I’m a day late on this one. I blame Samantha Shannon; I spent most of yesterday reading The Bone Season and The Mime Order and this post completely slipped my mind.
That’s what I’ve seen with the strong women in my life. They may get knocked down; they might make mistakes along the way, but that doesn’t stop them. They move forward drawing on their own unique strengths and the ones they’ve gained on their journey—and there are so many ways to be strong. One way of course, is through plain physical power. I know a lot of women with incredible physical endurance—and ones who can pack a wallop! But there are many shades of strength, including bravery, compassion, intelligence, perseverance, vision, curiosity, cleverness, ambition, resolve, and so many more.
Some of the heroines Pearson has chosen, like Celaena and Sybella, are ‘strong’ in the sense that they’re physically strong, but this is not what makes them strong heroines. They’re strong heroines because their choices and actions drive the story, and this is something that is often forgotten in the calls for more ‘strong female characters’.
Again from Stacked Books, two older articles examining the NYT YA Bestsellers and ‘Best of YA’ lists, both from 2013. What struck me about these articles was the section on the gender breakdown of the authors. The Best Of lists, from places like Kirkus, the School Library Journal, and Publisher’s Weekly, featured a 3:1 ratio of female authors to male authors. Based on my anecdotal evidence, this roughly reflects the representation of male and female authors within YA literature. No surprises there. What’s fascinating is that the NYT bestseller lists tell quite a different story. Here we see an average of 7 men to 4 women on the list, with a 5:2 ratio for the top ten list. I encourage you to go read the entire thing (part two is here); Kelly’s done a really in-depth breakdown of the representation of male and female authors. What these two articles suggest to me, however, is that women are writing more YA, and that male and female YA authors are producing proportional amounts of quality writing, but that consumers are still gravitating towards male authors. This is corroborated by an article last week in The Guardian, which listed the “eight best young adult books” – six of which were written by men.
On a completely different note, here’s an excerpt from E. K. Johnston’s A Thousand Nights, coming out this fall. If you haven’t read The Story of Owen, you should get onto that. Dragon-slayers in rural Southern Ontario. What’s not to love?
And finally, Lucy Ribchester writes on researching your novel at Scottish Book Trust.