One of my favorite things in the world right now is the growing awareness of female writers in genres that have been dominated by men for as far back as books have been getting published. In fact, it’s one of the reasons that I embraced alternative publishing right from the beginning.
In the “traditional publishing” world, what gets published is decided by a small group of people, traditionally older white men, so it’s no surprise that they gravitate toward male writers who write male characters in worlds populated mostly by men and women who are there mostly to serve as a love interest or sex object.
But today, with all kinds of self-publishing and hybrid publishing options opening up, plus the appearance of more and more small and niche publishing companies, women are finding ways to get their voices heard. So far this year I’ve read something like 10 books (I’m woefully behind due to writing obligations), and a full 7 of those have been written by women.
Most exciting for me is the growing abundance of women authors writing female characters in worlds of sci-fi and fantasy, bringing characters to life that are all the varied things women can be, and building diversity into the worlds they create. I’ve long turned to science fiction for normalizing the unusual, and now it is stepping beyond the science fiction that I first learned about things like homosexuality, group marriage, alternative religions and other things I hadn’t been exposed to, and showing some real inclusivity.
Women of color are emerging as authors as well as characters. Old, tired stories are getting pushed aside for some exciting and new tales that are refreshing, challenging, that press our sense of self to the side to experience a sense of someone else, and it’s these books that I find myself wanting to set aside the daily grind for. My commute is far more than a train ride from the East Bay into San Francisco when I dig for my bookmark and immerse myself in an alternative time line or a space empire or a fantasy land where magic flows.
I’m currently reading The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin. It’s challenging, and it took me a bit to connect to her changing narrative, but on page 69, I’m hooked in and find myself wishing the train ride took a little longer.
I found this book on a reading list of women writing women in sci-fi and fantasy, as part of a conference I’m going to in October. I’m looking forward to finding myself in a group of women who write, who read.
Got a suggestion for a good book from a female author? Drop a note in the comments so I can add it to my reading list.