Greetings and salutations from Darkeva's blog, readers! :-)
Christine was kind enough to invite me to her blog to do a guest entry, and I thank her very much for this great opportunity. She keenly observed that I tend to favour male writers when it comes to both the fantasy and horror genres, and thought it might be interesting for me to offer up some insights as to why.
Although I certainly read both male and female authors, my favourite genre next to fantasy is horror, which has always been a man’s game, and my favourite horror writers, Clive Barker, Douglas Clegg, and Tom Piccirilli, are all blokes. That said, Ellen Datlow remains one of the most brilliant horror editors out there, and Sephera Giron and Tanith Lee are two of the finest female horror writers whose works I’ve ever read.
But of all the novels, both horror and fantasy, that I’ve read and enjoyed, the ones by male authors have intrigued me more, not because of male heroes or because of the author’s sex, but because the stories have just been more compelling.
Here are some of the factors that have contributed to my history of preference for male writers over female:
Like many urban fantasy fans, I tend not to like it when the book you pick up in the shop sounds like a fantasy story but turns out to be a romance novel. That said, I’m not opposed to romantic subplots, and certainly there are ones that I’ve enjoyed. Okay, so Dresden has Murphy, John Taylor has Shotgun Suzy (his ex), Sandman had Calliope, and Stark mourns the loss of his dead girlfriend, but these relationships don’t overshadow the plot or make the lead character twee in any way.
I’m meticulous when it comes to how a writer depicts supernatural creatures. The Byronic Vampire, while the most popular incarnation of vampire, doesn’t do it for me (at least not anymore). Give me the vamps in “30 Days of Night” or “Daybreakers” and we’re good to go. But angels are demons are especially an issue. I don’t like wussy or goody two shoes angels whose sole mission is to protect others. To interest me, they need to be grittier, like the angels in “Sandman Slim.” Boy, were they crooked. Same goes for demons. If the demon character looks like a Chippendale’s dancer, I’ll pass (why do demons always conveniently seem to inhabit attractive, Adonis-like men's bodies?) I like demons who look like they’re supposed to--who kill people, screw them over, and don’t blink about it.
Several, but not all, female heroes in urban fantasy novels can be irritating because of the way they try to desperately convince the reader that they’re tougher than guys and that they can take anything in their paths, but others go on and on about how they’re monsters, or they whine about their existence in general. Not cool. That said, Marla Mason is my favourite female MC because she kicks serious ass without having to remind the reader every few lines, and she’s unpretentious. If you miss the old Anita Blake (you know, the one who used to kick vampire ass?) consider Nancy Collins’ Sonja Blue series.
To conclude, these are just some theories. I don’t consciously choose to read something because of an author’s sex. I buy a book because the story grabs me and refuses to let go, much like what I’m currently reading, Scott Nicholson’s “The Red Church,” which is a very subtle novel. If you want horror that goes beyond being obvious and in your face, give Scott a gander. This particular title is interesting because there’s an actual haunted church behind the story. Read my recent interview with Scott here to find out more.
All that said, I will mention that I thoroughly enjoy female MCs who really do kick ass, whether they're written by a man or a woman, and Mazikeen is one of the most seriously kickass female characters I've ever encountered. I used to think that Buffy and Faith kicked ass in BTVS, but my #1 vote for female MC who kicks the most ass goes to Mazikeen ;-)
Many thanks go to Christine for allowing me to do this guest post! I'd love to hear your thoughts :-)