Elspeth Cooper

Purveyor of fine fantasy adventures

Tag: fantasy (Page 1 of 3)

Women writing fantasy, round 2

After I posted my first list of women writing fantasy, I thought of a whole bunch of other writers I should have included. Then I saw my friend and fellow fantasy writer Teresa Frohock had a similar list on her blog, and there were quite a few names in common, but also quite a lot that weren’t.

I thought it would be cool to smoosh the two lists together, and this is what happened:

AC Crispin; AC Voss; Alaya Dawn Johnson; Aliette de Bodard; Alis Rasmussen; Alison Croggon; Amanda Downum; AM Dellamonica; Andre Norton; Andrea Hairston; Angela Carter; Anna Bradley; Anne Bishop; Anne Leonard; Anne Lyle; Anne McCaffery; Anne Rice; April Taylor

Barbara Friend Ish; Barbara Hambly; Beth Bernobich; Beth Cato; Betsy Dornbusch

CT Adams; Caitlin Kiernan; Carol Berg; Carole Nelson Douglas; Caroline Stevermer; Carrie Cuinn; Carrie Ryan; Carrie Vaughn; Cat Hellisen; Catherine Asaro; Catherine Cooke; Catherine Webb; Catherynne M Valente; Cathy Clamp; CE Murphy; Charlaine Harris; Charlie N Holmberg; Chelsea Quinn-Yarbro; Cherie Priest; Chloe Neill; Cindy Pon; CJ Cherryh; CL Moore; Claire North*; Clea Simon; Cornelia Funke; Courtney Schafer; CS Friedman

Damien A Walters; Danie Ware; Dawn Kurtagich; Deborah Harkness; Debra Doyle; Diana Paxson; Diana Rowland; Diana Wynne Jones; Diane Duane; Doranna Durgin; Doris Egan

E Catherine Tobler; EJ Swift; Ekaterina Sedia; Elaine Cunningham; Elizabeth A Lynn; Elizabeth Ann Scarborough; Elizabeth Bear; Elizabeth Hand; Elizabeth Haydon; Elizabeth Knox; Elizabeth Lynn; Elizabeth May; Elizabeth Moon; Elizabeth Wein; Elizabeth Willey; Ellen Kushner; Elspeth Cooper; Emily Carroll; Emily Gee; Emma Bull; Erica Hayes; Erika Johansen; Erin Hoffman; Esther Friesner; Evangeline Walton; Evie Manieri

Felicia Dale; Fiona McIntosh; Fiona Miller; Francis Knight; Freda Warrington; Freya Robertson; G Willow Wilson; Gail Carriger; Gail Z Martin; Genevieve Valentine; Gill Alderman; Glenda Larke; Gwenda Bond

Heather Brewer; Heather Gladney; Heather Tomlinson; Helen Lowe; Helen Oyeyemi; Helene Wecker; Holly Black; Holly Lisle; Hope Mirrlees

Ilona Andrews; Ilsa J Bick

J Kathleen Cheney; Jacey Bedford; Jackie Kessler; Jacqueline Carey; Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett; Jaime Lee Moyar; Jane Emerson*; Jane Lindskold; Jane Yolen; Janet Berliner; Janny Wurts; Jaye Wells; Jen Williams; Jennifer Estep; Jennifer Fallon; Jennifer Roberson; Jennifer Robinson; Jenny Jones; Jess Haines; JK Rowling; JL Murray; Jo Clayton; Jo Thomas; Jo Walton; Joan Aiken; Jo Anderton; Joan D Vinge; Joanne Hall; Joanne Harris; Josepha Sherman; Joyce Ballou Gregorian; Joyce Chng; Jude Fisher; Judith Tarr; Julian May; Julie Czernada; Julie Hutchings; Juliet E McKenna; Juliet Marillier; JV Jones

Kage Baker; Kameron Hurley; Karen Fowler; Karen Lord; Karen Miller; Kari Sperring; Karin Lowachee; Kate Elliott*; Kate Griffin*; Kate Jonez; Katherine Addison*; Katherine Kerr; Katherine Kurtz; Kathleen M Massie-Ferch; Kathleen Sky; Kelley Armstrong; Kelley Grant; Kelly Link; Kiera Cass; Kit Berry; Kristen Britten; Kristin Cashore; Kristine Kathryn Rusch; KT Davies; KV Johansen; Kylie Chan

