Over on Fantasy Faction today, there’s a very interesting link to a document put together by Sonika Balyan, which is essentially an extensive list of women fantasy authors, going back to the 1930s. Obviously, as a female writer myself I found this interesting, but I’ve also been drawn to fantasy books by women ever since I was a teenager. Overall, I’d say my reading habits are split roughly 50/50 when it comes to the author’s gender, though there may be a slight skew towards women. However, out of my favourite authors, those whose works I return to repeatedly and whose books I automatically pre-order, the vast majority are women. I’m actually struggling to think of any who aren’t.
I decided, then, to work out what percentage of the authors on that list I’d read at least one book by. The answer: 53 out of 312, which comes out at a shade under 17%. I’ll admit to being a little disappointed by that – I’d expected it to be far higher.
There are a few caveats to be made, of course. There are a handful of urban fantasy and paranormal writers listed, genres I read only occasionally. I’m also not sure how many of the American authors listed have been published in the UK, and whilst it’s easy enough to import books these days, I first read many of these authors in my teens, when I was relying solely on British bookshops. Having said that, though, 17% is still much lower than I’d like.
I’m not trying to make a point here, incidentally, other than that this is a useful resource. I’d like to see more women in fantasy, of course, both as writers and readers. I’d like to see more diversity of every stripe, in fact, just part of the reason I make a habit of promoting my favourite authors. I also wish misguided comments like, ‘Oh, I don’t read books by women’ could become a thing of the past. (Seriously, if this applies to you, you’re never going to get anything other than merciless laughter from me.) Mostly, though, I just wanted to share this fascinating and incredibly useful list. I’ll be returning to it whenever I’m in need of something new to read – and if you’re at all interested in the fantasy genre, I highly recommend you check it out.