Tag Archive | anne bishop

Keep your mitts off my books!

There’s been a ration of poo slung around this spring/summer regarding women in fantasy fiction and, more recently even romance. I kind of have to shake my head at these posturing potential potenates…. who don’t realize that if the conversation were fictionalized and thrown into a fantasy setting… well. They would not be the hero. Oh, no. They would definitely be the evil wizard/king/crybaby trying to force everyone into their own way of thinking. You shall not pass.

I mean really. Are you truly trying to tell me that Robin Hobb, Lynn Flewelling, Carol Berg and Mercedes Lackey are… lacking? Shame on you! Don’t like the new crop of fiction coming out? Don’t read it. But don’t presume to know what’s good for me.

What really saddens me is that these kind of arguments have been going on for a very long time. Because something is popular with them, the masses, women it must be inherently bad. Suck it up, buttercup, cuz those readers are still going to read the books they want to. They will buy them in droves, propelling them UP the NYT Best Seller list while your own languishes in the stacks. 
 Oh, and by the way? Shakespeare? Wildly popular with the masses. All those bawdy jokes, don’t you know.
While I was at CSU, I often hid what I was reading due to jack asses. Fantasy was fine, but let someone catch me with a romance? I cringed at the thought. Until someone tried to book shame me, in my creative writing class, and the professor said something to the effect of… well… You can support yourself with that sort of writing. Live very well, if you have the talent.
This was the same instructor who told us on our first day not to even try genre fiction (especially horror or sci-fi / fantasy) in his class. I was terrified when I went up to speak with him. But I write fantasy, I said. “Prove it,” he told me.  Turns out he’s not against the genre, just the bad habits of new writers. I wrote my first novel under his guidance, a work of fantasy fiction.
A lot of what I read and write has to do with belonging. About taking what you’ve got and making it work. Finding a way through the darkness. There are books who have held me up (Anne Bishop) during the worst time of my life, and others that echo those days and reinforce that we are survivors (Cathy Lamb). There’s the joy of love (Eloisa James, Julia Quinn), and family and friends.
If you’re so afraid of women in fiction, then I kind of have to ask. What are you so afraid of?
No matter the answer, keep your mitts off my reading material. I don’t need that sort of help.
Ogres need not apply.
 
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Book Stores

 

Book Stores

 

When I was going to college, I worked in bookstores. The first one was an itty, bitty local store. I then graduated up to Crown Books, and into management there. My next book job was at Media Play, which (when it opened, at least) had a full book, video and computer program section (and probably others that I no longer remember.

Even still, I can still remember the first Barnes and Noble book store. I know! I felt like… Finally! Here were people who understood me. I was in graduate school, working at Media Play, and still it took my breath away.

Since then, I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with B&N. Because while they understand the love of books, they still suck in 2 respects. (Please keep in mind that I am ONLY speaking of my local store).

  1. They have people who do not know their alphabet shelving books. It’s a relatively simple process, people. It is so frustrating to have the temptation to take down a shelf and re-shelve all the books in the right order while in a store. Or even worse—I shouldn’t have to pocket a book you have 4 copies of! If you have 4 copies, get it cover out! PLEASE!
  2. The Science Fiction and Fantasy section sucks. If a new novel comes out, how about stocking the previous books in a series? They only seem to stock X amount of any given author. Carol Berg is one of my favorites, but I don’t really care for her current series. She has much stronger work in her backlist, but they have maybe one title at a time. Anne Bishop, Lynn Flewelling and others are not kept at the levels they need to be. Romance is the same way—Eloisa James has a book called “Pleasure for Pleasure”, and I look for it EVERY BLASTED TIME I GO IN. They have the other books in the series. But not this book. And if it has sold out each and every time, maybe B&N should order in more than 1 copy at a time. (Please don’t bother telling me that I can get it online or on my Nook— I hate my nook and it’s the principle of the thing now.)

