking jerk chicken for everyone. It was really good.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: JamesLatimer on July 26, 2014, 03:14:02 PM
Then there are other ways the deck is stacked, like the different style covers they tend to give women and men*. I'm a sucker for a good cover, and I know my eye gets drawn to ones that remind me of other books I've read and enjoyed (but also completely unique ones, so there's that, too). If books by men get the same sort of cover, I will continuously get drawn back to other books by men.  And I'm sure there's similar bias in the marketing and the blurbs.

I also think I've been socialised to prefer "manly" looking or sounding books, whatever that is--not saying everyone has, but I know I've been fairly consciously sexist in the past when choosing books.  I think we've seen by the particular comment on the article that not everyone is gender-blind, and I've certainly shunned a good many 'girly' books in the past. I reject a lot of books for a lot of reasons, mind, but I have probably been quicker to dismiss a woman author due to these biases, even when they are probably more to my particular tastes.  I'd love to blame society, but... :-\

I'm trying to change that, and in doing so I've notice all the things that we're talking about here--the tables with 5 women authors out of 21, the recommendation lists full of guys, the all-male author panels.  I know there are great women authors of SFF out there, but it does seem you have to actively look to find them.  My TBR list is still largely male because it's hard to fight the weight of hype in their favour.

*can't decide if it's better or worse in the US, where quite a lot of fantasy books get terrible, romance-novel covers

EDIT: just looked down this forum, and it's Abercrombie, Martin, de Castell, Anthony Ryan, Michael Moorcock, Tad Williams, the all-male Grim Gathering, and Robin Hobb.  So there's a good example!  r/fantasy is largely the same.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: FeminineFantastique on July 26, 2014, 07:55:14 PM
^^ Yeah, this.

There's something funny going on when the "most-recommended lists" are almost all male, and the Nebula Awards winners are almost all female. Or, for that matter, when the main popular vote award (Hugo) is decidedly stacked with male authors, and the main industry vote award (Nebula) is decidedly stacked with female authors.

Honestly, SF/F by women has to work harder and be better to get half the popular recognition. It is a gender issue.

And while obviously that particular comment on the article demonstrates that there is some sexist bias going on in some readers' minds, I don't think that's usually the case. The stacked deck -- with male-authored books being reviewed, discussed, displayed, etc. far disproportionately to female-authored books -- leads to male-authored books being discussed more. They are more likely to pop in people's minds because of the availability heuristic (a cognitive bias in which the brain reaches information it's heard more recently and frequently than others). Even for me; I read wayyy more female authors than male authors, and my brain is likely to default to 1) what I've read most recently and 2) the male authors I have read that have been talked about for as long as I can remember (Gaiman, Lewis, Pratchett, etc.).

As recently as 2011 (could be sooner but that's the latest I know of), female SF/F authors were *still* being urged to use their initials instead of their first names. I just don't understand the denial.

ETA: And for anyone looking to balance gender parity, industry award nominations lists are a good starting place. Nebulas, World Fantasy Award, Shirley Jackson, Mythopoeic Award, etc.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Jaedia on July 26, 2014, 11:16:50 PM
Way back when this list was a twitter conversation under the hashtag #womeninfantasy I wrote a blog about these issues:

http://sennydreadful.co.uk/women-in-fantasy-thoughts-on-disrupting-the-circle/ (http://sennydreadful.co.uk/women-in-fantasy-thoughts-on-disrupting-the-circle/)

The thing is, yeah it's cool that you don't think about gender when you're selecting books to read - however, the problem is that you're not selecting from an equal deck. The deck is stacked against women writers, as it were. There are more male writers represented on display tables in bookshops, and in promotional emails (Juliet E. McKenna has done a lot of work on this) so when you're thinking of books to read, well, more books by male writers will tend to pop into your head. Ask for recommendations on a forum like this and people will say: Joe Abercrombie, Patrick Rothfuss*, Mark Lawrence, Brandon Sanderson... you often have to ask directly for books by women to get any.

As I said in the blog, do I think this is because everyone is sexist? No, but we're picking from a stacked deck, because male writers get more coverage/attention.

I don't like being told what to read either. But I'm also sure that there are a lot of great books by women that are just passing us by because they never get that space on the table/that review/that mention on a Most Recommended list.

It can only do good to disrupt the circle - it won't take sales away from excellent male authors that we love, but it will give you a broader choice on that display table. And that's why lists like this are groovy and important.


* Last night I dreamt that I went to a restaurant where Pat Rothfuss was cooking jerk chicken for everyone. It was really good.

This entire reply made me happy. Partly because of the random aside about the Pat Rothfuss dream which is funny and the kind of thing I'd post too.. but also because it's pretty much what I was thinking.

And as an fyi, I just bought 5 books. Four initially (2 female authors, 2 male authors), until I spied an H.G. Wells novel I'd never heard of and picked up also, but reading through this thread made me think.. I do not choose the books that I read based on gender and that is awesome. Sadly, my bookshelves are still dominated by the "most recommended" so there is an overshadowing there, but I'm getting more and more of my recommendations from the type of folk who frequent these forums.. thus, slowly, it's becoming more balanced. And when I picked up Half A King, Good Omens, The Copper Promise, and The Legend of Eli Monpress.. it was purely recommendation based, I didn't even think about gender in the slightest. Wouldn't it be nice if this was more commonplace? :)
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: whitepawn on August 12, 2014, 06:36:03 PM
I find it interesting that on a quick scroll through there are very few books with strong female protag + romance factor.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Roxxsmom on August 20, 2014, 12:08:34 AM

The thing is, yeah it's cool that you don't think about gender when you're selecting books to read - however, the problem is that you're not selecting from an equal deck. The deck is stacked against women writers, as it were. There are more male writers represented on display tables in bookshops, and in promotional emails (Juliet E. McKenna has done a lot of work on this) so when you're thinking of books to read, well, more books by male writers will tend to pop into your head. Ask for recommendations on a forum like this and people will say: Joe Abercrombie, Patrick Rothfuss*, Mark Lawrence, Brandon Sanderson... you often have to ask directly for books by women to get any.