LA Gilman / Laura Anne Gilman; Laini Taylor; Larissa Lai; Laura Bickle; Laura Lam; Laura Liddell Nolan; Laure Eve; Laurell K Hamilton; Lauren Beukes; Leigh Bardugo; Leigh Brackett; Lian Hearn; Liane Merciel; Libba Bray; Liesel Schwartz; Lilith Saintcrow; Lindsay Barraclough; Lisa Goldstein; Lisa Mannetti; Lisa Sheradin; Lisa Tuttle; Lish McBride; Liz de Jager; Liz Williams; Lois McMaster Bujold; Lorna Freeman; Lou Morgan; Louise Cooper; Lucy Hounsom; Lynn Abbey; Lynn Flewelling; Lynn Kurland

Madeleine L’Engle; Madeline Ashby; Maggie Stiefvater; Malinda Lo; Marcia Bennett; Margaret Atwood; Margaret Weis; Margo Lanagan; Maria Dahvana Headley; Maria Snyder; Marie Brennan; Marina Warner; Marion Zimmer Bradley; Marta Randall; Martha Wells; Mary Doria Russell; Mary Gentle; Mary Renault; Mary Robinette Kowal; Mary Shelley; Mary Stewart; Mary Victoria; Mazarkis Williams; Megan Lindholm*; Megan Whalen Turner; Mel Salisbury; Melanie Rawn; Melissa Scott; Mercedes Lackey; Meredith Ann Pierce; Michaela Roessner; Michelle Paver; Michelle Sagara; Mickey Zucker Reichert; Midori Snyder; Mishell Baker; ML Brennan; Morgan Llywelyn

Nalo Hopkinson; Nancy Asire; Nancy Springer; Naomi Novik; NK Jemisin; Nnedi Okorafor

Octavia Butler

Pamela Dean; Pat Murphy; Patricia Briggs; Patricia C Wrede; Patricia Geary; Patricia McKillip; Paula Brandon*; Paula Volsky; PC Hodgell; Phyllis Ann Karr; PL Travers

RA MacAvoy; Rachel Aaron; Rachel Caine; Rachel Hartman; Rae Carson; Rebecca Levene; RJ Anderson; Roberta Trahan; Robin D Owens; Robin Hobb; Robin McKinley; Rosemary Kirstein; Rowena Cory Daniels

Sabaa Tahir; Sabrina Vourvoulias; Samantha Shannon; Sarah Ash; Sarah Beth Durst; Sarah Douglass; Sarah Hoyt; Sarah J Maas; Sarah Monette; Sarah Pinborough; Sarah Remy; Sarah Silverwood; Sharon Shinn; Sheri S Tepper; Sherwood Smith; Silvia Moreno-Garcia; SL Huang; Sofia Samatar; Sophia McDougall; Stacia Kane; Steph Swainston; Stephenie Meyer; Stina Leicht; Storm Constantine; Susan Cooper; Susan Ee; Susan Palwick; Susan Shwartz; Susanna Clarke; Suzanne Collins; Suzanne Johnson; Suzanne McLeod; Suzanne Palmieri; Suzette Haden Elgin

Tamora Pierce; Tanith Lee; Tanya Huff; Tara Harper; Teresa Edgerton; Teresa Frohock; Terri Windling; TL Morganfield; Tove Jansson; Tricia Sullivan; Trudi Canavan

Ursula K LeGuin

VE Schwab; Veronica Roth; Vicki Ann Heydron; Viola Carr; Violette Malan; Vivian French; Vonda McIntyre

Wen Spencer

Yangtze Choo; Ysabeau S Wilce

Zoe Marriott; Zohra Greenhalgh

Note: entries with * are pen-names; entries in italics have been added since the list was last published

That’s now 336 names, and I’m sure there’s more. Feel free to suggest them in the comments, and I’ll update the list. Please don’t blame me if your to-be-read list expands dramatically.

Feel free not to use the comments to tell me I’m being sexist, or that I shouldn’t have included [X] because they’re self-published, or quibble about the precise definitions of what constitutes fantasy. They identify as women, they write, and the readers who helped crowdsource this list identify at least one of their books as fantasy. That’s good enough for me.

 

Edited To Add: Please note this list is not intended to be exhaustive. For some other excellent resources on this topic, check out the following:

which include some suggested titles for each author. Happy reading!

Women writing fantasy

Fantasy fiction is being feted as never before, trumpets John Mullan in the Guardian and proceeds to laud all the usual suspects: Tolkein, Pratchett, Gaiman and the ‘reigning laureate’ George RR Martin.

Mainstream press coverage for fantasy has got to be good, right?

Wrong, when it’s as unbalanced as this.

