Comments on: The Representation of Women in Fantasy: What’s the Problem? – a guest post by author Juliet E McKenna /2011/08/15/the-representation-of-women-in-fantasy-whats-the-problem-a-guest-post-by-author-juliet-e-mckenna/ A feminist pop culture adventure Tue, 28 Nov 2017 17:04:47 +0000 hourly 1 By: In a Feminist Fantasy World… – Reflecting Diversity Within Feminist Thought and Social Justice Issues /2011/08/15/the-representation-of-women-in-fantasy-whats-the-problem-a-guest-post-by-author-juliet-e-mckenna/#comment-489892 Tue, 28 Nov 2017 17:04:47 +0000 […] idea of women being misrepresented in fantasy isn’t a new idea. Juliet McKenna wrote a great piece on the roles that women in fantasy novels usually play. Some of these roles include (to briefly […]

By: Brittany /2011/08/15/the-representation-of-women-in-fantasy-whats-the-problem-a-guest-post-by-author-juliet-e-mckenna/#comment-447654 Thu, 09 Apr 2015 19:02:53 +0000 I admire your article and strongly agree! I just reread Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, and found it to be a wonderful twist on the traditional hero. It was nice to read a fantasy novel written by a male, where the protagonist is a woman who sets out on a quest, defends herself (against the red bull), and in the end is her own hero!

By: Margaret Buffie /2011/08/15/the-representation-of-women-in-fantasy-whats-the-problem-a-guest-post-by-author-juliet-e-mckenna/#comment-1654 Fri, 25 May 2012 15:17:41 +0000 I am a Canadian writer of YA fiction. I have written 10 novels of which more than half are supernatural/time slip stories. Right from the beginning of my writing — with the publication of “Who is Frances Rain?” all my main characters are young women.

I wrote three fantasy novels that were published between 2000 and 2004. “The Watcher’s Quest” trilogy is made up of “The Watcher”, “The Seeker”, and “The Finder” in that order. My character Emma Sweeney is the central character in all three books. She is helped by male and female characters, but she is the one who has the most at stake in the stories and this drives her to be the leader of her motley crew.

All three books received excellent reviews in Kliatt, Kirkus, School Library Journal, Canadian Materials, Booklist, Voya, Quill and Quire, Children’s Literature, many newspapers such as The National Post and numerous USA and Canadian review sources and each won a number of awards and honours.

It was suggested at one point in the early stages of writing that I might consider changing Emma to a male character which I dismissed. I get as much mail for male teens as I do female, from this series, possibly because Emma’s closest friend is a strong male character. However, there is no question that Emma is the one who is a central force in this trilogy.

Here are comments about my books that will give you an idea how they have been received.

“Strong themes of the necessity of discovering one’s own identity and persisting in the face of danger and defeat dominate this novel.” Canadian Materials

“…this story will appeal to readers of Franny Billingsley’s The Folk Keeper (Atheneum, 1999) and will entertain fans of the genre. While a familiarity with Celtic myths is not necessary to enjoy the story, those who know the tales will delight in finding fresh interpretations of characters rarely brought to life in children’s literature.” School Library Journal
“Buffie invents beautifully imagined worlds, exquisite villains and a cast of delightfully improbable quest companions.” Quill and Quire

“Suddenly, Emma is shuttling between her world and another, where two moons hang in the sky and overheard conspirators discuss a Game, and a Child, in chilling terms. Emma slowly pieces the puzzle together, identifying the Game’s powerful Players, figuring out the Rules, and discovering her role—and Summer’s too. As it turns out, they are both “Pithwitchen,” changelings sent to replace dead human newborns, and Summer is heir to a throne in that other place. From ominous beginning to tense climax, this page-turner, reminiscent in ways both of William Sleator’s Interstellar Pig (1984) and Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s Moorchild (1996), will keep readers guessing—and as the Game ends in a draw, they’ll be set up for sequels, too.” KIRKUS Reviews

“(There are) games with often outrageous rules, and players with roles hardly known even to themselves. In some ways, It feels like Lewis Carroll with the Queen of Hearts in full control. Like Alice, Emma is confused and distressed, but Buffie shows that Emma and even her family never really escape the rabbit hole. From a world centered on humans in the opening chapter, Buffie skillfully navigates step by step from the solid ground of a world governed by gravity and expected behavior and understanding, to an existence where Emma can’t separate dreams from reality. Taking her fantasy from Norse and Anglo-saxon mythology, Buffie adroitly conjures up this confusing world going back and forth from worldly adventure and fright to supernatural powers.” The National Post

The way I look at it, a strong female character was simply the only choice for me in all my novels.