As I said in the blog, do I think this is because everyone is sexist? No, but we're picking from a stacked deck, because male writers get more coverage/attention.

I don't like being told what to read either. But I'm also sure that there are a lot of great books by women that are just passing us by because they never get that space on the table/that review/that mention on a Most Recommended list.


This, completely. If the playing field were level, then it wouldn't be an issue, but it's tragic (in my opinion) that there are great (even award-winning) writers who just don't get the attention they deserve. Writers miss out, because their careers may fizzle due to lack of sales. We as readers miss out, because we may never discover authors we would greatly enjoy, or if we do, we may be frustrated by the fact that said author only has a couple of books to her name.

And to be perfectly fair, I think this happens to male writers sometimes too--just getting lost in the flood of incredibly diverse offerings that are out there. If you're not writing what's currently considered to be in fashion, you may be overlooked, even though many readers bemoan the fact that it's hard to find the kind of (non trendy) stuff they like.

But I think it happens to women writers more often.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: El Pato Loco on September 21, 2014, 03:47:02 PM
Hmmm... I ended up here after misreading the thread title and thinking this was a discussion about "Giant Women"... imagine my disappointment ;)

Actually I'm curious about the serious discussion matter here regarding the numbers of female authors and I'm going to go a little off piste here because I've been wondering about women who write (dare I say it in this forum? Maybe if I type really quietly...) 'science fiction', which seem to be fewer in number even than fantasy authors.

I do tend to agree with the earlier comment that the gender of a writer shouldn't make any difference and a work should stand or fall based entirely on whether it's good enough, having said that I do tend to find male and female writers generally have styles that attract a certain type of reader. Take David Gemmell for example. A series of best selling fantasy novels all with male leads and very strong supporting female characters, yet his two novels with a female lead are his two worst selling books and as far I'm aware are his only titles not to make it on to best seller lists (I will happily accept corrections if that is not the case) But why is that do you think?

I usually try and adhere to the generalisation that one should never generalise ;) but is there an argument that the majority of fantasy readers have a certain expectation of a fantasy novel and that for whatever reason, be it socio-economic, genetic, cultural or evolutionary, the majority of female writers just don't hit the buttons of the majority of fantasy readers and so they don't get the sales that will catapult them into the big time?

One also can't overlook the dominance the large publishing houses still have in the market... good ol' JKR of child wizard fame isn't the world richest writer because her books are any good... it's because someone in marketing picked one up and said "Hey, we could make a film out of this... think of all the merchandising" so in that respect getting 'picked up' is still very a much a lottery and a case of who you know in the industry rather than what you know as a writer.

NB: I do apologise profusely for sullying a fantasy forum with mention of SF however, if we're honest the only difference is the setting, you could have one story and simply by saying it takes place in the bronze age or 500 years from now seems to be the only criteria for determining whether it's classed as fantasy or SF ;)

 


Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Roxxsmom on September 23, 2014, 09:25:05 AM
The winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards this year was by a woman, and it's SF, not fantasy. A mind stretching read too, but very good.

It's hard to get statistics on the actual number of publications of SF and fantasy by gender. It's even harder to break it down into subgenres, because there is a certain amount of subjectivity and disagreement about these. But approximately 40% of the members of the SFWA are women. Of course, there are plenty professional SF and F writers of both gender who are not in this organization. No idea if the numbers are representative or not.

Since 1970, women have won nearly 40% of the Hugo awards for best novel, and 34% of the Nebulas. In the past twenty years, 40% of the Hugo winners and 50% of the nebula winners have been women.

I don't think women who write SF and F are that few and far between. Strange Horizons magazine participates in something called the count (an analysis of how literary coverage is affected by gender of the author), which suggests that SF and F novels written by women are less likely to be reviewed or discussed on book blogs.

http://www.strangehorizons.com/2013/20130422/2sfcount-a.shtml (http://www.strangehorizons.com/2013/20130422/2sfcount-a.shtml)

http://www.fantasybookcafe.com/2012/05/women-in-sff-month-in-conclusion/ (http://www.fantasybookcafe.com/2012/05/women-in-sff-month-in-conclusion/)

Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Eclipse on November 02, 2014, 01:05:47 PM
Hi I was just looking to see if Alex Hughes is mentioned, she does the Mindspace Investigation series which I really enjoyed it's more Sci-fi then Fantasy through
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: JMack on December 05, 2014, 06:35:17 PM
Maybe a little off-topic, but it occurs to me to that some form of the Bechdel test could be interesting.  You may remember it's a test for minimum treatment of women characters in a book, movie, etc.:

It has to have at least two women in it,
who talk to each other,
about something besides a man
(And they should have names)

Lord of the Rings fails this in every way conceivable, but that's a little like criticizing every book ever written before the 1960s.
Correct me, but Rothfuss fails as well, yes?
Random association: the October Daye series, written by a woman, passes with flying colors.  Surprised?
Ice and Fire, for all its problems with treatment of women, actually passes the test multiple times.

Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Gaie Sebold on February 10, 2015, 11:04:18 PM
Is there a contact where we can make recommendations for the database?
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Ryan Mueller on February 11, 2015, 05:52:34 AM
One also can't overlook the dominance the large publishing houses still have in the market... good ol' JKR of child wizard fame isn't the world richest writer because her books are any good... it's because someone in marketing picked one up and said "Hey, we could make a film out of this... think of all the merchandising" so in that respect getting 'picked up' is still very a much a lottery and a case of who you know in the industry rather than what you know as a writer.

