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Today’s guest is Lisa from Tenacious Reader! This is a great site to visit if you’re interested in fantasy, horror, and/or science fiction; Lisa reviews a variety of books, including audiobooks, and I enjoy reading her take on what she reads. She also started a really fun feature on the last Friday of each month, Dracarys! Backlist Burndown, for reading and reviewing some books that aren’t the latest releases. Lisa is also a contributor to the collaborative book review blog The Speculative Herald.

Tenacious Reader

Celebrate Women Authors Today—Encourage the Female Authors of Tomorrow

A couple of years ago, Julie Crisp wrote an article on representation of women authors in genre called SEXISM IN GENRE PUBLISHING: A PUBLISHER’S PERSPECTIVE. Honestly, this is the article I had been waiting for in response to all the talk of underrepresentation and/or underpromotion of women in the genre. I am not implying they are not underrepresented, at least within certain subgenres, but I like seeing numbers and understanding WHY they are underrepresented. Now a bit of background. When I went to college, my major was 90% male. So when I moved into the workforce I could not expect my employer to have a 50/50 representation of women to men because I could see for myself in school that not as many women were choosing to go into my field. I had always wondered if the same were true for women authors within at least some subgenres of fantasy. We can’t expect a publisher to be able to sign 50% women authors in a particular genre or subgenre when they are not getting the submissions to support that. So, Julie Crisp, who works in publishing, gathered submission statistics for Tor UK and the result was that there was definitely an uneven number of women submitting stories in some areas of Speculative Fiction. Angry Robot later released their own open submission statistics that had a similar trend. For the record, these were the only statistics I could find on submissions. To really understand trends in the market with regard to gender I think you have to understand the trends of who is writing and submitting, not just who is being published. Both of these publishers happen to be in the UK, although I know at least Angry Robot takes submissions and publishes books from authors globally.

You can not deny there is a stark difference seen in the available submission statistics for some of these subgenres. So, what’s the best way to get more girls interested in growing up to write speculative fiction? Celebrate women authors in this area, get their names out there and get more of an audience. I think getting more women authors in the spotlight so they can be wider read and seen as examples and role models can have an impact in regards to any gender bias. I decided to take the subgenres with lower female submissions according to these lists and highlight a few of my favorite female authors.

I know this is not a comprehensive list, and I know some of the authors are already fairly well known, but for one thing I still have many books to read! So I highly encourage you to share the authors you feel should make a list like this. They all deserve to be celebrated and recognized. The more women that become widely read by both genders within the genre and across its subgenres, perhaps the more we may inspire girls to become readers and future writers.

I think everyone should read what they enjoy! Take whatever the stereotypical expectations based on gender are and throw them out. Embrace what you love, and also remember to help support the women who share not just your love for reading in genre, but also spend the time and effort to write stories of their own to share with the world.


Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey Miserere: An Autumn Tale by Teresa Frohock

Robin Hobb – Any list I create of favorite authors is going to have to feature Robin Hobb at the top of the list. Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series is comprised of a number of shorter series. It takes the reader on a number of fantastical (and emotional) adventures. I think Hobb has maybe caused the most heartbreak as well as the most excitement for me as a reader. If reading is an addiction, Hobb is my vice. I absolutely adore her books, even though (or maybe because?) they are an emotional rollercoaster. Any fans of epic fantasy that have not read Hobb really need to get a copy of Assassin’s Apprentice and read her for yourself. She is hardly an unknown or obscure author in the genre, but her fame and success is highly deserved and should continue. I just could not make a list and not include her.

Erin Lindsey – Lindsey’s Bloodbound is an incredibly fun and addictive series that reminds me why I love to read the genre. Another thing I love about Lindsey’s books is that women are clearly equals in the society in every way, to the point that it is not discussed or brought up. It is a portrayal where women are afforded equal opportunities and respect in what we might consider non-traditional roles for women.

Teresa Frohock – Any fans of dark fantasy that think women don’t write in that subgenre absolutely must read Frohock. Her books are dark, imaginative and full of magic and definite shades of grey. She also does an amazing job of packing in so much you leave the book with a broader picture of the world and character than seem like should have fit in the pages.


The Three by Sarah Lotz Day Four by Sarah Lotz Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Sarah Lotz – Lotz blew me away with The Three. I was fascinated with both the story as well as how it was told. For those not familiar, it is pieced together with various journals, articles and social media, very much mimicking how we currently follow actual news stories today. When Day Four came out, I was very curious if it would be told in the same manner, wondering if it was, if the uniqueness would wear off, or feel like a gimmick. And if it was not, would the story be as strong? Day Four is told in a more traditional manner, and it is incredibly well done. I absolutely love and highly recommend both of these books (just don’t read Day Four right before getting on a cruise. Seriously, don’t do it.)

Lauren Beukes – Beukes’ works are ones that are hard to force into any specific genre box. Honestly, I think there could be an argument made for fantasy or science fiction as well, but when it comes down to it, it is the emotional and atmospheric elements that I love most about her works. And for this, I will place it in horror. For any fans of Joe Hill, I always recommend Lauren Beukes.


Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie The Heart Goes Lastby Margaret Atwood The Long Way To a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Ann Leckie – Leckie’s Imperial Radch series has garnered a good deal of attention and awards. All of which are earned. It is a series that forces you to look at your own gender assumptions and expectations, and in addition, it also tells an exciting and intriguing story. I loved the hive mind AI concepts in this series and feel that aspect has been a bit overshadowed by the buzz about gender. Highly recommend it.

Margaret Atwood – I know, I know. Everyone has heard of Atwood. Half of us probably had to read Handmaid’s Tale in high school. But, I hate to admit, even though I enjoyed Handmaid’s Tale, I never read more of her books until this past year. The Heart Goes Last was brilliant and insightful and surprisingly funny (in a dark sort of way that I love). I personally need to go back and explore more of the books she has written, and encourage others to read her as well.

Becky Chambers – I have not read that many space operas, but Chamber’s A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet makes me question why. It was a wonderful examination of diversity, acceptance and expectations, the issues with passing judgements on others. It is an incredibly fun book, but it is in no way shallow; it is insightful and has a wonderful commentary on cultural differences and acceptance of others. Highly recommend.