Sleeps With Monsters: Kari Sperring Answers Five Questions

Here at

KS: I love to read—writing is a bit more conflicted, as some days it will turn into treacle-mining—and I love to learn, so for me, SFF is all about exploration, about looking for the different, the alternative, the Other. As a reader I love to be challenged, to be made to think about the ways I’ve been taught and the things I know and to re-frame and question them. Like a lot of people around my age, my introduction to SF was via the juvenile novels of Heinlein and Andre Norton and what grabbed me was the sense of finding myself somewhere that seemed utterly new and strange. I particularly loved the Andre Norton novels in which her characters found themselves literally living the lives of aliens and to this day, I read to get outside myself.

Linky would rather be somewhere warmer

Kari Sperring, “Why I started #womentoread” (#womentoread):

Last week, [Juliet E. McKenna and I] found ourselves in a major branch of a major UK book-chain in Oxford and noticed a promo table for fantasy. We’re both fantasy authors, we took a look. The theme was clearly ‘If you like George R R Martin, try this”. It was a table about 4 foot x 4 foot square, piled high with fantasy. Great.

Except… all but three of the writers represented were men. And of the remaining 3 — the women — two were not epic fantasy writers but established Big Name Bestsellers — Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins and the books by them on that table were both sf. That’s fine. I love sf by women. But those two books — The Host and The Hunger Games weren’t there because they were ‘like’ A Game of Thrones; they were there because they’re already bestsellers in a related field. The other women present was an epic fantasy author and a good one — Robin Hobb. Who has a gender-neutral name.

I’m not saying the men on that table aren’t good: there were some excellent books there, by excellent writers. There were also books by men I’ve never heard of, which are quite probably also excellent books. But the overall impression was ‘This is A Man’s World’. Jules and I started making a list of who was *not* on that table, of women who are epic fantasy writers and published in the UK.

Kate Elliott
Judith Tarr
Freda Warrington
Gail Z Martin
Trudy Canavan
Karen Miller/K E Mills
Glenda Larke
Cecilia Dart-Thornton
Gaie Sebold
Juliet E McKenna
Tanith Lee
Amanda Downum

That was in about a minute.

Amanda Filpacchi in the NYT, “Wikipedia’s Sexism Towards Female Novelists”:

The intention appears to be to create a list of “American Novelists” on Wikipedia that is made up almost entirely of men. The category lists 3,837 authors, and the first few hundred of them are mainly men. The explanation at the top of the page is that the list of “American Novelists” is too long, and therefore the novelists have to be put in subcategories whenever possible.

Too bad there isn’t a subcategory for “American Men Novelists.”

People who go to Wikipedia to get ideas for whom to hire, or honor, or read, and look at that list of “American Novelists” for inspiration, might not even notice that the first page of it includes far more men than women. They might simply use that list without thinking twice about it. It’s probably small, easily fixable things like this that make it harder and slower for women to gain equality in the literary world.

The Border House Blog, “All Skulls On: Teaching Intersectionality Through Halo”:

The Halo Station’s primary purpose was to function as an engaging, interactive metaphor for students to think about privilege, oppression and intersectionality. I wanted the Casual Halo: Reach players to experience the seductive privilege of triumphantly moving through space as obstacles practically eliminated themselves. And I wanted the Legendary Halo: CE players to tacitly feel the compounding effects of intersecting forms of oppression. Beyond this basic metaphor, however, the activity produced three notable teachable moments.

Donna at Radish Reviews on “The Genre Dance”:

To give you another example, Dorothy L. Sayers subtitled her final Peter and Harriet novel, Busman’s Honeymoon, “a love story with detective interruptions.” But here’s the thing: Peter and Harriet have had a rocky 5 year courtship for a variety of reasons. When they finally do marry, there are adjustments to be made and they have to make them, to figure out how to live with each other without making the other one a lesser person. It all starts out as playing houses for them, until a murder interrupts their honeymoon. And wisely, that’s where Sayers laid her conflict—at the heart of their relationship, their working as a team, their varying attitudes toward their responsibilities for the people involved in the death of a not very likeable man. Without the mystery, there would be no conflict—they’d just continue to play house. She uses the genre to get to the very core of her characters, just as Bujold uses her genre to get to the center of all of hers. But A Civil Campaign is not “A love story with science fiction interruptions” any more than Busman’s Honeymoon is really “a love story with detective interruptions”. You can’t cherry pick them out of their home genre because that genre is what shapes the romance.