I'm not sure where you got the idea that this is how JKR got rich. When she was shopping the book, she was told repeatedly that the book was good but that there was no money to be made in children's books. I don't believe anyone saw potential movies at that point. But because her book captured the imaginations of children (and many adults), she built up a lot of success, which then led to the movies.

And I'm pretty sure Rowling knew no one in the publishing industry prior to getting the book published?

I'm also not sure where you get the idea that the books aren't any good. That might be your personal opinion, and while I'll admit that the prose isn't always great, Rowling is a master storyteller in those books.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Elfy on February 12, 2015, 12:39:06 AM
One also can't overlook the dominance the large publishing houses still have in the market... good ol' JKR of child wizard fame isn't the world richest writer because her books are any good... it's because someone in marketing picked one up and said "Hey, we could make a film out of this... think of all the merchandising" so in that respect getting 'picked up' is still very a much a lottery and a case of who you know in the industry rather than what you know as a writer.

I'm not sure where you got the idea that this is how JKR got rich. When she was shopping the book, she was told repeatedly that the book was good but that there was no money to be made in children's books. I don't believe anyone saw potential movies at that point. But because her book captured the imaginations of children (and many adults), she built up a lot of success, which then led to the movies.

And I'm pretty sure Rowling knew no one in the publishing industry prior to getting the book published?

I'm also not sure where you get the idea that the books aren't any good. That might be your personal opinion, and while I'll admit that the prose isn't always great, Rowling is a master storyteller in those books.
Agreed Ryan. There were actually four books before a film was made. And the book releases were big events. The rights to film the books were first sold in 1999 and by that stage 2 of the books were out and doing good business. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire also won the Hugo for best novel in 2001, beating out, among others, A Storm of Swords.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Roxxsmom on March 14, 2015, 06:19:19 AM


Lord of the Rings fails this in every way conceivable, but that's a little like criticizing every book ever written before the 1960s.
Correct me, but Rothfuss fails as well, yes?
Random association: the October Daye series, written by a woman, passes with flying colors.  Surprised?
Ice and Fire, for all its problems with treatment of women, actually passes the test multiple times.

Re the Bechdel test, it's likely that any book written in first person pov where the pov character is male will fail it, unless he's eavesdropping on or witnessing women's conversations that aren't about him or something (which might make an interesting story in of itself).

There are plenty of perfectly good reasons for a story failing the Bechdel test, of course. A tale set on a WWII submarine or an all-boys school will probably fail. And of course two women can be having a conversation about something so cliche ridden or banal that it does nothing to make them more interesting as characters (a friend commented that one woman telling another how perky her breasts are would be a pass, for instance).

But it's the sheer number of movies (and books too) that fail that is the issue, not that some do. If there were a similar number of movies and novels that failed a reverse Bechdel (not having even two named male characters who ever have a conversation about something that's not a woman), then it would be a nonissue (unless, maybe, we had complete segregation of movie or novel casts with none mixed). But that's the point. So often there's a single female character at most, and she never gets any screen time with another woman at all. Consider Princess Leia. Cool character, but she had no female friends or allies to talk to at all. Would it have killed them to have another of the characters be female? Heck, even a female villain might have been interesting.

What we really need to be asking ourselves is why we seem to think that the doings and concerns of women are less relatable to the human race as a whole than the doings and concerns of men, and why men (who sometimes even complain about how unfathomable and hard to read women are) aren't eagerly devouring books by and about women.

Also, what's with that thing where people think that evenly mixed casts are female-dominated? I'm guilty of this too, and I'm female. I often think a book or movie has a "ton" of women in it, but when I actually count them up, there are really quite a few more men. I suspect it's based on what we're used to seeing, not immutable biology, but there's a lot of resistance to stepping outside one's normal comfort zone.



Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: JMack on March 14, 2015, 12:04:31 PM
@Roxxsmom (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=32670), I liked your post very much. And if I wrote a story with three main female characters and one male secondary, I'd be asked if I'm "making some kind of point."
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: K.B. Adams on March 18, 2015, 07:32:25 PM
Beatrix Potter and her Peter Rabbit -- my first fantasy fiction author love from when I was a very young child about 10,000 years ago. I guess I've always sensed fantasy fiction as something powered by a strong female force. Though I, too, don't want to play "women as always the victim," this thread does point out that the playing field is unbalanced. Thanks for posting this.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: JamesLatimer on March 22, 2015, 12:09:51 PM
So, possibly a little off-topic again but I've been really interested in this for a while, and decided (as usual) the way I like to deal with such interesting questions is to look for some sort of data.  I'm sure somebody has done it before (any links to the like would be welcome) but I decided to make a Great Big List of authors and then see where the differences lay. 
The result is (so far) a list of 73 men and 65 women theoretically representing "Major Traditional Fantasy" authors.  The interesting things to come out of it (to me) are:
So, what's going on here?  I think this goes hand-in-hand with the anecdotal evidence about people overwhelmingly recommending men on 'what to read' or 'best of' lists.  Goodreads is a recommendation site, with data.  Clearly, the data support this perception that men write better fantasy.  (I AM NOT SAYING THEY DO.)  Even the women that DO come up in recommendations like Robin Hobb and Ursula LeGuin fall way down this list (29 and 52 respectively)--as do some men widely recommended--but even after the troubles with exposure there seems to be something working against women.

A lot of other things could be going on, obviously.  Looking at the names, there's a strong chance that a certain model or type of fantasy gets higher ratings, and that this model is male-dominated.  It's fairly clear that complex and potentially controversial stories suffer in the ratings, so perhaps women write more of these.  There's also a chance that dudes-reading-dudes are less critical as reviewers.  I'd love to know what people think, and perhaps look at some more stats and studies...

