I had heard another blogger mention there seemed to be a decline in new fantasy fiction writers and it got me thinking. Off the top of my head I can name Anne Bishop and Kate Elliott as being fine women fantasy fiction writers… but then they have been around a bit. After I thought about I realized he is quite right. I could not name a recent woman writer in the genre that is seen as a great writer in the field and all the new stars have been men. I have come across women authors, since I pretty much raid the book store on a regular basis and anything new and sparkly is snapped up in moments. Yet, it does seem the woman side of things is lagging. As a writer who just happens to be a woman, I rather do not like the trend. But you have to wonder as to the reason for it.
Maybe it is simply that women who like the fantasy genre do not necessarily stick to classic hero type fantasies. Maybe because they tend to be about some poor young farmboy who ends up saving the world. A popular theme but maybe one that does not appeal to the female writer. As such, there may be less to choose from or publishers less inclined to pick them up if they stray too far from the normal fantasy formulas. It could be there are more woman writers branching into different fantasy genres and that these have a great deal less marketing appealing than a classic trillogy or ten book series. Somtimes that works. Jacqueline Carey and her Kushiel series is pretty far from normal formulas of the art, but a damn good series.
There has been a marked increase in woman writers in the urban fantasy genre. Again, maybe because the genre is dominated by stories with strong female characters and thus appeal to a female audience and thus highly marketable. Some of those novels are kick ass. They appeal to women on so many levels it is hard not to consume them like chocolate. In fact, I do not even bother resisting the temptation, where with chocolate at least I have some restraint. First, strong female character. I am woman hear me *rawr* characters. They have the same flaws and fears as all women, but they kick butt and take no sass from anyone. Second, they usually have an alpha male relationship, which whether it works or not, totally hits the female vibe again. We are woman, we can have dominate men without being dominated. Third, they take place in an urban, our world setting that we can related to, but with a whole lot of fun supernatural stuff for us fantasy lovers. That sub-genre is flourishing and so a publisher would be more inclined to take on a new writer within it.
So maybe it comes down to what woman writers are writing, and how marketable it is and the likelihood of a publisher picking them up. I think a new female writer would have a greater chance being published in urban fantasy or dark fantasy, than in heroic or swords and sorcery fantasy.
Which makes me depressed now. I tend to write straight up fantasy. I have strayed into urban fantasy and like it as well. I would like to be published in both, if I get the chance to be published at all. But who is to say what is causing that sort of sad trend. Could be the next Robert Jordan (who really when you talk about fantasy he is king) could be a woman.