You see, despite having a thousand words or so to play with, Mr Mullan forgot to mention that women write fantasy too. Quite a few of them, at that. Here’s a selection:

*takes a deep breath*

God's War coverDiana Wynn Jones, Anne Rice, Mary Gentle, Ursula Le Guin, Robin Hobb (also as Megan Lindholm), Sofia Samatar, NK Jemisin, Octavia Butler, Mary Shelley, Mercedes Lackey, Melanie Rawn, RA MacAvoy, Freda Warrington, Ellen Kushner, Katherine Kurtz, Fiona Miller, Katherine Addison (also as Sarah Monette), Emma Bull, Judith Tarr, Evie Manieri, Helen Lowe, Anne Lyle, Jen Williams, Leigh Bardugo, CL Moore, CS Friedman, Courtney Schafer, Marie Brennan, ML Brennan, Mary Victoria, JK Rowling, Angela Carter, CE Murphy, Lois McMaster Bujold, Nalo Hopkinson, Patricia Briggs, Susan Cooper (no relation!), Kameron Hurley, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Hope Mirrlees, Jacqueline Carey, Silvia Moreno Garcia, Susanna Clarke, Naomi Novik, Samantha Shannon, Suzanne McLeod, Patricia McKillip, Elizabeth Bear, Rebecca Levene, Helene Wecker, Ekaterina Sedia, LA Gilman, Elizabeth Moon, Lucy Hounsom, Sabaa Tahir, Juliet E McKenna, Gail Z Martin, Tanya Huff, Trudi Canavan.

*takes another, even deeper breath*

Mary Stewart, Mary Renault, Madeleine l’Engle, Andre Norton, Liz de Jager, Liesel Schwartz, Gail Carriger, Julian May, CJ Cherryh, Elizabeth Hand, Vonda McIntyre, Leigh Brackett, Jo Walton, PL Travers, Martha Wells, Kate Elliott, Joan Aiken, Robin McKinley, Deborah Harkness, Kari Sperring, Michelle Sagara, Maremperorsknifey Robinette Kowal, Joyce Chng, Malinda Lo, Storm Constantine, Andrea Downum, Clea Simon, Maria Dahvana Headley, Barbara Hambly, Anne Bishop, Teresa Frohock, Mazarkis Williams, Suzanne Collins, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Tanith Lee, Veronica Roth, Jennifer Fallon, VE Schwab, Steph Swainston, Laini Taylor, Susan Ee, Elizabeth May, Karen Lord, Kristen Britten, Sarah J Maas, Aliette de Bodard, Stina Leicht, SL Huang, Sharon Shinn, Betsy Dornbusch, Rachel Aaron, JV Jones, G Willow Wilson, Kristin Cashore, Cindy Pon, Patricia C Wrede, Nnedi Okorafor, Tamora Pierce, Jane Yolen, Margo Lanagan, Sarah Douglass, Alison Croggon, and your humble correspondent.

And that’s just the ones I thought of this morning while I ate my breakfast. Give me the rest of the day and I could probably double that list.

Women write fantasy. Why do we have to keep telling the world this? Why do we have yet another article that implies that the only fantasy worthy of calling out as remarkable is that written by white, straight men?

Seriously, Mr Mullan? Seriously?

Women have been writing fantasy, epic fantasy, fun fantasy, serious fantasy, dark fantasy, for a long, long while. We’re pretty good at it, too, judging by the various Hugos, Nebulas and World Fantasy Awards that women have won. Maybe Mr Mullan should try reading around the subject a bit. There’s lots to choose from.

 

Where in the world . . . ?

Excerpt from original map. . . or why The Wild Hunt doesn’t have a map.

Pick up a fantasy book and you’re almost guaranteed to find a map somewhere upon its person: tucked in behind the flyleaf, gorgeously painted on the endpapers (Wheel of Time hardbacks, anyone?) or even as the outer jacket itself, like those splendid Joe Abercrombie ones.

The map seems to be an accepted – indeed expected – part of the fantasy furniture. Secondary world = must have a map (con-lang pronunciation guide, glossary and cast of characters optional). Some readers even feel faintly cheated if there isn’t one: a dimension to their immersion is missing.

I can completely understand this. Beyond being a visual treat, the map can be useful. In a military fantasy, where battlefield positions and objectives are fundamental to the drama unfolding on the page, it helps to see them laid out. Likewise in books that involve lots of travelling or a desperate race to reach Point X before the bad guys do, it’s fun to follow along on the map. Or maybe the plot revolves around small, peaceful Country Y which shares a border with the vast, acquisitive Evil Empire Z, and the map provides a graphic reminder of the stakes at play. There’s a reason the internet loves infographics so much: a picture really does paint a thousand words.

As for me, I love maps, especially old ones. Topographical maps, ancient place names and the roads that connect them, all these pieces of history under our feet – they have a thousand stories in them. Maps are like a seed catalogue for a storyteller and a worldbuilder like me, who’s a ‘gardener’ writer. I found out the other day that the Ordnance Survey people actually make a Map of Roman Britain, and I want a copy just because Maps! Romans! Awesome!