Interesting, the full list (including YA/paranormal/etc) is bossed by the women, though that is largely down to JK Rowling and Suzanne Collins--even Tolkien can't stand against them!

Anyway, I was going to blog on some of this but wanted to try it out here first.  Is there anything to be read from this or is it not helpful?
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Raptori on March 22, 2015, 12:32:30 PM
So, possibly a little off-topic again but I've been really interested in this for a while, and decided (as usual) the way I like to deal with such interesting questions is to look for some sort of data.  I'm sure somebody has done it before (any links to the like would be welcome) but I decided to make a Great Big List of authors and then see where the differences lay. 
  • I used Goodreads for the data, which is has some problems (very skewed to recent books, and--apparently--YA).
  • I got the names from 1) lists on goodreads (the recommendation factor) 2) my own experience 3) other internet lists (including this one) and 4) a 2000-era Encyclopaedia of Fantasy that I have.  So the list is by no means complete!
  • Because I had to eliminate some things, I pared down the uber-list by removing writers with under 25k ratings, overwhelmingly YA/Sci-Fi/Romance/Other catalogues but, naturally, my own prejudice comes in.  (For example, I didn't want pure Vampire-Paranormal Romance style Urban Fantasy, but should if I kick out Charlaine Harris do I then exclude Jim Butcher?)
  • I also removed Tolkien because he was skewing everything (on balance, JK Rowling and Suzanne Collins were skewing everything back if I let YA in).
The result is (so far) a list of 73 men and 65 women theoretically representing "Major Traditional Fantasy" authors.  The interesting things to come out of it (to me) are:
  • The men have twice as many ratings as the women (an indication twice as popular).
  • The men are rated higher by a significant amount (overall avg: 4.09, men: 4.13, women 4.02)
  • The top 10 by rating has 1 woman in it, the top 25 has 7.  By number of ratings, the top ten has 3 woman and the top 25 has 9.
So, what's going on here?  I think this goes hand-in-hand with the anecdotal evidence about people overwhelmingly recommending men on 'what to read' or 'best of' lists.  Goodreads is a recommendation site, with data.  Clearly, the data support this perception that men write better fantasy.  (I AM NOT SAYING THEY DO.)  Even the women that DO come up in recommendations like Robin Hobb and Ursula LeGuin fall way down this list (29 and 52 respectively)--as do some men widely recommended--but even after the troubles with exposure there seems to be something working against women.

A lot of other things could be going on, obviously.  Looking at the names, there's a strong chance that a certain model or type of fantasy gets higher ratings, and that this model is male-dominated.  It's fairly clear that complex and potentially controversial stories suffer in the ratings, so perhaps women write more of these.  There's also a chance that dudes-reading-dudes are less critical as reviewers.  I'd love to know what people think, and perhaps look at some more stats and studies...

Interesting, the full list (including YA/paranormal/etc) is bossed by the women, though that is largely down to JK Rowling and Suzanne Collins--even Tolkien can't stand against them!

Anyway, I was going to blog on some of this but wanted to try it out here first.  Is there anything to be read from this or is it not helpful?
I think it's really interesting. I do wonder how much of it is just feedback loops - even though I couldn't care less about the gender of the author, I think most of the books I've read were written by men (even though my favourite author is Robin Hobb). Therefore, when I recommend books to people I'm stuck with a list that is male-dominated, and the cycle repeats itself.

The question is: where does that bias begin? Publishing houses (either in submission acceptance - which according to statistics isn't true - or in marketing budgets)? Subconscious prejudice? From what discussions I've read, a major part of the problem is that there are fewer women writing fantasy - and that's another thing that reinforces the feedback loop.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: JMack on March 22, 2015, 02:28:35 PM
It would be interesting to see a list of the top 10 men and the top 10 women, separately and without data to compare.  How would we rate the combined list? This doesn't get to source of the issue, of course; but on an apples to apples basis (sort of), how would we score that out?
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: ladybritches on March 22, 2015, 04:17:29 PM
I think there's a simple explanation. Women read both male and female authors, but a large majority of men only read books written by men. So of course male authors have a much larger audience, and it has nothing to do with one group being better writers or putting  more books out or any of the things we'd like it to be about, it's just that fewer men are willing to read books written by women.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Raptori on March 22, 2015, 04:25:25 PM
I think there's a simple explanation. Women read both male and female authors, but a large majority of men only read books written by men. So of course male authors have a much larger audience, and it has nothing to do with one group being better writers or putting  more books out or any of the things we'd like it to be about, it's just that fewer men are willing to read books written by women.
Pretty sure that's not true though. At least according to this infographic (https://d.gr-assets.com/misc/1416387658-1416387658_goodreads_misc.png), it's pretty equal for the most popular books - both genders on average stick to their own gender 90% of the time. There's no reason to assume that the breakdown for less popular books would be disparate - I'd expect it to even out for both genders.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: ladybritches on March 22, 2015, 04:47:18 PM
I think there's a simple explanation. Women read both male and female authors, but a large majority of men only read books written by men. So of course male authors have a much larger audience, and it has nothing to do with one group being better writers or putting  more books out or any of the things we'd like it to be about, it's just that fewer men are willing to read books written by women.
Pretty sure that's not true though. At least according to this infographic (https://d.gr-assets.com/misc/1416387658-1416387658_goodreads_misc.png), it's pretty equal for the most popular books - both genders on average stick to their own gender 90% of the time. There's no reason to assume that the breakdown for less popular books would be disparate - I'd expect it to even out for both genders.

