Why I’m featuring Female Fantasy Authors …

It’s not that I don’t like male fantasy authors, or males in general. (I have four sons and a husband, all of whom I adore). It’s because of something that’s come to my attention recently and it all has to do with where I live.

We all know little girls are sugar and spice and everything nice, don't we?

Brisbane, Australia, is a subtropical paradise (floods one day, cyclone the next LOL).  No, seriously I live in Australia which is a pretty laid back country where the people are, generally, reasonable. I keep in touch with fellow writers in the UK and the US. (I was in touch with a writer in South Africa, but he moved to Australia). I do have some contact with reviewers in Europe. All of this is leading up to why I’m featuring female fantasy authors.

When I was at World Con I met US fantasy authors who were discussing how fantasy is a bit of a boy’s club. I’d never come across this before because here, in Australia, it’s a bit of a girl’s club, if anything. Then, just last week I was reviewed by a UK site and one of the questions was about the rarity of female fantasy authors. OK, I thought, time to feature some of terrific fantasy authors , who happen to be female.

Of course they are also tough as nails!

So, if you drop by my site and notice a lot of female authors, this is why. I’m just trying to redress a perceived lack.


Filed under Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Promoting Friend's Books, The World in all its Absurdity, The Writing Fraternity

30 Responses to Why I’m featuring Female Fantasy Authors …

  1. pattyjansen

    this strikes me as really weird because fantasy (novels) in Australia is so female-dominated, male authors hardly even get a look-in!

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  4. Kp Keane

    Wow, this kinda surprises me. I’ve been running all of the female authors through my head and I honestly think that females authors and female leads are taking over the fanstasy genre.
    To Be Honest, some of my favourite books are from female authors. Robin Hobb, Tamora Pierce, Anne McCaffery, you, Ursla le Guin, JK Rowling, Sarah Douglas, Kristian Britain, Maria Synder, Elizabeth Haydon… I could go on…
    I haven’t really been following that many male authors (mainly Pat Rothfus, Brent Weeks and Peter V Brett). I guess no society is really without its flaws eh?

  5. Brendan Podger

    Perhaps it is an age thing. My reading of SF/F from the 70s onwards is chock full of la femmes. I would have had to have been trying really hard to find nothing but male authors to read.

  6. Tsana

    I too mainly read female fantasy authors (most of whom happen to be Australian because, well, I live in Australia). The male-dominance overseas can be surprising at times.

  7. Lindsey Sutphin

    I live in the US, and most of the female fantasy writers I encounter are in other countries, mostly in Australia. I’d say that reflects in the readership, too. There aren’t usually a lot of females in the sci-fi/fantasy (do they HAVE to be together all the time?) section in the bookstore. However, I do get hit on a lot in that section because guys think its cool that I read fantasy.

  8. I’m an Aussie, and I too am going, ‘what lack of female fantasy authors?’

    A possibly related point: in the US, there is a huge romance market, which includes a large slice of paranormal, urban fantasy, fantasy and sci-fi romance. The majority of ‘romance’ authors are female. So perhaps many female fantasy authors in the US are being published as ‘romance’, and are putting a higher romance content in their books — just because it’s a larger market and they have a greater likelihood of making a living.

    In Australia, as we all know (nudge, wink) there is no romance market to speak of. So authors wanting to write in the specfic romance genres have to publish under ‘fantasy’, and either tone down the romance, or slip it in through the back door. Or hell, just leave it in there and have the publisher call it ‘fantasy’ anyway.

    Just a thought.

  9. I don’t know if it’s as simple as the Australian fantasy market being more female-heavy – I think there ARE plenty of female fantasy authors overseas, but for some reason they are not being noticed, not getting the bigger advances, not being reviewed as much, and not getting as much shelf space in bookshops. We’re lucky in Australia that female authors have been given attention from very early on, perhaps because of the success of Sara Douglass, whose book launched the Voyager line 15 years back. But that doesn’t mean we’re immune to sexism – I’ve heard people dismissing Australian genre publishers as being worthy largely BECAUSE they publish so many women (okay that part is never quite said out loud, but it has been strongly implied).

