Monday, 20 October 2014

Formative Images of a "Writer"

Kameron Hurley has written an excellent article over at Fantasy Magazine, at
She's talking mostly about women writers and epic fantasy, but she also talks about how people form images of "cheese" or "police officer" or "nurse" from their earliest exposures to those things, and thereafter, everything cheese-like has to be measured against that first experience of cheese to see if it fits.
So, her first experiences of writers were of white men, and this affected how she thought about writers for a long time.
Which got me thinking.
I never had the thought that I couldn't be a proper writer because I was female, because most of the writers I became aware of as a child were female. Enid Blyton was a massive influence - as a child, I desperately wanted to be George from the Famous Five, and go camping in the woods with my faithful dog. I didn't have a faithful dog until much later in life, but George's dog Timmy was the reason I always wanted one.
Later, I discovered historical fiction through the medium of Rosemary Sutcliff, and to a lesser extent through Henry Treece and Geoffrey Trease - so I was aware that men wrote books, but I wasn't excluded because women wrote books too. The other great favourites of my early teenage years were Mary Renault and Mary Stewart.
As a Star Trek fan, I was aware early on that DC Fontana's first name was Dorothy, and that she had written two of my favourite episodes, Friday's Child and Journey to Babel. So women could clearly write good science fiction. Among all the Asimov and Clarke and Zelazny and Silverberg, there was also Ursula Le Guin and Marion Zimmer Bradley and CJ Cherryh and Anne McCaffrey. And fantasy didn't just mean Tolkein and his many imitators, it meant Joy Chant's Red Moon and Black Mountain, too, and Gillian Bradshaw and Mary Gentle and Andre Norton.
Which makes it strange to me that a new generation of readers seem to be unaware of the women writers who have always been there in SF and fantasy, and who inspired me to write.

No comments:

Post a Comment