Maybe I'm reading the charts wrong, but I'm not understanding how this disproves my theory. It says 80% of a a female author's audience will be women, while 50% of a male author's readers are women. Half of a male author's audience is women. Right?  If we stick to our own gender 90% of the time, that's probably because a lot of women read romance. But male authors still gain half their readership from women, even if women read more women than men. Not so of female authors.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Raptori on March 22, 2015, 05:01:02 PM
I think there's a simple explanation. Women read both male and female authors, but a large majority of men only read books written by men. So of course male authors have a much larger audience, and it has nothing to do with one group being better writers or putting  more books out or any of the things we'd like it to be about, it's just that fewer men are willing to read books written by women.
Pretty sure that's not true though. At least according to this infographic (https://d.gr-assets.com/misc/1416387658-1416387658_goodreads_misc.png), it's pretty equal for the most popular books - both genders on average stick to their own gender 90% of the time. There's no reason to assume that the breakdown for less popular books would be disparate - I'd expect it to even out for both genders.

Maybe I'm reading the charts wrong, but I'm not understanding how this disproves my theory. It says 80% of a a female author's audience will be women, while 50% of a male author's readers are women. Half of a male author's audience is women. Right?  If we stick to our own gender 90% of the time, that's probably because a lot of women read romance. But male authors still gain half their readership from women, even if women read more women than men. Not so of female authors.
Yep there's a disparity from the author's point of view, but from the reader's perspective men are no less likely to pick up a book written by the opposite gender than women, which was the bit I was disagreeing with ("a large majority of men only read books written by men", which while true doesn't affect the issue because a large majority of women only read books written by women). Probably should have highlighted it.

The disparity from the author's perspective could well be because women are statistically more likely to read than men. According to those statistics, the disparity is not because women are more likely to read a book written by a man than the other way around.

One possible conclusion is that women in general simply like (reading and writing) fantasy less than men in general?
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Doctor_Chill on March 22, 2015, 05:22:43 PM
I think it's really interesting. I do wonder how much of it is just feedback loops - even though I couldn't care less about the gender of the author, I think most of the books I've read were written by men (even though my favourite author is Robin Hobb). Therefore, when I recommend books to people I'm stuck with a list that is male-dominated, and the cycle repeats itself.

The question is: where does that bias begin? Publishing houses (either in submission acceptance - which according to statistics isn't true - or in marketing budgets)? Subconscious prejudice? From what discussions I've read, a major part of the problem is that there are fewer women writing fantasy - and that's another thing that reinforces the feedback loop.

You make a really good point. But there's no easy answer, much to my dismay. As you pointed out, we read primarily from our own gender. (Having a hard time finding that list on here but it's recent.) And as you might point to later, there are 10:1 males on this forum. This certain "traditional fantasy" blogosphere we work in is dominated primarily by males. As JL said, if we were to look at Fantasy as a whole, it would be dominated by women. Question is, why don't we show that? (And frankly JL, the second you stuck "My personal experience" in as a help, I tuned the statistics out. Least you didn't use Amazon! :P)

Because we care about either "Epic Male Fantasy" "Pulpy romps such as UF or S&S that don't have PR or YA in them" or "Progressive New Weird that focuses on gender and race, predominately pushed by women." (See big names like Kameron Hurley, Ann Leckie, NK Jemisin, or well, Saladin Ahmed, but when's the last time he put out a book? 3 years.)

Raptori also stated that there wasn't a bias in publishing house submissions, but in actuality, there is. Problem is, it's purported not by the gatekeepers but by the subs themselves. Little over a year old so apologies, but it is done by one of the Big Five. (http://www.torbooks.co.uk/blog/2013/07/10/sexism-in-genre-publishing-a-publishers-perspective) As that shows, there is a big skew in "Historical/Epic/High Fantasy" "Horror" and "Science Fiction" toward male submissions. UF and PR is actually split down the middle, but how many PR by men can we name off the top of our heads? As for YA, surprise surprise, it's dominated by women.

Still, not all fault lies here. As you said, there is a feedback loop bias. I'm not a fan of that blame however. I read what I want and recommend thusly. I happen to enjoy pulpy S&S or Epic Male Fantasy, then that's probably what I'll recommend. Go to a YA forum that's probably dominated by JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Sarah J Maas, Kristin Cashore, Cinda Williams Chima, and Eoin Colfer. Does that make them sexist? I see no outcry there. (Nor with Romance, but that's an entirely different conversation.  ;))

I keep telling people Fantasy as a whole isn't sexist. If you're going to include the Big F, you need to lump in ALL sub-genres. Now, is Epic/High/Pulpy Fantasy (the one that gets the most "recognition" around here) skewed toward males? Absolutely.

I also note this is only a piece to the puzzle of "Is there a Bias in Fantasy?" answer.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: ladybritches on March 22, 2015, 06:21:19 PM
I find myself agreeing with you, Raptori and Doctor Chill. This is a complicated subject and it's hard to put all my thoughts into coherent sentences, especially when I have such mixed emotions about it anyway. I've been reading and writing fantasy since I was about 10, so it's hard for me to accept that women don't enjoy the genre. There are plenty of female sci-fi and fantasy authors on the bookshelves at my local bookstore and on the virtual shelves at Amazon, and I know they get read even if they don't show up on the "recommend" or "favorites" lists here. I think they show up on urban fantasy or YA lists though. Women are carving out their own niches in fantasy and sci-fi, and the readership appears to be growing, so I think they will only get more popular as time goes by.    But as a female writer and reader of fantasy, it does make me sad that more of my favorite female authors don't show up on popular lists. There are some fantastic female writers out there, I think readers are missing out.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: JamesLatimer on March 23, 2015, 01:21:32 PM
(And frankly JL, the second you stuck "My personal experience" in as a help, I tuned the statistics out. Least you didn't use Amazon! :P)
All I meant was that I was building a list of as many authors as I could--overall, the number of authors that came out of my head vs those that came out of other lists is very very small and I don't believe has any effect on the stats.  As I said, the ones that make the final list are those with at least 25k ratings behind them, and all the averages are weighted.  But yes, it's an inexact science. :p

The stats certainly seem to support a few of the anecdotal assertions made here:
1) men are read/published more in 'traditional' epic/s&s/heroic fantasy by a large factor and...
2) women are read/published more in YA/paranormal/vampires/'romance'.
However, considering the historic factors, the basic number of men vs. women in the 'traditional' and entire lists I made was not that disparate.  The un-weighted average rating of men v. women is also basically the same.  It's their popularity that varies wildly (and this is without Tolkien)--widely-read, highly-rated male authors dominate the stats. 
(Just for completeness, Urban and New Wierd were on the 'traditional list'...unless they were overwhelmingly vampire-related.  Again, that's clearly my bias but I had to draw a border somewhere.)

