Thursday, May 10, 2012

Female Fantasy – Authors (get your mind outta the gutter!) by Maureen O. Betita


We're happy to welcome fantasy author Maureen O. Betita to The Speculative Salon!

I’m Maureen O. Betita, author, blogger and general philosopher regarding arcane subjects. Thank you for allowing me a stage to pontificate upon! Now…

I took part in a fascinating discussion on another blog I belong to a few weeks ago, regarding fantasy. Most of the participants of this blog are romance writers and seldom tread beyond their genre. Until one of them did, at the urgings of their significant other, and read a multi-volume massive fantasy tome.

And, for the most part, enjoyed it. She posted a review, stated what she liked and what she didn’t. Then asked about fantasy written by women authors.Hoping to find books which involved more than men doing manly things while on an epic quest.

At first, I, an avid reader of fantasy during my growing-up period, had to really think. I’d read the stuff, I knew it was out there, but I drew a blank at naming authors. Slowly, through e-mails with my sister, I began to remember authors. From Anne McCaffrey, to Marion Zimmer Bradley and Diana Paxson, to Mercedes Lackey, to CJ Cherryh…

Another casual reader of the blog began to chime in and before we realized it, we had quite a list of women authors.

Now, the original blog hadn’t asked for Urban Fantasy, but we found ourselves wandering down that path, because the blogger wanted to know about first person POV. I realized that at some point, I’d left behind reading modern fantasy (I’d say for me this was in the late 1990’s and onward) and one of the reasons? Because other than Charles deLint, I felt most authors didn’t touch on the female experience.

(Allow me to say that there is Nina Kiriki Hoffman, who I always loved. And Pat Murphy. But their stuff didn’t easily slip into the fantasy category.)

It wasn’t the romance I grew to miss, but the… I don’t know…it’s difficult to peg. The personal and in depth writing I craved wasn’t satisfied by the fantasy I saw on the shelf. Oddly enough, some of it came from women authors starting to appear on science fiction shelves, while they were disappearing from the fantasy. Then UF took off and most migrated there.

Now it appears they are migrating to YA. Granted, all of these categories of books and sub-genres have become so muddy and lines blur at the borders anymore. Something I totally embrace. As a reader though, I shy away from trends and am slow to migrate with my few reading hours.

My author-self embraces a saying on a t-shirt I often see Adam Savage wearing on Mythbusters. “I Reject Your Reality and Substitute My Own.”

A great motto for striking out. Not a great motto for becoming a best seller. But still! I do embrace it. After the blog about female fantasy authors, I began to reflect on who I once read and what I read now and how they influenced what I write. Most of my former favs were striking out into territory that was relatively unknown. And they bucked some huge trends.

Anne McCaffrey wrote dragons that didn’t hoard treasure or roast knights.

Marion Zimmer Bradley and Diana Paxson gave us historical fantasy from a woman’s perspective.
Mercedes Lackey presented women warriors, before Xena and Gabrielle.

CJ Cherryh? From Faery to cat like aliens.

I’m fond of saying that I credit my writing chops to Fritz Leiber, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Michael Moorcock…but I recently realized…also a great deal is owed to the ladies I list above.

*****
I created the Kraken’s Caribbean. A world where the refuse from the modern world washes up onto a Caribbean shore full of pirates ala the Golden Age of Piracy. And these lost items work. Hence, pirates with iPods, taverns with working blenders on the bar, and people from other places and times. Toss in a match making kraken overseeing it all and you’ll find my books. The Kraken’s Mirror, The Chameleon Goggles andThe Pirate Circus.

Available at Amazon and most other outlets

*****
The adventure aspects of what I write probably rose from the Pelucidar novels of ERB, but the magic, the romance and the in depth exploration of my characters rose from the women who came before.

What women writers do you read who fit the blurry boundaries of fantasy and speculative fiction? I’d love to hear of the modern from the not-so modern!

4 comments:

Beth Caudill said...

One of my all time favorite fantasy authors is Janny Wurts. She writes epic/high fantasy. A lot of her work involves the political struggles of her worlds.

My other favorite writes Dark Fantasy, Anne Bishop. I absolutely love the Dark Jewels series and have reread every book multiple times. Her Ephemera series is good too. She explores the mental stability of her characters.

Maureen said...

I have Janet Wurts. I can't for the life of me remember titles, but the name struck a chord.

I haven't read Anne Bishop, though I have heard of her.

I also remember the rewriting of faery tales and how much I enjoyed those, with incredible covers by Tom Canty...

Julianne said...

Just gotta say, it's always great to find someone else who loves Moorcock! Were it not for him, I wouldn't be a writer....

On topic, though, I would also add to your list Melanie Rawn's Dragon series, the Exiles series and the Golden Key books; also Jennifer Roberson for her Cheysuli and Sword Dancer series; JV Jones for the Baker's Boy series and Kate Elliot. And Anne Logston's Shadow series--love her! So, do try them out?

Maureen said...

Julianne - I love Moorcock, and really all of the old sword and sorcery books! ;-)

Part of me thinks I've read Roberson's Cheysuli books...just twigs a bit of memory in me...but the rest are new to me. Thanks!

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