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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy trilogies’

Is Fantasy a bit of a Boy’s Club?

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on February 26, 2011

The Gender Divide – Does it exist in fantasy or is it our perception that it exists, that creates it?

I started last week answering interview questions from Marc at Fantasy Faction (see interview here). Marc introduces the interview with:

‘A few months ago I was in Waterstones and a book caught my attention… ‘The King’s Bastard’. There were thousands of books in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi section of that particular shop, but this one was in the ‘featured’ section and for some reason just jumped out at me. The name ‘King’s Bastard’ perhaps appealed to my darker side, the picture on the front cover of a rugged man with multiple weapons – obviously to be used for brutal combat, the power of the word; King! To me as a male fantasy fan this book simply said ‘pick me up‘. I picked up the book and gave it a read, the blurb was equally dark and I could tell that this book would feature everything I’d been looking for… Now being an e-book reader, I got home, jumped online and added the title to my ‘wish list’… It was only at this point that I noticed the name of the author; ‘Rowena Cory Daniells’. I did a double take at this point – Now, without injecting any sexism into this post (at least intentionally) I had presumed the book was written by a male.’

Please note, I’m not being critical of Marc, I’m taking about perception. It was my perception that most fantasy writers were female because in Australia, it is a bit of a girl’s club. Marc’s sixth question was:

‘Please excuse me for saying this – but after a recent topic in our forum entitled ‘Female Fantasy Authors’ we concluded there are very few of you out there. Even more so – there are less who write darker fantasy. Why do you think this is?’

This reminded me of a conversation I’d had a World  SF Con in Melbourne in August of 2010 with Kate Elliot. Kate has since gone on to comment on my ‘Why I’m featuring Female Fantasy Authors’ post. She said:

‘My feeling is that there is a gatekeeper issue that creates a sense of invisibility(of female fantasy authors)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.’

Tansy Rayner Roberts brings up the point that: ‘The Nebula novel shortlist was just released and it features five female-authored novels (four of them fantasy) and one male-authored.’

So there are great books by female fantasy authors but are they being discussed on the blogs?  Lindsey from the US said: ‘most of the female fantasy writers I encounter are in other countries, mostly in Australia. I’d say that reflects in the readership, too.’  Remember it is all about perception. If female fantasy writers aren’t being talked about, then the readers won’t be aware of their books.

And Erica Hayes suggested that ‘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.’ Since romance is one of the few genres where a mid list author can make a living, this is a valid point.  There seems to be a perception that we authors should be grateful just to be published and be willing to work a second job to support our families. But that is a topic for another post.

Glenda Larke says: ‘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.’

When my first trilogy was published I chose to use Cory Daniells, because it was a non-gender specific name. If I’d continued to do this, Marc would not have been at all surprised by the author of the King Rolen’s Trilogy. He would have read the trilogy believing it to be written by a man. Would this have changed his perception of the book? Will Marc read it now with the subtext, this book was written by a woman, in his mind? Will he think, Gee, she really writes good fight scenes for a woman – rather than – Great fight scene! (Here’s hoping he likes the fight scenes. LOL).

Which brings me back to the original question. Is there a gender divide in the fantasy genre, or is the perception that there is a gender divide, the problem?

Update: Since writing this post I’ve done a series of interviews with creative people where I ask them about gender (as well as lots of other things). See here.

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Fantasy Genre, Gender Divive in Writing, Genre Writing, Nourish the Writer, Promoting your Book | Tagged: , , , , | 28 Comments »

Author as Performer

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on July 12, 2010

Consider this.
Writers are good at writing about people because they sit back and observe them.

They are good at writing because they spend hours alone with their keyboard, conversing with people in their heads.

Now consider this.

Publishers want writers to be ‘personalities’.

Ten years ago, the publisher’s publicist would take that introverted writer, kicking and screaming, and plonk them on a panel at a writers’ festival, or in front of a microphone on live radio. You can bet the writers struggled with that.

So how do they feel now that their expected to do podcasts and promotional videos for You Tube? There’s a New York Times article here on the topic. Perhaps the only thing the fish-out-of-water writer can be thankful for is that not many people will ever find their You Tube effort and watch it.

‘A mother still nursing her 8-year-old: 25,864,943 views; recent best-selling maternal memoirist: 5,124 views.’

According to the same NYT article only .2 percent of readers discovered their last book through a video trailer. Although 4 in 10 teenagers said they liked to see book trailers on book related blogs and 46 percent watched book trailers on You Tube. And a whopping 45 percent bought the book after watching the trailer for it.

Here’s hoping some of those teen readers will find Tansy Rayner Roberts’ new book trailer.  See it here. I know my own trailer (seen here) aroused interest when it was released.

So feel sorry for the modern author.