    The Nebula novel shortlist was just released and it features five female-authored novels (four of them fantasy) and one male-authored. So obviously there is good stuff out there, by women who aren’t Australians! Speaking of Australians, many of our most successful authors are also hugely successful overseas – Trudi Canavan, Karen Miller, etc.

    I do think it’s important to call out gender imbalances, but there’s always a danger with such thoughtless statements as ‘lack of female fantasy authors’ that instead of helping, they contribute to rendering the female fantasy authors out there utterly invisible. I often think that people who perceive a lack aren’t looking hard enough – or are so affected by the cultural narrative that such a lack exists, they can’t see what’s in front of their noses.

    Which is a long-winded way of saying yay, Rowena, and YES, it is still necessary to point out to people that there are lots of awesome female authors out there.

    • Since hearing comments about this ‘boys club’ in the US, I’ve been wondering if that’s why my books don’t do as well in the US as they do in Australia and the UK. And maybe that’s why the covers of fantasy books in the US look as if they’re aimed at fourteen year old boys.

      I also am wondering if – perhaps being a bit controversial here – whether the problem (or perhaps just a symptom of it) has something to do with the ‘gatekeepers’ of taste, as in reviewers and magazines like Locus, being mostly male, too. Male and with rather blokey tastes, as far as I can tell.

      • Trudi, you’ll see from the comment above that Tansy thinks the same thing.

        Now I’m going to be controversial. When I read for the Aurealis Awards, if I was on a panel with two young hip male judges, their vote (for blokey type stories/books) out weighed my vote for the kind of thing that I think constitutes great fantasy/SF/horror etc.

      • Kate Elliott

        My feeling is that there is a gatekeeper issue that creates a sense of invisibility and of the sense that the female writers are secondary or irrelevant to the greater discussion. There are a ton of epic/heroic/fantasy review discussion blogs out there, and I think they’re fabulous, but they heavily skew male. When my latest novel came out, I spent all my effort getting review copies to the romance, YA, and girly review blogs. Much more productive. And I’m sorry it’s that way.

        • WOW, Kate. I must have missed all those epic fantasy blog and review sites when I was shopping around to see if I could get my KRK trilogy reviewed. By pure chance I must have hit on all the girl-friendly ones.

          Can you name a couple of boy-centric review sites, so I can approach them and do a bit of scientific research on the topic? LOL

          Actually, I’m partly serious. I’d like to see if I can get my books reviewed amongst the big boys.

    • LOL, thank you, Tansy.

      I’ve mentioned this series of FFA (Female Fantasy Author) interviews in the interview where that question arose with a link, so hopefully,readers will go – Wow, I’d better check out these authors!

    • oops, hit reply on Trudi’s comment, not yours, Tansy.

  10. A small comment about covers. These days Orbit seem to be using almost the same cover for US and UK books. Very generic covers, but awesome – and they seem to work.

    Oddly enough, I find that I am now doing much much better overseas than in Australia (even allowing for population differences). If anyone can explain that, I’d be grateful!! In a way I am happy – bigger populations mean more sales – but at heart I’m an Aussie and I want to do well at home too.

    Even odder is that the books I have written about a matter which I thought would strike a chord with Australians – water – is the one that has done least well in Australia, and the most spectacularly overseas. Result: I’ve given up second-guessing this business!

    Re the gender divide, one part me really HATES saying this, but the advice I’d give to a woman starting out is: use a gender neutral pseudonym. Later on – when you have an established career – that’s the time to tell everyone you are a woman.

    • Using a gender neutral name.

      LOL, I know Glenda. You’d think we’d be 50 years past doing this!

      Glad to hear your books are doing well OS. They deserve to.

      So much is out of our control as writers. All we can do is write a good book, try to get people talking about it, and hope someone reads it.

    • Brendan Podger

      I have never really been a fan of a lot of the US covers in the old days. YOu could separate a lo of them into the blokey(Boris Valejo) and the chick covers(pastels and horses). Particular offenders were groups like Del, Baen and Tor, who would perhaps spend some money on a reasonable cover if they did a reissue.

      It may be one of the few good things about the conglomerates that they tend to enforce a certain quality standard for their books so the US covers aren’t quite as bad as they used to be.

      Check the blog Good Show Sir and look at the cover for Stephen Donaldson’s “The One Tree”. If that had been on the bookstore shelf there is no way I would have picked it up

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