Saturday, August 10, 2013

Outraged

By: William G. Muir
So the other day I see the Courier-Journal's feature section just laying there on the dinning room table. Having nothing better to do I picked it up and started flipping through it. A couple pages in I see there is a review for the latest Percy Jackson movie. Now I know nothing about this franchise and have no interest in, but like I said I had nothing better to do, so I started reading the review.

In the review, the reviewer makes mention to the Harry Potter franchise, wondering if the Percy Jackson movie can somehow separate itself from its more successful predecessor. It was at this point I put down the newspaper and thought to myself that Percy Jackson doesn't need to make itself different from the Harry Potter movies. Percy Jackson could reshoot every scene from all the Harry Potter movies and it wouldn't even matter.

The reason that it wouldn't even matter is because the it is not competing for the same audience as Harry Potter. The kids that grew up reading the Harry Potter books, then going to watch the movies have all grown up. They are in their late teens and early twenties, they have moved on to more mature forms of entertainment.


Now I don't really care who is and isn't watching Percy Jackson. The only reason I even know that these books and movies even exist is because I do the Who's On Top post and the Percy Jackson series has been in the top 5 of the New York Times best seller list for several weeks now. That and Brad Jones' team recently did a review of the latest film.

I only bring it up here because the other night my friend Julie and I were talking. The conversation was about her book that she was about to self publish. We were discussing who would be the right audience for her book. It seemed like it was just a little to old for Young Adult, but a little to lite for an adult audience. So I suggested she market it in the new New Adult Fiction genre.

I pointed out that the kids that read Harry Potter had grown up and that they were her audience. They obviously had a love of Fantasy and since Sci-fi is basically Fantasy set in space they are going to like Julie's novel. By the way, Julie's upcoming novel is Sci-fi.

After discussing whether or not she was going use her real name or a pen name, and if she should go with her photo on the back cover, I heard something that greatly disturbed me. Julie told me that female Fantasy/Sci-fi writers are not taking serious by many of the male authors and readers of the genre.

I just couldn't believe this. I have never once given any thought to the gender of a writer when I am reading a book. Often times I don't even know the name of an author when I am reading a book. Sure I do know a handful of authors that I like and try to look for their stuff, but most times when I am deciding if I want to read something, who the writer is never enters my mind.

The only bias that I would hold against a writer is if they have written a crappy book.

It turns out, as Julie was telling me, that most guys do not think that women can write Fantasy/Sci-Fi that is worth reading. I have to beg to differ with that, I know damn well that women can write excellent stories in the genre. I have now read about five of Robin Hobb's books, and I can't wait to read more. She tells a very compelling story and she does excellent job in character building. Margaret Weis has co-written several books in the Dragonlance series, one of my favories, along with co-writing my second favorite series The Death Gate novels.   

I have also had the pleasure of working with two outstanding up and coming female writer of the genre. There is Julie who is extremely talented and can tell an amazing story. I tell you this, whenever I read the stuff that Julie is working on I get jealous. I wish that I had thought of the stuff that she written. And then there is my writing partner Michala, who's talent I greatly admire. Since day one I have been blown away with the tools that she brings to the table. She has a way of adding warm, depth and personality to our writing that I am envious of.

It makes no sense to me that the men in the Fantasy/Sci-fi community would look down on female writers. Men greatly outnumber women in this community, it would seem like they would be thrilled for every woman that decides she comfortable in this community. We should be rolling out the red carpet for them, to let them know how much we appreciate them. Come on men of this community, we are much smarter then pop culture in general, this should be a no brainer.

Female Fantasy/Sci-fi writers are a good thing. We should treat them with the respect that they deserve.

I told Julie that I needed to step up and do something about this and she said I already was, I have a female writing partner. I don't see that as being enough. I didn't chose to write with Michala because she was a woman. That never even occurred to me. I didn't even know this was an issue when we teamed up. I teamed up with Michala because I liked the story she was telling, the stuff she had already done and the vision she had for where the story should go. I hitched my wagon to Michala because I believed in her and what she was doing.

This article is my first step. I am not sure how I am going go about this whole thing, but I know that I must do something. There are many talented female writers in the genre, some already established, and some still looking for their audience. It is not fair to them that there are those out there that will hold their gender against them. And it does a disservice to the community, it deprives us from these great writers visions.

Before I go I want to just a plug another female writer that I know, Ashley Torbeck, I have to admit that I haven't gotten around to reading her books yet, but I have read her blog and she is worth the read. She is also an extremely funny, if someone what borderline escapee from a mental hospital (just kidding). Check out her work.

I'm not saying that from now on you should only read female Fantasy/Sci-fi authors. What I am saying is that next time you are searching the bookshelves at your local library or book store, or browsing through Amazon, keep an eye out for who the writer is. And men be open minded, take a chance and read a book written by someone who is not in your gender. You just might be pleasantly surprised.  

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