Older women in fantasy novels

I’m planning a sequel to my current fantasy novel, and its going to have a more diverse cast. Older women will definitely feature. Here are some of the things I’m thinking and worrying about.

You might think from the title of this post that I’m about to take you on an intellectual exploration of the roles and representation of older women in the fantasy genre. Or you might know me and expect nothing of the sort.

I don’t study literature, but I read, look, and think, and occasionally I have enough thoughts about a topic that I want to share them.

Or I realise it’s 5:30pm and I’m supposed to write a blog post tonight, and I have no idea what I’m going to write about.

Let’s agree I have no good reason to write about this topic, but that I’m going to do it anyway.

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Dragons from Micah with love**

Micah Chaim Thomas (Writer. Artist. Difficult to explain.) honoured me with some dragon art loosely inspired by my fantasy novel in progress.

** Yes, I added the “love” part, but giving a person a dragon is a form of love, so I don’t apologise.

The talented and enigmatic Micah Chaim Thomas (@micah_chaim on Twitter) recently deemed me worthy of receiving dragons from him. I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to deserve this honour (since I don’t have a dog).

The first challenge was to explain the dragons in my book without having to share my first draft prose. (Yes, I know I’m on the tenth draft, but I rewrote so much that most of the scenes aren’t.)

Big, scaly, wings, claws. They’re not evil, but they’re not fond of humans. And they have oppressive minds. You meet a dragon and you want to worship it.

Somewhere in the middle of explaining I got an effusive “yes!”.

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Lessons from my trunk novels

I’ve written trunk novels that should be kept from the world for its own good. Doesn’t mean I can’t read them, laugh, and maybe learn something.

I expect most people who write long enough end up with a collection of novels (or pieces of novels) that will never see the light of day. I have.

I love my trunk novels. I love how cringeworthy the earlier ones are, full of purple prose, plotless plots, nonsensical worlds, and blatant plagiarism from my favourite authors.

I love the progression of goals: save the village, save the kingdom, save the world. Because what else could the goals possibly be?

And there are so many Mary Sues.

Golden Horse Summer

It’s a fantasy novel so there has to be a magic sword. I know! I’ll have them find one lying by the side of the road, because that makes sense. And the sword’s purple. Come to think of it, the main character’s eyes are purple too.

Purple is the best colour.

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The kind of book I love to read and want to write

I describe my ideal book–a high fantasy novel that takes me on an emotional journey–and offer to beta read for you if you wrote it. Or if you’re nice.

When friends in real life ask me what kind of books I write, I tell them “fantasy with dragons”. This has the benefit of being a) true and b) uninformative.

What? Not all books have dragons?

The short answer is that I write the kinds of books I most like to read. (Doesn’t everyone?)

Here’s the long answer about what I love to read and try to write.

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The horror of Year One by Nora Roberts

Sebastian and Rain read Year One by Nora Roberts and were horrified to discover she managed to make the end of the world boring.

Sebastian: You forced us to read Year One by Nora Roberts. What do you have to say for yourself?

Rain: I’m so sorry! I honestly thought it was going to be good. She’s so famous, the description was enticing, and it has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon with 770 reviews.

Sebastian: I want to explain why it was so bad but I don’t know where to start.

Rain: You could start with the writing.

Sebastian: You thought the writing was bad? Then it must have been dreadful.

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