By: Weekend Reading: Women in Science Fiction & Fantasy — A Dribble of Ink /2011/08/15/the-representation-of-women-in-fantasy-whats-the-problem-a-guest-post-by-author-juliet-e-mckenna/#comment-1653 Sat, 14 Apr 2012 17:48:37 +0000 […] The Representation of Women in Fantasy: What’s the Problem? by Juliet E. McKenna […]

By: Line Trasborg /2011/08/15/the-representation-of-women-in-fantasy-whats-the-problem-a-guest-post-by-author-juliet-e-mckenna/#comment-1652 Tue, 07 Feb 2012 17:52:45 +0000 In reply to Carole McDonnell.

I think you’re the only one that is really putting forth a strong point here.

The problem is not how oh so oppressed we white women want to feel but how little diversity is actually present in most modern fantasy litterature.

The rest of you white women might feel you have a problem when in reality you do not realise what the problem really is. Hint: You are not the center of the world.

By: Women in Fantasy Literature | Senior Seminar /2011/08/15/the-representation-of-women-in-fantasy-whats-the-problem-a-guest-post-by-author-juliet-e-mckenna/#comment-1651 Sun, 05 Feb 2012 05:38:50 +0000 […] Juliet E. McKenna, Blood in the Water.… […]

By: Writing Off Female Characters: Pink Bows and Knee Jerk Reactions | Hayley E. Lavik – Fantasy Author /2011/08/15/the-representation-of-women-in-fantasy-whats-the-problem-a-guest-post-by-author-juliet-e-mckenna/#comment-1650 Wed, 07 Dec 2011 07:47:40 +0000 […]  a recent post on the representation of women in fantasy, Juliet McKenna approaches a lot of the knee-jerk characterizations in fantasy. Read the whole […]

By: Rachael /2011/08/15/the-representation-of-women-in-fantasy-whats-the-problem-a-guest-post-by-author-juliet-e-mckenna/#comment-1649 Mon, 28 Nov 2011 16:52:27 +0000 Oh, how I agree with you! When I first started reading voraciously, the first genre I came to was fantasy. I could never quite put my 12 year old mind into that of a man main character. That’s all I found, though. I read all the fantasy in both adult and children that had women as main characters in a couple months after moving to a new state.

It was really disheartening. I eventually picked up the romance genre because I just couldn’t get into male main characters at that age (and don’t get me started on male “magic wands”.) I never understood why there was so few. There are enough women writers out there getting published. So why are there so few?

When we do find a good female writer (such as Susan Cooper), the women/girls they write are horrid. Darkness Rising is a good series but I don’t think I can forgive Susan Cooper for making the *one* female character that has any real importance a complete idiot.

Now all we get is soft core porn in the variety of sparkly vampires and half blooded elven princesses or goddesses. Bleh. But it is nice to know I’m not alone in this sentiment.

By: Maureen /2011/08/15/the-representation-of-women-in-fantasy-whats-the-problem-a-guest-post-by-author-juliet-e-mckenna/#comment-1648 Mon, 10 Oct 2011 19:13:50 +0000 > I really do not want my teenage sons unconsciously absorbing notions of male privilege and entitlement in stories where a woman’s importance is always defined by who she might choose to sleep with, or better yet, save her precious virginity for.

Agreed! I’ve also seen a dearth of mothers in fantasy — why are all the women single and kid-less? My own novel, NIGHTWORLD, puts a mother front and center as the central POV.


By: Elizabeth Moon /2011/08/15/the-representation-of-women-in-fantasy-whats-the-problem-a-guest-post-by-author-juliet-e-mckenna/#comment-1647 Sat, 24 Sep 2011 06:22:15 +0000 In reply to cedunkley.

I have known a few women who felt it was a sound feminist position not to read books by men (note: I’m not saying this is a standard feminist position–I’m saying I’ve known a FEW women like this.) However–and just in my own experience–there’s a higher percentage of men-reading-SF/F who don’t read books by women than women-reading-SF/F who don’t read books by men. My samples aren’t big enough to make any firm conclusion. I think there are suggestions that it’s true, in the fewer books by women reviewed…the fewer books by women on “best of” lists…the (to my mind) shallower reviews of women’s books written by male reviewers (different criteria for reviewing)…that sort of thing.