scmp.com
Chinese sci-fi writer beats Stephen King for top fiction prize
Hao Jingfang wins Hugo award with dark story of social inequality and injustice in Beijing

“A futuristic tale of urban life in Beijing has won a Chinese novelist a top international prize for science fiction, beating out heavyweight Stephen King for the honour.

Hao Jingfang, 32, won the Hugo Award for best novelette with Folding Beijing, a year after another Chinese writer, Liu Cixin, won the best novel prize for The Three-Body Problem, Xinhua reported on the weekend.

Receiving her award in Kansas City, Missouri, Hao said she was not surprised she had won but had also been prepared to lose.

“In Folding Beijing, I have raised a possibility for the future and how we face the challenges of automated production, technological advances, unemployment and economic stagnation,” she said.

Hao said her book offered a solution to those challenges, but she hoped the situations she described would not become reality.

Hao is from Tianjin, and graduated with a physics degree from Tsinghua University in 2006.

The Hugo Awards, established in 1953, are regarded as the highest honour in science fiction and fantasy. They are named after Hugo Gernsback who was the founder of the American science fiction magazineAmazing Stories.”

Read the full piece here

Congratulations Hao Jingfang!

Women Writers Needed to Submit Dark Fiction Stories for Mantid Magazine - Pays $25/story

Mantid Magazine is curating dark fiction stories from women writers for the Summer 2016 issue. The publication celebrates modern weird storytelling created by writers and artists of diverse backgrounds, including socially-disadvantaged groups in society.

The editors have received enough poetry, but still need stories in the following categories:

  • Horror
  • Avant-garde
  • Experimental
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Dark Fairy Tales
  • Dark Science Fiction
  • Magic Realism
  • Surrealism

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Around age twenty-five, I had the blunt experience of looking at my bookshelves and noticing that my bookshelves were filled almost exclusively with books by men. Which was fine, I wasn’t going to get in a rage about it, I loved those books that I had read. But I was unsettled, since my bookshelves meant either there were no good books by women, or I had somehow read in such a way as to avoid them all.
—  Rivka Galchen, “The Only Thing I Envy Men,” an excerpt from the author’s forthcoming book.
Women Writers 2016!

This year, I will only be reading books written by women. I found a list online of 75 essential works by women writers, and my goal is to work my way through it. This will definitely take me more than 52 weeks to read 75 books, but I’m determined to finish this list!

I am currently about 80 pages into The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, and next on the list is Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Any interested followers, please check up on me periodically to measure my progress, or to kick my butt in gear if I’ve been slacking.

Here’s the list: Anti-Capitalist Lesbian Witch Book List 2016. I’ll update it with the date I finish a book. Feel free to read along!

‘Independent Women’ Anthology is Seeking Feminist-Focused Prose & Poetry - Pays $100/story

DayDreamsDandelions Publications is inviting women authors to submit prose and poetry to a forthcoming anthology titled, Independent Women. The anthology will feature works by what the publisher terms “Women Indie Published” or otherwise “new or never before published, or indie supportive traditionally published.”

The publisher is reviewing short stories (including flash fiction, sci-fi/f), poetry, essays, artwork, and all other woman- and/or feminist-focused creative work.

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Women and Worldbuilding

Well, TELL THE WIND AND FIRE has been out for a little bit now, and I have been much enjoying the responses to it! Thank you so much everyone who read it and extra thanks to those who took the time to respond to it: it is very much appreciated!

I was particularly flattered by these two reviews, and I wanted to talk a little bit about why.

http://sesmithreads.com/2016/04/20/just-finished-tell-the-wind-and-fire/

http://katelinnea.blogspot.com/2016/04/book-review-tell-wind-and-fire.html

These reviews praised my worldbuilding. TELL THE WIND AND FIRE is the only book I’ve written so far with out-in-the-open-in-our-world magic, and writing magic sizzling through the society of New York was a challenge, and seeing people like it made me so happy.

What made me particularly happy, and I hope people won’t take this as sour grapes since I just showed two instances of me getting praised for my worldbuilding, is… women authors don’t get that a lot.

Some links to show what I’m talking about…

‘Face it, Rowling isn’t Hemingway’: http://michellerafter.com/2012/09/27/10-things-j-k-rowling-taught-me-about-writing/

https://theverbalthing.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/book-review-the-mortal-instruments-series/

'The reason no one’s mentioned McCaffery (or Elizabeth Moon for that matter) is that SciFi is a white-male only genre. In all seriousness, most of McCaffery and Moon’s work would be better classified as future fantasy where the world is there, but not allowed to get in the way of the character-focused storytelling’: http://io9.com/5032215/sf-authors-pick-favorite-examples-of-world-building

Count the number of men and the number of women mentioned as good world-builders: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=612381

Everyone has a right to criticise the media they consume, and female authors shouldn’t be exempt from criticism, but the way in which female authors are treated differently forms some pretty recognisable patterns. So do people’s responses to the critique of women–usually 'yeah, you’re right about that’ or 'I like it even though it’s trash’ or some other variation along the lines of 'She’s not so great, obviously.’ I’d love to see someone blaze in and go 'The hell, she is a GENIUS!’ but though I’ve seen those defences for men, I can’t recall ever seeing anyone do that for a woman.