How about you? Do you like watching book trailers? I must admit I really enjoyed Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. I’m talking about it now, so I guess that is good for the book.

Would you buy a book after seeing a good book trailer?

Posted in Promoting your Book, Publishing Industry | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Giveaway Alert!

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on June 22, 2010

Over at the Mad Genius Club – Writers Division we are giving away two copies of ‘The King’s Bastard’.

Drop by and try your luck.

Posted in Book Giveaway, Promoting your Book | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dream Job

Posted by trentjamieson on June 17, 2010

Writers at this stage of a draft are very boring creatures. It’s all about the book. About finishing the book. And leave me alone world, I have this book I want to finish. Can you see a theme here?

The most important thing at this stage is that you’re always moving forward.

Sometimes this is about word count, sometimes it’s about cutting a sentence or a scene that doesn’t work – so moving forward can seem like moving backwards. There are very few days when I don’t do something on the story: even fewer when I’m this deep into a book. The word count’s variable, the time spent in front of the computer likewise, but I’m always working on the book.

So far book three has been the easiest book to write because, well, it has the weight of the previous two books pushing it on. Things still surprise me. I found myself crying when I was working on a scene towards the end of the book yesterday – this is either a good sign or a bad one, not sure which.

Last night I woke up at three am with an idea for a scene and wrote it down. Well, I thought I did. Turns out it was a dream.

Doesn’t matter, waking or sleeping, I know where there this book is going: it’s just a matter of carrying the story there now. That’s the challenge, to get this draft finished.

I only hope that when I do, I don’t wake up and find it’s all been a dream.

(Though if that’s the case it’s a dream where two puppy dogs are staring at me, wondering where their dinner is. Oh, and on a slightly related note my book has now gone to the printers! And, believe it or not, the text of book two is also ready to go off – who’d believe it!)

Posted in Creativity, Nourish the Writer, Publishing Industry | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Does it have to be a trilogy?

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on February 11, 2010

One of the writers on the VISION list asked ‘Does it have to be a trilogy?’ Good question.

How long is a piece of string? A book need to be as long as it needs to be to tell the story. Having said that, single title books are hard to sell. And, from a writer’s point of view, they are harder to write. Think of all that work building the world and its different societies, then only using it once in one book.

Besides, readers like to come back to a familiar world. It’s like going on a holiday to a destination that is an old favourite. A reader emailed asking if she could buy the sequel to the Last T’En trilogy because … ‘I feel like the characters are my friends. I want to know what happens to them.’ This is why fantasy book series run to 10 books or more.

Which brings us back to the question, should you write a trilogy or could it be a duology?

Some stories just work better as a duology. They have a natural conclusion. That raises the question of word length. Rhonda Roberts was saying her Gladiatrix comes in at 160K. The individual books of Nicole Murphy’s new series, ‘The Dream of Asaerlai’ come in at around 110K. The books of Simon Green’s Nightside series are very short, around 200 pages printed. But they are tight and eminently readable because each book is self contained. I think he’s up to book number 10 now and he keeps going back to the world he created, revisiting characters, making them grow and evolve, bringing in new characters.

I find, if I’m writing away and I get to about 600 pages (150K) and the story still hasn’t reached a natural conclusion, I’ll look for a place where I can cut it in half and expand it to two books of 100K each. Since this is a first draft, I know I’ll be expanding the book as I add flavour and colour to the narrative, so I know it is going to grow.

One of the other writers on the list commented that they hate buying a trilogy when they have to wait for the other books. It means they have to wait years sometimes, and then re-read the earlier books. I can sympathise, having been in the same spot. This is why I’m glad Solaris is bringing out my three King Rolen’s Kin books, a month apart. No waiting.

But it does mean that three years of work gets released in 3 months. This is another question that was raised on the VISION list. Should a writer complete the second book of a trilogy before sending out the first and moving on to another project? If I hadn’t written all three KRK books, they would be coming out 6 months to a one year apart.

As you might have gathered from the description of my writing practice, my books tend to grow, so I will often have book two written in draft form, while I’m polishing book one. A writer with a great track record can sell on the strength of a proposal. A writer with a track record can sell on the strength of a proposal and three chapters. A new writer can sell on the strength of the first book and the outline of the second.

When you do sell, you’ll find yourself writing to a deadline, trying to edit book one, clean up book two and plan book three, all at the same time. And sometimes it is easier to complete book three before cleaning up book two because things will happen in book three that need to be seeded into book two.

So, do you wait until all three books of a trilogy are out, before buying the first one? Does it annoy you when a trilogy’s individual books don’t have conclusions? What about series that run on for ever without a conclusion? Would you keep reading anyway, because you find the characters fascinating?

Posted in Genre Writing, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , | 20 Comments »