It's a great time for girls in fantasy, both as readers and fictional characters, and, for women, as writers. I myself couldn't be happier as a reader. But I can't celebrate this wholeheartedly, because I'm bothered by thought that great women writers might be being dissuaded (actively by others, or unconsciously, by subtle societal expectations and assumptions) from writing adult sff, leaving that a male-dominated field.
At Laini Taylor's blog, Grow Wings, where she was sharing the news of her upcoming YA fantasy (which sounds wonderful!) I was struck by this quote from the Publishers Weekly's announcement "[Little Brown Books for Young Readers] is promising a significant marketing push for the title, which it believes will have crossover appeal to adults." If she were a guy, would her book have been marketed straight to grown-ups?
Aside from redressing gender imbalances in adult sff on behalf of women everywhere, is there any reason to want to be shelved in the adult section??? The book would be more likely to win the Hugo or Nebula, and more likely to be read by men. But are there other advantages to the author? Do books by women in fact find a larger readership of both genders when they are marketed as adult books? And these questions add up to the big question I'm asking myself, and anyone else who cares to answer--does it matter if great women authors of sff are being published as YA and not as adult? Will the great books have staying power, no matter where they are shelved?
I have a second, subsidiary question--If a woman starts writing children's and YA sff, and develops a significant reputation in that sub-genre, is it hard, if not impossible, to be published as adult later on? Harder than for a man in the same circumstances? (Eoin Colfer seems to be doing it without a problem).
Edited to add:
And here are the finalists of this year's John W. Campbell Award (a very prestigious award, chosen by committee, honoring "the best science-fiction novel of the year"):
- The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood (Talese)
- The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)
- Transition, Iain M. Banks (Orbit)
- Makers, Cory Doctorow (Tor)
- Steal Across the Sky, Nancy Kress (Tor)
- Gardens of the Sun, Paul McAuley (Pyr)
- The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey)
- Yellow Blue Tibia, Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
- Galileo’s Dream, Kim Stanley Robinson (Ballantine Spectra)
- WWW: Wake, Robert J. Sawyer (Ace; Gollancz)
- The Caryatids, Bruce Sterling (Del Rey)
- Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America, Robert Charles Wilson (Tor)
(thanks to Science Fiction Awards Watch for the heads up)