#womenwritefantasy

You know when you read stuff in a reputable newspaper and everyone gets very cross and  starts a new hashtag and then a few days later it all just Goes Away Like it Never Happened?

That.

The offending article is here:  http://gu.com/p/477kp/stw

And the hashtag in response

#womenwritefantasy

I think this particularly got to me because without women fantasy writers I would not have been a reader, much less a writer. Millions of young adults in the post Harry Potter era owe the same debt to JK Rowling.

So in the spirit of celebration I would like to thank women who write fantasy.

Realistic fiction is great. But as my son recently said (verbatim) as I tried to interest him in a worthy Carnegie shortlisted title: Mum, you know I hate boring real life books about real things that happen to real people! Apple, tree and all that.

In my dull, dismal suburban ’70s British childhood, food was awful, racism was rife and TV rubbish. Real life was composed of money worries, fear and stress. DVD players, computer games (and indeed computers) were unheard of and the cinema was a school holidays only treat.

Who wouldn’t seek escape? I invented stories on walks home from school (alone-it was the seventies) about the family that lived in a faux-Gothic apartment block or the wild, carousing fairies that clustered in the rose-bushes of neat suburban plots.

Charmed_Life 0965846865.1.zoom

Outwardly I went to school, learned to write and do sums, skipped and played rounders (actually-I never really learned to play rounders) in jump-suits and maxi dresses like any other kid.

But REAL life went on somewhere else–in my head. I never wrote my stories down. I didn’t tell anyone about them.

A reader before I started school, the only people who not only understood, but fired my real, inner life, people with whom I was constantly engaged in dialogue were that under-estimated species, women writers of children’s fantasy.

I began with Enid Blyton and The Magic Faraway Tree and moved swiftly on, via that other denigrated institution, the local library, to E Nesbit, then the wilder delights of Joan Aiken, Susan Cooper and most of all, the immortal Diana Wynne Jones. I recently reread Charmed Life and was thrilled again by its sheer, wicked inventiveness.

I time-travelled with Penelope Farmer in Charlotte Sometimes and Alison Uttley ( A Traveller in Time).

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I discovered, via the glamour of American cousins, the space travelling delights of Madeline L’Engle and Ursula Le Guin. I tried to read the Hobbit once, aged 9 and hated it. Tolkein took it all so SERIOUSLY. And those silly names. Plus, more importantly, WHERE were the girls???

And now having come full circle, I write (for children and adults), run a children’s reading group and read, read read. I want to add so many more names.

Frances Hardinge is a true original. I’m reading Gullstruck Island and am blown away, once again by her wit, wonder and inventiveness.

Ysabeau Wilce and Flora Segunda-probably the best modern fantasy heroine in children’s literature.

Franny Billingsley with The Folk Keeper, who writes so beautifully you want to reread every sentence.

The wonderful Holly Black whose Doll Bones is that rare thing, an utterly perfect middle grade book.

The hugely talented Karen Foxlee, Anne Ursu, Sage Blackwood, Emma Trevayne, Kate Milford. Megan Whalen Turner and Kristin Cashore, all of whom I’ve only discovered in the last couple of years.

Queens of the short story Margo Lanagan and Kelly Link.

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And twin godmothers of the fractured and retold fairy tale: Angela Carter and Marina Warner (who between them, frankly, got me through my twenties)

Thank you, all of you.

If we wish hard enough, perhaps we can arrange for that particular Guardian critic to be eaten by a large, fierce and fictional dragon. Scary_Dragon_by_VeVe_350Z

via http://veve-350z.deviantart.com

About g.r.del

reading, writing and the rest. @storyvilled on twitter.
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