Part of the harmful pattern of talking about female authors’ work: women are sometimes allowed to be good at characters and relationships, things often discussed as entirely divorced from the writer, as if they’re not part of writing. (Then I see people saying they’re going to ‘take’ or ‘confiscate’ the characters who the writers ‘don’t deserve,’ as if the characters randomly and unfortunately wandered up to an unworthy lady’s door one day, as opposed to being carefully built by those ladies. I don’t see people saying, for example, Orson Scott Card does not deserve Ender.) Men are seen as good at 'writing’–by which people often seem to mean constructing prose on a sentence level, and at plotting, and at worldbuilding–the parts of writing more highly regarded as craft. It’s all writing! Ahem… HOWEVER.

When I wrote an online novel called (for now…) THE TURN OF THE STORY, I modelled part of the world-building on Neil Gaiman’s STARDUST (check out the wall that separates us from magic lands, &c, though the story owes many debts to many authors, most notably Obvious Satanic Genius Tamora Pierce’s the Immortals series). Neil Gaiman wrote a world deliberately in light strokes so that certain fantasy tropes could be read into his story and then he could subvert expectations from there, and I wanted to do the same thing. Because the in-story adherence to tropes provides liminal spaces in which fantasy can be discussed. Since I’d had a man’s world-building in mind, it was interesting when I saw people saying the usual (for women) ‘World-building terrible of course.’

I’m not saying I totally world-build as well as Neil Gaiman, but I am saying I saw the difference between the way we were read: there was an assumption he was doing *something*, and an assumption I was doing something *wrong*… there was no looking for what I was doing, because it was presumed this was a bug, not a feature. 

This is a pretty common attitude for women to combat. I quote Obvious Satanic Genius Holly Black here: no book survives a hostile reading. And it is harder for a book to survive a reader’s (sometimes unconscious) assumption that a writer will fail or show weakness.

I’m also not saying I, or any of the other women mentioned above, are champion amazing world-builders. Please do not write to me about how I or one of the other women mentioned above actually really suck. That’s subjective, and up to each and every one of you to decide. We are all flawed individuals with different tastes and different skills.

But there is a pattern of discussing women writers that I wanted to note, and I wanted to say how pleased and grateful I was to see, not only kind words about myself, but the breaking of the pattern. I love breaking patterns, I love writing, I love world-building even though I wake up nights sweating about the economy in the current work in progress, I love magic sizzling through New York and behind walls and via wardrobes, and I love you all.

A Writer Sends Her Novel to Agents Under a Male Pseudonym—And Sees the Discrimination of the Publishing Industry.

Really interesting article from writer Catherine Nichols: 

“On a dim Saturday morning, I copy-pasted my cover letter and the opening pages of my novel from my regular e-mail into George’s account. I put in the address of one of the agents I’d intended to query under my own name. I didn’t expect to hear back for a few weeks, if at all. It would only be a few queries and then I’d close out my experiment. I began preparing another query, checking the submission requirements on the agency web site. When I clicked back, there was already a new message, the first one in the empty inbox. Mr. Leyer. Delighted. Excited. Please send the manuscript.

Almost all publishers only accept submissions through agents, so they are essential gatekeepers for anyone trying to sell a book in the traditional market rather than self-publishing. There are various ways of attracting an agent’s attention, but sending query letters is the most accessible. The letter describes the novel, the author, and usually includes the first pages of the manuscript itself—the equivalent of what a reader might see picking up a book in a store. Agents can let silence speak for itself, write back with a rejection, or ask to see the novel.

I sent the six queries I had planned to send that day. Within 24 hours George had five responses—three manuscript requests and two warm rejections praising his exciting project. For contrast, under my own name, the same letter and pages sent 50 times had netted me a total of two manuscript requests. The responses gave me a little frisson of delight at being called “Mr.” and then I got mad. Three manuscript requests on a Saturday, not even during business hours! The judgments about my work that had seemed as solid as the walls of my house had turned out to be meaningless. My novel wasn’t the problem, it was me—Catherine.”

Read the whole article here. 

“Breaking In” as a Woman

I had the opportunity to have a short phone conversation with a successful television producer recently.

It was kind of a “Good for you for networking, young person! Keep at it!” conversation, which was nice of him. But one part of the conversation still bothers me. He said that, as a woman, my best bet to land a writer’s assistant job was to babysit for a [male] writer first. He indicated that this was a “sneaky” way women are getting into the biz these days.

To be honest, he’s so high up that if he needed a babysitter, I’d fucking do it. But I can guarantee I’ll be putting a script on his desk and in his car and in his fridge every single day. They’ll be popping up out of his toaster and taped to his mirror and his kids are gonna start quoting my lines to him because I’ve replaced all of their kiddie books. Speaking of the kids, they’re gonna have to grow up real fast because I’ve never babysat a day in my life. Someone chokes, they better know how to do tiny Heimlich maneuvers ‘cause that shit’s never come up in my research for this hour-long dramedy I’m writing, so I really can’t be bothered.

I’m a writer, not a caretaker. Being female doesn’t automatically make me a caretaker. And don’t lie. You’d fire me in an instant if I started handing you scripts in your own home.

Tell me how the guys get in and how ‘bout I try that?

Rachel Talalay Returns to Doctor Who: 2 Women Directors, Writers Confirmed!!!!

The BBC has just announced that Rachel Talalay will be returning to direct the two-part Series 9 finale of Doctor Who!

Rachel previously directed the finale episodes of Series 8, “Dark Water,” and “Death and Heaven.” Check out my interviews with her to learn more about her work on those episodes.

With the addition of Rachel to the roster, we now have two women writers and two women directors confirmed for Series 9! Hettie Macdonald (”Blink”) will be returning to direct, and Catherine Tregenna and Sarah Dollard will be writing their first episodes for Doctor Who.

I’m thrilled with how many women have been hired this season, and I can’t wait to see the amazing work they’ll do in Series 9!