So it should be fairly obvious that I also love a good fantasy map. These days I’m not so fussed on the ones that appear geologically unlikely, or have only a few scattered settlements separated by large amounts of empty space in which nothing apparently exists but some plot-significant ruins. I prefer maps that show me a living world, one with navigable rivers and sea-ports for trade, a decent highway system, mixed population densities and variable terrain. A world that looks as though it ought to function reasonably well as a place in its own right, utterly independently of the story.

Another extract from the original mapBut what if the action in our fantasy story happens largely in one place, or the travelogue parts of the story are covered in summary rather than exhaustive detail? What if, at that point, the rest of the landscape is just *there*, in the background, doing nothing but keeping two oceans apart and stopping the mountains falling on your head? Does the book really need a map then?

When Songs of the Earth was about to be published, my editor at the time, Jo Fletcher, asked me if there was a map to accompany it. I explained that I’d drawn one mumblety years ago, before the Great Rewrite of 2004 destroyed the geography of the southern and eastern parts of the Empire [note, not Evil Empire Z above] thus rendering the map horribly inaccurate. Besides, it was a whimsical sketch, not to scale, and unrealistically constrained to fit a sheet of A4 paper as that was all I had at the time.

“Anyway, I’m not sure it really needs a map,” I said. “The story starts in the Holy City then fairly briskly moves to the Western Isles, and I’ve skipped over the dull travelling parts.”

Jo was cool with that, and then she left my publisher to start her own imprint. By the time me and my new editor all got in the groove and the question of maps came up again, it was too late to get one drawn up and in place whilst still keeping to the publishing schedule. Never mind, I thought, we can always do one later.

youarehere2Now here we are, three books down, and there’s still no map. Over the last couple of years, I’ve had to field an increasing number of questions in email, on forums and in interviews why this is so. This post is an attempt to answer them. Short version: it’s my fault.

After I decided that the first book didn’t need a map, it wasn’t until much, much later that it dawned on me that the *series as a whole* kinda did. I’d got tunnel vision with Book 2, and of course it was all perfectly clear to me where everything was, so not having a map isn’t that big a deal . . . Yeah. Right.

Now I could just say I’m the writer, it was my decision, so tough bananas, you’re stuck with it, but that sounds rather high-handed. The truth is I was concentrating so hard on writing the story that I lost sight of the fact that many readers like to see where said story is actually happening. I forgot that I’ve been noodling around this Empire place for twenty years, and you all only got here five minutes ago. It’s sort of my duty to make sure you don’t get lost on your way to the Plains of Nothing But Plot-Significant Ruins.

So, I’m sorry. I hope we can still be friends.

Nothing would please me more than to dust off the old Rotring pen and draw a new map (on a bigger sheet of paper!), or invest in some mapping software to play with, but I would probably enjoy that far too much. As some of you might have noticed, I am desperately behind on Book 4. THE DRAGON HOUSE has to be my priority just now, or my editor will glare at me, and I really don’t want that. She has range weapons, you know. She can pick me off from *anywhere*.

Nonetheless it bothers me that I don’t have a proper map to show you the world in which The Wild Hunt Quartet takes place. It bothers me so much that just as soon as I can, I am going to put some effort into making sure there will be a map (and a pronunciation guide, a gazetteer, a glossary, some deleted scenes and a list of characters) even if I have to make a special website on which to put it.

You can hold me to that.

 

Fifty Shades of…

Spotlight on gold number 50

. . . Fantasy, of course. What did you think I was going to say?

There has been much talk of late on teh intertubes concerning the fact that so many “Best of . . .” and “Top 100” lists of fantasy and SF writers are male author-heavy, with many people feeling that female spec fic authors are under-represented, marginalised or downright ignored.

In reaction to this, Amanda Rutter started Fantasy Mistressworks (as a sister to the SF Mistressworks site) and put together the following list of 50 Fantasy Mistressworks, based on suggestions from readers.

Curious, I checked out the list and marked in bold the ones I’d read (italics mean I own the book). Drumroll, please . . .

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Just for kids?

Lord of the Rings cover image“I love when the ‘literary establishment’ ‘discovers’ fantasy” tweeted @DelReySpectra, the American genre publishers, yesterday, linking to an article in the New Yorker.

The article in question, The Dragon’s Egg – high fantasy for young adults was a very well-written piece, articulate and full of gentle humour, so I can see why Adam Gopnik has won the National Magazine Award for his essays, but by the time I got to the end of it I was left with a somewhat bitter aftertaste: a distinct impression that he thinks *all* fantasy is for young adults.

The books with which he chose to illustrate his piece were Lord of the Rings, the Twilight saga, and the Inheritance Cycle. You could almost see the labels “enduring classic”, “for girls” and “for boys” floating over them, saying look at me, look at how balanced I’m being.

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