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Author Topic: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)  (Read 42323 times)

Offline ladybritches

Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
« Reply #30 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.

Offline JamesLatimer

Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
« Reply #31 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! ;)

Offline Justan Henner

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Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
« Reply #32 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.

Offline Rostum

Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
« Reply #33 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.

Offline Roxxsmom

Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
« Reply #34 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.

« Last Edit: April 27, 2015, 03:51:36 AM by Roxxsmom »

Offline mesmithcity

Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
« Reply #35 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'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.

Offline ladybritches

Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
« Reply #36 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.

Offline Lady Ty

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Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
« Reply #37 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,_Duchess_of_Newcastle-upon-Tyne

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

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.

“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.” 
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Online ScarletBea

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Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
« Reply #38 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
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Offline donalddallan

Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
« Reply #39 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,

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Offline Rostum

Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
« Reply #40 on: August 02, 2015, 06:10:37 PM »
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.

Offline KarenA

Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
« Reply #41 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!

Offline supernatural_girl

Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
« Reply #42 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!
Creativity makes the world beautiful.

Offline eclipse

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Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
« Reply #43 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
« Last Edit: November 16, 2015, 06:27:31 PM by Eclipse »
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Offline S.B Nova

Re: Women Write Fantasy (The Giant 'Women in Fantasy' Database)
« Reply #44 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 :-)
« Last Edit: April 02, 2016, 11:33:49 PM by S.B Nova »