One thing that I think we can all agree on, I’m sure, is that until recent years women have been very under-represented in fantasy. Take Tolkien’s The Hobbit, for example. How many female characters have major roles in comparison to those of men? The character of Tauriel was written into Peter Jackson’s film adaptation so there was actually a woman in it. Tolkien’s works are some of my favourite works of all time, as I grew up with them, but I’m not ignorant of the problems they have. I do also understand, however, that given the time he was writing, this was far from unusual.
That being said, I decided that I wanted to delve deeper into discovering how authors go about writing female characters in fantasy fiction by creating a panel of authors that I would hear from on the subject. I thought for this I would include four of the most influential female fantasy authors of the modern day, who happen to represent three sub-categories of the genre – urban fantasy, high fantasy and, well, Harry Potter. Side note: I am aware that there are so many groups that fantasy fails to represent, with women being just one of many. I am also aware of the lack of diversity in my panel choices – consider this a note to myself that I need to start diversifying the pool of fantasy authors that I read from.
I would also like to credit Eventbrite, an online platform for planning, promoting and selling event tickets, for inspiring me to create my dream panel of authors; I absolutely loved writing this! You can check out their online registration page here to begin creating your own event – I have been to a work experience day and a university open day organised through them before and both were smooth sailing!
There could only be one answer to this for me. Women in fantasy? It has to be Felicia Day, creator of web series The Guild, author of You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) (which I highly recommend you read), actor and all-round advocate for women’s roles in fantasy. It’s usually the case that panels only work if the moderator is highly engaged and knowledgeable about the subject content, so I genuinely cannot think of anyone better.
Cassandra Clare (The Shadowhunter Chronicles), Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass, A Court of Thorns and Roses), Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms) and J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter)
1) Before you began writing fantasy yourself, did you ever feel that women were being under-represented in the genre?
2) Was it a conscious decision when writing that you specifically wanted to include strong female characters, or did it just happen naturally?
3) What is your viewpoint on romance in fantasy novels? Do you find that it helps or hinders the development of your characters?
4) It’s becoming particularly noticeable that in recent years there has been a great and continuing demand to see the portrayal of strong female friendships. Is that something that was a priority for you?
5) Where do you draw inspiration from, and who are some authors that you are influenced by?
6) Are any of your female characters based on people in your life, or are they completely original?
7) To close: If you were in a fantasy novel, what would your weapon of choice be?
I hope that you have enjoyed reading about how my dream author panel would be made up. I did not know how much I needed this panel to become a reality until I really started getting into this post! I’m fascinated to hear other people’s ideas, though. What do you want to see more of in fantasy fiction? Who would be on your dream panel? What would the subject of the panel be? Let me know in the comments!