Nancy: Female Isn’t a Genre, Except When It Is

Kate Bush captured this photo of an exciting new genre! that is so NOT a genre.

Kate Bush captured this photo of an exciting new genre! that is so NOT a genre.

A few weeks ago, this bit of news hit the twitterverse, in which musician Kate Nash called out a record shop for categorizing widely disparate music by one unifying characteristic: being made by possessors of vaginas. I shouldn’t have been so shocked to learn of a whole store selling vinyl records (those crazy, retro millennials are no doubt driving this trend). I wish I had been more shocked that said store had reduced a collection of such wide and varied artists to the not-a-genre genre of ‘females of all description’.

This incident brought my own thinking back to a subject I’ve been pondering over the past few years: that of Women’s Fiction. As regular 8LW readers might know, one of the writing tribes I proudly claim is that of WF writers. The manuscript I wrote for our Jennifer Crusie-taught McDaniel writing program was a WF story (with an ever-changing title) that has three women friends at its core. I have plans for two more books that I would categorize as WF, and another that might be more mainstream/general than women’s fiction, because it includes male POV characters, but that I still might consider WF because one of the female POV characters is really at the heart of the story. I belong to WFWA, have pitched my manuscript as WF, and plan to continue doing so.

But should I? Should I be so quick to align to a ‘catch-all’ genre about the female experience, with books written primarily by women? While I have sought out the camaraderie and intelligence of these fellow writers and have enjoyed being in a creative space that embraces the feminine and celebrates a female view of the world, have I been too quick to overlook the built-in bias that attaches to my work by being dropped into what, on its surface, appears to be a default category? Am I, despite my own yearning for gender parity and inclusiveness, hanging a ‘no boys allowed’ sign on my books? Continue reading

Michaeline Recommends: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

A stylish woman sailing on a lake in the mountains.

The future of Sergyar!

Lois McMaster Bujold’s new book, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, was released on February 2, and when I checked just now, it was #11 in Space Operas on the Amazon rankings chart, and #18 in Adventures –> Science Fiction. (find the links here on GJ&RQ’s Amazon page; BTW, the rankings listed didn’t jive with the links) (Don’t put too much trust in these figures; they change hourly, and are sure to be different by the time you read this. At any rate, hooray for book number 17 in the Vorkosigan Saga!)

Studying this release is interesting from several angles. First of all, it’s a great book from the fan perspective (it ties up a lot of loose ends in surprising ways), and it’s also accessible to the first-time reader. (Bujold blogs about it – a long-time concern is that she’s afraid fans are scaring off new readers by saying, “Oh, you really need to read all 15, 16, 17 books in order to really appreciate this one.” Here on her Goodreads blog, she links to proof that it’s not so.)

Second, Continue reading