Beyond that, however, the stats seem to say that:
1) men write 'better'/more highly rated fantasy of the first sort
2) women write 'better'/more highly rated fantasy of the second sort
Which is, I submit, all part of the sexism inherent in the system.  Whether it's something to do with differences in how men and women rate things on Goodreads, or react to books written by the opposite sex (since the data seem to support the 90% read-your-own-gender assumption and the 50/50 vs 90/10 audience factor for male authors vs women).  This all contributes to the 'feedback loop' problem, a cycle even those who insist they are gender-blind are caught in.  This is why I'm interested in the data, and wish I had access to more!

This is why I don't want for a minute to reinforce this status quo where women are assumed to read/write YA PNR and that epic fantasy is the realm of men.  While the stats seem to show this, they exist within the already-biased system, and therefore cannot be trusted.  Continuing to parrot this 'received wisdom' discriminates against the women who want to write the former (probably more than it does against the men who want to write the latter), and also against readers who want to read a wide variety of books but find the variety stifled by the mass of overrated largely male-authored clones.

As ladybritches says above: there are doubtless many wonderful women fantasy authors out there that we are missing out on!

Anyway, my two conclusions for now are:
1) When looking for recommendations on Goodreads (or anywhere else), remember than women authors are statistically underrated (or men are overrated, whatever), so don't believe the hype.
2) Keep actively pushing myself to read outside my 'comfort zone', reinforced as it is by this 'feedback loop'.
3) As a man, I could either keep writing, safe in the knowledge I'll get a nice boost, or give up because I'm probably crowding out much better writers...but no fear of that so far! ;)
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Justan Henner on March 24, 2015, 01:55:24 PM
I won't pretend to have facts or data, but I wonder what effect web marketing is going to have on this in the next few years. Word of mouth seems to be the 'big one' for selling books, but the most recent authors I've read have all come to my attention due to twitter, personal time on FF (like Jen Williams and Mark Lawrence), or from amazon giveaways (I know, I'm cheap). I know this isn't science, but it's been a pretty even distribution for me, and since both men and women presumably have an equal footing in their ability to reach out to people on such platforms, I wonder how it'll change things.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Rostum on March 30, 2015, 10:53:29 PM
Idle thoughts from reading the thread if 80% of readers of books written by women are women perhaps women authors are writing on a subject less attractive for men to read. A lot of male authored fantasy when I was a teen was been variations on a theme run to the same formula in a new guise.How many times I read the same story with different trimmings by different authors suggests that someone knows they sell, or chooses to publish what they know works, probably at the expense innovative and strange tales that never get published. Thankfully that seems to have changed, there is only room for so many Conan clones after all. Can't see that being of much interest to girls at the time or now.

Have the number of women reading fantasy or the proportion of male/female readers significantly changed? Do either sex pick what they read by the authors gender. I certainly don't consciously. My choice tends to be made from recommendations or reading the back cover while in the shop. If it sounds interesting I buy it.

It could also be down to how a book is marketed and even sold by the bookshop, but seeing as they are in the business of selling as many copies as possible. I don't see how or why that could be?

Best served cold was actually under feminist friendly in a bookshop in London. I guess that sort of makes sense, but was surprising to me. If Monza was a male would the story be any less enjoyable? She is possibly the least interesting character in the book anyway. I do not comprehend fantasy writing needing to conform to such a category to be attractive to someone to read.

I read all of Julian May's many coloured land series (many times) only learning the sex of the author at the fourth or fifth book. It really made no difference to how eagerly I awaited the next release. Sadly I was disappointed by anything else of hers I read but only because it didn't grab me in the same way.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Roxxsmom on April 27, 2015, 03:45:35 AM
I'm female, and I've been reading fantasy (and SF) since I was a little bitty thing. There was a time (the 80s and 90s) when I was at least more likely to be a bit more cautious about books by male authors I didn't already know. This was because (in my experience) books by male authors back then were much more likely to have a complete absence of female characters, only token female characters, or female characters who existed only to be "decorative" or rescued by the men in the story, or the characters had very stereotypical male and female traits. Also, the characters of both genders written by male authors were often flatter and less interesting to me, and the plots often seemed simpler and more linear.

Not all by any means. But there just seemed to be a lot of "pale imitation of Tolkien" stuff coming out in the 70s and 80s, and a lot of it was written by guys. The new female writers I encountered at that time just seemed to be telling more vibrant (by my standards) stories with characters who thought things and felt things and worlds I cared about.

That's not anywhere near as true as it once was, and in recent years I've discovered a number of male writers who I think do excellent characterization and wonderfully intricate plots with people of all genders as characters. They're not always perfect, and they could certainly have more female characters and more could write stories set in worlds that are more female friendly, but at least the experiences and relevance of women are not ignored by most of them anymore (there are a few still who do, but I won't raise that here). I wonder, though, if an increase in the quality of the fantasy written by male writers has shoved attention towards the good stuff written by women aside. I don't think there are fewer women writing fantasy now than there ever was, so why aren't we hearing about women fantasy writers anymore?