Now, there are some really bright spots. They poached one of my Borders’ Boys. Borders was great because they loved books and could make actual recommendations. The local Barnes and Nobles seems to be going more that way: I’ve actually had discussions with some of the workers about books. Before, I’d get blank stares if I asked if they had heard anything about a book. (Really? You work in a book store and you’ve heard NOTHING about this book that is number 1 on the NYT list? Huh.)

People who sell books should love books. Or at least like them. I know it’s a really snobbish thing, and I know everyone is trying to save money. But trust me on this. All those little girls running around reading Twilight and all those other books? They will grow up at some point. And if we want to nurture their love of reading, we need to give them something more than the paranormal romances that are so prolific right now. Because some will want to continue on with that, and some will want to expand their horizons.

Broadening those horizons is good for all of us in the book world. Readers, writers, publishers and bookstores.

World Building

We’re gonna talk about world building tonight, kiddos. I recently realized that I read a lot of series, especially in the fantasy genre. (wow, wyn, great alliteration there!). Successful authors of a fantasy series, or any series, has to do with these things at some point or another.

The author needs to keep it fresh for themselves, allow themselves to grow while still hanging onto the original readership, and keeping from going out of their ever loving mind while doing it. Because who wants to read, let alone write, the same novel over and over again?

This first came to mind with me while reading one of Mary Janice Davidson’s novels (Undead and Unwelcome, I think). Because that book blew me out of the water. While before there had been lots of cute jokes, there hadn’t been a whole lot of growth. Until that book, when it took a hook for the dark side and the main character started to grow up. It was a humbling moment. As a writer who reads a lot, it showed all the ways to grow not only your own writing but your character at the same time, dragging your core audience gasping and yelling at you all the way.

Bridge of Dreams, by Anne Bishop was the second novel to make me wonder about that. Part of a series that is preceded by Sebastian and Belladonna, Bridge of Dreams takes the reader to a portion of the world that feels foreign, new and exciting along with new characters. But the world was built that way from the very beginning, giving limitless options for scenery, potential stories, lots of ideas. (The way the three sisters are handled is amazing!)

Kind of like Anne McCaffrey with the Pern series. You have the normal books, then of course there is the southern continent, and the sci fi element they may or may not go back to but even if she does, the people in the here and now are trying to figure out what feels like future technology.

And of course there’s Lynn Flewelling, who with the Bone Doll’s Twin took me and shook me completely to my core. She went back into her land’s distant past and told the story of the queen. That trilogy is written so differently from the Nightrunner books that it was a “WOW” moment.

So. Writers! Have your escape plan hatched. Because if you’re lucky, you’ll need it!

Black Jewels Trilogy

The Black Jewels Trilogy

Book One, Daughter of the Blood, by Anne Bishop, Roc Fantasy, 1998.

Book Three, Queen of Darkness, by Anne Bishop, Roc Fantasy, 2000.

Yes, this review is missing the middle book. I couldn’t find it when I sat down to re-read the series. I also need to post a WARNING on this series. Sex in this series is used as a weapon against both women and men and is very brutal. It isn’t graphic, but it is disturbing. It’s also a very big symptom of what’s wrong in the world the characters inhabit.

This series carried me through one of the roughest times of my life. I haven’t touched these particular books since I left that situation. I have read the additional books ( 2 short story collections and 3, no 4 novels), but not the first trilogy.

They are even better than I remembered.

Tight writing, believable characters you can root for even when their names are Saetan and the Sadist. These are people with considerable power who have to make the tough choices. And there are consequences for their choices; The Twisted Kingdom, the realm of insanity, is travelled by more than one of the characters.

And quite frankly, the scene where Daemon comes to grips with her not returning to him, the fact that he become The Sadist again because she requested it, believing that everyone in his family would hate him but it was ok because she’d be there… and then she wasn’t… I’ve cried my eyeballs red every single time I’ve read that scene. I’ve read it a lot, too.

As I said, I met the books of Anne Bishop when I was going through the roughest time of my life and needed the escape.

I’m so happy that now I’m out of the situation, the books still resonate.

Cuz that’s what we’re all really after, isn’t it? A really great read.