Friday, April 28, 2006

Cross-Genre Fantasy... the title of a panel I'll be on at WisCon 30 (at 8:30 in the morning on a Saturday, no less). And, I am currently wondering how the hell the three of us are going to fill an hour and a half.

Luckily, I'm on the panel with interesting people – Elizabeth Bear and Cynthia Ward.

I extremely hopeful that one of the other women involved will bring a list of titles (other than, no doubt, what we all write), but my problem with this topic is that there’s nothing inherently interesting or controversial about it. I mean, And?

Aren't most novels these days some kind of genre blend? Maybe this is still news to someone out there, but, guess what? You can find books with angels AND computers, private investigators AND werewolves, romance novels WITH vampires! Whoo! It's a damn news flash.

No one is going to be there.

And the bar isn’t even going to open yet.


Just so you know... I got all the hot panels. I'm also on "Feminist Fiction is So Five Minutes Ago," which would probably be extremely interesting to me if I, say, read feminist fiction. I'm not even entirely sure what, exactly, qualifies as feminist fiction. My last panel on late Saturday afternoon is "Feminist Romance," which I think I may actually have something to say about.

I'm actually kind of distressed how many of my panels have the word feminist as part of their description. It's not that I wouldn't consider myself one of THOSE, but I'm so not a theory grrl. I'm absolutely certain I haven't read the manifesto, even though I was, in my senior year at high school, voted the "Biggest Women’s Libber" (no joke -- and, man, does that date me, or what?)

I'm not entirely sure I qualify, you dig? There are certain aspects of my life that would neatly fall into "feminist" check-boxes. 1, I'm a woman. 2, I like other women. 3, I read books by women. But, after that, things fall apart. I really have never read any of the classic works by feminists, except I may have been required to read A Room of One's Own by Virginia Wolfe as part of my English degree. If you asked me to name a feminist, I would hard pressed to list even one. Bella Abzug? Harriet Tubman? Sojourner Truth?

I don’t know.

Thing is, I certainly wouldn't call what I'm writing right now feminist. I am writing romance which is a much-maligned genre particularly because it is written by women, for women. Even other women want to disparage it and marginalize it, despite the fact that it represents almost 55% of all popular paperback fiction sold in North America, which is 1.2 billion dollars in sales (in 2004) (see RWA statistics)

Recently, when I was asked to be a guest speaker at an informal meeting, I was surprised by how many people there tried to convince me that romance had, in fact, a formula, which all romances were required to follow. Hey, I said, no one sent me the memo. And, your memo? It's about two or three decades out of date. Harlequin is not the same publisher it was in 1980, kids. They have so many lines now – even an erotic one.

And that kind of trash-talkin' gets my hackles up. And, I suppose, my desire to take on all comers makes me a kind of feminist.

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