What seems to have happened is a concentration of new female fantasy writers in UF and YA, however, and I'm having a harder time finding really popular bestselling secondary world or epic fantasy novels (for adults) written by women, aside from some who have been at it for a while (like Robin Hobb, Carol Berg, and Kate Elliott). And some of the women who were really popular writing EF in the 80s and 90s have either migrated to YA or UF, or they've sort of fallen off the cultural radar. I suspect that there are a number of new EF writers who are women, but I'm just not finding them or hearing about them, however. Seems like people remember and talk about male writers more than they do female. Even with UF, a genre supposedly dominated by women, the two names that seem to pop up the most are Jim Butcher and Kevin Hearne.

I can't say why that is. I really love secondary world fantasy. It's what I want to read and write. And I hope being female won't make readers of either gender assume I can't write it. I know that many of my critting partners and betas have been male, and they've been very positive about it (even the, gasp, romantic subplot) for the most part.

Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: mesmithcity on May 08, 2015, 03:59:51 PM
What you read will influence what you think is normal.

I'm old. When I started reading fantasy/specfic, there were pretty much NO women writing (possibly some under pseudonyms, or with names that didn't reveal gender too specifically, so we weren't quite sure)...I think Ursula LeGuin was the first demonstrably female writer I knew about.

And if all your models are from a similar pov, you will assume that's the normal pov, you will absorb that pov, and you will be shocked and disconcerted when writers start breaking that assumption apart.

That's why "Mists of Avalon" was so amazing. (I know I'll take flak about this, but really: it wasn't THAT great a book. Groundbreaking? Yup. Cool stuff and new ideas: positively YES. But great? No. For one thing, her editor should have limited her to one "diatribe against patriarchal religions". C'mon. You know that shit got tiresome.)

And that's why you get backlashes. When so many books "sorta sound like" the stuff you want to read, but then you start and there's all this other stuff that doesn't conform to what came before...it's upsetting.

Upset people lash out. They try to kill the messenger, or the messenger's friends.

And then you get Gamergate and the Hugos thing, and...

Okay, I've drifted way off topic here.

Mainly, it's heartening for me, as a feminist and a writer, to be preceded by so many incredible writers who aren't middle-aged men with Conan complexes.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: ladybritches on May 10, 2015, 07:59:35 AM
I grew up in the 70's and 80's, and I don't remember there being a shortage of female fantasy authors at that time. One of the series that hooked me on the genre was The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. Read that in primary school. I credit Cooper (along with C.S. Lewis) with hooking me on fantasy, and I credit authors like Tanith Lee, Ursula Le Guin, Meghan Lindsholm, Anne McCaffrey, Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, Barbara Hambly, Lynn Flewelling, Carol Berg, Jane Yolen, Ellen Kushner, Juliet E. McKenna, Juliet Marillier, Sharon Shinn and a whole host of others for keeping me hooked. 

That list is off the top of my head, but there are many, many others, and I have read a ton of them. To those who think women can't write fantasy, I can only say this: maybe it's true that women and men write differently, but every reason you give for not liking female authored fantasy is a reason I would give for why I do like it. I don't want all fantasy to be "epic". I don't want all fantasy to be about men. I like the variety of styles and voices we see in the genre now.


Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Lady Ty on May 10, 2015, 01:39:34 PM
Accidentally found this enterprising lady, far ahead of her time in some ways, and thought she deserved a place in this thread

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Cavendish,_Duchess_of_Newcastle-upon-Tyne

along with a summary of her book The Blazing World written in 1666

Quote
A young woman enters this other world, becomes the empress of a society composed of various species of talking animals, and organizes an invasion back into her world complete with submarines towed by the "fish men" and the dropping of "fire stones" by the "bird men" to confound the enemies of her homeland, the Kingdom of Esfi.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blazing_World


Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: ScarletBea on May 10, 2015, 02:30:30 PM
Wow that sounds really cool!
I tried reading it, but it's too intensive on the page :-\ so I read just a few bits, it's definitely fantasy :D
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: donalddallan on July 02, 2015, 05:36:49 PM
Confession: I prefer female authors over male ones almost every time. Why? Female authors get dialogue and relationships so much more in touch with reality than male authors do...typically, in my humble experience as an avid reader. This is a complete generalisation, I admit that freely , so please don't shoot me!

So let's hear it for the Elizabeth Moons, Anne McCaffery's, Robin Hobbs, and Seanan McQuire's, and all the other bloody awesome terrific female authors out there.

This thread is a GREAT one for me. It will allow me to discover so many more great authors.

Cheers and thanks,

Don
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Rostum on August 02, 2015, 06:10:37 PM
Quote
I grew up in the 70's and 80's, and I don't remember there being a shortage of female fantasy authors at that time. One of the series that hooked me on the genre was The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper.

I had forgotten all about those books, they are likely to be some of the first fantasy I read along with The CS lewis books and listening to  the hobbit on LP narrated byNichol Williamson.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: KarenA on November 01, 2015, 05:09:20 PM
Just wanted to join the discussion. I'm a woman writing epic medieval fantasy, the seven book Silk & Steel Saga. My books have been praised for their strong female characters. One of the themes that I explore in my saga is how women gain, keep, and wield power in a medieval world. To explore this theme, I've written a variety of strong women, from Kath, a sword wielding princess, to Queen Liandra, who rules by guile and by coins, to the Priestess, who plies poison and seduction in a bid for immortality, to Grandmother Magda, a silver-haired grandmother who wields knitting needles and knives. Anyone reading The Silk & Steel Saga will never underestimate the 'weaker' sex again!
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: supernatural_girl on November 16, 2015, 06:12:19 PM
To be honest, I think this is such crap! I love reading fantasy books, and most books that get suggested to me are written by women. For example,

Fallen Series by Lauren Kate
The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa
Tiger's Curse Series by Colleen Houck
Soul Screamers by Rachel Vincent
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Shiver Series by Maggie Stiefvater

Which I all recommend by the way!
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Eclipse on November 16, 2015, 06:15:30 PM
I don't care what gender the author is as long as the story hooks me in.

