Friday, July 5, 2013
Writing the Female POV in Fantasy
Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
Lately I’m back into writing fantasy and it feels good to be back in that “brain.”
Because it IS a very different writing brain. I’m not exactly sure why. But I’ve been working hard lately on my erotic romances (Five Golden Rings for the Carina Press Erotic Holiday Anthology and Master of the Opera for Kensington). Now I’ve turned my attention to Book 2 of my adult fantasy Twelve Kingdoms trilogy. Book 1 releases in trade paperback from Kensington next June. I’d tell you the titles, but they’re still in flux.
Suffice to say these are my “princess” books – about the three daughters of the High King, each more beautiful than the last. At the start of Book 2, there are sad events. It begins in a bad place, with strong emotions and physical illness.
Just so not where I’d open an erotic romance.
And, though there’s love possibly in this princess’s future, right now her life is about other things. She has a long road ahead of her and it’s fascinating to walk it with her. Especially because she’s pregnant and I’ve never been.
(For those of you who know I have grandchildren, I acquired 5- and 7-year-old stepchildren when I was 24. They always seemed like plenty!)
It occurs to me that this is something particularly female, to write about civil wars and the concerns of ruling a troubled kingdom, while the heroine is struggling with morning sickness. Sometimes I see criticisms of the work of women writers along the lines that we focus on “small scale” events, rather than sweeping ones. (Maybe “criticism” is the wrong word – I’ve seen that offered as a reason for why books by women don’t tend to win the Big Awards, because they’re not about Big Topics.)
So, in that paradigm, the war and so forth are Big Topics and morning sickness is a small scale event. But, for me as a writer, they’re intertwined. It’s also to deal with the issue within the constraints of what is essentially a (fictional) medieval-style society. Amusingly, when I asked on Twitter about morning sickness – what foods set women off and which helped – I got an avalanche of useful feedback. I also had to keep reminding people that foods like Saltines and tech like Zofroth pumps wouldn’t be available to my character.
It was a great discussion. I Storified it here.
Still, it’s making me think – are there many fantasies with pregnant heroines? And I mean, ones with close POV on the trials of it, not the beatific Madonna glowing nearby.
I’d be interested to hear suggestions!
Labels: Big Topics, feminism, Jeffe Kennedy, morning sickness, pregnancy, Twelve Kingdoms
Jeffe Kennedy is a multi-award-winning and best-selling author of romantic fantasy. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and is a member of Novelists, Inc. (NINC). She is best known for her RITA® Award-winning novel, The Pages of the Mind, the recent trilogy, The Forgotten Empires, and the wildly popular, Dark Wizard. Jeffe lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is represented by Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency.
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I know I've seen it a few times but so far I've only come up with two. The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold starts off with Fawn pregnant (though she isn't pregnant for much of the book). Merry Gentry is pregnant in the last two books of the Laurell K. Hamilton series.ReplyDelete
Oh, did Merry FINALLY get pregnant? I confess I gave up on that series...Delete
I know someone who got horrible morning sickness in an airport. Fortunately a trio of grandmothers came to her aid. They feed her a Coca Cola and a chocolate bar, and advised that morning sickness is caused by very low blood sugar. I've never been pregnant, but I have had morning nausea on a very low-carb diet, so I can see the logic here.ReplyDelete
It doesn't sound like your character could get Coca-Cola, but hopefully this helps!
Thanks Katherine! Every little bit helps, for sure. I've had that low-carb nausea, too. Erp!Delete
Anazakia goes through morning sickness in The Fallen Queen. :) And labor, complete with water breaking. Perhaps this is why it didn't win any awards. ;)ReplyDelete
lol! I still need to read that, Jane! Now I have extra incentive.Delete
The last few books of the Robert Jordan series, Elaine is pregnant. The scenes in her POV focus more on how it affects her ability to channel(magic) though. And clearly, the books were written by men--she goes riding around on a horse in battle while heavily pregnant. My joints were all wonky with both of my kids, and towards the end tended to feel like my abdominal skin was getting ripped from the inside (could practically watch the stretch marks appearing). I can't imagine bouncing on a horse like that. (Also thinking that she must have had a cervix of steel...she was also pregnant with twins....)ReplyDelete
The only true cure for morning sickness is childbirth (speaking as one of the lucky ones who threw up for the entirety of one of my pregnancies--I also gained over 60 pounds because I was constantly nibbling on various things in an attempt to make the seasick feeling go away).