Maybe some readers don't try female fantasy authors is that there might associate them with books like Paranormal romance
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: S.B Nova on April 02, 2016, 11:31:24 PM
This thread is amazing. So inspiring because I haven't seen any trolls or negative responses.
As a reader, I don't care what gender the author is. The most important thing is the story. I do tend to cringe when female characters are presented solely as objects of male desire, instead of as friends, or a relationship which is built on respect. (Same goes for the reverse btw)
As a writer, I work within the epic, high fantasy genre. I didn't really have a goal setting out, e.g 'I want to create this strong female character.' I just tried to write the most authentic person I could, and hoped that people respond to that.
Although when I got feedback, I was surprised when people pointed out the fact the female friendships weren't centered on men, like this was rare. Always seemed obvious to me – the fantasy genre isn't the romance genre. Guess we still have a way to go. I'll be glad when we just accept that female characters need to be as complex and well-developed as men. And like others in this thread, I think there are some great fantasy authors already doing that.
On a side note: I loved the fact the NY Times said that women wouldn't like GOT. A great snapshot into how dense people can be on gender roles.
Anyway sorry for the long post. Just so glad this is even a discussion. Makes me love this forum even more :-)
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: WPaladin on June 09, 2016, 01:20:42 PM
This is a pretty awesome worksheet.  I think it will inspire several of the your writers I know.  I noticed two female indie authors I have been following not on it though, is it possible to get them added to the list?
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: ThiefofHope on June 20, 2017, 04:47:41 AM
I don't care what gender the author is as long as the story hooks me in.

Maybe some readers don't try female fantasy authors is that there might associate them with books like Paranormal romance

I can't tell you how many people assume I'm writing YA, Paranormal Romance, or Urban Fantasy if they find out I'm female. It's annoying. I'm thinking about querying under a male name because of it.

I've actually had someone tell me I shouldn't write in the genre I write in because it's not "womanly"--despite the fact that all five of my current point-of view characters are female. I don't get it. Someone online has also said to me, "Women write YA, men write lit". ¯\_(?)_/¯

I just tell them, "If you don't like it, don't read it."
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Eclipse on June 20, 2017, 06:54:06 AM
Maybe the next generation of boys and girls who grow up with Harry Potter will be more open to books written by female authors. And to fantasy!

Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: S. K. Inkslinger on June 20, 2017, 07:14:15 AM
I don't care what gender the author is as long as the story hooks me in.

Maybe some readers don't try female fantasy authors is that there might associate them with books like Paranormal romance

I can't tell you how many people assume I'm writing YA, Paranormal Romance, or Urban Fantasy if they find out I'm female. It's annoying. I'm thinking about querying under a male name because of it.

I've actually had someone tell me I shouldn't write in the genre I write in because it's not "womanly"--despite the fact that all five of my current point-of view characters are female. I don't get it. Someone online has also said to me, "Women write YA, men write lit". ¯\_(?)_/¯

I just tell them, "If you don't like it, don't read it."

Thumbs up to you @ThiefofHope. People shouldn't be assigned gender roles, or any other forms of roles/ discriminations, as long as you can do the job and carry it out properly. I'm not a woman, but I'm also tired of stereotypes and the discrimination in our current society. As long as one can do a job perfectly, who cares if they are male, female, of this religion, that ethnicity, LGBTQ or whatever? If you are better than the person next to you, you wholly deserved what you had right now. People should be free to do whatever is in their skills and passions, and our society should start caring less about whichever hole we crawled out off.

Alright, rant over.  :D Now as long as that you didn't need to directly depend on those who discriminate/ judges you, feel free to go ahead and tell them, "Sod off!" (pardon for the vulgarity, some people deserved it) 
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: AmeliaFaulkner on September 26, 2017, 01:51:25 PM
Maybe the next generation of boys and girls who grow up with Harry Potter will be more open to books written by female authors. And to fantasy!

This is actually my big hope. A recent UK survey has shown that Generation Z are considerably less hung up on gender and sexuality than even us Gen X'ers, with over a third of them giving zero poops about whether someone identifies as male or female.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: Alex on February 13, 2019, 10:37:49 AM
I don't care what gender the author is as long as the story hooks me in.

Maybe some readers don't try female fantasy authors is that there might associate them with books like Paranormal romance

I can't tell you how many people assume I'm writing YA, Paranormal Romance, or Urban Fantasy if they find out I'm female. It's annoying. I'm thinking about querying under a male name because of it.

I've actually had someone tell me I shouldn't write in the genre I write in because it's not "womanly"--despite the fact that all five of my current point-of view characters are female. I don't get it. Someone online has also said to me, "Women write YA, men write lit". ¯\_(?)_/¯

I just tell them, "If you don't like it, don't read it."

Old thread but that's disgusting! Names like Ursula LeGuin, Patricia McKillip, Margaret Weis, and Anne McCaffrey come to mind for female Fantasy authors who have been around a long time! I don't think anyone would call their books 'Romance' or relegate them all to 'YA'.
Title: Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
Post by: J.R. Darewood on February 13, 2019, 11:57:47 AM
Yeah I can't believe anyone would say that.  It's too bigotted for me to even process (but he does sound like a lit-snob so there's that).

I'd add Margaret Atwood, NK Jemisin, Robin Hobb,

Males make up like 75-80% of all writers period, I think. This was the most interesting article I've read on the topic AND it has data, which is too often missing from the discussion:

https://pudding.cool/2017/06/best-sellers/